We want more black bosses – Zuma

2012-07-07 08:19

Government’s infrastructure development programmes would contribute to transformation, President Jacob Zuma has said.

“The infrastructure build programme is also a means to support broad-based empowerment.

“We want black people to go beyond being portfolio holders of 3% shares in this company, and 5% in that company. We want to see factories that are owned by black entrepreneurs.”

He was speaking at the corporate update dinner of the Black Management Forum in Sandton last night, a glittering occasion bringing together corporate leaders.

The infrastructure development programme was designed to respond to “unacceptably high levels of unemployment and a moderate rate of economic growth and development”.

South Africa under apartheid was characterised by underdevelopment and the deliberate exclusion of the majority from economic activity.

“Despite 18 years of democratic rule, this legacy is still evident and requires greater effort on the part of all stakeholders to overcome.”

Zuma said government was aware of concerns by black business that “government does not always put its money where its mouth is when it comes to opening up opportunities for black people”.

Government should therefore prioritise procuring from black business, in areas such as black accounting, legal and engineering firms.

“We have a duty to practise transformation and not only to talk about it as government.”

Government also needed to pay service providers within a month, as failure to do so would be tantamount to sabotaging these companies, he said.

A new policy was being explored to force managers to comply with the 30-day deadline. Under the proposed scheme managers could face disciplinary proceedings if the accounts went unpaid.

Zuma said that on the legislative side government was working to ensure greater strides in transformation.

This included the broad-based black economic empowerment amendment bill, gazetted last year.

“The bill makes provisions for empowering the Special Investigating Unit to investigate all offences involving fronting or corruption committed by both the public and private sector with regard to the application of the Act and B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice.”

Anyone found guilty of misrepresenting a company’s B-BBEE status would be liable to severe penalties.

“Proposed penalties include imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years ... Serious. It could also include a fine of 10% of that enterprise’s annual turnover ... Even more serious,” Zuma said, to hoots of laughter and applause.

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