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Zimbabwe's AAF Takes Empowerment Message to Facebook

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 20, 2011

Zimbabwe’s leading economic empowerment lobby Group the Affirmative Action Group has taken to the popular social networking site FACEBOOK to build up its membership and spread the Economic empowerment agenda. The AAG Secretary General Mr Tafadzwa Musarara confirmed the development and added that the AAG was on expansionary phase also aimed at encouraging Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to participate in rebuilding the Economy.

The lobby Group’s page lists Phillip Chiyangwa,Saviour Kasukuwere, Strive Masiyiwa, Peter Pamire as being among the founders the group which now has membership of more than 100,000 Zimbabweans. The latest social media forays are aimed at increasing the Group’s membership beyond Zimbabwe and strengthen its brand as a leading voice to level the economic playing field.

Affirmative has been used the world over to correct historical imbalances on economic and financial opportunities in many countries including USA,Brazil ,India etc.Affirmative Action refers to positive steps aimed at increasing the inclusion of historically excluded groups in employment, education and business.

Affirmative Action Group Zimbabwe seeks to attain the broad based black economic empowerment of the indiginous Zimbabweans in the areas of education , employment and business.

Affirmative Action refers to positive steps aimed at increasing the inclusion of historically excluded groups in employment, education and business. Such steps are not designed to offer preferential treatment to, or exclude from participation, any group. To the contrary, Affirmative Action policies are intended to promote access for the traditionally underrepresented through heightened outreach and efforts at inclusion.

The AAG’s stated mission is to be the Vanguard of broad black economic empowerment in Zimbabwe.

The current Executive led by Supa Mandiwanzira and Tafadzwa Musarara made a historic presentation at the Jerusalem plenary session which discussed the Kimberly Process admission of Zimbabwe’s diamonds late last year.

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South Africa election: Why some poor black voters may ditch the ANC this time

May 17, 2011

By Scott Baldauf,

Since South Africa‘s black majority finally won their freedom from the white apartheid regime 17 years ago, most blacks have voted reliably for the African National Congress (ANC). But ahead of Wednesday’s municipal elections, voters in a number of poor black townships say they may ditch the once-vaunted party of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela – even if that means voting for the white-run Democratic Alliance (DA).

“I would have wanted to vote for the black-administered government, but I don’t eat patriotism,” says Miyetani Kuzumuka, a voter in the Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg. “The ruling party has taken us for granted too long, yet no service delivery is worthy of talking about in our poverty-stricken townships.”

This year, Mr. Kuzumuka says his entire family will try a new political party.

“I do think there is growing disenchantment, directed at the national leadership and the political class of the ANC in general,” says Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg. “But the thing is not about whether the garbage crisis or the billing crisis is resolved. It’s about ‘These [ANC leaders] don’t care about us.’ ”

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu says voters should keep things in perspective.

“Yes, there are problems of unemployment, health care, and poor education, but we have a huge responsibility at hand in providing service delivery to more than 50 million South Africans as opposed to the former apartheid regime that only catered [to] a few white people,” he says, adding that the ANC has only been in power for 17 years, while the former apartheid regime had ruled since the 17th century.

Sheluzani Baloyi of the Diepsloot township, however, is not buying it. The mother of three said she has been patient enough with the ANC since 1994, but now “it’s time to think out of the box.”

The ANC talks about uplifting the black community through affirmative-action programs, she says, but the “Black Economic Empowerment [program] is only benefiting those that surround the president, including their families, while the … nation is languishing in … poverty.”

Bekezela Tshabalala of Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, says he is hearing good things about the DA, which has won praise for its governance of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province.

“If what is happening in Cape Town is anything to go by, then the DA are likely to get my vote,” says Mr. Tshabalala. But he still has doubts about the DA, because many of its senior members supported apartheid.

DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko says her party is giving the ANC a run for its money.

“Our record is there for everyone to see” in Cape Town, says Ms. Mazibuko. “This time, the DA, under Helen Zille will steal a few municipalities from ANC.”

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India's politician of love

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 14, 2011

By Ammu Kannampilly

CHENNAI, India — Kumar Sri Sri wants to bring a bit of love to India’s parliament.

