Black businesses opt out of Business Unity South Africa
Over 14 organised black business associations have resolved to suspend their participation in Business Unity South Africa, saying that meaningful black involvement in the economy had not been achieved, and that a unified voice was required to initiate an “economic revolution”.
The delegates to the Black Business Summit in Johannesburg agreed to “suspend participation at Busa and immediately engage Busa on a range of policy, structural and constitutional issues” under the banner of the Black Business Council, according to a statement issued late on Wednesday evening.
To this end, prominent businessman Patrice Motsepe will chair a steering committee of black business leaders and organisations to co-ordinate engagement with Busa and the government.
Among the primary goals sought by the Black Business Council were economic transformation—including the building a new community of black entrepreneurs, promoting access to venture capital for black businesses, and job creation; the development and promotion of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMME), for which it would lobby for the creation of a small and black business ministry; and the establishment of an infrastructure investment commission, and a commission to deal with land reform.
Among its resolutions on land reform were a call for a 15-year moratorium on the resale of land acquired through the land reform process and a “land tax” on all unutilised land.
The summit was called after the Black Management Forum withdrew from the country’s chief business lobby group Busa in July, saying its structure was fundamentally flawed, with the voice of black business “permanently outnumbered and suppressed”.
Delivering the keynote address at the summit on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma had urged black business to put the interests of South Africa first when making decisions at the summit, but implied that Busa was not interested in engaging with the state.
“The unity of the business sector is paramount in ensuring the achievement of the transformation goals. As government, we need a unified and united business voice to work with.”
“I intended to see Business Unity South Africa last month ... but they were not available at the time,” he said.
Repeated attempts to seek comment from Busa late on Wednesday evening proved unsuccessful.
According to the statement issued at the conclusion of the summit, the gathering “marks the beginning of a new era in that black business is defining its own agenda and taking control of its own destiny. It will shape the South African economy, which will lead to an economic revolution that will see the country establishing itself as a global powerhouse”.
The business organisations represented at the conference included: Black IT Forum, the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals, the Association of Black Accountants of South Africa, the Black Management Forum, the Black Lawyers Association, the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services, the African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Black Business Executive Circle, the National Black Business Caucus, the South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation, the National Society of Black Engineers South Africa, South African Women Entrepreneurs’ Network, South African Women in Construction, and Women in Food and Hospitality.—Additional reporting by Sapa.