Helen Zille denounces ‘absurd’ Employment Equity regulations

2014-04-02 17:14

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The Western Cape government will oppose the imposition of proposed regulations for the amended Employment Equity Act, premier Helen Zille has said.

Addressing provincial employees in a corporate communication newsletter today, Zille said she had requested legal opinion on the regulations.

“I am now able to inform you that he [senior counsel] considers both the regulations and sections of the principal act to be unconstitutional.”

She said she had submitted her comments to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, making it clear the province was committed to “rational” employment equity for all those disadvantaged by apartheid.

“But [we] will not introduce quotas, nor accept the absurd and unconstitutional regulations as currently promulgated,” she said.

“We will also oppose the imposition of these regulations, and the relevant clauses in the principal act, right to the level of the Constitutional Court if necessary. The full provincial Cabinet supports me in this.”

In February, the labour department published the employment equity regulations for public comment.

At the time, the department said the regulations provided practical guidelines on how to implement employment equity law in the workplace.

“Key issues highlighted by the regulations were the revised definition of designated groups, criteria and methodology for assessing work of equal value, guidelines for assessing compliance, and enforcement mechanisms,” the department stated.

Zille said the department’s approach amounted to “race-based social engineering” and would entrench racial divisions rather than help overcome apartheid’s legacy.

The province’s top three levels of management and professionals would have a limit of 9% of coloured people, even where they comprised almost 50% of people in the province, she said.

“This would mean we are not able to promote or appoint people in this ‘racial category’ to senior management positions for at least 15 years.”

Zille said the national department would be able to audit their appointments and impose penalties for non-compliance.

Her newsletter was aimed at reassuring her staff.

“There is no need for anxiety on the part of our colleagues because we will not allow a situation to develop where ‘demography becomes destiny’ for any individual.”

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