Racial prejudice remains – minister

29% white managers 'too many'

10 June 2019 | Labour

White employees' dominance of management positions and disproportional favour for white employees despite 29 years of independence is a serious concern, labour minister Erkki Nghimtina said last week.

He said this when he delivered the executive summary of the Employment Equity Commission's Annual Report for 2017/18 financial year in the National Assembly.

According to him, the previously racially disadvantaged accounted for 63% of managerial positions, however white employees who comprised only 4% of the workforce accounted for 29% of positions at the management level.

“This disproportionate racial compensation of managers has been consistent over the years and is therefore, a cause of serious concern as it became apparent that racial prejudice continues to influence employment decisions in favour of white candidates and thus perpetuating white-controlled management,” said Nghimtina.

According to the minister due to limited funds the commission had to reduce the frequency of workplace visits.

Meanwhile former Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) chief executive officer Tarah Shaanika says the economy has largely been controlled by well-established white companies which have not made a genuine effort at transformation.

According to him opportunities have always been skewed in favour of whites in the economy and that black people have not been given opportunities.

“Genuine transformation is taking too long and one of the reasons is that we have probably not developed sufficient skills among black people. And most of the businesses in the private sector are white owned business who have not made a genuine effort to develop capacity amongst blacks to take up these management positions,” he said.

Another reason, he said, is because very few black-owned and black-run businesses have been established in the country.

“That is why I have differed with the NEEEF proposal because they were focusing on building skills in already established white-owned business. My view is that it would be best for us to have an empowerment programme through which we can encourage and establish a black industry that can compete with the white-owned companies,” he said.

Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) secretary-general Mahongora Kavihuha said the biggest problem is an unequal share of wealth which results in racial disparities in the workplace.

“The market is dominated and controlled by white people so if you want to establish a business you must partner with a white person so your business can be considered as a prospective client,” said Kavihuha.

According to him the government must introduce new policies that can speed up the transformation process because the existing ones are not supportive.

JEMIMA BEUKES