The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called on the government to establish a state-owned bank “that will prioritise investment in young African entrepreneurs” in memory of an “African business legend and icon, ntate Richard Maponya”.
Dr Richard John Pelwana Maponya died early on Monday morning after a short illness.
He was 99 years old and was the founder of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) in 1964, and later the founder and chairperson of the African Chamber of Commerce.
The Limpopo-born entrepreneur, often referred to as “the father of black retail”, co-developed Soweto’s Maponya Mall in 2007.
In a statement following Maponya’s passing, the EFF said: “To truly honour Maponya is to believe that African people can be enterprising, innovative and creative; that there are many like him in our country and continent but lack financial investment and support for their business.”
The red berets said a state-owned bank that would invest in African entrepreneurs and “a bank that believes in them” would be a “key solution” to addressing the high levels of unemployment among Africans.
The EFF expressed its “heartfelt and revolutionary condolences” on the passing of Maponya.
“We send special condolences to the family, relatives and close friends; may they find comfort in this time of loss.”
The red berets said Nafcoc was established “to look out for African business interests in an apartheid-era where black Africans were regarded as hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
The party said Maponya represents the few formidable Africans who managed to create wealth despite the restrictions apartheid placed on black businesspeople, adding that his passing is a loss of an icon.
“In his last days, he was very worried about the high levels of unemployment and strongly believed that entrepreneurship was the solution to this. He wanted to establish an academy to train youth to become business giants as formidable as he was,” the party said.
The party described Maponya as an honest businessperson who did not rely on government tenders and bribing politicians to build his wealth.