President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken a swipe at the private sector, saying it was dragging its feet on ensuring meaningful transformation.
Writing in his weekly newsletter “From the desk of the President”, Ramaphosa said the government’s significant progress in ensuring economic transformation had not been matched by the private sector, which he said remained untransformed.
“The report released by the Commission for Employment Equity in August points, at best, to poor adherence to employment equity legislation, and, at worst, outright disregard for the law,” Ramaphosa said.
He pointed out that the upper echelons of management in private companies were still dominated by white men despite them making up only 5% of the economically active population.
“Africans only make up 15% of top management, despite accounting for 79% of the economically active population. Business needs to urgently do some serious introspection. Our transformative agenda cannot succeed unless we work together to broaden the participation of all South Africans in our economy, and it begins in the workplace,” he said.
Ramaphosa said Employment Equity Report had revealed how perceptions that black workers were relegated to the factory floor while their white counterparts occupied management role have fuelled poor labour relations in the workplace.
“This inequity naturally has ugly consequences when it comes to the discrepancy in incomes, where black workers will always earn a fraction of what white workers and managers earn.
“Advancing black and female employees must be a cornerstone of any company’s operations. This must move beyond merely ensuring compliance, and towards succession planning, mentoring, training, and skills transfer, and towards giving employees a meaningful stake in the companies they work for,” he said.
Despite their criticism by the DA and other organizations, Ramaphosa said black economic empowerment and affirmative action remained important tools to further non-racial transformation.
“As we intensify the work we must do to address the injustices of the past – especially in correcting the skewed race and gender composition of our public companies – we must ensure that all South Africans, regardless of colour, have an opportunity to contribute to building a better, fairer and more prosperous nation,” he said.