PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma yesterday took a swipe at critics calling black economic empowerment reverse racism, saying more needed to be done to correct the damage done to the economy by the racism of the past
Speaking at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in parliament yesterday, Zuma highlighted plans outlined in the state of the nation address, aimed at developing at least 100 black industrialists over the next three years.
Share ownership schemes were, he said, not enough to grow and deracialise the economy.
“We want to see industries owned by black people,” he said.
“There are no black industrialists. Why? We should just keep quiet and do nothing about it?”
He said emphasising black ownership was not reverse racism.
“We should not be shy to emphasise black because I know some people get shy. Because some people will tell you, you are reversing racism. Far from it. We are correcting the damage done by racism.”
Zuma also emphasised land ownership and the land claims process as fundamental to economic development.
“If we want to eradicate poverty, one of the critical determinants is access to land.”
He again urged traditional leaders to work together, pooling resources to employ lawyers, to ensure that all land claims were correctly submitted by the 2019 land claims deadline. “2019 is going to come and go and we’ll still be complaining. Why? Because we are not organised. If we are organised, even if we don’t have the money, we could sell our few cattle and put the money together and pay the lawyers.”
But he said, despite his earlier calls for traditional houses to tackle the issue together, there had been no movement.
“I am worried, I’ve never heard this house discussing how to tackle this issue collectively.
“If we don’t deal with this issue . . . we talk about the poverty and inequality in South Africa . . . it all originated from the land question.”
He called on all traditional leaders to take part in the debate on his speech next week.