Reports have emerged claiming that Cyril Ramaphosa wants the vaccine rollout in South Africa to directly benefit companies who are compliant with Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). However, this move has already sparked a fierce backlash, with some critics stating there is a clear ‘racial bias’ for who gets to rebuild the economy.
Will BEE be used to determine vaccine rollout deals?
The BEE scheme has been questioned extensively since its implementation, due to a ham-fisted structure and multiple links to corruption. The drive to ’empower’ workers who need help in securing jobs is well-intentioned, but over the years, BEE projects have sewn a lot of mistrust and division amongst the general public.
Pieter Groenewald is one of the biggest detractors of BEE in this current form – and the notion that its criteria will be used to decide who takes part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has greatly angered the FF Plus leader.
‘No emphasis on competence’ – Groenewald
According to Groenewald, the supposed requirement will simply act as a front, so ANC cadres can ‘pick and choose who benefits’ from government contracts. The political veteran has described the proposals as ‘deeply unfair’.
“This indirectly also provides the answer to why there seems to be no finality regarding the procurement and distribution of the vaccine – seeing as a final decision has not yet been reached about how people can benefit from the programme by means of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). There is no emphasis on competence, only on BEE rollouts.”
“The distribution and proper storage of a vaccine are extremely technical and can only be performed accurately by experts. BEE must not be used as criteria for awarding contracts for the distribution of the vaccines. These contracts must be awarded to companies that have proven experience in the distribution of vaccines.”
“According to the President, preference will be given to black people in re-building the economy – and it is unfair.”
Ramaphosa wants to rebuild economy ‘by using BEE’
Ramaphosa openly spoke about the need to ensure that BEE policies were front and centre of the country’s economic recovery process on Sunday. The president also revealed that ‘expanding the radio spectrum’ would be a key source for job creation, and yes, it would be another strategy that focuses on Black Economic Empowerment:
“The applicants for spectrum must be empowered, ie they must satisfy the BBBEE / BEE requirements including that of direct ownership. The process must lead to economic growth, lowering the costs to communicate, and the promotion of effective competition in the mobile market.”