South African News

South Africa election: Why some poor black voters may ditch the ANC this time

May 17, 2011 By Scott Baldauf,

Since South Africa's black majority finally won their freedom from the white apartheid regime 17 years ago, most blacks have voted reliably for the African National Congress (ANC). But ahead of Wednesday's municipal elections, voters in a number of poor black townships say they may ditch the once-vaunted party of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela – even if that means voting for the white-run Democratic Alliance (DA).

"I would have wanted to vote for the black-administered government, but I don't eat patriotism," says Miyetani Kuzumuka, a voter in the Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg. "The ruling party has taken us for granted too long, yet no service delivery is worthy of talking about in our poverty-stricken townships."

This year, Mr. Kuzumuka says his entire family will try a new political party.

"I do think there is growing disenchantment, directed at the national leadership and the political class of the ANC in general," says Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg. "But the thing is not about whether the garbage crisis or the billing crisis is resolved. It's about 'These [ANC leaders] don't care about us.' "

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu says voters should keep things in perspective.

"Yes, there are problems of unemployment, health care, and poor education, but we have a huge responsibility at hand in providing service delivery to more than 50 million South Africans as opposed to the former apartheid regime that only catered [to] a few white people," he says, adding that the ANC has only been in power for 17 years, while the former apartheid regime had ruled since the 17th century.

Sheluzani Baloyi of the Diepsloot township, however, is not buying it. The mother of three said she has been patient enough with the ANC since 1994, but now "it's time to think out of the box."

The ANC talks about uplifting the black community through affirmative-action programs, she says, but the "Black Economic Empowerment [program] is only benefiting those that surround the president, including their families, while the ... nation is languishing in ... poverty."

Bekezela Tshabalala of Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, says he is hearing good things about the DA, which has won praise for its governance of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province.

"If what is happening in Cape Town is anything to go by, then the DA are likely to get my vote," says Mr. Tshabalala. But he still has doubts about the DA, because many of its senior members supported apartheid.

DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko says her party is giving the ANC a run for its money.

"Our record is there for everyone to see" in Cape Town, says Ms. Mazibuko. "This time, the DA, under Helen Zille will steal a few municipalities from ANC."

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Racial quotas at UCT

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 12, 2011

By James Myburgh

Over the past few months the American media has taken something of an interest in the race-based admissions policy of the University of Cape Town. In late November the New York Times ran an article on the topic, and in the past week National Public Radio has run a similar report.

UCT requires that applicants classify themselves according to the old apartheid designations of white, coloured, Indian and black. Differing admissions criteria are then applied depending on which of these racial categories the applicant belongs to.

For instance, for entry into the MBChB programme a "Black" applicant needs to score 36 points on their matric results and 15 (out of 30) points on the National Benchmarking Test; a "Coloured" applicant 40 and 16 points; an "Indian" or "Chinese" applicant 46 and 24 points; and a "White" applicant 47 and 24 points.

The ultimate goal of the policy is to ensure that composition of the university ultimately comes to reflect the racial proportions of society as a whole. As the University states: "As a matter of policy we aim for a student body which has a significant number of international students and where the local component of our student body increasingly reflects the demographics of the South African population."

Perhaps not surprisingly both the NYT and NPR view the debates, within the university, around this policy through race conscious American lenses. The Times states that UCT is "engaged in a searching debate about just how far affirmative action should go to heal the wounds of an oppressive history." The NPR report meanwhile begins by stating: "Universities in South Africa are wrestling with an issue familiar to many Americans: affirmative action."

By framing their articles in this way - as an issue of "redress" for past wrongs - both reports morally prejudge the debate and, in many ways, miss the point. It is useful, from a historical point of view, to contrast UCT's current policy with the principles articulated in the early 1980s when the National Party government moved to begin desegregating the English universities.*

Up until 1983 a person who was not white had had to apply, individually, for a ministerial permit if they wished to study at a ‘white' university. Clause 9 of the Universities Amendment Bill, introduced that year, provided for the permit system to be replaced by a quota system. The number of black students allowed in each ‘white' university would be stipulated annually by the appropriate Minister of State.

Although representing something of a practical improvement on the existing system UCT, Rhodes, Wits and Natal all objected to this "quota clause" on principle. The Vice Chancellor of Wits, Daniel du Plessis, stated "The fundamental issue is that the Witwatersrand University holds that race, colour, religion and gender are not academic criteria, and that no non-academic criteria should intrude into the selection process of an academic institution. This is basic to our philosophy and policy."

UCT meanwhile took out advertisements in the Cape Town newspapers objecting to the government's transfer to the university of this "obligation of denying admission to black students who qualify on academic grounds" and involving the university in the enforcement of "objectionable discriminatory laws."

The Vice Chancellor of UCT, Stuart Saunders, stated that the reason the four universities "find the Bill totally unacceptable" reflects the fact "that these universities have, for more than a quarter-century, actively rejected racial criteria for admission to university." He also claimed that the legislation was "imposing upon the university itself the distasteful and objectionable task of rejecting students on racial grounds because of a quota imposed upon it"; and argued that, "race classification is an objectionable and irrelevant consideration whether it be applied through permits or quotas."

In parliament, in June 1983, the Progressive Federal Party MP, Alex Boraine, also spoke passionately against the Bill. He stated:

"The quota system is a system which restricts admission on the grounds of race. It is based, therefore, on race classification on the Population Registration Act. When one applies for a permit or when one applies under the quota system one produces one's birth certificate. That is the kiss of death, as it were, for a young Coloured, Indian or Black student, because the moment he applies he is not asked for his matriculation certificate-they do not ask him how well he did at school or what his symbols were, but he is asked what his colour is. That is the quota system. It is racially enshrined."

He then asked rhetorically, "What are we to make of this quota system? Where does it come from? What is its inspiration?" His answer:

"In the 19th Century this was imposed in order to limit the admissions of Jews to institutions of higher learning and was applied in the 19th Century by Tsarist Russia and extended in the 20th Century particularly to countries in Eastern Europe but also to others. It is perhaps not without coincidence that during the rule of Stalin [in the Soviet Union], such as system was also applied. This hon. Minister has learned well from what has taken place in Tsarist Russia and in the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most infamous of all took place in Nazi Germany."

Boraine proceeded to cite the Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Higher Institutions adopted by the national socialist government in Germany in April 1933. This had decreed that, "In the admission of new students attention is to be paid to the number of German students who are not of Aryan descent ... may not exceed in each school and faculty the proportion of non-Aryans to the entire German population [1.5%]. That proportion will be uniformly determined for the entire nation."

He commented: "Whenever they admitted a student after the rise of Hitler and the Nazis they had to produce a birth certificate in order to determine whether they had any Jewish blood. This was a racial decree and I want to say to hon. members on the other side that this quota system is nothing more and nothing less than an approximation of the Hitler decree."

When an MP objected that this was untrue, Boraine responded:

"It is the truth. Tell me why it is not the truth? Exactly the same approach is being followed here. What I am in effect saying, is that members on that side have sat at the feet of the Soviet Union and of the Nazis and have learned, and now they are introducing a quota system where Blacks are denied entrance into our universities, not on the basis of academic merit, but purely and solely on the basis of race."

Although the legislation was passed by parliament, allowing direct black entry into the formerly ‘white' universities, the quota provision was never actually enforced. As Saunders stated in 1986 "I think the Government came to realise how repulsive a quota system based on race is for any university and has wisely decided not to apply it. They would be even wiser to repeal the legislation. For as long as it stands on the statute books it must be recognised in principle. Using it would do enormous damage to our universities in the world of international scholarship recalling that the Stalin regime and Hitler imposed racial quota systems."

In April 1991 the Education Minister, Louis Pienaar, announced that the offending section was to be removed from the statute books: "Although quotas were never determined, the deletion of this provision indicates once again the government's commitment to recognise the autonomy of universities and demonstrates its undertaking to abolish racial discrimination from the statute book."

From the mid-1980s UCT applied a corrective action policy based upon real disadvantage students had suffered at the hands of apartheid discrimination (but not, on principle, on race). The university pursued this policy of ‘equal opportunity affirmative action' up until the mid-1990s. According to its pre-1996 mission statement UCT strove "to maintain a strong tradition of non-discrimination in regard to race" both in the constitution of its student body and in the selection and promotion of its academic and administrative staff. Students would be selected on merit, although special criteria would be used to identify disadvantaged students with potential, and they would be given extra assistance to help them succeed.

In 1994 the African National Congress came to power and increasingly asserted, under Thabo Mbeki's leadership, its African nationalist agenda. Like many other racialist movements through history it made the demand that the universities, along with all other sectors of society, limit the proportion of minorities to their percentage of the population.

Instead of resisting or opposing this principle UCT adopted it as its own. Where it moderated it, and balanced it against other competing considerations, was in its application. This may have been a shrewd decision, politically and tactically, given the power of the ANC, and its racial demands, at the time. (UCT does seem to have done much better than some other universities in manoeuvring, albeit in a somewhat slimy way, through the transition.)

But its decision to place race at the centre of its admissions policy, and apply (in all but name) racial quotas, represents a complete betrayal of the principles it once invoked in the struggle against Apartheid-era discrimination.

Perhaps more importantly it represents a profound intellectual failure. The contribution of our universities to public debate in South Africa, over the past decade, has been pathetic.

