Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH
Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says "radical economic transformation" is not bad for SA.

Zulu was speaking to delegates at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) annual convention in Sandton, on Thursday.

She and speakers, including Gauteng premier David Makhura, sought to quell fears around the theme "the role of social partners in socioeconomic radical transformation", but did not address alarm about the alleged capture of state institutions in SA.

Zulu said radical economic transformation was no longer debated among previously disadvantaged South Africans and that the time was ripe for action. "It is not the responsibility of government alone, it is everyone’s responsibility," she said. "We must not allow ourselves to be diverted from this agenda."

She said poverty, unemployment and inequality affected peace and stability in SA. But she also acknowledged that "local economic development had not been given the type of support it is supposed to get" from the three tiers of government.

Zulu said the government was "starting to value supply-chain management and fiscal prudence", and that the state "must use taxpayer money efficiently". However she also said that "we are demanding — not asking — that procurement [across state enterprises] be done [by] SMMEs [small and medium and micro-sized enterprises] across the board."

Zulu acknowledged that the alignment of preferential procurement and broad-based black economic empowerment codes needed aligning. She said that the government had been "forced" into such legislation after the bulk of the population had been left out of the economy under apartheid.

"1994 should have been political freedom working together with economic freedom," she said. "All I want to say is let us be partners in … looking for mechanisms to resolve the challenges that we have."

Makhura said the Gauteng government had a conscious policy bias for radical economic transformation. He appealed to domestic and foreign investors to "partner with local business to help change the face of SA’s economy".

He said 91% of R47bn spent over three years by the provincial government had been on securing goods and services from historically disadvantaged individuals, benefiting about 10,000 enterprises.

"We are now spending about R7bn buying goods and services from township-based enterprises," he said. In this regard, such enterprises had grown in number from 800 in 2014 to 2,800 in 2017. But there were 60,000 such enterprises in townships in Gauteng, he said.

"The key thing is to bring black people into the centre of the economy: bring those that bring value to your own value chains and work," he said.

"We [the Gauteng government] will be your ambassadors in this regard."

Meanwhile, Sacci has been hit recently by a spate of member resignations related to claims of financial irregularities, poor governance and noncompliance with its constitutional provisions and procedures.

Chamber CEO Alan Mukoki had said that court papers had been filed by parties unhappy with the way the board had been elected, but so far those had come to naught.

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