Chinese status

2008-06-26 00:00

The Pretoria High Court last week declared that South Africans of Chinese descent should be considered as black in terms of economic empowerment legislation. This ruling was based on the claim that this group was discriminated against under apartheid.

In reaction to this ruling the Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, has made generalised and racist comments such as that Chinese employers cannot speak English, and treat their employees shamefully. The minister should choose his words more carefully. In such language lie the seeds of xenophobia. Chinese South Africans first came to this country as indentured labourers on the mines. Others, more recently, have followed out of business interests. All have standards and laws to uphold, as with any other citizen. Those who have suffered from legalised racial discrimination in the past deserve a better chance now.

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