Government and state regulators didn’t invent black economic empowerment (BEE). Business did. It was pioneered by people like Richard Maponya, who built business empires despite apartheid’s constraints, and Jabu Mabuza, now chairman of Telkom, president of Business Unity SA (Busa) and chairman of Business Leadership SA, who built a taxi business back in the day. It was pioneered, too, by companies such as Sanlam and Anglo American, which did empowerment ownership deals with leaders such as Nthato Motlana in the early to mid-1990s, years before there were BEE codes or laws. It is significant, then, that organised business has at last moved to reclaim business’s collective space as a driver of empowerment — not just the object of a series of ever more demanding quotas and codes and rules devised by the government.It is significant, too, that Busa’s document on business’s approach to economic transformation has the support of all its member organisations, which represent businesses lar...

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