Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network
A program intended to undo the evils of apartheid by training and promoting qualified Blacks into corporate jobs is drawing fire from some frustrated public officials.
Former union leader Jay Naidoo said that Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) has been hijacked by a “cabal of predatory elite”. In socioeconomic terms, he said, South Africa had become one of the most unequal nations in the world and BEE was partly to blame for this. Other critics of BEE include Minister Trevor Manuel.
“Let me remind you that [BEE] was always meant to be broad-based — and not for the select few … BEE fell short of its aims. It gave us the BEE-elites ,” said Naidoo, speaking in Johannesburg last week at the launch of a checklist of 40 questions verifying the credentials of any BEE organization.
Supporters point to such projects as a Ford Motor Co.-funded center to support Black-owned, automobile parts suppliers, and a $65 million program paid by Microsoft to invest in between five and 10 Black-owned software development companies.
But, critics say BEE too often rewards people who are already successful. The Economic Development Ministry in November deemed BEE largely a failure, saying it focuses too much on deal making and not enough on supporting new entrepreneurs and creating jobs in a country where unemployment is 40% for people between 16 and 30 years old.