BBC debates on how to transform SA

Black business Council logo. Picture: blackbusinesscouncil.org
Black business Council logo. Picture: blackbusinesscouncil.org

The ANC came under fire at the Black Business Council (BBC) summit on Friday for its role in the hundreds of billions of rands estimated to have been lost because of corruption and state capture.

A debate was held, centred on the topic of transformation and how to better transform the economy. On the panel were four politicians: ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and deputy president of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.

Among those in attendance was Bheki Sibiya, a former president of the Black Management Forum, who said that R200 billion to R400 billion had been lost because of state capture.

“Why is the ANC struggling to take us, as the voters, into its confidence and to tell us how, in the next five years, it will ensure that history does not repeat itself?” he asked Mashatile. “We would be a better country today without that money having been lost.”

In response, Mashatile said: “We want to make sure that this does not happen again.”

He cited the ANC’s decision to set up a state capture commission of inquiry in 2017 “to get to the truth”.

“Once we know the truth, the issue is: What are we going to do to ensure that it won’t happen again?

“We must ensure that there is good governance,” said Mashatile.

“We must make sure that those people in positions of responsibility operate within the law and the regulations.

“State capture diverts resources that should benefit the people to certain individuals. In short, I am saying to you that the ANC is committed to fixing this so that it does not happen again,” he said.

In his pitch as debater, Mashatile said the ANC was looking to do a number of things to transform the economy, such as: inclusive growth; broadening ownership of the economy; supporting small, medium and micro enterprises; strengthening black empowerment; investing in education and training; and preparing the country for the fourth industrial revolution.

Mashatile said the ANC “fully supports” expropriation of land without compensation.

Next up was Shivambu, who said South Africa’s “neoliberal capitalist economy” excluded millions of people, especially black people, who were “spectators” in the economy.

And, he added, the economy was concentrated in a limited number of localities in the country – in particular, Durban, Cape Town and Gauteng.

In such an economy, he said, South Africa exported semiprocessed products instead of turning these commodities into finished products. “The exporters are white people, [comprising] mostly foreign companies that come here to extract the natural resources, to the exclusion of black people.

“When we talk of transformation in South Africa, it should be structural transformation – not the substitution of white managers with black people, and keep the same colonial economic framework and content.”

Shivambu criticised the country’s special economic zones, which, he said, gave huge incentives largely to international companies that were based in these zones.

“Our people must get access to land,” he said.

When Maimane came to the podium, he jokingly said that the ANC and EFF had been the “curtain raisers” to his speech.

South Africa came from a painful history in which many black South Africans were left out of the economy, he said, and transformation needed to deal with all aspects of what went wrong.

“We need to put a job in every home,” Maimane said. “Four in every ten adults in this country cannot find jobs. We need to build a capable and credible state.

“I want a broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) model that works for all our citizens – that is what I am working towards.”

There were few new black businesses that were being developed, Maimane added.

Today’s BBBEE model had created many consultants and compliance models, he said.

“South Africa should be a partnership between black and white so we can achieve together,” Maimane said.

When Kwankwa got his chance to speak, he said that the UDM had been “the biggest corruption-busters”.

“It is not by accident that I am the last to speak. The leadership of the BBC decided to save the best for last.”

South African corporates had invested a lot of money overseas rather than locally, Kwankwa said.

On the topic of slow growth, Kwankwa said that from 1947 to 1980, India was stuck in low growth of between 2% and 3% a year.

“They had to change drastically by asking themselves: ‘What sector-specific programmes are we going to come up with?’”

South Africa needed to get itself out of the economic rut it found itself in, he said.

He suggested that South Africa break up sectors that were oligopolistic, such as the financial sector.

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