BEE ‘hasn’t worked in SA’

2008-09-19 00:00

Bloemfontein — “I don’t believe black economic empowerment (BEE) has worked in South Africa. It has created millionaires and superstars, while our people should rather have been equipped with basic skills.”

These were the words of ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa at a lecture for MBA students at the University of the Free State.

In his view, the purpose of BEE is to bring black people into the mainstream economy, not to drive the whites out. The debate on BEE should be re-opened and never again be implemented in such a clumsy way, he said.

As for the lack of service delivery among local authorities in particular, he said the ANC should acknowledge that it has failed.

“In 1994 we needed to introduce mentorship programmes to train new officials. Instead we have transformed as rapidly as possible. Now municipalities have descended into crisis.”

The problem is not a lack of money for municipal service delivery. “The money is not being spent. That’s because we don’t have leaders that can complete projects.”

Skills have moved to the private sector and overseas. Despite claims, like those by Jimmy Manyi, president of the Black Management Forum, that the skills shortage is an “urban legend”, Phosa said these skills are not to be found in the public service.

He is concerned that the brain drain is no longer simply a white phenomenon. “My mother recently received cancer treatment from a black doctor who had grown up in Bushbuckridge. He is now in Vancouver in Canada,” he said.

South Africans need to ask themselves why highly trained people are looking for greener pastures. “We owe it to the next generation to resolve these issues. They don’t carry the baggage we do. Race should thus no longer be the decisive factor when applying for a job; it should rather be which person has the right skills.”

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