Employers still violate affirmative action law

Windhoek: The Employment Equity Commission’s (EEC) latest annual report states that some employers continue to violate Namibia’s affirmative action law by failing to submit affirmative action reports on time, failing to advertise vacant positions to give qualified Namibians a fair chance and failing to correct identified shortcomings singled out by EEC Review Officers.

The Affirmative Action (Employment) Act provides for penalties against offenders and the EEC invoked the relevant provisions against the offending employers.

Charges were also pressed against a number of employers and they were eventually convicted and fined. The EEC is however concerned that lenient fines imposed on offending employers do not serve as an effective deterrent to defaulters and said it trusted that the courts would review these fines to send a clear message to would-be defaulters.

“Fairness in the workplace makes good business sense. A diverse workforce not only improves competitiveness, it can also mean a better standard of living for persons in designated groups who were marginalised by the discriminatory policies of the previous dispensation.

“Employment equity can only bolster Namibia’s ability to make use of its many and diverse talents in order to push back the frontiers of poverty and under-development. Various industrial sectors can benefit from fair employment practices by attracting individuals who can give fresh impetus to productivity and operational efficiency,” said Employment Equity Commissioner, Vilbard Usiku, in the report.

The 2013/14 report also indicates that black employees accounted for a staggeringly low 22 percent of Executive Directors positions in the country and 66 percent of managerial positions. Even more shocking is that persons with disabilities comprised a mere 0.9 percent of managerial positions, while 6 percent of managers were non-Namibian.

Also, while the representation of previously racially disadvantaged at management level showed a slight improvement of 2 percent compared to 2012/13, their representation is still proportionately skewed in favour of previously racially advantaged employees, who constitute a mere 5 percent of the workforce.

“The main findings of this annual report indicate that overall results have been encouraging. However, results achieved for persons with disabilities were a cause for concern, compared to the other designated groups. This indicates the need for further effort and focused attention to improve their representation as they are under-represented at virtually all occupational levels,” said Usiku.

During the 2013/14 period, the EEC received 664 affirmative action reports from employers across the country, covering an aggregate total number of 167,502 employees. During the same period the EEC received numerous complaints, including alleged racial discrimination in terms of pay, promotion and other employment opportunities.