No sooner has the position of the black economic empowerment (BEE) goal posts been settled, than they are shifted again. The recent administrative actions by the BEE Commission, which has advised dozens of entities that their ownership structures are not compliant with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, is the latest example. According to the commission, entities in which trusts are a part of the ownership structure will no longer be viewed as black ownership. Broad-based trusts may even be seen as fronting, which carries a criminal sanction. It is not the first time that the department of trade & industry has raised the red flag on broad-based schemes. In 2015, it signed a clarification notice saying that broad-based trusts would be downgraded in the ownership points calculation on the scorecard. After an outcry, this was withdrawn, with trade & industry minister Rob Davies saying it had been “a mistake”. There is no mistake this time. After the last incident the depa...

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