Hanna Ziady
2 minute read
8 Feb 2016
7:00 am

Mashaba taking on ANC labour policies

Hanna Ziady

Black Like Me founder Herman Mashaba believes it’s time to stop the ANC’s labour policies in their tracks.

FILE PICTURE: Herman Mashaba. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Mary-Ann Palmer)

The survival of the ANC is dependent on black people getting poorer so that they remain dependent on government handouts, entrepreneur and businessman Herman Mashaba said, as he led a Constitutional Court challenge to labour laws.

The founder of hair-product empire Black Like Me, Mashaba was recently announced as the DA’s mayoral candidate for Johannesburg. He said he put his hand up for the position the day after President Jacob Zuma axed then-finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene.

Jumping in

“I refuse to watch our country be destroyed. I want to use my privileged life to pay back to society by becoming a civil servant,” Mashaba told a group of insurance company CEOs at an Insurance Institute of Gauteng (IIG) event.

“The economic policies pursued by the current government are destroying everything that Mandela worked for and what he really wanted to achieve,” Mashaba argued, noting that these policies were informed by communist Russia.

He described the tripartite alliance, referring to the relationship between the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu, as “toxic”. Mashaba is leading a Constitutional Court challenge brought by liberal think-tank the Free Market Foundation (FMF), to argue that Section 32 of the Labour Relations Act is unconstitutional.

Section 32 dictates that bargaining council agreements, reached between private parties, must be extended across an entire industry sector by Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant.

The FMF is arguing that the minister should apply her mind and consider the socioeconomic implications of these agreements, particularly on smaller firms, which cannot always afford to pay wages agreed on between big business and unions.

Mashaba, who served as chairperson of the FMF from 2012 to 2014, said: “This [Section 32] has destroyed small business in this country. I am funding this court case out of family resources so that poor people and small businesses can get an opportunity,” Mashaba said.

The case, which has been delayed for three years by Cosatu, will be heard later this month. Cosatu, meanwhile, argues that the FMF’s attack constitutes “an attack of labour standards fought for by workers on the streets in South Africa”.

“Many workers remain outside collective bargaining councils, facing precarious working conditions and low wages meted out by intransigent employers,” Cosatu maintains.

On Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), Mashaba said government money should be spent where it was needed and that while policies were required to deal with the ills of the past, they should not divide the country along racial lines.

ANC hits back

When asked to respond to these comments, ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa said Mashaba was criticising and distorting policies, such as BEE, which benefited him. He said that under the new dispensation, Black Like Me enjoyed BEE status.

Kodwa said that Mashaba did not have struggle credentials and that the ANC questioned how he, a black person, could have become so successful under apartheid. “It was not possible for any black person to thrive at that time. Many who thrived had connections with the system,” Kodwa said.