By Thembelani Moyo
The newly-elected South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation (SABTACO) president, Clint Koopman, has said blacks in South Africa know no economic freedom since 1994.
SABTACO, an organisation that champions black business empowerment, elected Koopman at an annual general meeting held at Birchwood Hotel and O.R Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg.
Speaking at the orgnaisation’s Gala Dinner soon after the election, Koopman said it is sad that since South Africa got its independence in 1994, black professionals are still economically struggling.
“For too long we had a lot of government policies and they are reluctant to change. The government does as it pleases. To all procurement services, we are coming after you so that our objectives are met. We want you to understand that black businesses should be recognised appropriately. It is sad that since independence in 1994, we still have no economic freedom,” Koopman said.
Koopman’s sentiments were also expressed by Black Business Council’s Gregory Mofokeng who said the council is the mother board of all businesses in the country and they are fighting to make sure that the government uses the developmental rule and set aside projects for black contractors.
Willie Mathebula who represented the National Treasury: Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, also said there is 30% profit that public companies are supposed to set aside to fund small businesses which happen to be owned by blacks. He said they are working with government officials who are responsible for procurement to make sure that they follow regulations.
The new SABTACO president promised that the organisation will continue to help black professionals attain qualifications, mentorship and business opportunities.
“We have two processes: Outward and inward. The outward will focus on how to influence formulation of policies that impact on our programmes that seek to empower black professionals. The inward process will include our bursary scheme which we want to improve and have sustainable support of blacks who want to study. We will sign a page of mentorship with all corporate members. We will have a number of acts and policies such as Construction Charter and Public Sector Procurement Book,” he said.
The Gala Dinner which was attended by industrialists, engineers and guests aimed at celebrating the re-birth of SABTACO under the new president. Speaking during its official opening former SABTACO president, James Matingi Ngobeni, explained the functions and responsibilities of the organisation and also stated that they welcome the new leadership.
“SABTACO was established 27 years ago because that time people did not know what to study. Many wanted to be teachers, police officers and did not consider studying engineering, architecture and quantity surveying. In universities such as WITS, UCT and others, there were handful of blacks and we said to ourselves let us create a situation to change that. We wanted to instigate blacks to study. I am happy to inform you that since we have started, we have encouraged many blacks to study engineering. SABTACO make sure that it captures bursaries and we have a stream of young engineers that have joined us under the project. When they complete we incorporate them into the organisation through our mentorship programme. A number of those we have mentored have opened their own companies and we continue to open businesses for them,” Ngobeni said.
SABTACO is an organisation established with a mandate to create a conducive environment for development and promotion of science and engineering skills in the black community. Its partners and sponsors include South African National Trust Company, Construction Industry Development Board, Nako Iliso Consulting Engineering and Project Management firm, Nyeleti Consulting and Joint Building Contracts Committee.