A major problem with BEE is that it has been almost impossible for black people to criticise it without being labelled as 'sell-outs'.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has always been regarded as one of the rational, balanced voices in our society so, when she says that the policy of black economic empowerment (BEE) is a “lost cause”, it’s time to sit up and pay attention.
This, after all, is not someone who can easily be dismissed with the casual “white right-winger” slur; she is a black South African woman passionate about seeing her country succeed for all its people.
READ MORE: Mboweni heads to ConCourt to save B-BBEE rule
Addressing guests online at the 2021 Nadine Gordimer Lecture hosted by Wits University on Wednesday, Madonsela said BEE had not benefitted black-owned businesses in the way it had intended to.
“BEE is corrosive to both black and white small businesses,” she added.
However, her key argument was that the policy, which aims to “reverse” past injustices, reinforced white supremacy.
BEE has, in many cases benefitted not only the politically connected blacks, but also white big business, which has cynically used the policy as a cover to continue to rack up huge profits.
That’s what Madonsela means.
AfriForum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets, who attended a Black Management Forum discussion on BEE on Wednesday, also called BEE “a failure”.
He said the policy actually hurts poor workers, and specially whites.
ALSO READ: ANC’s BEE is a comorbidity
Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt has highlighted that BEE had benefitted a select few black people and had only resulted in further inequality, while fuelling racial tensions.
A major problem with BEE is that it has been almost impossible for black people to criticise it without being labelled as “sell-outs” in our polarised society.
And, let’s not forget, it was a perverted form of BEE which led directly to state capture. It’s time, surely, for a radical rethink of this policy.