This is the view of Pik Botha, former Minister of Foreign Affairs who says AA in its current form is not close to what has been agreed between the then ruling party (the National Party) and the ANC. Pik was speaking during a debate on affirmative action in Pretoria. He was joined by experts on the subject of affirmative action in a debate regarding the place of affirmative action in South Africa. Rabelani Dagada of the Wits Business School in Johannesburg and Dr Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of the Solidarity Movement, were participants in the debate.
According to Botha, the ANC has broken the agreement that was reached in 1994. He also expresses this view in Dr Hermann’s latest book, Affirmative tears: Why representivity does not equal equality (published by Kraal Uitgewers). He reckons that a new constitutional dispensation would have been impossible in South Africa, had the ANC insisted at the time that the provisions of the Employment Equity Act and the manner in which they are enforced be made part of the Constitution. He points out that the intention during the negotiations was to rectify the the inequalities and injustices caused by apartheid. ‘But we did not agree to remedying injustices in the past by creating injustices in the present,’ Botha explained.
‘Discrimination against white young people who had nothing to do with apartheid was definitely not part of the agreement between the NP and the ANC; neither, generally, was discrimination against whites, coloureds or Indians,’ Botha continues. ‘Indeed, the ANC’s quota obsession amounts to a rejection of skilled people who are able to contribute amply to train black people. The boomerang effect of the Employment Equity Act is that masses of black people are still untrained and unemployed, and that the country’s economic progress is severely hampered by a shortage of skills – affecting millions more blacks than whites.’
Botha feels that ‘spontaneous, informal yet fundamental talks among leaders of all races’ are needed to agree on the road ahead.In his latest book on affirmative action (Affirmative tears: Why representivity does not equal equality) Dr Hermann speaks to people who know what it is like to be disadvantaged because of the colour of their skin. He moreover speaks to leaders who were involved in the 1994 negotiations (including former President FW de Klerk and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi) and finds out how affirmative action fits into the Constitution and what the agreement was with respect to affirmative action during the negotiations. In the book, Dr Hermann compares two opposites of affirmative action – one that leads to tears and one that can lead to joy – and, in so doing, reignites the debate on affirmative action by presenting hard facts. The alternative model of affirmative action was announced in Cape Town in July.