Even in a democracy known for its political diversity, the 35-year-old part-time make-up artist stands out as founder and leader of one of the country’s unlikeliest political groups, the All India Lovers Party (ILP).

Motivated by the prejudices he had to overcome to marry his own wife, Kumar created the ILP in 2008 to support couples who wish to marry despite parental disapproval over differences in caste, religion, and social rank.

Those who stray outside the norm can end up estranged from their parents or, in the worst cases, as victims of “honour killings” carried out by outraged relatives to protect what they see as the family’s reputation and pride.

The ILP’s political platform demands affirmative action in the workplace, as well as free housing and childcare for couples living without family support.

Sitting in the party HQ, a small room papered with political posters in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu, he boasted how he had helped 25 couples get married in the last three years.

“My goal is that we must get at least 10 people from the party in the national parliament by 2014,” said Kumar, who has an unashamed desire for lasting fame.

“Even after I die, my name should be known, for creating the All India Lovers Party,” he told AFP.

Kumar first tried to make a splash as a movie star.

After dropping out of school in 1989, he headed to Chennai, home to India’s massive Tamil film industry, where he struggled to break into a business where connections count for everything.

“When I left my village I had told everyone I will either come back as a big star, or I won’t return,” he said.

He worked as a waiter in a diner and a video store clerk before finally landing a job in the film studios, as a junior make-up artist.

It was at this time that he met his future wife, Mangadevi, a make-up assistant whose father was a tailor on the film sets.

Laughing, Mangadevi recalls how Kumar “would come by, talk to my father, and leave. Then one day he told me, ‘I love you’.”

The couple dated for nearly a decade while they worked and tried to win over Kumar’s parents, who wanted their son to marry someone wealthy.

“My parents wanted a girl who would come with a hefty dowry, maybe 200,000 ($4,500) or 500,000 rupees ,” he explained.

Unable to secure his parents’ support, the couple eventually went ahead and got married without telling Kumar’s family.

“It made me realise all the problems lovers face, because their families want them to marry according to caste and money,” Kumar said.

“People laughed when I told them I wanted to create a party for lovers, but I know there are millions of lovers in this country who will vote for me.”

The ILP has around 20 volunteers who help paste posters and hand out leaflets, and Kumar claims a 100,000-strong following, although his survey techniques are questionable.

“I know because they call and talk to me. I get at least 15-20 calls a day from people who want to support the party,” he said.

His salary from his two jobs, as a make-up artist and a neighbourhood milkman, pays for the ILP’s running costs.

The party logo is a heart pierced by Cupid’s arrow and, just in case the meaning still isn’t clear, the heart is filled with an image of the world’s most famous monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

A few months after he launched the party, Kumar met Lakshmi, 23, and Srinivasan, 36 — his first success story.

The Chennai-based couple fell in love while working in the same clothing shop, but Srinivasan’s parents objected, citing the vast difference in their social backgrounds.

His father held a coveted government job, working for the railways, while her father was a poor labourer.

Seeing Kumar’s posters around town, Lakshmi’s father got in contact and asked him for help, after which Kumar arranged a meeting with both sets of parents.

“I told them, don’t worry about money, they are both young and they can work hard and make money,” he said.

The couple married in August 2008, with grudging consent from Srinivasan’s parents.

“If we hadn’t met Kumar Sri Sri and we weren’t married now, I can’t imagine how unhappy I would have been,” Lakshmi said.

But not everyone is enamoured of Kumar’s politics.

The conservative Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) party has campaigned against the ILP, objecting in particular to Kumar’s support for Valentine’s Day.

“It’s against our tradition, it’s against our culture, it’s trying to spoil the family system of our nation,” said HMK organising secretary Thomas Kannan.

“We want to nip it in the bud, these type of people,” he said.

It is clearly going to be some time before Kumar’s ambition flowers into political success.

When the ballots were counted Friday in Tamil Nadu’s state election, Kumar had only managed a couple of hundred votes and lost his deposit in the Chennai constituency he contested.

But his enthusiasm was undimmed.

