South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma said the nation must use its buying power to advance black economic empowerment.
Zuma believes the state procurement muscle can be instrumental in sustaining and growing black businesses. That he said, will make the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) policy succeed in the public sector.
Mr. President divulged that government spends about R500 billion annually on goods, services and construction works.
In line with that, he declared the “buying power of the State” is a powerful economic transformation tool. “It can and must be used to advance black economic empowerment,” Zuma charged.
According to Zuma, the nation’s economy can only be meaningful when a majority of citizens can participate in the economy as owners and executives. He added that the private sector has a big role to play in sharing and transferring economic ownership, control and the necessary skills to black South Africans.
“To promote economic transformation and inclusive growth, the B-BBEE policy was designed and is being implemented. For the country to succeed, both the public and private sectors need to institutionalize the policy and implement it,” he said.
President Zuma also disclosed that government is reviewing the National Small Business Act. He called on black businesses to work with the Small Business Department to ensure the Amendment Bill supports the creation of a thriving environment for small business.
To him, access to finance and the implementation of empowerment policies are some of the biggest challenges facing black businesses.
He explained that the reason government established the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) is to provide financial support for empowerment initiatives.
“Since its inception, the number of approvals by the NEF have totalled R7.6 billion, supporting 770 black businesses…Within the Public Investment Corporation fold, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has allocated a further R70 billion, while the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) increased its allocation to R25 billion towards developmental investments.
The IDC has provided R31 billion over the past five years to companies that are black-empowered. The IDC has also allocated R23 billion to the Black Industrialist Programme which was established recently,” buttressed Mr. President.