BMF ‘must take the lead’ Speak­ers at em­ploy­ment equity con­fer­ence say SA is shut­ting down de­vel­op­ment, with no sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Business - BERNARD SATHEKGE bernards@the­newage.co.za

THREE in­flu­en­tial speak­ers at­tend­ing the Black Man­age­ment Fo­rum (BMF) con­fer­ence yes­ter­day agreed the coun­try had been “shut­ting down de­vel­op­ment”.

Econ­o­mist Thabi Leoka, Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion com­mis­sioner Tem­binkosi Bon­akele and Wits lec­turer and econ­o­mist Chris Ma­likane said dis­in­vest­ment was at a high level, sim­i­lar to where it was at the height of apartheid in the ’80s and ’90s

Left-lean­ing Ma­likane, who kick­started the dis­cus­sion on how the BMF could achieve in­clu­sive growth and em­ploy­ment equity, said if the fo­rum did not take the lead to cap­ture the state and di­rect it on trans­for­ma­tional poli­cies, noth­ing would be achieved.

Ma­likane said he was not rep­re­sent­ing the min­is­ter of fi­nance but was speak­ing in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity and as a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Wits.

“We have a prob­lem of shut­ting down the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try. The coun­try is tak­ing back­ward steps to­wards the ’90s and ’80s when dis­in­vest­ment was high be­cause of fear.

“There is a lot of pol­icy un­cer­tainty and we are back to the ’90s. The gov­ern­ment debt ra­tio is ris­ing as it did then.”

He said it was dis­cour­ag­ing to re­alise there was no sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in the past 23 years.

“We are lost. Poverty lev­els are the same that we in­her­ited in 1994.”

He said for blacks to prop­erly be­long in the in­clu­sive econ­omy, the BMF should first em­bark on “the process of pol­icy cap­ture be­cause ev­ery­one is rush­ing to cap­ture the state”.

“The pol­icy adopted in 1996 is not the one the ma­jor­ity of South Africans voted for in 1994. South Africans voted for RDP poli­cies, which are com­pletely dead and re­placed by many po­lices that don’t work,” he said.

Ma­likane said if groups such as BMF were not go­ing to make rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion hap­pen, “then it must kiss an in­clu­sive econ­omy good­bye”.

He said talk­ing about the struc­ture of eco­nomic own­er­ship in­creases pol­icy un­cer­tainty. “For the state to be devel­op­men­tal the BMF needs to cap­ture the state pol­icy,” he said.

Ma­likane said the BMF must take into ac­count that the state is con­tested by many play­ers and groups like the BMF that “can’t stand on the side while oth­ers are prac­tis­ing their ob­jec­tive of cap­tur­ing and pro­tect­ing their in­ter­ests”.

The state must be devel­op­men­tal if we want to achieve in­clu­sive growth and rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, he said. “The BMF must not be afraid to cap­ture state power,” Ma­likane said.

He said he couldn’t un­der­stand why peo­ple didn’t im­ple­ment rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and change of own­er­ship of the econ­omy, in­stead of de­bat­ing it. “We can’t cel­e­brate for­eign-owned in­dus­tries grow­ing quickly be­cause the chunk of profit made is not rein­vested into the coun­try.’’

Thabi Leoka, a pow­er­house econ­o­mist, said reg­u­la­tions and fi­nan­cial ac­cess were the main stum­bling blocks hold­ing back in­clu­sive growth.

Bon­akele also at­tacked gov­ern­ment for not cre­at­ing a friend­lier mar­ket en­vi­ron­ment for lo­cal sup­pli­ers. “Con­cen­tra­tion of the econ­omy into par­tic­u­lar sec­tors has cost the coun­try dearly and as a re­sult it hasn’t de­liv­ered the ex­pected div­i­dend for black peo­ple.’’

PICTURE: GETTY IM­AGES

UR­GENT POL­ICY: Ex­perts at the BMF gath­er­ing in­sisted that in­clu­sive growth and trans­for­ma­tion would be­come ster­ile in the ab­sence of rad­i­cal pol­icy changes and sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in the econ­omy.

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