Thursday, March 4, 2010

Affirmative Action

I found a book/report in the library about affirmative action in Namibia and decided to page through it. Part of it I think is really interesting, so I’m going to share here. For those of you who don’t know (and I don’t expect anyone to…) Namibia gained independence on March 21, 1990 and this represented the end of apartheid. At this point, since it was popular internationally and they were restructuring the country anyway, the government decided to implement affirmative action. The laws were convoluted and had lots of back doors but were unique because they identified which groups needed to be represented, specifically black men and all women.
The thing that I found interesting was that obviously these laws meant that new people had to be hired. But the government had already promised civil servants that they would not lose their jobs, basically assuring the white male civil servants that racism would not be turned around against them under the new black leadership. So the only positions to be filled were the creation of new positions and those left vacant by retirement. The immediate response was to have the number of civil servant posts jump from 50, 000 to 77,000 between 1990 and 1992. This was, however, financially unstable and that soon became apparent. They started implementing large scaling back, and obviously affirmative action became something that was debated and improved upon over the coming years (the book was not specific about the response to the scaling back), I just think it is interesting how much race plays a part, specifically fighting for rights based on race without acknowledging that if both sides do so the solutions are impractical. That wasn’t as eloquent as I would have liked, but hopefully you get the point.

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