The South African National Defence Force is seeking to increase the number of whites in its ranks while the SA Police Service is seeking to reduce their numbers. So says the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).
Its latest SA Survey shows the employment equity (EE) targets of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, as set out in guidelines derived from the 1998 Defence Review guidelines, propose a staff complement that consists of 65% Africans, 24% whites, 10% coloured people, and 1% Indians.
Meanwhile, the police service, in its EE targets, is seeking an employee mix of 79% Africans, 9.6% whites, 8.9% coloured people, and 2.5% Indians.
The SAIRR says the police wants to reduce the proportion of its white employees from 15.6% to
9.6% and increase that of Africans from 70.7% to 79%. “This would match the proportions of whites and Africans in the broader South African population.”
“On the other hand, the defence department seeks to reduce the proportion of African staff from 68% to 65% while increasing that of whites from 18% to 24%.
“It would seem that the SAPS is committed to making the organisation racially representative while the defence department is so desperately short of skills that it is willing to employ more whites than required by EE targets.
Defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman says racial targets for the SANDF were set with “an eye to both demographics and the realities ‘on the ground’. I believe that the concept (of then defence minister
Joe Modise and his team) was for the SANDF’s composition to gradually come into line with the population mix by natural attrition and accretion.
“The reality is that any defence force should be more or less representative – ‘broadly’ was the term we used at the time – of the people it is defending. That is common sense, and is important to its image and self-image, and those are important to its overall effectiveness.”
Heitman adds that what the simple racial numbers disguise, is the steady decrease in whites, in particular, in the lower rank groups, particularly in the Army. “The SANDF, and the Army in particular, need to make an urgent, concerted effort to market themselves to young whites as a profession worth entering.
“Racial representivity should today, fifteen years after integration, be an issue of recruitment planning. Once the right mix of recruits is in the system, the focus must shift to performance.
“The police are clearly trying to achieve a mirror image at the overall force level, but are equally clearly not seeking to do so at station level, which is where it actually is of rather more importance – the people of a neighbourhood should be able to relate to their local police, not necessarily racially, but certainly culturally.”