by | Jul 27, 2023 | Press Release

Over the past 29 years, the ruling party put in place a web of racial requirements through, inter alia, constitutional provisions, legislation and white papers that dismally failed the intended beneficiaries.  Just like race-based empowerment and affirmative action policies failed to work in the past, it is undeniable that the enforcement of the Employment Equity Amendment Act [EEAA] will also not solve poverty and inequality – instead, it will cause more harm than good.

This piece of legislation, described by the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, as a ‘more aggressive strategy’, unashamedly imposes race quotas on businesses. No matter the circumstances or availability of qualified employees, the Minister is allowed to “set numerical targets for any national economic sector”, including “targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions within a sector” to achieve “equitable representationat “all occupational levels in the workforce”. Companies, sectors and regions will be forced to adopt and achieve the affirmative action ‘targets’ set by the Minister of Employment and Labour, who also has the prerogative to differentiate the quotas per region and profession as he deems fit.

The EEAA and regulations will drastically change the procurement rules applicable to state entities.  Businesses who fail to meet the racial targets set by the Minister, or successfully justify the grounds for failing to do so, will not be allowed to provide goods or services to any organs of state. In addition, companies who have existing contracts with state entities, run the risk of having these agreements cancelled if the racial targets are not met. In essence, this legislation will prevent businesses from participating in tender processes from the start and allow a limitless race premium over value-for-money.

Non-compliant businesses face fines of up to R1,5m, or 2% of their annual turn-over, whichever is greater, for a first ‘offence’. For a second or repeat offence, a fine of up to R2,7m, or 10% of their annual turnover, whichever is greater. These hefty fines will undoubtedly bankrupt most businesses which in turn will increase unemployment.

Sadly, this legislation will prohibit the employment of specific racial groups in certain provinces and sectors, which is expected to result in as much as 600 000 people losing their jobs simply because they reside and work in the “wrong” areas.

Racialisation of labour, procurement and government legislation has already crippled the SA economy. Therefore, any legislation or practice implying the superiority of one race over another cannot be tolerated in a country who will be celebrating 30 years of democracy next year.

As a community and citizens of this beautiful country, we need to stand together and reject the implementation of more aggressive race-based legislation, just like we did in the dark days of apartheid. Let us not forget that the government of this country has a constitutional obligation towards all its citizens to right the wrongs of the past.

More than 30 organisations and political parties have decided to unite and stand up against this new race law.

As the Executive Mayor of Saldanha Bay Municipality, I call on all residents who believe in a non-racial South Africa with fair access to jobs and opportunities to stand in solidarity and unite against this unconstitutional legislation.

Let us be reminded of the powerful words of the late President, Nelson Mandela: “As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

I thank you.