Friday, November 13, 2009

White South African Police Suffer Discrimination Through Affirmative Action; Solidarity Files Suit Against South African Police Service

Just because the South Africa Sucks blog goes dark on November 13th, 2009 doesn't mean we quit reporting South African news for Whites. After all, South Africa STILL sucks!

The trade union Solidarity is bringing suit against both the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Correctional Services on behalf of 10 white law enforcement officers who've been victimized by affirmative action. Nine of the suits are against SAPS, and one against DCS. Media stories from Business Report, Business Day, Reuters, and PoliticsWeb.

The first case to be heard on Monday November 16th in Johannesburg Labour Court will be that of Capt Renate Barnard. The post she had applied for remained open for more than two years. She was at Pretoria’s crime investigation unit and applied for a superintendent level position. She was recommended by the interview panel, but passed over by the area commissioner. Two years later, she reapplied for the post that was still vacant. She was once again recommended by the interview panel and this time supported by the area commissioner. But Barnard was passed over this time by the national commissioner, on the basis that (it) would not promote affirmative action. All 10 cases are briefly summarized on PoliticsWeb.

The problem is that SAPS and DCS have a persistent tendency to leave vacant posts unoccupied or even phase them out rather than hire qualified White people. Solidarity's deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said not only constituted discrimination against the union's members, but prejudiced the public in general. "This is crippling our policing and is detrimental to the people in general," he said, adding that affirmative action in the SAPS was incongruent with the government's plan to prioritise crime fighting. The union has budgeted about R1 million for the legal challenge.

But Acting Black Management Forum president Tembakazi Mnyaka disagrees, saying the union should look for another argument. "The issue of transformation is a constitutional imperative which is affirmed in various acts such as employment equity. It is meant to right the wrongs of the past against more than 74 percent people of the country. It is not affirming incompetence. This argument is certainly flawed," said Mnyaka. She said if the union wanted to reverse that it should work towards changing the constitution. Affirmative action is enshrined in the South African constitution.

Numbers published by Reuters would tend to support Mnyaka's contention. Although blacks now make up a majority of the police force, reflecting their 80 percent proportion of the overall population, a 2005 study showed that blacks only made up 44 percent of senior officers. However, this does not take into account the fact that Blacks who entered the police force after the end of apartheid in 1994 would need time to work their way up the ranks before they could be qualified to become a senior officer, so there would necessarily be "under-representation" at the senior level. Obviously, Mnyaka thinks diversity is more important than competency.

Labour analyst Andrew Levy said the possible winner for Solidarity was the question of service delivery. "If they say that the SAPS cannot protect people because the job is not being done as jobs were reserved, I think that is a valid point."

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