Chinese South Africans are to be reclassified as Black according to a ruling of the High Court.
According to a report in IOL:
Judge Cynthia Pretorius granted an order in terms of which Chinese South Africans are included in the definition of "black people" in the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act.The ruling comes after The Chinese Association of South Africa sued the government for being classified as white, and thereby, suffering discrimination in terms of the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act.
These Acts seek to reduce white domination of the private sector and have some application in the public sector too.
The Association complained that their classification as white meant that they were excluded from private sector contracts and job promotions aimed at advancing previosly disadvantaged Black racial groups (Africans, coloureds, and Indians).
During the apartheid era Chinese South Africans were classified coloured and not white (the post-apartheid government classified them white after 1994).
This meant that they lived in coloured suburbs and attended coloured schools. They were also prohibited from marrying whites or even dancing with whites at private parties (believe it!).
Chinese South Africans could also not own businesses in white areas and their presence in universities and colleges was restricted by their coloured classification.
In these terms, they suffered historical discrimination and should have been included in the previously disadvantaged category from the very beginning in 1994.
The High Court's ruling is 14 years late but it does bring some resolve for the apporximately 200 000 Chinese South Africans who are very much part of our collective history and struggle against apartheid.
There is some historical irony in this race reclassification case. I remember during the apartheid years many coloureds applied to become white and some Blacks applied to become coloured, etc.
The rationale during that time was to upgrade toward being white.
Now we live in a time when being white is not that desireable, well at least not in terms of the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act.
I have my doubts about these Acts even as I understand the dire need to address economic disparities among race groups. I am not entirely square with the manner that race-based restructuring of the economy is being implemented.
What really irks me is the reality that only a few fatcat Blacks have joined dominant white fatcats while the vast majority are hardly empowered.
I am, however, hardly convinced that these Acts constitute reverse racism against whites in general.
Whites still earn 450% more than Blacks 14 years after apartheid officially ended.
In this context, we are hardly where we should be in terms of distributing wealth and opportunity more equally.