Black professionals are key to promoting radical economic transformation amid a racially-skewed economic structure, President Jacob Zuma told black professionals in Pretoria on Friday.
Zuma’s meeting with black professionals follows similar interactions with South African business executives and will be followed by meetings with labour representatives, the Presidency said in a statement.
“We cannot change the global economic conditions, but we can do a lot to change the local conditions,” said Zuma. “You have a role to play in boosting economic growth and job creation in all the sectors that you operate in.
“You have a role to play in promoting radical economic transformation,” he said. “And you have a role to play in the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP), which has now been built into the programme of government, to build a more prosperous society.”
Zuma is meeting key stakeholders as government attempts to forge partnerships to take the country forward, following the economic crisis that occurred at the end of 2015.
Markets and bonds crashed along with the rand in December when Zuma replaced his respected finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with unknown politician Des van Rooyen, who he then dumped for Pravin Gordhan due to internal party pressure. Gordhan has led efforts since then to stabilise the economy and convince rating agencies that South Africa’s fiscal policy is solid to avoid an investment downgrade to junk status, which would have a devastating impact on the economy.
Zuma’s meeting with black professionals comes after his State of the Nation address last week and in response to Thursday's debate on the speech, in which he told parliamentarians that government should leave no stone unturned to prevent a downgrade.
“I assure you we are implementing the NDP. And I’m happy that this time around we’re coming together as business, government and labour to agree on the things that will take South Africa forward,” Zuma said in his reply to the debate.
“Our position is that since we cannot change the global economic outlook, we can still focus on correcting the domestic circumstances that have affected confidence in our economy.”
Zuma told the black professionals that while the global economy continues to experience challenges, internal constraints include an energy shortage, labour instability, skills shortages and the structure of the economy, “which is still racially skewed in ownership, management and control”.
The meeting was attended by profesionals from the following organisations:
- the Black Management Forum,
- the Association of Black Accountants SA,
- the Black Lawyers Association,
- the Progressive Professionals Forum,
- the National Society of Black Engineers,
- the Association of Black Securities Investment Professionals,
- the Association of SA Black Actuarial Professionals,
- the Black Information and Technologies Forum,
- the SA Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisations,
- the Association of Women Chartered Accountants and
- the SA Institute of Black Property Practitioners.