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Dirk Hermann | 27 November 2023

Solidarity is going to appeal to the United Nations that South Africa should rather shift its focus from affirmative action to training and the social economic position of people. Solidarity and the government will appear before the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) this week.

Solidarity will argue on this international platform that the government’s focus on racial representivity is counterproductive and violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The battle between the government and Solidarity dates back to as far as 2016. CERD already voiced its concerns in 2016 that South Africa was still using apartheid race classifications. The committee also recommended that South Africa’s empowerment decision-making should focus on the socio-economic position of people.

In 2017, the South African Human Rights Commission also found in a report that South Africa’s affirmative action programme action contravenes the international convention.

South Africa’s focus on racial representation has in no way reduced inequality. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Only a small privileged group of elites became enriched by black empowerment and many people used black empowerment as a vehicle to commit corruption.

Solidarity calls for a focus on people’s socio-economic position. We are also calling for a shift from an output-based approach (racial quotas) to an input-based approach (training and development).

A combined focus on people’s socio-economic position and training and development will empower people on a broad basis without harsh racial divisions.

Solidarity and the government recently reached an agreement following a previous complaint Solidarity had brought before the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation (IAO). Among other things, this agreement stipulates that race programmes must be temporary in nature, that race may not be the sole criterion when appointments are made, that skills must be taken into consideration, that no one’s services may be terminated on the grounds of race, that no absolute ceilings may apply in the workplace and that companies’ unique circumstances must be taken into consideration when appointing staff.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.

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