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Secret influence in BEE deals - report

Dec 19 2012 14:38 Sapa

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Johannesburg -  Certain people are non-negotiable when it comes to choosing beneficiaries in black economic empowerment (BEE) deals, such as that of Gold Fields in 2010.

"Core people are put forward, by government and by Luthuli House (ANC headquarters) and you are told that whoever else you want to include in the train is fine," a former business executive, who was not named, was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Business Day.

"But certain people are non-negotiable. That is why all these deals come back to the politically-connected."

While no one in business had yet been bold or ethical enough to disclose the mechanisms of such deals, participants in several deals said individuals were put forward by those with senior positions in the government and the ANC.

The report carried Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] CEO Nick Holland's explanation of how it concluded its empowerment deal.

He told Business Day that after the MK Veterans' Association had given him a list of recommended beneficiaries, he considered ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete "non-negotiable" because of the role she played in the welfare of veterans.

Others the transformation committee of Gold Fields regarded as "non-negotiable" were the wife of slain SA Communist Party general secretary Chris Hani, Limpho Hani, and fellow widow of a former MK member, Thandi Shongwe.

In the end a R2.1bn deal was concluded with three components - an employee share ownership scheme, the Invictus Consortium, and the South Deep Community Trust. The consortium was made up of several companies.

The 73 people in the consortium could expect an income of no more than R80 000 a year.

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