Key Points:

  • Affirmative action has worked substantially well in the USA, but South Africa needs to look for specific solutions to its particular problem. In a CDE debate session, participants were asked to provide their views on affirmative action in South Africa and in the USA.
  • There is a difference in the magnitude of the problem between the two countries. For example in the USA, black Americans are in the minority, 30 million amongst 300 million; by contrast, black South Africans are in the majority. The problems of making equity work are far more difficult when the disadvantaged are in the majority.
  • Training and human resource development is of the utmost importance, yet South Africa does not have an affirmative action programme in this area.
  • If affirmative action is to be the enabling process for correcting past injustices and assuring the disadvantaged of a fair chance in employment, education and business, then it is the institutions and the structures that will have to be addressed.
Photo credit: William Stitt