Give more wealth to blacks in South Africa: Presidency

Business leaders need to be more courageous in ensuring that the country’s wealth is transferred to more black South Africans, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.

“Courageous leadership must not only come from government,” Radebe told the Black Management Forum’s annual conference in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

He said the structure of South Africa’s economy was still largely reflective of the country’s apartheid past.

“For example, at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange… they say [in] the first top 100 companies that are listed, about 23% are black – even by that standard, it is still very low.

“We require a change in terms of ownership patterns, to reflect South African society.”

The ANC-led government wanted more radical socio-economic transformation to ensure that the country’s wealth was transferred and owned by the people.

“We need to do more in order to address the disparities of the past, so that even in the higher echelons of business, we see [more] black people,” Radebe said.

“The issue of economic empowerment, the transfer of assets to black hands [and] the economy as a whole, must reflect the demographics.

“This is not only an economic necessity, but a political imperative – you see the protests happening in our townships, you see the issues that confront our young people at schools and university [and they] indicate that that we need to move with speed to radically change South African society, especially the economic structure.”

Growth of the middle class

The number of black middle class South Africans had grown from 300 000 in 1994 to about 5 million currently, Radebe said.

He said this was good, but more still needed to be done.

Last week Wednesday, Radebe was booed as he received a memorandum of understanding at an anti-corruption march in Pretoria.

Marchers gesticulated for him to go away.

Some blew whistles, while others rolled their hands – a soccer signal for substitution.

The crowd drowned out Radebe as he tried to address them.

When he started telling them about the National Development Plan (NDP), they started booing and singing.

In response, Radebe told journalists that just as they had the freedom of expression, he had the freedom to convey what government was doing about corruption.


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Give more wealth to blacks in South Africa: Presidency