We remain committed to transformation - Jacob Zuma

ANC president responds to the concerns raised by the BMF over Eskom and other SOE's



The Tripartite Alliance meets in Kempton Park from today until Sunday 15 November, to take stock of progress made since the 52nd ANC National Conference in Polokwane, and also since the elections in April 2009.

We committed ourselves to several policies in Polokwane, which were translated into our election Manifesto as well as the programme of action of the ANC government.

As the Alliance we remain fully committed to the strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution. The mission of the Alliance is clear. It is to implement the programme of liberating Africans in particular and black people in general, from political and economic bondage. It is to improve the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.

At the Summit we will move a step further in refining for implementation the policies we adopted at the 52nd ANC National Conference. We will discuss further the five priorities we committed ourselves to - education, health, rural development, the fight against crime, and creating decent work. We will also look at other pressing matters such as local government, the global economic crisis and energy.

One of the key focus areas of the ANC government is economic transformation. Our resolutions from the 52nd National Conference, the election Manifesto and the State of the Nation address clearly spell out our economic transformation objectives and plans.

We emphasise that the creation of decent work will be at the centre of our economic policies and will influence our investment attraction and job-creation initiatives. In line with our undertakings, as stated consistently in the Polokwane resolutions, Manifesto and the State of the Nation Address, we have to forge ahead to promote a more inclusive economy.

To achieve this, we said we would utilise state levers such as procurement, licensing and financial support to assist small and medium enterprises as well as to promote the implementation of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and affirmative action policies. These policies must not just benefit a few but should be extended to a broad section, especially the workers, youth, women and people with disabilities.

The resolutions of the 52nd National Conference talk of "broadening and deracialising the ownership and control of productive assets by black people, women and youth, promoting new black enterprises which are engaged in the production of goods and services, building the skills required by the economy and advancing employment equity in every area of work and economic endeavour".

Our effective BBBEE and affirmative action policies over the years have contributed to the growth of South Africa's black middle class by 2.6 million in 2007. The question of transformation has come into sharp focus in the past two weeks due to the challenges that have been facing our state owned enterprises.

The pressures currently facing our state owned enterprises (SOEs) have led to sharp debates about the imperatives of transformation, leading to questions as to whether or not the departure of some managers in some of these institutions was driven by opposition to transformation.

There have been fears that affirmative action gains are being reversed and that the ANC government was not acting to stop this perceived erosion. It would not be wise to oversimplify the challenges facing state owned enterprises and other sections of the state machinery. We are attending to these matters as government, as part of the overall transformation of our government machinery.

We will not delve into what happens in the boardrooms of the SOEs, as that is a matter of the Boards that run those institutions. As shareholder, the government appoints a Board which works with the Minister responsible, who provides political leadership to the entities. We have full confidence in the Boards and the Minister and trust them to run the institutions in the interests of both the government and the people of South Africa.

We must restate that the ANC is a non-racial organisation. We are defined by the principles of leading our country to a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. Our policies seek to affirm blacks in general and Africans in particular because of well-known historical facts of systematic oppression and exclusion.

Our work takes into consideration what steps we need to take to ensure that African people are affirmed, without dismissing the reality that other black South Africans, such as coloureds and Indians, face.

We have taken a conscious decision as the ANC to work with black professionals and black business in recent months to deal with these pressing transformation issues. We held a few meetings in the build up to the elections, and held a post-election report back meeting in July this year. These meetings have been very useful with regards to advancing our common approach to economic transformation.

Our meetings with black business sensitised us to some actions of government which serve to hamper the development of small entrepreneurs. One of these is the delays in paying small businesses. We were informed that many black businesses rely on effective cash-flow management, and that waiting 90 days for government to pay is proving to be most detrimental to the survival of small black businesses.

During the election campaign we said we would change the way in which government works, and that we would ensure faster delivery. Treasury Regulations on the approval of expenditure in government states that unless determined otherwise in a contract or other agreement, all payments due to creditors must be settled within 30 days from receipt of an invoice or, in the case of civil claims, from the date of settlement or court judgment.

We have instructed all government departments to comply with this regulation without delay.

To further streamline our transformation work, we are currently in the process of appointing a BBBEE Advisory Council which in terms of the BBBEE Act will be chaired by the President of the Republic. This process should be completed in a few weeks' time. The Council's responsibility will be among others to advise government on black economic empowerment, monitor implementation and review progress in achieving black economic empowerment.

There is a lot that we must still do to deal with the matters that were raised by the black professional and business sector. There is a lot of work that we must also still do with many other sectors of our society, such as workers, students, farm workers, farmers, artists, the religious sector, minority groups and others.

We want to be a listening, responsive and effective government. We will achieve that through working with all sectors of our society.

Working together we can do more!

This article by African National Congress president, Jacob Zuma, first appeared in ANC Today, the weekly online newsletter of the ruling party, November 13 2009

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