Government enterprises prefer white legal practitioners over their black counterparts‚ says Mogoeng
Naledi Shange | 2017-04-02 16:44:56.0
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. File photo
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has thrown his weight behind a project aimed at rooting out discrimination and marginalisation of small‚ black-owned legal firms‚ especially by government enterprises.
This is according to the Action Group on Briefing Patterns in the Legal Profession which is steering the project.
“The Chief Justice said government and state-owned enterprises seem to prefer to appoint white practitioners‚ especially at senior level‚” said Action Group chairperson‚ Busani Mabunda.
Mogoeng was chairing a National Efficiency Enhancement Committee meeting last week where he expressed his concerns.
“He sees the fact that black and women practitioners do not get the opportunity to develop their skills as a huge problem.
“At the Constitutional Court‚ high level work did not appear to be going to black and women practitioners‚” Mabunda added.
Mogoeng has always been vocal about transformation in the legal sector.
In 2013‚ he reportedly said black women were encouraged to study law but‚ once qualified‚ many abandoned the profession because quality work was scarce.
Since March last year‚ the Action Group has embarked on a mission to pluck out discrimination in the legal sector.
The group is made up of representatives of attorneys’ and advocates’ professions‚ the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Action Group said their research has revealed that lucrative work goes mainly to a select pool of black male advocates while an identifiable pool of a few white male advocates get the bulk of government cases.
To a limited extent‚ other lucrative work goes to a classifiable group of black female advocates and the majority of advocates‚ regardless of gender and race‚ received little or no work.
The Action Group also found that a firm’s BBBEE status was integral in deciding whether they received government jobs or not.
“The majority of law firms did not get work because they are not on the list of service providers or database of various government departments and state-owned entities‚” said Mabunda.
“Some law firms are on the database or panel but never receive work‚” he added.
As the Action Group continues in its efforts to transform the legal sector‚ the group says it has been met with resistance by some government departments and the business sector who are unwilling to divulge where they get their legal services from.
The group has since resorted to using the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 to have access to the information required.