Perhaps the main reason for this was that so many academics simply floated along, as UCT did as an institution, with the tide of the ascendant racial nationalism. South Africa is now dealing with destructive consequences of that project. It is difficult to see what contribution UCT can make to understanding and correcting these, for as long as it clings to the odious racial principle that lay at the heart of it.

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Inequalities Complicate S. Africa College Admissions

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 10, 2011

By Anders Kelto

Universities in South Africa are wrestling with an issue familiar to many Americans: affirmative action.

South Africa is still coping with the aftermath of apartheid and a lingering educational gap between black and white. Now, a series of public debates about college admissions has reopened a national dialogue on race.

During apartheid, the University of Cape Town, which sits on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak, was an all-white university. But now, there are black, white, Asian and mixed-race faces in nearly equal numbers — it's the kind of diversity usually reserved for promotional materials.

The way in which the university has achieved this diversity, however, is somewhat controversial. To be admitted, white students must score the equivalent of straight A's. Meanwhile, black and mixed-race students can get in with plenty of B's. The University of Cape Town doesn't make this policy a secret — admission cutoffs are listed by race in the prospectus.

The vice chancellor, Max Price, says the policy reflects the fact that black students in South Africa are still highly disadvantaged.

"Even 15 years after the end of apartheid, it's still the case that 80 percent of black students go to very poor township schools or rural schools," he says. "Their teachers are poorly qualified, the schools are poorly equipped, and the result is that on the national exams, they perform poorly."

The government has gone to great lengths to improve an educational system that once taught black students how to wash dishes rather than learn math and science. And though some improvements have been made, the gap between black and white is still immense.

Price says that without race-based admission goals, schools would be nearly as white as they were during apartheid, despite the fact that whites make up fewer than 10 percent of the population. He says that would be unacceptable.

"People would think there was something wrong," he says. "It would produce social unrest; it would produce a sense that the country hasn't changed."

Bringing Positive Change

Across town, engineer Michael Tladi reviews blueprints for a new government hospital. Tladi is black and grew up on the streets of Pretoria, bouncing between children's homes after his mother abandoned him. He went to an underfunded township school and earned good — but not great — marks. His teachers saw his potential and encouraged him to apply to the country's top schools.

He was elated when he received an acceptance letter from UCT.

" 'You have been chosen to come and study at UCT' — I didn't even read further. I just ... I was so excited," Tladi recalls.

But like many disadvantaged students, he was overwhelmed when he arrived.

"I was not prepared financially, I was not prepared academically and I was not prepared for the new environment," he said.

He struggled and almost dropped out, but he eventually completed a degree in engineering and got a job with the provincial government. He also volunteers at a children's home and says he hopes his story can inspire underprivileged kids.

"I just hope that my success out of UCT can bring a positive change," he says. "Because they know that I was in the same place, same lifestyle — they can see that they also can do it."

Creating A Sense Of Entitlement?

Back on campus, Cynthia Ngebe sits with friends in the cafeteria. She says affirmative action is a necessary evil.

"It's giving people an opportunity," she says. "Like, in some families now, they're going to have engineers for the very first time, you know?"

But others, like Amanda Ngwenya, disagree. She worries that the policy is creating a sense of entitlement among her black peers.

"It means they think that, 'Because I'm black, I deserve special privileges. Because I'm black, I need to be treated differently,' even though they are just as capable," Ngwenya says.

It's a sticky debate, complicated by the legacy of apartheid. But as South Africa's past grows more distant, the question becomes: When, if ever, should race not matter?

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Nigeria-Gouvernment: President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 5, 2011

President to Appoint 13 Female Ministers - In a bid to fulfil his campaign promise of having 35 per cent representation of women in his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan may appoint 13 female ministers in his post-May 29 cabinet, even as women politicians battle professionals over slots."Research has shown that countries with greater gender equality have higher standards of living and significantly more achievements in all facets of the society.

"Reports have also shown that where women leaders are present in critical numbers and are able to participate effectively, economically, politically, and socially, the result is more socially responsive governance," the president had observed recently at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Tank in Abuja.

While the president and First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan were in Obudu, Cross River State, for a week-long retreat, ministerial lobbyists stormed the tourism centre seeking enlistment in the next cabinet.

LEADERSHIP can now authoritatively report that the next Jonathan-Sambo administration would have no fewer than 13 female ministers as a fulfilment of the affirmative action promised the women while they were being wooed ahead of the just concluded polls.

Speaking with our correspondent at the weekend, a presidency source disclosed that, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Jonathan would constitute a 43-man Federal Executive Council (FEC) that would help him implement his developmental blueprint for the nation.

Out of the 43 ministerial positions, LEADERSHIP gleaned that 13 slots would go to the women while men would take the rest.

The presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor, Umaru Musa Yar' Adua, each had 43 ministers with one representing each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and each of the six geopolitical zones.

Should this be the case, the president would have ignored the advice asking him to trim his cabinet in a bid to reduce the cost of governance and free more money for investment in decaying infrasturcture.

"President Goodluck Jonathan would fulfil his 35 per cent political appointments including the ministerial slots to the women and this means there are going to be 13 ministers since he would forward 43 names to the Senate as ministers representing each of the 36 states including Abuja while the remaining six would represent the geo-political zones. And every other appointments to be made would follow suit," said a top government source.

Speaking further, the source who does not want his name in print said: "The only problem is, if the governors or party leadership failed to send women's names to the president as ministerial nominees. But this would not stop him from fulfilling his promise to the women who constituted the largest voting bloc in the country. Don't forget he has power to name whoever he wants as his ministers."

When asked to disclose the intrigues going on and whether the First Lady would be involved, our source, who has been playing a sensitive role since the Obasanjo administration in the State House, disclosed that Patience had been receiving ministerial lobbyists since she returned from the Obudu retreat because she has promised those who campaigned for her husband that their labour would not be in vain.

His words: "The First Lady would play a prominent role in the composition of the female ministerial nominees because of her personal involvement in the campaign that ushered in President Goodluck Jonathan. So many women or groups of women have been coming to meet with the First Lady. So don't be surprised to see names like Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Grace Bent, Kema Chikwe, Hajiya Ciroma, Dame Anenih, Iyabo Obasanjo and a few others on the ministerial list."

He said: "Women are divided over how to go about it; while those who are thoroughbred politicians are going through Her Excellency, the First Lady, some who are professionals are doing their lobbying through other contacts. To the professionals, the slots to be given to the womenfolk should be given to them and not to politicians who would not justify such a confidence imposed in them.

"This group is being led by a woman who is currently occupying a sensitive position where she generates revenue to the federal government (name withheld) but the other group is claiming that they were the ones who worked for the victory of the president."

According to the president, "If South Africa could give 40 per cent of political appointments to women; I don't see why giving our women 35 per cent is impossible." It would be recalled that Jonathan is the first Nigerian leader to appoint a woman as Minister of Petroleum even as he also gave directive to the military to begin recruiting women as combatant soldiers.

Just last week, the president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Salamatu Husseini Suleiman, at the Mentorship Summit for African Women, organised by the Centre for African Women Leaders Think-Thank in Abuja, commended Nigerian women for their massive support towards his success in the presidential polls.

"I am assuring you that all the promises made in my manifesto on 35 per cent representation of women in governance will be fulfilled," he said, adding that women have occupied various leadership positions in the country and performed excellently."

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Ruling reserved over affirmative action

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 4, 2011

Johannesburg - The Johannesburg Labour Appeal Court on Wednesday reserved judgement on an attempt by the SAPS to contest an earlier ruling promoting a white woman police officer to superintendent.

Trade union Solidarity, which is representing Captain Renate Barnard, said it was expected to take between three months and a year for a ruling to be made.

The union's Dirk Hermann said arguments in court on Wednesday centred on how to apply affirmative action in line with the Constitution. He said the matter might end up in the Constitutional Court.

On February 26 last year the Labour Court ordered the police to promote Barnard to superintendent after she was denied the move because of her skin colour.

"She applied for a promotion as superintendent of the complaints investigation unit for the first time in 2005. She has been working as a captain in the same unit since 2004," Hermann said.

A selection panel twice identified Barnard as the best candidate for the post in the inspectorate, created to improve service delivery to the public. The job was advertised in September 2005. Barnard and other candidates applied for it.

Service delivery jeopardised

After interviews were held, the panel allocated a mark of 86.67% to her, which was 17.5% higher than the next-highest score allocated to a Captain Shibambu.

The panel found the difference in Barnard and Shibambu's scores so great that service delivery would be jeopardised if Shibambu was appointed in the post.

Although the panel recommended Barnard for appointment, Assistant Commissioner Rasegatla resolved not to appoint her because doing so would not be in line with affirmative action policies. The position was not filled.

When the position was again advertised in 2006, Barnard reapplied and was once again the most suitable candidate. This time Rasegatla decided she should be appointed. In his recommendation to former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, he pointed out that other candidates had had a year to improve to compete with her, but had not done so. Selebi turned down her appointment on the grounds that it would not promote affirmative action.

He subsequently withdrew the post

Renate Barnard case in Labour Appeal Court - Solidarity

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 2, 2011

By Dirk Hermann

One of SA's biggest affirmative action cases comes before Labour Appeal Court on Wednesday

Solidarity, on behalf of Captain Renate Barnard, and SAPS to face off in court

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Solidarity will face off in the Labour Appeal Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, this coming Wednesday (4 May) at 10:00. The case in which Solidarity is representing Captain Renate Barnard has been carrying on for more than five years. This landmark affirmative action case may change the way affirmative action is applied in South Africa. The Labour Court has already ruled in favour of Barnard, but the SAPS appealed the ruling.

