It is with absolutely absurdity that in terms of the National Status Report on B-BBEE (National Trends) which the Commission will present today in detail, that the management control and ownership scorecard for women are still far below acceptable levels in terms of companies’ agenda of inclusion. The majority of women still do not sit in company boards where decisions and votes are made.
31 August 2020.
Chairperson of the B-BBEE Commission, Ms Zodwa Ntuli.
Chairperson of the Commission for Employment Equity, Tabea Nkabinde.
General Secretary of the Black Business Council,Ms Judi Nwokedi.
Deputy President of Black Management Forum, Ms Tasneem Fredericks.
Non-Executive Director at Telkom SA and former chairperson of SABC Interim board and PRASA, Ms Khanyisile Kweyama.
CEO for Zindela Communications and Gravitas Africa, Ms Nomathemba Malinga.
Programme Director, Ms Thuli Magubane.
I extend greetings to all our delegates present today online to this important webinar on the important question to interrogate “Management Control and Status of Women in Transformation”
I am delighted to once again be part of this women to women forum which is a standing annual item by our B-BBEE Commission during the women month, August. I am grateful that the Commission did not cancel this women-dedicated forum this year against the background of the COVID-19 and the State of National Disaster lockdown. The webinar will in all probability achieve the similar outcomes in terms of the objectives of this women forum.
The topic under which this webinar is held “Management Control and the Status of Women in Transformation” is very compelling. It is with absolutely absurdity that in terms of the National Status Report on B-BBEE (National Trends) which the Commission will present today in detail, that the management control and ownership scorecard for women are still far below acceptable levels in terms of companies’ agenda of inclusion. Majority of women still do not sit in company boards where decisions and votes are made, this is evident even where they have 50% shareholding or above. We must make it our campaign as prominent people to discourage women from accepting “silent control” in companies without decision-making. We must fight against corporate patriarchy where women are bullied into inactive silent partners status, only good enough for receiving dividends without board participation. These areas of concern have been and continues to be a battle cry for many women in the corporate environment, let us intensify a campaign to address this anomaly. This state of affairs perpetuate the distorted nature of economic ownership in South Africa, in terms of demographics as women remains majority, especially African women. We must make a call “there must be nothing without us”
Related to the above, in broad terms, transformation in the economy and transformation in the workplaces has not done justice on the question of black African women. One has to make a cursory glance on the trends in the upward mobility of women in Executive Management levels of the corporate sector and the state-owned enterprises, the picture remains imperfect yet evidence shows that women are largely professionally fit for upward mobilities in the senior management levels. I am not happy that the figures in percentage form, each year grows with 1%. We now need real and robust enforcement without which consequence management to the companies must ensure. The Commission for Employment Equity will share with us the latest CEE Report with regards to women.
Since Beijing Conference, South African Government has thus far made substantial progress in advancing women to critical positions from Cabinet as Ministers, as Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament, Members of Legislatures, as Mayors, Councillors; and as Directors-General/Head of Departments, in Senior Management, sitting in boards of State-Owned-Enterprises and those heading chapter 9 institutions. President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed 14 women Ministers and 14 male thereby achieving 50% women representation in Cabinet last year. Women makes 42.85% as Deputy Ministers, and Parliament has 46.1% women representation. From 2016, we now have 39% women representation as Mayors in Municipalities. We are making progress in the Judiciary with 35.5% Judges in our courts whilst 44% of Magistrates being women.
This effort in government has not been easy and it requires, even today, women of sufficient stamina to keep the fight for women for their upward mobility. Those who get these opportunities must not close the door behind them against other women. We must hold the handle of the door to keep it open for other women to come in.
Looking at the calibre of our guests and the rest of the online attendees to this webinar, I can only marvel in excitement because this is a representation of the best women in the corporate leadership whose experiences will empower us all. In that context, I want to commend the team in the B-BBEE Commission for such a choice.
This webinar must not be a talk shop; it must never be allowed to only become a grieving platform by women in business as entrepreneurs and those who are professionals in executive positions, but it must respond to those experiences by way of a workable action plan that will be measurable with periods. In a word, I am saying this webinar must be like a plenary commission that develops resolutions and action plan for women in these male dominated environments.
Because of the enormity of challenges that women still face in the entrepreneurial, in enterprises from an ownership point view, their presence in the corporate boards and in executive management, I am making an appeal to the B-BBEE Commission to consider these women specific engagement to be more than one in a year. There is so much as women we need to force-feed the system that favors men, especially white male. Galvanizing ourselves as black women in this economy requires a sustained national effort by us as the dtic, B-BBEE Commission at the helm and all our black interested Organisations in the space of the economy such as all of those present today in this webinar. Therefore, we will direct that the Commission consider this proposal as we proceed forward.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE ECONOMY.
