Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Dear Samantha Enslin-Payne, Deputy Editor of the Business Times,

The titled of your column today (May 14) headed: Inequality: how can we face our children? should have read: How can I face my readers after this?
You wrote how difficult it was to explain to your children that the lives of Blacks in South Africa had hardly changed since the Black majority government came to power in 1994.
To back your line of thinking you quoted from the 2016-2017 annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity. As a journalist in your position I would have thought you would have analysed it in a reasonably unbiased way and not cherry-pick it to suite your own argument.
As this Commission is a Government organisation, one would hardly expect it to be anything other than very pro-Black. And that is certainly reflected in this report to a quite unnecessary extent. 
You quoted Tabea Kabinde, chairperson of the Commission as saying: “Whites, despite constituting only 9.5% of the economically active population, still took the lion’s share of top management positions in the private sector.”
Your story continues with: “Africans, who constitute 78% of the economically active population, account for 10.7% of management positions in the private sector compared to 72 % among whites.”  
Nowhere in your entire column did you mention anything about the colour of those employed in the public sector where a Black Economic Empowerment policy (old time apartheid in reverse) is the norm.
I can understand why you didn’t want to mention that because it pretty well blows your cause completely.
Tabea Kabinde

Perhaps you didn’t see or didn’t want to see that the Commission concluded that Africans hold 74.6% of the top jobs in Provincial Government and 76.0% of those in Local Government. “There is a 33.3% split between African and White males in National Government” we were told. Women evidently don’t count and if you look at a picture of the members in Parliament you don’t get the impression that there are an equal number of Blacks and Whites.
Can colonialism and apartheid be blamed forever for the slow progress of Blacks in our economy? Surely after 22 years of running the country the Blacks must take a lot of the blame for keeping the majority back with things like an appalling education system.
Also it evidently doesn’t bother you that we are still perpetuating apartheid style government by colour coding the entire population so that our rulers know who to give preferential treatment to. As you no doubt saw that report gives figures for Whites, Africans, Indians, Coloureds and Foreign Nationals, with only Blacks being classified as Africans when most, if not all the Whites, Indians and Coloureds were probably born in South Africa making them as African as anybody else.
Many of our problems with nation building will never come right until the Government leads the way by referring merely to “people” without classifying them the way it is doing.
Even though huge operations like the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Airways and the Post Office get bailout after bailout from the Government, they are still in deep financial mire.
The private sector has no such limitless backing, yet I defy you to name one large comparable company headed by a White that is in anything like the same kind of trouble.
Talking of the Post Office I am sure you know what colour the man is who has been brought in to save it. Significantly he was put there by our Black Government that wasn’t prepared to uplift one of its own by giving him or her the job.                                                    

There’s hardly anything run by the Government that is not suffering from terrible inefficiency and mind boggling graft. The railways are in a mess with Cape Town’s Metro rail inconveniencing thousands daily by having more delays than running time. Main line passenger trains are no better. They are guaranteed to stop for hours in the middle of nowhere so that passengers never have any idea when they will actually arrive at their destination. Numerous local councils are bankrupt with the Police Service and Eskom’s hierarchy in disarray. Not to mention a President hiding under a huge cloud hoping nobody will notice what he’s been up to, while prominent members of his own party call for him to step down. And that’s just a rough sample.
Oh and whose fault is it that our country has been downgraded to junk status?
These are the areas that the Commission tells us are mostly headed by Blacks so surely we must thank God for that 9.5% of Whites who are keeping the most productive part of the economy on the road. Without them we would all be even further down the drain than we already are and nobody would have a job of any kind.
It would be just as futile then, as you have done, to blame colonialism or apartheid when we know perfectly well what the real cause is.
If your column is an indication of what you are telling your children I think you are misleading them. You neglected to put things fairly in perspective by giving both sides of the story like every cub reporter learns to do at journalism school.
Unfortunately the way things are heading that small percentage of Whites, who are our life line at the moment, might soon disappear altogether. Then we’ll have to see if we are any better off with top management in the private sector being 100% Black. But it will be one hell of a gamble judging by what has already happened in the public sector.
The papers are full of stories about the rich planning their escape to other countries if radical economic transformation means having their properties seized and riots get completely out of hand. The ‘rich’ they are talking about are almost certainly 100% White.
I hope I haven’t whitewashed the seriousness of the situation.
Jon, the Poorman’s Press Ombudsman.

P.S. You are in good company when it comes to understanding the Black and White complexities of our employment situation. Advertising in your own paper for a Municipal Manager the King Cetshwayo District Municipality had this to say:
The Municipality subscribes to an Affirmative Action Programme, which is non-racist, non-sexist, non-discriminatory and based on merit.

P.P.S. For readers who don’t know Business Times is the business section of the Johannesburg based Sunday Times. Its Editor Bongani Siqoko certainly hasn’t let the country’s history hold him back. And presumably he’s in that 10.7% of Blacks who have made it to top management in the private sector.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant letter. You can see on the photos of her face she is an embittered frustrated woman. Poor husband....