Foreign ownership of the South African maritime industry should not be allowed to continue, said the economic development and tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu at a conference on Tuesday.
Speaking in Durban at the 10th annual Umyezane B-BBEE Maritime Industry Conference, Mabuyakhulu said although the maritime business is owned by foreign nationals, government wants at least 25% ownership in the hands of black people, with women owning at least 10% of the industry.
The MEC said there is a belief that the maritime industry throughout the value chain is still far from accommodating black people as active participants in terms of ownership, management and control and this continues against the back-drop of the country’s Maritime Charter as well as the Sector Codes, which has set time-frames for visible change in which black people should be seen playing a practical role in all spheres of the sector with more industry players having to be from historically disadvantaged communities.
Mabuyakhulu said the government and other role players had acknowledged a depressing scenario where, despite the fact that South Africa was a leading economy on the African continent with advanced transportation infrastructure, it does not feature among the 35 nations that enjoyed the 95% monopoly of the world’s merchant vessels that are often sighted moving in and out of the country’s waters.
Premier Zweli Mkhize echoed the MEC’s comments and called for a change in mindset to accompany transformation.
The premier said most Africans believe that the sea was “infested with demons” and they also believe that water should be respected.
He also said a majority of South Africans never knew there was “wealth in the seas”.
He gave an example of what one expects in South African seas compared to other seas throughout Africa.
“In other African countries you see a hive of activities in their seas and when you come to our seas nothing is happening,” he said.
To change this, Mkhize said South Africans should take a leaf from the Philippines, who are known for their domination of the shipping industry.
“By emulating them we can turn the tide. Look at the number of ships docking in Durban, a majority of them are foreign owned. That is sad because we have left a critical sector of our economy to foreigners,” he said.