Prior to reading this post, please bear in mind that I am a proponent for Affirmative Action and/or Black empowerment of any kind. I argue in favour of this not because that non-blacks be denied opportunities in this country. I do so because I am of a firm believe that structural damages caused by the legacy of apartheid needs to be repaired.
It seems that my fellow citizens of a lighter skin tone are antagonist to anything that seek to advance the black race economically. I acknowledge the fact that we are living in the new democratic dispensation and as such every citizen must be afforded equal opportunities in order to live a better life as promised by the ruling ANC. However, it worries me that whenever a big corporate announces a job vacancy with a clause that those who will be considered are people from designated groups; there becomes a furore threatening boycotts against the company involved.
It should be unreservedly acknowledged that the apartheid history left an indelible mark to those who were considered sub-human during those dark days. A beautiful country such as South Africa, today faces challenges of many kinds. We are at the bottom of the foot chain in terms of quality of education in the world, people continue to perish as a result of communicable diseases and spatial developments in our communities leaves much to be desired. These challenges still prevails largely because of the disadvantage that the descendant of those suffered the injustices of the past bears.
For a corporate company like The South African Airways and Woolworths to adopt the Employment Equity policies is a gesture of attempting to address the inequities of the past. Such interventions are implemented not to disadvantage the minorities in this country, but to correct the wrongs of history and put every citizen on an even playing ground. I mentioned two companies in particular, because, certain group of people threatened them not to buy at Woolworths nor fly SAA after they have publicly announced that the vacant posts are reserved for targeted groups.
It is to err to think any company that introduces Employment Equity plans discriminates against white people. It should be further understood that Employment Equity plans seek to address the shortage of designated groups in certain categories of employment, and to address these, a pool of applicants (largely black) is targeted.
It is the imperative of the constitution to fix our society so as to achieve the ideals of equal opportunities for all, that the opposing Democratic Alliance envisage. In actual fact, Affirmative Action is enshrined in our constitution as per section 9 (2). Therefore, it is fitting to assume that policies such as Employment Equity are necessary to fix the system; it does not fix itself.
My dear reader, walk with me down the memory lane as I remind you that Employment Equity policies are necessitated by some of the policies implemented during the scavenger-era of apartheid. Job Reservation Act, which prohibited black people from getting certification for their skills and trade is a case in point.
Lesson to be derived:
If there is a lesson to be derived in the history of apartheid and the prevailing state of affairs is that whatever decision you take, whatever choice your make, these might have a profound adverse impact on your descendant.
It is therefore unwarranted for the solidarity groups to oppose employment equity and to declare boycotts against those companies implementing Affirmative Action.