Original publish date – Fri, 04 Dec 2009 14:17:33 +0000, MPUMULO MAPHOSA

In SA amongst the many policies aimed at the further development and sustenance of the economy, one policy that is pivotal but remains misconceived, is Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. It has faced and still continues to face resistance from some sections of the South African community largely due to the misconception tag it carries. People have interpreted BEE in so many different ways stretching from the creation of an elite individual business people to an uneven ground regarding job prospects. All this has aggravated to the existing misunderstanding, which is surely a huge setback for the prosperity of the country at large.

All countries across the globe have empowerment-oriented policies including those relating to empowering women, the youth, the disabled and more. There are various policies for various country specific challenges and so is BEE in SA. Its intensity is in empowering the historically disadvantaged. Each time I come across the word “Empowerment”, words like participation, involvement, networking, equity, engagement, representation, equality, representativeness, transformation (the list is endless), spring out of my mind. Empowerment applies not to everyone, but to a particular segment of society. In line with this thinking, it makes sense therefore that BEE is only targeted to a specific segment of the SA society (the previously disadvantaged).

The BEE scorecard provides a rock-solid approach to empowerment. The 7 elements comprehensively cover significant areas of empowerment and the weighting thereof, points to the significance of one element over another. Empowerment must be woven around people and not the other way round and more importantly it must benefit those in need of it.