IN its ruling on SARIPA’s appointments policy which the Constitutional Court delivered today, the court ruled that this policy, introduced by the Minister of Justice and the Master of the High Court on 7 February 2014, was incapable of promoting reasonable equality in the profession. The ConCourt’s majority ruling dismissed the appeal brought by the Department of Justice with costs.
Today’s favourable decision comes after the Minister of Justice and the Master of the High Court brought an appeal before the Constitutional Court against a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal given in 2017.
According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Labour Law Division, both the Western Cape High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of Solidarity and SARIPA, both declaring the appointments policy as unconstitutional.
“Today’s ruling confirms the arguments we put forward throughout the lawsuit, among others the argument that the policy constituted naked racism which could not be justified on any grounds whatsoever. It is disappointing that we are increasingly being confronted by this type of racial segregation, which is unhealthy for a country which, on so many levels, really cannot afford it,” Van der Bijl said.
According to Van der Bijl, the appointments policy stipulated that the appointment of liquidators had to be based solely on race and gender. “This policy, which was aimed at promoting race and gender representivity in this profession, amounted in reality to inadmissible and unconstitutional quotas which the Constitution prohibits,” Van der Bijl said.
Van der Bijl furthermore said that, in terms of the controversial appointments policy, 40% of all appointments had to be awarded to black, coloured, Indian and Chinese females; followed by 30% to black, coloured, Indian and Chinese males; 20% to white females, whereas only 10% of all appointments were reserved for white males. “This policy is in contrast to a more comprehensive and nuanced approach that is based on merit and training. This racially-obsessed approach furthered racial tension which is not in the interest of the country and its citizens,” Van der Bijl said.
“This ruling is historic in the sense that it paves the way for us to, once and for all, put an end to the rigid and exclusive implementation of affirmative action and black economic empowerment policies and practices which practice has unfortunately become the norm. Our children and we deserve a country in which a person’s value is considered on merit and not on the grounds of the person’s skin colour,” Van der Bijl concluded.