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Michael Peterson
 
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A young white guys view on BEE

15 January 2014, 07:39

I was born in 1990. The year apartheid was officially abolished in South Africa. Let that ring around in your head for a minute. There are full grown human beings, integral to the economic structure of the country, that were not even alive yet when apartheid was over. There has been a lot of time to do a lot of work, that hasn't been done.
I went to school with people who have already had kids, who own houses and are climbing the corporate ladder at  rate of knots. Some people are already doctors, lawyers or serious business owners. I chose the work route after school, getting a job as a technical adviser in a large valve company (Ultra  Control Valves). At the back end of last year, I handed in my resignation to pursue studying. I had organised a large contract that would have paid commission over the duration of my studies, and I felt at the time that I should get 'that piece of paper'.
Today I started working in a restaurant, not able to study due to financial reasons. My position has already been filled at Ultra Valves, and the contract (that was due to start last week) fell through. That is life and I am not here to moan about it. I was once told that success is defined by picking yourself up more than you fall, and that is what I am going to do. The reason I tell you this, is that the contract fell through due to a BEE rating. 
Now, before I sound like I am calling foul on the economic empowerment solution (which I am not), I want to tell you why I think it is such a good idea in principal, given the unique history of South Africa... 
When I was 6, I started school like most children, irrespective of culture. I remember coming home from school on many occasions throughout the years, and getting advice and answers from my parents. I was fortunate enough to have access to internet in the home too, and many 'challenging' assignments were done with relative ease. Not until recently did I realize not many people had access to that. Not the internet, but 'school wise' parents. 
Many children (who are even parents now), were forced to either figure it out themselves (almost impossible) or ask an already over stretched teacher (who has 35+ children in her class). A vast majority of you reading this (myself included) couldn't possibly imagine the torture it must place on a (possibly a lot more intelligent) young mind to deal with this. Grades suffer, opportunities dwindle and they are left in the poverty cycle. I mentioned that some have had kids, so where does it leave them?
It just so (not so coincidentally) happens that most of the above mentioned students are black. On this foundation, BEE was born; giving the frustrated child a better opportunity to procure work and make something of themselves when they are older. This stimulation and education that they receive could ultimately be a point of reference for following generations; and thus the 'scar' of apartheid will have 'healed' to put it in Lehman terms. There will be people like myself who might go through a rough patch (Incomparable to what the previous system did to people), but in 30 years time, the plan would surely have paid off. South Africa will be a level playing field for all. 
This system is pretty flawless in theory, so long as it goes hand in hand with ensuring a good education for all youth. It was Madiba himself who said that education is the most powerful tool we have in changing the world. Why then, has the party that he nearly died for, spat so vigorously on his memory (both while he was alive and now)? 
The BEE system is exploiting black people more than white in the application of today. A genuinely black initiative will get a very similar rating to a white initiative that employs numerous black people at undermining rates. Both mean nothing (except registration fees) to those in power. The contract I lost out on went to a guy who has a Ferrari (Of all the cliche cars), and started his valve company in October 2013. At the risk of sounding paranoid, I am pretty sure a politician got involved. How is that fair? Why do you get screwed if you don't have some friends in high places (You can be purple for all the money grabbing politicians care too). An ambitious system has been raped in every possible way, to ensure that a very few are living like Kieth Richards. If I lost out to a black company who were also looking for a big break, I could have swallowed it and moved on. I can't move past something like this, and it is happening under the noses of every South African. 
If you are reading this, you have probably read about the matric results too. I don't even need to go in to the subject. All I am saying is, why are we letting this happen? If you intrinsically think about it. The people in 'power' are just that; people. As my grandad once said, the queen wipes her arse too. Why are they allowed to keep the poor 'stupid' and subjected to propaganda in order to stay in power? Why are political parties allowed to align themselves with 'God' and strike fear into the hearts of the less educated? If Julius Malema can gather a following, surely we must know something is sick in the system.
We live in the information age. Ideas are meant to flow with absolute ease, resulting in a wave of new thinkers and problem solvers. Why is it not available to those who need it most? Why is free internet, free online study material, free business guidance not being made available to every person in South Africa? Why is it the priority of Telkom to boost speeds in Sandton and connect the expensive houses on the Vaal, but a phone line isn't even an option to millions. The total cost would probably be about a couple of billion if someone did the maths correctly. The ROI would be immediate and permanent. Didn't the ANC misspend something like 30 Billion last year? Why are we letting this happen?
I say this with such gusto in my head, but I know it will fall into obscurity. A few comments and thumbs down, and we will resume our lives. I just don't understand why we let it. Have they done such a good job, that even 'the intelligent' are dumb and voiceless? I don't know where to even take what I am writing, I just want everyone to open their eyes. Elections are soon, and I hope with every fiber in me that they are fair. Even if you are purple, think before you put your X next to someone who stands to make more money than they have now. 

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