July 21, 2014
As you may have noticed, I am suddenly obsessed with South Africa. As a naturalized dual-citizen of the “B” in BRICS, I thought I’d take a look at what’s going on in the “S,” perhaps the least-known of this economic bloc, which also includes Russia, China and India and was forecast 20 years ago to overtake both the US and the EU, in terms of economic growth and buying power by 2050.
This short is about a segment of that society: the poor white South Africans, who feel that they are being unfairly treated by government policies, which they say favor black people for jobs.
Since the end of Apartheid, thousands of white South Afrikaners have been forced into poverty. They blame the government’s positive discrimination policies, which favor black employees.
Defenders of these policies claim that such measures are at least temporarily necessary, after the 350 years during which the black population was legally deprived of every opportunity to advance in life and that the transformation of South African society is bound to come with growing pains.
Twelve years ago, Afrikaners like Betsie Dreyer lived a privileged and cocooned life. Now, many are dependent on charity handouts; many now sharing the alarmingly filthy shanty towns in the Inner Cities and periferies of that nation’s capitals, alongside poor blacks. “We are fighting all the time to survive,” says Dreyer.
The government is determined to see the workforce appropriately reflect the population.
It gives black people priority in employment, sets ‘black quotas’ for businesses and favors companies owned by black people. But critics accuse the government of neglecting its responsibility to white citizens. As union rep, Kallie Kriel states: “It’s ironic that a government that fought racial laws is now doing exactly the same thing.”