Earlier this week I came across a letter written by the B-BBEE Commission to the Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in October 2016 stipulating the commission's view on the issue of "once empowered, always empowered". It reminded me of what two American academics, Paul Sabatier and Daniel Mazmanian, said about policy almost 40 years ago: "The capacity of public policy to alter social behaviour is a complex process that should be seen in historical perspective. In any specific policy area, the basic policy orientation often remains fairly constant over time, with change coming in small increments as a result of adjustments made by relevant agencies, interest groups and legislative committees." The B-BBEE Commission was unequivocal in its view that the principle of "once empowered, always empowered" - and the basis on which it was being argued - rendered it "unfounded and therefore contrary to the objectives of the B-BEE Act". The commission went further to note that current legis...

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