Panel discussions, including representatives from various government departments, CEOs and artists, dominate the first day of the two-day Black Business Council Summit at the Gallagher Convention Centre.
South Africa’s unemployment rate is currently at a record high of 35.3%. And, the most impacted are the youth aged between 15 and 24 years. This age group recorded an unemployment rate of 66.5%, the highest on record.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, says the government believes that the economy cannot grow unless science, technology, and innovation are at the centre.
The government, in its quest to create jobs and an enabling environment to do business, says there is a need for collaboration between business and government.
This year’s theme of job creation and growing the economy set the foundation for a robust engagement between politicians from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and United Democratic Movement (UDM).
Panelists were posed with the question of how to achieve the said theme through supporting localisation, industrialisation, of SMMEs that are owned by women and youth. Political parties exchanged their views on the current state of the country.
Politicians made suggestions on solutions to achieving this year’s theme of Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy through Supporting Localisation, Industrialisation, SMMEs, Black-Owned, Women-Owned and Youth-Owned Businesses.
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The ANC conceded the shortfalls and called on South Africans not to lose hope. Representing the governing party, Dr Gwen Ramakgopa argued on policy issues, encouraging members of the public and the BBC to engage with them to understand what needs to be done to defend democracy.
The UDM says the tripartite alliance has failed the country 28 years into democracy.
As the discussion continued the IFP’s Velinkhosi Hlabisa raised concerns about the current environment of businesses, arguing that it was not conducive for Black women.
Meanwhile, the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu questioned the progress of the country under the ANC government.
The Democratic Alliance argued that the solution lay in not pitting South Africans against one another but formulation and implementation of policies that work to change the lives of many.
The two-day event continues until Friday with President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to give a keynote address at the annual black-tie gala dinner.