DA's highest decision making body ditches BEE, saying the policy is not sustainable
The DA’s federal council has decided to ditch black economic empowerment, claiming the policy is simply “just not working.”
The party’s head of policy Gwen Ngwenya confirmed to News24 that the DA’s highest policy decision making body resolved the decision in July, instead opting to seek a broader economic empowerment framework.The DA has previously thrown its weight behind the idea of BEE but claimed it only unlocked economic opportunities for politically connected blacks and that the way in which it was being implemented was not sustainable.
BEE has also been a source of fierce contestation within the party. It resulted in a spat between former party leader Helen Zille and former DA parliamentary caucus leader Lindiwe Mazibuko. Mazibuko was accused by Zille of failing to ensure the opposition properly interrogated and responded to new legislation on BEE and employment equity before backing it. It is also widely believed this was one of the reasons why Mazibuko quit politics.
“There is a very real commitment to black empowerment, but we recognise that triple BEE has not worked,” said Ngwenya. She said the party was still working its way towards its new “broad economic empowerment framework,” but was confident about what elements needed to be included.
“Getting people into jobs, making sure they have the skills to earn a higher income when they are in the jobs - and therefore be able to put more of their income towards investment - that is the way to accumulate the kind of wealth that turns into intergenerational prosperity and BEE has not done that and will not do that,” explained Ngwenya.
Political parties are attempting to sharpen their positions on issues ahead of next year’s national elections, with the ANC coming out this week saying it will push for a constitutional amendment on land. Ngwenya confirmed the economic decision by the DA is similar, as the country’s main opposition decides what it can offer South Africans.
“This is the period when political parties should be looking to review their offers to South Africans,” said Ngwenya.
BEE policy: DA federal chairperson disputes claims by head of policy
DA’s federal council chairperson James Selfe has disputed claims that the opposition party has decided to do away with its BEE policy and search for a broader economic empowerment policy.
“The DA position of BBBEE is clear. We believe that race remains a proxy for the previously disadvantaged in South Africa today. We support -fully- the intent and spirit of BEE,” said Selfe via text.
He said the political party which was currently reviewing its economic policy offering ahead of the 2019 general elections had in no way “discounted the need for broad-based economic empowerment for the previously disadvantaged”.
Selfe’s comments were in response to views expressed by DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, who earlier told News24 that the political party ditched the BEE policy because it was “simply not working”.
Ngwenya said although the DA had genuine commitment to the idea of triple black economic empowerment, the current policy as it stands in the country was not producing the required results.
“Getting people into jobs, making sure they have the skills to earn a higher income when they in the jobs and therefore be able to put more of their income towards investment, that is the way to accumulate the kind of wealth that turns into inter-generational prosperity and BEE has not done that and will not do that,” said Ngwenya, as she explained some of the elements the opposition party wanted to include in its new economic empowerment framework.
Selfe in his response to News24 agreed with Ngwenya that the current BEE model, which is the brain child of the ANC was not working, saying it only “enriched the politically connected and elite few. However, he insisted there was no decision to abandon BEE and that numerous models had been discussed.
“At the last federal council, the party discussed and considered a range of ideas on how we can begin to broaden access to economic empowerment for those who have previously locked out of opportunities,” said Selfe.
BEE has created a rift in the main opposition party before, with two former leaders Helen Zille and Lindiwe Mazibuko having a fall out over the issue. Zille had criticised Mazibuko for allowing the DA parliamentary caucus to back new legislation on BEE and employment equity, saying it has been done without proper interrogation.
The spat is believed to have been the reason for Mazibuko’s decision to quit politics and pursue an academic career abroad.
“The DA would introduce or support BEE which truly empowers more South Africans and creates an environment where we can have fair access to jobs,” said Selfe.