New Employment Equity Bill would require large-scale relocations across SA
13 April 2021
On Tuesday, 13 April 2021, Sakeliga made verbal submissions to the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour on the proposed Employment Equity Amendment Bill. The bill empowers the Minister of Labour to prescribe racial demographic employment targets for individual companies to implement at every workplace and at every occupational level, under threat of fines and denial of compliance certificates.
Sakeliga Chief Executive, Piet le Roux, presented three underlying problems with the bill, namely the timing of its introduction; the implications of its vision; and that racial classification is something South Africa ought to be moving away from, not doubling down on.
Fundamentally, Le Roux argued, success for the bill would mean failure for society as a place of human flourishing. “The bill envisions a future where every organisation, at each of its workplaces, at every occupation level, and in all its teams, reflect the racial demographics of the country, the province or the sector, whichever the Minister picks. Any deviation from this standard is considered by the bill to be an affront and subject to remedy by the state, under penalty of fines or worse.”
“The problem with this vision is that it can only be achieved by limiting employment opportunities for some people in those areas where they are ‘over-represented’ and requiring them by whatever direct or indirect means to seek employment in other parts of the country where that racial category is ‘under-represented’. This would constitute a new kind of migrant labour system, with detrimental effect on the stability and vitality of concrete communities in all racial groups from which its members would have to emigrate to suit the bill’s vision. We are speaking about millions of people from all race groups having to relocate if ever the bill is to achieve what it seeks. Fortunately, such sweeping visions are not easily realised, but this does not detract from the underlying harm of the bill in so far as it implemented.”