Corporate South Africa is spitting on Madiba’s face’

Publicaton: Indepedent Online

By: Siyabonga Sesant

Recent statistics from the Employment Equity report serves to highlight the inequality pervading our society. The report showed that despite making up almost 50% of the workforce in Western Cape, coloured people make up only 10% of top management positions. This is key in showing how companies are failing to implement the employment equity that we so vitally need, and the fact that companies are refusing to comply or attempt to address this issue, can no longer be accepted. The problem lies not only in the corporate elite who are refusing to move forward and accept transformation, but also in the reluctance of the administrative powers and system to implement real change. To say that there are no coloured people competent of occupying the top management positions is clearly a lie, and one that the people of South Africa no longer believe, so we must start demanding real change in order to see an equal and fair representation of black people in corporate positions.

Cape Town – The Department of Labour has vowed to take legal action against businesses dragging their heels to transform the workplace after it emerged that 77 percent of all top management posts in the Western Cape are occupied by whites.

White men make up 63.2 percent of that 77 percent – 48.7 percent of the total – the department said.

It emerged that 77 percent of all top management posts in the Western Cape are occupied by whites.

Coloured people, who made up 48.2 percent of the workforce in the province, occupied 10.1 percent of top management positions, with just over four percent being coloured women.

Only 4.7 percent of black people were in top management posts in the province.

The statistics are contained in the department’s 16th Commission on Employment Equity report.

The department’s provincial spokeswoman Candice van Reenen said companies failing to implement employment equity would be taken to task.

“There are those companies who outright refuse to comply or refuse to make attempts to transform and these are the ones who will soon find themselves in court,” she said.

“It is, however, also important to note that the department is not a policing agency.”

AfriBusiness spokesperson Stefan Pieterse said: “To state that the majority of whites hold the top management (positions) is to picture a very one-sided story of what has been done and to shift blame away from a failing government to white people.

“We believe that a proper school education is of paramount importance to reach a top management position in a company, because in education lies empowerment.”

But Progressive Professionals Forum president Jimmy Manyi said the large number of white people in top management was an insult to democratic South Africa’s first president Nelson Mandela.

“Corporate South Africa is spitting on Madiba’s face,” he said.

“We are going backwards in terms of transformation. Black people are being marginalised as if they cannot be trusted to head up companies.

“Are there challenges in our education system? Yes, but we do have black students who achieve very good marks, so that argument doesn’t make sense.

“Even if you employ 100 white engineers at a municipality, nothing will change because we inherited old, ageing infrastructure,” Manyi said.

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Janine Myburgh said while it encouraged its members to implement employment equity, “it is difficult to generalise about the percentage of top managers who are white as conditions differ from industry to industry and many of them are affected by skills shortages, particularly in engineering and scientific sectors”.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and Cosatu are sceptical the government will really act.

“We don’t think the department (of labour) has the political will do change this injustice,” Fedusa spokesperson Dennis George said.

“And we are really disappointed because it has the legislative powers to hold companies accountable. You can’t tell us that 22 years into our democracy there are no competent black, coloured or Indian people to hold top management positions,” George said.

“But the sad reality is that the demographics still reflect that white males dominate.”

Cosatu spokesperson Zakhele Cele said: “The problem is that the economy and businesses in the private sector in South Africa – and especially in the Western Cape – remain in the hands of white people and that trend will remain and only intensify.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons