In response to my statement in the National Assembly earlier this week, in which I questioned whether proposed changes to our BEE legislation will negatively affect charities and NGOs that look after vulnerable South Africans, Minister Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, tacitly confirmed the worst.
The Deputy Minister reminded me that BEE has empowered disadvantaged South Africans, but couldn't restrain herself from adding that the Afrikaners did so too, and that I should stop being jealous of the black-led government.
I find these comments extremely disconcerting, since I was highlighting the genuine concerns of charities and NGOs that are set to lose funding vital to their operations. Childline has already lost one donor due to the mooted changes.
This is the latest clear indication that this Government has little regard for the work done by NGOs, and even less regard for vulnerable sectors of our society. In my view, it is another attempt to racialise and polarise our society.
My statement in the National Assembly read as follows:
MEMBER'S STATEMENT BY MS LL VAN DER MERWE MP
TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2012
It has been reported that the current funding crisis faced by many NGOs will soon extend to our charity organisations, if a proposed amendment to our BEE legislation goes unchallenged.
NGOs believe that this amendment will penalise any business supporting a charity that helps white, Indian or coloured South Africans. In a nutshell, if a company wants to receive maximum BBE points, they should not assist these groups.
Childline's Joan van Niekerk is on record saying, "We don't know the race of the child who phones us. It's inappropriate to ask, 'Are you black, and how black are you?' This is a different kind of Apartheid," she added. Ms van Niekerk has already lost a donor who has his eye on maximum BEE points.
Is it really possible, Honourable Speaker, that we are again willing to discriminate against organisations and people on the basis of race?
Are all vulnerable people no longer equal in the eyes of our Government? If this is the case, it poses a serious threat to nation-building and unity.
The IFP wishes to place on record today that we view any proposal to racialise and polarise our society in a very serious light.
For the sake of the many struggling NGOs, and South Africans regardless of their race, who depend on charities, we seek urgent clarity on this matter.
Liezl van der Merwe MP
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY:
On the second statement on BEE quotes, history has proven that in this country our economy has grown on the basis of economic empowerment.
The Afrikaners done it. It is not new, but here it is an issue of who is leading. Because economic empowerment, affirmative action is done by the ANC-led government, it is seen as wrong by certain sections of our society.
I think South Africans must wake up and really unite to understand that for us to grow the economy, we need to work together to ensure that there is job creation, that we deal with inequality and stop being jealous at the black-led government.