EDITORIAL: State not doing enough to transform economy and help black businesses
The inclusion of black businesses in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has been a bone of contention for many years.
The government’s snail-paced approach at transforming the economy and not enabling black-owned companies to participate at a high corporate level has not assisted the gains of this democracy.
It has enough financial muscle to support black businesses and give small-to-medium-sized enterprises a foot in the door, but major corporates still do business with the state while small businesses languish in poverty.
That was also highlighted by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign funder Mike Teke, who landed a whooping R1.5 billion Eskom contract, making his company the biggest coal supplier at Eskom.
The R1.5 billion could have been split among 10 or even 100 smaller companies. But that wasn’t to be. Since 1994 the government has introduced several policies that were supposed to transform the lives of black people.
Some of the policies were incorporated into the RDP – Reconstruction and Development Programme. Its main focus was to achieve high and sustainable economic growth, but it was reduced to just free housing and nothing more. The GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) framework had an objective to encourage greater public investment in infrastructure, and to also reduce the budget deficit.
The implementation of policies and laws in South Africa remains a perpetual quandary, and there is no evidence of a positive political will.
The government must implement laws that will prohibit public servants from doing business with the government, and politicians must be audited.
In September 2018 Ramaphosa spoke at the National Council of Provinces and promised the people of South Africa that he would form a robust system of lifestyle audits from the end of October. He also said that it should apply to everybody in senior positions, including himself. He added that it should be implemented throughout senior public service.
We are now headed towards the end of the second year since his utterances and nothing has been done. Now may be the perfect time for President Ramaphosa to convince black business that he is on its side.