"The big test in the case is whether absolute representivity can be enforced through affirmative action at all costs. The case will show if affirmative action outweighs service delivery," Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity, said.

In Barnard's case, Commissioner Jackie Selebi, former police chief, intervened and prohibited her appointment in a new key position at the police's national inspectorate, the complaints investigation division, in Pretoria.

A selection panel identified Barnard as the best candidate for the post of superintendent in the inspectorate - created to improve service delivery to the public - on two occasions. The inspectorate investigates complaints on service delivery received from the public.

The post was advertised in September 2005. Barnard and several other candidates applied for it. After interviews had been held, the selection panel allocated a mark of 86,67% to her, which was 17,5% higher than the mark allocated to a Captain Shibambu, the only other serious candidate.

The panel found that the difference in Barnard and Shibambu's scores was so great that service delivery would be jeopardised if Shibambu was appointed in the post. They recommended Barnard for the position, but Assistant Commissioner Rasegatla, the divisional commissioner, decided it should be left vacant due to considerations relating to affirmative action.

The post was, however, advertised again a year later and Barnard reapplied for it. A selection panel once again identified her as the only realistic candidate. This time Rasegatla decided that she should be appointed in the post. In his recommendation to Selebi, he pointed out that other candidates who could have promoted representivity had had a year to improve in order to compete with her, but had not improved sufficiently.

According to court documents, Rasegatla wrote to Selebi that failure to give her recognition and to appoint her in the post was likely to send her the wrong message.

Selebi nevertheless turned down her appointment on the grounds that it would not promote affirmative action. He subsuequently withdrew the post.

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ZANU PF sends support to Malema in South Africa

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 28, 2011

By Tererai Karimakwenda

Zimbabwe’s Affirmative Action Group (AAG) announced this week that they were sending a delegation to South Africa to support Julius Malema, the highly controversial Youth League leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. Malema is facing hate language charges due to his insistence on singing a racially charged ANC song from the liberation struggle.

The AAG said the trip was in solidarity with Malema as “an honorary member” who supports empowerment issues. But some observers have said it appears to be a ZANU PF strategy to appease the ANC, after a recent row with President Jacob Zuma over the recent SADC troika summit in Lusaka.

The AAG delegation is due to leave on Friday, represented by the group’s President Supa Mandiwanzira and Secretary General Tafadzwa Musarara. Mandiwanzira is a devout ZANU PF supporter who is also heading up a new weekly newspaper called The Patriot.

“We know who Supa is and who he represents,” said former student leader and activist Mfundo Mlilo, adding that the gesture appears to be a ZANU PF attempt to reach out to the ANC.

Mlilo explained that the position of South Africa on Zimbabwe is changing because the country has a huge economy and therefore a “big brother” responsibility in the region.

The activist believes the AAG trip is also a sign that ZANU PF does respond to pressure, despite the non-caring image they like to portray. “And this pressure needs to continue,” he added.

Reports said the AAG will also be taking a written letter of support to Malema. The letter reads in part; “On behalf of the Affirmative Action Group, the vanguard of broad-based black economic empowerment in Zimbabwe, I would like to categorically state that, as our honorary member, the group is fully behind you during and after your court trial proceedings. Our entire membership is disturbed and extremely infuriated by the goings- on at the Equality Court.”

Malema was taken to the Equality Court by the human rights group Afriforum, who want him to stop singing the lyrics “Dubuli’bhunu”, which mean “Kill the Boer”. The group says these are hate lyrics that are partly responsible for the ongoing murders of white farmers in the country.

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Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 15, 2011

By Vadim Nikitin

In South Africa's remote Karoo steppe, the town of Orania is little more than a ramble of lanes and a few modest bungalows. Street names are stencilled onto the kerbstones. Sheep graze nearby. Concrete road slabs give way to pebbles, dirt and potholes. What passes for the town centre has just a small bakery, a church, a grocery store and the offices of the local authorities. Nearby, one of the town's two bars occupies a wooden shell on the edge of what looks like a scrapyard for disused agricultural vehicles.

It was here in Orania, on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of last month, that the body of Dr Carel Boshoff was lowered into the arid soil. Twenty years before he had established the town as an all-white enclave. Now, the founder may be dead, but his life's work, to establish an independent Afrikaner homeland, stubbornly refuses to follow suit.

"There's been an estrangement between Afrikaners and South Africa, which is becoming a dysfunctional state," Boshoff's son and heir Carel Boshoff IV tells me. With the help of 900 or so true believers, Carel Jr keeps the autonomous Afrikaner community alive. "We are still viewed as the previous elite: the perpetrators, a previously dominant and very visible minority", he says. "So where do you go when you are less than a 10 per cent minority in a system dominated by others?"

Like his late father, a theologist, Orania's current leader is no populist demagogue. The bespectacled former philosophy lecturer looks like a mix between Woody Allen and Boris Becker and peppers his speech with words like "ontological" and "relativised". Boshoff openly concedes that the utopian farming project has not lured anywhere near the expected number of settlers.

"We have seen that we don't attract the masses," he admits. "There are more Afrikaners living in London than in Orania." Nevertheless, he believes the tide may yet turn in the town's favour. "Orania offers the symbolic embodiment of a re-established Afrikaner collectivity that can once again become a historical agent," he says.

There are two main narratives about this small, privately owned agricultural community. One, common among white liberals, paints Orania as a bombastic and pathetic outpost of embittered racists who refuse to live side by side with their newly equal black countrymen. The other, prevalent among many blacks, sees a privatised gated community shielded by a 1950s-style fantasy from crime, poverty, political turmoil and declining white privilege.

Yet the putative Afrikaner homeland is hardly an oasis of privilege. Though it has a flag and even its own currency (the Ora), Orania lacks most of the traditional accoutrements of white South African living: no private swimming pools or landscaped gardens, glass-walled conservatories and two car garages; no luxury high-rises or mansions with their granny flats and quarters for servants (now euphemistically called "domestic workers"). Clearly, those who retreated to this kibbutz-like settlement were not doing so to preserve their elite status or material luxuries. Why did they come?


"I don't like black people, I'm sorry," says Barbara, a handsome, ashen-faced woman who I meet as she sits outside the town bakery. That isn't the reason she gives for moving here from KwaZulu Natal a year ago, however. Orania, she says, is the only place where her husband, a lorry driver, could find a job thanks to affirmative action policies that favour blacks. Here, all jobs, from the white-collar to the janitorial, are reserved exclusively for white Afrikaners. Many residents have similar stories. Poverty among blue-collar whites has surged. A recent Standard Bank of South Africa study found the number of whites earning less than $80 a month grew by more than 50 per cent from 2000 to 2004. Apartheid's passing marked the end of artificially protected jobs for low-skilled, poorly educated whites, disproportionate numbers of whom were Afrikaners. In a country with an unemployment rate of 24 per cent, they now compete with similarly low-skilled blacks, who are more numerous, willing to work for lower wages, and who benefit from affirmative action policies that take into account race but not class or wealth.

Other arrivals to Orania are victims of crime. Nearly everyone in the town has a story to tell about having been or knowing someone who has been robbed, stabbed or killed. Violence actually affects blacks more frequently than whites, but for many Afrikaners, the most important feature of the new regime is that they are no longer safe.

"We are living in Orania to protect our language and our culture, not because we hate other people," says Nikke Strydom, a 21-year-old politics student attending nearby Pretoria University who moved here with her parents as an adolescent. Nikke straddles two conflicting Afrikaner identities: at once a modern, upwardly mobile young woman at a prestigious, urban, racially diverse university, and an Afrikaner traditionalist deeply committed to a project of rural self-reliance and racial separation.

"People think we are here because we hate the blacks or whatever, which isn't true at all," she says. "But because of the history and the whole apartheid thing, people don't see it like that."

"We're not here to be a white community - we're here to be an Afrikaner community", concurs Jaco Kleynhans, the movement's PR director.

Yet what makes Orania different from other Afrikaner communities in the suburbs of Cape Town and Johannesburg is the absence of any black people at all, except for occasional visitors to the OK Supermarket from surrounding villages. There are no black shop clerks, engineers, gardeners, maids, civil servants, petrol station attendants, teachers, waiters, nurses or labourers. A teenager recounted how he had been playing the online video game Starcraft with someone in Russia. "In the middle of the game, he had to pause to go help his dad dig the car out of the snow! Can you believe it?", he asked excitedly: a white South African more likely to communicate with a person living thousands of kilometres away than with a black countryman from the next town.

"They are just afraid of black people here", pronounces a plain-spoken Johannesburg building inspector holidaying in Orania, where his mother-in-law now lives. He says he doesn't understand the place: "It's such a waste to do everything here with white labour," he told me. "Sure, black labour can steal, murder and rape. But it is cheap."

Locals, however, say they actually have more respect for black people than their assimilated white counterparts in the cosmopolitan cities.

"I think the problem in the cities is: OK you are the black guy, and you have to scrub my floors and do the dishes and so on, so why would I respect you?" asks Nikke. "I don't see black people as lower than me so they don't have to do my dirty work. I'll do it myself."

There's some truth in Nikke's argument. Still highly segregated and heavily reliant on domestic help, many South African suburbs look more like apartheid-era time-warps than Orania does.

"Why have someone else clean the toilet for you when you can do it yourself?" asks Karen, a young woman who works in the town cafe.

