/ 31 October 2008

Affirmative action here to stay, says Zuma

There will be no immediate end to the country’s affirmative action as long as white males continued to dominate the top management structures, ANC president Jacob Zuma told the Black Business Forum in Durban on Thursday night.

Citing figures from the Employment Equity Commission, Zuma said: ”Whites maintained dominance at 65,2%, with blacks at 18,1%. On senior management recruitments during the same period, 40,6% were black and 55,2% were white. In essence, we are far from declaring an end to affirmative action. We know that affirmative action is a critical matter for black professionals as well as for the country’s economy. No economy can succeed in the long-term if the majority is excluded in its management.”

Referring to land reform, Zuma said the ANC-led government planned to intensify its land reform process in a bid to ensure that ”30% of the land is in the hands of the rural poor by 2014”.

He said the complaint that the government had been slow in addressing land was a valid complaint.

However Zuma warned against people being given land and allowing it to become unproductive. A programme was needed to ensure that those taking over the land were made aware of how to keep the land productive.

ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa said that of the agricultural land that had been redistributed to black South Africans in Limpopo, 70% had become unproductive.

He said those who received land should be either trained or ”counselled” on keeping the land productive.

”It is very important that every parcel of land transferred from white people to black people remains productive,” he said.

Phosa questioned why the government had cancelled farm subsidies and said government might need to revisit the issue.

Referring to the formation of a new political party, Zuma questioned whether it would be successful given the short time left until the election.

”I don’t think it can be a force in the next election. Firstly the timing is wrong. You can’t start a party if you have less than a year. You can only start a party if you are angry. There is no amount of anger that can make it a force.”

He said he was of the opinion that voters did not want to vote for ”disgruntled members”.

”We differentiate between members who have grievances but who want to work with us to find solutions, and those who are angry because they lost power and leadership positions at Polokwane and provincial congresses.

”We unfortunately cannot assist in that regard. Usually angry people are difficult to handle.” he said.

He said that while people had the right to establish a new party, the ANC could not allow it to be destabilised from within.

”The test of loyalty and understanding of ANC membership comes when a person faces difficulties. Some of us could have packed our bags and called many conventions long ago.”

The party faced the upcoming election without any fears and that it was ”business as usual”.

”We have no crisis, are not jumping up and down, and nobody should panic about anything. Our programmes continue as always,” Zuma said.

Phosa added that ny attempt to hijack the party’s name ”in any form” would be opposed.

”The law is ”though shall not steal the word ANC,” he said to great applause. – Sapa