Transformation, inclusive growth a priority

Pretoria - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says radical economic transformation and inclusive growth remain core priorities for government.

Speaking at the third Annual Premier Business Awards on Thursday, the Deputy President said the country’s policy of broad based black economic empowerment played a key role in increasing the participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the mainstream economy.

He said the black industrialists programme sought to unlock the potential of black entrepreneurs in a way that contributes to the reindustrialisation of the economy.

“As government, we will continue to strive to make it easier for companies to grow, to invest and to create more decent jobs for South Africans,” said the Deputy President.

He added that the manufacturing sector played a pivotal role in ensuring economic growth as it had the potential to create jobs.

“Government has put in place various mechanisms to support manufacturing,” he told those attending the glittering awards at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said the gathering intended to honour the spirit of entrepreneurship and as well as to recognise excellence among the country’s entrepreneurs.

“The business people we are honouring tonight keep the wheels of our economy turning. They don’t only create wealth and work but they also create hope and opportunity.”

The Deputy President’s comments were reiterated by Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, who said running a lucrative business was no easy feat and that the awards - which were inaugurated in 2013 - acknowledged people who contributed to the development of the economy.

However, Deputy President Ramaphosa noted that the South African economy still faced profound challenges that require a coherent response from all social partners.

The economy, which has structural deficiencies, needs to grow at a faster rate to create jobs and eliminate poverty.

The Deputy President also took the time to encourage South Africans to rally behind the work of the Proudly South African and the Buy Back South Africa campaign while also urging business to embrace transformation.

Business, he said, is not solely about profits. “Enterprise is not just an economic good; it is also a social good. As you build your businesses please consider how they can contribute to building social cohesion.”

The awards, which are hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), Proudly South African and Brand South Africa, saw various businesses being honoured in nine categories that ranged from Young Entrepreneur Award, Exporter Award and Women Owned Business Award, among others.

Some of the winners in the categories were presented with awards by Minister Davies as well as Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.

This year’s discretionary Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded by the Deputy President and Minister Davies to business woman, Dr Anna Mokgokong.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an individual who has contributed significantly to the economic development of South Africa during their lifetime.

Dr Mokgokong has previously been voted as one of the leading women entrepreneurs in the world.

In receiving her award, the ecstatic Mokgokong said: “Thank you South Africa for making me what I am today to get this award which I believe belongs to all the people of South Africa who have really battled in corporate South Africa to make it.”

Mokgokong also paid tribute to the dti for formulating policies that have created an enabling environment for business to thrive.