Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment

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Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) is an integration programme launched by the South African government to reconcile South Africans and address the inequalities of apartheid by attempting to compensate for land that was repossessed from Africans. It encourages businesses to integrate black people in the workspace, support black businesses, and give back to poor black communities affected by land repossession. Businesses are awarded points which they can claim on a BBBEE certificate which entitles them to a greater chance of obtaining government contracts.

The act[edit]

The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (Act 53 of 2003) essentially works on the understanding that years of systemic racism contribute to contemporary economic woes, and that government intervention can stem the results of past racist regimes. Black people of South Africa were disposed of their land by the apartheid regime as a result black people have been systematically excluded from the economy. The apartheid regime excluded black people from fair trades, professional employment and general freedom of movement. B-BBEE seeks to compensate for some of the previous injustices

A set of Codes of Good Practice was gazetted on 9 February 2007 in the government gazette 29617. An Interpretive Guide was added in June 2007.

The Codes of Good Practice contains sections about measuring ownership, management control, employment, skills development, preferential procurement, enterprise development, socio-economic development, and qualifying small enterprises.


Broad-based black economic empowerment is, as from 2015 measured under the amended Code of Good Practice which consists of the following 5 elements:

- Ownership - 25 points

- Management control - 19 points

- Skills Development - 25 points

- Enterprise and Supplier Development - 40 points

- Socio-economic development - 5 points

Prior to 2015, the Generic Code of Good Practice consisted of the following breakdown:

  • Direct empowerment:
    • Equity ownership – 20%
    • Management – 10%
  • Indirect empowerment:
    • Employment equity – 15%
    • Skills development – 15%
    • Preferential procurement – 20%
    • Enterprise development – 15%
    • Socio-economic development – 5%

Verification and BBBEE certificates[edit]

It is not mandatory to get a verification agency to audit a BEE Scorecard. It is however a requirement to have suitable documentation/evidence to score any points. SANAS (South African National Accreditation System) and IRBA (Independent Regulatory Body for Auditor) has been mandated with accrediting verification agencies. This accreditation has been put in place to ensure the consistency of the independent verification of BBBEE contributions.

BEE certificates can be issued by any verification agency as long as they are approved to do so by SANAS or IRBA. Accounting officers registered in term of the Close corporation Act of 1984 can also issue the BBBEE certificates for EMEs

The certificate can only be issued once a full verification has been performed.

Industry specific measurement[edit]

Companies may choose to be measured using the Generic Scorecard (as described above and created by the government) or their individual sector scorecards. Various sector scorecards have already been finalised, including construction, tourism, forestry, transport, finance, information technology, mining, petroleum and others. Industry scorecards are created to address industry specific issues and complications with regard to implementing BBBEE.

All industry specific scorecards must align themselves to the generic scorecard. Companies may not measure their suppliers according to their own sector scorecards. For example, a large banking institution may not measure their ICT service providers according to the financial sector scorecard. The ICT company will present a verification certificate to the financial institution based on the generic scorecard or the ICT sector scorecard. BBEEE is not only a compliance issue anymore but also a competitive issue

Development of legislation[edit]

The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill along with the BEE strategy document of South Africa serves as guideline and driver for developing Codes of Good Practice that describe measurement criteria, targets, audit requirements and definitions for each of the 7 pillars in detail. Additional codes of good practice have also been released with regards to complex structures, broad-based ownership schemes, fronting practices and verification agencies.

The Codes are developed by the BEE task team set up by the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and comprises individuals representing various areas: private and public sectors, various industries, research and BEE measurement etc. They are Cyril Ramaphosa, Saki Macozoma, Derek Cooper, Patrice Motsepe, Gloria Serobe, Danisa Baloyi, Buhle Mthethwa, Vuyo Jack, Ronnie Ntuli, Loyiso Mbabane, Imogen Mkhize, Alan Hirsch, Philisiwe Buthelezi and Lionel October.

Companies in South Africa that deal with the government or parastatals must be empowered as required by the Preferential Procurement Act. In return, these companies require their suppliers to be empowered to improve their rating at government. Thus broad-based empowerment is driven down the supply chain. Various other legislation supports the BEE effort, including the Skills Development Act and Employment Equity Act.

Enterprise size's effect on BBBEE[edit]

In terms of Act 53 (2003) Codes of Good Practice for Black Economic Empowerment all enterprises in South Africa are divided into one of three categories:

In terms of Act 53 (2003) each of these categories have differing sets of measurement criteria.

Generic Enterprises[edit]

Generic enterprises are those enterprises that have a turnover of greater than R50 million. It is estimated that only 4% of South African enterprises fall into this category. Generic enterprises must apply all seven pillars of BBBEE to calculate their score as per the Generic Scorecard.

Generic Enterprises must apply Code 000-700 of the Act and apply stringent reporting techniques.

Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSE)[edit]

Qualifying small enterprises (QSEs) are enterprises that have a turnover between R10 million and R50 million, they apply Code 800 to calculate their scorecards. Code 800 is a simplified version of Code 000-700 which includes less stringent scorecards for each element. QSEs can choose the best four of their seven elements, with each element accounting for 25% of their scorecard out of 100.

While Code 800 is a simplified version of the other 7 pillars it has been ruled by the DTI that any issues not specifically discussed in Code 800 should instead have Code 100–700 applied.

Exempted Micro Enterprises (EME)[edit]

Exempted micro enterprises (EMEs) are enterprises with a turnover of less than R10 million. That will be in the new codes. EMEs do not need to be rated, but they do need to be able to provide reasonable evidence that they are EMEs. EMEs automatically qualify as 100% contributors towards Preferential Procurement. If they are greater than 50% black owned they qualify as 110% contributors towards Preferential Procurement.

Impact of the BEE on employers and employees[edit]

The impact of BBBEE is difficult to measure as the Codes of Good Practice were only promulgated in February 2007. According to the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation's Economic Transformation Audit, the number of Black Management and Professionals has increased from 216,772 in 1995 to 359,438 in 2005.

A general criticism can be made that wealthy and politically connected black individuals have been the real beneficiaries of BEE and not those still living in poverty. In fact, unemployment and inequality have both increased since the introduction of BBBEE policies.

In 2018 a surfacing argument is that BBBEE should be changed from a race-based policy to a policy that favours poverty regardless of skin colour. Apartheid was criticised exactly because of race-based legislation that favoured a minority based on skin colour and BBBEE once again has introduced race-based policies diverting South Africa's problems from endemic poverty to race.

Economist Jacques Jonker also criticised BBBEE on the basis that racialism itself is incongruent with the South African Constitution, and racial classification should be done away with in its entirety on this basis.[2]

To date, there is no pronounced sunset date for BBBEE and it has become a political tool for parties that believe the black majority of South Africa favours discrimination based on race.

In addition some sector's of the South African economy BBBEE laws impose an annual fine of 10% of a companies revenue or 5 million rand, which ever is the highest, if they do not comply and give black majority 30% equity.


  1. ^ "Amended B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice Launch Presentation by the Minister" (PDF). Department of Industry and Trade, South Africa. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  2. ^ Jonker, Jacques (3 June 2020). "Racialism in law is incompatible with the Rule of Law". BBrief. Retrieved 25 June 2021.

External links[edit]