SA still needs to produce “authentic” black entrepreneurs who “truly” own the means of production, according to President Jacob Zuma during his address at the Black Business Summit on Tuesday.
SA still had “no visible” black industrialists, despite the many black people entering various sectors of the economy, Zuma said.
“You cannot have political power without economic power,” Zuma told the summit, adding “we do not see large factories that are owned by black people or women.”
Government would help through the provision of industrial funding as well as through its preferential procurement policies, the president noted.
Zuma urged the summit to produce pointers as to how business, both emerging and established, would contribute to building a new industrial sector.
The country’s economic empowerment tool, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, had not yet benefited a wide enough segment of society, Zuma conceded.
“We want to see a much stronger focus on the broad-based aspects of BEE,” he said.
Government expected the new procurement regulations, which would come into effect in December 2011, to contribute to improving the economic participation of black businesses.
While Zuma called for more black participation in the economy, he also noted problems within SA’s business space.
The summit came after the recent termination of membership by the Black Management Forum (BMF) from the country’s largest business advocacy group Business Unity SA (Busa).
Organisers of the summit, the Confederation of Black Business Organisations, said the event would map out a way forward regarding whether or not other black business would also follow the BMF and terminate their membership at Busa.
During its termination of the Busa membership, the BMF accused Busa of marginalising black business and not taking transformation seriously.
The summit was taking place during a period of uncertainty with regards to business unity, Zuma said.
Zuma told the summit that government needed a unified and united business voice to work with.
“We therefore urge you, in your deliberations, to discuss the matter thoroughly with a view to finding solutions,” Zuma said.
“As government our objective is to see unity in order to focus on the economic growth and development priorities that face the country.”
Zuma announced that he would also meet with Busa soon.
“You now know what needs to be done. Unity must prevail here first for it to prevail elsewhere,” he told the delegates.
A concern for government was that the social and economic aspects of transformation were still lagging behind in the country, Zuma said.
Government was also worried about ownership, he said. The ownership and management of the economy in particular, Zuma noted, had not changed considerably since the dawn of freedom.
The conference’s discussions were held behind closed doors. Resolutions would be made public at a briefing on Wednesday.