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Designated groups and employment in Namibia

Designated groups and employment in Namibia

Designated groups according to the Affirmative Action Act are Racially disadvantaged persons; women (irrespective of race); and persons with disabilities (physical or mental limitations, irrespective of race or gender).

The phrase `racially disadvantaged persons’ means all persons who belong to a racial or ethnic group which formerly had been, or still is, directly or indirectly disadvantaged in the sphere of employment as a consequence of social, economic, or educational imbalances arising out of racially discriminating laws or practices before the independence of Namibia.

The Act further stipulates that where several suitably qualified candidates from designated groups qualify for a position of employment, an employer must give preference to Namibian citizens and to candidates who belong to more than one designated group. In other words it is the intention of the Act that relative priority be accorded to such individuals. Thus, strictly speaking that when a black person, say a San woman is also a competitor for a position, that women will always win the position everywhere in Namibia even though not suitably qualified.

This is how the law reads and is applied and which is creating the situation in Namibia that other ethnic groups are denied job opportunities and driven to the margins of society.

Section 17 (3) of the Act speaks of EQUITABLE REPRESENTATION which reads ‘To determine whether a designated group is equitably represented in the various positions of employment offered by a relevant employer, the Commission shall take into account, in addition to such other factors as it may determine; (a) the availability of suitably qualified persons in that designated group for such positions of employment; and (b) the availability of persons in designated groups who are able and willing, through appropriate training programmes, to acquire the necessary skills and qualifications for such positions of employment’.

Thus, a coloured woman, though a member of more than one designated group and being suitably qualified never gets the job as witnessed numerous times by not even being invited for an interview!!! The biased and misguided application of this sub-section by the administrators has the effect that certain ethnic groups also previously disadvantaged as stated earlier are intentionally and pre-determinately excluded from consideration which infringes unjustifiably on the dignity of members from those ‘other’ previously disadvantaged groups.

A case in point is the local and regional authorities where there are no coloured people employed at all levels of the organisation, due to, and in my view unfair administrative action based on racial discrimination.

Progress on a solution to this dilemma as a staring point is to ask the following questions: 1. Which ethnic groups are considered racially disadvantaged groups? 2. Are government ministries and other government institutions obliged to submit Affirmative Action Plans and are they designated as relevant employers? 3. Could the Employment Equity Commission please clarify these questions? 4. Please answer these questions in public, everybody needs to know the truth coming from the source? And further, administrators should be aware that when people are driven to the margins it is when they will retaliate, and that might end up costing the central government millions annually and embarrassment. Are we a state as stated in the preamble to our Constitution that: ‘We desire to promote amongst all of us the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Namibian nation… the Republic of Namibia as a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary State securing to all our citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Are we living up to those standards???

Anonymous, Otjiwarongo.


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Today the Typesetter is a position at a newspaper that is mostly outdated since lead typesetting disappeared about fifty years ago. It is however a convenient term to indicate a person that is responsible for the technical refinement of publishing including web publishing. The Typesetter does not contribute to editorial content but makes sure that all elements are where they belong. - Ed.