VENTURES AFRICA – South Africa President, Jacob Zuma, has expressed concern that the apartheid structure is still overriding business in South Africa as majority of the country’s economic power remains under the domination of the whites. He disclosed this at the policy conference of the African National Congress Party (ANC).
According to International Business Times, Zuma told a large crowd of ANC delegates that “The structure of the apartheid-era economy has remained largely intact.”
“The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males as it has always been”, he said.
He complained that despite the gains made over the last eighteen years, since the end of the apartheid regime, South Africa is still struggling with social-economic woes of inequality, poverty and unemployment.
There is indeed a deep racial economic chasm in South Africa that democracy has failed to fix. One half of the overall population (which is 80% black) remains trapped in poverty. According to Statistics South Africa, the unemployment rate for blacks (29%) is almost six times the rate for whites (5.9%). According to a report by International Business Times, about one in four South Africans is jobless.
Also, a London-based economic consulting firm, IHS Global Insight, estimated that whites in South Africa have an average income seven times larger than that of blacks.
This is evident because apart from Cyril Ramaphosa, the executive chairman of private holding company Shanduka Group and prominent mining executive Patrice Motsepe, almost all business leaders in South Africa are white — including Marius Kloppers, the chief of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company; Brian Joffe, the boss of the Bidvest Group conglomerate; Jacko Maree, CEO of Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest financial services conglomerate; Raymond Ackerman, the founder of retail giant Pick n Pay; and Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of the mining giant De Beers Group and the wealthiest man in the country.
Nevertheless, although the white populace control the country’s economy, it is believed that the statement may push more favour for Zuma among the South African Blacks at the coming elections.
President Zuma however believes it is time to take more drastic steps towards the transformation of the country’s economy and freedom.
To provide a solution for the economic impediment, Zuma proposed an increase in taxes for the nation’s mining sector to encourage state-owned enterprise as well as to improve on the finances of social spending.
The decision to nationalise the country’s mining sector has in the past been met with resistance among the ANC group, even though some of them, like the former radical Youth League leader, Julius Malema, supported the move. He believes that state ownership of mines would ease high unemployment among black people.
However, contrary to the opinion of people who shares Malema’s view, a research conducted by the party earlier this year warned that nationalisation of mines would bankrupt the state.