(File image) President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Jacques Naude

Johannesburg - Government's infrastructure development programmes would contribute to transformation, President Jacob Zuma said in Johannesburg on Friday evening.

“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

percent shares in this company, and 5 percent 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, 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 under-development and the deliberate exclusion of the majority from economic activity.

“Despite, eighteen 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 practice 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 percent of that enterprise’s annual turnover... Even more serious,” Zuma said, to hoots of laughter and applause. - Sapa