The Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) said the remarks by Eskom board member Mteto Nyati reported in the Sunday Times does not suggest black economic empowerment (BEE) and affirmative action policies must be dumped to save Eskom.
The Sunday Times reported that Nyati believed empowerment rules are hampering Eskom’s performance.
“It’s our responsibility as the board to remove any blockages or challenges in the way of the management team so they can focus on doing what they know best,” said Nyati.
Chairperson of the CEE, Tabea Kabinde, said the author of the article published in the Sunday Times last month with the heading: “To save Eskom, BEE rules must go…” took the opportunity to take a “position on Affirmative Action (AA) by using sentiments that have been articulated by Solidarity.”
“Solidarity’s chief executive Dirk Hermann is said to have previously intimated that race-based transformation is responsible for Eskom’s downfall. This type of debate seems to suggest that competence is a race-based ‘born with gifts’. That could not be further from the truth.”
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Kabinde said labour market transformation through Employment Equity seeks to transform organisations’ demographic composition at all occupational levels.
“If it is true that Eskom was reckless in the way it executed AA way back in 2002, then questions need to be asked as to how this can be remedied given that it implies that there is a huge cohort of employees that are incompetent in their roles. Certainly, doing away with AA would not be the solution.”
“The problem would be 20-year-old recruitment and selection challenge and the question would then be: ‘Does Eskom not have performance management policies, procedures and processes?’ Management would then be blamed for not doing their jobs,” Kabinde said.
Kabinde added that the Employment Equity Act (EEA) is clear on its mandate.
“It is very explicit that employers should give equal opportunities to suitably qualified individuals from the designated groups (black people, women and persons with disabilities) to promote equitable, representative and diversified workforces that reflect the demographics of the economically active population.”
“In this regard, the CEE urges all employers to comply with the requirements of the EEA and stop using AA as a scapegoat for their inadequate or lack of substantive systemic strategic leadership, planning and management to create sustainable organisations,” Kabinde said.
On Tuesday, Eskom also set the record straight on Nyati’s comments.
“As a state-owned entity Eskom would like to reiterate that it embraces the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) and all government policies aimed at transforming the South African economy to deal with the pervasive conditions of inequality and socioeconomic imbalances as espoused in Section 217 of the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA),” Eskom said in a statement.
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