In its current form, Black Economic Empowerment has created beneficiaries who are merely sitting around waiting for dividends from companies they do not even know, according to Black Management Forum president Andile Nomlala.
They collect cheques without having created any job opportunities for other black people, he said at the Nelson Mandela University Youth Convention on Tuesday, where he also spoke on his belief that BEE was not helping to develop black entrepreneurs. Mavuso Msimang
Nomlala’s comments come in the wake of a national debate over whether broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) had achieved the required objectives of transforming corporate SA.
The DA believes BEE in its current form has been used by the ANC to enrich a politically connected elite, while trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel recently said the country needed to rethink black empowerment laws.
While presenting his department’s performance plan, Patel told members of parliament that in some instances BEE had worked well but did not give South Africans the empowerment they required and it was not broad enough.
Speaking at the Nelson Mandela memorial lecture in New Brighton in July, ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang said BEE had been used as a tool for corruption.
“The start of Black Economic Empowerment was a brilliant thing because we were oppressed for a long time.
“But because we the people of the ANC didn’t have money we started this thing called tenderpreneurs and we subverted a very good thing,” he said.
On Tuesday, Nomlala said he believed BEE was racially selective.
He described it as a “willingbuyer, willing-seller system”.
Nomlala said regardless of his position in the BMF, he did not support the policy.
He said if South Africans wanted to participate in business on a larger scale, the government would need to put legislation in place that prioritised black business owners.
“As long as we don’t have that [legislation], we’re not going to reach the economic prosperity we want,” he said.
“We need to legislate ourselves into wealth.
“Any other disadvantaged group in the past, particularly the Afrikaner community, legislated themselves into wealth.
“[We] need to pin a deliberate economic strategy and tie it up with legislation that is punitive in its implementation.
“Not so long ago, Afrikaners were economically impoverished compared with the British, but never spent too much time wanting to dismantle British institutions.
“Instead, they put legislation in place that ensured British organisations were able to employ Afrikaners and when they came out of that employment, they would then be put by government into a system where they would be given business opportunities.”
Nomlala said the current policies in place in the country did not allow for black youth to participate in the country’s economy, and there was a lack of funds to do this.
He said a large South African retailer required businesses to give one million products upfront to be placed in their stores and would only pay the supplier 90 days after the stock had been sold.
This, Nomlala said, was what was barring black entrepreneurs from penetrating the retail sector, because they simply did not have the money to supply one million products nor could they afford to wait for months on end before they were paid.
A change in legislation was necessary to ensure suppliers were paid upfront, he said.
“By the time your stock reaches the shelves, you would’ve already been paid. “This would then enable your company to reach R200m [in revenue] a year. We need legislation that tells businesses to transform. While we don’t have this, we’re hoping for something that will fall from the sky. The start of BEE was a brilliant thing because we were oppressed”
Disclaimer – The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Kisima College