IRR to hand over 23 000-strong petition against race-based law to President Ramaphosa

1 June 2022 - Just over 23 000 South Africans have registered their opposition to the race-based Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEB) in a petition which the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) is delivering to the Union Buildings at midday today.

Just over 23 000 South Africans have registered their opposition to the race-based Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEB) in a petition which the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) is delivering to the Union Buildings at midday today.

President Ramaphosa must do the right thing and refer the EEB back to the National Assembly for reconsideration. The EEB imposes public sector-style quotas on the private sector, racially disqualifies some businesses from bidding to tender with the state, and forces employers to second-guess their employees’ race under threat of fines that would bankrupt almost all businesses.

BEE has become increasingly unpopular in South Africa but the EEB doubles down on BEE’s worst aspects. Zwelenzima Vavi, head of Saftu, yesterday said BEE “made very few people rich while the rest of South Africa languish in poverty”, which is what to expect from the EEB, only more so.

Moeletsi Mbeki, an independent analyst, described the fundamentally anti-poor nature of BEE aptly: “The minute you have a system where people make money just by the connections they have, rather than the work that they do, the system is ripe for abuse. It’s a recipe for corruption.”

A 2020 poll commissioned by the IRR found that almost three quarters of black respondents said need-based tax-funded vouchers for education, healthcare and housing would be more helpful than BEE.

Weighing the “inevitable tension” between racial preferencing and “maximizing value-for-money” the State Capture Report on the work of the commission chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo observed that “the primary national interest is best served when the government derives the maximum value-for-money in the procurement process” and “procurement officials should be so advised”.

Instead, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has called for “more aggressive” BEE, which is exactly what the EEB is. It is more aggressively racialist, and anti-poor.

Stats SA data has shown that the top black 10%, in BEE terms, has out-earned the white top 10% by a factor of three since 2015 in absolute terms. The bottom black 40% saw no income share improvement between 2006 and 2015.

Said IRR Head of Campaigns Gabriel Crouse: “Those who were left behind by BEE are going to be cut down harder by the EEB.”

The IRR petition to the President – endorsed by 23 098 unique submissions – lays down detailed legal arguments to show that the EEB is inconsistent with Sections 1 (Founding Values), 9 (Equality), 195 (Administration), and 217 (Procurement) of the Constitution.
 
* Afrikaans-language media are requested to retain the acronym ‘IRR’, rather than using ‘IRV’.
 
Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za
Mlondi Mdluli, IRR Campaign Manager – 071 148 2971; mlondi@irr.org.za
 
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

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