Johannesburg - Black business wants a bigger slice of
government spend, though not necessarily at the expense of white business, the
Black Business Council (BBC) said on Thursday.
"We'd like to have a bigger slice of the cake... we are
not saying they (government) must favour us over whites," incoming
president Ndaba Ntsele told reporters after the launch of the newly-established
BBC in Midrand.
"We are going to compete, not just be given it."
The BBC was resurrected last year, at a summit convened
after the Black Management Forum withdrew from Business Unity SA (Busa) in
The forum claimed Busa's structure was fundamentally flawed
and that the voice of black business was "permanently outnumbered and
Busa itself was formed in 2003 through a merger between the
then BBC and Business SA.
Ntsele said the BBC did not want to dwell on the breakdown
of the relationship with Busa, but rather on the future of the new body.
"As of now we don't have a relationship with
Busa," he said.
Mxolisi Zwane, BBC head of policy, said negotiations with
Busa deadlocked in November after eight meetings, over the issue of equality.
"We are still committed to unity of business, but we
need to have terms that are comfortable to the growth of BBC and its
members," Zwane said.
Zimbabweans, Nigerians and white business had expressed
interest in joining the BBC.
"We have been inundated for requests of membership,
even from white organisations," BBC secretary Sandile Zungu said.
The BBC would be open to all, but would now allow members to
have joint membership with Busa.
"They see the future in the BBC... there are some very
serious implications for Busa going forward," Zungu said.
The BBC had 17 members so far. Busa welcomed the BBC, with
reservations, in a statement issued later on Thursday.
"While Busa welcomes black business capacitating itself
in order to fulfil its contribution towards a radically transformed economy,
Busa's overarching objective remains to achieve an inclusive economy, which
involves business being united."
Busa said it did not represent white business interests, and
was not riding roughshod over black business. It was committed to engaging in
good faith with the BBC.
"Busa believes that it is in the national interest for
both the BBC and Busa to remain committed to the engagement process... and that
together we can continue to explore innovative ways to ensure the realisation
of a unified representative voice of business in South Africa."
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told the BBC to help create
a new economic environment in South Africa.
The BBC "are now the people who have the responsibility...
to create a completely new economic environment in the next two decades",
He called on the BBC to create a new set of values for the
way business is done in South Africa.
"We need to put a soul... into what has become a
heartless, ruthless capitalist system that... has little regard for its impact
on workers," Gordhan said.
"As the BBC, we need to lead a debate on what kind of
soul do we want for the next 20 to 30 years."
This debate is taking place with capitalism in crisis worldwide.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told the BBC the country has
"You carry a heavy burden on your shoulders... to show
business is not just preoccupied with profit margins... but in building South
Cosatu's Dlamini said black business understands the problems
of poverty, unemployment and inequality facing South Africa.
Members of the audience represented the who's who of the
black elite in South Africa.
They included billionaire and outgoing interim president of
the BBC Patrice Motsepe, sports administrator Danny Jordaan, and businessman
Also there were Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel,
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, and Agriculture Minister Tina