Is the Employment Equity Act a mirror of the apartheid era Job Reservation Act?

2014-03-29 22:24

Let me unashamedly confess at the very beginning. I am writing as a SAfrindian. I express my concerns ahead of May 7 elections as such.

On 28 February 2014 whilst we were distracted by the Oscar Pistorius Trial to come, labour minister Mildred Oliphant quietly published draft regulations made in terms of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) for public comment.

#Did you get to read it? I almost did not as I sought to evade the OP tsunami and the sensation seeking media hoping to cash in by boosting their circulation deliriously ignored this.

The proposed amendment to the regulations remind me of the apartheid era Job Reservation Act and the discriminatory fallout that attended its tenure. If allowed onto our statute books it will consign my children and grandchildren, those born frees, to an apartheid era type of existence.

Here is a gist of how it affects SAfrIndians for instance.

If you are a SAfrindian or a South African of Indian extraction, as I am, you should be very concerned about this.Incidently it equally applies to you if you are a so called 'coloured' South African.

It means that you will not,most likely,succeed to a high management position no matter skilled or proficient you are.

The Employment Equity Act started on a very good premise. The premise was that for years under apartheid, certain categories of people had been unfairly discriminated against. It proposed corrective action to correct imbalances brought about by that discrimination. I lived through that era and was relieved when Nelson Mandela declared "Never,never and never again......".

I believe that it eradicated any disgusting discrimination based on race and gender.

No matter by whatever derogatory label the apartheid era NATS used against you, the EEA considered you equally discriminated against and an equal candidate for affirmative action.

If the draft regulations are promulgated into law we're back to the Job Reservation Act style of existence because 20 years into democracy, Minister Oliphant seeks to undo the Mandela ethos.

In terms of these draft regulations, there are now different shades of blackness. And if you happen to be “Indian” or “coloured”, in most cases you are worse off than if you are “white”.

What? Lets briefly unpack these draft regulations.

# they link the concept of affirmative action to demographics. This then means that they tie the concept of whether you qualify for affirmative action to how many people in your category are represented as a percentage of the population in say KwaZulu-Natal or Western Cape.

In other words, if you are a “coloured” person in the Western Cape where your category represents almost half the population, there should be a greater representation of your kind than in Limpopo province. If you are an “Indian” person in the Western Cape, you should have fewer positions available to you than in KwaZulu-Natal.

Note that the regulations lump “Indians” and “coloureds” into specific categories, but “Africans” are taken as a whole. In other words, you can be a Venda person in the Eastern Cape, which is overwhelmingly populated by Xhosas, but you get the benefit of being treated as a Xhosa.

If it becomes law,what do I tell my born free children? That I sat back or buried my head in the sand like an ostrich and did nothing? I know what I am going to do comes Election Day on May 7,2014 and I know what I am going to ask when political campaigners and vote gatherers come knocking on my door.

So what can you do? Don't underestimate the power of your voice and,yes, your vote.

Take up the fight in your own interest and future.When government loses a case in our courts, as it did when Solidarity successfully challenged government employment equity plan last year, it amends the law just like the NATS used to do.

That notice dated 28 February 2014 calls for written comments on the draft Regulations to be submitted within 30 days of publication of the notice in the Gazette to the following address:

By post:

Department of Labour Employment Equity Directorate Attention: Ms Kholeka Mputa Private Bag X 117 Pretoria 0001

By e-mail: kholeka.mputa @labour.gov.za genius.nkosi@labourgov.za niresh.singh@labourgov.za

We must strive to protect our constitutional democracy with our voices and our power to become active citizens.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

30.3.2014

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