ANC slams ‘cheap electioneering’ over employment equity laws
ANC's Fikile Mbalula says the ruling party supports affirmative action and employment equity.
ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has accused opposition parties of misleading the public by using the new employment equity laws to attract votes for next year’s election.
The new regulations, published in May, under the Employment Equity Act caused an uproar following claims by some political parties that the measures would discriminate against the “coloured and Indian population” in the country.
The Department of Employment and Labour must prescribe sectoral employment demographic targets in each province for companies with more than 50 employees, according to the act.
Lobby group, Solidarity, had also launched a complaint against the department with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was also roped into the matter.
The organisation, in particular, had disputed the implementation of strict racial quotas in the workplace.
The matter has since been concluded, thus, ending a nine-month mediation process after the department and Solidarity agreed that race cannot be the only consideration for employers to implement affirmative action targets.
Speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, Mbalula indicated that the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) received a report on the government’s settlement agreement with Solidarity.
The ANC secretary-general said the claims that the act would potentially ban the certain race groups from employment in certain provinces were incorrect and damaging to South Africa’s image.
“The agreement stipulates that the Employment Equity is not a one fit all, but that provincial variations must be considered,” he said.
Mbalula criticised the opposition for resorting to spread “propaganda” to get votes ahead of the 2024 elections and further accused the parties of using apartheid tactics.
“Some political parties have henceforth grossly misled the masses of our people on this as a way of garnering votes in what is a re-igniting of the apartheid-era swart gevaar tactics, by creating a fictitious racial gulf premised on baseless fears between Africans on the one hand and Indians and Coloureds on the other,” the ANC secretary-general said.
“The NWC emphasised the importance of the ANC participating in public hearings to debunk this propaganda which clearly is fashioned as a cheap electioneering strategy at the expense of truth by perpetuating racial polarisation. The ANC remains committed to resolving the national question.”
Watch the briefing below:
‘Debunking the myth’
Mbalula further said the ANC would continue to support affirmative action and employment equity, but “not as job reservations tactics which was notoriously applied by the apartheid regime”.
“You must understand that to us, as the ANC, blacks mean Coloureds, Indians and Africans. To others it might mean something [else],” he said.
“Therefore, the settlement agreement was aimed at debunking the myth that the Employment Equity was unconstitutional or a violation of the Discrimination (employment and occupation) Convention number 111 of 1958.
“The NWC further reiterates that these regulations are up for public consultations and call on all our people and our structures to participate in these public hearings as we strive for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society, which is informed by our class analysis and not racial balkanisation of society,” Mbalula added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the amended Employment Equity Act in April this year, however, Employment And Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi later published new regulations which proposed five-year sectoral targets.
The act empowers the Department of Labour to set new transformation targets for industries, including regional ones.