“No problem! It’s my first election, there are many ahead of me.

“One thing I know for sure though is that without love there can be no success. Without love you can’t do anything,” he said.

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Civil rights movement the 'most heroic' in United States history

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 14, 2011

By Lara Marlowe

THERE WERE 13 passengers, seven blacks and six whites, on the first two Freedom Rider buses that left Washington DC in May 1961. John Lewis, the black rider today known as “the conscience of the US Congress”, was attacked in South Carolina.

Otherwise, the group travelled peacefully as far as Alabama.

The Freedom Riders were demanding enforcement of a Supreme Court decision, handed down the previous year, banning racial segregation on inter-state buses, in restaurants, toilets and waiting rooms in bus terminals.

The Ku Klux Klan, in collusion with local police, was determined to stop the protest. In Anniston, Alabama, 50 years ago today, an angry white mob smashed the windows of the first bus and slashed its tyres. A Klansman pulled his car in front of the bus. Someone in the crowd threw a molotov cocktail through a window. The passengers barely escaped with their lives.

The second bus was attacked in Anniston bus station, where Klansmen beat passengers unconscious and stacked them “like pancakes” in the back of the bus, eyewitnesses said.

Most of the Washington Freedom Riders gave up, but a student group from Nashville, Tennessee, resumed the struggle. After still more Riders were beaten with baseball bats, tyre irons and bicycle chains, a bus eventually reached Jackson, Mississippi, on May 24th. Its passengers were arrested and sent to the notorious Parchman prison.

Over the ensuing four months, buses from all over the US converged on Jackson, carrying 436 Freedom Riders in all. Most were arrested and sent to Parchman. “It energised feelings in the north,” recalls Calvin Trillin, who covered the story as a young Time magazine reporter. “Until then, Americans thought of racism as a southern, regional problem. They just thought that was the way southerners were. It was treated more as an embarrassment than as an outrage that had to be stopped.”

That same year, a young African-American named James Meredith demanded to be admitted to the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss. Seven years had passed since the Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were illegal, in Brown vs Board of Education. But Mississippi’s governor swore no schools would be integrated as long as he was in office.

On September 30th, 1961, President John F Kennedy sent federal marshals to escort Meredith into Ole Miss. A white mob attacked them. Two people were killed and hundreds were injured in a night of rioting.

Calvin Trillin says the real turning point in American public opinion came in May 1963, with images of police dogs snarling at black children and of protesters swept away by high-power water hoses in Birmingham, Alabama. The violence continued to escalate: the black activist Medgar Evers was shot dead outside his home in Mississippi. The Ku Klux Klan dynamited a Baptist church in Birmingham, killing four little girls. In mid-1964, three civil rights workers – two of whom were white – were murdered by the Klan in Mississippi.

Without the civil rights movement and the affirmative action programmes that grew from it, Barack Obama would never have become President of the United States, says David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine and author of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.

“The civil rights movement, specifically the years between 1954 and 1968, with Brown vs Board of Education and the assassination of Martin Luther King jnr, is the most successful, most heroic public and political movement in the history of the United States,” says Remnick. “Race is the most painful and prolonged epic story of the United States. It defines the country. And so, to have an African-American in the White House is not the end of the story. But it is a very important marker.”

Soul-searching about the reality of progress and the apparent indifference of today’s youths have dominated commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders. Due to the flight of whites and a parallel system of private schools in Mississippi, education in the nation’s poorest state is still segregated. Activists like Alan Bean, the Texas-based founder of Friends of Justice, say the mass incarceration of young black men is a forgotten but fundamental civil rights issue.

Leonard Pitts jnr, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald newspaper, questions whether anyone today still has the courage of the Freedom Riders. It’s easy to claim one would have got on that bus, Pitts writes. “Then you remember the savagery, the violent attacks from people mortally outraged that these young men and women travelled in integrated groups and ignored segregation signs.”

Belief in non-violent protest has also withered, Pitts says. “It was not just a high Christian ideal, but also sound and effective strategy, the idea being that through the willingness to sacrifice your body, you made it clear as air to a watching world which side had the moral high ground, and which did not.”

