Midrand – President Cyril Ramaphosa has made an impassioned plea to black business to employ people living with disabilities.
Addressing top executives at the Black Business Council’s (BBC) gala dinner at the Gallagher Estate Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg on Friday night, Ramaphosa highlighted that he had been inundated with requests by various individuals who remain unemployed.
“A few days ago we held a presidential working group for disabled people and they came to me and articulated their challenges and problems and I came to a conclusion that we will not be able to have inclusive growth for as long as persons with disabilities are prevented to acquire the skills they need and are not able to find employment or obtain equal footing with their able-bodied counterparts in South Africa,” he said.
He added: “We can ask ourselves how many businesses in here have had the courage to employ disabled people. We would find that very few have. That is what disabled people have been telling us.
“So today, my call to all of us here is that let us extend a hand. We have millions of South Africans who are disabled and many of them are unable to get into various opportunities. Let us have the courage of our own conscious to go and seek them out and employ them in our business.”
Ramaphosa said as the BBC, under the leadership of CEO Sandile Zungu, seeks to promote inclusive growth, rebuild itself into a reputable institution and become a force to be reckoned with, its greatest preoccupation had to be the creation of jobs for the nine million South Africans who are unemployed so as to ensure radical economic transformation.
“Employment creation on a massive scale is the most durable broad-based black economic transformation that we can undertake,” he said.
Ramaphosa also encouraged black-owned businesses to tap into the industrialisation sector saying with the signing of the Africa Union’s Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) last year, black industrialists were now needed more than ever.
The president said following last year’s investments and jobs summit, there had been an agreement for the country to promote local demand of goods
”Job creation requires a conducive environment and an increased investment. This is why there has been a commitment to raise R1.4 trillion from local and offshore investment in the next coming years. In our second investment summit in October, we would like to see more businesses making pledges,” Ramaphosa said, adding it was vital for local businesses to demonstrate a high level of confidence in the country’s economy before the government goes out to find investment from other countries around the world.
Meanwhile, a range of businesses have pledged up R12 million in helping the BBC get back on its feet.