Cape Town - The trade and industry department needs to become "much more energetic" in combating fronting in black economic empowerment (BEE) deals, Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.
"BEE is an economic imperative - we are not going to make the economy grow and develop if it is based on the participation of a minority of the population," Davies said.
"This has been underscored even more in the global economic crisis, where countries which developed their domestic markets and production capabilities did better than those which had not done so."
Davies, who recently chaired a meeting on the BEE advisory council, said the department was encountering a number of instances of fronting, where there was a vast difference between "the presentation and substance" of BEE deals.
"The people who are supposed to benefit are not benefiting from deals. We need to become much more energetic in combating fronting."
Davies said empowerment deals were often small and did not extend to the majority.
"Where it has been there it has taken the form of complex transactions, where the form and PR representation may be at considerable variance to (the) substance of transactions, and where the people who are supposed to have been empowered have not actually been empowered."
This was preventing people from becoming "actors in the real economy", he said.