INYATHELO: the South African Institute for Advancement, welcomed the decision by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to withdraw its proposed changes to the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) codes dealing with socio-economic development.
Under the revised codes, businesses would only have received their full points towards their BEE scorecards if their money went to charities with 100 per cent black beneficiaries.
Inyathelo executive director, Shelagh Gastrow, said she is thankful that government has listened to civil society and responded positively to their concerns.
"We explained that the proposed changes would have a devastating impact on the non-profit sector that provides nearly 70 per cent of all welfare services in South Africa.
"We also pointed out that the amendments would provide a perverse incentive to turn away needy people who are not black or who were refugees in order for charities to secure much needed funds," explained Gastrow.
Thora Mansfield from the Open Door Crisis Care Centre said: "It would have had to be the most ridiculous thing that the government has thought up, and discrimination in reverse.
"Can you imagine a person phoning in and us having to ask are you black, white, coloured or Indian.
"Sorry you are white — no we can't help you. Considering it is NGO's that are keeping our social services alive and that 95 per cent of our work is in the rural areas, for which we get no support, I am glad that sanity has prevailed, otherwise we would have seen many NGO's closing to the detriment of the people that we most want to serve."
DTI confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that they were withdrawing the proposed changes even before the public consultation period closes on Wednesday, 5 December.
Inyathelo programme director, Gabrielle Ritchie, said despite the U-turn, companies will still have to do a racial audit of beneficiaries if they want to claim full BEE points.
"Under the current code, companies can only qualify for full BEE points if they give to charities where 75 per cent of beneficiaries are black.
"So, while we are relieved that this has not been increased to 100 per cent, we do believe that no organisation should be made to ask a vulnerable child what colour they are before offering help.
"Likewise, organisations like LifeLine should not have to enquire about the race of a distressed caller before giving advice. You simply can't discriminate on the basis of colour when it comes to need," insisted Ritchie.