Tuesday, April 10, 2007

South Africa's programme to open ownership of the country's firms to black investors needs to be reviewed, finance minister Trevor Manuel says

BBC News:

Mr Manuel told the Financial Times that both "good and bad, cynical and genuine" black economic empowerment (BEE) deals had been done.

BEE is meant to correct apartheid-era inequalities by making businesses transfer stakes to black-led groups.

But it has been accused of benefiting a small group of wealthy black investors.

Many of the biggest deals have gone to consortia whose members include people with links to the ruling African National Congress, sparking accusations of favouritism.

In his interview with the London newspaper, Mr Manuel acknowledged the criticisms, saying that some businesses had complied with BEE rules more for the sake of compliance rather than in order to genuinely spread control.

He quoted a friend involved in several BEE deals, who - he said - had been told that he was there to act as an "insurance policy", rather than to be involved at all in running the business.

"There will have to be a review," Mr Manuel told the paper.

BEE has been a centrepiece of South African economic policy under President Thabo Mbeki.

In 2006, the policy was renamed "broad-based black economic empowerment" and a code of conduct was unveiled.

But Mr Manuel said there were still elements of the policy which needed further examination, such as the rule which allows companies to stay in compliance even if the participating BEE enterprise sells on its stake.

S.Africa finmin eyes black empowerment review

Racial Preference In South Africa: “To BEE Or Not To BEE”

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