Address by President Jacob Zuma to Black Business Council
31 July 2013
ANC National Chairperson, Comrade Baleka Mbethe
Secretary-General of the ANC Comrade Gwede Mantashe
Treasurer-General Comrade Zweli Mkhize
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The President, Leadership and membership of the Black Business Council,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Comrades and friends,
Good evening to you all.
We are pleased to be part of this important occasion, which is a culmination of an important dialogue earlier today.
We congratulate you as well on the launch of the national conversation on the work ethic. All successful nations put productivity and the work ethic first.
We urge you to continue promoting this positive value as part of building a prosperous nation and society.
We meet just a few months before a critical milestone in our country, the celebration of 20 years of freedom and democracy.
The former President of the ANC and founding president of a free and democratic South Africa is sadly still in hospital, where he remains in a critical but stable condition.
The doctors are doing everything they can to ensure an improvement in his health. We urge you to continue to keep Madiba in your thoughts and prayers.
We spent four days at the ANC lekgotla earlier this month and emerged from the session energised after reflecting on the achievements that this country has scored in only 19 years.
We state without fear of contradiction, that South Africa is a much better place now, than it was before 1994, thanks to the hard work of South Africans.
Firstly, we pride ourselves on the democracy that we have achieved and consolidated in only a few years, supported by a progressive Constitution that protects the rights of all.
Let me share some of the achievements of our young nation.
South Africa has attained almost universal access to basic education.
School participation is at 99 percent for the seven to 15 year age group, which means South Africa has achieved the UN Millennium Development Goal on universal access before 2015.
Census 2011 also gave us good news on adult education. It said the proportion of the population without any formal schooling decreased two-fold from 17.9% in 2001 to 8.6% in 2011.
The areas in which we have been most successful are in facilitating universal access to primary education.
In 2001, forty five percent of five year old children were in school and this has increased to 81 percent due to the intensive rollout of the early childhood development programmes and Grade R programme by the ANC government.
About 82 percent of children from poor households and the working class – more than 8 million – are exempted from paying school fees by government. In addition, more than 8 million children also receive nutritious meals at schools.
Our higher education sector is also expanding. In the last decade we have witnessed growth of over 50% in university enrolments.
Student enrolments at FET colleges have also increased by 90 percent following the campaign to promote these colleges.
We urge you as business people to absorb the graduates for internships and learnerships so that they can complete their studies with much-needed experience.
Work is advanced towards establishing two universities this year in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape to further expand access to higher education.
The country is also making progress in reducing the numbers of people experiencing extreme poverty, through the social protection programme which now reaches more than 16 million people. These are especially vulnerable children, older persons and persons with disability.
South Africa is a hospitable country and South Africans are welcoming to foreigners.
Between 2006 and 2011, South Africa registered more than 816,000 new asylum applications, making it by far the top destination for asylum-seekers for this six-year period, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Global Trends 2011 report.
In this regard, South Africa was the world’s largest recipient of individual applications for the fourth successive year in 2011.
These figures indicate that although there are isolated unacceptable incidents of attacks on foreigners, the general population is friendly, tolerant and welcoming.
On health, our country has turned the corner on fighting HIV and AIDS and have received ongoing acknowledgement from the UNAIDS programme.
We run the largest HIV and AIDS treatment regime in the world, benefitting 2,1 million people. As a result the life expectancy of our people has increased and people living with HIV are leading much healthier lives.
One of our greatest success stories is the remarkable 60% reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We moved from about 8% in 2008 down to 3,5 in 2010 and 2,7 in 2011.
In addition, more than 20 million people have voluntarily taken the HIV test since the launch of the testing campaign in 2010. We congratulate all of them and urge men in particular to take the test. As of now, 65 percent of those who have tested are women.
Our campaign was taken a step further this week when we met with the Executive Director for UNAIDS Mr Michel Sidibe and South Africa’s highly successful Hollywood actress Charlize Theron who is now the UN Messenger of Peace.
Ms Theron has put herself at the disposal of her country to promote the HIV and AIDS campaign especially amongst the youth. We are highly impressed by the patriotic spirit displayed by Ms Theron. She expressed her admiration of her country for the strides it has made in the fight against AIDS.
We urge the Black Business Council to also use its voice and programmes to take forward the campaign against this disease.
Another good score for our country is that South Africa is ranked second out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting both borrowers and lenders when obtaining credit for business, according to the World Bank Doing Business Report 2011.
On Corporate governance the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness report ranks South Africa as the best in the world in terms of the strength of auditing and reporting standards, efficacy of corporate boards and the protection of minority shareholders’ interests.
More good news about your country is that South Africa continues to be a popular tourist destination and has not been adversely affected by the financial and economic crisis globally.
In 1993, South Africa received a mere 3.4 million foreign visitors. By 2012, the figure had grown by 300 percent to 13.5 million visitors, of which 9.2 million were tourists.
Our tourism growth is underpinned by our excellent facilities. Let me mention a few.
The Cape Town International Airport was voted as the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2012.
The OR Tambo International Airport came second and King Shaka International third.
The three airports were ranked 27th, 31st and 35th respectively in the world.
