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Jabu Tshabalala | 7th Feb 2023

We need 11 million more jobs, and small businesses will create 90% of them. We cannot have 70% youth unemployment and expect peace.

During his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday, South African business organisations hope President Cyril Ramaphosa will recognise the country’s crises and also acknowledge a black economic empowerment (BEE) milestone.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) chief executive Cas Coovadia told Sunday World during an interview that Ramaphosa needed to recognise the country was in crisis. “We have a multifaceted crisis.

The starting point when dealing with it is decisive and courageous leadership from the president,” Coovadia said.

Black Business Council (BBC) chief executive Kganki Matabane said 2023 was significant as the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act turns 20 years this year.

“We’re expecting the president to reflect on that, and the progress made so far,” he added.

The BBC wants Ramaphosa to indicate what the government’s plans to accelerate BEE are going to look like.

This is particularly in light of the BBC’s data showing that black people own less than 5% of the economy and government employment equity reports indicating about 70% of JSE-listed company CEOs were white males, Matabane said.

Coovadia said Ramaphosa needed to address several critical issues in his 2023 Sona.

“The top issue is energy. The president’s energy plan is on the table, and he needs to assure the country that the government will urgently implement it.

“But unfortunately, that plan will only bear fruit in two years,” he added.

Matabane also believes the country’s first issue is solving the power crisis. “It needs to be sorted out as soon as possible. If we continue like this for the next three years – the economy may collapse,” he added.

The National Development Plan aims to cut unemployment to 6% by 2030 from more than 30% today.

“We need 11-million more jobs, and small businesses will create 90% of them. We cannot have 70% youth unemployment and expect peace. We want the president to say something about that,” Matabane said.

The BBC also wants the president to deal with crime and corruption during the Sona and for him to put the National Prosecuting Authority under pressure to act.

He added it was important that the government announced measures to deal with crime and protect South African citizens.

“If they have to hire more police, let them do that,” he added.

This is particularly important as Matabane said many high-net-worth individuals were leaving South Africa because of crime and loadshedding.

This emigration is reducing the country’s tax base.

Coovadia said Busa expected the president to address the country’s logistical problems.

“Transnet’s performance is far from optimal, and our road network is collapsing after being one of the best on the continent.”

“I don’t know if the president will have announced his cabinet by then, but his cabinet needs to speak with one voice under his leadership and not have mixed messages from different ministers,” he added.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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