President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday ruled out the scrapping of broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) policies arguing that they brought real benefits to black South Africans, women and persons with disabilities.

B-BBEE is a controversial issue in SA. The country’s main opposition party, the DA, has rejected it in its current form, saying it is being used by the ruling ANC to enrich only a few politically connected elite at the cost of job creation.

The DA wants to see the B-BBEE scorecard “vastly simplified” with the inclusion of time frames for initiatives to help the business sector to plan. It also wants to have set requirements, as part of the scorecard, to ensure that the beneficiaries of genuine B-BBEE are not just politically connected people.

Responding to the president’s budget vote speech in parliament on Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called for B-BBEE in its current form to be scrapped.

“We cannot talk about inclusive growth and yet persist with narrow economic empowerment. We must start by admitting that broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) has not delivered economic inclusion. It is a fig leaf for redress and it does nothing for 99% of SA’s excluded citizens.

“Scrap B-BBEE, Mr President, and replace it with a plan that offers real broad-based inclusion in our economy,” the DA leader said.

In his reply on Thursday, Ramaphosa said far from abolishing B-BBEE, “now is actually the time to strengthen it, to make it more effective and to ensure that it is aligned with our efforts to promote investment and increase employment”.

“So, honourable Maimane, we are not going to scrap broad-based black economic empowerment, because it has brought real material benefits: to black South Africans, to women and to persons with disability. It has contributed to the significant growth of a black middle class, to improvements in employment equity and enabled black people and women to become owners and managers of businesses,” said Ramaphosa.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za