The Intercontinental Hotel at O.R. Tambo International Airport was named as the winner of the prestigious 2012 World Luxury Airport Hotel award at the global tourism industry awards.
The Cape Grace Hotel in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has been named second Best Hotel in the World in the 2013 Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.
On the science and technology front, South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.
On Finance, South Africa has the second most transparent budget in the world according to the Open Budget Index 2012. In 2010, we were ranked first, according to the International Budget Partnership.
On good governance, South Africa was ranked fifth out of 52 countries on the 2012 Ibrahim Index which measures the quality of African governance.
Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles took the first four places out of 52.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Comrades and friends,
You will be pleased to hear that South Africa is not the most corrupt country in the world.
We were ranked 28th out of 167 countries surveyed in the 2011 Democracy Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
We acknowledge that every kind of crime has been reduced except white-collar crime. Therefore, the fight against corruption continues to be intensified in the public sector.
We urge business to assist us in dealing with crime in the private sector, which has reared its ugly more prominently recently for example the construction industry scandal.
There are many, many more achievements that we can mention, which we will be sharing with our people when do national report backs.
At the same time, a lot of work must still be done to further extend social services to all and also to improve the climate for job creation.
Our people count unemployment as a key challenge affecting them. This week’s Stats SA unemployment statistics have indicated another dip in employment figures.
Total employment has increased by more than 3.5 million since 1994, but as more job seekers enter the market, with the economy not growing as fast as we all would like it to, many are still in the job queues.
The diminished demand for South African exports by our traditional trading partners, the United States, Japan and the EU due to the recession continues to put pressure on our economy.
Other boosting ties with other regions such as BRICS to expand our market reach, our investment in the future also prioritises investment in education and skills development.
Current key interventions also include our infrastructure development programme as well as public works programme continue to provide opportunities that cushion many in the unemployment line.
The infrastructure programme will cost around four trillion rand over the next 15 years. We are replacing mud schools with modern schools. We are also refurbishing health facilities.
We are building and improving rail, roads, ports, energy, broadband and roads around the country.
There are many other interventions that we are engaged in, working with business and labour, to boost confidence in the economy and promote investments. The recent interventions in the mining sector are part of these efforts.
Tonight we invite you as black business to play a more visible role in promoting and boosting confidence in the South African economy.
We invite you as well to participate actively in promoting economic transformation, growth and development. Such participation should go beyond looking only at expanding black participation in the economy.
We need your inputs at both micro and macro-economic levels.
The ANC’s approach to economic issues is informed by the historical principles espoused in the Freedom Charter, Ready to Govern document and the Reconstruction and Development Programme and further elaborated in conference
We approach economic transformation guided by the following pillars:
(a) Creating decent employment for all South Africans.
(b) Eliminating poverty and dealing decisively with extreme inequalities in our society.
(cDemocratising ownership and control of the economy by empowering the historically oppressed, Africans and the working class in particular to play a leading role in decision-making.
(d) Restructuring the economy so that it meets the basic needs of all South Africans and the people of the region, especially the poor.
(e) Ensuring equitable and mutually beneficial regional development in Southern Africa, thereby fostering the progressive integration of the region, and
(f) Limiting the negative environmental impact of our economic transformation programme.
An important part of our vision is to build a mixed economy in which the state, private capital, co-operative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way to eliminate poverty and to foster economic growth, as stated in our economic transformation resolution.
We also re-affirm our 52nd national Conference understanding of a developmental state is that “it is located at the centre of a mixed economy and which intervenes in the interest of the people as a whole”. The key role played by the state in the infrastructure programme is a case in point.
We have placed on the table a long-term socio-economic plan, the National Development Plan which outlines the vision towards economic growth and prosperity.
Amongst the economic proposals, the National Development Plan proposes intensive support for small business through better coordination of relevant agencies, development finance institutions as well as public and private incubators.
Thus, as part of implementing the NDP, we call on government institutions and the private sector to procure from small firms, and to enhance the development of black and female managers and professionals.
An economy that is diversifying into new sectors will open up opportunities for black-owned firms and smaller businesses, and ultimately promote inclusive growth.
The ANC government made some inroads already with regards to Black Economic Empowerment although more work must still be done.
The government’s Business Supplier Development Programme under the Department of Trade and Industry has helped more than 300 businesses who had received incentives of 96.6 million rand in 2011-12, while in 2012-13 that number rose to 451 million rand.
The programme is aimed at boosting black-owned small, medium-sized and micro enterprises through the provision of business development services.
In addition, the Industrial Development Corporation has, in the past five years, approved funding to more than 510 black-empowered and owned companies. The value of these approvals is more than R25, 2 billion.
Comrades and friends,
We have made a good start over 20 years. However, there is a lot more work to be done still, as the legacy of apartheid colonialism cannot be eradicated in only 20 years.
You need to be part of that work going forward.
When the going gets tough, as it will from time to time, let us never lose sight of the achievements that we have scored.
As a final reminder of these achievements, when you drink water here tonight, be proud of the fact that South Africa is one in only 12 countries in the world where it is safe to drink tap water.
Enjoy the rest of the evening.
I thank you!