Controversial Proposed Race Targets in South Africa’s Employment Equity Act Spark Nationwide Debate and Criticism

Controversial Proposed Race Targets in South Africa’s Employment Equity Act Spark Nationwide Debate and Criticism

...By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media.

Introduction of Numerical Race Targets under the Employment Equity Act

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi has released a notice for public comment regarding proposed numerical race targets under the Employment Equity Act (EEA).


This development marks a significant departure, as South Africa has not previously implemented numerical targets to support affirmative action.

The notice applies to workplaces with more than 50 employees, aiming to address racial imbalances in employment.

Criticisms of the Proposed Legislation

In a public gathering in Chatsworth, opposition leader Steenhuisen expressed outrage over the “racist” bill introduced by the African National Congress (ANC).

He questioned how ANC struggle heroes, like Ahmed Kathrada, would react to the new racial quota law.

Steenhuisen argued that the proposed targets are effectively forced quotas, as non-compliant companies face severe penalties, including fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover and exclusion from government business.

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Impact Across Provinces and Sectors

Steenhuisen highlighted the potential implications of the proposed race targets across different provinces.


In North West, for example, the law restricts the employment of Indian South African females to 0.1% and males to 0.2% in the manufacturing sector.

He criticized the absurdity of reducing any group of South Africans to decimal points and emphasized the potential consequences for businesses and individuals.

Threats to Employment and Economic Stability

Steenhuisen warned of the dire consequences of the proposed legislation, particularly in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

The ANC’s aim to limit the representation of Indian people in skilled positions in the retail industry to 3.6% for men and 3.1% for women could lead to bankruptcies, job losses, and the migration of skilled individuals.

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He expressed concern for the future prospects of young people studying to become skilled professionals who may face unemployment due to their race.

Wide-Ranging Impact on Different Communities

The Democratic Alliance (DA) further illustrated the potential effects of the proposed race quotas on various communities in different provinces.

In the Northern Cape, businesses employing more than 15.8% black women in Kimberley would be in violation of the law.

Additionally, the share of employment for colored individuals in Limpopo and Mpumalanga is proposed to be 0.0%.


These examples highlight how the legislation would effectively exclude entire groups of South Africans from specific areas or sectors.

Calls for Defiance and Criticisms of the Bill

Steenhuisen called on companies, regardless of size, to defy a law that restricts their ability to hire skilled individuals.

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He also urged workers to resist a law that judges them based on their skin color rather than their character.

The proposed amendment bill has faced criticism from various quarters, including NGO Solidarity, which has initiated legal action on the grounds of constitutionality and alleged contempt of international labor conventions.

Public Reaction and Ongoing Debate

The proposed amendment bill has sparked a heated debate within South Africa.

It has drawn attention to the tensions between affirmative action policies and concerns about potential discrimination, economic impact, and the constitutionality of such measures.

As the public comment period continues, stakeholders from different sectors and communities are actively engaging in discussions and legal challenges to voice their opinions and protect their interests.

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