icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
26 Feb, 2009 13:19

They sued to be black?

They sued to be black?

South Africans who were black last year have to slide over and make room for the new blacks. Lawsuits are forcing traditional blacks to be color-blind and to share their identity.

The days when skin color determined race are passing in South Africa. During apartheid, even those who didn’t enjoy the supreme status of whites enjoyed a status elevated above blacks. Now, those people are fighting to be included among the race that once held the lowest status.

“Blacks Only” Unconstitutional

The Forum of Black Journalists was accused of racist practices last year following an event where ANC President Jacob Zuma addressed the crowd as part of his party’s re-launch.

White journalists were denied entry and asked to leave, as it was deemed a ‘black’ event. One of the rejected white journalists was Katy Kadopodis, a senior reporter for Radio 702, who has covered Mr. Zuma’s activities for many years.

Ms. Kadopodis filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which, in essence, stated that the exclusion of white journalists from the event “amounted to racial prejudice and should not be tolerated.”

The SAHRC agreed. The Forum of Black Journalists disagreed, rejected the finding and filed an appeal.

After reviewing the appeal, the SAHRC has now dismissed the appeal and confirmed its decision: excluding white journalists based on race in unconstitutional.

Part of the appeal was based on the objective of the Forum of Black Journalists, which is “the upliftment of black journalists in general and the African in particular.” The organization argued that closed membership protected their voice.

The SAHRC found this claim baseless and countered that invitations to the event were directed exclusively to black journalists and not restricted to members.

No measure was taken to ensure that the black journalists invited to the event supported the organization’s objectives or beliefs. However, “all white journalists whether [or not] they supported the objectives were not permitted to enter.”

Although the original complaint did not address the black-only membership policy, the SAHRC exercised the authority to consider the issue since banning white journalists from the event was “inextricably linked to racially exclusive membership policies.”

In this regard, the SAHRC stated “there is nothing before us which leads us to conclude that the racial exclusive…practices bring legitimate benefit.”

The SAHRC decided that a full commitment to the value and goals of the organization is a sufficient requirement to protect its voice and identity.

Race consideration is therefore not necessary in considering membership.

Chinese Black Empowerment

In another case, after an eight year battle, Chinese South Africans won their right to “fall within the ambit of the definition of ‘black people’” described in the Black Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act.

Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Employment Equity (EE) are programs designed to redress the inequalities of the past by granting economic opportunities to South Africans who were once disadvantaged.

During apartheid, people of Chinese descent were considered “coloreds.” Although being colored offered advantages over being black, both BEE and EE defines coloreds and Indians as black, offering them full program benefits.

Chinese were not officially excluded, but they weren’t included either.

George van Niekerk, a lawyer for the firm representing the Chinese Association of South Africa (CASA) said this meant that one bank would consider Chinese black for BEE purposes and another wouldn’t.

CASA argued that after 100 years of suffering in South Africa, Chinese citizens were just as entitled to dignity, justice and recognition as other groups.

Nafcoc, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was one group to express heated opposition to the Chinese victory. Kgnare Lefoka argued the danger of such an interpretation, saying, “You would then come to the conclusion that a number of other population groups were suffering some form of discrimination or oppression…” including Jews and white Muslims.

“This approach of the courts might open the floodgates,” Lefoka said. Suggesting that, although black Africans suffered the worst injustices of apartheid, any number of people could sue and become black tomorrow and then help themselves to reparations not intended for them.

Michelle Smith for RT