Cape’s prison staff reject quotas

2012-02-11 20:00

The Western Cape department of correctional services refuses to promote its coloured employees because it is being pushed by national officials to get more black employees.

The national department’s equity plan says 79.3% of employees must be black African, 9.3% must be whites, 8.8% must be coloured and 2.5% must be Indian.

But in the Western Cape – the province which government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi once famously announced had “too many coloureds” – coloured people make up 40% of the department’s staff complement.

Senior officials in the provincial department say this means that there are simply too many coloured employees working at Western Cape prisons.

Although the estimated 3 500 coloured employees will not lose their jobs, several officials and staff have complained that opportunities for promotion are almost non-existent.

ANC leaders in the province – notably ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman and the party’s Cape Town leader, Tony Ehrenreich – told City Press they were in favour of using provincial demographics when it came to employment equity in the province.

Said Ehrenreich: “I don’t understand how you cannot see that in the Cape things are different from the rest of the country. And the law makes provisions for provincial demographics for that reason.”

But the department insists it will not deviate from national demographics.

Said departmental spokesperson Phumlani Ximiya: “The department of correctional services is a national department and has national competency – hence it has one national employment equity plan. As a designated employer, the department is expected to prepare and submit one annual employment equity report to the department of labour.”

According to numerical tables in possession of City Press, the department would need to appoint 1 813 African males in the Western Cape to meet the prescribed equity target.

Senior officials in the department claim the decision to employ national demographics in the Western Cape has crippled prison services and destroyed morale.

One departmental veteran said: “We are fighting this fight because we want the department to be a place where our children can find employment. We know our time is over, but we are doing this for the future generation.”

Prisons commissioner Tom Moyane is putting pressure on officials in the Western Cape to get their house in order by next month in terms of employment equity.
Correctional services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in her 2011 budget speech the department would fill all vacant positions by March 2012, but the Western Cape is lagging behind.

“I am instructing you to put measures in place to ensure posts are filled,” Moyane told Western Cape regional commissioner James Smallberger in a letter dated June 2011.

The employment equity system is, however, abused by some department employees, sources say.

Said a senior department official: “Black employees know they can get promotion easily because there is such a shortage in the Western Cape. So they apply to come here, get the promotion and then leave after a few months because they can’t adapt. They miss home.”

City Press is in possession of a list of 16 officials from junior and senior management who were transferred to a Western Cape prison, but returned to their original office elsewhere in the country soon afterwards.

Ximiya said: “Movement of officials within the department is a normal occurrence, and it is also a management
and administrative function.”

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