ICT lobby group challenges Vodacom’s empowerment rating
Lobby group the Progressive Blacks in ICT (PBICT) is accusing Vodacom of “manipulating the system” in attaining level one broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) contributor status.
Vodacom announced yesterday it had moved up a notch on its BBBEE rating, saying this is a result of its efforts geared towards ensuring the local economy is structured and transformed to enable the meaningful participation of the majority of South African citizens.
The PBICT rejects this, telling ITWeb in an e-mail: “Whilst many celebrate the Vodacom BBBEE level one status, we as the PBICT are disappointed at the way government and the so-called defender of the code the BBBEE Council allow big companies to buy their way into this status.”
Vodacom has dismissed the allegations.
PBICT president Leon Rolls says: “Manipulating the system and finding clever ways to hack your way to the top is not transformation. This is the message we are sending to all those big companies that have done so.
“Transformation must be taken serious and must be allowed to happen as intended to bear the fruit it was planted to produce for the hungry nation. Companies like Vodacom sit in their fancy offices and strategy planning session and decide on a formula to cheat their way up; they give their programmes fancy names like innovation trust this and that, give a few of our people R40 000-plus and suddenly just drop them.”
Rolls claims Vodacom continues to award “juicy contracts of maintenance and repairs to companies owned by those that still enjoy curtain privileges in this country because of their skin colour and better material conditions”.
He says nine provinces of the PBICT have “resolved to continue fighting against these systems and people that flaunt transformation and undermine our people. We strongly disagree with any organisation that supports the Vodacom level one status and are very disappointed at them.
“To really make an impact in this country, we call on all these companies to stop paying big monies to these consulting companies that hack the BBBEE code and come to us; we will work with you and truly transform our people the way it was intended.”
Vodacom says it earned level one BBBEE status as a result of its local subsidiaries accelerating a concerted transformation strategy, ensuring the group exceeds its financial year 2019/20 targets against all five components of the BBBEE scorecard.
Subsidiaries Vodacom SA and Nexio retained the previous year’s rating of level one, with X-Link improving from level two to level one.
Byron Kennedy, Vodacom spokesperson, responds: “Vodacom strongly rejects the allegations made by the Progressive Blacks in ICT as lacking in substance. The sustained work Vodacom undertook in order to achieve level one BBBEE status was subjected to intense audit scrutiny by a SANAS-accredited agency.”
He says, nonetheless: “We are willing to sit down with Progressive Blacks in ICT to discuss this matter further.
“As a company founded at the dawn of democracy in South Africa, Vodacom has over the years demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of achieving a substantial change in the demographics of ownership and management structures in our economy.
“Vodacom is serious about the transformation of the South African economy in order to make it inclusive of broader South African society. It is only through the sustained implementation of these beliefs that Vodacom has again achieved a level one BBBEE status.”
The BBBEE ratings are intended to stimulate the process of participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the economy to lead to increased economic growth. The higher the score, the higher the chances of a company being able to take advantage of various opportunities, including favourable tax gains.