Letter: Contradiction in DA thinking on race remains - Businesslive

Apr 03, 2019
3 April 2019 - Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer to look a chap in the eye and know where he stands.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi highlights the contradiction at the heart of the DA’s thinking on race and empowerment when he writes that “the DA acknowledges that there is a growing black middle class and thus race cannot be the only determinant for disadvantage going forward” (“DA’s BEE Stance Balanced”, April 2).

He is right. Three times as many black as white students are graduating from SA universities with degrees in business and management. The number of black households in the top monthly expenditure category recorded by StatsSA is now higher than the number of white households.

Much of the black middle class is first generation, while the white middle class is more deeply established, and this is a very important distinction. Some degree of racial parity has nevertheless been reached in the middle classes, though the black population as a whole still suffers much higher levels of social and economic deprivation than do whites.

Malatsi goes on to say that the BEE scorecard should be changed to focus on training and skills. We agree that such a change is needed, and would add to that a focus on fixed investment, tax payments, enterprise development and job creation.

Malatsi beats us to some of this when he writes of a “bottom-up approach” to empowerment, with “training”, “rapidly increasing employment”, and “support[ing] individuals to start their own businesses” as its various components — all of which echoes the discussions in our boardroom.

It all sounds quite sensible and liberal until you realise that he has not explained how race will fit into any of this, despite that question having sparked this debate to begin with. In fact, none of the DA’s various papers and documents answers that question.

This “balanced stance” the DA has developed is very useful to it as it allows exactly what we warned about in our letter (“DA in Two Minds on Race Issue”, April 1), and what we see here again — the ability to talk race up when convenient and talk it down when the audience might disapprove.

Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer to look a chap in the eye and know where he stands.

Frans Cronje, Institute of Race Relations


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