ANC Should Re-Evaluate Its Priorities on Affirmative Action

Cape Times (South Africa), March 12, 2007 | Go to article overview

ANC Should Re-Evaluate Its Priorities on Affirmative Action


The ANC should stop using gimmicks to win votes and instead learn to prioritise long-term goals.

As a black person who is still haunted by the legacy of apartheid, I fully support the initiative of changing some of the names that are offensive and dehumanising to our people.

The question of name changing should not be whether it is appropriate to do so, but should be whether the timing is right and whether it is a priority right now.

The ANC has a tendency of coming up with quick-fix gimmicks and hoping that the real challenges that are facing our country will just disappear. I don't think there's anyone who underestimates the role played by Alex la Guma as an icon of our struggle, but naming the Cape Town International Airport after him is a bit outrageous for two reasons: this will not be a quick-fix solution to racial divisions that are sometimes perpetuated by the leadership of the ANC, even within its own ranks. Secondly, I don't think spending millions of rands on such an initiative is justifiable given the fact that our people are subjected to appalling conditions, with the majority living below the poverty line.

The same principle applies to affirmative action.

There's no question whether affirmative action is appropriate or not; the question is whether it is properly implemented. I think this policy is misdirected.

Instead of implementing affirmative action as a quick way to give jobs to the elite few, with no real empowerment taking place, we must talk about affirmative education. Our education system needs a serious overhaul.

How do you begin to address imbalances of the past in the workplace without paying serious attention to the quality of education to ensure that our previously disadvantage people acquire the necessary skills to be competent and productive? …

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