Black traitors are perverting BEE

2017-12-03 06:01
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When black people collude with white monopoly capital to enrich themselves, they undo efforts to transform SA.

A buffet of media revelations in the past few weeks has highlighted the toxic nexus between politics and big business.

What I found particularly troubling with the disclosures is the pervasive, collusive behaviour of blacks to pervert the black economic empowerment (BEE) project.

This includes the systematic impairment of government’s capacity to meet the physical and social infrastructure investment needs necessary to unlock and sustain economic prosperity.

Vice, greed and, possibly, sheer apathy seem to be the key underlying influences.

Let me explain.

Love it or hate it, the erstwhile apartheid system arguably succeeded beyond its architects’ wildest imagination.

The system helped establish and sustain white, mainly male Afrikaner, industrialists and entrepreneurs’ hegemony of the local economy, to the exclusion of black people.

In 1985, Koos Bekker, founder and chairperson of Naspers, led a consortium of white business interests that was handed a pay TV licence, owing largely to their support of the apartheid regime.

M-Net, a media behemoth and de facto pay TV broadcast monopoly through its MultiChoice division, was thus established.

Although its initial licence precluded M-Net from broadcasting news, MultiChoice, through its ubiquitous DStv platform, is now a dominant television network that plays host to all major local and international television news broadcasters.

MultiChoice is currently the subject of a widespread media bombshell which exposed the dubious business relationship it has with the Gupta family. These revelations, inter alia, exposed how its group executive for regulatory and policy affairs, Clarissa Mack, (who has since left) improperly and unlawfully influenced former communications minister Faith Muthambi to amend broadcasting policy in favour of using unencrypted set-top boxes, which benefited MultiChoice.

It is necessary to pause here, to provide proper context to this vexing issue.

Revealed

Post 1994, it became necessary for the new democratically elected government to pursue policies that sought to redress previous systematic exclusion of black people from participating meaningfully in the mainstream economy.

Notwithstanding the introduction of the information and communication technology (ICT) BEE charter, black ownership and meaningful participation in the sector remains relatively unchanged.

The ANC-led government’s broadcasting policy committed the public broadcaster to roll out a digital terrestrial television network based on encrypted set-top boxes, as part of South Africa’s much delayed digital migration obligations imposed by the International Telecommunication Union.

This presented an opportunity to a legion of black industry hopefuls, who geared themselves up for the opportunity to manufacture and supply millions of these boxes.

It has now been revealed how Mack and Muthambi conspired to scupper ANC broadcasting policy directives and amended these to favour MultiChoice, to the detriment of aspirant black manufacturers of encrypted set-top boxes

The brazenness with which Muthambi publicly disregarded and criticised senior ANC leaders on the matter eviscerated any doubts regarding the political cover she enjoyed.

What is flabbergasting is the fact that Mack, a black female professional who owes her career success to, inter alia, the country’s transformation policies, was a key participant in the ICT empowerment charter process that led to the adoption of the sector’s BEE prescripts, by which MultiChoice is bound.

Although enraged and disappointed, black industry players were unequivocal in condemning Mack for her monumental and heart-wrenching misstep.

The one thing Mack can never be accused of is ignorance. It was revealed through the leaked documents that she drafted broadcasting policy direction changes for Muthambi, who forwarded these to Tony Gupta for his consideration and ultimate assent and proclamation by President Jacob Zuma.

These latest revelations will probably embolden any consideration to launch a new application to the Constitutional Court, seeking to set aside Muthambi’s broadcast policy direction amendments which, on the basis of the leaked documents, were improperly and unlawfully determined.

Corruption

In a separate matter, serious allegations were made recently against former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and MultiChoice CEO Imtiaz Patel. It was alleged that they conspired in commandeering the public broadcaster’s media archives for MultiChoice’s exploitation for private commercial benefit. Controversially, the SABC handsomely rewarded Motsoeneng for his troubles.

With the connivance of the SABC and Muthambi, MultiChoice’s entrenched dominance in the sector and questionable profiteering from the SABC’s jewels was thus assured.

In the meantime, a useful black Gupta acolyte is clutching at straws trying to ward off accusations of fronting as he babysits the Guptas’ troubled media assets.

Rent seeking and fronting serve as painful reminders of the lingering transformation challenges that still confront us.

It is telling that, almost without exception, individuals who enabled and perpetuated multibillion rand corruption at various state-owned enterprises are black. Such as Net1’s CPS at the SA Social Security Agency; Swifambo at Prasa; Tegeta, Trillian, Regiments, SAP and McKinsey at Eskom and Transnet; Oakbay at the Industrial Development Corporation and Denel; MultiChoice and Infinity Media at the SABC; BnP Capital at SAA; and Talevaras, Vesquin and Venus at the Central Energy Fund.

The irony is not lost on pundits that the major financial beneficiaries of corruption are the much-derided “white monopoly capital” and individuals who do not qualify to be classified as black in terms of prevailing BEE legislation.

It should be of grave concern to all when blacks knowingly and wilfully participate in the perversion of BEE. But it still wouldn’t make it any less noxious were male verkrampte Afrikaners to instigate the same.

Blacks who pervert economic transformation – colloquially referred to as BEE askaris – allow the responsibilities of leadership, the perks of power (or their proximity thereto) and greed to override their moral sense of what is right.

It would be intriguing to observe how, in the face of these numbing revelations, the ANC government can hope to continue convincing ratings agencies that all is still heavenly well with its battered and peddled soul.

Equally intriguing would be the response by the Independent Communications Authority of SA, as well as the Competition Commission, in light of these damaging revelations regarding MultiChoice.

The biggest poser is how the ANC government hopes to effect infrastructure investments necessary to unlock and sustain economic growth, when some of its Cabinet members and the president are complicit in the subversion of the economic transformation agenda.

The ANC cannot expect to command blind trust when its leaders run with the hares and hunt with the hounds.

Also, smoke and mirrors by hypocritical state capture apologists and proponents of so-called radical economic transformation must not be countenanced.

Their incessant howling about apartheid-era financial excesses do not confer righteousness on the wicked deeds of the corrupt crop of leaders imposed on us.

Meanwhile, proprietors of MultiChoice have seemingly ensured their fingerprints are nowhere on the numerous BEE crime scenes.

Notwithstanding, it behoves MultiChoice to show leadership and take responsibility for breaking the trust placed in it and for falling short of the lofty expectations this nation has of it. MultiChoice must, at a minimum, seek atonement for the missteps committed by others, whether at its behest or not.

Perhaps a better way to kick-start this process would be for MultiChoice to apologise to the South African public for its complicity in perverting BEE.

That would be followed by MultiChoice adjusting fees it currently pays, if any, for the SABC channels it carries, to make them commensurate with what it currently pays for the ANN7 channel. This payment, backdated to when it started hosting ANN7, would be over and above remitting fair market-related royalties for its commercial exploitation of the SABC’s media archives.

Lastly, MultiChoice must do all it can to help black entrants manufacture and distribute set-top boxes, while avoiding the controversy it elicited in its earlier, similar endeavours.

Black economic empowerment, with all its imperfections, remains this nation’s best shot at realising our shared values of equity, social cohesion and economic prosperity for all.

Nothing less will do.

Khaas is chairperson of Corporate SA, a strategic advisory and consultancy, and former researcher for and coordinator of the ICT empowerment charter task team. Follow him on Twitter @tebogokhaas

TALK TO US

What are your thoughts about BEE askaris? And what about MultiChoice’s actions?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword TRANSFORM and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    sabc  |  faith muthambi  |  white monopoly capital  |  bee

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