The economy must be controlled by the black majority, said Minister of Public Enterprise, Lynne Brown.
Brown spoke to media briefly following a closed meeting with the Black Business Council (BBC) in Sandton on Tuesday.
Initially, media were invited to attend the session but were told that the session was closed and were forced to leave the proceedings.
They were not privy to the issues discussed between the BBC and the ministry, however Brown gave feedback following the meeting.
“Black people are the majority in the country, unless the economy is not in the hands of the majority, it is not going anywhere. We might as well chop off its arms,” said Brown.
The issues raised in the meeting include the involvement of black business and people to become involved in SOEs as suppliers, manufacturers, engineers and producers, she said.
“The economy remains in the hands of the few and a shift must happen through State Owned Enterprises. That is how the economy can build itself and rebuild itself,” she said. Black business should be involved in sectors such as energy and aerospace.
Among issues covered include the implications of the president’s new oversight committee for SOEs, the participation of business associations in SOEs like Eskom and Transnet and State Owned Companies (SOCs) such as Denel, amid litigation proceedings.
The role of the president in the oversight committee means that SOEs will have to report to the president once or twice a year, as the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission does, said Brown.
“We are happy with the response from the minister,” said Mohale Ralebitso, CEO of the BBC.
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Ralebitso said that the council will have follow up discussions in November with the ministry and CEOs of the SOEs Brown is in charge of to “map out” a plan for the partnerships between SOEs and black business.
Among the BBC’s concerns was the reduced pressure on the fiscus to support SOEs. “The minister gave perspective on who has what guarantees from the state and what the path is for the organisations to achieve their mandates,” he told media after the meeting.
He said that the minister would look at ways black businesses could become role players in procurement of services by SOEs and their role in providing services to the private sector.
Doing business with Eskom
Ralebitso said there should be more discussions on the arrangements between Eskom and the mining sector and the opportunities for black business, that will eventually benefit the “transformation agenda”.
“We volunteered talent from the Black Business Council [to SOEs]. Whether it be accountants, investment professionals, and all other professionals the state requires services from,” he said.
The BBC also made enquiries on the expansion opportunities of SOEs such as Eskom in the DRC, Mozambique, Uganda for Eskom, Denel in Egypt and SA Express in Ghana.
Regarding Eskom’s activities into the rest of the continent, Ralebitso said that Eskom has the capacity to assist countries beyond South Africa. “Eskom has the role to brighten up the continent,” he said. “If those countries remain energy starved, their growth prospects are limited and by extension South Africa’s. Those are markets for South African companies to export goods to.”
Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown says the economy can’t flourish when it is not in the hands of the majority