More than two decades ago the South African government put in place a policy designed to redress racial imbalances called black economic empowerment. It was repurposed by individuals and factions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for self-enrichment.
The original intention of black economic empowerment was to erase systemic racist inequities that had built up over centuries. It included employment equity, skills development and preferential procurement. Another aspect was enterprise development, in terms of ownership and management representation. The policy was meant to address issues that affected most black people - unemployment, economic stagnation and poverty.
But it has benefited a small elite. Black economic empowerment policy has been the ANC's cadre-based deployment policy. This involves the government appointing members of the governing party to government positions irrespective of their competence. This has led to the creation of vast patronage networks within the ANC. Black economic empowerment has become a disguise which has been repeatedly used to hoodwink the public. It is being used to enrich a few people while masquerading as a vehicle for mass empowerment. The vast majority of South Africans of all races are excluded from the benefits as corruption has taken hold.
The criminal justice system in capitalist states demonises the poor to deflect the crimes of the rich. In South Africa, the justice system is much more focused on crimes generally committed by poor people than on the crimes largely committed by the affluent and the politically connected. Crimes committed by the state and crimes committed by the rich and powerful are rarely prosecuted.
During the COVID pandemic. In particular, the supply and distribution of the vaccine and personal protective equipment were enacted within the framework of the policy. Contracts were awarded solely on the criterion of being aligned to the ANC. Merit or even qualified merit didn't matter.