'wE WANT MORE BLACK ENGINEERS'

FLASHBACK: The Manpower survey makes special note of the high demand for engineering and project management skills in mining and construction. Pic: JEREMY GLYN. 24/10/2007. © ST

Construction Generic (at soccer city) for Top 100 Companies Survey in the Sunday times. Pix by Jeremy Glyn in October 2007.
FLASHBACK: The Manpower survey makes special note of the high demand for engineering and project management skills in mining and construction. Pic: JEREMY GLYN. 24/10/2007. © ST Construction Generic (at soccer city) for Top 100 Companies Survey in the Sunday times. Pix by Jeremy Glyn in October 2007.

PUBLIC Works Minister Geoffrey Doidge faces a court challenge over transformation in the engineering sector.

PUBLIC Works Minister Geoffrey Doidge faces a court challenge over transformation in the engineering sector.

He has been accused of favouring white over black engineers.

Doidge has been accused by the National Society of Black Engineers of South Africa (NSBE) of appointing "a ridiculously high number of whites" to the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

The NSBE is aggrieved that the new council does not reflect the country's demographics - with whites accounting for 46percent of council members, while blacks accounted for 36percent. Asians make up 16percent and coloureds are siting at a paltry 2percent.

Population estimates put whites at 9,1percent, Asians at 2,4percent, coloureds at 8,8percent - while blacks account for 79,7percent.

Doidge's move to ignore objections by the NSBE and his endorsement of the council is seen as contradicting ANC-led government policies on transformation.

In its high court papers, the NSBE has cited Doige and ECSA as respondents.

"Our view is that there can only be one underlying reason to maintain this inequitable representivity, and that is racism, premised on the view that some population groups are superior and therefore entitled to have a bigger sphere of influence, while inferior groups should have a minimal say," the NSBE's Vusi Mdakane said.

He said the minister had overlooked the Engineering Profession Act, which emphasised representivity.

But ministerial spokesperson Lindie Nemavhidi said: "Acting director-general Sam Vukela expresses his surprise that this matter is now receiving the attention of the media, particularly during a time when there are ongoing discussions (on transformation) between the NSBE and officials from the department."

Nemavhidi said the department would not comment further since the issue was sub judice.

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