DA vague on alternative BEE policy

Nqaba Bhanga
Nqaba Bhanga
Image: Judy de Vega

DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga struggled to articulate the party’s alternative proposal to broad-based BEE, saying only that he believed black economic empowerment should not benefit a select few who were politically connected.

The party is considering four documents to inform a new empowerment framework which will be its alternative offering to BEE.

The policy, once finalised and approved, will be one of several the DA will take to voters in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

This week, The Herald asked Bhanga to unpack the four documents the party was considering to firm up its BEE alternative.

Bhanga said nothing was set in stone and party officials now had time to study the documents and give their input.

The party is studying the World Bank’s proposal of a contributory pension, the model of economic empowerment for the Disadvantaged proposed by the South African Institute of Race Relations, the Pact for Inclusive Empowerment that develops an empowerment index for listed and non-listed companies, and a tax credit for those who support adult dependants.

There is a behind-the-scenes rhetoric to move forward and forget about the past.
Mcebisi Ndletyana

Bhanga said his focus at a recent meeting with party leaders had been on BEE.

Asked about his thoughts on the DA’s black tax proposal, which suggests that individuals taking care of adult dependants be taxed at a lower rate, he said he did not know what the reporter was referring to.

“The only black tax I know is the one where I work and have to take care of my mother.

“There is no such position

. . . Do you think the DA could take such a position?” he said.

One of the models the DA is considering drawing on is the Institute of Race Relations’ economic empowerment for the disadvantaged policy which proposes a voucher system for all those who are disadvantaged in SA.

The institute suggests doing away with numerical targets for black employees for business and replacing the current BEE scorecard with an ecorather nomic empowerment for the disadvantaged scorecard.

“South Africans earning below a certain amount would be entitled to government-funded vouchers, which they could use to access education, healthcare, and housing.

“For example, people would be granted education vouchers, up to the prescribed value, which they could use at the school of their choice,” the institute’s policy document says.

The DA is also exploring a contributory pension, based on the World Bank’s proposal of a social pension system funded through property taxes.

The World Bank does not believe in expropriating land without compensation, but that the willing-buyer, willing-seller system be implemented efficiently.

Bhanga stressed that these were mere proposals.

“What we’re saying is that BEE should not benefit a few black people who are connected to politicians, but it should be a programme that empowers small businesses to be able to participate.

“We’re saying build the capacity of small businesses for them to participate in the economy to create job opportunities.”

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said the DA’s decision to move away from BEE showed its ambivalence towards issues of racial redress.

“The DA at a fundamental level is unwilling to embrace or confront what is necessary to redress the imbalances of racism.

“There is a behind-the-scenes rhetoric to move forward and forget about the past.

“It is founded on denial that the white society is anxious on confronting the brutality of apartheid and how that affected black people and how they were beneficiaries of it.

“Because to engage freely and substantially with the issue of redress is to admit your own complicity in this entire racial discrimination and racial privilege,” he said.

Asked if the change in policy could hurt the DA leading to the polls, analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said it already had.

Fikeni said the diverse reaction from members of the DA suggested there was no cohesion within the party.

He said it had displayed disagreements on how to deal with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, Helen Zille and now the policy issue.

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