The chapter before this one I introduce the real meaning and intentions of BBBEE. In this chapter I would like to present the term I coined for BBBEE, namely Broad Based Black Economic Entitlement. defines entitlement as “the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as social security or unemployment compensation”. I would like to submit that BBBEE has had unintended consequences in this country, namely fostering a terrible culture of entitlement. People suddenly feel that they are entitled to get things from government even when they are unwilling to do any work whatsoever.
A few years ago my wife and I attended a funeral in Mmakgabetlwane, a village in which she grew up in the North West province of South Africa. We were driving a decent car then and so after the funeral someone who grew up with my wife whispered to her “my friend, please ask Siphiwe to give us tenders as well”. There were a few problems with this statement: First, the lady assumed that the car just had to be mine and not my wife’s car which is an incorrect belief but secondly here was a thirty-something year’s old lady who believed that the only way I could afford to drive that car was if I was benefiting from tenders.
This is unfortunately the unintended consequence of BBBEE – a bunch of people who believe that if they are to succeed there must be someone from somewhere who will come and offer them tenders. This culture of entitlement is so entrenched that many unemployed people in townships are obsessed with registering close corporations solely to benefit from the tender system. This entitlement mentality will cause a person to die in abject poverty and must be discouraged at all cost.
I usually tell a story of someone I knew when I stayed in Orange Farm. He had just been appointed as a local government official in the Municipality. We were talking one day about this culture of entitlement and he basically told me without even blinking that he and his comrades have four to five years in office and therefore they must loot the coffers as much as possible before their time is over. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing. When I told him how disgusted I was with his response, he told me that I must simply get over it because government officials in the Provincial and National offices share the same sentiments. What happened to the culture of selflessness in our country?
My friend you are not entitled to anything in this country. No one is coming to give you tenders; no one is coming to save you from your poverty. No one must give you a bursary; no one must give you a job. I’ve seen a lot of people in Orange Farm and other informal settlements complaining that they have been on a waiting list to get houses from government for 20 years. If you are reading this, please hear me, stop waiting for government, you will wait forever; do something for yourself. I often tell people that it is much easier to help someone who has started doing something. Stop planning; stop dreaming; stop promising and simply start.
As the famous Mandoza used to say Uzoyithola kanjani uhlel’ ekhoneni which is loosely translated “You will get absolutely nothing if you are just sitting there and doing nothing”.