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‘SA can’t continue ignoring glaring inequalities in workspaces’

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 26, 2023


The country’s top management still showed a disproportionate representation, as white people occupied 62.9 percent of all positions at this level across South Africa , an issue of concern the government said it was determined to change.

This was highlighted as the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) handed its 23rd report to Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, at the weekend.

“The report shows that top management is still occupied by whites at 62.9 percent followed by Africans at 16.9 percent.

“This is despite the fact that Africans constitute 80 percent of the national economically active population (NEAP), followed by coloureds at 9.3 percent, whites at 8 percent and lastly, Indians at 2.7 percent,” said CEE chairperson, Tabea Kabinde.

“We are disappointed and angry because of the injustices that prevail as shown by the painfully slow pace of transformation in the workplace.”

The report also showed a significant percentage of opportunities in terms of recruitment, promotions and skills development accrued to whites and Indians.

In accepting the report, Nxesi said self-regulation of employment equity targets had not moved the needle to expedite change in the workplace.

“I want to dispel false claims that South Africa stands to lose thousands of jobs from coloureds and Indians as they get dismissed to make way for employers to achieve targets. The law will not allow that to happen,” he said.

The private sector, at 73.3 percent, was the biggest employer in South Africa, followed by government at 16.3 percent. The private sector employed 5 287 019 people; national government, 358 912; provincial governments, 626 262; local government 184 518; non- profits, 213 118; educational institutions, 465 469; and state-owned enterprises, 80 662.

EFF spokesperson, Sinawo Tambo said: “As the EFF we are not surprised, as there has been no deliberate effort to transform racial economic and developmental inequity in South Africa.

Access to education remains the preserve of the rich who by no consequence are white due to the history of South Africa, and there is no deliberate effort to up-skill the black majority by the ruling party.

We need a massive redistribution of the wealth of South Africa and this requires an intentional intervention of the state.

This has to be in all sectors such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing and the retail industry.”

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron added: “The latest reports of the Commission for Employment Equity and StatsSA paint a painful picture of exclusion from the economy nearly three decades after apartheid.

Sixty-three percent of top management positions in the country are occupied by white employees; 74% by men and 1.6% by people with disabilities. The rate of unemployment among white South Africans is 9.4% compared to 47.3% for blacks.

Although the Act and regulations are not perfect, we can't continue to ignore glaring inequalities in workspaces. When we have made more progress addressing inequalities, and the shadows of apartheid finally recede, target setting will become unnecessary.”

Cosatu spokesperson, Matthew Parks, said they welcomed the amendments to the Employment Equity Act to nudge employers to ensure that over a five-year period, they “make progress towards ensuring that all employees have a fair chance at promotion and to fulfil their full potential”.

“The latest Employment Equity report showing that 29 years after the end of apartheid that whites who compromise less than 10% of the population but occupy 62% of top management should serve as a wake up call for everyone, in particular employers.

This is not sustainable.

The tragedy in Zimbabwe shows the dangers of failing to deal with society's inequalities and discrimination. The Employment Equity Amendment Act also recognises South Africa's regional demographic diversity.

Cape Times