This spirit of Afrikaner self-reliance has a long history, from the time of their original settlement in the Cape to the Great Trek, when scores of farmers journeyed east by covered wagon to escape the colonial rule of the Dutch administration. It also animates Orania's present refusal to take any government grants or assistance, despite paying taxes. Yet there is another, calculatedly political rationale behind this fastidiousness in owing nothing to outsiders or the government.

"If you do your own work and you don't get foreign people to do it for you, then you have more say about what is happening," reasons Nikke, using the word "foreign" to describe black South Africans. "Because it's difficult to say: 'OK you can come and do my work but you can't have a say in the government'. So I think the whole idea behind Orania is to work yourself free."

Free of black political control, that is. If you let them work, you must also be prepared to let them have political control. But if you don't, then you can seclude yourself without guilt. From each according to ability, to each according to his work: it's an almost Marxist position for a group of conservative nationalists to take, but has an elegant consistency.

Like communist true believers criticising the Soviet Union for a lack of ideological purity, some Oranians feel that the apartheid ideal was betrayed by the old South Africa: that it wasn't "apart" enough. The mistake, they believe, wasn't the segregation itself but the exploitation, which predictably led to blacks demanding their rightful share. In Orania, they see the chance to rescue apartheid from its history, strip it of the implications of violent domination and minority rule, and repackage it to mean just what it says: living separately.


"I think apartheid was a good idea but they did it wrong", says Nikke. "I think it's not right to say, 'OK, you cannot come here', but each culture must have a place to be where they want to be. I don't think apartheid was as bad as they say, as they want to make it."

Orania offers such traditionally minded Afrikaners a third way between emigration and assimilation; a place to develop a secure identity as a national minority and not feel threatened. "Orania is the only place we can have a normal life, in the sense of it being peaceful, being among people like you, who speak your language", says Sebastiaan Biehl, a gaunt, khaki-clad amateur historian who has recently moved to the community. "Once you have your own land where you can be assured of your future, you can be good neighbours."

He and others deny walling themselves off. "The idea is to be a unique part of South Africa," says his friend Albert van Zyl, a university lecturer who is planning to settle here with his family.

"We want to contribute to the development of the country," claims Jaco Mulder, the provincial leader of the nationalist Freedom Front Plus party and owner of the cafe where Karen works, "because the lights must keep burning in all of South Africa in order for Orania to succeed."

Mulder says the town's pioneering eco-friendly irrigation network, strict recycling programme and mandatory solar-powered water heaters set a good example to nearby communities about bottom-up development, sustainable agriculture and efficient service delivery. Even the fiercely populist president Jacob Zuma visited and declared: "They want to co-operate with other communities so that everyone can learn together. Orania is part of us, and we are part of them." Last year, he appointed the leader of the Freedom Front party a deputy minister of forestries, fisheries and agriculture, a particularly important portfolio for Afrikaners, many of whom are farmers.

"Zuma understands us," says Sebastiaan. "Although he travels internationally, on the holidays he goes back to his roots in rural KwaZulu-Natal, to live like a Zulu and enjoy himself. There's no problem for him to understand that Afrikaners also need to be able to come here and relate to their roots."

Yet many black people continue to treat Orania with a mixture of bewilderment and suspicion. On my drive over, I had asked a petrol station attendant in a nearby town if she had heard of Orania. "Yes," she replied. "It is beautiful, but they don't like black people there. It's a strange place." Then she added: "I do my shopping at the OK Supermarket there sometimes."

"They cannot live with the fact that the world is changing and you have to get integrated or you'll lose out," says Tebzah Mbhele, a postgraduate student of urban planning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He thinks there's nothing wrong with protecting one's culture, but asks: "What are they scared of? Who are they protecting themselves against? They are holding on to the past like to an old piece of meat, but it is rotten."

Nevertheless, Albert van Zyl's brother Gerhard insists that blacks have an easier time comprehending Orania than whites. "My colleague at the iron ore mine where I work is a Tswana," he says. "And it is easier for me to explain Orania to him than to a lot of white people. White people think it's a racist thing, but as a Tswana, he knows that Afrikaners also need a place of their own. When I tell him that I plan on going to Orania for the weekend, he wishes me luck and doesn't have any bad feelings about it."


A major obstacle to such professed interracial understanding is Orania's quasi-religious relationship with Herdrik Verwoerd, the former prime minister known as the architect of apartheid (he also happens to be Boshoff's grandfather).

In the centre of town stands the shrine-like house where his widow lived out her last years. Attached to it is a museum housing Verwoerd's relics: the suit that he wore on the day he was assassinated by a mentally ill parliamentary staffer, the bloodied shirt punctured by five knife wounds marked with little cardboard labels; even his socks, wallet, and scuffed leather briefcase are preserved for posterity.

On a little hillside overlooking the town stands a semi circle of weathered bronze busts depicting Afrikaner political leaders, salvaged from demolition after 1994 and installed here.

Carel Boshoff says Verwoerd's centrality to Orania is the result of a simple family matter: the settlement was founded by Verwoerd's son-in-law. But residents' fondness for South Africa's first republican prime minister manifests a larger nostalgia for the old days.

"We built up this country," laments Sebastiaan, "and now it feels like we have to start all over again." Compounding the sense of loss is the perception, among many Afrikaners, that their language, culture and way of life are under threat from affirmative action, the spread of English, and a racial quota system called Black Economic Empowerment.

At a restaurant in the town's main hotel, I meet Ernst Roets, the youth leader of Afriforum, a conservative organisation campaigning for the cultural and economic rights of Afrikaners. He is on-message, smart and forceful. And savvy: his Facebook profile picture shows him sitting next to a black delegate at a political conference. Like all the young people I spoke to, Ernst calls affirmative action "reverse discrimination".

"It's time to move on", he says. "Our generation had nothing to do with apartheid; we did all our schooling under democracy, where blacks and whites had the same opportunities. Why should a black student who went to a private school and drives a BMW have an unfair advantage over a poor white student who went to a state school?" he asks.

"We were hardly born during apartheid, we didn't take part in it in any way, and still they hate us," says Nikke.

Oranians want to reposition the Afrikaner "brand" from its ignominious legacy into an ethnic minority like any other, deserving of cultural protections and group rights. Yet while the racial gap has shrunk since 1994, whites still earn nearly eight times more than blacks, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Boshoff faults Afriforum for not adequately acknowledging the historic injustice ("It's senseless to say that my kids are not privileged by the privileges I had, and my father had," he admits). But he says that Afrikaners have become fed up with apologising for apartheid. "There's a broad sentiment that we've admitted enough guilt," he says. "There's even a popular song that goes 'we will not say sorry anymore'."

Settling in Orania, with its ascetic lifestyle and rustic self-sufficiency, is itself the best form of atonement, he claims.

"My father used to say, 'I've heard many people apologise for apartheid, but I haven't seen a single one of them sell their Mercedes and buy a bicycle instead'," Boshoff says.

"In Orania, we are not saying sorry with our mouths: we are doing something about it."

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Driving the transformation agenda

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 11, 2011

Dr Mvula Yoyo, transformation executive at Medi-Clinic, was schooled to understand diversity at an early age, thanks to his upbringing. Born in Victoria West in the Northern Cape, he grew up in an Afrikaans-speaking community – an accident of fate that exposed him at such an impressionable age to issues around diversity.

“When coloured people were moved away from our area, conflicts began to unfold because then we were wittingly made aware of our differences, thus the cat was set among the pigeons,” Dr Yoyo says.

This background is important in understanding what makes him such an indispensable authority on transformation. Precisely the reason Medi-Clinic, traditionally a conservative company – my words, not his – appointed him to drive its transformation agenda.

While attending a cosmopolitan high school in the Eastern Cape, Dr Yoyo was able to forge relations with different ethnic groups; this is where his consciousness about diversity was created.

Suffice to say, diversity has always been a part of his life. “The environments I found myself in gave me a platform to think about the other, the awareness of being different,” he says.

Going to Fort Hare University offered further scope for the young man to broaden his knowledge of diversity. It was one of the few institutions of higher learning open to blacks at the time, as such there were students drawn from all parts of the country and continent.

It was there that most of his views on diversity were shaped and packaged.

In addition to spearheading transformation at Medi-Clinic, Dr Yoyo chairs the MultiChoice Fort Hare Inkwenkwezi Trust. Founded in 2006, it gives Fort Hare University students an opportunity to mentor Grade 11 and 12 pupils from disadvantaged communities of the Eastern Cape.

It is a responsibility he is thoroughly committed to drive – thanks to Dr Koos Bekker, managing director of Naspers, who founded this initiative.

“I think the Eastern Cape and Fort Hare in particular were good choices for such a trust. The province faces serious challenges with respect to education, and the Trust gives us a chance to help meet those challenges,” says Dr Yoyo.

“The role that Fort Hare played in turning out leaders for South Africa and the continent over 90 years qualifies it as an ideal location for this idea.”

Highlights of the Inkwenkwezi Trust

Enabling interactions between university students and high school pupils is the cornerstone of this programme. Prior to this initiative, there existed a lack of access to basic information on education by school children in rural Eastern Cape, where Fort Hare is nestled.

“This outreach is empowering university students to interact with high school learners at a personal level, too, besides being reservoirs of knowledge,” reveals Dr Yoyo.

“It is also fostering competition among learners; scholars with best results receive bursaries for their first year.”

