The DA's policy on race - Helen Zille

Leader says her party believes race matters for redress, and supports black advancement, B-BBEE and EE/AA

A Policy Offer to Redress the Legacy of Apartheid

Note to Editors: This is a statement made by DA Leader Helen Zille at a press conference held in Cape Town today. The answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found here. The DA's Greenpaper on Economic Inclusion can be found here. The DA's Policy for Change can be found here.

The DA Federal Council met this weekend to reach agreement on the DA's policy offer for the 2014 election.

Over the course of the conference, we finalised a range of policies that, taken together, will grow the economy and create jobs on an unprecedented scale. Job-creating economic growth is the best way to redress the poverty and inequality that Apartheid created.

Apartheid was an unjust system that institutionalised racial inequality by denying black South Africans the chance to fulfill their true potential. That is why, just as the DA's predecessors opposed Apartheid in the past, we are committed to redressing Apartheid's legacy of racial inequality today.

There was much discussion over the form and substance that the DA's policy on redress should take. It was agreed that the key questions we need to answer are:

  • Does the DA believe that race matters for redress?
  • Does the DA support black advancement?
  • Does the DA support Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment?
  • Does the DA support Employment Equity/Affirmative Action?

We agreed that the answer to all these questions is an unequivocal "Yes". 

But this does not mean that we support the ANC's approach to redress. Our challenge is to strike the balance between the need for race-based redress and our commitment to non-racialism.

This challenge was recognised back in 1995 when the Democratic Party (DP) considered its position on affirmative action. The policy document that emerged, entitled "Agenda for a Better Country", made clear the need for race-based redress:

"The DP believes that individuals should have the right to redress for past discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender or disability and that formal equality be entrenched through the Bill of Rights, an Equal Opportunities Act and the courts."

The fundamental principles underpinning our Economic Inclusion policy are as follows:

  • We support the need to redress the legacy of apartheid. 
  • We specifically support race-based redress to overcome centuries of racial discrimination.
  • We believe that race and disadvantage are not the same. But we believe that a significant correlation between race and disadvantage remains today.
  • We reject racial quotas in favour of programmes that actively promote black advancement by extending opportunity.
  • We do not believe that the state has a right to classify people according to their race. We believe that individuals have the right to self-identification.
  • We support incentives for firms to implement programmes of black advancement rather than punitive measures that hamper growth and jobs.

We regard redress programmes as a transitional measure that must be subject to regular review. This is to evaluate their ongoing effectiveness and to ensure that the measures of disadvantage used are still valid and optimal.

The success or failure of a redress programme will be measured by the opportunities that have been created for black advancement, such as equality of education, improved literacy and numeracy, decreased inequality, poverty reduction and youth employment.

The following table sets out the similarities and differences between the ANC and the DA's approach to redress: 



Redress for Apartheid

Redress for Apartheid

Racial self-identification

Racial self-identification

Race determines destiny

Race still matters for redress

Perpetuates racial categories

Transcends racial categories over time



Manipulation of outcomes

Broadening of opportunity

Advancement depends on connections

Link between effort and reward

Encourages corruption

Minimises corruption

Discourages entrepreneurship

Encourages entrepreneurship

Punitive measures

Positive incentives

Not concerned with growth and jobs

Prioritises growth and jobs

Disregards skills shortages

Recognises skills shortages

Promotes narrow based BEE

Promotes Broad-based BEE

Encourages fronting

Encourages real empowerment

Undermines NDP

Promotes NDP

Success measured by ‘representivity'

Success measured by opportunities for black advancement

With regards to Employment Equity specifically, the DA:   

  • Supports a balanced, qualitative process to promote diversity which may include racial preference, but excludes racial quotas;
  • Promotes investment in the long-term potential of staff and to promote diversity through training and mentoring; and
  • Proposes an incentive-based system of encouraging appropriate corrective action measures, rather than punitive measures to impose racial ‘representivity' (otherwise known as ‘quotas').

With regards to Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, the DA: 

  • Supports empowerment that broadens opportunities for disadvantaged South Africans, the majority of whom are black; and
  • Rejects empowerment policies that seek to empower a narrow politically-connected elite.

Our proposed scorecard shows how a DA government would implement broad-based BEE to create jobs, improve education and reduce poverty and inequality:

ANC scorecard


DA scorecard






Management control


Workplace inclusion


Skills development


Skills development


Supplier development


Preferential procurement


Socio-economic development


Enterprise development




Socio-economic development










Our scorecard would prioritise job creation and employee share ownership schemes, allow equity equivalents and cut compliance costs, and work for all small businesses.


Economic growth and job creation are crucial to overcome the legacy of apartheid, which is why all of our policies put these goals front-and-centre. But we also believe that growth needs to be inclusive if we are to create a more equal and just society. That is why we support corrective programmes that actively promote black advancement without hampering growth and jobs. 

The set of policies finalised today will drastically reduce poverty and inequality. They are the building blocks of an open, opportunity society in which every individual has the freedom and the power to live a life they value.

Statement issued by DA leader, Helen Zille, November 24 2013

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