B-BBEE: An Archaic Handbrake On Economic Potential

The detailed analysis of the latest B-BBEE amendments and codes (Business Report, July 4) is such that it diverts attention from what the B-BBEE exercise really amounts to.

In putting an objective perspective on B-BBEE, it is absurd that a group that accounts for 79% of the population requires barriers to be erected against a white demographic minority of 9%, a coloured minority of 9,6% and an Indian minority of 2,4% in an attempt to claim economic security.

B-BBEE mocks the much-vaunted claim that South Africa is a non-racial society. In that context, it is acutely more racist, prescriptive and discriminatory in regulating business and employment than such practices were under apartheid. With its entrenched demographic profile, B-BBEE is brazenly at odds with the constitutional notion of equality, irrespective of race.

The argument that the purpose of B-BBEE is to correct past imbalances in the economic landscape is a red herring. As Moeletsi Mbeki has noted,far from achieving that objective, B-BBEE is stifling the emergence of black entrepreneurship. Instead, it is creating a small class of wealthy black crony capitalists devoid of experience and expertise in initiating and managing a new business.

Compared with the economic elites of Asia, the beneficiaries of B-BBEE lack the driving ideology of entrepreneurship on which Asian business success is based. In contrast, B-BBEE promotes a culture of entitlement that, psychologically, can never prove proactive in generating economic growth. B-BBEE also perpetuates a mindset of victimhood, despite the fact that the most prescriptive aspects of apartheid had been abandoned by 1990.

Aside from being harmful to race relations because it is so glaringly, racially discriminatory, B-BBEE strikes a negative chord not only for the prospect of expanding a business but also in attracting foreign investment.

In that prescriptive labour legislation hobbles the prerogative of businesses to hire, fire and promote employees, B-BBEE is an archaic handbrake on the economic potential of South Africa.

Sent into The Business Report and published, 8 July 2018.

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