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Minister gets own statistics wrong

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant made a substantial error in her speech during the official introduction of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill in Parliament when she said that a new trend has surfaced where employers are increasingly appointing foreigners instead of South Africans in top management positions. Oliphant remarked that according to the reports of the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE), there were 0,0% foreigners in top management positions in 2002, but this figure grew to 3,1% in the ten years until 2012.

According to Paul Joubert, senior economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), the CEE in fact did not gather information on foreign workers in 2002 – this category was first introduced in the 2006 report. ‘For the minister, who should act prudently and make considered decisions, to make such a mistake is inexcusable.’

Joubert says Elleck Nchabeleng, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, repeated the minister’s mistake by saying: ‘The new and unusual phenomenon is the number of non-South Africans in top management positions in 2012, which stood at 3,1% compared to 0% in 2002. It seems to me that you need to be a non-South African in this country if you want the Employment Equity Act to work for you.’

Joubert says that although Nchabeleng committed the same basic error as the minister, he comes closer to the truth in saying that the Employment Equity Act is beneficial for foreigners. ‘The Act subordinates South Africans to the same degrading racial thinking as in the past, but exempts immigrants from this. Because immigrants are not taken into account when compliance with affirmative action targets is assessed, the Act in effect encourages employment of skilled workers from other countries. The latest amendments to this Act will only further promote this practice.’

When the CEE’s reports over the period 2006 to 2012 are examined, it is evident that the percentage of foreigners on top management levels fluctuated by only 0,1 of a percentage point around 3% during the six years in question. The SRI has, however, also critiqued the commission’s reports since 2007 and found several errors in each report, the latest report being no exception.

Click here to view the press release, “Minister gets own statistics wrong”.

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