Business Report, in conjunction with Nedbank and SAfm, kicked off a series of Transformation Dialogues this week, with the aim of getting South Africans to engage on critical questions about transformation.
The Transformation Dialogues are anchored by veteran broadcaster Rowena Baird every last Wednesday of the month on SAfm, from 9am to 10am on Morning Talk.
The topic for this week’s show was “To BBBEE or Not To BEE”, focusing on the strides and the pitfalls in the push to transform the South African economy. Baird opened the show by asking Louis Petrus Kruger, a professor at Unisa’s School of Management Sciences, to share insights from the research he has done on black economic empowerment (BEE).
BEE was seen as not working and enriching a select few, he said. That sentiment was echoed by several callers to the show, and by Business Report editor Ellis Mnyandu, who said South Africans must ask themselves whether BEE was the right mode of transforming the economy and addressing the legacy of marginalisation.
One caller said South Africa’s economic structure needed to be changed, pointing to what he called “South Africa’s monopolistic economic structure”, which made it difficult for smaller players to create new businesses in existing industries, such as banking and retail.
Kruger said it had now been 10 years since BEE was first implemented but the policy had not achieved its intended objectives.
Thulani Sibeko, the group executive for marketing, communication and corporate affairs at Nedbank, said BEE was seen as a redistributive mechanism and, therefore, it was not surprising that there were negative sentiments about it.
He said the focus rather should be on “growing” the cake, in other words, expanding the economy via entrepreneurship and human capital investments so as to bring as many as possible into the economic mainstream. He said energy should be put into finding solutions to what BEE was not able to fix. – Staff Reporter