This study looks at the problem of disability and employment in South Africa, with particular focus on the employment equity target set by the government for people with disabilities in the public service. The study begins by illustrating how people with disabilities continue to face discriminatory practices as a result of negative societal attitudes and the fact that they are not sufficiently protected by domestic legislation. In spite of the constitutional and other legislative provisions that outlaw discrimination on the basis of disability as well as the guarantees of protection provided for by the international instruments that South Africa has ratified, people with disabilities remain marginalised particularly in the area of employment.
In spite of the commitment undertaken by the South African government to provide employment to at least 2 per cent of people with disabilities, the study found that the proportion of people with disabilities who may qualify for employment actually does not amount to the envisaged two per cent. Meanwhile, the total proportion of people with disability who make up about 4.6 per cent of the entire population are largely unemployable because of lack of the appropriate skills and experience needed to qualify for employment. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guarantees the right to gainful employment and favourable conditions of work to everyone, including persons with disabilities. This illustrates that the question of employment for people with disabilities is not just a social problem but also a human rights concern, the violation of which has enormous implications on the disability population.
Coupled with the constitutional promise to improve the quality of life and to free the potential of every single South African, this study illustrated that the government of South Africa has the legal obligation to pursue a human rights model in accordance with established international standards in dealing with the question of employment for people with disabilities. The human rights model has the potential to allow every single person with a disability to improve their capabilities. In this way therefore, opportunity is created for increase access to employment for a greater number of people with disabilities rather than focusing on a limited employment equity target that is not even attainable. Addressing the issue of employment for people with disabilities is crucial to bridging the huge inequality gap that continues to threaten South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
Mini-dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2015.