Lionel October, director general of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that his department will enable black industrialists to access a R1bn grant, on top of a syndicated pool of funds to be created by funding institutions, including the National Empowerment Fund, the Public Investment Corporation and the Industrial Development Corporation. This was at the inaugural Black Industrialists Indaba, in Midrand, Gauteng, on Wednesday.
President Jacob Zuma addressed attendees saying that the country needed black industrialists, not racists, and that the need for black industrialists in the economy is not aimed at creating racism but rather at ridding the country of it.
“We wanted to see more factories and other means of production being owned by black people for us to be able to say we are achieving economic transformation. You don’t need to be shy about it. It is not racism in reverse, it is in fact uprooting and getting rid of racism,” said the President on Wednesday.
“We are not bringing racism in reverse; we are actually eradicating racism in our society,” he said, adding that the history of the country of economic development has been structured and rooted in race.
iol reports that October said the grant and associated funding constituted one leg of support for the creation of 100 black industrialists over the next three years. Government is also working on procurement regulations for large state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Transnet, Petro SA and PRASA, as well as large government departments.
October argued that the only path for prosperity that successful countries had followed was through industrialisation. “Until you make your own goods and service and stop being an exporter of raw materials, you will not achieve prosperity,” October said.
Manufacturing contributed a respectable 15% to the country’s GDP in 2013, according to Zuma, but the sector has been in decline and has not been creating the amount of jobs expected, with the latest Quarterly Employment Survey showing only 1,000 manufacturing sector jobs created in the last quarter of 2014.
By Jenni McCann