The South African Young Professional Forum hosted a seminar last Thursday to discuss the role and contributions of young black professionals in South African corporations in relation to transformation and society as a whole.

The panel included Dr Bandile Hadebe, director of Planning and Foresight at the Presidential National Commission, Pitika Ntuli, internationally renowned poet and former Wits lecturer, Bobby Godsell, former Eskom boss who was appointed into the national planning commission by President Jacob Zuma in 2009.

Secretary General of the Young Communist League (YCL) and Member of Parliament Buti Manamela also made a presentation.

Secretary General of Cosatu Zwelinzima Vavi was expected to present however could not come due to other commitments.

Ntuli emphasised the importance of young intellectuals as a significant driving force in society. He made reference to the Cuban revolution which was led by professionals, lawyers and doctors. “There is a critical need for partnership between professionals and ordinary people”, he said.

Hadebe pointed to the need for education. However, he said “there’s no point to education if it does not transform society as a whole.”

Hadebe stated that debate for transformation should not perpetuate racism.

Bobby Godsell, who spoke very briefly, emphasised the need to redefine transformation because having black senior management is necessary but not sufficient because thus far, it is being used cheaply and for political agendas.

After a brief Q&A session, the YCL leader arrived to give his presentation. Manamela said all South Africans can make a significant contribution with or without formal education.

“6 percent of the population owning 80 percent of Johannesburg Stock Exchange…if this does not change it tests the patience of young people, it gives rise to popularism and impractical solutions which will leave our people worse off”.

After his speech the floor was open for questions on issues of transformation. Mosa Motaung a former Wits student said society should not ignore the power relations, such as black professionals getting less salary, poor performance ratings and bonuses than white professionals.

Godsell admited that there is racism in South African corporations however it should be exposed. The forum aims to unite young black professionals in making a unified consolidated contribution to South African coperate and tranforming society.