South Africa’s Recent Court Ruling on Black Economic Empowerment

China Monitor - Issue 31 - Jul 2008July 2008  – Issue 31

A recent High Court ruling in South Africa recognised ethnic Chinese South Africans as “coloured” by racial classification. Being categorised as a previously disadvantaged community, the ethnic Chinese community is now entitled to the benefits that may flow from preferential legislation such as the Employment Equity Act and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act which seek to promote and uplift the economic status of people of colour in South Africa. Represented by world renowned human rights lawyer George Bizos, the court action by the Chinese Association of South Africa (CASA) was however never about economic fruits, but the recognition of a principle.

South Africans of ethnic Chinese descent were discriminated against, albeit to a lesser extent than other population groups, during the apartheid years. But what has been of great surprise has been the criticism of the ruling from organised black business groups such as NAFCOC.

The strong criticism from NAFCOC is both misguided and short-sighted. Its commentary made headline news in China and has caused much concern from Chinese businesses toward South Africa. Crime is already a major deterrent to (Chinese) investment to South Africa. Considering that China is amongst the largest foreign investors in South Africa following ICBC’s acquisition of 20 percent of Standard Bank, xenophobic comments toward the Chinese will only serve as an additional deterrent to attracting Chinese investment to our economy.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 31 – Jul 2008