Letter: BEE not the way to rebuild the economy - The Star

29 January 2021 - South Africa’s continued insistence on implementing race-based policies, which have been shown to fail ordinary people, will help ensure that the country will not emerge from its economic crisis.

South Africa’s continued insistence on implementing race-based policies, which have been shown to fail ordinary people, will help ensure that the country will not emerge from its economic crisis.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again made it clear that black economic empowerment (BEE) will be the primary driving force in how we tackle the economic maladies we face. After the recent lekgotla, the president announced that a newly established Tourism Equity Fund would look to ‘drive transformation in the tourism sector’. Of course, inclusivity in all our economic sectors is important but achieving inclusivity will be far better served by emphasising job creation.

Tourism is labour intensive and is one of the only sectors to have grown jobs over the past few years of economic stagnation. It is also one of the only sectors to have grown consistently and at a higher rate than the broader economy. It must be a key anchor in South Africa’s economic recovery, but focusing on ‘transformation’ will not result in this.

BEE has failed to benefit ordinary South Africans, which is reflected in our stubbornly high rates of poverty and unemployment. It has simply seen benefits accrue to the politically connected. Moreover, Statistics South Africa has shown that within race groups inequality is highest among black South Africans. This is the only population group which has seen in-group inequality rise, while in-group inequality for coloured, Indian and Asian, and white South Africans has declined over the past decade.

Simply put, BEE has failed to empower the vast majority of black South Africans, the very people the policy is supposed to help.

The government must reject failed race-based ideology and focus on helping poor South Africans, whatever their race. Economic policies must have only one aim – to create employment, which is the only way to sustainably beat joblessness and poverty.

Marius Roodt

Institute of Race Relations

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