Sheena Adams, Star (Johannesburg), May 3
Although there were still fewer poor whites than blacks in the country, poor whites were exposed to an “indifferent and hostile” government.
So believes Freedom Front Plus spokesperson on labour Willie Spies, who said yesterday that the country’s labour force was more divided than ever.
New government labour policies had resulted in white and coloured males being the “new marginalised and vulnerable sector in the labour market”.
Quoting recently released Statistics SA figures, Spies said that while the number of formally employed people had increased during the past six months, unemployment among white and coloured men had increased markedly.
“In its drive to achieve a more representative head-count in the economy, the government identified so-called white males as the most unwanted species,” he said.
“It has shown that it would leave no stone untouched to reduce their number in all sectors of the economy.
“Yet the government often neglects the fact that most of these people are caring fathers and loving husbands fearing the future as it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to make ends meet in the South Africa created by the ANC.”
Spies said other statistics showed that the level of poverty among whites had rocketed by 30% between 1998 and last year, with more than 182 000 white households — about 1-million people — earning less than R9 000 a year.
“Although it is acknowledged that the percentage of poor whites is still smaller than the percentage of poor blacks, poor whites, unlike their black counterparts, are exposed to a government-imposed environment that is not only indifferent towards their plight but even hostile to efforts aimed at improving it.”
An example of this was the decision by the Gauteng provincial government to “punish” NGOs which served a majority of poor and vulnerable whites by reducing their subsidies.
Spies said it was ironic that despite the “new forms of discrimination” in the labour market, few workers were benefiting from black economic empowerment (BEE) initiatives.
“BEE has become an instrument by which a small minority of the black elite is empowered while workers, whether black or white, are left in the cold.”