Our protests and marches against apartheid was a struggle for a better South Africa for it’s entire citizen which started in 1910 and ended 84 years later in 1994.
When the African National Congress, the new black political elite gained control of state power in 1994, it was faced with several difficult questions including what to do with its new political power. Should the African National Congress use it’s power to enrich the black masses who had been exploited for the better part of the last 100 years or should the rich whites be allowed to keep their wealth or should it be taxed and to what extent or do a bit of both.
The apartheid regime was property owners who lived of profits and the government earnings went towards development. In countries like Tanzania, the ruling elites had no property so they consumed state revenues taxed from the masses. If you are consuming government revenues, it is not a problem to you. Your problem is how big a share you are going to get from government revenues. The African National Congress, the current ruling elite in South Africa had no property and this was a crucial factor in determining the characteristics of democracy post 1994.
South Africa’s big business had anticipated all these questions and come up with its own financial razzmatazz solution. It offered to transfer a small part of its assets to the individual leaders of the black resistance movement to look like atonement for the sins of apartheid that is reparations to black people in general in return for leaving the country’s business environment essentially as they found it. The leaders found this offer of instant wealth hard to resist. The co-option of the new politically connected elite beneficiaries who were mainly senior members of the ruling, African National Congress party came to be known as the Black Economic Empowerment or better known as BEE.
The Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) crowd are not entrepreneurs, they are a protection mechanism for big business and who were given bits and pieces of business and are told to live of it. A good example is the New Africa Investment Limited (NAIL). The Black Economic Empowerment crowd were given Metropolitan Life by Sanlam and told, “this is all yours, now eat”, so they started eating and this continues to this day with the state revenue now thrown in.
Overnight the politicians were transformed into multi millionaires without having to lift a finger because all the financial wizardry was performed by Sanlam’s senior executives. All the politicians had to do was to show up at the launch party of New Africa Investment Limited and thank their benefactor and go to their political buddies and tell them to leave the big businesses alone. Even the debt the politicians incurred was largely fictitious as MetLife had to pay it back to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
With the wealth of the rich whites thus protected through Black Economic Empowerment, the only other source besides Black Economic Empowerment shares for the enrichment of the political elite available is the state revenue.
The huge gap between the rich and the poor has to be addressed for social and economic stability. The government must spread the economic gains to the poor with the “much- vaunted” Black Economic Empowerment initiative project of transformation to lift the South Africans out of poverty or redressing the racial imbalances of apartheid to bring the country’s black majority into the economic mainstream to end the new politically connected elite beneficiaries who are mainly senior members of the ruling African National Congress party.
The Black Economic Empowerment is one of the most destructive policies that have been adopted by the African National Congress government since the advent of democracy in 1994 and it will return to bite the ruling party with factions fighting for total dominance and it is increasingly becoming to narrow amounting to, Zuma Economic Empowerment (ZEE).