The ANC has made a submission to amend a controversial clause around demographics in draft employment equity (EE) regulations, the party’s provincial leader Marius Fransman said on Thursday.

“We have actually made a submission not to spike hatred between communities. We’ve made a submission to correct that earlier clause, and that is what responsible leadership is,” he told reporters in Cape Town.

“We’ve suggested that that clause can go nowhere because that clause will not stand the test of time. What we suggested is that it must be a balance between national and provincial [demographics].”

The draft clause proposes that companies who employ more than 150 people would have to use national demographics for top and senior management, and those who were professionally qualified.

New rules

The labour department published the EE regulations for public comment in February.

At the time, the department said the regulations provided practical guidelines on how to implement EE law in the workplace.

Western Cape premier Helen Zille made it clear earlier this month that her government would oppose theregulations because they amounted to “race-based social engineering” and would entrench racial divisions rather than help overcome apartheid’s legacy.

Addressing staff in a internal letter, she said she had consulted her lawyer, and was of the opinion that the regulations and sections of the principal act were unconstitutional.

‘Rational EE’

She said she had submitted her comments to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, making it clear the province was committed to “rational” EE for all those disadvantaged by apartheid.

“But [we] will not introduce quotas, nor accept the absurd and unconstitutional regulations as currently promulgated,” she stated in the internal letter.

The province’s top three levels of management and professionals would have a limit of nine percent of coloured people, even where they comprised almost 50 percent of people in the province, she said.

“This would mean we are not able to promote or appoint people in this “racial category” to senior management positions for at least 15 years.”

Fire white senior staff

On Thursday, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich was quoted as saying that he would ask the ANC to fire more than half of the white senior civil servants if the ANC won the province in May 7 general elections.

“Their employment would have to be terminated – and within a year,” the Cape Argus quoted the Congress of SA Trade Unions official as saying.

“They’ll have to go and start their own businesses. They are better placed to start their own businesses because they have both the networks and the historical infrastructure to do this.”

In the report, he claimed senior management in the provincial government was made up of at least 57% white people, while they only made up 16% of the population.

‘Wrong as usual’

In response, Zille said on Thursday that Ehrenreich’s statistics were “entirely wrong, as usual”.

“Currently, 62% of senior management in the Western Cape government is, in the terminology of the EE Act, coloured, African and Indian and comprises 75% individuals from all designated groups,” she said.

“He will not succeed in his attempt to drive a wedge between white people on the one hand, and coloured, Indian and black people on the other.”

The Western Cape would continue to pursue EE without quotas and combine equity with excellence, the only approach that worked, she said.