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Diversity is a perversity to be shed

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 12, 2011

By Walter Williams

The terms “affirmative action,” “equal representation,” “preferential treatment” and “quotas” just don’t sell well. The intellectual elite and their media, government and corporate enthusiasts have come up with diversity, a seemingly benign term that’s a cover for racially discriminatory policy. They call for college campuses, corporate offices and government agencies to “look like America.”

Part of looking like America means if blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should be 13 percent of college students and professors, corporate managers and government employees. Behind this vision of justice is the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we’d be distributed equally by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes.

There is absolutely no evidence that statistical proportionality is the norm anywhere on Earth; however, much of our thinking, laws and public policy is based upon proportionality being the norm. Let’s look at some racial differences while thinking about their causes and possible remedies.

While 13 percent of our population, blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players and 65 percent of professional football players and are the highest-paid players in both sports. By contrast, blacks are only 2 percent of the NHL’s professional ice hockey players. There is no racial diversity in basketball, football and ice hockey. They come nowhere close to “looking like America.”

Even in terms of sports achievement, racial diversity is absent. Four of the five highest career home-run hitters were black. Since blacks entered the major leagues, of the eight times more than 100 bases were stolen in a season, all were by blacks.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently ordered Dayton, Ohio’s police department to lower its written exam passing scores so as to have more blacks on its police force. What should Attorney General Eric Holder do about the lack of diversity in sports? Why don’t the intellectual elite protest? Could it be that the owners of these multibillion-dollar professional basketball, football and baseball teams are pro-black while those of the NHL and major industries are racists unwilling to put blacks in highly paid positions?

There’s one ethnic diversity issue completely swept under the rug. Jewish Americans are less than 3 percent of our population and only two-tenths of 1 percent of the world’s population. Yet between 1901 and 2010, Jews were 35 percent of America’s Nobel laureates and 22 percent of the world’s.

If the diversity gang sees underrepresentation as “probative” of racial discrimination, what do they propose we do about overrepresentation? Because if one race is overrepresented, it might mean they’re taking away what rightfully belongs to another race.

There are other representation issues to which we might give some attention with an eye to corrective public policy. Asians routinely get the highest scores on the math portion of the SAT, and blacks get the lowest. Men are 50 percent of the population, and so are women; yet men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. The population statistics for South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Vermont show that not even 1 percent of their populations is black. On the other hand, in states such as Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, blacks are overrepresented in terms of their percentages in the general population.

There are many international examples of disproportionality. For example, during the 1960s, the Chinese minority in Malaysia received more university degrees than the Malay majority — including 400 engineering degrees compared with four for the Malays, even though Malays dominate the country politically. In Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, more than two-thirds of the potatoes and 90 percent of the tomatoes produced were produced by people of Japanese ancestry.

The bottom line is there no evidence anywhere that but for discrimination, people would be divided according to their percentages in the population in any activity.

“Diversity” is an elitist term used to give respectability to acts and policy that would otherwise be deemed as racism.

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Justice Clarence Thomas and the Wounds That Don't Heal

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 12, 2011

One day many decades from now, long after we’re all gone, some bright legal historian will write the definitive biography of United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It will undoubtedly include at least a chapter or two on the justice’s eternally roiling relationship with his fellow black professionals, especially black judges and lawyers. And it will probably cite an ongoing kerfuffle in Georgia as an example of what the justice faced, and why, even 20 years after contentiously ascending to the High Court.

As well told by veteran Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro, officials in Augusta, Georgia, are under fire from some local judges and lawyers for inviting Justice Thomas to speak at the dedication of a new courthouse to be named in honor of the memory of John Ruffin Jr. Ruffin was a civil rights attorney who later — in 1994! — became the first black member of the Georgia Court of Appeals. He died last year. The new courthouse is scheduled to open May 18th. And Justice Thomas is on his way. (As Mauro pointed out, here’s good local coverage from the Augusta Chronicle).

