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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


‘SA has come a long way since only whites were allowed to own businesses’ – Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa said since the advent of democracy in 1994, a key priority of the new government was to transform the economy.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has iterated that Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) is not under threat and is not being reconsidered, and South Africa has come a long way since only whites were allowed to own businesses.

The president was addressing the nation on Monday, in his weekly newsletter “From the desk of the President”.

Transforming the economy

Ramaphosa said since the advent of democracy in 1994, a key priority of the new government was to transform the economy so that everyone could benefit from the country’s wealth.

“As a society, we understood that economic transformation could not simply be left to the markets, but would need special interventions to make it happen.”

“That is why the Bill of Rights in our Constitution says that to promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures may be taken to advance people who had been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination,” Ramaphosa said.

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Preferential Procurement Regulations

Ramaphosa said the new Preferential Procurement Regulations published by the National Treasury last week, need must not be misunderstood.

“Government remains wholly committed to transformation and empowerment as envisioned in the Constitution.”

“Some people, for their own reasons, have mischaracterised the purpose and effect of the new regulations. Some commentary has even claimed that this government is back-tracking on its commitment to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. This claim is far from the truth,” Ramaphosa added.

No effect on BBBEE

Ramaphosa said the new regulations fulfil an order of the Constitutional Court last year, declaring that the Preferential Procurement Regulations from 2017 are illegal, and requiring that the Minister of Finance replace them within 12 months.

“The new regulations have no effect on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, as all organs of State must fully comply with this Act when developing their procurement policies. This Act remains in force as one of the most transformative pieces of legislation to come out of democratic South Africa.”

“Government’s policy framework has not changed with the introduction of these regulations, nor has our commitment to service delivery and black economic empowerment,” Ramaphosa added. 

Ramaphosa said empowerment criteria will still be applied in government contracting and organs of State must comply with the BBBEE Act when developing their procurement policies.

No misunderstanding

“There should be no mistake or misunderstanding: Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment is not under threat and is not being reconsidered.

“Put plainly, we remain as committed as ever to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, meeting our localisation objectives and transforming an economy that, despite our best efforts, is still largely controlled by a minority,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa has called on business, labour and civil society to join the country in transforming the economy.

“We have come a long way since the days when only whites were allowed to own businesses and provide goods and services to the State. Where black businesses did exist, they were confined to townships, rural areas and the so-called homelands. We can and must do more to advance economic transformation,” Ramaphosa said.

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