President Cyril Ramaphosa has challenged the Black Business Council (BBC) to work together with government to address the financing of empowerment transactions in the constrained economic environment, and the mobilisation of capital for black business to expand.
“We look to the Black Business Council as a vital partner, to guide us as we address our shortcomings and to help streamline existing policies and programmes so that they meet our empowerment objectives,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President was speaking at the annual Black Business Council Summit dinner at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Thursday.
Held under the theme “Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy Through Supporting Localisation, Industrialisation, SMMEs, Black-Owned, Women-Owned and Youth-Owned Businesses”, the two-day summit brings together government, civil society and business leaders to deliberate on socio-economic opportunities and challenges.
President Ramaphosa underscored a need to continue to push for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and introducing new measures to promote compliance through the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.
He said Black business in South Africa has a critical role in the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery, in job creation and in driving the continent’s economic integration agenda through the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“We need to work together to expand the frontiers of broad-based black economic empowerment, and resist any efforts to narrow them. We do not accept the argument that black economic empowerment has had a destructive effect on the economy.
“Rather, slow progress in the pace of economic transformation is what is holding back our nation’s development. Black economic empowerment has not enabled corruption, it was the corrupt, in both the private and public sectors, who enabled state capture,” the President said.
The President also noted that the country faces many different challenges, and overcoming them requires a meaningful social compact between government, business, labour and communities.
“We are determined to forge such a compact and we continue to engage with social partners on far-reaching measures that will enable growth and transform our economy,” he said.
The President added that as government confront the immediate challenges, work at the detail of economic reform and growth, and even engage in policy debate and refinement, it is driven by the broader vision of an inclusive economy that benefits all.
“Like the Black Business Council, this government continues to aspire to a South Africa in which all its people share in the abundant wealth of this nation.
“And like the Black Business Council, we are firmly committed to those actions that will accelerate our progress towards that goal. We have worked together to address several problems and challenges,” President Ramaphosa said.
Unbundling Eskom on track
President Ramaphosa also announced that the process of unbundling Eskom is on track, with the entity meeting its December 2021 deadline for the establishment of a national transmission company.
“By December this year we hope to complete the unbundling of Eskom’s generation and distribution divisions,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said one of the critical components of transforming the electricity landscape is forging ahead with the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient and inclusive economy.
He said government is working on the details of the just transition partnership concluded with the France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union late last year.
“Reducing emissions in line with our international obligations is an imperative. At the same time, we will ensure that this transition is managed in an inclusive manner that leaves no community behind, and offers opportunities for local businesses in the low-carbon and green economy space,” President Ramaphosa said.