New court case to decide on the future of affirmative action in South Africa

Trade union Solidarity will head to court on Wednesday (18 September) to challenge sections of South Africa’s affirmative action legislation.

The union has asked the Labour Court to force the government to implement the recommendations of a report on equality released by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

According to Solidarity chief operating officer Dr Dirk Hermann, the main findings of the SAHRC report includes:

  • Affirmative action should be applied in a more nuanced way;
  • That socio-economic indicators must be taken into account;
  • That the way in which affirmative action is currently applied gives rise to a practice of race quotas.

“Government has not made any changes to the Employment Equity Act yet, despite the country’s human rights watchdog having found that its unnuanced racial approach is unconstitutional,” he said.

“To persist with this without trying to have the findings set aside is contemptuous of an institution established by the constitution and is in contempt of the constitution itself.”

Hermann added that the government has not taken the SAHRC’s report on review either and hence it is bound by it.

For as long as the findings and recommendations are not legally challenged those findings and recommendations stand, he said.

“Government had 60 days to challenge the findings. A year and a half have since gone by and they have thus forfeited their right to challenge the report,” Hermann said.

“We are now asking the Labour Court to oblige government to implement the recommendations, which would mean amending the Employment Equity Act.”

Read: This new register will track qualifications in South Africa

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New court case to decide on the future of affirmative action in South Africa