Deputy President David Mabuza addressing the National Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Rural and Township Economy Summit in East London yesterday. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS
DEPUTY President David Mabuza says it is not slogans that would help rescue the majority of South Africans trapped in poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“Slogans would not resolve the reality we face, but practical actions that would stimulate economic growth and lead to opportunities for gainful employment,” said Mabuza.

“Thus when we speak of land restitution, economic restitution and wealth creation, we speak of Radical Economic Transformation not for sloganeering, but as a call for policy action that will bring the severity of unemployment, poverty and inequality to its knees.”

Mabuza was speaking at a Township and Rural Economies Summit in East London yesterday.

More than 1000 delegates from across the country attended the summit to exchange ideas, knowledge and expertise on mechanisms, interventions, models and best practices that will take entrepreneurial activities in townships and rural areas to a higher level.

Mabuza said the revitalisation of township and rural economies should be taken seriously as a significant developmental imperative.

To make township and rural economies competitive, economic activities should be brought closer to where the majority of people live - in townships and rural areas.

“Think of how many cars are there in our townships or in the government fleet that are serviced and repaired outside of township establishments. Yet we have many small workshops and auto body shops that could be supported for them to grow and become competitive,” he said.

Public procurement strategies will focus on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) development, singling out sectors such as the metal fabrication, capital equipment and transport equipment, electronics and other medium as well as heavy commercial vehicles and the pharmaceutical sector, he said.

“We must build factories and agro-processing centres in rural areas and within townships.

“We will also be ensuring that SMMEs are paid within 30 days. We cannot claim to support small business public procurement but strangle them of life giving cash.”

Presidential Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council member Dr Thami Mazwai said policy formulation dynamics were premised on the minority, the people in urban areas, rather than the majority in township and rural areas, which made poverty and inequality a ceaseless war.

Mazwai said people living in townships constituted about 22million while those in rural areas were at 19million. “These people (in townships and rural areas) should inform the policy direction of government but this hasn't happened and has to change,” Mazwai said.

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu called for better co-ordination among small businesses. “We craft solutions at summits but after going back to our areas, there’s less co-ordination. We need to start helping each other to grow,” Zulu said.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said: “The pattern of goods and services produced elsewhere flowing to rural areas and townships, and the millions leaving townships and rural areas to pay for these goods and services, will have to change. This can only be achieved if communities and entrepreneurs in these areas are economically empowered and assisted to upscale their activities and create industries manufacturing products for local consumption."