Johannesburg - Black South Africans should be less dependent on government policies such as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Affirmative Action, trade union Solidarity's Dirk Hermann said on Friday.
"The previous time I participated in a BMF (Black Management Forum) forum, Enoch Godongwana said that none of the black elite in the audience would have been there if it had not been for BEE. What an insult - but the audience applauded," Hermann said.
"They believe their success is dependent on the system. There was a time when Afrikaners also applauded a system, but they did not realise that they had become slaves of the system."
Hermann was addressing a BMF conference in Sandton, under the theme 'Equity, Non-racialism, Restitution and Social Justice'. He encouraged people not to be enslaved by the "system", saying this would enable more entrepreneurship.
Among those invited to the conference was Progressive Professionals Forum president Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi, who attacked Hermann's statements.
"I think it's a bit condescending for you to misinterpret Enoch Godongwana the way you have. When [he] says we need BEE... I am not insulted by that," Manyi said.
"Let us - the beneficiaries - be the ones that see insult in it, not you telling us."
Manyi said black South Africans did not see the policies as a weakness, but rather as an opportunity that they needed to address the wrongs of the past.
"Employment equity, (it) talks about a suitably qualified person, it is not like in the apartheid era... where the only qualification was just the colour of your skin.
"Here you must still be suitably qualified. So to be an affirmative action candidate, to be a BEE candidate is not an insult."
He said the general approach towards black people was that they were always deemed "not ready" for certain positions or "needing help" in the work place.
They were also never given the opportunity to fail, in order to learn.
In an interview with Tim Modise, published on BizNews website, Manyi asserts that "the law has been successful in delivering empowerment to Indians as a whole, and white women in particular."
Because of this, it should now focus on black women. "I’m calling for un-designation of white women and Indians as a whole, to say ‘let them be out of the definition so that the focus can be on the Africans and the Coloureds’."
In answer to a question by Modise, Manyi said: "Affirmative action, by definition, can be a permanent feature. It’s good to be there, to correct."
Manyi said he would argue that "many white people have in fact, betrayed (Nelson) Mandela. I think Mandela was very nice and he tried to make sure that there’s reconciliation. He thought that we were going to live happily ever after (all of us) and many White business people did not take that to heart.
"In fact, they’ve betrayed Mandela."