Temba A Nolutshungu wrote recently an article about affirmative action policies that are politically, economically and morally bankrupt. He stated how tragic it is that black people themselves are complicit in this morally egregious, economically irrational and demonstrably counterproductive policy.
“It is self-destructive for any society to create a situation where a baby who is born into the world today automatically has pre-existing grievances against another baby born at the same time, because of what their ancestors did centuries ago. It is hard enough to solve our own problems, without trying to solve our ancestors’ problems,” so says Prof Thomas Sowell, US economist, social theorist and author of more than 30 books.
Affirmative action policies are, by definition, discriminatory because they are preferential: they favour an identified group of beneficiaries to the partial or even total exclusion of others.
“Racial and ethnic identities prevail and, in some cases, have sharpened … Tolerance and stability cohabit with distrust and tension. The Malaysian experience underscores the need for an effective, credible and methodical exit plan,” wrote Hwok-Aun Lee, a senior lecturer in the department of development studies at the University of Malaya, in an essay titled “Affirmative Action: Many Ups, Many Downs”.
He explains that “the elite Malays with the strongest political connections were able to secure the bulk of the Malay-only contracts with huge profits”. Interestingly, even a cursory study of the SA experience with affirmative action reveals similar results. The same is true of other countries that have implemented this iniquitous policy.
Something is seriously amiss with affirmative action policies wherever they have been implemented. The basic problem is that they encourage a culture of entitlement within the beneficiary section of the population and they encourage dependence on a paternalistic, nanny state. The usual rationale and justification for the adoption of affirmative action policies has rested on a call for redress of historical injustice, which usually fits in with the agenda of statist politicians. It is therefore not surprising that politicians use the wrongs committed by past regimes as justification for the pursuit of such an iniquitous policy.
Yet many countries achieved economic growth and prosperity because their leaders did not look back, but instead implemented policies that enhanced the spirit of enterprise, expanded and deepened economic freedom and promoted competition.
The higher the degree of economic freedom, the higher the trajectory of socioeconomic progress and prosperity.
This truism is substantiated by empirical studies such as the Economic Freedom of the World (Fraser Institute), Index of Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation), and the International Property Rights Index (Property Rights Alliance).
It is nothing short of a self-inflicted tragedy that black people themselves, in alliance with successive interventionist administrations, are complicit in this morally egregious, economically irrational and demonstrably counterproductive policy. It is time that, in countries where such policies still exist, such as the US, SA, India and Malaysia, the prescribed beneficiaries wean themselves, or are weaned, from the insidiously economically suffocating grip of the nanny state.
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• Nolutshungu is director of the Free Market Foundation.
Dit beteken nie omdat dit in ‘n grondwet ingeskryf is, dit is wettig nie.
Dit is en bly teenstrydig met internasionale regulasies en ooreenkomste wat deur die ANC onderteken is. Meeste blankes in Suid-Afrika, was onder britse kolonialisme wat in groot oorloë en konsentrasiekampe uitgewoed het, met groot lewensverliese. dieselfde koloniale meester wat hier was, was ook in Indië en ook ander lande (statebondslande).
RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION
Racism, Discrimination, Crime and Corruption UN (prevention)
Is black consciousness more aligned with socialism and affirmative action or liberty and competing on an equal basis?
30 years later
EMPLOYMENT EQUITY ACT
“Affirmative action can be defined as the laws, programmes or activities designed to redress past imbalances and to ameliorate the conditions of individuals and groups who have been disadvantaged on the grounds of race, gender and disability.”
Affirmative action in South Africa is defined in the Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998 (“the Act”) as: … Section 6(2) of the Act also states that it is not unfair discrimination to take affirmative action measures consistent with the purposes of the Act.
It is not a policy, but LEGISLATION
The Employment Equity Act
While the progressive Constitution and laws of South Africa have been applauded for their role in fighting for and protecting the rights of poor people, women and socially marginalised groups, there are interesting ways in which activists are discovering that even the most progressive laws can be subverted. The laws around affirmative action serve as an example of both the power and the limitations of the law in effecting social change. The key affirmative-action legislation in South Africa is the Employment Equity Act (EEA). Although the act was passed in 1998, it only came into effect at the end of 1999.
According to the Department of Justice Website, “the purpose of the Act is to achieve equity in the workplace, by a) promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination; and b) implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.”
The Act promotes fair treatment by prohibiting unfair discrimination on the basis of “race, gender, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, and birth.”
According to Urmila Bhoola, one of the attorneys who drafted the legislation, if the Act is followed correctly, staff goals and equity plans will differ from company to company, “depending on what is realistic and achievable, given the skills shortage in South Africa.” As The Weekly Mail and Guardian goes on to point out, “This means an engineering firm which employs a team of 75 engineers cannot be expected to fulfil a quota of 50 Black engineers because of the shortage of Black engineers in South Africa.”6
Affirmative action was born in the United States in the mid-1960s. U.S. President Johnson introduced it as a policy that would redress racial imbalances that exist-ed in the U.S. in spite of constitutional guarantees and laws banning discrimi-nation. Under pressure from civil rights groups, Johnson’s administration issued an Executive Order that put affirmative action in place. Affirmative action focused specifically on education and employment. The emphasis was on taking active measures to ensure that Blacks and other minorities enjoyed the same opportunities for promotions, salary increases, career advancement, school admissions, scholarships, and financial aid that had been the domain of Whites. From the outset, in the United States, affirmative action was articulated as a temporary measure that was necessary in order to level the playing field for Americans of every race.
In South Africa, the discourse around affirmative action has been similar. In fact, the terms and many of the ideas that eventually found their way into South African law books were borrowed from the U.S. experience.