Speech By Honourable Membathisi Mdladlana, Minister Of Labour During The Debate On National Women`s Debate

11 August 2010

Oko batsho abafazi "Wathinta abafazi, wathinta imbokodo" ngo-1955 umzabalazo awukapheli. Amazwi abo asankenteza ezindlebeni. "wathinta abafazi, wathinta imbokodo"

Umbutho wesizwe kumgaqo- siseko wawo unenjongo, eyona iphambili kuzo ikukumanya bonke abantu boMzantsi Afrika, ngakumbi ama-Afrika, ukuze zonke iimeko zocalucalulo nengcinezelo. Kwakunye nokuxhasa nokuqhubela phambili idabi lenkululeko yoomama.

Kulamaxesha sikuwo kukho imikhwa nemikhuba ebangela ukuba eli dabi lethu libe neziphene ezifunwa ukubangulwa. Sibona ukuxhatshazwa nobundlobongela obenza ubomi babantu basetyhini bubenkenenkene. Amantombazana ahlala ubomi bentshontsho bengcungcuthekiswa zizidlwengu, kungenjalo bendiswe ngenkani. Ezi zenzo ke zenza babezizichenge zokusuleleka zizifo ngakumbi, esi singugawulayo negcushuwa.

Ngexesha sisakhula ubuye ubaluleke kakhulu xa ungudlalani, kule mihla sithe gqolo sibetha sibuyelela emadlakeni singcwaba oodlalani. Abantu kufuneka bazi ukuba kufuneka sithobe isantya kwizinto ezininzi ukuba sizondelele ukuphila.

Kwamanye amasiko nezithethe zethu kufuneka sichwethe ezi zimanyumnyezi ukuze sikhuthaze ezi zizakwenza idabi lethu lokukhulula oomama liphumelele. Masivume ukuba amazxesha ngamanye.

Oomama bayaphangela bavuka ngonyezi kunjalonje. Benza imisebenzi efanayo namadoda maxa wambi bathi xhaxhe tyishi kunamaninzi kwamany unga ungathi khulula ibhulukhwe ezo ntondini. Ngakumbi xa ubona ukunukunezwa koomama phaya emisebenzini, bayatswikilwa babhantswe kungathatyathwa manyathelo ngabaqeshi. Wathinta abafazi wathinta imbokodo.

Indawo zokugcina abantwana nya emisebenzini kuquka nale palamente. Kutheni? Wathinta abafazi wathinta imbokodo. Imivuzo yoomama ayikalingani neyamadoda besenza umsebenzi omnye ofanayo. Ewe ukhona Umnyenyevu kodwa usakrokrisa. Oomama basarhuqa ezantsi kwizikhundla eziphezulu.

It is clear that we require measures to address these disparities which impact on working women`s career. Child-care facilities must be provided in the workplace including this parliament. Flexible working arrangements must be introduced to enable women to balance career and domestic responsibilities.

As the member of the African National Congress the Party that forms the government of the day I take no delight at talking about how persistent is racism, colour divide, gender inequality and discrimination against the people with disability. For decades the ANC has advocated a gospel that says "South Africa belongs to all who live in it" and that "All shall be equal before the law". These principles found expression in the new Constitution of the Republic of the South Africa. Thus compliance with the Employment Equity Act is not an option but mandatory in terms of Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of the South Africa.

For the past ten years we have been knocking patiently at closed and barred doors calling for diversity in the workplace, equitable representation and the elimination of unfair discrimination. Once more the employment equity report conveys the sad news of a people hell bent on self destruction by resisting the reality that all South Africans have inalienable right to equality. I believe it is a society of the equal that can be truly democratic and prosperous. The resistance displayed thus far against the Employment Equity Act whispers an unfortunate message that persuasion is a pale and dry strategy too barren to bare fruit. If that be the case we are forced to explore other additional methods to realize this constitutional mandate of employment equity in the workplace.

A look back from the year 2005 when the first Commission for Employment Equity 5-year term ended reminds us how we reported with a measure of satisfaction that the first five years have laid a solid foundation by developing the needed institutional framework, policies, regulations, codes of good practice for employment equity to prevail. Little did we know that by now when the second Commission whose term ended at the end of July 2010 we would be submitting a report as gloomy as what we have. There cannot be any doubt that the data presented in this 10th CEE Annual Report paints a gloomy picture of the status of employment equity in the country. More Whites, both male and female, are recruited into the middle-to-upper management levels than any other group. The same racial recruitment profile also applies to people with disabilities.

It petrifies to note how the privileged have chosen to distort the substance of the Employment Equity Act to preserve their privileged positions. The white males dominate the economy and their privileges continue to hold sway in the work place. There are employers who have chosen to equate women with exclusive focus on white women when it comes to recruitment and promotion to senior positions.

Black women remain subjected to the brutalities of the historical triple oppression. At the work place Black women can hardly claim to have taken their rightful place as equals in a free nation. This is more pronounced in the economics of our country. They continue to be looked upon and to be treated as inferior by virtue of being black in the colour of their skin.

Lately there seems to be yet another distortion of this Act whereby the narrow upward mobility is opening up slowly to Black males leaving behind Black women. This cannot but be unfortunate because it perpetuates the gender inequality aspect of the triple oppression theory in practice.

In the face of all this the question that calls for an urgent answer is how do we change this trend? I, for my part, cannot preside over this fateful venture. A change must and will come in this regard. We have no option but to revisit the Act and tighten it, such that those who stand opposed to this Constitutional mandate bear the consequences.

After a thorough scrutiny of this report the question arises as to whether, is it not high time we considered hush fines linked to the turnover of the affected enterprises? Should we not revisit the form and content of our inspection work such that a combination of advocacy and injection of the sense of duty on the part of the employer to honour one`s obligation ultimately bear the desired fruit.

I will act swiftly to get this matter to the public arena so that the necessary social discourse is embarked upon towards finding the ultimate solution. I am convinced that the Employment Equity Act still remains relevant in our efforts to redress inequalities in the workplace. We must act in speed to increase representivity of especially Black women and people with disabilities. The longer we take to make reasonable progress towards implementing employment equity, the more negative the impact would be on the growth of our economy and stability of our democracy.

Once more I implore men and women of living conscience in every workplace to join me on this mission to create a conducive environment for employment equity to prevail. The longer we delay the more suffering we subject this, our beautiful country to the pain brought about by discrimination in whatever form it presents itself.

I thank you!