The KwaZulu Natal Econimic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala is spearheading the bid to reshape BEE policies to benefit “black Africans”. The proposal was sent to National Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane in August.
The ANC in KZN move to reserve R50m tenders for “black Africans”. Indians and coloureds could in future be blocked from state contracts of more than R50-million in KwaZulu-Natal if an audacious move to shake up the empowerment landscape is accepted.
It is being seen as a possible template for sweeping change in empowerment legislation to incorporate the objectives of “radical economic transformation” being touted by President Jacob Zuma.
KwaZulu-Natal’s attempt to redefine “black” is at odds with legislation and practice, which regard Indians, coloured people and Chinese who were in South Africa before 1994 as “black”, and eligible to benefit from laws and initiatives on BEE.
Zikalala said the provincial ANC would advance its view at the party’s national elective conference in December. “We must know who is an African and blacks in general.”
Who qualifies for BEE?
Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is a racially selective programme launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving certain previously disadvantaged groups (Blacks, Coloureds, Indians, and Chinese) in South Africa economic privileges previously not available to them under White rule. It is a form of Affirmative action, although race is the overriding factor, it includes measures such as Employment Preference, skills development, ownership, management, socio-economic development, and preferential procurement.
After the transition from Apartheid in 1994, it was decided by the government of the African National Congress that direct intervention in the redistribution of assets and opportunities was needed to resolve the economic disparities created by Apartheid policies which had favoured white business owners. BEE intended to transform the economy to be representative of the demographics, specifically race demographics of the country. BEE was defined in the 2001 Commission Report as follows,
"It is an integrated and coherent socio-economic process. It is located within the context of the country’s national transformation programme, namely the RDP. It is aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past by seeking to substantially and equitably transfer and confer the ownership, management and control of South Africa’s financial and economic resources to the majority of its citizens. It seeks to ensure broader and meaningful participation in the economy by black people to achieve sustainable development and prosperity."