Disastrous Employment Equity Amendment Bill needs comprehensive socio-economic impact assessment
8 July 2021
Yesterday, the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour met to finalise the Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Bill. The Bill, in its current form, will deal a hammer blow to the South African economy, which has already been knocked badly out of shape by ruinous ANC policies, Covid-19, and the associated lockdowns.
For this reason, the DA is calling for a comprehensive socio-economic impact assessment to be done on the Bill before it goes any further in the legislative process.
The Bill empowers the Minster of Employment and Labour to set numerical EE targets for any national economic sector after consultation with the Employment Equity Commission and “relevant stakeholders”. In future, state contracts may only be issued to employers that have been certified – by the Minister – as being in compliance with their obligations under the Act. These obligations include compliance with ministerially-determined sectoral targets.
These new powers confer upon the Minister a degree of coercive control that is completely incompatible with the principles of a market-based economy.
When the principal legislation was passed in 1998, then DA leader Tony Leon referred to the Employment Equity Act as a “pernicious piece of social engineering”. The amendment bill is social engineering on steroids. In its ideologically-blinkered and unconstitutional pursuit of “demographic representivity” – the idea that the workforce should mirror exactly the racial and gender composition of the population – the ANC is giving far too much power to the Minister. It is also engaging in the dogmatic and destructive practice of racial bean-counting.
The sectoral numerical targets imposed by ministerial command, with punitive consequences for non-compliance, are quotas in all but name.
The socio-economic impact assessment report that accompanied the Bill, and which was signed off in 2019, is superficial, inadequate and out-of-date. Since the report was filed, South Africa has descended deeper into junk territory with downgrades by international ratings agencies. The economy has shrunk, unemployment has skyrocketed and social cohesion has frayed. The Employment Equity Amendment Bill is going to make things a whole lot worse.
The DA therefore calls for a comprehensive, up-to-date socio-economic impact assessment to be conducted on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill.
Issued by Michael Cardo, DA Shadow Minister of Employment and Labour, 8 July 2021