Could the Beauty Industry in SA become a thing of the past?

In my Professional Opinion

By Dr Ivor Blumenthal

South Africa is one of the most bureaucratic countries in the world, if not number one. We have laws and rules and processes coming out of our ears and one has to ask how many jobs have been lost due to the fact that the largest Industry in this country, has to be that of Professional Beauracrats who make it their business to interfere in how businesses and entire Industries operate. The great pity is that while most of these otherwise unemployable misfits who are continuously inventing new ways of operating and doing business and in the process are making it impossible for the small business person to keep their heads above water, sit in Government Departments in sheltered employment, there are many creeping into the Private Sector, where they simply do not belong. One always has to bear-in-mind that a Statutory Body does not operate with a democratic mandate. It operates under a Minister who, as we as South Africans are well aware, don’t generally give a damn about what the man in the street or the woman in the Beauty Salon thinks. Democracy is simply incidental to bureaucratic.  Ask Malusi Gigaba who single-handedly is trying to eviscerate the Travel Sector in South Africa.

Historically, the Beauty Sector has always been a sector of Small Business practitioners. As a sector, it has spanned a wide variety of Industries including Nails, Makeup, Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology. Its purpose has always been to make customers feel great about themselves and to be pampered.

Then the Allied Health Professions Council got greedy. Ostensibly under the guise of wanting to “Protect” the public, it established a “Nanny State” in this sector drawing a line between “Therapeutic Practices” and the other stuff that was not worth considering. That was ok. That gave the SME Nail Bar and Beauty Practice the leeway to continue doing what they were doing, obviously thereby satisfying an immense need in civil society, judging from the number of customers who continue to support these businesses.

However, in the last year, this game has become particularly insidious. It seems that establishing registers of Therapeutic Practitioners in Massage, Aromatherapy, and Reflexology has not been sufficient for the Allied Health Professions Council. Apparently, fewer and fewer people have been applying to the organisation for registration, choosing instead to align themselves and their businesses with the non-therapeutic practices designed to pamper rather than “treat”. It appears as well that the Allied Health Professions Council are not operating alone. They seem content to be led by their real puppet masters. A handful of practitioners in each of these Industries who have decided to create monopolies for themselves by edging the thousands of legitimate SME Practitioners out of the market. They do this by teaming up with the AHPC, writing rules and regulations which simply make it impossible for anyone except themselves to remain operational and sustainable. The reality is that those in Government are either too naïve or simply are sufficiently incompetent not to realise that they are being manipulated and thereby becoming complicit in creating statutory monopolies which threaten to eradicate thousands of businesses and tens-of-thousands of jobs from the South African economy.

I had a very good interview with Sandy Fuhr, one of the more prominent non-therapeutic Training and Salon operators in this country who also happens to be at the helm of representing the Sector in the face of this state-sponsored adversity. (She also happens to be married to the CEO of one of the most successful private chains of Beauty Salons, Sorbet). You can listen to the interview here: https://soundcloud.com/conbussa/sandy-fuhrroy-on-why-the-beauty-industry-could-be-shut-down-by-government?in=conbussa/sets/contemporary-business-misc

I have also had sight of some pretty scary letters written by the Allied Health Professions Council both to Training Providers and also to current practitioners who are not on their registers. Some of these threats can be found on the Facebook Page: “SOBS-Save our Beauty Sector”. What a Mafia! Absolutely unconstrained, and undemocratic they browbeat and threaten to economically murder any SME standing in their way. Remember that this Statutory Body reports directly to the Minister of Health. So, is it reasonable to suppose that it is now officially ANC/SACP/Cosatu policy that the SME Sector of Nails, Makeup, Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Beauty in-general is to be sacrificed to the bureaucratic intervention of policy and policing? Our Government seems intent thereby in destroying another Economic Cluster and losing tens of thousands of jobs in the process.

Surely the questions, which are begging, are: Where is the Competitions Commission in this fiasco being created within the Beauty Sector? Why are they silent and not responding to the cries from current SME Practitioners? Has the Ministry of Health warned them off investigating these injustices? Where is the new Small Business Minister? Why is she of all people disinterested in what is happening to thousands of Small Businesses and the jobs in those businesses in the `Beauty Sector or is she in bed with the Minister of Health on this issue?

It seems to me that if the travails of the Temporary Employment Sector are anything to go by, we will eventually discover that what is really going on here, is that Government institutions and Statutory Bodies are being used and manipulated by a handful of greedy people with very close insidious connections to Government Ministers, DG’s and Senior Officials, to free up this entire sector for themselves. If we look closely enough and that surely will be the task of the Competitions Commission and possibly also the Public Protector, we will discover that the ANC/SACP/Cosatu Alliance are getting into the Beauty Sector business and clearing the boards of current practitioners for the purpose, under the malicious banner of BBBEE.

The question is what the woman in the street is going to do about this situation? Will she believe the rubbish coming out of the Ministry of Health and that mass of unemployable bureaucrats who are associated with that Ministry, who have set themselves up as the self-appointed guardian angels of the health interests of the people. Or will she continue to support the operator in her neighborhood who continues to provide the excellent and safe services she has always been provided with?

Does Government have the right now to even dictate how and who should do your pampering?