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VENTURES AFRICA – South Africa’s state-owned transport utility, Transnet, had awarded nine black firms five-year contracts to provide it with petroleum in a transaction valued at $1.5 billion, it emerged on Thursday.
This transaction has been described as one of the biggest transport utility’s BEE contracts.
“This day will go down in history as the day black economic empowerment (BEE) took a giant leap forward,” Malusi Gigaba, the minister of public enterprises, said.
BEE is the government’s project aimed at addressing the historical economic inequities which are the legacy of the brutal apartheid system of separate development.
But the implementation of this BEE policy has been marred by many problems, one of them being fronting.
Fronting, which President Jacob Zuma recently indirectly admitted is widespread in South Africa, involves white-owned companies forming non-existing black-owned firms so they could be awarded BEE contracts.
More than a month back, Zuma lashed out at fronting, saying it is unforgivable because it distorted South Africa’s empowerment image.
He said this gave an impression of “progress where there is none.” Zuma promised to work hard to nip this practice in the bud.
According to Reuters, critics of BEE claim that people who have gained from the BEE policy were politically-connected black upper class.