Black lawyers say Lekota a 'threat' to empowerment

The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) expressed concern on Wednesday over new Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota’s statement on affirmative action, labelling it as a “threat”.

At the party’s inaugural conference in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, Lekota said the Congress of the People would abide by the Constitution and was committed to the policy of affirmative action.

However, Lekota also stated that affirmative action should not be implemented on the basis of race.

Said BLA president Andiswa Ndoni: “This statement exhibits a lack of understanding of the rationale behind employment equity and broad-based economic empowerment policies.

“Both these policies were meant to enable black people to participate as equals within the corporate world and the economy.”

He said anyone committed to giving effect to the Bill of Rights in the Constitution would realise that black South Africans, including professionals, continued to be disadvantaged in the corporate world and in the economy as a whole.

“The figures released by the Employment Equity Commission annually speak for themselves. Any other basis than race is not workable because it is precisely because of past racial discrimination that the workplace did not reflect the demographics of the country.”

Ndoni said the full and effective participation of black South Africans in the economy could only be achieved through the acceleration of both these policies.

He said the BLA would consult with its members and other fraternal organisations in the new year on how best to respond to this “threat”.

“Cope seems determined to reverse the few gains made by black people on account of these policies in order to attract white votes.

“This is short-sighted and out of step with the aspirations of black people and the equality provisions in the Constitution,” said Ndoni. - Sapa