Mashaba has bold plans if elected Joburg mayor

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLA­BATHI and S’THEM­BILE CELE hlengiwe.nhla­bathi@city­press.co.za; sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Her­man Mashaba, the DA’s newly an­nounced may­oral can­di­date for the City of Jo­han­nes­burg, wants all racially based poli­cies, such as broad-based black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment (BBBEE), scrapped.

And if he were to hold the reins of power, he would im­me­di­ately in­struct Par­lia­ment to re­move all laws that clas­si­fied any­one a black per­son.

Th­ese plans have cast the spot­light on DA pol­icy, which, un­til the eve of the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions, strug­gled to rec­on­cile a non­ra­cial phi­los­o­phy with a com­mit­ment to BEE.

In a bid to ex­plain its po­si­tion dur­ing the lead-up to the 2014 elec­tion, the DA pub­lished a doc­u­ment in which it vowed to ex­pand BEE leg­is­la­tion to make it more broad-based and pre­vent an al­ready en­riched elite from ben­e­fit­ing fur­ther.

Party leader Mmusi Maimane said yes­ter­day the DA did not be­lieve in scrap­ping BEE, but the pol­icy “must in many ways ben­e­fit the poor and not a se­lect few”.

Mashaba, the founder of hair-prod­uct range Black Like Me, was pa­raded as the DA’s ticket to cap­ture the ANC-run metro in lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, to be held some­time be­tween May and Au­gust. He said it was an in­sult that, 21 years into democ­racy, peo­ple were forced to “prac­tise racial stereo­types”.

“I am re­ally in­trigued that in South Africa to­day, I am still re­garded as a black per­son,” he said.

“We are, in fact, all South Africans. As a busi­nessper­son, one also has to fill in forms as part of BEE and re­port to gov­ern­ment that I em­ploy so many blacks or coloureds, In­di­ans or whites.

“To me, it is such an in­sult that on April 27 1994 I voted for the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of our coun­try, but 21 years on, I still have to prac­tise racial stereo­types ... It is of con­cern and, I be­lieve, as the DA, it is some­thing we need to en­gage so­ci­ety se­ri­ously about. That is why we will have Penny [Spar­row] and oth­ers in­sult­ing us along racial lines.”

Mashaba con­ceded that racially based poli­cies re­dressed past in­jus­tices, but he said this could only be done in a func­tion­ing econ­omy.

“What­ever you are go­ing to do in this coun­try, in­equal­ity is not go­ing to be ad­dressed dur­ing South Africa’s cur­rent eco­nomic per­for­mance.”

He com­plained about some as­pects of labour law, which had been re­spon­si­ble for de­stroy­ing small busi­nesses over the past 15 years.

“Un­for­tu­nately, those busi­nesses are black busi­nesses. I do not un­der­stand some­one talk­ing about the eco­nomic suc­cesses of our peo­ple when, at the same time, we have laws that de­stroy them.”

Mashaba said grow­ing up un­der then apartheid pres­i­dent PW Botha’s regime had made it im­pos­si­ble for black peo­ple to run busi­nesses, but de­spite the re­pres­sion, the hair­dress­ing in­dus­try had boomed and had been dom­i­nated by women.

The chal­lenge now, he said, was to align one­self with a po­lit­i­cal party in or­der to ac­cess busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The ANC has cre­ated the per­cep­tion that the only way peo­ple can sur­vive is if the gov­ern­ment does it for them,” he said.

“Govern­ment must cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where busi­ness can op­er­ate – an en­vi­ron­ment where busi­ness does not have to be done along racial lines. Peo­ple must get equal op­por­tu­ni­ties – that, for me, is the ideal sit­u­a­tion. “At this point in time, BBBEE is be­ing tar­geted to deal with the elite – those who are po­lit­i­cally con­nected in the ANC. My view is that it must ad­dress the in­equal­ity and deal with poor South Africans broadly – that is a key is­sue.

“And we have to ask ques­tions about how we di­ver­sify work­places.”

Maimane said the re­newed racial ten­sions which had played out on so­cial me­dia re­peat­edly this year were be­ing used by some to start a race war, which would take “some time to set­tle down”. He vowed to deal with any racism com­ing from within his party, adding that the dis­course about race was a con­cern for him and should be for all South Africans.

“I saw a bill­board of a po­lit­i­cal party say­ing the hon­ey­moon for white South Africans is over. I see other peo­ple who are prac­tis­ing hate speech.

“What I see can­not be tol­er­ated in South Africa to­day. On one level, you have white, Afrikaans South Africans say­ing we must sing Die Stem – we must con­demn that. We must equally con­demn those who are stand­ing up and say­ing ‘kill the Boer’.”

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

DA can­di­date Her­man Mashaba plans a slew of re­forms if elected

mayor of Joburg

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