Of the criticism the justice’s visit has engendered locally, Mauro wrote:

“It’s not [Thomas’] fault, but his judicial philosophy is the antonym of what Judge Ruffin’s was and what it is in the vast majority of the minority community,” Richmond County State Court Judge David Watkins was quoted as saying in The Augusta Chronicle. The paper also quoted a close friend of Ruffin as saying, “I know of no way we could dishonor John Ruffin more than to have Clarence Thomas speak for this occasion.”

Some of those folks evidently also are angry because they were not consulted before Thomas was given the invitation. But the officials who made that decision, last fall, say they figured it was a no-brainer. Justice Thomas is from Georgia and also the circuit justice for the 11th Circuit, which covers Georgia. And because courthouse ceremonies often involve herds of dutiful lawyers and solemn judges, local officials probably figured, too, that the justice would get a more polite reception than he did twice before when he appeared at the University of Georgia.

But it turns out that even the specter of Thomas raises the same hackles with some judges and lawyers as he does with some students and professors. It would be easy to attribute such disdain to the old arguments — he benefited from affirmative action and then turned his back on it, etc.– but I think that would be a mistake. Or at least a working theory that needs some serious updating. There are many other, more contemporary reasons– some of law, some of politics — why black jurists (and many white ones) would reasonably and justifiably list Justice Thomas far down their list of most admirable justices.

Let’s start with the most recent trouble spot — the justice’s wife, Virginia Thomas, and her ongoing Tea Party advocacy. Never mind the issue of the justice’s perceived conflict of interest to hear the looming court battle over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Within the past month, the Tea Party has been linked to an email which depicted President Obama and his family as primates. But if Virginia Thomas has used her bully pulpit to publicly decry such conduct I was unable to find it via Google. Do you think that such an episode might impact the way some people view Justice Thomas today?

Let’s now look at a recent legal reason. Just six weeks ago, in Connick v. Thompson, Justice Thomas turned his back upon a man, John Thompson, who had spent 14 year on death row after being wrongfully convicted — railroaded when officials failed and refused to disclose material evidence that ultimately exonerated him. When Thompson was finally released from prison, he sued the district attorney and won his case. Justice Thomas, writing his first majority opinion of the year for a 5-4 court, overturned that jury verdict. It was a bitterly-divided case — the dissent was scathing — and it produced a terribly unjust result.

The fact that Thompson is black and was railroaded is meaningful to different people in different ways, of course. To me, it’s a blunt reminder of America’s continuing willingness to toleratepervasive racial disparity in its criminal justice system. It is a disgrace. For example, since the current death-penalty regime was reinstituted by the Supreme Court in 1976, the percentage of blacks executed under it is 34.78 of the total amount, reports the Death Penalty Information Center. The current population of American blacks, reports the 2010 Census, is nearly one-third of that — 12.6 percent.

There are many ways to explain those figures, some more legitimate than others. So let’s go directly to the source: the Supreme Court itself. Go back and read McCleskey v. Kemp, a 1987 Supreme Court capital case out of Justice Thomas’s home state. He wasn’t on the court back then, but the court ruled against a black defendant whose lawyers argued that the state’s capital punishment scheme was inherently unfair because prosecutors sought the death penalty far more often when black people were accused of killing white people as opposed to the other way around. For the majority, Justice Lewis Powell wrote: “At most, the [study showing such statistics] indicates a discrepancy that appears to correlate with race. Apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.”

Four years later, Justice Thomas joined this group. And where has he been since in the eternal fight to at least try to provide equal justice for all? No one can complain about him being neutral. He’s been on the ramparts, all right. But fighting for the other side. As evidenced tellingly by hisThompson ruling, in which he made up a new rule to protect prosecutor at the expense of a victim, he has been outright hostile, and persistently so, toward criminal defendants, including black ones, during his tenure on the bench. That started early on in his court tenure in 1992 in hisconcurring opinion in Georgia v. McColluma case about racial disparity in jury selection — and it continues to this day.

