Renate Barnard: the dilemma of choice between Gender or race-based Affirmative Action

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Some would argue that trade union movement, Solidarity, the majority of whose members are white, might have an ulterior motive by not conceding defeat in the highly publicised case of its member, Renate Barnard, against the South African Police Services (SAPS). But the matter is complicated and exposes loopholes in the implementation of the affirmative action policy. When should gender be applied? What about race?

In the old days of apartheid there were few white women in the police force. 20 years into the country’s democracy, it still has fewer women – though the majority of the handful is black.

Thus, as you would expect, the Barnard case raises the following question: What happens when a woman who is supposed to earn a promotion or get appointed on the basis of gender happens to be white. Will a black male candidate be appointed instead?

Isn’t it time a threshold of the number of white female candidates was set under gender based affirmative action appointments to avoid controversy?

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