The newly appointed small business development minister Lindiwe Zulu’s department will help power the National Development Plan goal of 90% of jobs being created by small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) by 2030.
According to Business Day, Zulu will have to achieve this task in an environment surrounded by red tape and regulatory complexity, a poor skills base and a “culture of dependency”.
Zulu says her role will be a “co-ordinating” one, bringing together existing government programmes and policies to grow the small business sector.
Unemployment in South Africa rose to 25.2% in the first quarter and the government is under pressure to turn around the ailing economy.
Changing the game
According to the Business Day, Zulu has already been attacked by the Congress of South African Trade Unions for her comments on labour laws, after saying that government needs to look at the labour laws and make sure they are conducive to SMEs.
Zulu says this does not mean smaller businesses should be absolved from the responsibilities placed on them through labour legislation, but it is a recognition that large companies such as Anglo American operate in different conditions from a small, family owned business that employs five people.
Business Day reported that Zulu has received complaints from small business owners and says she would like to know what constrains their plans to grow their businesses.
“It’s one thing to fight for people who are in jobs, which is a good thing to do, but it’s another to then block those who are trying to get into a particular space because they also have to make a living for themselves.”
Zulu said she has adopted a practical approach to the huge task ahead of her, having witnessed the potential of small business across the globe, from New York to Paris to Kinshasa.
To avoid being sucked into endless red tape, she will immediately get to work with existing policies in all departments, including trade and industry and economic development.