With every changing season in life and society, the environment calls on those who take note of the changes to reshape and develop their message to respond to the new moment. The Black Management Forum has been part of the evolving thought-process on Black Economic Empowerment over the years, and this moment we are living in calls for another wave of thinking that will attempt to usher in justice, equity and fairness in our country.
Between 2003-2004 Lot Ndlovu stated the following at the BMF Conference, “there is a failure by black business to think through the issues and provide the necessary leadership around how this economy ought to be transformed to include the majority of the people. The failure by black business to do this is the one threat that stands in the way of sustaining our democracy. And we, as the BMF, are at the centre of that.”
Stern words from Ndlovu still hold true today, that we need more leadership around transformation issues rather than less of it. His other point is that including the majority of the country in the economy should be everyone’s business, and not just a matter for the few to consider. Amongst these, is black leadership taking centre stage in demonstrating clarity of mind and purpose in how we want our country to look like and how we will go about doing this.
Former President Mbeki during the same conference as Ndlovu above said the following, “There is a level of timidity among black intellectuals that is extremely unhealthy. They seem to have excluded themselves from public discussion about where South Africa is today and where South Africa should be tomorrow.”
Therefore, as we begin to reflect on thirty years of socio-economic transformation, black intellectuals and black business must demonstrate leadership in how the next thirty years ought to look like and how we will arrive at that destination.
The Black Management Forum will be entering its annual policy conference in the month of November 2023. This annual policy conference comes at a time when the country is experiencing many social and economic storms, and in particular, the slow pace of transformation. This year’s theme will encompass the era of South Africa’s 30 year journey towards socio-economic transformation. The country in 2024 will also enter its general election session which will chart the course for the next 30 years of democracy.
From the BMF point of view, reflecting on the 30-year journey of transformation is timely, for some consider the 30-year mark as an end to a generation. This end of a generation signals a new generation of leaders and thinkers who need to reflect deeply about the gains and losses experienced by our people in the last 30 years. Therefore, the BMF will focus its policy conference on the task given to the organisation by President Ramaphosa, to re-engage the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) drive in the country and make clear recommendations on the way forward.
The BMF has also decided to host governments economic cluster DG’s and CEO’s of JSE listed companies a day before the conference in order to have a closed engagement with decision-makers. This feature is intended to be part of the conference annually as an exclusive breakfast or dinner engagement prior the conference.
The policy conference will therefore zoom into B-BBEE and discuss key issues affecting the law and its infrastructure. The first conversation of the conference will deliberate on the performance of the Policy, Act and Codes and reflect on both positives and unintended consequences experienced in the past 30 years.
The second conversation will focus on the challenges around the levels that ought to reflect the B-BBEE status of companies, yet real transformation remains docile and questionable. The third conversation is a traditional one for the BMF, for it focuses on executive power in management which remains a challenge today. The fourth conversation will focus on policy improvements, reviewing current targets and discussing a possible call for a B-BBEE 2.0 Commission, and the merits for such a call.
The last discussion will include the key political parties in South Africa to come and debate how the transformation agenda will be affected by a possible coalition government next year.
As the 30-year mark of our democracy beckons, we need an honest and open discourse about where we are and where we need to go. This conference and its theme around reflecting on 30 years of socio-economic transformation will only be the beginning of the broader reflection which will likely take root early in 2024 for all of us to reflect on as a country.
Our task to present a refined B-BBEE approach to government remains our priority before the 2024 general elections. The next 30 years of transformation needs us all to commit to driving change not only though our professional organisations but also through our personal influence in business and society.
As Ndlovu and President Mbeki asserted in 2003-2004 that black leadership and black intellectuals need to keep their hands in the furnace of debate and not shy away from providing the necessary leadership, but most importantly, to provide a clear roadmap to where we are going as a society, country and people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monde is a member of the Policy and Research Committee (PRC) at the BMF, a Trustee of the Maduke Lot Ndlovu Legacy Trust, a Trust founded by the BMF.
Monde holds a BBA degree in Economics from UNISA, a Post-grad in Management Practice from Henley Business School and currently an Executive MBA Candidate at Henley Business School.