On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary Conference, 30 Sept – 02 Oct 2014, International Convention Centre ICC, Durban, KZN Province, Rev Hlongwane said, “It gives me great pleasure to address you today on this august occasion of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Conference. Not many organisations live to see their half centenary and we are indeed grateful to God Almighty whose grace and goodness kept us through the very many turbulent times in the life of our organization.”
“When the founding fathers of our great chamber movement gathered in Orlando, Soweto in 1964, little did they know that the seed they were sowing in the form of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry would germinate and grow through the dark days of apartheid to the dawn of our democracy in 1994. Little did they know that twenty years later after our miracle transition from apartheid to democratic rule, NAFCOC would still be alive and kicking and I can declare today without any fear of contradiction that NAFCOC will still be around for another 50 years to come. If we could survive apartheid, we can survive anything. If we could persevere and do business under the harshest of conditions under apartheid, then anything is possible under a democratic dispensation. As our slogan rightly proclaims: Rise in Faith. It was faith that helped us survive apartheid, and it is faith that will take us through the next 50 years.
“I think you will be interested to know that on Sunday before making my way to the conference, I spent a few hours by the hospital bed of Dr Motsoenyane after being admitted for an operation. We all know that he would have loved to be with us today but the doctors advised him otherwise. As always, he shared with me some words of wisdom which I would like to share with you today.
He said to me “men must speak but God must speak as well”. He said if he were at present at this conference, he would have told the African National Congress (ANC) to work with us because we worked with them while they were in exile and prison. He said to me we must stand firm on our values of integrity, excellence, trustworthiness and transparency and work with the ANC to take our country forward.”
The theme of the conference was: “Lessons of the past 50 years…opportunities and challenges for SMMEs in the next 50 years”.
As a fighter for the creation of solid black businesses, NAFCOC was key in establishing businesses such as Africa Bank in 1975, black-owned retail company Black Chain in 1977, and the building concern, African Development & Construction Company.
Reverend Joe Hlongwane, said that the organisation has been around through the toughest times of the Apartheid regime.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I can declare today without fear of contradiction that NAFCOC will still be alive in 50 years,” he said.
According to Hlongwane, faith has kept NAFCOC strong through apartheid and all the hard times they faced.
“If we could survive apartheid we can survive anything. If we can persevere and do business under apartheid then anything is possible.
Small Business Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, congratulated NAFCOC on their 50th anniversary and said small businesses should learn more from them.
“We will continue to look up to NAFCOC to help us reignite the spirit of entrepreneurship that refused to surrender to the viciousness of apartheid and its determination to make black people permanent drawers of water and hewers of wood,” said Zulu.
She added that NAFCOC has fought for black business people to obtain their space in the mainstream South African economy, and they continue to do so to date.