Marius Redelinghuys
Marius Redelinghuys

#KnowYourDA BEE pushes nothing new

I was snooping around the archives of the South African Institute of Race Relations during a visit earlier this year, particularly drawn to the boxes on the constitutional negotiations.

One of these contained, among other things, the ANC’s position on a constitution for what would later become KwaZulu-Natal, academic and political discussions on federalism, and the opening remarks of the various role players at the commencement of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa).

My attention was specifically drawn to the latter because these opening remarks, for me as an outsider, set the tone for the historic moment and the momentous process that would, formally, follow; writing the blueprint and vision for a new South Africa.

There was the conciliatory but firm position of the ANC as put by Nelson Mandela, but the position of the DA’s predecessor, as articulated by then-party leader Zac de Beer, struck me in particular.

Here, more than twenty years ago, the party’s view on the urgent need for redress was put clearly and firmly.

De Beer’s exact words were, honestly, a surprise to me. I was too young to follow Codesa, and both the passage of time and propaganda by DA detractors made many question the DA’s track record on policies and programmes designed to redress the injustice of a racially divided, exploitative and oppressive past.

De Beer opened with an honest admission that “we are deeply conscious that we have to approach” writing the Constitution not as if “it were on a clean slate, but dealing with a society which is the product of centuries of wrong. Much rightly said of the terrible harm that was done in the name of apartheid: but we dare not pretend that injustice began in 1948.”

More poignantly De Beer saw “it is necessary but not sufficient for us to close the book on yesterday’s society and say: “From tomorrow we shall do justice, and there will be equal opportunities. We must do more than this, and achieve all that can be achieved to repair the damage of the past.”

Even twenty years later De Beer’s belief rings chillingly true, that “there can be no doubting the fact that the gap in economic standards between the elite few and the poverty-stricken masses in our country is intolerably wide, or that its rapid narrowing must be a tip-top government priority. But we may not run away from the equally indubitable fact that the wealth needed to close that gap is at present non-existent: it has to be created … this does not deny an economic role for government, but it must always be a supportive one”.

If these words sound familiar it is because they are a distant but firm echo of the more recent #KnowYourDA campaign, which aims to point out that the party not only opposed apartheid, but also supports policies and programmes that will redress its legacy and impact on our society.

As the #KnowYourDA BEE for jobs advertisement greets me every morning when I emerge from the Gautrain’s Park Station I am reminded that this, as De Beer held then, is as necessary and even more urgent today as it was twenty years ago.

We cannot properly honour our past without delivering on the promise of 1994 for all and making the rights, freedoms and opportunities contained in our Bill of Rights a reality for every person.

More importantly, we cannot fully own our future while the majority of our people are left behind, left out in the cold and denied the means and opportunity to advance themselves and share in the potential and promise of our country.

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    • Tofolux

      @Marius this is quite offensive and it brings back the affirmation that this know your da thinks blacks are really stupid. To reiterate, Wilmot James said on radio that DA will dump BEE in favour of DEE. Now clearly this was in full contradiction of what the leader and Maimane tweeted when they said that they support BEE. Is it a B or is it da D one must ask. Or is it just another lie in a long litany of lies?

    • Momma Cyndi

      Now if there was only some way to force politicians to do what they say. We have had flowery words from all sides for 20 years now and we are STILL sitting in the exact same place we were back then

    • Brent

      Tofolux read the actual words that de Beer said, not the proganda you have been fed the past 20 years. That was its policy then, as articulated as well as written down. I was part of the DA’s predecessor longer than 20 years ago and was part of being shouted down by whites and now this truth is twisted by the ANC, go figure. As I understand the DA’s (i am not a member) BEE policy it is based firmly working from the bottow up not elite top down. Brent

    • Call for Honesty

      If the DA wants to be all things to all people it will simply become an ANC lite. While I acknowledge that the DA has provided far better governance where they are in control compared to the ANC, I fear that in their attempts to attract more voters they are willing to water down their strongest positions and bring in leaders who are clearly have neither the insight nor experience to deal with the huge challenges facing SA. Some of the young DA firebrands may make good leaders in a decade or two but like the writer of this piece I wonder if they do not have too simplistic a view of SA and its history.

    • Marius Redelinghuys

      I highly recommend reading the DA’s full Economic Inclusion Green Paper recently released for discussion and input, and available here

    • bernpm

      Thanks for the link to the DA program.
      My major disappointment is that I miss proposed adjustments to the so-called scorecards for BEE criteria.
      The line they follow in scorecards are a top down approach from shareholders to top management and lower down (if we should call the worker level “down”) to workers.

