A registration process on a government partnered youth employment initiative has appeared to exclude white South Africans, sparking criticism from the country’s trade union.
The YES (Youth Employment Service) government jobs website aims at helping unemployed young South Africans who have been jobless for longer than six months. The program is endorsed by the National Development Plan 2030, which intends to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality within the next 12 years.
The registration criteria on the site require the applicants to be black, in accordance with the BEE definition (Black Economic Empowerment), between the ages of 18 – 34, and South African citizens.
Black Ec++ (BEE) is a racially selective program launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving black South African citizens, whom they define to include black, coloured and Indian people, economic privileges not available to whites.
“YES is a business-driven initiative which is breaking new ground by pioneering a partnership with government and labor, in collectively tackling a national plan to build economic pathways for black youth,” the website says. “Please note we are currently only registering candidates between the ages of 18 and 34, who are currently unemployed and must be black (as per the B-BBEE codes definition).”
YES was launched by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa in March. He praised the initiative, saying: “We will be coming up with further initiatives to address youth unemployment.”
South Africa’s trade union Solidarity suggested that young, white South Africans were “unwelcome,” while the exclusion was part of a “long list of policies obsessed with race.”
“It is as if the President is saying to white candidates: ‘You are unwelcome and on your own!’” said Paul Maritz, coordinator of Solidarity Youth.
He noted that the empowerment project which intended to address the enormous problem of youth unemployment was an issue of major importance in South Africa.
Maritz, however, added: “Exclusion based on race is becoming the norm… We dare not allow racial exclusion to become commonplace and normal; the past has shown us how dangerous that is.”