As the country’s focus turns again to economic development and investment, many have asked what role the Western Cape has played in all of these projects.
Where are the upcoming black – coloured, African and Indian – industrialists in the DA-led Western Cape and how much are they benefiting from the budgetary allocations set aside by the national government to stimulate the economy?
In 2017, the authoritative New York Times suggested that the black middle-class had doubled in the decade 1998-2008. UCT’s Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit also indicated that the black middle class had grown from just less than 13% of the South African population in 1993 to more than 16% by 2012.
No doubt, the global economic crisis in 2008/9 would have impacted on this rise in the domestic growth of the black middle class.
Yet it would seem that after a decade of DA rule in the Western Cape not much growth has occurred in this strata. While some provinces such as Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal may be introducing BBBEE 4.0 or even 5.0, the Western Cape has been stunted at BBBEE 2.0.
Sadly for blacks, this statistic stood at the same level as when the ANC left office in the province in 2009. This lack of evolution and expansion of BBBEE is precisely due to the DA’s policies of protecting past privilege and keeping those who were meant to benefit from BBBEE out – and frustrated.
Maybe even worse still, some of those who indeed have benefited from BBBEE in the Western Cape have hindered the expansion of this empowerment intervention and blocked the broad-based character of the policies.
At the dawn of democracy, BEE, as the policy was initially called, empowered individuals such as Franklin Sonn, Iqbal Survé, Leslie Maasdorp, Barend Hendricks, Fred Robertson and Marcel Golding.
This period could be referred to as BBBEE 1.0 and was championed precisely because, as champions such as former President Thabo Mbeki contended in 1999, South Africa needed a black capitalist class in order to ensure economic empowerment of black people, thereby deracialising the ownership of productive property in our country and thus bringing about stability.
BBBEE 2.0 commenced in the period 2004 when the ANC administration in the Western Cape encouraged entities such as the investment venture Cape Empowerment Trust and financial services group Oasis.
By this time, the ANC had adopted the principles of broad-based empowerment to ensure that groups rather than individuals were empowered. As a result, empowerment organisations such as SAMTACO, which involved artisans, planners, architects, builders among others, as well as women empowerment groups, were established. Towards the end of the ANC administration, the Western Cape Socio-Economic Development Forum was also in its nascent years.
The sad reality is that this is where BBBEE stopped in the Western Cape. Policy confusion in the DA on affirmative action and BBBEE caused the liberal faction in the DA based in the Western Cape to prefer the “equal opportunities”, later “open opportunities”, approach.
The fact that South Africa’s history was not based on equal opportunities and that not all players were, therefore, starting off on the same footing was irrelevant to this DA faction.
While the rest of South Africa is moving into BBBEE 4.0 or 5.0 through initiatives such as the black industrialists’ programmes through the department of trade and industry and the township economy, the Western Cape is stuck in BBBEE 2.0. The opportunities presented in the Western Cape, such as the IDZ, gas and oil exploration as well as the green and cloud economies, will almost certainly not favour black — coloured, African and Indian — business.
As Thabo Mbeki mentioned, the black middle class is a necessity for stability and for economic inclusivity. Yet by how much has the black middle class – coloured in particular – grown in the past decade?
Where are our coloured millionaires in the Western Cape, especially those created in the past decade? Could there have been more if the provincial government was as deliberate in creating them as the provincial governments in the rest of the country are in also forming a black middle class?
The ANC in the Western Cape is determined to pick up where it left off in 2009 once it is returned to power in May. Yet it realises that it must play catch-up with the rest of the country in encouraging this black middle class and formulate a model that would ensure broad-based empowerment.
This model must focus on encouraging SMME’s, foreign direct investment specifically in the Western Cape, and especially in the rest of the province in places such as George, Plettenberg Bay, Paarl, Oudtshoorn, Beaufort West, Saldanha Bay and on the Cape Flats.
President Ramaphosa must be commended for initiating projects such as his foreign direct investment drive and the Thuma Mina campaign.
Unfortunately, the DA provincial government in the Western Cape has done little to learn from his example and has nothing to show for the type of investment drives that it has been initiating.
Yet again, all that the DA is good for is bad-mouthing and certainly not growing South Africa. It will be up to an ANC-led provincial government to bring blacks in the Western Cape out from the cold.
The message to blacks is clear: The DA has held you back in many areas, such as housing, the economy and tourism, but you have it in your hands to change this. Don’t lose this chance to have a say in and also trigger the real transformation.
- Faiez Jacobs is the Provincial Secretary of the ANC in the Western Cape
OPINION: Faiez Jacobs