Economy / 12 February 2020, 11:30am / Banele Ginindza
JOHANNESBURG – A key weakness in the country's business community is that it is not only fragmented and woefully untransformed, but also has misplaced focus.
This is according to George Sebulela, the founder of the South Africa United Business Council (SAUBC), who made the remarks yesterday at the launch of the organisation.
SAUBC intends to be an alternative non-racial advocacy voice for business.
Sebulela, a former Black Business Council (BBC) secretary-general, emphasised the nonracial inclination of the country's newest business and economic federation.
“Busa (Business Unity South Africa) is relevant, the BBC is relevant, they have been there for many years.
"We will work with them as we need them, but we are bringing a fresh approach. We are a structured organisation that does things differently,” Sebulela said.
He said the SAUBC would be an answer to the need for a strong pan-African, industrial and export-focused business body that would lead the country's industrial resurgence, unlock the huge agricultural potential, optimise the international value chains and embrace the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
“SAUBC will be a step change from the current unfocused comprador and lobbyist bodies to a purposeful industrial, trade and business-focused body,” he said.
The group consists of members representing export councils, industry and joint groups.
Sebulela said current advocacy groups were constrained in dealing with matters of social security, unemployment, educational developments and environmental reforms, a niche SAUBC would exploit.
“A lot of important business leaders are being excluded from participating in the core issues, we are ready for the various challenges facing our economy,” he said. “We should not be shy that business (owners) are capitalists. Business must progress and grow and then focus on the areas of its speciality to be an effective social organisation.”
SAUBC said it had 45 member organisations who employed about 3million people and exported R5billion a year worth of goods.
It said it had partnered with the Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Stellenbosch, Wits Business School, the University of Cape Town, and the University of Johannesburg, among others.
Among the organisation's focus areas was strengthening the 4IR structural reforms meant to upgrade economic and social platforms to make them appropriate for South Africa, as well as engaging in “multifaceted private sector economic diplomacy and enhance our capabilities as a global influencer.”
“The SAUBC has consistently called and promoted free trade. By urging an international rule-based response to protectionist trends, from the perspective of the business community, it will continue to make a positive contribution to maintaining and reinforcing free and open international economic order that is based on rule,” Sebulela said.