Much still needs to be done to de-racialise economy

Pretoria- President Jacob Zuma on Friday night paid tribute to black business persons who ran successful businesses during apartheid, saying that while they have gone on to achieve great success, the struggle to de-racialise ownership and control of the economy continues for black people.

“The struggle to de-racialise the ownership and control of the economy and ensure the meaningful participation of the black majority continues. We have not yet reached our destination that is true economic emancipation,” said President Zuma.

Addressing a dinner honouring Black Business Pioneers hosted by communications services provider Telkom, President Zuma said the task to fast track economic transformation so that black business can be part of the mainstream economy remains.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment laws aimed at ensuring the transformation of the economy as well as ensuring that black people participate meaningfully in the mainstream of the economy form part of government policies aimed at transforming the economy.

“We regard our Black Economic Empowerment legislation, including legislation aimed at opening up state procurement to black entrepreneurs and small business, as a critical component of our national effort to banish poverty, joblessness and inequality,”  he told those attending the glitzy ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The President said that in order for the B-BBEE policy to succeed in the public sector, government must use its procurement muscle to sustain and grow black businesses.

This as government spends around R500 billion on procurement. The President said the buying power of the state is a powerful economic transformation tool that must be used to advance black economic empowerment.

Repeal of the PPPFA

In the last five years government has amended the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (or the PPPFA Regulations) to provide for BEE preference points.

“As we have now realised, this amendment has not worked or led to the desired impact. Instead, we have now found that the preference points system prescribed in the PPPFA is rigid and is not responsive to government objectives.

“Due to these shortcomings, the regulations have failed to substantially re-shape the skewed ownership and control of the South African economy. Government is now determined to ultimately repeal the PPPFA and its associated regulations and introduce a more flexible preferential procurement framework that is responsive to government objectives,” said the President.

The Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act will be repealed by the Public Procurement Act. The Public Procurement Bill is now going through the different government stakeholder engagement processes before it is tabled in Parliament. This is targeted for early 2017.

Describing the pioneer business people as shining stars and business icons, President Zuma said they grew their businesses against incredible odds.

“It was not easy to run a business in the early 60s and 70s during a period of repression,” he said, adding that black businesses were restricted to operating in black townships.

Among those honoured at the dinner included prominent businessman Richard Maponya, Fortune Kunene and David and Sophie Kupane.

“Black people can open businesses anywhere not just butcheries and corner shops,” he said.

Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko said the pioneers at the time had nothing and were denied everything by the oppressive regime, but now there was now a changing picture for businesses.

“Today we have a picture of the changing face of business but that would not be had it not been for the struggles waged by those who came before us. We cannot forget the past. This generation of business leaders is gifted with lessons that they’re capable of even greater things no matter the odds,” said Maseko.

According to Telkom, which was one of the partners hosting the dinner, the business pioneers are a source of inspiration. – SAnews.gov.za