At Medi-Clinic, Dr Yoyo’s key task is to drive its transformation agenda. That is a mammoth assignment for anyone to undertake at such a conservative firm, whose decision to base its headquarters in Stellenbosch does not help to dismiss stereotypes.

The challenges of his portfolio cannot be underestimated. In 2006, Medi-Clinic was named a non-transformative company, following which he was hired to change this perception to the outside world.

“As you can image, the biggest challenge is employment equity,” confesses Dr Yoyo.

Since 2007, he has been at the helm of transforming Medi-Clinic, using a strategy that speaks to its black economic empowerment (BEE) Scorecard.

“However, the BEE Scorecard is not the only vehicle for transformation; we look beyond that, at things such as sustainability, skills development – a very important component of BEE – and forging partnerships with universities,” he adds.

“Additionally, we have six in-house learning centres and have formed relationships with the Department of Health.”

State of transformation in South Africa

According to Dr Yoyo, part of the problem with transformation is that it is seen merely as a compliance issue. He begs to differ, and emphasises this point by borrowing the SABC’s TV Licence slogan: “It’s the right thing to do.”

He recommends this refrain as the right attitude to adopt, but is disappointed that corporations are more concerned about the bottom line. It leaves him no option but to believe there is a lack of commitment to transformation.

“Don’t look at transformation in narrow terms, for instance, companies should not hold back from training staff lest they lose them. Suitably qualified workers will benefit the economy at large, regardless of where they end up in the country,” explains Dr Yoyo.

He describes the pace of transformation in South Africa as “very slow”. This is attributable to genuine issues, but he points out that skills development would accelerate this process. “It’s a channel we should use,” he says.

There are obstacles to transformation, broadly speaking, and at Medi-Clinic specifically because it is a diversity management issue. So how does a company handle it much better?

Dr Yoyo believes there are pockets of resistance manifested in many guises, such as the assertion that there was a lack of suitably qualified blacks to fill certain positions when, in fact, companies could rather be looking at the potential of prospective candidates, grooming them and strategising succession planning, instead of hiding behind smoke screens such as a “lack of suitably qualified people”, he says.

“This gives an opportunity to build a broader pool of people, who can then move into senior positions,” he asserts.

On its part, Med-Clinic’s Leadership Development Programme is a product of such lateral thinking. The objective thereof is to ensure there is no limit of opportunities for black people to aspire to. This scenario is not peculiar to Medi-Clinic because the phenomenon is a microcosm of the South African reality.

“But, specifically, one of the barriers that holds back black professionals at our firm is language. Despite a language policy that recognises English as a medium of communication at the workplace, there are hardened attitudes on the workplace floor,” says Dr Yoyo.

Role of universities in accelerating transformation

Are universities churning out enough quality graduates to spearhead South Africa’s transformation agenda?

“No, definitely not,” responds Dr Yoyo. “There is room for improvement. We need graduates to walk into PricewaterhouseCoopers, and that is not happening presently.

“There are no ready-made people coming through; the reason for this is simply that universities develop people for academic purposes.

“Universities of Technology should be better utilised, as they are tailor-made to prepare graduates for the workplace. Otherwise, we are building a pool of people for failure.

“What else can grade 12s do after Matric?” he asks.

Dr Yoyo advises students to heed the call by Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande, to consider enrolling at technical colleges as an alternative to university study.

“We have neglected the foundational phases of our education; our focus is primarily on Grade 12. And in large part, our curriculum is not suitable for preparing students for the future,” he laments.

“We should be paying attention to the quality other than quantity of our school graduates.“

Is transformation of the workplace playing second fiddle to BEE?

“Well, it is easy to reach BEE targets, isn’t it? But there are better options for remedying imbalances of the past, one of which is through broad-based BEE,” says Dr Yoyo.

“Secondly, skills development empowers individuals, whereas enterprise development stabilises fledgling entrepreneurs. We should be combining different pillars of BEE and synergising them.”

He is dismissive of affirmative action, which dispenses with merit. “No, there should be no affirmative action at the expense of merit.”

But, according to Dr Yoyo, the truth is that a set of conditions on the ground favours one group over others.

He takes strong exception to people who mention “transformation” and “merit” in the same breath.

“It’s an insult to equate transformation with mediocrity. By extension, this is an insinuation that transformation has no merit,” says Dr Yoyo, with an unmistakable ring of irritation to his voice.

“Transformation and merit are not opposites,” he says indignantly.

State of transformation at Medi-Clinic

According to Dr Yoyo, a key impediment to transformation at Medi-Clinic is language.

“We have a language policy in place, but Implementation thereof is hard,” he confides.

“It’s a big challenge, but even so, everyone is welcome to work for Medi-Clinic and, indeed, our staff are aware of company policy toward language.

“There is lots of room for improvement before we can safely say we have achieved our transformational agenda. We have not arrived there yet.

“We recently embarked on a structured approach to transformation. Systems are in place. Our hospitals have committees looking into employment equity,” says Dr Yoyo.

Giving back

He adds that the environment outside work also plays a role.

Medi-Clinic staff members do not merely look after the health of their patients, but give back to communities where they serve. They do this through voluntary work at schools, old-age homes and welfare centres.

The company identifies four focus arrears in its corporate social investment strategy, namely: welfare, education, sport and health.

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Affirmative action still lags behind

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. April 6, 2011

By Mathias Haufiku

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender and Social Affairs early this week met with the Employment Equity Commission (EEC) to discuss compliance of the publicprivate sectors and parastatals with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act of 1998.

Also on the agenda was looking at strategiesmechanisms to ensure that employers develop and implement affirmative action plans consistent with the Act.

They also discussed the current situation with regard to equitable representation of designated groups in all occupational categories and levels in the workplace and the successes and challenges facing the EEC in the implementation of the Act.

Employment Equity Commission Commissioner, Vilbard Usiku, encouraged employers to create a conducive work environment that would allow all employees to be equal. He further accentuated that employers should stop designing jobs aimed at excluding those from disadvantaged groups.

Usiku felt that all Namibians should have equal employment opportunities. “I want to urge all employers in our society to eliminate discrimination of any sort, whether it is sexual, gender or racial. Although women are underprivileged when it comes to employment opportunities, measures are in place to rectify the imbalance, because our women also need to enjoy employment benefits,” he stressed. Usiku reiterated that employers who violate the laws in any way would be prosecuted accordingly.

“A mindset is difficult to change, therefore measures have to be brought in place to ensure that those treating employees unfairly are brought to book,” said Usiku. According to the Employment Equity Commission, defaulters convicted by the courts for failing to comply with the provisions of the Affirmative Action Act of 1998 would be issued with fines.

According to the Commission’s report, employers continue to violate the affirmative action law, with the common offence being failure to submit affirmative action reports by the reporting dates as required by the law.

“The Commission and the law enforcement agencies will continue to act firmly against the culprits to ensure that no relevant employer will be allowed to violate the affirmative action law with impunity,” stated the Commission.

The Commission is mainly responsible for enforcing compliance with the provisions of the Act by conducting regular visits to business premises to verify the accuracy of information provided through the annual affirmative action reports.

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Analysis: Time to rethink affirmative action

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. By Zoleka Ndayi

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s defence of South Africa’s record on affirmative action (AA) in New York on Monday is debatable.

While the deputy president correctly posits that AA is one of the ways to redress the economic inequalities that are the legacy of apartheid, the policy seems to have the unintended consequences of promoting an “African Renaissance labour market” at the expense of domestic human capital.

This observation suggests that, in line with economic patriotism, the government needs to introduce stringent measures that would promote domestic protectionism on the labour front. The objective would be to prioritise and protect the domestic labour force against competitive non-South African black foreign human capital and thus fully realise the objectives of AA.

While AA is meant to redress the labour imbalances of the apartheid regime, one’s observations show that outside government, the programme has resulted in unintended consequences.

The South African labour market in the private sector and institutions of higher learning is fast witnessing the marginalisation of both black and white South Africans and the deep integration of black non-South Africans into the country’s workforce.

However, even as the foreign human capital provides required skills, sidelining of the available and qualifying local workforce raises fears of a potential backlash, thwarting efforts on domestic socioeconomic development efforts. At a continental level, socioeconomically marginalised South Africans could resort to negative nationalistic tendencies, thus a drawback to the African Renaissance cause.

The hardest hit by the “affirming” and “Africanising” South African labour market is the domestic black native. White and non-South African employers, in both the corporate world and in institutions of higher learning, seem to prefer non-South African blacks over their local counterparts.

In some instances, if not most, potential transformation candidates and available qualifying natives are marginalised. In these cases, black non-South Africans seem to be the beneficiaries of AA and the African Renaissance, at the expense of qualifying natives.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma lamented the failure of AA, attributing this to the notion that leadership of most big companies was still in the hands of whites. As a case in point, The Economist recorded that whites held 75% of senior positions in private companies, while blacks accounted for only 12%. One wonders how many black South Africans are in this minority.

Nonetheless, while some might attribute poor progress of affirming local blacks to their lack of skills, one believes that the most significant challenge lies with the preference of black non-South Africans over locals.

In 2010, it was reported that Eskom recruited blacks from outside the country to meet its AA targets. In this case, whether AA fills the gap of skills shortage or is institution-sponsored discrimination against locals is debatable. What is clear is that it is costly to the country’s socioeconomic development agenda.

The unfortunate result is the displacement of South African human capital in favour of foreigners, and an increase in the unemployment of both domestic black and white nationals.

