Draft legislation on transformational targets and BEE policy is currently being debated inside Parliament, and sparks are already flying. Piet le Roux, the CEO of Sakeliga, got his turn to rally against the bill this week – and he argues that Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi would be able to ‘pick and choose localised racial quotas himself’ under these plans.

Proposed BEE laws causing a stir…

On Tuesday, Sakeliga – a leading business group in South Africa – made verbal submissions to the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour, regarding the proposed Employment Equity Amendment Bill. They are ultimately worried about the power that would be prescribed to the minister, should these suggested new BEE laws come into force

“The bill empowers the Minister of Labour to prescribe racial demographic employment targets for individual companies to implement at every workplace and at every occupational level – under threat of fines and denial of compliance certificates.”

BEE rule change would ‘enforce transformation’

What exactly does this mean? Well, the Bill looks to ‘correct’ over-representation in certain areas of the country. If places with a majority-black population don’t have a majority-black workforce, this amendment to BEE policy would then compel companies to start hiring based on the racial demographics of their region.

The contentious plans certainly won’t keep everyone happy, and le Roux believes this ‘doubling down’ on racial quotas will only add more ‘red tape’ to the employment process – just as South Africa tries to find its feet in the middle of a pandemic.

How would propose laws force South Africans to relocate?

The biggest issue, however, lies with ‘relocation’. Sakeliga believes that, in order to find work where racial classes aren’t represented to the liking of the law, ‘millions of South Africans’ will have to relocate just to get a job. This in turn has the potential to create a new migrant labour system – should the draft legislation secure Parliamentary approval.

“The problem with this vision is that it can only be achieved by limiting employment opportunities for some people in those areas where they are ‘over-represented’ and requiring them by whatever direct or indirect means to seek employment in other parts of the country where that racial category is ‘under-represented’.

“This would constitute a new kind of migrant labour system, with a detrimental effect on the stability and vitality of concrete communities in all racial groups from which its members would have to emigrate to suit the bill’s vision. We are speaking about millions of people from all race groups having to relocate if ever the bill is to achieve what it seeks.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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