A South African province attempted to create 100 new positions in a doctor training program that would be reserved for black candidates only. The quota, which was not met due to recruiting problems, has been criticized as racist.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department decided that it would expand its doctor training program in 2019, from 314 to 414. An internal memo leaked to local media revealed, however, that only black doctors would be eligible for the 100 additional slots.
The department remained unapologetic about the policy, telling TimesLIVE: “South Africa, including KwaZulu-Natal, remains an unequal society with limited opportunities for self-development for those who were historically oppressed.”
Spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda added that the measure was designed to “address these imbalances of the past.”
Difficulties with recruiting, however, hindered the department’s ability to meet its new quota.
“After difficulties were experienced in recruiting black African candidates for these posts, a deviation was sought from the accounting officer and, out of a total of 77 registrar posts, 21 posts will be offered to non-Black Africans,” Mafunda said.
A spokesperson for Democratic Alliance – the leading opposition party to the ruling African National Congress – argued that any policy was “an aberration of our constitutional values and is racist.”
“Any form or attempt to redress the injustices of the past must ensure that we remain committed to what our constitution says… There must be no exclusion, especially based on the colour of our skin.”
The failed quota was not well received on Twitter, with many calling it openly racist and counter-intuitive.
“Let me understand – one should practice racism in order to eradicate racism? Sounds logical,” one sarcastic Twitter user wrote.
Let me understand – one should practice racism in order to eradicate racism? Sounds logical 🙄
— HΞCTOR DÈ LA FUÈNTÈ ® 🇳🇬 (@hecxtreme) January 11, 2019
So that means I cannot apply? How is this not racist? Oh wait, Africans cannot be racist, only white people can be racist.
— R4M (@R4M21598724) January 11, 2019
Others argued that the policy would feel right at home in the West.
No different to the awful affirmative action legislation in this country. Just look at the BBC advertising for interns but White people need not apply.
— Steve (@iydloc_foh) January 11, 2019
Racial tensions in South Africa have been growing as a result of proposed legislation that would seize land, without compensation, from white farmers. The proposal has been billed as necessary to help correct years of racial inequality in the country as a result of apartheid.
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