As the foreign African labour force gets preference over both black and white domestic human capital, even in “non-affirming” positions, it seems the former become the biggest beneficiary in the labour-market of the post-apartheid and African Renaissance, driven by South Africa.

Nonetheless, in the spirit of African Renaissance, the presence of black non-South African human capital in the key sectors of the country’s economy, characterised by a critical skills shortage, is viewed in a positive light. However, given the government’s transformation agenda and the seemingly growing disfavour for the local black labour force, the dominance of foreign nationals and marginalisation of qualifying locals is a cause for concern. The best course of action in this regard is for the government to adopt economic patriotism that entails intensive and labour protectionism.

For example, on the trade front, the government is making impressive strides on economic patriotism. The demand stimulation measures such as “Proudly South African” and “Buy South African” local procurement campaigns are examples of economic patriotism.

Owing to pressure from Cosatu, South Africa also practises supply stimulation economic patriotism in the clothing and textile industry.

This, following job losses estimated at 1.1 million between 2009 and 2010, of which Zwelinzima Vavi estimates 14400 to be from the textile and clothing industry.

Late last year, the government launched its clothing and textile competitiveness programme and its core funding mechanism, the production incentive.

This measure subsidises the clothing, textiles, footwear, leather and leather goods manufacturing industries.

The government needs to apply similar measures on the labour front, not only to protect the South African workforce against the negative effects of the African Renaissance, but to curb the escalating rate of unemployment.

For example, in reaction to rising unemployment in that country, Japan has embarked on labour protectionism in the form of a repatriation plan by paying foreign workers to go home. The objective is to “ease pressure on domestic labour markets and get thousands off unemployment rolls”.

Politicians are urging the government to “stop letting unskilled labourers into Japan” and ensure that jobs are paid well and are filled by Japanese. Here at home, where unemployment is close to 37%, including those who have given up looking for employment, the government is proposing to subsidise firms that employ unskilled and globally uncompetitive youths. This is a noble measure of labour patriotism that needs to be endorsed and supported by all those interested in domestic socioeconomic development. Unlike AA, the measure should be explicit in that it is meant for native South African youth.

It would seem then, for the deputy president to strongly defend AA, he would need to check if it is benefitting the intended beneficiaries, otherwise the government needs to urgently find ways of reconciling African Renaissance and skills shortage with domestic economic patriotism. While there is a need to balance the interests of South Africans with the African Renaissance, the government also needs to protect the local labour force against the “not always competitive” and submissive black foreign human capital.

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Could affirmative action be helping white people?

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. March 24, 2011

By Anton I Botha

Talking about affirmative action has become rather hazardous in contemporary South Africa. One runs the risk of being labelled either a racist or, as the ANCYL would have it, a “counter-revolutionary”. What you are about to read is no doubt going to ruffle some feathers among both black and white audiences. So before I continue I should probably declare my own position on the matter. I am a white male, and I would like to think I both understand, and agree with, the reasons for affirmative action.

The merits of the legislation, although not perfect, are not what I aim to debate in this piece. Rather, 20 years since affirmative action first appeared on the South African political landscape little has changed in the socio-economic demographics of this country. Although South Africa now sports a couple of new white squatter camps and Soweto now has a millionaire’s drive, I think we can agree that poverty is still mainly a black problem. It would seem therefore that although on paper affirmative action aims to do one thing, it has also had some unintended consequences.

This idea of unintended consequences or un-effects (as I like to call them) was one I encountered in Steven Levitt and Stephen J Dubner’s books Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics. I loved the way these two rather off-the-wall thinkers detail a number of un-effects of governance systems.

They outline how the decrease in US crime rates in the 1990s could be directly linked to a Supreme Court ruling making abortions universally available to women in 1975. They also show how George W Bush’s education policy of “no child left behind” had the unintended effect of a number of teachers cheating on behalf of students. They also demonstrate, with statistics, how everything from how choosing the wrong name for your child is correlated with success in later life and why being an obsessive parent is unlikely to help your child become an achiever.

The theme of their research is essentially that “people respond to incentives, although not necessarily in ways that are predictable”. And their whole approach is based on the simple idea that “the most powerful law in the universe is the law of unintended consequences”.

This got my old cobweb-covered brain ticking over a bit. Could their line of thinking be applied to affirmative action in the South African context? After all, like some of the policies outlined in Freakonomics, South Africa’s affirmative action is a system aimed at bringing about socio-economic transformation. It could be reasoned that it, too, is susceptible to the law of unintended consequences. Is it therefore possible that affirmative action could actually be helping white people?

Unlike Levitt and Dubner, I do not have the vast quantities of data to support my ideas — all I can rely on is general observation. So theun-effects I have observed remain open to debate and, of course, to data that points to the contrary. I therefore invite commentators to point out bad reasoning on my part. However imperfect my points may be, they might at least provide some useful working hypotheses about why economic transformation has in certain instances benefited whites.

There are three unintended effects of affirmative action I can see as having favoured white people. These are what I like to call the Greener Pastures Effect, the Package Effect and the Godfrey Moloi Effect.

The Greener Pastures Effect is quite simple and I have personally observed it a number of times. Imagine for a moment being a white child born in South Africa since the 1980s. You are likely to have lived through some radical political changes in your formative years. A system that previously gave you an unfair advantage is now re-written not only to take away that advantage but is perceived by those who influence you to disadvantage you. Needless to say most white children of that generation, once they grew up, regarded themselves as disenfranchised because they were taught toperceive themselves as the victims of history.

Even though there are numerous arguments about how this generation of whites still have all sorts of advantages, it makes no difference on an emotional level. That being said, people tend to make economic decisions emotionally, rather than rationally (as all impulse buyers know). So what does an emotionally charged young white person do when their perception is that their country does not want them?

Well, they start looking for Greener Pastures. In the past most white South Africans went to the UK, others went to work on cruise ships, some became security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently most white graduates head to the Far East to teach English. I bet most people know at least two or three such examples (if not more). Most of these expats do, however, have two things in common: they all earn foreign currency (USD, Euro, Yuan, GBP, etc) and those who return to SA do so with a fair bit of capital.

I know a number of people (of course not all, the overseas party scene is sometimes just too inviting) who have returned with enough money from overseas stints to build a suburban house, purchase a car, and start their own businesses, thereby securing themselves nice upper-middle class existences — something they would not have enjoyed working in the civil service or even in most parts of the private sector. Imagine being 30 with a house and a car but no bond or car payment? By “forcing” whites to consider the economic prospects in other countries, the system of affirmative action has allowed a number of them to return with lots of ZAR, thereby making them wealthier than if they had stayed.

Yet another un-effect is the Package Effect, which came into play in post apartheid South Africa when both the public and private sectors were eager to transform. What happened in both sectors was that older white employees (those 55 and over) were offered “voluntary retrenchment” packages that usually included pension earned to date with some “sweetener” included to expedite the process. As a result of this, a number of older white people walked away with millions of rands-worth of capital that they could either invest or start businesses with. Those who successfully started businesses (of course many didn’t) then went on to employ their immediate family (or the children of their friends) and so the next white generation became economically independent.

The third, and probably the most tenuous, effect of affirmative action is what I have come to call the Godfrey Moloi Effect. Most of you should know who Godfrey Moloi was. He was the self-styled Godfather of Soweto. What made Godfrey Moloi so special was that, despite the fact that he had the whole apartheid apparatus working against him, he managed to succeed. He ran a number of successful businesses despite the fact that security police regularly “confiscated” his inventory and capital equipment and even robbed him of his personal property. He was even incarcerated a number of times. Each one of these hurdles just made the Godfather more resolute. He would always be back and come up with all sorts of innovative ways to overcome the obstacles set by the system.

There is something about some people who when the chips are stacked against them motivates them beyond what they would normally do. Of course this principle does not apply to everyone; if it did then those discriminated against by apartheid should all have been economically successful and we would not currently have white squatter camps. Although selective, the principle outlined is one I have recently observed in some resourceful young white South Africans: a resoluteness to succeed against the odds. Even though, rationally-speaking, the current affirmative action system is not even remotely as discriminatory as that of apartheid, it does not seem to matter on a psychological level.

Understanding these three un-effects (I am sure there are more) does not help fix the very real economic challenges faced by millions of South Africans who have slipped through the economic net. It does however show that, although not immediately obvious, affirmative action has given whites all sorts of unintended opportunities. Therefore — and despite what some populist leaders might like us to think — our current predicament might actually be furthered by the very systems put in place to resolve it. It would therefore seem to me that the current capital landscape is less the result of vindictiveness on the part of the rich than the un-effects of the very systems geared toward addressing its inequality.

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Affirmative action 'on its head': Solidarity

March 23, 2011 By Sapa

"In terms of a ruling [on Tuesday], two white police members, Emil and Martha Oosthuizen, must be appointed retrospectively in accordance with a settlement reached between Solidarity and the SAPS," spokesman Dirk Hermann said in a statement.

He said this followed their application for reappointment in 2008, which was denied because their reappointment did not promote representation.

They both worked as fingerprint experts in the SAPS from 1990 until their resignation in 2006.

In July 2009 they applied for about 20 positions separately, and were finally reappointed in August 2010.

Hermann said that in terms of the court order, police records had to be adjusted to show their reappointment date as March 2009.

"Solidarity is turning the unreasonable way in which affirmative action is implemented in the SAPS and the public service on its head case by case," he said.

