The business community is strongly opposed to the Employment Equity Amendment Bill, former Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry leader Michael Bagraim said on Tuesday.
Bagraim, a prominent labour lawyer, said the Bill will destroy small businesses and discourage young South Africans from minority groups.
"It is a form of social engineering, and social engineering has always been disastrous, as we saw in apartheid South Africa."
He said business, along with most political parties, understands the need for corrective action after decades of cruel discrimination, but it should be used purely to level the playing field and not be pursued indefinitely.
The time has come to dismantle race-based laws, given that some of the born-free generation have never suffered discrimination, Bagraim said.
He said that despite claims to the contrary, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the chamber movement do not support the amendments to the existing equity law.
Bagraim's comments appeared in a statement issued the day after a Business Day report quoted Busa as saying it was a misrepresentation that the Bill would force companies to implement rigid racial quotas to make sure their workforce matched the population demographics.
The Bill has stirred much debate, more so because it has publicly divided the Democratic Alliance, pitting DA leader Helen Zille against her party's parliamentary caucus.
Zille has termed the Bill a "Verwoerdian" attempt to impose racial quotas and rebuked DA MPs for voting for it in the National Assembly. They were then forced to take a stand against it in the National Council of Provinces. – Sapa