So it’s no surprise at all that Justice Thomas strikes a particular nerve with people who pay attention to these areas of law and justice. It’s no surprise they resent him despite his high office. The wounds he opened up with them 20 years ago when he got the job have never healed. His personality and his jurisprudence do not allow for it. Worse, each new court term seems to generate from him opinions and choices that open new wounds. Justice Thomas isn’t just against affirmative action in the workplace where a person’s job is on the line. He is also clearly against empowering the rule of law to equalize the disparities in the criminal justice system — where a minority defendant’s life and liberty are typically on the line.

And that, I suspect, is why Judge Ruffin’s friends and colleagues believe he will be spinning in his grave next week when Justice Thomas comes to crown the courthouse.

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Racial quotas at UCT

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate.

May 12, 2011

By James Myburgh

Over the past few months the American media has taken something of an interest in the race-based admissions policy of the University of Cape Town. In late November the New York Times ran an article on the topic, and in the past week National Public Radio has run a similar report.

UCT requires that applicants classify themselves according to the old apartheid designations of white, coloured, Indian and black. Differing admissions criteria are then applied depending on which of these racial categories the applicant belongs to.

For instance, for entry into the MBChB programme a “Black” applicant needs to score 36 points on their matric results and 15 (out of 30) points on the National Benchmarking Test; a “Coloured” applicant 40 and 16 points; an “Indian” or “Chinese” applicant 46 and 24 points; and a “White” applicant 47 and 24 points.

The ultimate goal of the policy is to ensure that composition of the university ultimately comes to reflect the racial proportions of society as a whole. As the University states: “As a matter of policy we aim for a student body which has a significant number of international students and where the local component of our student body increasingly reflects the demographics of the South African population.”

Perhaps not surprisingly both the NYT and NPR view the debates, within the university, around this policy through race conscious American lenses. The Times states that UCT is “engaged in a searching debate about just how far affirmative action should go to heal the wounds of an oppressive history.” The NPR report meanwhile begins by stating: “Universities in South Africa are wrestling with an issue familiar to many Americans: affirmative action.”

By framing their articles in this way – as an issue of “redress” for past wrongs – both reports morally prejudge the debate and, in many ways, miss the point. It is useful, from a historical point of view, to contrast UCT’s current policy with the principles articulated in the early 1980s when the National Party government moved to begin desegregating the English universities.*

Up until 1983 a person who was not white had had to apply, individually, for a ministerial permit if they wished to study at a ‘white’ university. Clause 9 of the Universities Amendment Bill, introduced that year, provided for the permit system to be replaced by a quota system. The number of black students allowed in each ‘white’ university would be stipulated annually by the appropriate Minister of State.

Although representing something of a practical improvement on the existing system UCT, Rhodes, Wits and Natal all objected to this “quota clause” on principle. The Vice Chancellor of Wits, Daniel du Plessis, stated “The fundamental issue is that the Witwatersrand University holds that race, colour, religion and gender are not academic criteria, and that no non-academic criteria should intrude into the selection process of an academic institution. This is basic to our philosophy and policy.”

UCT meanwhile took out advertisements in the Cape Town newspapers objecting to the government’s transfer to the university of this “obligation of denying admission to black students who qualify on academic grounds” and involving the university in the enforcement of “objectionable discriminatory laws.”

The Vice Chancellor of UCT, Stuart Saunders, stated that the reason the four universities “find the Bill totally unacceptable” reflects the fact “that these universities have, for more than a quarter-century, actively rejected racial criteria for admission to university.” He also claimed that the legislation was “imposing upon the university itself the distasteful and objectionable task of rejecting students on racial grounds because of a quota imposed upon it”; and argued that, “race classification is an objectionable and irrelevant consideration whether it be applied through permits or quotas.”

In parliament, in June 1983, the Progressive Federal Party MP, Alex Boraine, also spoke passionately against the Bill. He stated:

“The quota system is a system which restricts admission on the grounds of race. It is based, therefore, on race classification on the Population Registration Act. When one applies for a permit or when one applies under the quota system one produces one’s birth certificate. That is the kiss of death, as it were, for a young Coloured, Indian or Black student, because the moment he applies he is not asked for his matriculation certificate-they do not ask him how well he did at school or what his symbols were, but he is asked what his colour is. That is the quota system. It is racially enshrined.”

