Proposal to scrap BEE welcomed – IRR

Institute says it has called for this for most of the last century

IRR welcomes proposal to scrap BEE

22 April 2022

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) welcomes the Democratic Alliance’s Private Members Bill to scrap BEE from government tender processes, and will be submitting recommendations to Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on how race-based empowerment can be replaced, and why.

IRR Head of Campaigns Gabriel Crouse said: “South Africa is one step closer to finally being liberated from race law. The IRR called for this for most of the last century. There are many more steps to climb and we need many more parties to join the long walk to freedom from race law.”

The IRR argued against laws discriminating by race under apartheid, and has continued to argue that the principle supporting non-racialism has not changed in the years since 1994. Basic human dignity, economic efficiency, and democratic social cohesion all demand that people judge one another by the content of their character rather than the pigment in their skin.

People were far more willing and able to collaborate than the agents of apartheid would ever admit, as demonstrated by former IRR CEO John Kane-Berman’s work on the “silent revolution”.

The IRR has challenged BEE since that policy’s inception, the origins of which can be traced back to the ANC’s Morogoro conference in 1969, and has proposed non-racial alternatives ever since. This alternative is crystallised in the Economic Empowerment for the Disadvantaged (EED) proposal, crafted by the IRR’s Head of Policy Research, Dr Anthea Jeffery.

Said Crouse: “The ANC’s pencil-test approach to empowerment must be replaced with a needs test. Everyone can tell the difference between poverty and pigment except the country’s current legal system. The law must reflect reality and Stats SA shows that the reality is that top 10% of black South Africans has earned three times more than the white top 10% in absolute terms since 2015, meaning there can be no need for BEE to make a few rich people richer, while the poor get gutted by 46% unemployment on the expanded definition.”

According to IRR CEO John Endres, EED will incentivise value-add and merit, unlocking potential that will likely deliver 5% GDP growth within five years.

By contrast, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi calls for a “more aggressive strategy” to enforce nationwide race quotas through the Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEB), which is sure to push unemployment above 50%. The IRR opposes the EEB, with the backing of 20 000 signatories so far.

Opposing bad laws in the pipeline is not enough and the DA’s Private Members Bill opens a welcome opportunity for the IRR to table its needs-first EED policy, which the IRR also recommended to the ANC.

As former IRR CEO Frans Cronje observed, “if only the ANC took our constant advice the liberation party would have been guaranteed Mbeki-era numbers in 2021 and 2024, both in terms of votes and employment. Frankly the employment numbers would have been at least twice as good.”

In a 2020 survey commissioned by the IRR, 80% of respondents, including 80% of black respondents, said that they would prefer jobs to be appointed by merit. Over 70% said they would personally benefit more from EED policies than BEE.

“In the corridors of power, however, the voice of the silent majority often falls on deaf ears,” observed Crouse. “But someone is listening and if ordinary people have the courage to speak out, more will heed the call.”

The IRR’s Economic Empowerment for the Disadvantaged (EED) policy can be seen here. https://irr.org.za/reports/atLiberty/liberty-critical-race-theory-race-based-policy-a-threat-to-liberal-democracy

Issued by Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns, 22 April 2022