Small medium enterprises (SMEs) which is where the entire black women businesses are found, is the hardest hit by the COVID-19. It is by no exaggeration that many of the SMEs will not survive after this pandemic. This is a troubling reality for government. In terms of the Stats SA report (March 2020), out of the total number of 10.2 million employed South Africans, more than 9 million of them are employed by Small Medium enterprises. Small medium enterprises are the locomotive engine of our economy and employment because most of them are labour intensive. The full scale effects of the COVID-19 on black businesses (B-BBE Level 1) will be felt through the numbers of retrenchments that have already began from these companies because of the loss of trade.
One of the difficult balance that has informed our approach as government during this lockdown has been a recognition that the priority must be to save lives whilst on the other hand, mitigate the worst effects towards the economy whose impact will result in people’s lives being worst off. In other words, for us as government, the question has never been a choice between saving lives even at the expense of the economy or saving an economy at the risk of losing lives. This fine balance of the two is what informed President’s approach of a smart phased-in re-opening of the economy especially with sectors that are not posing risk of massive exposure to COVID-19.
As the dtic, we are under no illusions that the entire economy will face contraction. What makes our situation worse is the reality that even before the lockdown in March, our economy had gone to full recession and all rating Agencies had downgraded SA. The country’s downgrade has made borrowing by businesses (and worst for black businesses which are always having liquidity issues) to be more expensive. This means that fewer emerging companies will meet the requirements and pass the means test for loans.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that with the COVID-19 closing down of the economy as an additional factor to our economy, our GDP will fall behind with 5.8% in 2020; the SA Reserve Bank estimates a fall to GDP by 6.1%, whilst IDC estimates a fall of 6.3% in 2020. These is bad news for our economy, if taking into account the ripple effects that this fall of GDP has against our efforts to raise the standard and quality of life, growing the size of Small Medium Enterprises and re-industrialization efforts. The consequences of this oblique picture is the reduction of the foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country that in turn reduces job creation both in the formal and informal sectors.
A month ago I was invited by the TopCo Media on their Webinar conference to speak on the topic titled “ How will COVID-19 affect Level 1 B-BBEE scorecard” without belaboring this webinar with my take in this regard but in summation I commented in the following:
“The effects of COVID-19 towards B-BBEE 100% black owned companies is likely to reverse the strides that we have covered over the last 20 years in the deliberate efforts made to build black owned companies. Black owned companies will be in a difficult conundrum because they are fragile in their balance sheet with no collateral to assist them in accessing credit even in times where government had cut the base for lending rate. There is also a real danger that because of liquidity challenges, some of the B-BBEE level companies may face closures and be forced to sell either the larger percentages to non-black companies thereby lose their B-BBEE 100% ownership. We are concerned about this because these realities represents reversal of the very foundations for the B-BBEE and transformation of our economy”
Already, various sectors of the economy and government, are working out plans for the post-Covid-19 economic recovery. This is an opportune moment for women to seize the opportunity as part of this new economic rebuilding. Many Small and Medium Enterprises for which women are mainly found as entrepreneurs of different shapes, are facing closures and some have closed shops. We must preach the word that, they must not give up. Let’s build businesses as women, lets create value in them, lets hold hands and support each other than competing to grow women SMME sector that will respond to the new post-Covid economy which will be saturated by digitalization, Innovation and various types of economic factors as brought about by the 4th industrial revolution.
As women, we must use the battle cry that “there must be nothing without us”. We must insist on compliance in the preferential procurement processes in government, municipalities, state owned enterprises and the private sector that women owned companies, in the post-Covid environment, must occupy a prominent position for preferences in awarding tenders. The President has recently announced an important intervention that government will make a 40% set-aside on procurement for women owned companies. This is a huge step to the right direction, our task is to monitor, track and enforce this implementation.
My tone of my message in this webinar is one: As women, let us hold hands and push each other up in the corporate ladder; build partnerships and grow our SMMEs as black women. Yes, progressive men and leaders will champion our cause, but none other than ourselves can do the heavy lifting. Let us stand for each and let us implore important bodies like BMF, BBC and others to make women empowerment and ownership a prominent goal to their agenda.
Let us recall what a globally phenomenon women, an outstanding poet and a voice of reason, the late Maya Angelou said:
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for ALL women”
I therefore wish this Women Webinar a success and thank everyone for setting aside time to join it today!
Thank you very much.