Friday, October 06, 2006

South Africa's opposition leader has said the whole country should be worried by the huge numbers of skilled white people leaving the country

BBC News:

"We as a nation cannot afford to lose skilled and hard-working citizens of whatever hue," said Tony Leon.

Recent reports say the numbers of professionals, such as engineers, doctors and teachers, emigrating are increasing. Many cite fear of crime.

South Africa's white population has fallen by some 841,000 since 1995.

The government says it is committed to helping those who were marginalised by the years of apartheid rule and this is why it has introduced rules to help black managers and companies.

But the black empowerment programme is another reason given by skilled whites who are leaving the country - mostly for the UK, Australia and North America.

"The country is very seriously short of skills - there could be potentially fatal consequences for economic growth," John Kane-Berman, chief executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), told Reuters news agency this week.

"The [affirmative action] legislation was entirely misconceived. The reason there aren't so many blacks in managerial positions is lack of supply, not lack of demand. There are not sufficiently qualified black people," he said.

Mr Leon's Democratic Alliance is seen as white-dominated but he insisted that his comments were based on the needs of the entire country, not just whites.

While the numbers of whites in South Africa declined by 16% from 1995-2005, the numbers of other racial groups increased: 9% for "Asian/Indian; 15% for "Coloured" (mixed race); 17% for "African", the SAIRR report says.

The South African government declined to comment on Mr Leon's remarks.

Earlier this year, Security Minister Charles Nqakula sparked controversy when he told opposition MPs that if they wanted to "whinge" about crime, they could leave the country.

Forget race, retain necessary skills says Leon


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