DA defeats provincial race quotas, intensifies war against ANC Race Quotas Act

Issued by John Steenhuisen MP – Leader of the Democratic Alliance
04 Feb 2024 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA), along with our partners in civil society, has won the first battle in our ongoing war against the ANC’s Race Quotas Act.

In an important breakthrough against ANC race-based policies, which have wreaked havoc on our economy, the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, has been forced to publish revised draft regulations for the implementation of the Employment Equity Amendment Act – better known as the Race Quotas Act – which was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year.

Nxesi was compelled to withdraw the first version of his draft regulations in the face of sustained opposition by the DA and civil society, which culminated in an out-of-court settlement between the department and the Solidarity trade union. Last week, Nxesi published an updated version of the draft regulations in terms of the settlement.

The most substantial change is that the updated regulations appear to have done away with provincial race quotas. This is an enormous victory for the DA, as we previously warned that provincial quotas would effectively ban the employment of certain groups in specific parts of the country, an act that would re-introduce apartheid era group areas. This DA victory is an important step towards securing the rights of South African to work anywhere in their country, against the ANC’s desire to reserve jobs based on race. Additionally, the updated regulations also note that “no employment termination of any kind may be effected as a consequence of affirmative action.”

While these changes signify that the DA is making meaningful progress in our fight against ANC race quotas, the war is far from over. The DA is emboldened by this victory to keep fighting until we force the ANC to scrap the Race Quotas Act in its entirety. We are currently waiting for a hearing date in our court case against ANC government, where we are seeking a declaration that the Race Quotas Act is unconstitutional and unlawful in its entirety.

The saga around the draft regulations demonstrates why it is imperative that the DA fights, and wins, this case.

The changes to the draft regulations only came about because of a determined fightback by the DA and civil society. If we allow the underlying law to stand, the ANC would be empowered to reintroduce provincial race quotas at any time. The regulations also still empowers the Minister to severely punish employers that do not comply, by barring companies from doing business with the state and through enormous fines.

Moreover, the updated draft regulations still direct businesses to hire workers on the basis of race across 18 different economic sectors, imposing severe penalties on any business that dares to have “too many” employees with the “wrong” skin colour. While it now claims that no one may be fired in order to comply with the quotas, this implies that employers would have to make new appointments on the basis of skin colour in order to comply with the quotas – a clear contravention of the right to equality and non-discrimination. Furthermore, the updated regulations also extend race quotas to small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers in sector subject to collective bargaining agreements, which presents an existential risk to entrepreneurs who need the best workers to make their businesses succeed, irrespective of their skin colour.

In addition to our ongoing court battle against the ANC and given these serious remaining defects, the DA will submit a new set of strong objections to the reworked draft regulations. We encourage all South Africans who want a growing economy with more jobs, to do the same. The public has 90 days to object to this ANC racial engineering. All objections can be sent to: christina.lehlokoa@labour.gov.za, julian.mohale@labour.gov.za and innocent.makwarela@labour.gov.za.

Despite the success of the DA and civil society in forcing the ANC to rework the draft regulations, it remains a constitutional outrage that any Minister has the power to stipulate where South African citizens may work based on the colour of their skin.

The Race Quotas Act must go in its entirety.

Now that we have won the first battle, the DA will fight even harder to ensure we win the war against ANC race quotas.

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