People will rise up if there is no change in the levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has said.
“When the people who have been struggling for many, many years find that the gap between the poor and the rich keeps on expanding, one day they will get up and say enough is enough and we are tired of that,” she said at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry conference in Midrand today.
“[If that happens], believe me, it is not this government that will go out with guns blazing to shoot them. Marikana was a very good example for us; we are not going to make that happen again.”
Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with the police during unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana in August 2012.
More than 70 people were wounded and more than 200 were arrested. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.
Zulu said big business needed to work together with the government to fix problems in the country.
“It’s high time that you [business] looked deeper into where you are putting the money in terms of supporting black entrepreneurs and make sure that you give them skills that are relevant to the economy of the country,” she said.
“It cannot be the responsibility of the government alone, but that does not mean that the government must abdicate its responsibility to address these issues.”
Zulu said her department was clear about using resources of government.
“What we need to do as a department is to lead in terms of ensuring that those resources that sit in the three spheres of government – national, provincial and local – are what we will be able to ... [use],” she said.
“As a department, sitting in Pretoria, we are not going to be able to deliver to the people. Our connection to these structures at a provincial and local level is very important.”
Zulu said the issue of providing money was important because the majority of people, particularly black people and women, did not have enough capital to create their own start-ups.
“We must have mechanisms and systems of ensuring that that money is used properly ... we must empower them to use that money adequately,” she said.