Cape Town - Experts are divided over the DA’s draft Economic Justice Policy which seeks to replace Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to attract investment.
DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya said the policy was a response to the increasing economic exclusion of the majority of South Africans.
The DA supports the National Development Plan (NDP) which offers a long-term perspective, but rejects BEE and Affirmative Action policies, Ngwenya said. “Economic exclusion is rooted in a past of colonial and apartheid oppression, but years of poor governance and corruption have stifled our ability to overcome that past.
“BEE embodies trickle down redress; the idea that transferring assets, positions, and contracts from one elite to another would result in broad-based prosperity. Trickle down redress does not work. We propose a bottom-up approach.
“The SDGs have a number of advantages over the BEE scorecard. SDGs are a global framework enjoying wide stakeholder support.
“Whereas BEE has been criticised by the EU Chamber of Commerce in SA as the top legislative challenge to doing business in SA; this approach has the potential to drive company profitability. A growing number of investors are looking for SDG commitments.”
Professor of Political Science at Stellenbosch University Amanda Gouws said: “Ngwenya holds typical liberal views - that the market is the best way to create wealth. In a country where 18million people live on grants, who are excluded from the economy, focusing on the market will not work.
“One of the SDGs is women’s empowerment. The DA has a very bad track record of implementing policies to empower women.
“It has always been the idea that women should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Unless there is a concerted effort on their part to deal head on with issues it all remains rhetoric,” said Gouws.
“The SDGs are quite ambitious - reducing inequality, reducing poverty, climate change, etc. The DA will have to show how they are going to implement this.”
However, Head of Legal (Policy and Research) at the Rule of Law Project Martin van Staden said: “BEE has predictably led to tokenism, and been employed to conceal corruption. Government empowerment policies must benefit all disadvantaged citizens.”