SA business chambers unite

Black and white business in South Africa united on Friday when the presidents of the country’s four chambers of commerce signed a surprise agreement in Bloemfontein.

With the signing Patrice Motsepe of the National African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), Mack Mia of the SA Chamber of Commerce (Sacob), Sam Buthelezi of the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (Fabcos), and Franklin Sonn of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) created an interim organisation unifiying their four chambers.

Motsepe was announced as chairman of its interim council. He said a new permanent organisation amalgamating all four chambers was to be announced at Nafcoc’s annual congress at Sun City in September.

Minister of Trade and Industry Alec Erwin and Minister in the Office of the President Essop Pahad witnessed the signing ceremony, which formed part of a dinner following Nafcoc’s Free State conference.

Motsepe said the four chambers were to speak with one voice at the coming Growth and Development Summit. He told the audience he had attended Nafcoc meetings as a young boy. He clearly remembered selling a half loaf of bread and a packet

of chips behind his father’s shop counter when he was five years old.

Mia hailed Motsepe for leading Nafcoc to the unifying deal since he was elected as its new president in September 2002. The whole Sacob constituency was behind the unification process.

It should be expedited rather sooner than later, Mia said. Buthelezi said the signing ceremony reminded him of the moment in 1994 when he first voted.

The whole national council of Fabcos, as well as its provincial chairmen had bought into the long overdue unification process. Implementation should start in October, Buthelezi said.

Sonn said the agreement was a very important move forward, especially for the Afrikaans speaking community. All the big Afrikaans businesses fully supported it. He said the process was started by Erwin when he made it pertinently clear economic growth can only take place in South Africa if there is business unity.

”We took his comments to heart, and the AHI came out with strong support for what is happening here tonight,” Sonn said.

”It is now over to you. We have full faith in you to lead us forward,” Sonn told Motsepe.

Nafcoc kick-started this week what it called a national roadshow, beginning with the Free State conference. Conferences in the other eight provinces are scheduled for the next three months, to culminate in the national conference in September.

The roadshow follows Nafcoc’s re-uniting conference in September 2002 at Sun City. The organisation was riddled with in-fighting for some time before that. It started when some members signed a merger agreement with Sacob without the full mandate of the organisation. – Sapa

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