Zuma: Empowerment constrained by economic system
The fact that broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) might have only benefited a few is due to the nature of the South African economic system, said African National Congress president Jacob Zuma in Sandton on Tuesday.
“We should not forget the nature of the system; we cannot empower every citizen at one go,” said Zuma at a briefing with black business.
He said South Africa was a capitalist system.
“We are dealing with business. There is a monopoly. Nevertheless, we need to say how do we do this that it achieves the outcome.”
Zuma said when it came to BBBEE, if people asked “how could we make it more effective, well, I support that.”
However Zuma said if people came to him and said, “‘We think now it’s enough,” I will have a problem.
“We can’t say in 15 years we have resolved the problem of two centuries. We firmly believe in the continuation of the implementation of BBBEE policies, as long as they allow for the introduction of new players in the economy and also include the participation of women and youth.”
Speaking at the same event, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa said the party “endorsed going forward with BEE and affirmative action”.
Phosa said those who had benefitted from BEE had to admit to it, in order to try and spread its reach.
“It is a fact that a few of us were empowered at the expense of the majority. If we don’t admit it, we will never correct it,” he said.
He said skills development and BEE had to be implemented at the same time.
Phosa also said black business people should not just aspire to BEE.
“We must migrate from BEE to entrepreneurship. We have to move.”
Phosa said these policies had to “bring the black people into the mainstream of the economy”.
Phosa said the “white child” in South Africa, should also be given hope like the “black child”.
Rather the aim of affirmative action policies was to “bring the black people into the mainstream of the economy”, he said.
Zuma also said Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s resignation which he later retracted caused such havoc on the markets because people always held a
finance minister in high esteem.
“I think it is in the nature of the markets that finance ministers have assumed great importance in our country and not only in our country,” said Zuma.
“I think Trevor really is no exception. That is what happens ... not because it’s Trevor. Any minister put [in that position] will be the same. People look up to them.” - Sapa