‘A minority project’: Implementation of BEE policy destroyed the ANC

November 16, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

With a few politically connected individuals becoming the beneficiaries of the ANC-driven black economic empowerment (BEE) policy – supposed to redress decades of imbalances created by apartheid – experts yesterday had doubts about the party’s national executive committee’s (NEC) commitment to its implementation.

Emerging from a three-day weekend meeting ahead of next month’s national elective conference, the NEC said the ANC remained “resolutely committed to the implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment”.

While claiming “progress has been made in empowering black people and women in the economy”, the NEC said “benefits of this progress have not been felt by all South Africans”.

It recommitted the ANC to “intensify black economic empowerment measures, rather than to relax them”.

But two leading economists, a policy expert, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and a business leader, have remained sceptical.

Economists Dick Forslund and Thabi Leoka said, while the policy made sense given SA’s past history, very few blacks had benefitted.

“The manner in which the BEE has been implemented has destroyed the governing party,” said Forslund.

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“BEE has to be about affirmative action across society. But what has dominated the policy is the strategy to build a black business class.

“This has made the BEE policy become a minority project.”

Leoka said: “When BEE deals are made, it is important these trickle down to support small businesses.

“Initially, it was meant to be broad-based, to include people with disabilities and women [but] it has ended up benefitting the politically connected and those with a certain political affiliation.

“An average educated black person or owner of a company is unlikely to be approached for these deals.”

Corrupt politicians misused BEE

Political and policy analyst Dr Nkosikhulule Nyembezi blamed “corrupt politicians and business people” for having “misused BEE to disperse patronage and enrich the few at the expense of ensuring the country gets good value for the money spent”.

“Corrupt politicians … have hijacked the BEE policy by using state tenders to circumvent due process for the allocation of public contracts and to amass wealth for the politically connected.

“Every year when parliament receives annual reports and budgets, the major weakness in the public finance system is that the auditor-general and public protector have no powers to investigate the use of public funds by private companies awarded tenders.

“The common practice of artificially increasing the price of goods and services undermines the BEE policy, as it is clear that South Africans are not getting good value for money.”

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Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the policy objectives remained “important and valid” because “most companies and wealth remain largely in white and male hands.

“Race and class continue to go hand-in-hand with poverty.

“However, we are disappointed by the lack of progress we have made in transforming the economy and ownership since 1994.

“This requires introspection by all stakeholders on what needs to be done to address the legacies of apartheid and colonialism, that continue to scar our nation.”

Former secretary-general of the Black Business Council Judi Nwokedi blamed “greed and high levels of corruption in government and in the private sector”.