Thursday, January 17, 2008

How long before South Africa's first affirmative action plane crash?

The last months of rolling blackouts ("load shedding") from Eskom, and general incompetence have made me a more cynical person about South Africa and its short to medium term future.

Something in my gut, following the Comair/Kulula Department of Labour debacle, has made me wonder how long it will 1 be before someone in the aviation industry, not suited or qualified for a position of critical responsibility, but forced into that position by a government quota, will cause a major catastrophe.

Of course, God-forbid, should such a catastrophe happen, and it is caused by an underqualifed employment equity person, there will be a cover up, and no one will dare speak the truth for fear of being branded racist.

The government could, of course, be aware of this and take a pragmatic approach to transformation to the sector, but, given the every day incompetence (in the corporate world and government) of people who are out of their depth in their employment equity positions, I doubt that they would.

I fully support the demographic transformation of the South African workforce, but, unless it is driven by pragmatic considerations, rather than blind ideology, we might find it tough to dig ourselves of the mess we create. After all the business world may be able to understand the ideology and try to implement it, but the laws of physics are far less understanding.

<1> The Air Force would be a good place to see if this will happen, as the government usually precedes the corporate sector in transformation.

Looks like we didn't have to wait that long for an example. And an SAA manager wants "non-white" individuals to be given preference for overtime and extra training.