Employers take note

WE applaud the Labour Court decision to rule in favour of the white police officer denied promotion on the grounds that she was white.

WE applaud the Labour Court decision to rule in favour of the white police officer denied promotion on the grounds that she was white.

We differ, though, with the reasons presented by neo-racists for being happy with the decision.

Whereas those conveniently failed by their memories will celebrate the ruling to mean that affirmative action is by and in itself a racist principle, we believe that the Labour Court's decision will go some way to reminding employers that the measure is a tool for correcting historical wrongs rather than starting new prejudices.

It was always absurd that the SAPS would not promote a qualified woman even when it had not been able to find a suitable black candidate for the post. It is this type of short-sightedness that has resulted in many state institutions falling apart as a result of insufficient capacity because some have wrongly read employment equity requirements to mean that white people should have no future in any future South African enterprise.

Affirmative action was never about promoting black people because they were black, but giving opportunities to black and female employees who had been made second class by racism and sexism.

The SAPS's failure to promote Captain Renate Barnard not only harmed the officer but also damaged the principle of restoring fairness and justice to the workplace.

We hope employers will now stop watching the numbers and develop deserving candidates from the designated list and, secondly, stop pretending that affirmative action was a measure to punish white people for the historical sins of their forebears.

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