'Labour law isn't right' - Herman Mashaba
THERE needs to be a "drastic" change in current labour legislation if South Africa wants to win the fight against unemployment.
Call like this has been common in the business community - but it remains the only way to summarise an interview Sowetan had with businessman Herman Mashaba.
Mashaba is the founder of hair product brand Black Like Me (established in 1984) and executive chairman of Lephatsi Investments.
He recently launched his autobiography, Black Like You, in which he tells how he struggled to succeed in life and speaks about the mistakes he made as a young man.
"I wanted young black kids to learn from the struggles I faced. The book is also for the young white generation to know the struggles of the past."
Mashaba began by selling, among other things, insurance, linen, glasses, fire detection systems and finally, his haircare products. That was when the Black Like Me idea started.
As someone born into poverty, creating employment in the black community is still close to his heart.
He admires the government's focus on jobs but questions the way it hopes to achieve it. This issue has made him even consider taking the matter to the Constitutional Court.
"I do not believe you can develop entrepreneurs with the current labour system, particularly not black ones. It's not possible.
"If you want to start a business in the township, you face the complex labour laws. If you can't afford to hire labour experts, you are going to get into trouble in the end ... someone takes you to the CCMA."
Mashaba said black businesspeople were treated as enemies by the CCMA and "they have to prove their innocence".
"Something drastic must change in labour legislation," he said. "If that does not happen we must accept that we are not going to have black entrepreneurs.
"We must accept that unemployment is going to rise and will one day come back to bite us.
"No one will start a business to fire people. What we are saying is that if it is so easy for people to just walk away from you, why should you be forced, as a businessman, to keep someone (employed)?
"I say let us find an equitable way that will allow our people to work."
Other issues that hamper employment, he added, were an inferior education and the crime rate in the townships.
"This economy also needs creativity. It needs industrialists and they are not going to come out of government tenders," he said.