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OPINION: Troubled BEE landscape needs an ethics injection


JOHANNESBURG - The empowerment landscape is troubled. The mining sector is in particular distress, with the mining charter submitted by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane subject to various legal wrangles.

The Chamber of Mines says no consultation took place with industry and the chamber makes it clear that there is no trust left between the industry and the minister. The Financial Sector Charter Council has signed off on the final amended code for the sector.

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A spokesperson says the department of trade and industry has indicated it is willing to have it gazetted on condition it will be reviewed soon to take into account public views on transformation aired during the parliamentary hearings into transformation in March this year.

There’s little clarification, however, over the timing. Parliament now also wants a direct role in approving sector charters, which adds another step to the process. The team who put together this year’s Empowerment Report made many calls and sent emails to the trade and industry department for confirmation of this, but they were all ignored.

Government is quick to accuse the private sector of not doing enough to transform, yet its own role leaves much to be desired.

It’s easy to brush off accusations about the private sector not doing enough to transform as government simply deflecting attention from its own inadequacies. While those are clear, it does not mean there is no substance to its arguments, as our interview with Busisiwe Ngwenya, executive compliance offi cer for the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission. The lengths some companies go to to avoid implementing real transformative measures is astounding.

Rather than just doing the right thing, they set up all sorts of structures to earn BEE points but ensuring nothing changes. Quite rightly, the commission has started exposing such companies and prosecutions may follow.

This should not deflect from the companies that are doing the right thing. It takes much effort and resources to implement transformative measure across a business and even more to keep transforming. The companies that do best are the ones that have tangible, real transformation as a goal rather than being concerned with the tick-box scoring approach.

In such a climate, the advice of Lerato Ratsoma, MD of Empowerdex which conducts the research for these rankings, should be heeded. She argues that we need to go back to the basics and assess the substance that underpins true transformation. As importantly, she calls for the urgent need for an ethical environment to increase the level of trust in the system.

Times are indeed diffi cult in South Africa, with the ailing economy amplifying shortcomings that might otherwise be less severe or even rectifi ed in bett er times. This makes it all the more important to act now to get things right.

Colin Anthony is from Intellidex.



LINK - https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/opinion-troubled-bee-landscape-needs-an-ethics-injection-11498465

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