President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended South Africa’s transformation policies against claims that they lead to acts of corruption.
Addressing a Black Management Forum (BMF) gala dinner on Friday (5 June), Ramaphosa said individuals who engage in corrupt activities should not hide behind transformation.
Full might of the law
“There are people who claim – falsely and without evidence – that preferential procurement policies, employment equity and BEE [Black Economic Empowerment] are responsible for the acts of corruption, thieving, bribery and looting that we have seen,” the President said.
“We cannot allow our transformative policies to be undermined by the actions of corrupt individuals. They cannot pretend that their actions are justified by transformation.
“Those responsible for corruption must face the full might of the law, whether local black business people or large multinationals, whether government officials or their co-conspirators in the private sector.”
Ramaphosa said the government is committed to building a more inclusive economy through the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan (ERRP).
He cited several initiatives aimed at supporting black businesses and industrialists, such as the Black Industrialists Programme, Equity Equivalent Programme, and Township and Rural Enterprise Programme.
Government to review BEE strategy
However, Ramaphosa spoke out against BEE fronting, which he described as “a gross betrayal of our collective responsibility to transform our economy.”
“Over the next few years, we will review our broad-based black economic empowerment strategy and the Act to put economic transformation on a new trajectory,” Ramaphosa vowed.
“We will continue to defend our empowerment programmes – which are both consistent with and mandated by the Constitution – against those who would rather retain the status quo.”
In recent months, civil society groups such as AfriForum and Solidarity have increasingly challenged the government’s transformation policies, such as the Tourism Equity Fund, in court.
In November last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal also ruled that the Preferential Procurement Regulations of 2017 are inconsistent with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) 5 of 2000 and are invalid. The application was brought by Afribusiness NPC.
The B-BBEE Commission nevertheless said despite the ruling, the government can still set 51 percent black-ownership criteria for tenders under the B-BBEE Act.