Zuma: business not the BEE-all of empowerment

2010-12-30 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma yesterday called on the country’s intellectual community to debate and define the meaning of black economic empowerment as he believes it is currently being misapplied to serve narrow business interests.

He was speaking at the annual Christmas party that his Jacob Zuma Education Trust hosts in Nkandla.

The president launched the event a few years ago to celebrate Christmas and give gifts to children who are orphaned or poverty-stricken.

The education trust funds bursaries for some of the children that sees them through primary school and to tertiary level.

Yesterday many of the students who have graduated with the help of the trust were introduced to the community.

The party was attended by hundreds of community members as well as many businesspeople and cabinet ministers.

Among them were a close Zuma ally, businessman Vivian Reddy, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, KZN Legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni, Public Administration Minister Richard Baloyi, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele, Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele and Communications Minister Roy Padayachie.

During his address, Zuma remarked that his education trust, which was established 10 years ago, is a true way of defining black economic empowerment as it empowers all community members willing to work hard.

He said he has become concerned about the definition of BEE that is being widely used as it is limited to business deals and serves only a few people who are “busy chasing tenders”.

Zuma said BEE is defined as the empowerment of the whole community in many aspects other than just business.

“BEE is not about individuals who are busy getting tenders; it is about empowering the whole community, and right now many children, through the trust, have been empowered as they can now stand on their own two feet.

“I believe that the definition of black economic empowerment has been narrowed and soon I will call on the country’s intellectual community to debate and define it …” said the president.

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