A recent proclamation from the Presidency reveals that the provisions of the Employment Equity Amendment Act are set to come into operation as of 1 August this year.
This announcement is completely premature. Indeed, the Department pronounced that it was considering the withdrawal of the draft regulations, which were gazetted following the signing into law of the amendment bill, due to substantial opposition received from public submissions.
Given this announcement, it is surprising that the Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, would rush the implementation of the Act without further public consultation and finalisation of the Act’s regulations.
The DA will therefore urgently write to the Minister to request clarity on the status of these draft regulations, and whether she has not properly applied her mind to all submissions – including those from the DA and the Western Cape Provincial Government.
We will accordingly urge her to revoke this proclamation and delay the enforcement of the Act until such stage as this clarity is provided and a full and detailed response to the public submissions are provided for.
The DA has gly objected to the existing incarnation of the draft regulations, which if implemented, would have a devastating effect on employment in provinces where provincial demographics differ substantially from national figures.
The consequence of imposing national demographics in setting equity targets would mean that in Kwa-Zulu Natal, with an Indian population of 7%, only 2.5% of the top three levels of any enterprise in that province could be occupied by Indians.
In the Western and Northern Cape, where the Coloured community constitutes 49% and 40% of the population respectively, Coloured people could only occupy 9% of professional and senior staff levels in any enterprise.
A legal opinion acquired by the DA-led government in the Western Cape confirms that the regulations unfairly discriminate against Coloured and Indian South Africans, denying these groups of their right to equality and participation with the economy and are indeed unconstitutional.
Further compounding the problem, the Act grants extensive regulatory powers on the Minister to implement regulations which have far-reaching consequences for the Act’s implementation – allowing for law-making through regulation and severely limiting Parliament’s oversight function.
The implementation of the Act without the finalisation of its regulations thus only serves to increase regulatory uncertainty concerning the aancement of employees for businesses across all sectors of the economy.
Instead of fostering a stable business environment which inspires investor confidence, and thereby creating jobs, the Minister seems intent on doing the exact opposite.
With an unemployment rate growing by the quarter, this cannot be accepted.
The DA supports measures to promote diversity in the workplace, but opposes the drive to enforce strict demographic representivity in employment outcomes..
To promote diversity within the workplace, the DA would
Support a balanced, qualitative process to promote diversity which can include racial preference, but excludes racial quotas
Support dedicated efforts to invest in the long-term potential of staff and to promote diversity through training and mentoring and
Support an incentive-based system of positive incentives to aance workplace diversity, rather than punitive measures to impose racial representivity.
These are the solutions that South Africa needs in order to build an inclusive economy where all South Africans can prosper.
Ian Ollis, Shadow Minister of Labour
Source : Democratic Alliance