President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Broad-Based Black Economic-Empowerment (BBBEE) Amendment Bill of 2013, which Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies says will streamline the monitoring and evaluation of empowerment and “significantly” enhance the objectives of the BBBEE Act, No 53 of 2003.
“The amendments to the BBBEE Act intend to achieve key strategic objectives, including aligning the BBBEE Act with other legislation impacting on BBBEE and its Codes of Good Practice, establishing a BBBEE Commission and providing for the regulation of the verification industry by the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors.
“The amendments will also deal with noncompliance and circumvention by, inter alia, introducing offences and penalties,” he commented.
Davies added that fronting, as defined in the Act, was now a statutory offence and those who were involved in and convicted of fronting may be imprisoned for ten years.
“We have introduced offences for acts of fronting which include misrepresentation, or attempting to misrepresent the BBBEE status of an enterprise, as well as providing false information or misrepresenting information to the verification personnel to secure a particular BBBEE status.
“Any person convicted of an offence, in terms of the Act, is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, or to both a fine and imprisonment,” he said.
The Act would further legislate for the establishment of the BBBEE Commission, which Davies said would play a critical role in overseeing, supervising and promoting adherence to the Act and Codes of Good Practice.
“The commission will be given the task of acting independently, without fear or favour. It will also strengthen and foster collaboration between the public and private sector to promote and safeguard the objectives of BBBEE. Over and above this, the commission will ensure that BEE activities in the country are aligned,” he noted.
Responding to the announcement, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry chairperson Joanmarie Fubbs said the committee welcomed the amendments to the Act, stating that the amended legislation would significantly transform the economy and enable a more inclusive society.
“These new pieces of legislation are expected to enhance broader economic participation and to support and protect vulnerable parts of our society,” she commented.
The Act has been published in the Government Gazette No 37271 of January 27, 2014.