Two decades ago I had the last of many interviews with Nthato Motlana, the legendary founder of New Africa Investments Limited (NAIL), the first “black” company to list on the JSE. Cyril Ramaphosa and Dikgang Moseneke were in the office. From a dingy office above a used car dealership in Eloff Street, where I first interviewed him, Motlana created a R20bn empire that had investments in financial services and media. NAIL had a complicated share structure, which allowed its black shareholders to control the company, despite having an economic interest of only 2%. I asked Motlana what he would do to reduce the wide disparity between economic interest and control. “That is an issue that the next generation will have to address,” he replied. Though there has always been a huge difference between form and substance when it comes to BEE, reporting on black ownership has now lost all credibility. This is due to political compromises that were made during stakeholder negotiations on the BEE ...

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