Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has blamed state capture and lack of political will for the slow pace of transformation in South Africa since 2009.
Addressing a Black Management Forum gala dinner on Tuesday (26 April), Godongwana said over the past 25 years, the government has expanded access to jobs, social protection, and basic services such as electricity, piped water and sanitation.
Transformation progress ‘has stalled since 2009’
“Our efforts to promote black economic empowerment and employment equity have yielded some results. Regrettably however, since 2009, our progress has stalled particularly as a result of state capture and a lack of political will,” he added.
“State capture” is a term coined to describe the alleged influence the Gupta family had over the administration of former President Jacob Zuma. This influence was allegedly particularly strong in the procurement processes at state-owned enterprises.
Godongwana said the 2020/2021 Commission for Employment Equity report “paints a grim picture about the pace of transformation in the South African economy.”
“The progress of Black Africans into top management positions averaged around 15% in the three years between 2018 and 2020. The representation of the Coloured and Indian populations remained at 5.7% and 10.6% respectively in 2020. The White population continues to dominate top management roles, accounting for nearly 65%. The case is much the same in senior management roles,” the Minister said.
This skewed representation worsens income and wealth inequality as well as social instability, thereby threatening “our national project of unity, reconciliation and prosperity for all.”
Godongwana therefore vowed that the government will intensify the implementation of “progressive legislation and policies” to advance transformation. These include Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), localisation and Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA).
“The PPPF Bill is now with NEDLAC and it is our intention to table the Procurement Bill before Parliament in June this year. We are committed to using all levers at our disposal, including legislation, to advance economic transformation,” he added.
The Procurement Bill seeks to “advance economic opportunities for previously disadvantaged people and women, the youth and people with disabilities, small businesses, and promote local production.”
It proposes to create a single regulatory framework for public procurement while establishing a Public Procurement Regulator within the National Treasury.
Godongwana nevertheless challenged black professionals to reflect on “why black managers tend to be associated with failure and incompetence.”
“If you look at the state of local government, six out of every 10 municipalities in the country are in financial distress – their governance is weak and they lack professional and judicious management. These are largely municipalities led by black managers under a black political leadership. We must ask these difficult questions and not shy away from them,” he said.