How blacks can pierce the 'impenetrable fortress' in business: Mkhize

17 April 2018 - 07:41 By Nico Gous
Zweli Mkhize. File photo.
Zweli Mkhize. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/Sowetan

Blacks cannot thrive in the corporate world while the “impenetrable fortress” of business remains locked.

That is what Cooperative Governance and Local Government Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday night at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) in Johannesburg.

“They give the impression that black excellence is meaningless if the doors are locked and there is no entry‚” Mkhize said.

He spoke alongside American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson. Mkhize said black professionals struggled to break into the “old boys’ networks” of business. He said apartheid had ended‚ but some unwritten rules remained.

“They (black professionals) battle in a corporate world‚ because they did not grow up inside business networks and other networks. Their parents did not play golf or go to school or university with the captains of commerce and industry.”

Mkhize said being black in business meant you had to be better than your counterparts to be considered their equal.

“We need transformation in the workplace‚ in the ownership [and] in the control of the economy.”

Mkhize praised the democratic government and ANC for growing the black middle class. He conceded government was far from its goal‚ because transformation in the workplace‚ implementing the Employment Equity Act and affirmative action policies were “very small” achievements.

Mkhize said black businesses needed a “psychological emancipation”.

“Black professionals and black business people must have faith in themselves and in one another‚” Mkhize said.

“It is important for us to shed the sense of inferiority and leave it behind us.”

Mkhize praised Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ who was buried on Saturday in Fourways in Johannesburg. The 81-year-old struggle icon died earlier this month after a lengthy illness.

“For many years she was the face of the struggle and a face that would not die down‚” Mkhize said.

“She kept the memory of Nelson Mandela alive in the hearts and minds of South Africans and in the international community through apartheid’s darkest days.”