NB. Since I wrote this piece, the dti has announced that it will be naming recipients of all incentives in 2016/2017, in a new report. I salute their change of heart.
This was the piece I wrote earlier this week…..
One shining beacon in any democracy is the flow of information to the people. Control of that flow is known as propaganda.
So I was quite frankly astounded by the grumpiness and defensiveness today of Trade and Industry (dti) Minister Rob Davies when he was asked for details of the black industrialists who have been receiving billions in funds under his department’s flagship programme, which is being run in alliance with a number of development funding institutions like the IDC.
He told us that so far 46 black industrialists have received support, and he announced that four of these were being showcased.
However, my colleague Terence Creamer from Engineering News and I asked for the full list. We were told it is not normal practice for recipients of incentives to all be named, even though Terence was able to detail past instances when such information had been sought and produced.
At one stage dti director general Lionel October said he would provide the information to Engineering News, and to other journalists, but there was a reluctance to go wider.
The Minister eventually agreed to consult the recipients of awards to see if they minded their names being published. Yep. You read it correctly. It is their call.
It turned vile when Minister Davies in effect accused me of racism, for seeking details of benefits to black industrialists. He equated me to people who call blacks monkeys and baboons. Incredible.
And Lionel chipped in to suggest this was white prejudice.
Now, Davies said in his budget speech: “I am happy to report that as of now we have approved 46 projects run by black industrialists, with Government agencies – including the dti, IDC, PIC and NEF deploying over R2 billion in financial support on top of R122m in grants from the dti.”
Over R2bn of public money deployed. And yet it is racist to ask for full details of the recipients?
We are living in a country where corruption is rife, where there are daily allegations that a powerful group of businessmen linked to President Zuma are coining it.
I am not saying that one cent of public money from the dti’s black industrialist programme is falling into the wrong hands.
But unless there is full disclosure, what else are we supposed to think?
What on earth could they be trying to hide?
Tweet of the Day
the dti (@the_dti): DG October says Black Industrialists Programme is going well and producing the desired effect
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