Designated groups as categorised by the Affirmative Action (Employment) Act, 1998 (No. 29 of 1998) are racially disadvantaged persons, women and persons with disabilities. Racially disadvantaged persons refer to all persons who belong to a racial or ethnic group which was or is, directly or indirectly, disadvantaged in the labour field as a consequence of social, economic, or educational imbalances arising out of racially discriminatory laws or practices before Namibia’s Independence.
Disabilities in relation to a person, include any persistent physical or mental limitation which restricts such person’s preparation for, entry into or participation or advancement in, employment or occupation.
Preferential treatment of designated group.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE AA ACT ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF DESIGNATED GROUPS?
The Affirmative Action Act aims to redress imbalances at the workplace, arising from discriminatory socio-economic dispensation which had previously existed in the country, and is intended to foster fair employment practices with regard to matters such as recruitment, selection, appointment, training, promotion, and equitable remuneration for previously disadvantaged people – more particularly, designated groups. The Act is very specific about requirements, which must be met by employers to whom its provisions apply.
WHO RECEIVES PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT IN FILLING POSITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT?
Section 19 provides that in the filling of positions of employment, a relevant employer shall give preferential treatment to suitably qualified persons of designated groups.
Additionally, where two or more suitably qualified candidates from designated groups qualify for a position of employment, the employer shall give priority to a candidate who is a Namibian citizen; or if all such candidates are Namibian citizens, to the candidate who belongs to more than one designated group.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A NAMIBIAN CITIZEN IS NOT COMPETENT TO WORK IN A SPECIALISED TRADE?
The Minister of Labour may, upon application in writing by a relevant employer and after consultation with the Minister of Higher Education, Vocational Training, Science and Technology and the Labour Advisory Council, exempt such relevant employer in writing from the provisions of that subsection, as provided for by section 19 (4) of the Act.
Such exemption may apply to a relevant employer who provides proof that the trade or profession of the non-Namibian citizen contemplated is of such a specialised nature that it is not reasonably possible for the relevant employer to train in the workplace, a Namibian citizen as the understudy of such non-Namibian citizen; or where the Minister is for any other reason satisfied that it is impractical for such relevant employer to train in the workplace a Namibian citizen as the understudy of such non-Namibian citizen.
Without this exemption, a relevant employer must train a Namibian citizen as an understudy of every non-Namibian citizen employed by it.