      A predictable scarcity of higher educated people amongst the previously disadvantaged (Bantu education) made finding qualified and educated top management candidates difficult leading to this requirement sliding into the farce of jobs for boeties. Education and training at this level is a complex scenario of education mixed with experience.

      Turning the scorecard requirements upside down. -working from the bottom- would have put the emphasis on the workers and skills training. Over 20 years, this could have created competent workers and via promotion, competent managers and so on.
      Instead, society has created/enlarged the income/wealth gap in the community of the previously disadvantaged.
      As an unwanted (?) side effect SA has encouraged the better educated South Africans to leave the country leading to skills shortages at higher ranks in the business community.
      My immediate family has lost some 10 educated (tertiary) members now in the age group of 25-40 to jobs in other parts of the world. Amongst them mining, actuarial, education, accounting, statistician, air plane mechanic.
      The negative result of this upside down prioritization in BEE will be…

    • http://Bloghome Chris2

      The crisis in basic education is one of the factors preventing a more equitable dispensation. Any proper solution will have to contain a good measure of adult (re-)education to help the functionally illiterate and innumerate to (re-)gain or sustain those skills. A possible amelioration of the critical situation could be to create a situation between unemployment and regular employment, but it would obviously require political will to create a legal framework to facilitate such a solution. One can envisage communal groups created out of willing unemployed squatters being put in a step-up situation which can act as a stepping-stone for individuals to make them gainfully employable. The groups can be applied in environmental reclamation work or seasonal agricultural activity or similar. They should be mobile in that living quarters can be erected on a temporary basis (e.g. prefab construction) close to the job at hand and moved to another site as required by the workgroup members themselves. Cooking and washing could be organised communally and the education part of the deal could be arranged after working hours. The group leader would have important organisational functions and could also lead the educational aspect. Different formats could be tried on an experimental basis to test the viability of such a scheme. The workgroups should be seen as a transitional arrangement and renumeration should therefore be kept quite modest. Only enthusiastic members should be welcome

    • DeeGee

      Affirmative action – great idea; always poorly executed. In the run-up to the first democratic elections, a more equitable distribution of newly created wealth was much, much more favoured over a nationalisation of existing wealth (admittedly, those favouring such a policy were the ones holding the wealth). What we have found is that affirmative action, BEE, B-BEE (or whatever it’s called these days) has only really shifted wealth to those in Luthuli House. And that’s the really shameful thing. Smuts Ngonyama was absolutely right when we said ‘we didn’t struggle to be poor’ (or words to that effect), since that appears to be the attitude of the folks in Luthuli House. This me-first attitude has meant that affirmative action could never succeed and will never succeed (along with bernpm’s points about skills and experience. And the state of primary and secondary education in this country to a large degree ensures that will continue for the foreseeable future).

      I also have an issue with this sense of entitlement amongst certain people (both govt and private sector). Take, for example, this case of the Northern Cape Premier allegedly spending R50k on food in her first 10 weeks in office. My favourite quote (from the Premier herself): “How would we have eaten if we didn’t use taxpayers’ money?”. The mind boggles. That’s what Luthuli House puts forward. No accountability. No pride. No shame. And incompetence at its finest.

    • Tofolux

      @Brent & Marius & et al, is it to “B” or is it to “D”? Simple question.

    • The Creator

      So, basically, the leader of the DA (the boss of Anglo American, incidentally) was promoting the same corporate whitewash in the 1990s that the DA and mining industry promotes today? What a surprise.

    • Rory Short

      What many people lose sight of is that Apartheid was the culmination of efforts by powerful elements within the white community to corner South Africa’s economic life for themselves and those they were prepared to accept into their consequent laager. Pre-1994 the criterion for entrance to the economic laager happened to be a white skin, post 1994, in-line with the new South Africa, the criterion was adjusted to include politically powerful persons of any colour. But the economy basically stayed the same size. That is big enough to easily accommodate the percentage of the community who had white skins, say 10%. How were the previously, deliberately excluded 90%, of the community to be freed up and really enabled to expand the economy so that it could also accommodate themselves? This problem was, and is still, only addressed in lip-service terms as an apparently intractable problem in search of a solution. In the mean time the new politically powerful devote their energies to fighting amongst themselves for what they see as their share of the existing economic pie and zero thought is given to finding practical ways of getting the 90% productively engaged in economic life. Sadly tried and tested practical ways do exist as the Free Market Foundation keeps telling us but the new power elite are too pre-occupied and simply do not want to listen.

    • Rane de Beer

      BTW, it’s Zach de Beer (Zacharias Johannes), although I see some sites wrongly use Zac. Have a look at his old posters. tx