The Institute of Race Relations (IRR), founded in 1929, has espoused non-racialism for decades, a principled position it hasn’t always benefited from.
Since Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was implemented by the African National Congress (ANC), particularly in the form of Broad-Based Black Economic empowerment (B-BBEE), some corporate donors have insisted on an affirmative action audit as a condition of their donating.[The 2011 census figures for these categories were
Black South African at 76.4%,
White South African at 9.1%,
Coloured South African at 8.9%,
Asian South African at 2.5%, and
Other/Unspecified at 0.5%.:21]
The issue of the race nationalism of the ANC has received increasing attention in the media recently. Notwithstanding the dire state of our economy, the state intends doubling down on the implementation of B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic empowerment) by the private sector.
According to editor of Politicsweb James Myburgh, as quoted by William Saunderson-Meyer: ‘One of the characteristics of the ANC is that it demands moral compliance with its racial project. Every institution in society has to formulate a little “race law” of its own, setting out how it expects to achieve the racial goals the ANC has set for employment, and then submit an annual report in this regard to the Department of Labour. In 2019 the department received 58 of these reports from national government, 133 from provincial government, 184 from local government, 133 from State-owned enterprises, 298 from educational institutions, 566 from non-profit organisations, and 26 113 from the private sector.’
Little, if anything
The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently formally adopted non-racialism as its guiding principle, including for any programme that seeks to uplift poor people and improve their access to opportunities. The DA realises that race as a determinant for upliftment has done little, if anything, for the vast majority of the poor.
The DA was excoriated by most of the mainstream media, which support the Constitution’s non-racialism but are blind to the idea that ‘affirmative action’ can take any form other than BEE and B-BBEE as devised by the ANC. Many in the mainstream media criticise BEE often, yet the ANC’s version of it appears sacrosanct.
It is farcical that determination of race is reliant on ‘self-identification’. Yet if a public sector panjandrum believes you are not the race you purport to be, you may be charged criminally for fraud. The ANC considers its definition of race to be supported by a hierarchy of suffering – black first, coloured second, Indian/Asian third – with the whites as the victimiser. [White South African at 9.1% of the population.]
Glen Snyman,an Oudtshoorn teacher, faced a disciplinary hearing (the charge was later withdrawn) by the Western Cape Department of Education for ‘fraudulently’ self-identifying as ‘African’ rather than a ‘coloured’, in an unsuccessful job application in 2017.
As colleague Marius Roodt wrote in the Daily Friend: ‘Snyman is apparently also something of an activist, being the founder of an organisation called ‘People Against Race Classification’. [http://www.parcsa.co.za] In a 2015 interview, Snyman said that race classification created ‘division, stereotyping and hatred among people’ and that South Africa should not classify people as it had during apartheid. He had also previously started a campaign to encourage coloured, Indian, and white South Africans to state they were ‘Black Africans’ when filling in forms requiring demographic data.’
Public officials are using informal and random criteria to make a determination in a way that is remarkably similar to that of the apartheid government: ‘Black’ hair? Origins? Accent? Home language? There is no law in South Africa today that sets out criteria to determine the race of a person; legislated race classification died with the demise of apartheid.
Obscenity of apartheid
The foundation of the obscenity of apartheid was the Population Registration Act, 1950. As Dougie Oates wrote in the Cape Times in 2016,
‘… it was created to provide definitions of “race” based on physical appearance, as well as general acceptance and “repute”… Its implementation ushered in the era … in which some fair-skinned members of families deserted their darker-skinned kin to gain what was seen as a precious white identity document.’
An Office for Race Classification was set up to oversee the classification process. It defined a ‘white person’ as one who ‘in appearance is obviously a white person who is generally not accepted as a coloured person; or is generally accepted as a white person and is not in appearance obviously a white person’. The following criteria were used for separating coloureds from the whites:
- Characteristics of the person’s head hair (the infamous ‘pencil test’);
- Characteristics of the person’s ‘other hair’;
- Skin colour;
- Facial features;
- Home language, especially knowledge of Afrikaans;
- Area where the person lives, friends and acquaintances;
- Socioeconomic status;
- Eating and drinking habits.
