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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
SA business inches towards equality
Cape Town skyline
The new alliance will represent black and white business in South Africa
The Black Business Council and Business South Africa have announced an alliance to try to bridge the divide between black and white business.

The two groups will keep their individual identities but will form an umbrella organisation representing business at national and international levels.

Hasmuk Gaajar, President of the Black Business Council told the BBC's World Business Report that a merger between the groups cannot take place "until black business has the equitable role to play" and said that a merger now would "merely translate into an acquisition".

"If we achieve a unified de-racialised body in the next two years, we would say that's an optimistic view but I think it is something that we are working towards," he said.

Influential voice

The proportion of business the new entity will represent gives it a stronger more influential voice than its individual components.

The Black Business Council was formed in 1996 to promote black economic empowerment and members include leading black business organisations and professional associations in South Africa.

Business South Africa, formed in 1994, represents members from most of the country's industries in issues of economic and social policy.

The relationship between black and white business in South Africa has been fraught with difficulties and over past eight years, since the historic elections of 1994, there has been little progress towards black economic empowerment.

Alliances between business organisations for this purpose have been tried before with little apparent success.

The attempted merger of the black and white chambers of commerce, Nafcoc (National African Federated Chamber of Commerce) and Sacob (South Africa Chamber of Business), was rejected by some members of the black business community.

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Hasmuk Gaajar, Black Business Council
"A merger cannot take place today until black business has the equitable role to play"
See also:

01 Mar 02 | Business
SA farmers demand industry reforms
24 Aug 01 | Business
South Africa's workplace inequality
09 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
South Africa still divided
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