By Pinky Khoabane
“Light Nigga, Dark Nigga, Faux Nigga, Real Nigga, Rich Nigga, House Nigga……Still Nigga”
These are the lyrics by American Hip Hop Mogul, JayZ, in a song highlighting racial denialism. And the message is real for Black People. It doesn’t matter what levels you reach in all spheres of life, racists still see you as Black and not worthy of treatment equal to your white counterparts.
Nothing in the last week could have epitomised the loathe with which some whites have for their fellow citizens of a darker hue – even in business, and at the highest level – than the story of businessman Andile Ngcaba. Until a month ago, Ngcaba was the executive chairman of Dimension Data Africa and Middle East. He’s had to take the technology company to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for discrimination having learnt that the company had excluded him from a long-term incentive scheme that benefited whites and juniors in the company. Ngcaba said Dimension Data’s actions were institutional discrimination and was pursuing the matter on principle. “If this is happening at my level, how much more at junior level,” he’s quoted as saying.
Now, the arrogance of these whites to think after everything this man has done for Dimension Data he’s not worthy of benefiting from the incentive scheme is enough to turn one’s stomach. But then again racism sickens.
Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners invested in Dimension Data as part of a B-BBEE transaction in 2004. Whether his detractors like it or not, these BBBEE did much more to ensure that the white-owned companies could be BEE compliant in order to get government tenders. These deals were primarily to ensure that these companies, which during Apartheid benefited immensely, continued to rake in the billions from the state.
You need only look at the business Dimension Data makes from government to see the value added to an organisation with a person who has the political contacts that Ngcaba has. He wasn’t just a Black face sitting on his rear as some would want us to believe but he was the executive chairman of this company and has extensive experience in the IT sector. A simple google search will attest to this.
Ngcaba says he only got to know about this incentive scheme last year which brings us to the age-old debate of the power the Black partners in BEE have. Here is an executive chairman who didn’t know such an incentive scheme existed. And the immediate question that arises is whether he was really an executive chairman or a token?
His case is not unique but once again illustrates the lack of goodwill by the white partners in these deals. This lack of goodwill is in fact a national crisis best reflected in the deterioration of race relations in this country.
As one who has covered a lot of cases of corporate corruption and BEE deals gone bad, I know first hand, the underhanded tactics of these white partners.
In the case of the recruitment company, Kelly Group, for example, the Black partners say they were denied access to bank accounts, financials, etc once the government tenders had been secured.
A man who attempted to sue me for an article “Baas-and-boy relationship buried in these BEE deals” had used a messenger to rake in millions from the FIFA World Cup stadiums. He had the audacity to give his fronter nothing. He bought the most expensive cars and lived a lavish life from ill-gotten proceeds using another human being. The Black man still lived in a shack.
Mercedes Benz Financial Services approached Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to access money meant for extending the trucking sector to Blacks. They hired white-owned companies as consultants to “assist” the Black partners and the end of it was simply that every organisation in that value-chain was white and they alone benefitted as the Black partners fell into arrears and many had their trucks repossessed and lives destroyed. I’ve written extensively on this deal. One such article is here. https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/seeking-justice-after-bee-scheme-1729567
In the CellC deal, once the Saudi-based Oger Telecoms got its hands on the CellC licence, it treated BEE partners, CellSaf, with contempt. It flouted corporate governance principles and agreements reached at the time the BEE partner sold 15% of its original 40% stake were simply thrown out of the window. CellC has not held a board meeting in six years effectively denying CellSaf its rightful 25% representation. CellC has been in the news recently for entering into a recapitalisation deal in which the empowerment partners say underhanded tactics are being used. https://businesstech.co.za/news/mobile/194508/bee-partner-accuses-blue-label-and-net1-of-trying-to-hijack-cell-c-report/
The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission was established in April last year in an effort to stem fronting and bring the culprits to book. It received 134 complaints in its first five months. But it is quite clear that the problem is widespread and the white partners are devising ever more sophisticated means of cheating the black partners out of what is due to them.