Challenges of BEE

THE governments commitment to achieving 26 percent black ownership of mining companies by 2014 must be applauded.

THE governments commitment to achieving 26 percent black ownership of mining companies by 2014 must be applauded.

Mining remains one of the most important sectors in this country's economy.

Driving transformation mining will go a long way to changing the current situation in which the country's wealth remains largely in white hands.

Also commendable is the move to ensure that there is meaningful economic participation by previously disadvantaged shareholders. As the government has concluded, reviewing the current BEE funding model will lead to real black economic empowerment.

But there are some serious impediments to real BEE that the government must tackle. These have very little to do with previously advantaged groupings trying to hold on to wealth.

They have much to do with BEE barons using their political connections to amass wealth at the expense of communities residing in mineral-rich areas.

The perennial wars that communities in places like Sekhukhuneland and Mokopane continue waging against BEE mining companies are typical examples of this phenomenon.

Instead of benefiting from their rich land, these people find themselves marginalised by unscrupulous businesspeople .

This has led to situations in which living on mineral-rich land has become the cross of many communities.

These are some of the challenges the government needs to deal with.

It needs to recognise that BEE cannot be treated as if black people are a homogenous group. They consist of groupings with variant interests.

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