I consider the issue of transformation of pilots a very important exception to what is happening in the rest of South Africa.
Now before I go into this, keep in mind that the politicians that count when it comes to national policy issues like transformation are almost always Members of Parliament and pretty much all of them fly at least twice a week.
Transformation is necessary in South Africa. Like it or not, our history and the momentum it generated has produced a skewed society and a bias towards whites out-performing everyone else. Indeed, since 1994, whites have, on average, benefited the most – outstripping everyone else in earnings.
Government intervention in order to ensure other races, but blacks in particular, have the same opportunities as whites do is all but obligatory. How we go about that, however is where the DA differs from the ANC.
For us it is about producing what we call an “opportunity society” through great quality basic and tertiary education and skills development, good healthcare and financial support where it is deserved.
In 1997, by contrast, the ANC promulgated a policy now commonly known as “Cadre Deployment”. It forcefully transformed almost every corner of our society by placing ANC cadres in positions of leadership and authority on the basis, first and foremost that they were ANC people and only secondarily that they had the wherewithall to get the job done.
And the results are well known. CIPRO is a recent example. Numerous failed municipalities are examples. Eskom is an example.
Where those failures are challenged and cadre deployment is blamed, invariably the race card and/or the accusation that we are resisting positive change in South Africa is levelled. And despite the failures, we regularly hear calls from politicians (and now ABSA) that the pace of transformation be stepped up.
But, and this brings us back to pilots, have we ever heard a politician make a serious effort to transform our white male dominated airbus jockeys? No, I believe not. We’ve never heard them say, “to hell with your stringent requirements, I want a black pilot!”.
I’m firmly of the belief that this is because, unlike in the case of CIPRO for example, the potential repercussions of vaulting someone into a role as a pilot to which they are not suitably trained and experienced is, well, death. Death of yourself the politician, perhaps, and the death of everyone else in the plane.
So, they say nothing about it. If the ANC was so very keen to see more black pilots, they would ensure that SAA is provided with the budget to re-establish their Academy.
I believe that many black candidate pilots are failing to qualify, not because they are incapable, but because of the abysmal quality of our now decimated education system.
I am certain that if you surveyed the black pilots flying in South Africa now, you will find that most of them went to ex-Model C or Private schools where they got the sort of quality maths and science education required to make it as a pilot.
The travesty that is our education system would be, I’m pretty certain, the top priority of a DA government in South Africa, followed closely by health, crime and economic development (job creation).
So that’s that. The ANC don’t really care if someone unqualified and with no experience takes over a sewage works, because if it fails, and someone makes enough of a stink (eek) about it, there’ll always be someone, somewhere who can fix it – at a price. BUT, a pilot who is not up to scratch has far more serious, more personal implications for an ANC MP – death is not something one tends to get over very easily – so they don’t push the issue.