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The BBBEE commission recently released some shocking statistics, pointing to how BBBEE has in actual fact decreased over the past few years. The main reason for this lack of BBBEE growth is due to corruption, and the reluctant nature of the private sector when it comes to compliance.

A report compiled by the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission (B-BBEE Commission) raises a few concerns on how black ownership within the JSE has dropped by 5.75%. Women ownership, on the other hand, has also dropped from a low 10.32% to a single digit of 9%.

What is even more staggering; is the ongoing disregard for the importance of BBBEE compliance. Out of over 400 JSE listed companies, only 121 companies bothered to submit their BBBEE compliance information, the 70% majority of companies on the JSE simply did not care.

Now one has to wonder what the reason is behind this failure. Is it a matter of not enough skilled black individuals? Is it because the policy has become a way for black elites to become richer? Or is it due to there being no harsh consequences for not being BBBEE compliant?

I would argue that it is the latter. The BBBEE Commission has been given a role that is more of a guidance one than a compliance enforcer. It is important that this Commission is given “real teeth” to act against noncompliance.

Fronting has been the convenient tool for private companies trying to secure government contracts. There is nothing more corrupt and distasteful than companies using their ground staff as board members, meanwhile, their salary is that of a tea lady.

Yes, Government has not been the best implementer of the policy. Yes, the policy has also been a victim of government corruption. However, we must be cautious of only blaming the easy target - government - for BBBEE failure when the private sector is as guilty or even guiltier.

We know that no private capital will be willing to give up their equity in the name of transformation, there is no financial profit in that. It is therefore up to us to ensure that failure to comply with BBBEE comes with some real consequences and not just a small fine that will not even impact the giant profits made by private companies.

* Luthando Kolwapi is a political commentator.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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