Thursday, 16 February 2017

Letter in Business Day: Zulu should gun for unity

Today's Business Day published an edited version of this letter I sent them after listening, appalled, to Lindiwe Zulu's speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

Sir

In her speech during the SONA debate on Wednesday Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu said government would use its annual R500 billion procurement expenditure like the AK 47s used by Operation Vula soldiers in the armed struggle. 

As a former MK operative, Minister Zulu knows the destructive power of the AK 47 killing machine. To compare its procurement budget to this weapon is to imply that somewhere out there is an enemy to be destroyed in the march to economic liberation. 

The sub-text is clear: the enemy is so-called "white monopoly capital".
Government procurement is a very blunt and inaccurate weapon and on its own will fail to stimulate small businesses and entrepreneurship in South Africa. It is another weapon in the ANC's discriminatory arsenal, similar to the BBE regulations, which can be manipulated to benefit the ANC's crony elite, whether big or small businesses.

SMEs will still struggle to compete if they have to operate in an environment of suffocating red tape, restrictive labour regulations, late payments by customers and the persistent anti-business narrative coming from government. 

Instead of seeing "white monopoly capital" as the enemy, Minister Zulu should view the business sector in its entirety as an ally - big, medium and small businesses combined.  She should modify her belligerent language, more suited to a long-gone era, and instead use the language of co-operation, collaboration and competitiveness to drive her policy thinking.

The DA will always push for a conducive environment in which to do business in this country instead of obsessing with war and weapons against an imaginary enemy.

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