Since Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was implemented, South Africa has seen a rise in a number of millionaires. Most of these new millionaires are blacks already involved in the world of business. Although BEE was also meant to help people from the rural areas and the working class, none of these people have been empowered by BEE and half of them have no idea what it is about.
This is because most of the effort that has been made by the government to make people aware of BEE was made in the urban areas, and less in rural areas where it is needed most. A BEE deal that involves someone who is not among the small black elite is as rare as getting an apology from Robert Mugabe.
The money involved in a deal is either too little to be concerned about or the deal does not go through. BEE has only helped to create a tiny black elite while the lives of ordinary people are still the same as they were before the 1994 elections.
Among the black elite are Tokyo Sexwale at Mvelaphanda, Cyril Ramaphosa at Shanduka and Patrice Motsepe at African Rainbow Minerals. All these people had well established businesses before they were empowered by BEE.
I thought BEE was meant to empower those who were previously disadvantaged, not people who already ad shares in other companies but I was obviously wrong because the BEE ‘top dogs’, Sexwale, Ramaphosa and Motsepe were well-established businessmen before BEE. Just how desperate is the government to make rich black people even richer? It seems to me that BEE is one of the government’s efforts to make a few rich people even richer.
It is not fair for other citizens of South Africa to empower known businesspeople while ordinary people are not getting a cent from BEE. Let us take an ordinary white person for example. Although he is as equally a South African citizen as Ramaphosa, he still does not qualify for BEE because he is white.
This is what the South African government calls ‘healing the inequalities of the past’. As far as I am concerned you cannot heal inequalities by creating other inequalities. Despite being unfair to ordinary South Africans, BEE creates an unfair environment for competition in businesses for other people who compete with the BEE top dogs. They work hard to raise funds to grow their businesses while people like Sexwale, Motsepe and Ramaphosa just get it handed to them.
BEE is not that different from apartheid; it is like apartheid in reverse. The only difference between BEE and apartheid is that BEE is only benefiting a few while it also does not cost the majority a thing.