Thank you, Programme Director:
Ministers Susan Shabangu, Malusi Gigaba and Fikile Mbalula
Ministers Mzembi and Nyoni from Zimbabwe
Deputy Minister for Land Reform, Mr Mcebisi Skhwatsha
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Managing Director of Cape Media, Mr Robert Arendse
Editor of the BBQ Magazine, Mr Lindsay King
Delegates from the various Business Enterprises
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour and privilege for me to deliver the opening address at this auspicious occasion. It is not every day that the accomplishments of some of the top achievers in the business world are appreciated and recognised in this manner.
It is fitting that this occasion is held at the Emperors Palace in the City of Ekurhuleni, not far from the O.R. Tambo International Airport. The airport is named after one of South Africa’s greatest patriots and stalwarts of the liberation struggle – Oliver Reginald Tambo. Today, the 27th of October 2016, marks what would have been Tambo’s 99th birthday.
We trust that wherever he is, Tambo is looking down upon us proud that business is playing its part to transform our society and develop a more prosperous South Africa. Let us join the Tambo family, his political home – the African National Congress, the people of South Africa and the Companions of O.R. Tambo across the globe in wishing him a happy birthday!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Awards are a vital incentive in recognising and celebrating excellence in entrepreneurship and business development. They recognise the transformative power of business in society and serve as one of the most efficient vehicles in promoting progressive business.
The role of business in the development of our economy and in the improvement of our standard of living cannot be overemphasised. South Africa is still confronted by the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, which hinder our progress as a nation. It is imperative that both government and business work together in order to stimulate significant economic growth in our country.
This occasion takes place in a very turbulent global economic environment and South Africa is not immune to these conditions. The Minister of Finance, the Honourable Pravin Gordhan, tabled the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in parliament yesterday. The statement paints a bleak picture of our economy as global growth has slowed, thus affecting investment and trade in many developing economies.
These challenges demand balanced fiscal consolidation if we are to meet our growth targets as a nation. The statement also affirms our approach to building a national consensus on development and transformation. Business is a vital partner in our efforts to develop a more dynamic, inclusive and prosperous South Africa. The nexus between government, civil society and business is what can propel us forward as a nation.
It is against this backdrop that the National Development Plan (NDP) is very emphatic on economic growth and the strategic importance of developing local industries. The NDP clearly states that South Africa needs faster and more inclusive growth. There are certain milestones that we have set in order to ensure that we keep abreast with the targets of Vision 2030.
The government of the Republic of South Africa introduced the Radical Economic Transformation as an intervention strategy to expedite economic growth and transformation in our society. Our interventions are aimed at ensuring more rapid and sustainable growth, higher investment, increased employment and reduced inequality. There is a pressing need to address the spatial imbalances in economic opportunities in the business sector.
Some of the key elements that are crucial in harnessing an integrated economic growth strategy include raising exports, improving skills development, lowering the costs of living for the poor, investing in a competitive infrastructure, reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses, facilitating private investment and improving the performance of the labour market.
The NDP makes it abundantly clear that the achievement of economic transformation and inclusive growth will not result from a single intervention – it needs a wide range of contributions from a variety of stakeholders across society. Active citizenry is one of the fundamental elements in bolstering economic growth and ensuring that we have a diversified economic landscape.
In this room this evening, we have captains of the industry and some of the most successful business executives in our country. We encourage these critical stakeholders to contribute to the imperative of the transmission of skills by establishing training and mentorship programmes for the youth. We should create an enabling environment for young graduates to gain exposure to good corporate governance at very early stages of their careers.
It is through collaborative efforts and your unrelenting support that we can attain the goals of the NDP by 2030. Our estimation is that the rate of investment to the GDP will rise from 17% to 30% by 2030. The business sector is crucial in ensuring that we achieve these ambitious targets. The more successful local businesses we have, the better the economic standing of South Africa in the world.
A number of countries worldwide stimulate industrial development through local procurement, and South Africa is no different in this regard. As government, we have adopted clearly defined policies and procedures to ensure that we support SMME’s and give first preference to black-owned businesses.
We understand the devastating effects that delays in payment of service providers have especially to the SMMEs. There is a mandatory thirty days period within which suppliers doing business with government must be paid. I encourage businesses not to suffer in silence and report whenever government departments take longer to pay them.
In the same vein, we encourage local industries to foster international trade and investment in order to boost our economy. Tomorrow, I will be hosting a business delegation from the People’s Republic of China, a country whose economy is soaring to great heights. This is an opportunity for us to exchange ideas and adapt certain business models that would be suitable for our business environment in South Africa.
Those of us who have been following the Chinese economic development very closely understand that it was not an overnight success. It took long-term planning, sustainable growth and consistent monitoring for them to be where they are today. We have Vision 2030 as articulated in the NDP to serve as a vehicle to transport us to where China is today. Business has got a very important role to play in the realisation of this vision.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the BBA Awards contribute directly to our national imperatives by honouring successful business owners in the country. Award categories such as Best Established SMME, Outstanding Woman in Business, Transformation and Community Builder of the Year, give me reason to believe that the awards are more than just about providing an incentive to flourishing businesses. They are more concerned about making a difference in the broader society.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate all the nominees in this evening’s awards ceremony. The fact that you have been nominated means that you are recognised for your exceptional contribution to the world of business. You stand out as some of the brightest stars in the galaxy of business people in this country. May you continue illuminating our paths as we march towards a more economically viable South Africa in 2030.
I extend a special word of congratulations to those who will be receiving awards in the respective categories. The awards that you will be receiving do not mean your mission is complete and that you should rest your laurels. They are only a recognition of the sterling job that you have done so far and they should be a source of inspiration for you to continue with the good work that you are doing. You stand tall as shining examples that aspiring business people ought to emulate.
Every successful endeavour brings along new moral obligations. One of those is to evaluate your own contribution to the national imperatives. This is a clarion call for business to make meaningful contribution towards the attainment of the NDP targets by 2030. NDP belongs to all of us.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.