Luminance debate and the silence over lack of transformation in retail, BUSINESS REPORT (Sunday Independent)
HE STORY in the City Press on September 7, headlined “Luminance Loan was not quite paid”, continues to perpetuate a dead story. This and other stories continue to perpetuate selective criticism of black economic empowerment (BEE) and economic transformation in general. “The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) has been paid back the remainder of the loan portion that remained unpaid after the borrower was said to have kept her payment commitments”, and the fact that the loan was not quite paid, who cares? The notion of debt restructuring is a normal business financing practice and, of course, it has nothing to do with BEE. The ensuing debate on the funding of Luminance, a retail business founded by the enterprising Khanyi Dhlomo of Ndalo Luxury Ventures, demonstrates the absence of real “headline grabbing news” and displays a lack of understanding of the core objectives of BEE and its broader scope towards total economic emancipation for the majority of black people. The contributing factor that continues to plague the narrative and philosophy behind the government's economic empowerment imperative derives from the very apologetic nature of some black people who are proponents for the negative sentiments towards the Luminance project. The starting point for the sometimes negative journey of the BEE initiative sprung from the acquisitive nature of BEE deals that sought ' to promote a narrow measures and acquisition approach to empowerment. According to most of those opposed to the Khanyi project, it was okay for the top-of-the-league stronger black boys to be funded through public sector BEE funding schemes, such as those provided by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), to acquire stakes in predominantly white owned companies, even if no single job was created in the process. Indeed there is no moral argument against such maiden BEE deals as they represent a part of the process of placing significant equity in the hands of those who were deprived of access to the sources of production and wealth creation before democracy.