President Jacob Zuma has called for an end to the squabbles that have resulted in a significant division within the country’s business sector subsequent to a recent decision by the Black Management Forum to cut ties with Business Unity South Africa. This has led to divisions, accusations and counter-accusations of racism from both parties.
However , on Tuesday, Zuma while addressing the inaugural Black Business Summit, moved to rein in the warring parties. He emphasised the necessity of unity within business, which he pointed out was critical to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the country.
He said government required a unified and united business voice to work alongside. “We therefore urge you, in your deliberations to debate the matter extensively with a view of finding solutions,” Zuma said.
As reported by Xolani Qubeka, one of several organisers, the summit was “influenced” by the decision by the BMF to withdraw from BUSA.
Zuma pointed out that he had intended to meet up with with BUSA last month however the meeting was later shelved as a result of BUSA’s unavailability at the time.
“Necessary arrangements are going to be made for us to meet. As government, our objective is to see unity … to be able to concentrate on the economic growth and development priorities that face the country,” he said.
He did admit that while politically the country had done well to establish a stable democracy, social and economic elements of transformation continue to lag behind. The impact of poverty and inequality was still glaring and human settlements still exposed the gap between the rich and poor, rural and urban, he said.
Zuma welcomed the attempts by black business to embark on internal dialogue with the intention to evaluate the progress made with the transformation of South Africa’s economy. The black business sector has repeatedly pointed out that a lot still needed to be done to completely transform the country’s economy, arguing that whites still enjoyed a tremendous advantage.
A newly released report released by the Commission for Employment Equity unveiled that while black people accounted for about 86% of the employees in the workforce covered by the report, they only represented a mere 16.9% at top management level and 35% at the senior management level.
The report additionally pointed out that despite the fact that considerable progress had been made in creating a critical mass of both black people and women at the professionally qualified level, these groups appear to have “reached a glass ceiling.”
Zuma stated that government needed to makes use of the legislative environment to level economic playing fields, adding that it was in the interest of reconciliation, economic growth and control of the economy.
“We have witnessed the effectiveness of the affirmative action in the manner in which white women and Indian compatriots have benefited… We must draw lessons from that success to boost the empowerment of other designated groups, in particular Africans.”
When it comes to the ownership of the economy, Zuma said while authorities were pleased to see many blacks entering a variety of sectors of the economy, there were no visible “black industrialists.” South Africans were not seeing large factories and mines owned by black people or women.
Zuma told the summit delegates, which included mining magnate Patrice Motsepe and business tycoon Sandile Zungu, that the South African economy needed to create “authentic” black entrepreneurs who own factories and manufacture textile, furniture and metal products.