Solomon Mahlangu and Basil February both achieved greatness at very young ages, said ANC MP Faiez Jacobs. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane
Solomon Mahlangu and Basil February both achieved greatness at very young ages, said ANC MP Faiez Jacobs. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

Struggle icons' bravery should inspire SMMEs to go further - Faiez Jacobs

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Mar 9, 2020

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Durban - Despite a spirited and dirty campaign by the apartheid regime to demonise their freedom fighting exploits, Solomon Mahlangu and Basil February achieved greatness at a very young age. 

Their achievements, according to Faiez Jacobs, an ANC MP for Athlone and a member of the party’s Western Cape interim provincial committee, should inspire small and medium business owners to aim for greatness. 

Jacobs was speaking in Athlone, Cape Town on Saturday during a youth and small business development seminar. He said in the eyes of the apartheid government, the two had failed but in the eyes of history they inscribed their names on the role of honour and greatness. 

He spoke of the achievements of Basil February, a member of uMkhonto Wesizwe from District Six who was killed on his way back to South Africa from Zimbabwe.

“(He) died single-handedly fighting off the SADF in a two hour stand-off. Today, he is a hero of our nation. He left his future as a doctor or medical practitioner and went in search of greatness. It is because of young people like him that you are able to sit here today. Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu was a young man of 21 when the brutal apartheid regime found him guilty of high treason and marched him to the gallows to be hanged to death. Like you who choose to be here this morning and not fear failure..Solomon walked bravely to be hanged and uttered words that continue to move young people to make a difference...to do something with their lives...listen to these powerful words that he said: " My blood will nourish the tree of freedom. Tell my people that I love them," Jacobs said. 

Jacobs told delegates who came to the seminar that the growth and success of small and medium business is a key catalyst to our success and development as a nation. 

“If I can encourage you this morning as entrepreneurs and aspirant businesswomen and businessmen; remember our hero Solomon Mahlangu's words ...my blood will nourish the tree of freedom...You are that tree of freedom....your growth and success is the key to our success and development as a nation,” he said.

Jacobs has small business development close to his heart as he also serves as a portfolio committee member on small business development, recounted how small businesses have played a role in developing European and Asian economic giants after they were gutted by world wars. 

He used the example of Germany, Japan and Turkey and said these countries started with home based businesses and hardly had any resources; not government aid, grants or loan finance to start with, but prospered.

“They baked bread. Made bricks. Welded gates. Repaired the electrical appliances.  Then they restored homes. Cleaned up debris and rebuilt neighbourhoods block by block, street by street, area by area, city by city. Little SMEs became medium-sized enterprises and year on year they grew and made progress. 

He added that every day start ups are changing the world and SMMEs who dared to succeed and prosper are now leading the way. 

“They pay little attention to the prophets of doom who give a thousand reasons why you can't succeed. They will tell you that there is an SMME funding deficit of R86bn to R350bn. Make a plan and make a success of it any way. Small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) have the potential to drive economic growth and employment in South Africa. However, this potential is not being realised.”

Political Bureau

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