The dropping by the Democratic Alliance (DA) of black economic empowerment (BEE) as its policy was likely to damage the party’s brand in the eyes of the black South African electorate in the run-up to next year’s polls, political analyst Somadoda Fikeni has warned.
The DA’s federal council – its highest decision-making body – over the weekend confirmed that it had decided to ditch BEE last month in favour of crafting a new, broader economic empowerment network, which would encompass skills and jobs.
Within the DA, BEE has also led to former party leaders Helen Zille and Lindiwe Mazibuko being at loggerheads. Mazibuko left the party after being accused by Zille of failure to properly scrutinise the legislation before supporting it in parliament.
Fikeni, an academic at Unisa, said any political party could easily say BEE did not work, “except the DA”.
“When it is the DA saying this – a party known for having been against land expropriation and the mining charter transformation – then you must know that in the eyes of the country’s black electorate, it has defined itself as the Freedom Front Plus and AfriForum,” said Fikeni.
“The perception is that it is a party that still protects the propertied class, which is mainly white.
“This is a stigma that has been its major headache. It is not clear what they now plan to put in the place of BEE when they talk about education and jobs. This should be seen as a generation waiting process.”
He said there was “nothing in their policy that says government will intervene in creating a black industrialist class”.
“Due to years of imbalances of the past created by apartheid, the DA should understand that we are not moving from an equal base,” Fikeni said.
“So, equality will not work as their approach to level the playing field on economic empowerment.”