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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


Fury over Dis-Chem letter on hiring of whites

DA calls it ‘job-destroying jackhammer’ that will worsen economy.


A leaked internal Dis-Chem memo detailing a memorandum on the recruitment and employment of white South Africans must have spoilt its author, chief executive Ivan Saltzman’s weekend.

The correspondence has sparked outrage from several South African politicians and organisations.

Leaked Dis-Chem memo

Economist Dawie Roodt also weighed in and said: “My family and I will no longer shop at Dis-Chem.”

The letter, details the chain’s decision to no longer hire white people, because as Saltzman put it: “When no suitable black candidate is found and a white is appointed, we need several blacks just to maintain the status quo, never mind moving forward.”

He then went on to say that no whites should be employed. It is a conundrum that many South African companies and sports teams face on a daily basis.

AfriForum boss Kallie Kriel suggested Saltzman boot himself out of a job.

He tweeted: “Ivan Saltzman, CEO of the racist DisChem, should practise what he preaches and resign because he is ‘white’. Or does he really think it is okay to abuse transformation to destroy the lives of other whites to protect his own position?”

Many South Africans are angry.

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said: “That letter by the CEO of Dis-Chem was racial and divisive. Racial quotas contributed to our current economic woes. Hire South Africans on merit and focus on training where you experience weaknesses.”

Freedom Front Plus leader Corne Mulder shared his concern: “Mr Saltzman describes certain cases where no suitable black candidates have applied for a specific position and a suitable white candidate is then appointed as an ‘unwanted’ practice.

“Private sector employers are forced by means of legislation to maintain unrealistic and discriminatory transformation targets, with hefty fines imposed when those targets are not met.”

Dis-Chem stands by memo

According to Solidarity, which first leaked the letter on Twitter last week, Dis-Chem said it had retracted the letter while in other media reports, the pharmacy and healthcare chain said it stood by its statement.

Chief executive of the trade union Dr Dirk Hermann said in a tweet: “Dis-Chem’s legal team wrote to Solidarity and confirmed the letter is retracted. Now they said in the media they stand by it. Thus, the letter is retracted but the content not.”

Dr Michael Cardo, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of employment and labour, said: “Instead of kowtowing to the ANC’s diktats, business leaders should locate their backbone and begin to fight back, in the same way CEOs and chairs of listed companies defied influx control and job reservation in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Cardo suggested the Dis-Chem letter was penned in anticipation of new draconian employment equity laws expected.

He said: “The craven and desperate letter penned by Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman in which he calls for a moratorium on the appointment of whites in his company, underscores the panic engendered by pending changes to employment equity legislation.”

‘Job-destroying jackhammer’

Cardo called the Bill, which is on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk for signing, a “job-destroying jackhammer, and it will worsen South Africa’s economic woes”.

“The Bill empowers the minster of employment and labour to set numerical employment equity targets for any national economic sector after a vaguely defined process of consultation.

“The minister will be able to set targets for different occupational levels, subsectors or regions backed by hefty fines for noncompliance.

“The Bill facilitates the reintroduction of race quotas. The new EE [employment equity] regime will deter investors, undermine economic growth and jeopardise jobs.”

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