In 2020, there are few who wouldn’t find this law repulsive and utterly demeaning, with its echoes of Nazism. Monty Python’s Flying Circus could have done something with this.
‘New cottage industry’
Yet, Roodt notes: ‘Some in the new cottage industry of B-BBEE verification have suggested that, when a dispute arises, technology such as “genetic testing” could be used in “determining” race. The question would then be: what percentage is required before you can declare yourself black? But do we want to be a society so dystopian that we use genetic testing to determine the race of individuals before they can benefit from government policies?’
Last week, financial services group Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH) said it intended implementing a broad-based BEE trust that would hold 3% of its issued share capital, worth about R641m.
The iSabelo Trust will acquire about 44.9 million shares. Allocation of units in terms of the scheme will be structured such that ‘at least 85% of the economic benefits will accrue to black employees and at least 55% to black women employees’.
‘Broad-based employee ownership allows MMH to represent the demographics of the clients it serves and also develops an ethos in employees that is aligned to shareholder and client expectations,’ Momentum said.
The initial tranche will see 80% of the shares issued to eligible employees, with 20% of them reserved for subsequent new eligible employees.
Thus, a benefit is being granted to all African, coloured and Indian/Asian – but not white – employees of Momentum, with an allocation being made even for black employees who don’t yet exist.
White employees contribute equally to the company’s success. Probably, many of Momentum’s employees were very young children when apartheid ended and some weren’t even born yet.
There are two questions for Momentum: How can this proposal not amount to plain racial discrimination? And is this proposal anything but a sop to government and compliant companies to allow Momentum more access to business opportunities?
The irony for Momentum is that it has achieved an ‘acceptable level’ of representation at this stage – 78% black employees, 51% of whom are black women – with the remaining 22% presumably being white male and female. Why should Momentum still have to jump through BEE hoops by making the distribution 7% more for black employees and 4% more for black female employees?
It is inconsequential and is unfair to white employees. Momentum is bound by this behemoth of an employment equity code that doesn’t materially benefit the black majority in the country in any way at all.
The tragedy is that the industries that are now held hostage under BEE didn’t oppose it earlier. The government required the buy-in from industries to realise these codes.
The cost to the efficient running of the economy must be huge, with companies having to deal with issues that have nothing to do with how a company does the work required of it.
The irony? Like many companies which have to tender under these conditions, the company in question has a weird black ownership structure that is crafted to avoid accusations of ‘fronting’ but sounds like ‘fronting’.
The company is in a niche industry that requires staff to have considerable academic qualifications. It is also in an industry that at this stage does not attract black graduates. It just doesn’t, and the few graduates there are, are likely by virtue of their scarcity to be employed in the public sector at far higher salaries.
The discrimination, for any reason, remains immoral and distracts us from the failures of government.
The proposal by Momentum does amount to racial discrimination, much like what Discovery bank did when it offered shares to black depositors but not white ones, and the CEO said “it’s a good thing.” The reason for having to classify oneself in terms of race on one of those twice damned Z83 forms is that because some racial and/or gender groups are discriminated against, the government cannot classify the individual without getting sued for discrimination and racial profiling even though discrimination and racial profiling is exactly what it does. What’s worse, both the constitution and Constitutional Court agree with this nonsense. My response if I was ever put through the same wringer as Glen Snyman would be “Oh, you want to try the pencil test? Fine, here’s mine, it’s nice and splintered… Now sit on it, you racist government buffoon!” As for “race nationalism”, let’s be frank here- this is just an attempt to call racism by a nicer name (especially when the ANC engages in it), and when it comes to this crooked party’s commitment to transformation, all one has to do is search for the lists of secretary generals and presidents since it was founded to see… Two long, unbroken lines of black men. Now let’s look at the DA’s track record in that regard since it was founded.
Andrew van der Merwe
Racial discrimination does not equate with racism. Discriminating racially is necessary to to counter the legacy of racism. It’s as simple as that. Your denial of affirmative action makes you a racist. It is a component of racist ideology to deny the effects of racism and to do so through denying affirmative action.
When big business and big government collude in putting to effect immoral legislation, the outcome is unbridled fascism. South Africa is well down this path, once again. 1948 and 1994 are the birth dates of each.
