Last night’s event, titled WHERE IS YOUR INDUSTRY GOING?, was expected by many to be a light-hearted discussion about the economy, transformation and BEE.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
The moderator was Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO, Melanie Veness. She played the role of Big Bad Wolf to perfection — at first catching the panelists just a bit off guard. And though they squirmed and squealed like the three little pigs being spit-roasted over the hot seat as she huffed and puffed her really tough questions about business, investment sentiment and transformation, they would not be blown away.
Transformation is the Big Bad Wolf of South Africa’s private sector. People react as though they’ve been stung when you say the letters BEE. The panel dragged these fears and taboos into the light and dealt with them. If the nodding heads and the hushed mutters, “That’s true’’ from the audience were anything to go by, there are many companies that have been waiting for this kind of discussion.
Each panellist represents a different corner and area of influence in society. Zakhele Mbhele is a Member of Parliament with great insight into the government. Grant Davis, a manager from Training and Leadership Consulting, contributed with a knowledge of how great businesses have improved their operations. Siya Khumalo, a social-political commentator, gave us an understanding of what “the people” are experiencing and thinking. Melanie’s questions came from what she knows business is concerned about.
These make up the country and brought wildly different views, shedding different light on the same topic, which helped us see why we don’t always hit what we think we’re collectively aiming at. This really captivated the audience. But undoubtedly, one of the great highlights was when a great number of audience members remained behind to continue the discussions with the panelists and BEE Novation team members. Video comments from audience members and discussion clips will be available on YoutTube, our website, Twitter and LinkdIn shortly: watch this space.