There is certainly a place for white, male engineers in South Africa, but transformation must be accelerated to bring in those who were previously disadvantaged.
That’s how adj. pres. Paul Mashatile said in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday in response to a question from FF Plus MP Fanie du Toit.
Mashatile denied that there was discrimination against white, male engineers. “I have never come across that our government discriminates against white men.”
According to Du Toit, Mashatile is not willing to admit the truth about the shortage of white, male engineers in the country or its harmful effects which are mainly due to transformation in the technical industry.
The FF Plus pointed Mashatile to the last infrastructure report (2022) from the South African Institute for Civil Engineering (Saice) in which the critical shortage of engineering skills is highlighted.
The report states that this shortage is one of the major reasons for the “decay” of infrastructure and that there is a “critical shortage” of engineering skills in the public sector.
There has been a large exodus of mainly white, male engineers from the country in the last twenty years, also from the private sector.
In the public sector, this expertise has largely been replaced with black and female technologists and technicians while engineers have become increasingly less affected.
“Adj. pres. Mashatile lives in total denial that white engineers are disappearing to the grave detriment of the country and all its inhabitants. His reply that ‘no white engineer’ will be turned away from the public sector underlines this. He emphasized that transformation must be ‘accelerated’.
“The reality is that transformation doesn’t work. It is astonishing that the government is not prepared to admit that the country’s infrastructure is collapsing due to a lack of expertise.”
Mashatile was also asked about what balance the government is trying to maintain between efficiency and the ANC’s cadre deployment policy.
“No one is deployed in the government without going through a very strict process,” was Mashatile’s answer to this. He said that if the government feels that someone is the best candidate for a specific position, they will recommend that person to apply like everyone else.
“The process is transparent,” he said. “We don’t just take anyone off the street because they are an ANC member.”
According to Mashatile, the government’s “cadre development policy” is a very good policy as it ensures that people are trained as the government wants the “best of the best” to do the job.
He further denied that if a government official fails in his or her position, they are simply moved to another position.