Bye-bye to BBBEE, says the DA
The DA has agreed to reject government policy on broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) despite admitting that race remained a cause of disadvantage for black communities.
This is according to senior figures in the party who indicated yesterday that the matter was discussed and agreed on at a federal council meeting of the DA, which took place in Cape Town this weekend.
The debate over BBBEE has been haunting the DA for several years and pitted party leader Mmusi Maimane, who prefers race-based economic redress, against senior party members.
The anti-BBBEE DA grouping included Western Cape premier Helen Zille and former party policy chief Gwen Ngwenya, who argued that any reference to race in tackling economic redress was not consistent with the DA's liberal values anchored in the principle of equal opportunities for all.
Those who were at the meeting yesterday said that after discussions over the weekend, Maimane had told the federal council that though "race remained a proxy for disadvantage", the DA rejected in its entirety the BBBEE version of the ANC. He said it had served to benefit only the politically connected.
The federal council is the DA's highest decision-making body in between its national congresses.
The insiders said the meeting agreed that the DA would from now move away from race-based economic policies. The issue would be spelt out in the party's election manifesto that was adopted yesterday.
The manifesto is to be unveiled at a rally at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg on February 23.
The move could prove costly for the DA ahead of the May 8 election as the party seeks to grow its support among black voters.
The party's anti-BBBEE stance suggests that it is opposed to other economic redress measures such as affirmative action and employment equity.
DA sources said they would tell voters that the party wanted to introduce "a far more inclusive redress offer" that did not benefit only the political elite.
There is concern within the DA that the anti-BBBEE position might lead to black voters rejecting the party at the ballot box.
This follows damaging public spats among the party's leaders over BBBEE and other leadership battles.
DA National spokesman Solly Malatsi said "the party still agreed on the section of the manifesto which recognises that race is still a proxy of disadvantage".
An insider sympathetic to Maimane claimed this was a victory for the DA leader because he had persuaded those who differed with him to acknowledge that black communities remained disadvantaged.
The source said the party now needed to find its own ways of dealing with redress outside of the ANC-sponsored BBBEE...