Employment and Labour Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi said on Thursday that South Africans need to work hard to strengthen the country’s economy while transforming the labour system.
Moloi was speaking during the launch of the Employment Equity Instruments, the New Code of Good Practice on the Elimination and Prevention of Harassment in the World of Work (“the Harassment Code”) and the twenty-second Employment Equity Annual Report.
She said legislation which conflicts with transformation must be revisited if South Africa is to achieve equality.
She mentioned that the level of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country was “catastrophic” and pointed out that there was currently no tangible solution to combat this heinous crime.
“We have lost countless livesto GBV. I will always emphasise that we must walk the talk, we must be the change we want to see. South Africa is counted amongst the few countries in the world with laws on violence and harassment, but we do the opposite back at home,” Moloi explained.
She said there had been robust dialogue and cooperation between the National Economic Development and Labour Council, social partners and other relevant stakeholders around the Harassment Code.
Moloi said the efforts in devising the Code were done with the main aim of achieving and advancing transformation in the country.
“Transformation is key and it needs us to work very hard. For us to achieve total transformation we need to be transparent in the process, we need honesty, consistency and commitment,” she said.
She stressed the need to empower the previously disadvantaged, women and persons with disabilities, while dealing with the legacy of apartheid and the transformation of society, particularly transformation of unequal power relations between women and men, and fundamental changes to institutional laws.
“We can take action to ensure that our laws are in line with the international conventions and protocols by effecting the necessary changes which will make us achieve the transformation we all want to see in our legislation, in particular, repeal all aspects of discrimination of any form,” she said.
Moloi also highlighted that the country was in the process of economic reconstruction and recovery, but she said there needed to be more effort if South Africans wanted to compete in the global economy.
“Covid-19 left our country, and the whole world, dry and seriously damaged – lest we forget the disaster that hit the province of KwaZulu-Natal – and weakened the tourism sector, not to mention the number of lives lost. We need to work hard to strengthen our economy while transforming the system,” she said.
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said there was slow progress being made in the representation of the African and coloured population groups in top and senior management levels. The white and Indian population groups remained overrepresented, in relation to their economically active population, at the top management level.
He explained that an increase in employment equity submitted by designated employers signified that the country was moving towards pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels, and that most of the reports received by the Department of Employment and Labour were from the private sector.
He added that 18.1% of the reports received were from the manufacturing sector; 14.7% from wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles & motorcycles; 14.3% from agriculture, forestry and fishing; and 9.4% from construction.
He said it was apparent that these were among the largest employers in the country.
Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) chairperson Tabea Kabinde explained that the data that emerged from the 2021 employment equity reporting cycle still portrayed an average of 1% in the reduction of the white population group at the top three occupational levels of the workforce.
The report covers the period from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 and reflects on the strategic objectives covering a five-year period for the fifth CEE.
Kabinde said the workplace Barrier Analyses remained inadequate and as a result, the affirmative action measures which would normally yield progressive results remained minimal and, in some cases, superficial.
Consequently, the attempts to get these top three occupational levels to be representative of the economically active population continue to be stunted, she added.
Kabinde explained that the trend of employing foreign nationals at entry-level jobs in the labour market remained a challenge. At the unskilled level, for instance, 4.3% of that workforce is made up of foreign nationals.
The CEE urged employers to give preference to South African nationals to deal with the substantial high levels of unemployment in the country.