Carol Paton commends the DA’s draft policy on economic justice for its thorough approach to tackling the drivers of disadvantage, but she has two reservations: that the policy does not address the concentration of ownership and assets in white hands; and that it may not resonate with black voters who want to “be affirmed to compensate for the racial past” (“DA’s trickle-up brand of BEE will lose race to equality”, March 6).

In fact, in line with the DA’s sustainable development goal (SDG) model for economic justice, the document devotes a section to wealth inequality. We list various proposals geared towards increasing asset ownership. These include interventions that would make millions of black South Africans property owners or holders of recorded land rights. We would also promote the take-up of employee share ownership by ensuring legislation supports the ability to link share ownership with performance or employment criteria.

If the past 25 years of ANC governance have demonstrated anything, it is that policies such as BEE only benefit a tiny and comparatively privileged elite. They disincentivise investment and do nothing for the poor, the unemployed and the rural women who bear the brunt of inequality. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that such policies are popular among black voters, apart from the minuscule few who may stand to benefit from the black industrialist programme and the like.

Perhaps that is why, under the ANC, poverty, inequality and unemployment have expanded at the same time that the governing party’s share of the vote has contracted. The DA’s draft policy on economic justice, billed as a plan to “beat the past and build the future”, has yet to be put to the electorate. One thing is certain, however: SA’s future prospects hinge on the DA being an alternative to the ANC, not an alternative ANC.

Michael Cardo, MP, DA policy steering committee

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