ANC statement on BBBEE

7 August 2018

As the Democratic Alliance's ideological confusion on the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) policy continues to play itself out in the public domain, the African National Congress wishes to reiterate its consistent and unambiguous position on this transformatory policy instrument.
The ANC is neither shocked nor surprised by the DA's flip-flopping on BBBEE. We have long exposed the DA as a party committed to defending white privilege and preserving the status quo. The DA's opposition and active resistance to BBBEE is understandable. Beneficiaries of economic apartheid cannot be expected to support policy measures that broaden access to economic opportunities to the majority of South Africans, and in the process shake the very foundation of white economic privilege.

For the DA to claim that they are ditching black economic empowerment (BEE), because it is "just not working", is extremely disingenuous. It is an excuse for their own deep-seated resistance to economic transformation. Yes, there are serious challenges with regard to some aspects of the implementation of the programme. Indeed, the benefits of BBBEE are still to reach the vast majority of our people. However, these and other challenges cannot be raised as excuses to throw the baby with the bathwater.

We are also concerned that some of the benefits and opportunities brought by Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, have not gone to their intended beneficiaries as a result of the scourge of fronting. We are encouraged by the visible efforts of our cadres in public sector institutions to address this phenomenon. Fronting defeats and undermines all our efforts at deracialising our economy and undoing the economic inequalities of our ugly past.

The ANC's vision for the South African economy is guided by the Freedom Charter's clarion call that the people shall share in the country's wealth. In its 54th National Conference, the ANC noted that despite the economic advances of the past 23 years of freedom and democracy, the legacy of colonialism and apartheid is still deeply entrenched in our society and in the structure of the South African economy.

The ANC-led government inherited an economy that excluded the majority of South Africans. It was carefully designed to serve the interests of the minority to the deliberate exclusion of the majority. Thus the economy we inherited was unable to respond to the developmental challenges of the new democratic order. Broad-based black economic empowerment is a critical policy instrument aimed at redressing past economic injustices and inequalities we inherited.

BBBEE is part of the struggle to transform our economy to enable it to serve the needs and aspirations of all South Africans. We are pursuing this path because we are aware that the democratic breakthrough would be meaningless if it is not accompanied with a vibrant and growing economy that can benefit all our people.

It must worry all of us, including the Democratic Alliance, that twenty years since our freedom, the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality still bear a largely black face. Race will continue to be a key factor in all our transformation efforts. Building a truly non-racial and equal society will require deliberate and systematic efforts. The legacy of many centuries of economic deprivation we seek to eradicate is so entrenched that it requires sustained action to deliver effective and thoroughgoing economic transformation.  

We remain relentless and unwavering in our pursuit of economic transformation because we believe that broadening participation in the economic mainstream is an imperative if we are to succeed in building a dynamic and growing economy. We will never waver in our commitment to transform the ownership patterns of our economy. Among other things, black people must own productive assets of the country and also participate in the decision-making process. This is what we mean by radical economic transformation.

We have a collective responsibility, across all political parties, to support measures that promote access to economic opportunities for all our people in order to give practical meaning to the pledge we made during our struggle for liberation that we will never consider our mission complete and our liberation achieved, if the people of our country remain victims of economic exclusion.

We must remind the DA and other opponents of BBBEE that the de-racialization of our economy not only makes good business sense but is also a critical prerequisite for political and economic stability in our country.
Issued by the African National Congress