True Empowerment

True empowerment is about the people who can benefit the most. That is why we like the 7 elements. It covers charities to employment and emphasises skills training and entrepreneurial development. No one item is the be all and end all of BEE. If it was it would defeat the objectives of BEE. If BEE was only about putting money into enterprise development it would fail, because regretfully many new businesses DO fail. If it was only about charity we would become a socialist state and our economy would fail. The various elements make BEE broad-based and and go towards improving society and indirectly the economy. Without an equitable society we would have an unstable country.

That is why it upsets me to see companies concentrating on only one aspect of BEE, and the usual element they concentrate on is ownership. I’ve always said I like the ownership element, but it only accounts for 20 points on the generic scorecard. I like the QSE scorecard that allows companies to choose an 4 of the 7 elements.
Now I still find companies whose aims are to sabotage true empowerment. A case in point is Telkom. My previous blog entry explained how Telkom refuses to supply its customers with a scorecard. They have a procurement policy that demands that many small businesses, QSEs show them that they are 51% black owned, else you cannot do business with them! This is contrary to the codes of good practice. A QSE can achieve a score of 100% – level 1 without choosing ownership element.

On the other hand Telkom, with all that is has done in empowerment has probably only a score of 65% – level 4 – maybe this is why they don’t want to give us their scorecard – they know how badly they are doing? Telkom are acting just like a bully. We can’t go to another supplier – they have a monopoly, but they do have a choice of supplier, so they can go somewhere else. It is the small business that will suffer the brunt of Telkom’s policies. Policies so different to the codes of good practice that it is sabotaging B-BBEE. The strange thing is that Telkom’s major shareholder remains government – they quaintly put it as “The President of the Republic of South Africa”. The next biggest shareholder is the Public Investment Corporation.

Telkom is completely disinterested in their suppliers’ scorecards. This of course means that they cannot calculate their procurement score. I wonder if they have any intention of implementing B-BBEE and publishing a scorecard, or whether their major shareholder, the President, knows the harm they are doing to the cause of B-BBEE, never mind the economy?

True empowerment would ensure they do it right. True empowerment will not hurt the small business, but encourage it. As much as it may sound bad to say this, true empowerment could be about a totally white owned and operated level 7 company providing skills development and skills transfer to Telkom’s employees. I’d rather see Telkom get a good score, and almost ignore the score of the white owned company.

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