Zuma’s new BEE body set for action

2009-12-05 11:27

Council

expected to review progress in achieving BEE goals

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s new broad-based black economic empowerment

(B-BBEE) advisory council is scheduled to sit for its first meeting next

month.

Three other meetings, one each quarter, are scheduled for the rest

of the year. Council subcommittees are expected to meet twice each

quarter.

The council, which is made up of 19 members, is expected to review

progress in achieving black economic empowerment goals, advise on draft codes of

good practice and transformation charters and facilitate partnerships between

organs of state and the private sector.

“The president wants to see that there is tangible progress in the

transformation of all our sectors.

It is necessary to not only advance

transformation but also to review the success of the implementation as well as

compliance with all the laws that govern the process of transformation,” said

presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya.

Trade and Industry spokesperson Moloantoa Medupe said an evaluation

and monitoring mechanism and the tools the council will use to determine

progress would be some of the first items to be attended to when the council

began its work.

However, the composition of the council has raised concerns about

constituencies that are not adequately ­represented in it.

Reg Rumney, head of the Centre for Economics Journalism in Africa

at Rhodes University, said he was sceptical the council could benefit SMMEs

significantly because it ­excluded small business chambers.

Jerry Vilakazi, chief executive of Business Unity South Africa

(Busa), and Tsakani Matshazi, vice-president of the Confederation of Black

Business Organisations, are the ­only two members from business chambers.

But

the two bodies do not specialise in representing small businesses, which are

supposed to benefit from B-BBEE, said Rumney.

Matshazi and Ellen Tshabalala, a business development, banking,

marketing and SMMEs consultant, appear to be the only two candidates with

experience in serving small businesses.

“This body was supposed to focus on enterprise development but I

think the council will be heavily skewed towards big business as it lacks

representation of both black and white SMME bodies,” said Rumney.

The council would stand a better chance of benefiting SMMEs if

small business chambers like the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI), the National

African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Foundation for

African Business and Consumer Services (Fabcos) were included, he said.

Rumney said foreign business should also have been involved. He

did, however, praise Zuma for including labour.

Robert Mhlambi, AHI’s chief ­operating officer, also expressed

disappointment at the exclusion of SMME chambers.

“Having such a council is good as it will assist in assessing

whether B-BBEE is serving its purpose,” said Mhlambi.

“However, for the

president to not include even one SMME chamber is a gap that needs to be

addressed. The spirit of B-BBEE is to ensure that SMMEs are drawn into the

mainstream of the economy.

“The chambers carry a lot of members and the government should use

the chambers as the key to achieve its economic development goals.”

He said Zuma should consider ­inviting representatives from among

­women and youth business chambers to serve on the council.

“We don’t think SMMEs can be ­entirely represented by Busa or a

consultant,” said Mxolisi Zwane, president of Fabcos.

Businessman and council member Sandile Zungu said adding more names

to the council could make it a cumbersome structure.

He said the council needed a secretariate that would tap into the

skills and experiences of constituencies not adequately represented in the

council.

“People with technical skills in empowerment, for example, need to

be encouraged to assist the workings of the council,” he said.

Council member and Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said at the

first council meeting he would advocate that B-BBEE legislation be changed to

bring the poor on board.

“There is need for a fundamental shift. As a council we need to

monitor B-BBEE at policy and implementation levels and come up with a new

approach to spread the wealth so that Africans and blacks do not remain in

poverty,” he said.

“We need to look at the law and the regulations and use them to get

the majority of South Africans into the mainstream of the economy.

KwaZulu-Natal businessman and council member Don Mkhwanazi said the

B-BBEE legislative framework needed to be to be overhauled as it did not promote

entrepreneurship.

“The framework encourages people to become tenderpreneurs instead

of entrepreneurs,” he said.

Mkhwanazi uses the term tenderpreneurs to describe those whose

businesses survive on tenders.

“We have to create an equilibrium in the economic power relations,

which are currently skewed in favour of the minority instead of the majority,”

he said.

“The only way we can do this is by deracialising the economy so

that each South African gets an equal chance of succeeding.

“The existing seven B-BBEE codes of good practice have been the

weakest links in this legislation as they do not promote the creation of new

wealth and job opportunities.”



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