The advent of BEE or Black Economic Empowerment has certainly had a massive impact on South Africans.
As one would expect it has its fair share of supporters and detractors and has certainly stirred up a hornets nest in: the press, particularly the domain of columnists always on the prowl for contentious column content; chats at cocktail parties; deliberations in boardrooms; the machinations of shareholder activists (most notable at present being the pontificating of the Public Investment Commission) ; civil service parlance and parliamentary debates; aspirations of the trade union movement; the idle banter of commuters and the office chit chat of the employed.
It has manifest itself into the consciousness of the public in many ways, but the overwhelming feeling seems to one of disgust that, as fellow Fin24 columnist, Marc Hasenfuss wrote on Monday: "BEE has become a contentious subject in recent months with certain deals looking like blatant opportunism for a fortunate few rather than providing opportunities for the disadvantaged masses."
At its inception there was a generally warm feeling towards BEE from the nation as a whole. Most people naively believed, as I did, that the objective was to give South Africans the impetus for a huge leap forward that would empower as many people as possible by drawing them into the economy; providing the skills and education so essential in expanding the workforce; providing safe, comfortable and efficient public transport; bringing sanity and safety to the taxi industry and its passengers; providing community centres with activities for the youth and day care facilities for the children of working parents; and so on and so forth.
Well if this was even part of the intention it has failed miserably.
one can only gasp in disbelief and astonishment at the vast wealth that has been amassed in the hand of so few.
One squirms in embarrassment as we witness patronage on a scale not seen since the largess dispensed to the noble class in the heyday of the Tsarist Russian feudal Empire that finally imploded in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in the harsh conditions of war torn Europe - and arguably one of the least successful examples of redistribution seen in modern times.
The fact that the stock market has experienced very bullish conditions for the past four years and is still in full flight only goes to compound the problem.
Naturally when bear conditions return this sort of empowerment will not have the same impact.
One can only congratulate the far-sighted listed companies that have got involved in proactive BEE deals that have included employees and unions and done much to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.
Reunert, founded in 1888 and listed on the JSE in 1948, has played a role in the South African economy for more than a century and its products are the leader in many of the markets it serves - particularly the Nashua brand.
It has a good track record and I am really sorry to have to say to the directors: "badly done, very badly done on the recent BEE transaction that does not appear to be broad-based at all."
abridged - full story from Fin24 here