Agreed, though in this case it will be Communism — which has killed more people than the Nazis. God help us, but hell is coming.
Again the question: by what criteria has Momentum decided the race of its employees? What rights does an employee have if Momentum classified staff ‘incorrectly’? Will staff be able to sue? Have they considered the liability of this?
It’s one thing to assume in the old SA way someone’s race. It is an entirely different thing to “know” by legally enforceable critera.
The BEE and EE definitions are ridiculous. I am truly surprised this has never been challenged in a court.
“….the Constitution’s non-racialism….” 😠⁉
Have you even actially read the Constitution?
Particularly 9 (5)
Provision for discrimination on the grouds of race is baked into the Constitution.
BEE could not be if it were not so.
This is besides the hypocrisy of effecting ‘non racialism’ by striking down the Population Registration Act.
Without official classification, who are the ‘Blacks’ referred to in BEE?
I would assume the criteria upon which such ‘informal’ classifications are founded do not differ in substance from those of ‘The Office of Race Clsssificatio’n, which thre surely are;
“….few who wouldn’t find this law repulsive and utterly demeaning, with its echoes of Nazism. Monty Python’s Flying Circus could have done something with this.”
Particularly Pythonesque by implication is the Constitution Section 9(5): “Discrimination is unfair, unless it is fair…”
Despite all the racism and the BBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE the ANC will still fail the majority of the people in SA. It has failed wherever it has been implemented. Worldwide. It creates dissention and division (which is probably a bonus for the ANC) and it encourages the under-achievers to believe they are entitled to whatever it is the government deems they must be entitled to. Those who ‘benefit’ from BBEEE are mostly the well-connected and those who are not well-connected will mostly fail at what they do. Yes, there are some wonderful successes but these are few and far between. When a nation generally has no idea how much hard work and effort goes into forging a career or the rewards of said hard work, then they are doomed to fail. The tyranny that is coming to SA is also coming to most countries in the world, thanks to the WHO, IMF, UN, WEF and all the other psychopaths who are destroying our world. Have faith in your God, because seriously I don’t think there is much else left.
If all South Africans want a truly democratic SA, all should stand up against it, especially non-white employees of Metropolitan. Search your hearts and do the right thing.
I would encourage every single person in SA, white, black, coloured, indian, asian, the whole lot of us to start ticking the “other” box. Personally, I have been doing it for over 20 years. If asked for details, I simply state “African”, as that is how I identify. Try it, it’s liberating.
I have got a nationalisation certificate stating that I am a South African citizen. Therefore, I am legally ‘African’. So, where, in law, does my ‘white’ skin come into anything?
Big business and specifically the financial sector are a large part of this country’s problem in their capitulation with Racist governments.
“For this reason, black employees (that includes Indian and coloured employees as defined in the B-BBEE Codes), who currently constitute 78% of the Group’s employee base, will receive at least 85% of the economic benefits from the Scheme.”
Andrew van der Merwe
You are the racist here because you refuse to acknowledge affirmative action which is a refusal to acknowledge the effects of racism.
Andrew van der Merwe
The principle of it is really quite simple:
It is ideologically racist to deny affirmative action because to do so denies the legacy of racism. Consequently, to achieve a non-racial ideal you are forced to use the categories of racism until you have drained them of their material force. After that you can discard the categories. To do so before you have achieved a material non-racialism is very conveniently unfair and, frankly, racist.
I don’t know what is so hard to understand about that. If you need to switch the light off, are you a hypocrite for using the light to find the switch!
This reply could become the textbook standard of double-speak, prevarication, equivocation and outright lies hidden behind a deluge of quasi-legalese.
Cutting through the fog of deceit: Momentum employees will not be rewarded on the basis of effort and contribution but on political and racist grounds. Period. And they are too craven to admit it.
On the contrary, they did admit it. They explicitly said that this benefit is available on the basis of race, and that whites are excluded on the basis of their race. The fact that they took the route of verbal diarrhoea to get there does not negate that admission.
Thanks to Momentum for confirming in this right to reply that a benefit is being granted to all African, but not white, employees of Momentum.
Another company bending over backwards to encourage permanent victimhood and entitlement.