DA will not support Verwoerdian equity quotas – Helen Zille

2013-11-14 15:51

Coercive equity quotas are a Verwoerdian wrong the DA should not and will not support, party leader Helen Zille has said.

Zille told the Cape Town Press Club this was why the DA had to reject the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.

Ultimately, the revised legislative regime would impose “rigid-racial based quotas”, she said.

“There was absolutely no excuse for the DA supporting Verwoerdian measures like that.”

Zille was trying to clear up the DA’s public policy spat on economic equality legislation, which she has termed a “plane crash” and which has pitted her against the party’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and caucus.

She steered the DA into a legislative U-turn after it voted in favour of the bills in the National Assembly and told Sapa of Mazibuko’s support for the measures: “She got it completely wrong.”

Today, Zille set out a clear position on affirmative action, saying the party, in the words of one of its billboard slogans, “supports BEE that creates jobs, not billionaires”.

Zille said this was why the party initially voted in favour of the BBBEE bill: it created incentives for employing previously disadvantaged individuals, but did not resort to coercive measures that would scare off investors.

It changed its stance and voted against it in the National Council of Provinces because, she said, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies reneged on assurances on the code of good practice attached to the bill.

One of the most objectionable provisions in the code, in her opinion, was the threshold for determining the extent to which a beneficiary could profit from share transfers.

Instead of dropping this to R10 million, as Davies had promised DA MPs, it was raised to R50 million, making it a recipe for entrenching “race-based crony enrichment”.

On the equity bill, Zille said, the DA’s true position was always abundantly clear, despite how MPs voted.

It would not support any law that sought to impose race quotas through “draconian penalties” imposed by unelected officials.

Asked whether the internal fallout had made her rethink vague plans to step down as party leader in 2015 and possibly hand the reins to Mazibuko, she answered: “As soon as somebody else can do this job better than me, I will leave and I will do something else for the cause.”

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