August 08, 2020
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'Develop Skills'

Blacks as a front for White capital isn't for real

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'Develop Skills'
Mathews Phosa is one of South Africa's most prominent Black businessmen. He is also the second president of the country's Chamber of Commerce and is set to take over the helm of the chamber next year.

Are you satisfied with the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act, has it helped transform business in South Africa?
The legislation provided White-owned businesses the opportunity to self-legislate and self-regulate. Unfortunately, many resorted to cutting corners, appointing Blacks as fronts for White capital. That was not real empowerment.

How do you respond to the criticism that only the Black elite has benefited from BEE?
It is true. Which is why we have been trying to bring about some changes.

What is your idea of Black empowerment in business?
Fortunately, authorities have made some changes. There is more emphasis on developing skills now. I cannot support the mere transfer of ownership to Black hands. There is no creation of new wealth, development, and jobs. I believe in starting fresh businesses and creating jobs. My forestry-related business within the span of a year, in 2006, managed to create 850 jobs. For me that is Black empowerment.

The government should invest in developing entrepreneurial skills and raising capital. You know the kind of interest rates new businesses have to pay to raise capital, it is simply not sustainable at times.

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