Speaker's notes for the MEC of Public Works, Mr George Phadagi, at the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (FABCOS) annual general meeting, Honeymoon Lodge, Seshego, Polokwane
9 Oct 2009
Theme: ‘Unlocking business opportunities through government participation’
Provincial Chairperson of FABCOS Mr Ducksy Mukhondo
National, provincial and local leadership of FABCOS
Delegates of FABCOS
Executives from Nedbank
Executives from Standard Bank
Friends, ladies and gentlemen
We feel highly honoured to take part in the proceedings of your provincial annual general meeting (AGM) this evening and particularly wish to extend our congratulations to you on your 20th anniversary. We salute the many great strides that Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (FABCOS) has achieved throughout the two decades of its existence and hope that this annual general meeting shall set the tone of what needs to be done in order to advance the interests of FABCOS members. I’m confident that your organisation has come of age and has all the wisdom it needs to bring prosperity and goodwill to all of its members.
FABCOS is one of the most organised and dedicated of all the black business chambers we have in this country. It has done more for black business people in its 20 years of existence, and continues to grow beyond leaps and bounds. We wish to salute the leadership of your organisation and its members for standing tall and committed to the vision of black economic advancement even during the most turbulent of times.
The achievements you have made in the last 20 years have proven to all in sundry that you can be relied upon in executing the daunting task to change the lives of black South Africans for the better. I stand on this podium proud to be associated with you and the positive work you continue to do in the fields of agriculture, construction, tourism, transport and retail.
The transformation of the racially skewed economy into one that belongs to all is clearly one of the major challenges we are all faced with. Whilst we take pride at the growing number of women and black business people in the province who are succeeding beyond limits, we believe that, a lot more still needs to be done to transform the racial structure of the South African economy to become inclusive and more productive.
The fact that our economy is not yet fully representative of the majority of the people of our country, 15 years into democracy, points to the enormous challenges that still lie ahead of us.
* One of the cardinal reasons why black people find themselves involved in business, is because of the challenge of unemployment and desire to escape poverty. Unlike in some developed countries where people get involved in business out of sheer choice or family tradition, many in our country do so out of necessity or desperation. We need black entrepreneurs to take advantage of the economic benefits that come from government in order to use them as stepping stones for even bigger opportunities.
It is the responsibility of FABCOS to ensure that the tendering process does not just benefit big companies from Gauteng, but also benefit local black people and women in line with the requirements of the transformation code and the charters. Equally, it is your responsibility to ensure that economic empowerment does not only circulate amongst the few highly connected individuals, in exclusion of the majority.
Limpopo has the abundance of natural resources but our greatest challenge has always been how best to add value on our existing resources. A common view which is shared across the province is that, for us to develop as a province, we cannot just be producers of raw materials without beneficiating and manufacturing.
Neither can we sustain our economic growth without investing adequately in research and development. The built environment industry which is an area under which our Department of Public Works operates also requires major transformation.
We need more black entrepreneurs to enter the industry as engineers, structural engineers, architects, and quantity surveyors. Fortunately, all of us know and understand the sad reality under which the built environment industry operates. The fact remains that we have a situation where the big engineering firms continue to be the ones winning bigger contracts whilst black companies languish behind as either junior partners or sub-contractors. Together with FABCOS we all have an obligation to ensure that this state of affairs changes for the better.
At the same time, it is our responsibility to ensure that we deal with those contractors who do shoddy work and do not pay their employees. It is important that black contractors who are given projects by the state take their work seriously by always making good impressions in the projects they are involved with. We applaud those who take their work seriously and our hope is that they be awarded better and bigger contracts.
We all need to spread our influence in the built environment value chain, such that we become not only builders but also suppliers of not those diminishing capital goods like cement, steel, paint, wood or glass. The construction industry is much wider than just brick and mortar. It requires us to look further than the building of just schools, clinics, Reconstruction and Development Programme houses and other small scale projects.
* 15 years down the line, we are all in agreement that the small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME) sector should play an important role in the creation of jobs and in the fight against poverty. There is no longer a debate on whether SMME’s are important or not. Everybody including big business, seem to agree that, for the economy to grow faster, all we need is a stronger SMME sector.
* The challenge of our day and time is to formalise informal trade by helping these enterprises to graduate and to climb the value chain ladder. We need more and not less entrepreneurs of different shades and background in order to propel the wheel of economic growth and development.
* The challenge of delayed payment to small business people who have rendered service to government needs to be addressed. According to the prescribed policies and rules of government, small suppliers are supposed to be paid within a 30 day cycle. Our understanding is that all our provincial departments are supposed to stick to this policy, and if there are known deviations regarding these, let us be informed. Business for black people shouldn’t just be about survival or living from hands to mouth.
* We must build businesses which are highly profitable but socially relevant. The resounding success of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is one typical example of what business people can do to meet the needs of poor people whilst still maintaining the bottom line.
At the end of the day, we need strong partnerships between government and the private sector in order to facilitate change. Let us build from the successes of
Gundo Lashu and Sakhasonke remerging contractor development programme to empower more of our people.
Working together we can do more!
Issued by: Department of Public Works, Limpopo Provincial Government
9 October 2009
Source: Department of Public Works, Limpopo Provincial Government (http://www.dpw.limpopo.gov.za/)
Issued by: Limpopo Provincial Government
9 Oct 2009
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