The pursuance of black economic empowerment (BEE) in the context of an “untransformed economy” ran the risk of creating a class of “compradors”, or black capitalists who owned shares in companies they could not run and who supported the maintenance of “semi-colonial” economic structures, South African Communist Party (SACP) general-secretary Blade Nzimande said on Thursday.
Addressing the Black Business Council (BBC) summit, in Midrand, Nzimande argued that, in its current form, BEE was failing to support a transformative growth path. It was even further entrenching a growth path characterised by industries focused on extracting and exporting raw commodities, while failing to add value and build new productive enterprises.
It was also liable to produce “tenderpreneurs rather than entrepreneurs”, who used their proximity to power to corruptly secure government work and crowd out new and innovative business enterprises.
He said the SACP was unapologetic in it hatred of tenderpreneurs and was comfortable with the fact that such individuals hated the party in return.
For black business to play a transformative role, Nzimande argued, it would need to shift focus from share ownership to participating in enterprises aligned to government’s transformative New Growth Path.
In other words, the focus should be on the emergence of black industrialists, whose businesses produced products and services relevant to the large-scale infrastructure drive that was currently under way.
Speaking briefly in his role as Higher Education Minister, Nzimande also stressed the need for BBC members to be at the forefront of efforts to support skills development, by turning every “workplace into a training space”.