BEE policy: DA federal chairperson disputes claims by head of policy

DA’s federal council chairperson James Selfe has disputed claims that the opposition party has decided to do away with its BEE policy and search for a broader economic empowerment policy.

“The DA position of BBBEE is clear. We believe that race remains a proxy for the previously disadvantaged in South Africa today. We support -fully- the intent and spirit of BEE,” said Selfe via text.

He said the political party which was currently reviewing its economic policy offering ahead of the 2019 general elections had in no way “discounted the need for broad-based economic empowerment for the previously disadvantaged”.

Selfe’s comments were in response to views expressed by DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, who earlier told News24 that the political party ditched the BEE policy because it was “simply not working”.

Ngwenya said although the DA had genuine commitment to the idea of triple black economic empowerment, the current policy as it stands in the country was not producing the required results.

“Getting people into jobs, making sure they have the skills to earn a higher income when they in the jobs and therefore be able to put more of their income towards investment, that is the way to accumulate the kind of wealth that turns into inter-generational prosperity and BEE has not done that and will not do that,” said Ngwenya, as she explained some of the elements the opposition party wanted to include in its new economic empowerment framework.

Selfe in his response to News24 agreed with Ngwenya that the current BEE model, which is the brain child of the ANC was not working, saying it only “enriched the politically connected and elite few. However, he insisted there was no decision to abandon BEE and that numerous models had been discussed.

“At the last federal council, the party discussed and considered a range of ideas on how we can begin to broaden access to economic empowerment for those who have previously locked out of opportunities,” said Selfe.

BEE has created a rift in the main opposition party before, with two former leaders Helen Zille and Lindiwe Mazibuko having a fall out over the issue. Zille had criticised Mazibuko for allowing the DA parliamentary caucus to back new legislation on BEE and employment equity, saying it has been done without proper interrogation. 

The spat is believed to have been the reason for Mazibuko’s decision to quit politics and pursue an academic career abroad.

“The DA would introduce or support BEE which truly empowers more South Africans and creates an environment where we can have fair access to jobs,” said Selfe.