South Africa


Subjective phobia against B-BBEE should be challenged

New banknotes, which feature an image of former president Nelson Mandela on the front and images of the Big Five wild animals on the reverse, on November 9, 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Loanna Hoffmann)

There are indisputable facts that black economic empowerment has not proved to be the fatal blow to South Africa’s oligarchs. Beneficiaries of the apartheid system are still benefiting in the post-apartheid South Africa.

There is an uprising of phobia or hatred against Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) from certain quarters of society. I am not writing this article to condemn or support the phobia or hatred. My assumption is that the phobia or hatred is created by some policy analysts who provide a subjective analysis of B-BBEE in order to drive a certain political agenda. I am writing to unpack what guides a B-BBEE policy.

It remains a fact that the apartheid South Africa thrived through horrific brutality and deliberate discrimination of black people and the advancement of white supremacy. That system was defeated and buried on 27 April 1994. In a spirit of reconciliation, its beneficiaries were not requested to bring all the benefits accumulated through that cruel system. Some of the descendants of the beneficiaries of that horrific discriminatory system are basking under the glory of wealth created with the aid of that system. The system declared by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. Any person who directly or indirectly benefited from this system has benefited at the expense of humanity.

In order to redress the socio-economic inequalities, the post-apartheid South African government has enacted policies with the hope of attaining equality, as envisaged by section 9 of the Constitution of South Africa, 1996 (as amended). One amongst many of those public policies aimed to redress the socio-economic imbalances of the past is the B-BBEE. The fundamental aspiration of the B-BBEE is to “promote the achievement of the constitutional right to equality, increase broad-based and effective participation of black people in the economy and promote a higher growth rate, increased employment and more equitable income distribution”.

B-BBEE is guided by a plethora of laws and these include:

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (as amended)

The preamble of the Constitution of South Africa of 1996 (as amended) states that “we, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustice of our past”. The past had unjust laws that were discriminatory and resulted in the majority of black South Africans being economically marginalised. Any person who claims to subscribe to the Constitution of South Africa without recognising the injustices of the past and be committed to redressing the imbalances created by the unjust laws of the past is like someone seeking to be forgiven for his/her horrific crime without showing any remorse.

The Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998

The objective of the Employment Equity Act is to promote the elimination of unfair discrimination in employment and ensure the implementation of employment equity redress, ensuring a diverse workforce broadly representative of the people of South Africa. It is there to promote economic development and efficiency in the workforce.

The Skills Development Act, 97 of 1998

The unjust laws of the past created an education system that relegated black people into certain skills and has led to structural unemployment. The Skills Development Act is aimed at addressing the scarce skills challenges that South Africa is facing. The measurement of the skills development element in the B-BBEE codes has four sub-categories that should guide entities in the design of their skills programmes to promote the objectives of the act. Skills development includes internships, learnerships, bursaries etc

The Skills Development Levies Act, 9 of 1999

The Skills Development Levies Act regulates a compulsory levy scheme from employers to fund education and training in businesses within various sectors in South Africa. The contribution of employers assists the post-apartheid government to expand the knowledge, skills and competencies base of the labour force and thus ensuring that there is an increase in the supply of the required skilled labour in South Africa.

The Public Finance Management Act, 1 of 1999

The Public Finance Management Act, 1 of 1999 (PFMA) regulates financial management in the national government and provincial governments, to ensure that all revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of those governments are managed efficiently and effectively. The PFMA also promotes affirmative procurement and access to economic opportunities for historically disadvantaged individuals.

The Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, 5 of 2000 (amended in 2017)

The Preferential Procurement Regulations of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPFA), 2000 encourages procurement from Small Enterprises, particularly through sub-contracting if a tender is set above the R30-million threshold. PPPFA instructs the state to assess contracts, using a preference point system which prescribes functionality, price and reconstruction development programme goals.

There are indisputable facts that black economic empowerment has not proved to be the fatal blow to South Africas oligarchs and beneficiaries of the apartheid system are still benefitting in the post-apartheid South Africa. It is for policy analysts to identify which element in B-BBEE has limitations rather than see the whole policy as a failure. B-BBEE is more than just about having shares in the company. It includes skills development, socio-economic investments, procurement, enterprise development and suppliers development. One cannot analyse the B-BBEE policy in isolation from the plethora of laws that guides the policy.

Creating phobias or hatred against B-BBEE without providing objective analysis of the policy cannot be justified. People are within their rights to critique a policy but facts must be provided to substantiate arguments. Also, a policy must not be monumentalised. All policies must go through a policy cycle that includes policy agenda setting, policy formulation, policy legitimatisation, policy implementation, policy evaluation and policy maintenance, succession or termination.

Instead of creating phobias or hatred against B-BBEE through subjective analysis, let the policy analysts assess the achievements and failures of the B-BBEE policy as a whole, rather than focusing on one element within the policy and making a general conclusion. DM

Sediko Rakolote is a commissioner at Commission for Gender Equality and a B-BBEE Management Development Programme candidate at Unisa School of Business Leadership. He is writing in a personal capacity.


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