Wednesday, June 18, 2008

South Africa declares Chinese people Black

Newly Black Chinese South African
“Everybody want to be Black but don’t nobody want to be Black.” ~ Paul Mooney


In a recent decision, the High Court in South Africa officially reclassified Chinese South Africans as black people. Since the end of apartheid 14 years ago, affirmative action polices aimed at improving the standard of living for black people have generally excluded ethnic Chinese South Africans. And though popularly regarded as white and at one time officially classified as people of mixed race, The Chinese Associations of South Africa pushed its application to the high court citing discrimination against its members.

South Africa’s ethnic Chinese population is estimated around 200,000. Chinese activists say they also fought against apartheid. Meanwhile the association stated that discrimination against Chinese South Africans was prevalent during apartheid and that still today its members often fail to attain job promotions or business contracts because they are regarded as whites.

The BBC’s Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment and the Employment Equity Acts were designed to eradicate the legacy of apartheid which left many black people impoverished.

The laws give people classed as blacks, Indians and coloureds (mixed-race) employment and other economic benefits over other racial groups.

The Black Economic Employment concept was initiated by the governing ANC to help previously disadvantaged individuals - to start their own businesses or become part of existing companies - thus redressing the country’s historic inequalities.

A study released last month revealed that white South Africans still earn around 450% more than their black counterparts, 14 years after the end of apartheid.

The association pointed to the case of an oil company making the nation’s largest empowerment transaction and excluding Chinese saying they were not covered in the classification codes. As well, the association presented a case from two years ago in which a Chinese national was refused the opportunity to buy shares from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Of the three government agencies named as respondents, none offered any opposition to the application.

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