Tuesday, January 22, 2013

BEE: Transformation or ruination?

BEE: Transformation or ruination? January 22 2013 at 11:21am By Devi Rajab Comment on this story To ‘BE(E)’ or not to ‘BE(E)’? This question raised in Hamlet’s suicidal ramblings still rings true for us today. There are distinct parallels in this Shakespearean dilemma between Hamlet’s anguish of his life’s purpose and those of us in post-apartheid South Africa grappling with affirmative action. The question is being asked in all quarters. Should black economic empowerment be scrapped or not? After 20 years of democracy should we still continue to favour blacks over other citizens? Has BEE been good or bad for us, and finally, if we continue, will we be committing national suicide? Virtually everywhere in the world today there is a demand for greater equality among ethnic groups. Whether it is in India, the US, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Malaysia or Canada, economically and educationally disadvantaged ethnic groups are demanding government intervention to redress past inequalities. But in addressing these demands through affirmative action, reservations or compensatory discrimination, the global concern for distributive justice to eliminate inequalities is often fraught with difficulties and cries of reverse discrimination. As I write this piece I am told that a young black academic is working on a project which outlines how BEE has led to the systematic deterioration of the health profession. To this we can add education, welfare and the justice system. Critics, sceptics and antagonists will all agree that BEE is reverse apartheid and that whites, Indians and coloureds feel marginalised by this exclusive act. The by-product of this practice is a steady haemorrhaging of our valuable human capital into the UK, Australia and the US. Transformation, in its wake, has produced an acute sensitivity to race.In envious undertones people talk about incompetent blacks getting all the jobs. Sometimes this type of thinking can be a cover-up for one’s own mediocrity. Many South Africans, for example, were initially horrified when Chris Stals gave way to Tito Mboweni as governor of the Reserve Bank, but they soon grew comfortable with his competence. It’s really about fighting our little gremlins of racism which we all, black and white, harbour deep within our psyches. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we are honest with ourselves and expose ourselves to constant introspective analysis and the will to amend our ways. Affirmative action may be accepted by many thinking individuals as the “lesser evil” for the “greater good”, but the consequences of defining privilege in racial terms does not augur well for nation building. Such policies tend to heighten racial consciousness and divide a people into “Us” and “Them”. It legitimises the treatment of people as group members rather than as individuals on the basis of merit. It therefore contains a profound internal contradiction, as it entrenches what it purports to eliminate – racial distinctions. At another level affirmative action demeans the group it is supposed to help, since the rationale for it implies inferiority. Its philosophy is clearly paternalistic as it perpetuates stereotypes of black inferiority. The more blacks are given preferential treatment, the more questionable the qualification of all blacks becomes. This is all logical, reasonable and inevitable, but what is germane to this argument is one of historical and psychological oppression. It is important to view the problem in a context of years of inequality and institutional oppression. Without transformation, how is it possible for the mass of black children growing up in townships and rural areas without parents and families to make headway in their lifetime? Through no fault of theirs, they’ve been the victims of the cruellest form of racism and unspeakable exploitation that will take generations to overcome. The struggle of black people in South Africa is not only one of political oppression, but one of mental oppression. Menticide is perhaps the cruellest form of oppression. In our case, how many missed opportunities were lost to people of colour just because of their race. How many potential little Einsteins, Mozarts, Tensinghs, Neil Armstrongs have we lost by virtue of not being able to recognise, address and support their genius. In their book, The Mark of Oppression, Abraham Kardiner and Lionel Ovesey refer to the psychological scars that black people bear wherever they go in the world. “…the black person has always been defined as being inferior and accordingly, as is predicted in the self-fulfilling prophecy, he has made this prophecy come true.” No thinking or feeling South African can deny that we have to address past inequalities as a nation. Yet South Africans are experiencing the effects of transformation positively and negatively. There are those who are the direct beneficiaries of privileges denied to them in the past and those who have had to relinquish their status and privileges accorded to them on the basis of race. Wherever we may be in the receiving line, one thing is clear: transformation is essential and it is good. It is about acting in the best interest of South Africa as a nation. Like purgatory, transformation is a state of temporary suffering or expiation. It is a process towards a goal, and once reached, a nation should become normalised – meaning adherence to a constitution that treats all its citizens, black or white, as bona fide nationals with equal rights and opportunities to prosper and contribute to its development. Of crucial significance is whether our government has a road map to guide it along the route of transformation. Is there a plan to reassure all its citizens of its progress towards an equitable society. Do I as a South African of third generation descent have a dedicated place in my country? Will my security and that of my children be determined by my race and culture? These are questions many South Africans of various hues are asking themselves. They have to tell their children now what the future will hold. Transformation must be celebrated as a necessary process for normalising an essentially abnormal society. And if we abandoned it tomorrow, can we really trust that non-blacks at the top will make place for black people? I think not. However, the exclusion of talented men and women outside of racial quotas cannot be perpetuated indefinitely. There must be parallel opportunities for building a truly non-racial South Africa where all its citizens have a place in the sun. * Devi Rajab is a psychologist and commentator. Her column appears regularly in The Mercury. The Star - - - COMMENTS BY SONNY - - - BEE WAS A FAILURE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. It turned a few unworthy (elite) people into instant tycoons and billionaires. It has not served the poor, needy, youth, education or service delivery in any way. It has only lead to divide the minority groups in SA more. Only Zuma believes that the majority should rule the rest. Then he keeps talking about 'Democracy Achieved!' No wonder reconciliation has been impossible until now. TRUTH IS - BEE IS APARTHEID IN REVERSE. HAVES - HAVE NOTS - TO BE OR NOT TO BEE - WHAT WAS THE QUESTION!

1 comment:

  1. In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
    University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the
    Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: "A democracy is always
    temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
    form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
    the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
    gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
    always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
    the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
    collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a

    The Obituary follows:

    It doesn't hurt to read this several times.
    Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in
    St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning
    the last Presidential election:

    Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29
    Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000
    Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million
    Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 McCain: 2.1

    Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory
    McCain won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens
    of the country.

    Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low
    income tenements and living off various forms of government
    welfare..." And, of course, Zuma’s mass support comes from poor/uneducated citizens who are largely in the rural districts/living off 'child support' and State Social Pensions.

    Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the
    "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of
    democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population
    already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

    If Congress/Parliament of RSA grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million
    criminal invaders called illegals - and they vote - then we can say
    goodbye to the USA/RSA in fewer than five years.

    If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message.

    If you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how
    much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our

    This is truly scary