New Race Laws Signed

Pretoria - The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Amendment Bill has been signed into law, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) said.

Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, said the signing into law of the bill by President Jacob Zuma was a significant step towards streamlining the monitoring and evaluation of empowerment.

The bill enhances and amends the B-BBEE Act No 53 of 2003.

The amendments to the B-BBEE Act intend to achieve key strategic objectives, including aligning the B-BBEE Act with other legislation impacting on B-BBEE and with the Codes; establishing the B-BBEE Commission; providing for the regulation of the verification industry by the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors, and dealing with non-compliance and circumvention by introducing offences and penalties, said Davies on Wednesday.

Under the new bill, fronting is now a statutory offence and those who are involved in fronting and are convicted may be imprisoned for 10 years.

"We have introduced offences of the following acts of fronting, which include misrepresenting or attempting to misrepresent the B-BBEE status of an enterprise; and providing false information or misrepresenting information to the verification personnel in order to secure a particular B-BBEE status, among others.

"Any person convicted of an offence, in terms of the Act, is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or to both a fine and imprisonment," said Davies.

Another achievement of the Act is the establishment of the B-BBEE Commission, which will play a critical role in overseeing, supervising and promoting adherence with the B-BBEE Act and Codes of Good Practice, in the interest of the public.

"The B-BBEE Commission will be given the task of acting without fear or favour independently. It will also strengthen and foster collaboration between the public and private sector in order to promote and safeguard the objectives of B-BBEE," said Davies.

In December 2011, the department opened up a 60-day period for the public to comment on the bill after it was gazetted by the minister.

In October last year, the first B-BBEE Summit was hosted by government, where it took stock of the positives and challenges in the implementation of BEE since its implementation 10 years ago.