...or not

2009-10-10 12:58

I OFTEN get flustered by the things our government does and believe the ANC was great at struggle, is very good at running elections but is poor at governing. This view always carries a disclaimer, though, for I am a walking beneficiary of its ­affirmative action policies.

Without the employment equity laws put into place by the ANC I doubt I would have achieved my dreams.

Without affirmative action the corporate superstructure would not have altered the ways in which it views competence.

Through my years of covering corporate South Africa, the silver-spoon Anglo-Saxon networks have been palpable to me. While the Democratic Alliance rightly decries contemporary forms of cronyism it is often blind to the ways in which this old establishment encouraged exactly the practice the party now ­decries. Old-school ties smoothed career paths and propped up the ­ladder of guaranteed success. Competence was crudely defined as that which reflected your image and, because of this, leadership was replicated from the same race and class for generations until freedom came.

In the seven years I spent at the SABC the Afrikaans version of the practice was even more pronounced because the Broederbond identified its favoured sons (they were only men) early and propelled them fast. These networks of privilege ­required disruption.

In its choice of the Western Cape provincial cabinet, which is largely white and all male, you can see the dangers of a government that does not see the disruption of the old ­order as necessary.

James is right. We need to study the impact of affirmative action but I fear that the results may blow his argument.

The growth of a black middle-class, which bolstered growth before the recession hit, is an outcome of affirmative action that would not have happened without the political will despite the obvious merits and talents of the black individuals who are a symbol of new South African success.

My anecdotes suggest that without the ­redistributive impact of the black diamond rand the fissures of social discontent would now be burning much deeper than they are.  

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