Johannesburg - Affirmative action as it is currently implemented was not what was intended with the agreement reached in 1994 between specifically the then ruling party, the NP, and the ANC, according to former minister of foreign affairs Pik Botha.
He expressed this sentiment on Thursday during a debate on affirmative action in Pretoria.
Botha joined other experts on the subject of affirmative action in a debate regarding the place of affirmative action in South Africa. Rabelani Dagada of the Wits Business School in Johannesburg and Dirk Hermann, chief executive of the Solidarity Movement, were participants in the debate.
According to Botha, the ANC has broken the agreement that was reached in 1994. He also clearly expresses this view in Hermann's latest book, Affirmative tears: Why representivity does not equal equality (published by Kraal Uitgewers).
He reckons that a new constitutional dispensation would have been impossible in South Africa, had the ANC insisted at the time that the provisions of the Employment Equity Act and the manner in which they are enforced be made part of the Constitution.
He pointed out that the intention during the negotiations was to rectify the inequalities and injustices caused by apartheid.
"But we did not agree to remedying injustices in the past by creating injustices in the present," Botha explained.
'Discrimination against white young people, who had nothing to do with apartheid, was definitely not part of the agreement between the NP and the ANC. Neither, generally, was discrimination against whites, coloureds or Indians."
The ANC's "quota obsession" amounts to a rejection of skilled people, who are able to contribute amply to train black people, in his opinion.
"The boomerang effect of the Employment Equity Act is that masses of black people are still untrained and unemployed and that the country's economic progress is severely hampered by a shortage of skills. This affects millions more blacks than whites," Botha said.
"Spontaneous, informal yet fundamental talks among leaders of all races are needed in order to agree on the road ahead."