Is South Africa’s government racist?

A new report questions the policies implemented by the South African government, in particular, those relating to affirmative action, and race distinction.

The report, prepared by Solidarity Trade Union’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices, argues that government pursues policies that are ‘overtly race-based’.

Based on its research, Solidarity has requested a parliamentary debate on the matter, on behalf of 300,000 South Africans, including the group’s trade union members.

According to Solidarity, throughout its report to the Committee, the South African government proclaims its commitment to the development of a society that is non-racial and non-sexist.

It says that:

“The elimination of all forms of racial discrimination remains high on the agenda of the Government. South Africa’s history brings into particular prominence the importance of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination. The Government continues to dedicate considerable financial, organisational and human resources to the fight against racial discrimination.”

Summarizing its position, Solidarity noted that the ‘Government is dedicated to the development of a non-racial society’.

It said that by means of such pronouncements the government hopes to bring itself within the legitimate scope of the convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, which includes race-based discrimination among its prohibitions.

“Whether the South African government appreciates it or not, however, the stance being adopted is false,” the report said.

“In fact, the South African government pursues policies that are overtly race-based in  order to produce a society that is demographically representative. In short, its policies are not non-racial; at best they are neo-racial and at worst blatantly racialist: society is structured in silos based on race and gender, with baneful results. The system is not concerned with affirmative action, but with race,” the report said.

The problem permeates every facet of the regulatory framework of South Africa, Solidarity argues.

No statute governing the distribution of societal benefits or privileges is without a structure designed to give preferment to black people, and the executive branch of government uniformly grants licences and permits on the same basis.

“This is nothing less than institutionalised racism,” the report stressed.

It stated that in the face of entrenched rights to equality in the Constitution, ‘these policies are pursued with impunity since the courts’, whose powers have repeatedly been invoked, are either unable or unwilling to take a stand that would give proper effect to the rhetoric they so boldly employ.

Solidarity noted that of the statutes, the most profoundly racialist is the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (BEE). It creates a structure that makes government procurement dependent upon the extent to which a prospective supplier is, in racial terms, ‘transformed’.

Points are awarded for black equity and property ownership, black representation within the managerial and staff hierarchy, and the distribution of patronage to black contractors.

The report cited a quote from Jonathan Jansen, who heads up the University of the Free State:

“I hope that race-obsessed policies can come to an end as we continue on the critical path of nation-building in the long shadows of apartheid …. The hated race categories conjured up by apartheid [that is, White, Coloured, Indian and Black] cannot be instruments for transforming a new country …. In our obsession with demographic correctness, we privilege crude numbers over transformed minds; we re-inscribe offensive apartheid categories on post-apartheid mentalities; and we risk social cohesion by generating alienation, division and bitterness.”

Solidarity is critical of the state’s policies in the workplace, “where race norming rather than race-preferencing is pursued”.

More on race in South Africa

EFF wants to rename South Africa – because of apartheid

Whites in South Africa ‘are worse than Hitler’

Stellenbosch lecturer fired over ‘racist’ SMS

Four types of affirmative action in SA

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Is South Africa’s government racist?