"The test of all these cases is to determine whether the ideology of absolute representivity should be implemented at the expense of service delivery."

Hermann said that in not one case could the ideology withstand the trial by court.

The union had won eight consecutive affirmative action cases against the SAPS and government, out of twelve cases brought before the court.

In one of these cases last year, the court ruled that Captain Renate Barnard be promoted to superintendent.

Hermann said the SAPS had appealed the ruling and the case would go to the Labour Appeals court on May 4.

"In our opinion, this case is essential since a higher court will now determine whether affirmative action in South Africa is reasonable or not," Hermann said.

Call to Engineers and Artisans

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. March 15, 2011

It seems that there is a growing realisation that "skills and experience" are invaluable assets in the South African Construction and Building environment.

Over the past two weeks Minister of Public Works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, has placed a number of full page advertisements calling upon all retired, unemployed and not yet qualified Engineers and Artisans to submit their CV's to the Department of Public Works.

"The aim is to create a database of Engineers and Artisans so that they can be utilised to assist the Department to deliver on its infrastructure development mandate as well as contribute to job creation and a sustainable skills pipeline into the future".

Mahlangu-Nkabinde said that the Department of Public Works wanted to test the scarcity of skills in the country, which was often given as reason for outsourcing most of the construction projects commissioned by government to large multinational corporations.

"I am of the opinion that there is capacity, ability and willingness to successfully handle most of these services, which are usually outsourced, in the broader community of this country," she noted.

What is of interest to SA - The Good News is that the necessity for skills when juxtaposed with the BBBEE imperative is beginning to reveal a greater imperative for skills acquisition and the possible beginnings of sunset clauses in respect of Affirmative Action.

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ANC is splintering - DA

March 9, 2011 By Gaye Davis

Opposition MPs have flayed the ANC for defending government spokesman Jimmy Manyi, with the DA claiming it showed the ruling party had abandoned non-racialism and was “split down the middle”.

“The ANC is splintering. Every policy decision is contested, every province is factionalised and every member identified by the camp to which they belong,” said DA federal chairman Wilmot James.

“At the heart of the ruling party there is one fundamental fracture: non-racialism. Every ANC member will now have to decide: where do they stand on Jimmy Manyi?”

His party colleague, Sandy Kalyan, said the fact that Manyi remained in his post was “an embarrassment to this country and an insult to those people he’s been disrespectful to”.

“One wonders whether he was talking about cattle or human beings,” Kalyan said.

Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota said the government “seems to be leaning ever more towards the social engineering we thought we had killed in 1994”.

“Any form of social engineering is anathema and will only reverse the gains made so far,” Lekota said.

The IFP’s Dr Usha Roopnarains said Manyi’s comments displayed “a frightening brand of arrogance and downright racism” and said he should be fired.

Freedom Front Plus spokesman on labour, Anton Alberts, said public pressure needed “to be kept up until he resigns from his position”.

“Manyi’s vendetta against minorities in South Africa makes him incompetent to hold a position at the public service because he is unwilling to serve the South African public without any prejudice.”

His party has asked the Public Service Commission to investigate Manyi’s appointment, as the law does not allow state employees to hold additional posts and receive payment for doing so.

Alberts claimed the FF+ had found that Manyi was not only president of the Black Management Forum but also headed its investment arm, was president of the confederation of Black Business Organisations, and a non-executive director of various companies and boards, including IBM South Africa and Meegbank Holdings. Manyi recently handed over his BMF presidential responsibilities to his deputy, in order to focus on his government job.

Minority trade union Solidarity said it would be coming to Parliament on Wednesday to demand that proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act be withdrawn.

At issue are criteria for judging whether employers are compliant with the act, which aims at correcting inequalities by applying affirmative action. While the government has insisted the changes are aimed at giving employers more flexibility in hiring, critics maintain their effect will see companies having to apply national demographics. With local government elections looming on May 18, the issue has provided grist to electioneering mills. - Political Bureau

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COSATU WCape condemns Manyi's racist statement

Posted March 2, 2011 By Tony Ehrenreich

Racist statement against coloureds condemned in the strongest terms

COSATU is outraged at the manner in which the Employment Equity legislation has been drafted, that gives the impression that Coloureds would lose their jobs in droves in the Western Cape. We are concerned at the Department of Labour putting out Legislation that could create this impression and call on the Department of Labour to withdraw the amendments and to reinstate the legislation that confirms that provincial demographics will be used to define employment equity targets.

The Department of Labour should also clearly clarify their intention to address the Employment Equity targets in the higher category of workers, as this is where the real problem is. The companies are still over employing whites into senior managerial positions, whilst there are many black [coloured, African and Indian] graduates not getting employment.

Solidarity, the DA and the media have tried to cause racial dissent by highlighting the focus on Coloureds, whilst underplaying the fact that we are going to insist that the EE targets are met for all race groups in all categories of work, with a special focus on Managerial jobs for Blacks [Coloureds, Africans and Indians] in senior Managerial positions, so that Employment Equity targets are met, in spite of the DA attempts to defend the whites.

COSATU believes that Jimmy Manyi's comments and attitude may have impacted on the legislation drafted, and this raises serious questions in his attitude and orientation to the race issue in South Africa. COSATU calls for an investigation into the conduct of Jimmy Manyi as it cast serious aspersions on his suitability for senior public office.

COSATU is further outraged at the statements by journalist Kuli Roberts, who made such derogatory statements about Coloured woman. These statements are both racist and sexist and should be condemned in the strongest terms. We believe that public should be protected against this attitude and call on the Press ombudsman to take the strongest possible action against such statements, whilst at the same time obligating the sensitive editing of material, to avoid these kinds of stereotyping.

Journalists making themselves guilty of statements should have the strongest disciplinary action taken against them. Any racial attacks on Minorities or statements that causes racial dissent must be carefully scrutinised, to guard against causing strife and marginalisation of any racial grouping.

COSATU and the Alliance will ensure that this draft legislation is repealed and that the interests of minorities are defended within our broader commitments to Employment Equity and Affirmative action. The intention of any legislation must be measured against the express commitment of the constitution to promote and enhance racial harmony.

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BMF backs Manyi

Post March 1, 2011 By Zara Nicholson

The Black Management Forum has warned “anti-transformation forces” to keep their hands off president Jimmy Manyi, and said it “stands by the correct context” of Manyi’s remarks on an “over-supply” of coloureds in the Western Cape.

Manyi’s remarks were widely condemned by opposition parties and the ANC but he has since “unreservedly apologised” for his comments and the offence they caused.

The forum has finally spoken out on the issue of Manyi’s remarks about coloured people, which he made during an affirmative action debate on TV last year, when he was director-general of labour. He is now a government spokesman.

Black Management Forum (BMF) deputy president Tembakazi Mnyaka said in a statement: “The BMF stands by the correct context of the statement which was meant to ensure a wider and broader representation of all race groups in all nine provinces, in line with national demographics of the country and as guided by the Employment Equity Act.”

She said the current publicity around Manyi’s views on transformation in the Western Cape should not be allowed to obscure the “deep-seated need for socio-economic justice, fairness and equity”.

BMF managing director Nomhle Nkumbi-Ndopu said: “The BMF refuses to engage on these negative games. We appeal to all concerned to engage in the public process on the Employment Equity Act amendments and on any related matter of concern.

“The BMF is a non-racial organisation and will continue to advocate its objectives unapologetically in line with its transformation objective.”

ANC MP Professor Ben Turok said he was “astonished” that the BMF was supporting Manyi’s comments.

Turok said: “I understood that the word ‘black’ in South Africa related to black, coloured and Indian people. The statement by Manyi originally had a clear effect on coloureds and Indians.

“The BMF must say whether they represent Africans only or do they represent Africans, coloureds and Indians. They need to indicate how the legislation to use national demographics can be justified with the consequences it has on the other two groups (coloureds and Indians). If that is their view, then there is a huge disservice to the cause of creating a non-racial society.”

Mnyaka responded saying: “The BMF is a non-racial organisation. We also have white members. We support the correct context of the statement not the distorted interpretation. It essentially says South Africa belongs to all who live in it. If we were to continue with perpetuation of racial spatial patterns that confined certain groups to certain regions, we would not be able to address issue of national demographics in employment equity. The economically active population of all race groups should reflect in all nine provinces according to national demographics”.

In a letter to the Cape Times, Turok said fortunately Manyi had apologised for his remarks but said the one aspect that still merited attention was that the BMF should have disassociated itself from Manyi’s views.

Mnyaka concluded by saying: “The BMF, led by its president, will not be deterred from the transformation cause. Jimmy Manyi is a fearless campaigner who speaks his mind on national issues.” - Cape Times

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Basic Guide to Affirmative Action South Africa

February 16, 2011

Affirmative action in South Africa refers to policies that take factors including “race, colour, religion, sex or national origin” into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination. The focus of such policies ranges from employment and education to public contracting and health programs. Affirmative action in South Africa ensures that qualified people from designated groups have equal opportunities in the workplace.

Due to apartheid in South Africa favoured white-owned companies and as a result, the majority of employers in South Africa were, and still are owned by white people. The aforementioned policies achieved the desired results, but in the process they marginalised and excluded black people. Skilled jobs were also reserved for white people, and blacks were largely used as unskilled labour.