He then asked rhetorically, “What are we to make of this quota system? Where does it come from? What is its inspiration?” His answer:

“In the 19th Century this was imposed in order to limit the admissions of Jews to institutions of higher learning and was applied in the 19th Century by Tsarist Russia and extended in the 20th Century particularly to countries in Eastern Europe but also to others. It is perhaps not without coincidence that during the rule of Stalin [in the Soviet Union], such as system was also applied. This hon. Minister has learned well from what has taken place in Tsarist Russia and in the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most infamous of all took place in Nazi Germany.”

Boraine proceeded to cite the Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Higher Institutions adopted by the national socialist government in Germany in April 1933. This had decreed that, “In the admission of new students attention is to be paid to the number of German students who are not of Aryan descent … may not exceed in each school and faculty the proportion of non-Aryans to the entire German population [1.5%]. That proportion will be uniformly determined for the entire nation.”

He commented: “Whenever they admitted a student after the rise of Hitler and the Nazis they had to produce a birth certificate in order to determine whether they had any Jewish blood. This was a racial decree and I want to say to hon. members on the other side that this quota system is nothing more and nothing less than an approximation of the Hitler decree.”

When an MP objected that this was untrue, Boraine responded:

“It is the truth. Tell me why it is not the truth? Exactly the same approach is being followed here. What I am in effect saying, is that members on that side have sat at the feet of the Soviet Union and of the Nazis and have learned, and now they are introducing a quota system where Blacks are denied entrance into our universities, not on the basis of academic merit, but purely and solely on the basis of race.”

Although the legislation was passed by parliament, allowing direct black entry into the formerly ‘white’ universities, the quota provision was never actually enforced. As Saunders stated in 1986 “I think the Government came to realise how repulsive a quota system based on race is for any university and has wisely decided not to apply it. They would be even wiser to repeal the legislation. For as long as it stands on the statute books it must be recognised in principle. Using it would do enormous damage to our universities in the world of international scholarship recalling that the Stalin regime and Hitler imposed racial quota systems.”

In April 1991 the Education Minister, Louis Pienaar, announced that the offending section was to be removed from the statute books: “Although quotas were never determined, the deletion of this provision indicates once again the government’s commitment to recognise the autonomy of universities and demonstrates its undertaking to abolish racial discrimination from the statute book.”

From the mid-1980s UCT applied a corrective action policy based upon real disadvantage students had suffered at the hands of apartheid discrimination (but not, on principle, on race). The university pursued this policy of ‘equal opportunity affirmative action’ up until the mid-1990s. According to its pre-1996 mission statement UCT strove “to maintain a strong tradition of non-discrimination in regard to race” both in the constitution of its student body and in the selection and promotion of its academic and administrative staff. Students would be selected on merit, although special criteria would be used to identify disadvantaged students with potential, and they would be given extra assistance to help them succeed.

In 1994 the African National Congress came to power and increasingly asserted, under Thabo Mbeki’s leadership, its African nationalist agenda. Like many other racialist movements through history it made the demand that the universities, along with all other sectors of society, limit the proportion of minorities to their percentage of the population.

Instead of resisting or opposing this principle UCT adopted it as its own. Where it moderated it, and balanced it against other competing considerations, was in its application. This may have been a shrewd decision, politically and tactically, given the power of the ANC, and its racial demands, at the time. (UCT does seem to have done much better than some other universities in manoeuvring, albeit in a somewhat slimy way, through the transition.)

But its decision to place race at the centre of its admissions policy, and apply (in all but name) racial quotas, represents a complete betrayal of the principles it once invoked in the struggle against Apartheid-era discrimination.

Perhaps more importantly it represents a profound intellectual failure. The contribution of our universities to public debate in South Africa, over the past decade, has been pathetic.

Perhaps the main reason for this was that so many academics simply floated along, as UCT did as an institution, with the tide of the ascendant racial nationalism. South Africa is now dealing with destructive consequences of that project. It is difficult to see what contribution UCT can make to understanding and correcting these, for as long as it clings to the odious racial principle that lay at the heart of it.

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