Zille warns on equity regulations

2014-03-24 17:10
DA leader Helen Zille (Marco Longari, AFP)

DA leader Helen Zille (Marco Longari, AFP)

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Cape Town - New employment equity regulations will, if implemented, have a "profound" impact on jobs in the Western Cape, Premier Helen Zille warned on Monday.

Tabling a R1.02bn budget for her department of the premier in the provincial legislature, she told members the region's demographics were "very different from the national figures".

The province was seeking legal opinion on whether certain sections of the Employment Equity Act and the draft regulations were lawful and constitutional.

"Speaker, as we should all be aware, [Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant] introduced draft regulations for the amended Employment Equity Act, which have raised serious concerns for us as the Western Cape government.

"The regulations specify how an employer's compliance with employment equity should be determined. If these draft regulations are implemented as they currently stand, they would have a profound impact on employment in the Western Cape..."

Once the legal opinion was received the province would announce further steps it planned to take.

"It goes without saying that we are committed to achieving equitable representation in the Western Cape government, and indeed are doing so in large part."

Last month, the labour department published the employment equity regulations for public comment.

Oppositions parties have spoken out against them, saying they will, if implemented, exclude minority groups from jobs.

‘Verwoerdian-style population control’

Earlier this month, DA MP Kenneth Mubu described the new regulations as "draconian", and an "attempt to bring back Verwoerdian-style population control".

They would also have a "devastating" effect on job creation.

"Companies that employ more than 150 people will have to use the 'national economically active population' demographics for three upper levels [top and senior management and professionally qualified], and an average of national and regional demographic for the three lower levels [skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled technical] as a guide when determining targets," he said at the time.”

The Freedom Front Plus, the Congress of the People, and the IFP have all expressed concern about the constitutionality of the regulations.

According to Mubu, the regulations will "have a major impact on employment in provinces like the Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where the provincial demographics are very different from the national demographics".

He said members of minority population groups - such as the coloured and Indian communities - would be denied employment and promotion, and "might even face retrenchment simply to meet these skewed and arbitrary quotas".

On her department's 2014/15 budget, Zille on Monday said this had increased by almost 14% over the previous year.

"The department's budget for the 2014/15 financial year is R1 027 754 000 - which is a 13.8% increase compared to the 2013/14 adjusted budget."

The increase would support "a much-needed capacity boost" to meet the expanded demand on the department's services.

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