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17 October 2018

Notwithstanding the President emphasising the point that the growth of the South African economy will be sustained by small business, small business was excluded from the deliberations leading up to the jobs summit. So were the unemployed, who, sitting at home (the few fortunate ones who have one), are denied the right to work on terms which they may agree to.

It is perhaps not such a bad thing that SMME’s were not consulted. Considering the vagueness of the issues discussed, which, ironically, almost derailed the talks leading up to the summit, the pertinent and practical issues which SMMEs would have proposed, would have been a non-starter.

Within the current political climate there is obviously no political appetite for real change, which can only be brought about by controversial legislative and regulatory changes to the current legislative framework which negatively impacts on economic freedom, which in turn impacts negatively on growth and prosperity.

The talks leading to the ‘summit’ involved big role players’ grand schemes, the world where big money changes hands and where people, somewhat alienated from the real world, exchange ideas, express sympathy about the plight of others, but then, in order to avoid running the risk of losing popularity, don’t do anything about it. That is the world where it is important that you are seen talking about things, not necessarily doing something about it.

This is not the world in which the real SMME functions. A real SMME is one that operates and competes in an environment where real economics count, where nothing is dished out and where not a single cent changes hands unless it is hard earned. These are the employers doing real business and who employ real, not subsidised, employees.

Until decision makers have run out of grand and meaningless ideas, it is perhaps best to exclude SMMEs from ‘talks’ between the same old partners. Being invited to ‘talks’ – especially those which will lead to nothing – will rob SMMEs of precious time, which is required to make real businesses work.

Being left out of the deliberations leading to the last ‘summit’ at least sends a clear message. It communicates to real SMMEs – SMMEs who are not pleading for money, but only for an environment in which it is possible to manoeuvre and create jobs – that government is not sincere when it says that SMME’s are important. By now, government has illustrated that unambiguously.

When you are desperate, it is torture to wait for someone else to rescue you. Waiting for government is that kind of torture; it will always disappoint. The day that you realise that you are on your own, that you cease waiting for others, that you realise that you have to devise your own destiny, that you realise that the bridges behind you are indeed burnt, that you realise that you can only turn to God for wisdom and guidance, that is the day that you are liberated. That’s when you start to focus, when the best in you comes to be realised. That is the beginning of real empowerment.

Thus, the message emanating from the ‘jobs summit’ is, in a strange way, a good message.

This is a press release by Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA). He writes this in his personal capacity.

For more information:
NEASA Media Department
Marietha Thirion