According to media reports, the Department of Labour withdrew its proposal for national and regional demographics to be used for employment purposes following recent Nedlac negotiations.

In terms of the proposed Regulations, employers would have been required to consider only national demographics in respect of the promotion and appointment of certain categories of senior personnel. This would have had far-reaching negative implications for coloured South Africans in the Western Cape and for Indian South Africans in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Constitution, from the outset, recognises that equality in our society is yet to be achieved. Nonetheless, even after 20 years of democracy, substantive inequality persists. Restorative measures – including legislation aimed at bringing about such substantive equality – may be utilised and are in keeping with Constitution. As indicated in our submission on the draft Regulations to the Department of Labour, the Constitution, in providing for the full and equal enjoyment of all rights, does not require numerical demographic representation. In pursuit of the achievement of equality, restorative measures must be balanced with all constitutional values and rights, including non-racialism.

By Adv Johan Kruger, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights

Photo credit: GovernmentZA / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)