Letter: Scrap BEE to uplift disadvantaged masses - The Star

22 June 2021 - Polling shows that most South Africans do not believe that soft, apartheid-style, race-based policy such as BEE is the best way to improve their lives.

Polling shows that most South Africans do not believe that soft, apartheid-style, race-based policy such as BEE is the best way to improve their lives.

Most people believe that more jobs and better education rather than more BEE best described as "blatant elite enrichment" is the answer.

If South Africa is to address widespread poverty and deficiencies in critical areas such as education which deepen rather than relieve disadvantage in society it must jettison BEE and scrap race as a proxy for disadvantage, and adopt more effective measures that address the actual problems holding millions of South Africans back.

Polling conducted show racism is not the problem and most South Africans have scant faith in BEE.

The data shows that:

Some 72.8% of South Africans believe that more jobs and better education instead of more BEE are the best ways to improve their lives.

Only 3.8% of black South Africans believe that more BEE is the best way to improve their lives.

Some 60.5% of South Africans believe appointments should be made on merit, with special training for the disadvantaged, while 20% believe in appointments solely on merit.

Only 5.9% of black South Africans believe that only black people should be appointed for a long time ahead.

Instead of clinging on to failing race-based policies such as BEE, South Africa should shift its focus to a policy of economic empowerment for the disadvantaged EED . Rather than using race as proxy for disadvantage, EED would determine disadvantage through a means test similar to that used for dispensing social grants, thus ensuring help for those needing it, rather than perpetually enriching greedy politicians and their associates who are the main beneficiaries of BEE.

The primary problem with BEE is not who it appoints, but how it appoints. It relies on a twin absurdity; that adult children of black billionaires are considered "disadvantaged", and that the value of work is your appearance, not what you do. This creates the incentive to pose rather than produce. Most people know racism is not the problem and that "blatant elite enrichment" is not the solution. But our billionaire president's BEE-forever policy will not change unless people publicly assert what they are saying privately to grassroots surveyors.

Gabriel Crouse, Head of campaigns at the Institute of Race Relations

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