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An analysis of the application of the South African Employment Equity Act (1998) in local government structures : a case study of female managers in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Economic Development.

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Since its emergence as the ruling party in 1994, when South Africa became a democratic country, the African National Congress has legislated and implemented a number of policies that are aimed at redressing the historical imbalances of the past caused by the Apartheid system. The Constitution of South Africa provides for the equality of men and women as a basic human right. The South African Employment Equity Act (1998) was introduced as a way of assisting the process of achieving equality and fairness in the employment practices of government, business and other sectors in South Africa. Scholars such as Merilee Grindle have argued that for a policy to succeed many things need to be considered such as the internal and external environment in which the implementation is to occur. There has also got to be a buy-in from the relevant stakeholders as policy implementation can be influenced by the implementer’s own belief system. Factors such as one’s upbringing, religion, race, class and culture can all impact on workplace practices. Through face to face interviews with the people who are the intended beneficiaries of this policy, this study moves away from looking at the statistics that have previously been the sole analysis of the implementation of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) to look at historical, political and cultural influences on the application of the EEA. In particular this study attempts to interrogate whether cultural factors play a role or impact on the way the EEA is being implemented within a government department using the KwaZulu Natal Department of Economic Development as a case study. The obvious reason for focusing on culture is that one’s cultural background inevitably shapes how an individual views the world and engages with other people. Cultural beliefs and prejudices can also affect a person’s conduct in the workplace. KwaZulu Natal is a province that has a very long history of cultural traditions rooted in a largely patriarchal system, therefore interrogating this topic within this province is highly appropriate. The responses of the participants will reflect the views of mostly women in management positions. From these perspectives the study will reflect on the degree to which culture does play a role in the implementation of the EEA in this particular case study.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2011.


South Africa. Employment Equity Act, 1998., Local government--KwaZulu-Natal., Discrimination in employment--KwaZulu-Natal., Women executives--KwaZulu-Natal., Women--Employment--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--Political science.