Move away from the tick-box transformation deception




As the cut-off date for organisations to comply with the revised B-BBEE Codes approaches, it is time to assess the progress that has been made since the advent of the transformation project, by dissecting its real or perceived successes and shortcomings. Upon that areas to be reviewed can be identified.

We have to ask ourselves tough questions and seek honest answers. And the most important question is: What can we seriously regard as the main successes of BBBEE?

Depending on which side of the fence one is standing, to some the number of black millionaires making the Sunday Times 100 Richest South Africans list qualifies as success; to others, the increasing number of black people who have over borrowed themselves into the middle class status reflects progress.

A sign that our transformation project is stillborn can be measured in terms of the economic state of the Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDI), the very group of people it is aimed at uplifting from the lower rungs. Most of them are afflicted by increasing joblessness, poverty and lack access to basic services like clean water and sanitation, amongst other challenges. Evidently, if these are not addressed one cannot claim that the country is on the right path to addressing the systemic inequality brought by apartheid.

To some degree, you can’t entirely fault the ones who claim that  the country’s transformation has lost direction and is headed into some cul-de-sac.

The major problem has been that transformation has been reduced into a statistical exercise in which companies have to state (read embellish) their roles while they changes they ‘proclaim’ to bring are not properly audited. Hence, small wonder, even briefcase companies are BBEE complaint.

Markedly, our commitment is superficial.  Whom are we deceiving when all businesses have to do is to fill four abridged forms and earn some points for some ‘great’ work in transforming society? With anticipation, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) will live to its pronouncements that it will ensure that every element of the revised BEE codes is implemented.

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