It has been argued that affirmative action in South Africa benefits people of colour who are already well off or have middle class advantages, not the poor and working class people of colour who most need it. A more careful analysis reveals that affirmative action programs have benefited substantial numbers of poor and working class people of colour. Access to job training programs, vocational schools, and semi-skilled and skilled blue-collar, craft, pink-collar, police and fire-fighters jobs has increased substantially through affirmative action programs. Even in the professions, many people of colour who have benefited from affirmative action have been from families of low income and job status.

The policies of affirmative action indirectly give rise to reverse discrimination. The idea of affirmative action in South Africa is to give support and assistance to the previously discriminated group, for a better future. The fact however is, that many previously discriminated members belong to the economically middle and upper class families and still, they get the advantage of affirmative action policies. A poor white student who works harder avails no benefit and lags behind in the competition. So, isn’t this a discrimination against the minority class? And how come middle and upper class minorities, now in good financial position, are still enjoying the benefits of affirmative action? These questions need to be answered.

Another argument raised against affirmative action in South Africa is that individual white people, often white males, have to pay for past discrimination and may not get the jobs they deserve. It is true that specific white people may not get specific job opportunities because of affirmative action policies and may suffer as a result. This lack of opportunity is unfortunate; the structural factors which produce a lack of decent jobs needs to be addressed. It must not be forgotten that millions of specific people of colour have also lost specific job opportunities as a result of racial discrimination. To be concerned only with the white applicants who don’t get the job, and not with the people of colour who don’t, is showing racial preference.

The following is a basic guide to the application of affirmative action in South Africa. Application The Employment Equity Act applies to all employers, workers and job applicants, but not members of the – • National Defence Force; • National Intelligence Agency; and • South African Secret Service. The provisions for affirmative action in South Africa apply to – • employers with 50 or more workers, or whose annual income is more than the amount specified in Schedule 4 of the Act; • municipalities; • organs of State; • employers ordered to comply by a bargaining council agreement; • any employers who volunteer to comply. See • Employment Equity Act Applies to all employers and workers and protects workers and job seekers from unfair discrimination, and also provides a framework for implementing affirmative action Affirmative Action Measures Employers must make sure designated groups (black people, women and people with disabilities) have equal opportunities in the workplace.

Designated groups must be equally represented in all job categories and levels. Based on Legislation in Section 15, of the Employment Equity Act Why is Affirmative Action Necessary? Affirmative action makes sure that qualified designated groups (black people, women and people with disabilities) have equal opportunities to get a job.

They must also be equally represented in all job categories and levels of the workplace. Based on legislation in Section 15,of the Employment Equity Act What Measures Must Employers Take? Employers must – • find and remove things that badly affect designated groups; • support diversity through equal dignity and respect to all people; • make changes to ensure designated groups have equal chances; • ensure equal representation of designated groups in all job categories and levels in the workplace; and • retain and develop designated groups. Based on Legislation in Section 15 of the Employment Equity Act Discussing Affirmative Action with Workers Employers must discuss employment equity issues with their workers. They must include different kinds of workers in the talks. Based on Legislation in Section 16, of the Employment Equity Act Who Should Employers Talk To? When they discuss employment equity, employers must make sure they include workers from: • all job categories and levels; • designated groups (black people, women and people with disabilities); and • workers who are not from designated groups. Based on legislation in Section 16, of the Employment Equity Act What Should Employers Discuss With Workers? Employers must talk to workers or their unions about their employment equity: • studies; • plans; and • reports.

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Give Malema a break

Posted on February 7, 2011 By John Dobson

It's not every day that one has some empathy for Fabiani's favourite son, Julius Malema. But with the predictably shrill reaction to his comments at the opening of Kenny Kunene's ZAR nightclub last weekend, I do.

It seems to be slightly impish, if not biased, to take his statements absolutely literally.  But, as the classified ad says: "WANTED – anything to hang Malema with".

I am sure when he says it is an ANC nightclub he does not mean that it hosts NEC meetings with Gwede Mantashe poring over account figures with half-moon glasses, enquiring: "So how is our nightclub doing? Should we not be having foam parties on Wednesdays?"

The human sushi platters are degrading to women – but they are just as degrading as draping women over the bonnets of F1 cars (if they have bonnets) and cheering a bikini-clad number on perilous stilettos parading around a ring at a boxing event at Carnival City. But somehow the latter two examples seem to be far more palatable to a large portion of our population than King Kenny's behaviour. Why do we reserve this vitriol and hatred for Kenny and Juju?

Taking Julius's comments literally is naughty - including his statement that Helen Zille won't close his nightclub at 2am.  It's okay for Ronnie Rex ofRonnie’s Down and Out Tavern and Dive in Long Street to say bugger Zille and her new laws, and Malema's comments would be funny were he not so demonised.

In a funny way I think that if you look at Malema's comments figuratively (don't laugh), there is something Biko-esque about them – in his refusal to be defined by what he views as some old-world, old-order paradigm. He is saying that they should not apologise for their success, their power, their wealth as he lurches hand in hand with King Kenny clutching a bottle of Mumm.

If you were to ask the majority of white South Africa, they would accuse Kenny of being nothing more than a probably corrupt, ex-con, BEE fatcat. It irks them to see him flashing such obscene wealth, never mind that he made so good so quickly after the horrors that he experienced at Grootvlei prison; horrors that you would not wish upon many.

We think that he is benefitting from affirmative action and BBBEE. But remember that affirmative action and race-based economic empowerment are far from new concepts. The nationalist government introduced it with great vigour in the 1950s, as they purged the civil service of English speakers and created a very wealthy Afrikaner super class. That was okay then, but now that black people do it, it isn't.

We react with mass faintings and boundless cynicism when we read of a corrupt deal or a DG under investigation, but not so when we read of collusion among the construction companies (basically white with the requisite empowerment element) to build the Gautrain and a few stadia.

In essence they have taken government money, raised by your taxes, and filled their pockets. Blade would have to stay several decades at the Mount Nelson to match what they are alleged to have taken.

The point is that it is exactly the same money that the corrupt officials fill their boots with, but in a funny way it's okay because it is corporate South Africa, not a government official.

But no, it's not okay. Until we have a culture where the corruptor is more guilty than the corruptee we will have problems. But more importantly, we have to stop the double standards that are so often hysterical, stereotyped and race-based.

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Time to show the red card to all this football hysteria

Posted on February 3, 2011 Guess what? I not only haven’t a clue what the offside rule is in soccer, but I also could not care less.

I do care that the sport is so obscene that footballers are sold for £50 million when so many people in this country are losing jobs and living on or below the breadline.

I don’t even know the names of the two Sky TV presenters who were either sacked or who resigned for making sexist remarks, and I don’t care enough to look it up.

Last week I told you how much technology had changed in my lifetime. Now, as I approach 61, the events of this week have made me think about how life has changed for women – and it has!

I’m not sure if it is true or not, but when I started work as a young journalist in South Africa in 1969, I was told that only in journalism and among doctors were women equally paid.

That hasn’t always been the case in my lifetime either. I have since worked in companies where men were doing less of a job and getting paid more.

On one newspaper for which I worked, the chief sub-editor refused to have women in the subs’ table. It was not until the mid-80s, when he retired, that female subs were allowed.

I think I have mentioned before, too, how the arrival of trousers and trouser suits for women was not universally welcomed.

I was turned away from a cinema because I was wearing a rather expensive and extremely modern trouser suit. I was told that I could not enter unless I was wearing a skirt or dress.

That was in the late 1960s. It wasn’t in my grandmother’s time. It is so incredible how attitudes have changed.

In fact, the other day I was wearing a skirt and my youngest adopted grandson asked me what it was and demanded to know why I was wearing it. His mum, like me, spends most of her time in trousers.

I worked while my kids were little, but I was luckily able to work from home. When I did go full-time, it was always me who had to take a day off if the kids were sick or had a dental appointment or whatever. It did not even occur to either me or my husband that he should be the one to ring in sick.

At least I was able to have a husband. When I was little, many trainee nurses were not allowed to marry while they were training. I even know of one woman who was married but still had to stay in single nurses’ quarters.

Women didn’t go into pubs, or if they did they certainly didn’t go into the public bar. Lounge bars were where the “ladies” were found – and it was okay to call us ladies in those days.

You can imagine therefore how thinking women, like myself, welcomed Women’s Lib with open arms in the early 1970s.

Not quite.

To my shame and that of many of my peers, the Women’s Libbers were considered “too extreme and probably lesbian” – we didn’t have the word ‘gay’ then.

I at least embraced the theory – to a certain extent anyway – but I couldn’t be militant and I was NEVER going to burn my bra!

In the wake of Women’s Lib, “affirmative action” and “glass ceilings” became the buzz words.

Affirmative action used to worry me. Just as a man should not have got a job just because he was a man, neither should a woman get a post solely based on her gender.

Now, with hindsight, I can see that it might have been the only way to change attitudes and to give women a chance to prove what they could do at the time.

So, where are we today? Well, two male presenters have lost their jobs for making stupidly sexist remarks when they thought they were off air.

They really needed to be reprimanded and they really needed to apologise.

They were certainly fools; more to be pitied than punished. With their fat salaries, losing their jobs will not be as difficult as it is for most others who are losing theirs in these difficult economic times.

We need to keep a sense of perspective, however.

Sexual harassment of any type in any place, at any time, is completely unacceptable. A woman should be able to take any steps necessary to stop it.

But when a man is doing no more than making himself look an idiot, do we have to have the hysteria that we have seen over the past week?

Frankly, I have more things to worry about; like how we can get a football club to spend £50 million to help those in need?

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