Letter: DA stand on BEE - Businesslive

18 February 2019 - The phrase the DA therefore wants is that 'race is a general indicator of disadvantage’. But that, of course, would not justify a policy of race-based empowerment. Adopting unemployment or the lack of a proper education as a proxy would avoid this deficiency.

We are delighted that the DA has entered into a correspondence with us ("DA’s Alternative is Credible", February 15) regarding its position on race and empowerment, and beg your indulgence to allow this correspondence to continue as we intend to skewer the party’s position on race in the full glare of your readership. 

Following its federal council meeting earlier this month, the DA said that "we believe race is a proxy for disadvantage and an accurate reflection of who is still excluded from opportunity". Now it says that "while race is a proxy for disadvantage it is not the only proxy".

"Only" is a very important word. Must we now understand that the DA is open to other proxies, and if so, what are these and why were they not adopted, or even debated, by the federal council? One gets the distinct sense that an escape hatch has been opened in order to facilitate a flip-flop.   

In any event, as we understand it, ‪a "proxy" means something that can accurately be substituted for another. Race cannot always and accurately be substituted for disadvantage. There are, for example, now more black households in SA’s top monthly expenditure categories than there are white households, although the proportion of black households that are prosperous is very much lower than is the case for whites.

The phrase the DA therefore wants is that "race is a general indicator of disadvantage". But that, of course, would not justify a policy of race-based empowerment. Adopting unemployment or the lack of a proper education as a proxy would avoid this deficiency. However, if those socio-economic measures were adopted, why would the party need a proxy at all, as there would then be no reason not to base policy on actual established socio-economic disadvantage?    

The DA goes on to say that its model of race-based empowerment is different from that of the ANC because it is a "bottom-up" as opposed to a "top-down" approach. On reading this, a colleague remarked that saying "you stack books on a bookshelf more heavily on the bottom does not mean you aren’t dealing with a bookshelf".

In any event it is not true that the ANC’s racial policies are all "top-down". Every small-scale entrepreneur, employer and business owner is forced to jump through an obstacle course of racial hoops and it is therefore perhaps at the bottom of the economy that the ANC’s racial engineering policies do their greatest harm.

Frans Cronje
CEO, Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2019-02-18-letter-da-stand-on-bee/

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