Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
6 May 2021
12:57 pm

‘BEE a lost cause that reinforces white supremacy,’ says Madonsela

Molefe Seeletsa

Madonsela says the BEE policy, which aims to 'reverse' the injustices of apartheid, has not benefited small businesses.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Jaco Marais

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has labelled the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy as “a lost cause”.

Virtually addressing guests at the 2021 Nadine Gordimer Lecture event on Wednesday, hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Madonsela said the BEE policy had not benefitted black or white-owned businesses in the way it was intended to.

ALSO READ: Look for answers to BEE dilemma

“I don’t think BEE was the right thing, I think BEE was a lost cause. BEE is corrosive to both black and white small businesses,” she said.

Madonsela said the policy, which aims to “reverse” the injustices of apartheid, instead reinforced white supremacy, Jacaranda FM reported.

“I’m not saying there shouldn’t be remedial measures, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be restitutive measures; I’m saying the model must be based on what kind of society are you creating. In fact, if anything I think it has reinforced white supremacy instead of undermining it,” she said.

Civil rights group Afriforum deputy CEO Ernst Roets – who attended the Black Management Forum meeting – slammed the BEE policy as “a failure”, further adding that it was “destructive and immoral”.

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“What struck me about last night’s Black Management Forum discussion on BEE is that apparently everyone agreed that BEE is a failure. The proposed solution from many who were there was, however, that we simply need more BEE. What’s the saying? Real BEE has never been tried,” he said on Twitter.

AfriForum, alongside trade union Solidarity, has long been protesting against BEE policies, saying they were discriminatory against poor white people.

Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt said BEE had largely benefited a select few black people and only resulted in further inequality while fuelling racial tensions.

Skills development, focused on the youth and especially girls was key to a more equal society, suggested Roodt as an alternative to BEE.

Race-based criteria

The BEE topic was in the spotlight last year after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) declared the revised preferential procurement regulations then minister Pravin Gordhan promulgated in 2017 and their provisions for race-based “pre-qualification” criteria invalid.

ALSO READ: ANC’s BEE is a comorbidity

The regulations were declared invalid as a result of their inconsistency with the provisions of the procurement policy framework.

This was on the back of a legal battle waged by business organisation Sakeliga (formerly AfriBusiness), which said the regulations “heralded a new era in race-based procurement”.

Additional reporting from Bernadette Wicks and Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni