1 minute read
7 Nov 2013
6:19 am

DA needs to be clearer on BEE


It is obvious why the Democratic Alliance (DA) is changing its tune on black economic empowerment (BEE).

To garner enough votes to achieve power the DA must attract more support from blacks.

Although there are exceptions, many blacks support BEE because it improves their chances of success. Simply: if you want significant black votes, you must support BEE in some form.

Historically, the DA has opposed BEE since the Employment Equity (EE) Bill was passed in 1998. The view under the leadership of Tony Leon was that you cannot build a non-racial society by harping on race. EE and BEE and their off shoots require race classifi cation, which Leon said had Verwoerdian overtones. The current DA leadership evidently also wants to avoid “entrenching race as the determining factor of our future”.

Yet, in June, the party voted for the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Amendment Bill. Last week, in the National Assembly, the DA also voted for the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, which tightens penalties for non-compliance.

There are ructions in the party, with suggestions that traditional supporters will not vote DA next year.

Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, in damage repair mode, says the DA does not agree with all the clauses in the Bill. It may vote against the Bill in the National Council of Provinces if changes are not made. This is clumsy, at best. Surely it is possible to support the principle of redress for past injustices without endorsing the ANC’s narrow version of BEE, which is corruptly used to enrich a select few?

The DA needs to be clearer and more imaginative about how it differs from the ANC on this important ma er. Mantras about the “open opportunity society for all” will not be enough.