Ramaphosa BEE

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Archive Photo

Ramaphosa: ‘BEE is here to stay, if anything it should be enhanced’

Ramaphosa responded to the FF Plus’ question about removing BEE policies in unequivocal fashion, insisting that they are here to stay.

Ramaphosa BEE

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Archive Photo

President Cyril Ramaphosa was unequivocal about his views on whether or not Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) should be included in his plans to restructure the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“BEE is here to stay,” he said, before slating Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) leader Pieter Groenewald for using the Question & Answer session on Thursday 18 June to ask a question that did not encourage unity and proposals for success in ensuring transformation. 

Ramaphosa: BEE must be enhanced

Ramaphosa was asked by Groenewald how he plans to restructure the economy post-COVID-19, and whether BEE programmes would form part of that restructuring. 

“BEE policy is a thrust of this government, and if anything it needs to be enhanced,” stated Ramaphosa in response

“We need to ensure that black people who were forever under colonial and apartheid rule, excluded from playing an important role in the economy of their own country, are given their rightful place to contribute to the economy.”

He launched into an impassioned outlining of the virtues of providing previously disadvantaged people with a leg-up in achieving success post-apartheid. 

“We cannot continue having an economy that so excludes the majority of the people and hope to grow the economy.”

“We have a damaged economy because it is not utilising all of the resources it can. We are not utilising them to good effect. It’s like we have a vehicle with 12 cylinders that has been running on four cylinders.”

“The only way [to grow the economy] is to bring black people into the mainstream of the economy. They were deliberately excluded, so we need to implement the provisions of our constitutions. There must be legislative measures that will enable us to do precisely that.”

He said that while certain specific measures that aim to assist black people thrive in a new South African economy are yet to be given the go-ahead by constitutional frameworks, that every possible action should be taken to provide them with better opportunities for success. 

“It should be a shame for those with power and ownership that we still have a situation like this.”

“Affirmative action is a policy that will continue. We have extended a hand that on land reform, our constitutional committee must proceed to finalise the work that they are doing.  “They must be clear on how we can proceed with the expropriation of land without compensation. They must instruct us on how we should proceed, how the process will best suit all South Africans.”

Current system is ‘untenable’ 

He said that restructuring the economy to benefit all South Africans is of paramount importance, because the current system is ‘untenable”. 

“The best that we can do as South Africans is to work together and secure a common future going forward. The current situation is untenable. We’ve got to restructure. Everyone who says things are fine and ‘hunky-dory’ are living in a world that is very strange to our people.”

“People are yearning to contribute, to have the skills they were denied in the past, they want to be managers of the economy. If there was ever a time to give them the opportunity, it is now.”

Ramaphosa blasted Groenewald and “those of his ilk” for what he suggested was an unhelpful attitude towards racial reform and BEE policies.  

“I would have hoped that Honourable Pieter Groenewald and his ilk would come forward and say that we realise that we have an historic problem, that apartheid denied black South Africans from land ownership. I would have preferred that they came forward with proposals rather than problems. We want solutions.”

“Our people have been patient forever and a day.”