Zille defends government figures

By Drum Digital
17 April 2013

The Western Cape has a small pool of qualified people to consider for senior management positions, regardless of race, provincial premier Helen Zille said on Wednesday.

She told reporters in Cape Town only 10 percent of the province's economically active population had a three-year-degree, one of the requirements of a senior management position.

Public service regulations required a university degree and five years of relevant management experience.

According to statistics compiled by Zille's department, six percent of whites, 2.1 percent of coloureds, 1.7 percent of blacks and 0.3 percent of Indians in the province had at least a three-year-degree.

She said these figures would be even more narrow if one included the relevant experience, which many young graduates did not have.

The racial representivity of the 75 senior managers in the 80,000 strong government workforce was therefore a moot point.

The challenge also lay in hiring professionally qualified specialists.

"These skills, and the necessary experience to work effectively at high levels of government, take years to develop. That is why the Constitution and the law make the skills pool a key criterion, and that is why employment equity plans need to focus on building the requisite skills pools."

A recent media report attacked Zille over Employment Equity (EE) figures for senior management positions that were released in Parliament.

According to a Commission of Employment Equity (CEE) annual report released in September the province was the worst EE performer.

Zille said she felt compelled to set the record straight, as Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was planning to release a new CEE report on Thursday, an event which they were not invited to.

She said the previous report had serious anomalies which she raised with Oliphant, but had not yet had a response.

"The CEE report said its figures reflected the status of EE during the period April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012. However these figures weren't available at the time the report was compiled and released."

Provincial governments were only due to submit those figures in October 2012. The other problem she had was that calculations included both provincial and local government data across the province.

"This resulted in a completely flawed and inaccurate picture emerging that alleged we were not meeting our targets, when in fact 77 percent of our 50,521 senior employees fell within the designated 'black group'," she said.

Zille said it was crucial the national labour department and CEE moved away from "unconstitutional racial head quotas" and advocated affirmative action policies prescribed by the Constitution, the EE Act and the National Development Plan.

"Crucially, national government needs to start focusing on interventions that exponentially increase the pool of qualified candidates in our country."


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