Employment Equity Bill: voting

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Meeting report

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

LABOUR & PUBLIC ENTERPRISES SELECT COMMITTEE
2 September 1998
EMPLOYMENT EQUITY BILL: VOTING

Here follows the official minutes of the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises as provided by the committee secretary, Ms P. Nonyukela.

1. OPENING REMARKS
The Chairperson declared the meeting open and welcomed all present. He stated that the our purpose of the meeting was to finalise the Employment Equity Bill (B60B-98) as agreed in the previous meeting.

2. PROCEEDINGS
(a) Employment Equity Bill
The Chairperson wanted clarity from the members on how the Bill was to be dealt with, whether clause by clause or chapter by chapter. The National Party and the Freedom Front stated that there was no need to go through the Bill clause by clause since they were going to reject it in anyway. However, it was finally agreed to go through the Bill page by page since the Inkatha Freedom Party indicated that it needed to propose an amendment.

In chapter 1, line 35 (page 6) , the IFP proposed that an addition be made to the definition of "black people". That after the definition, the following words be added: "and that shall be deemed to refer to the linguistic or ethnic group prevailing in the region from which the workplace is likely to draw its employees and the community with which the workplace is more closely associated. The IFP then asked to motivate its amendment. To that, Mr Zondi stated that through this amendment they are trying to achieve a situation where they want to ensure that for affirmative action, job opportunities are preserved for people in that particular region to ensure that care is given to local people. He made an example on Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal which is a town dominated by Zulu speaking Black people.

In response to that amendment, the Director-General, Mr Pityana explained that thinking behind the definition as it appears in the Bill is that the effects of apartheid were adverse to these groups and thus the Bill seeks to undo the adverse impact of the apartheid legislation on those groups as such, irrespective of their geographical location and their languages. He then stated that if, as proposed by the IFP you bring the element of language it blurs the distinction, for instance, between an Afrikaans speaking Coloured person and an Afrikaans speaking White person. So it will make it administratively difficult to redress in the instance of these groups. He also warned that one needs to be careful that you do not reinforce a notion that language and ethnicity determines your place of residence and to ensure that one does not bring restrictions to geographic mobility on labour which would be unconstitutional. Mr Pityana further mentioned that some of the concerns raised by the IFP are reflected in the Bill to take into account the facts of the race profile in a particular region, and this is accommodated on page 36 of the Bill (Section 42 (a) (i) . Therefore, as he explained, there is no need to deem, for example, Ulundi as a racially and ethnically exclusive domain for employment equity since that would defeat the purpose of the legislation.

In addition to what was said by the DG, Mr Mbabane stated that the spirit behind the proposed amendment was justifiable however, the proposal was not placed properly. According to him the proposed was placed at a point where it would be interpreted or mean that a black person would not be considered a black person if he or she does not belong to the linguistic or ethnic group prevailing in that area. The implication of that would therefore be that it would mean that for example, a Zulu speaking black person would have limited geographic mobility in terms of work. That is, that particular person cannot be employed in all other provinces where the ethnic groups prevailing are different such as, among others, in the Northern Cape. This would therefore literally have the adverse effect of blocking out job opportunities for people in a global environment where people are supposed to move and have a transfer of skills. Further, as stated by Mr Mbabane, the proposed amendment would also have the opposite effect of entrenching ethnicity and tribalism which is not needed in terms of the South African transforming process.

Mr Lebona reiterated the above statements by stating that the proposed amendment would exacerbate the situation that already prevails in, for instance, the goldfield areas of the Free State where the Basothos and Tswanas are beginning to say that Free State is theirs and thus questioning the presence of other ethnic groups.

The proposed amendment fell away through voting where the ANC and FF voted against and the NP abstaining. With no further amendments proposed, the Committee agreed to the Bill without amendments and the report thereof was adopted - with the National Party and the Freedom Front abstaining. The Chairperson mentioned that provision has been made for this Bill to be debated in the NCOP Chamber on 8 September 1998.

(b) Eskom Amendment Bill
This Bill was not considered in the meeting. The Chairperson reported that he had been advised by the Minister of Public Enterprises that the Department was considering an amendment on the Bill and this had not been finalised as they were still working on it with the law advisors. The Bill will then be referred to the Committee when they have finished. He also stated that he had been informed by the programming office that it is unlikely that the Bill will be dealt with as scheduled for 8 September 1998.

The meeting adjourned at 11:00

PRESENT
Free State
Ms B J Malapane
Mr H J P Lebona
Gauteng
Ms Q D Mahlangu
Mr B J van der Walt
Mpumalanga
Mr N W Mudau
Northern Cape
Mr S J Mongwaketse
Mr G G Oliphant (NA)
Northern Province
Ms I Mutsila
Mr M I Makoela
North-West
Mr T T Mukhuba
Mr L J Swanepoel
Western Cape
Mr J A Foster (Chairperson)
Mr P G Marais

Officials (Dept. of Labour)
Mr S Pityana (Director-General)
Mr L Mbabane
Ms S Rabinowitz

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