The business community is strongly opposed to the Employment Equity Amendment Bill which seeks to impose racial quotas on business, says Mr Michael Bagraim, who heads the Cape Chamber of Commerce’s human resources portfolio committee.
“It is a form of social engineering and social engineering has always been disastrous as we saw in apartheid South Africa.”
He said business, along with most political parties, understood the need for corrective action after decades of cruel discrimination, but corrective action should be used only to level the playing field and not continue indefinitely. “One cannot expect a majority of the people to have legislation protecting them against the minority.”
He said there was already a situation where people now leaving university and been “born free” and had never been discriminated against. He said these new graduates were proving every day that they were in a position to compete fairly for jobs and did not need special laws to help them.
If existing legislation was properly enforced there would be no need “for legislation that destroys the expansion of small business and also destroys the hopes and dreams of young South Africans who happen to fall in minority groupings.”
Mr Bagraim said he had spoken out against the Bill and, despite some claims to the contrary, Business Unity and the Chamber movement did not support the amendments to the Employment Equity Bill.
“We have reams of legislation on the statute book and, unfortunately, the State very seldom follows that legislation as we saw in the recent court case where coloured employees of the Department of Correctional Services were denied promotion on racial grounds.
“Surely we have reached a stage where we should be dismantling race-based laws and not tightening them up,” Mr Bagraim said.