S.Africa holds conference to correct effects of apartheid upon victims
Newscast Media JOHANNESBURG—South African President Jacob Zuma vows to transform the economy by involving more black business people sidelined for years by the oppressive apartheid regime that ended in 1994.
Speaking at a two day Broad-based Economic Empowerment (BEE) summit in Johannesburg, President Jacob Zuma said his country is ready to further boost its economy, this time by opening the doors to more black industrialists. Zuma said his government is planning to provide mentorship programs and financial assistance to previously disadvantaged black businesses.
Addressing delegates at the BEE, President Zuma also said the current BEE Act has been amended to ensure that black businesses have the same opportunities as their white counterparts.
The Act, which dates back to 2003, aims to redress the inequalities of apartheid by giving disadvantaged groups, including blacks, Indians and coloreds, economic privileges previously not available to them.
“It is important therefore, to underline that Broad-based Economic Empowerment is an integral part of our economic policies and economic transformation. It is part of a broader objective of promoting inclusive growth and economic development.” Zuma said.
Zuma told the summit that since South Africa achieved its independence in 1994, BEE transactions worth $60 billion (44 billion euros) have been made. He added that in the past financial year, the National Empowerment Fund assisted black businesses to the tune of $500 million and created hundreds of jobs in the process.
Corruption is also a big problem, said Jordan Hill, shadow minister of trade and industry from the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition party in South Africa.
“We have seen examples of deals in the past where one well-connected leader will make tens of millions of Rands and the other shareholders, the so called black broad-based elements will make a few hundred Rands out of the deal, to re-empower a few extremely wealthy individuals who are well connected,” said Hill.
In response to these criticisms, the government in turn announced plans for swift measures to deal with the challenges facing the black empowerment program. It revealed that the amendment of the BEE Act would include clauses that will criminalize fronting and allow for a commission to be set up that will monitor and safeguard the objectives of the program.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle