‘SA’s rebuilt economy must be better and blacker’

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa told the Black Management Forum that South Africa had to rebuild an economy that had black business at its centre.
Ramaphosa said South Africa must emerge from the pandemic with an economy that creates more jobs and provides more opportunities to new entrants.
He said funding institutions must be bold in their support for black businesses at this time.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday evening that government and other supporters of economic transformation were in the throes of a “battle” against enemies of progress and that those who opposed this transformation had to be “defeated”.
The event comes as government has had to defend its Covid-19 Tourism Equity Fund, which is aimed at assisting black-owned tourism businesses to access financing to promote transformation in the industry. Solidarity and AfriForum challenged the fund’s rollout at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, saying it is discriminatory on the basis of race.
Referencing the case, Ramaphosa said it’s a clear example of a sector where resistance was found and “everything must be done to defeat such attacks on the transformation agenda”.
“We will need to review our BBBEE strategy as well as the act to develop a new strategy, because we cannot continue to live in a country where black people do not own the levers of control of the economy. This needs to change,” said Ramaphosa.
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Earlier this week, Statistics South Africa announced that unemployment grew to a record high of 32.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, with unemployment among black Africans much higher than in other groups.
During his keynote address, Ramaphosa hailed the BMF as the “true architects” of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act and said the group was at the forefront of the transformation agenda in the South African economy. He said black business had to be central to South Africa’s economic recovery.
“The economic contraction we are experiencing has hit many emerging businesses far harder than established businesses that are better resourced and have reserves. The recovery of our economy needs to be transformative. It needs to be more inclusive and more transformed than before,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that government cannot allow the transformation agenda to be compromised by corruption.
Government is facing a storm of corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize is feeling the pressure to resign after reports that there was a conflict of interest in the awarding of a R150 million contract to Digital Vibes, as the company contracted two of Mkhize’s associates.
Ramaphosa said the PPE scandal was a shock, but that he found comfort in learning that the formal and recognised black business formations were not involved in this corruption.
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“We will work to ensure that those involved in corruption are arrested and that the monies that were stolen are brought back to the state -including the large companies,” he said.