GENDER-RESPONSIVE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT UNDER THE BROAD-BASED BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT ACT: BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES
AbstractPublic procurement is an influential lever with which to incentivise policy reform. In this light, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003 (B-BBEE Act), relies on public procurement to effect economic transformation in South Africa. Women in South Africa are generally underrepresented in economic activity and form an important class of previously disadvantaged persons at whom specific empowerment strategies should be aimed. Thus, the current analysis focuses on the empowerment of South African women using public procurement – known as Gender-responsive public procurement (GRPP) – which is embedded in the current B-BBEE framework. Given the important function GRPP serves, this analysis critically analyses the challenges and benefits which arise in the implementation of GRPP as provided for in the B-BBEE framework. The benefits discussed include: reputational benefits which perpetuate a culture of gender equality throughout various sectors at both micro and macro level, social and economic empowerment as a result of preferential procurement, and enhanced competition in the long run amongst women owned businesses. The challenges canvassed by the analysis include corruption, fronting, high institutional resource costs, biases in favour of larger businesses, empowerment over enrichment, and finally, poor data collection and a failure to include White women in the GRPP policy. The analysis furthermore, makes recommendations to alleviate the identified challenges associated with the implementation of GRPP. To combat fronting, conditions implemented at the contract phase have been suggested. As regards high institutional resource costs, biases in favour of large businesses and empowerment over enrichment, flexible and less stringent criteria for qualifying female SMEs and informal sector businesses have been proposed. Additionally, the notion of tying supplier development to procurement so as to modify the inherent incentive of preferential procurement has also been proffered. Finally, to combat poor data collection and a failure to include White women in the B-BBEE scorecard, an alternative GRPP matrix or scorecard is suggested.
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