Letter: South Africans’ priority is jobs, not black empowerment - Financial Times

7 October 2020 - Black South Africans are far more sophisticated than your article on the Democratic Alliance leadership candidate Mbali Ntuli implies (“Leadership hopeful warns South African opposition to include black majority”, October 5).

Black South Africans are far more sophisticated than your article on the Democratic Alliance leadership candidate Mbali Ntuli implies (“Leadership hopeful warns South African opposition to include black majority”, October 5).

Ms Ntuli is simplistic in assuming that black voters will not support a white DA leader, or that they want the DA to keep copying the failed black economic empowerment policies of the African National Congress.

Representative opinion polling commissioned by the South African Institute of Race Relations shows that some 85 per cent of black South Africans gain nothing from BEE. Only about 5 per cent of black respondents see “more BEE” as the best way to get ahead, whereas roughly 70 per cent of black people identify “more jobs and better education” as the keys to upward mobility.

BEE has in fact harmed most black South Africans by undermining public service efficiency and encouraging fraud and inflated pricing in some

50 per cent of state tenders. It has also deterred foreign direct investment (down to £3.4bn in 2019), reduced GDP per capita (down by 1.2 per cent in 2019), and added to the unemployment rate (up to 30 per cent in 2019). Even the South African Communist Party, which helped devise BEE, has condemned its adverse effects. BEE, it says, has widened “intra-African inequality” by enriching the few while “increasing poverty . . . and mass unemployment for the majority”.

Ms Ntuli overlooks the fact that the DA’s 2019 electoral losses came after it had chosen a black leader and endorsed BEE. It was then simply echoing the ANC line, rather than offering the electorate a better policy choice.

The race-neutral DA policies she rejects were crafted, as it happens, by another black woman, DA policy head Gwen Ngwenya. Ms Ngwenya sees no need for distasteful racial tagging when the DA’s new approach will benefit the disadvantaged (almost all of whom are black) far more effectively than BEE will ever do.

Ms Ntuli’s stance reflects a patronising view of black South Africans. It seems to see them as incapable of nuanced political choice — or of understanding what policies will best help them to get ahead.

Anthea Jeffery
Head of Policy Research, South African Institute of Race Relations Johannesburg, South Africa

https://www.ft.com/content/f40a7e29-e8f3-4ff8-a947-a7423553f425

© 2018 South African Institute of Race Relations
CMS Website by Juizi

Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Accuracy Guarantee | Sponsors & Donors