Racial Discrimination - Racism in the estate agency sector must be eradicated

It is axiomatic that racism in South Africa will only be finally eradicated once appropriate individual and collective actions are immediately instituted against any of the many manifestations of racism and discrimination once they occur. Severe repercussions and instantaneous consequences for the perpetration of such abhorrent acts must inevitably follow.

The EAAB has a substantial role to play in eliminating racism from the estate agency sector

Bearing this in mind there can be little doubt that the EAAB has a substantial role to play in dealing severely with acts of racism within its regulated sector and of implementing appropriate supporting initiatives that will prevent racism from occurring within the sector in the first place. It is self-evident that education and building on sound established practices are essential both to prevent racism and discrimination and also simultaneously to promote social inclusion and good citizenship within South Africa.

Recently reported acts of racism within the sector

It would be a gross understatement to say that the EAAB, and its many stakeholders, were appalled at the recently reported incidents of racist behavior perpetrated by persons purportedly acting as estate agents. These specific matters are, however, presently being fully investigated by the EAAB on the instructions of the Minister of Human Settlements and an appropriate report on findings and recommendations will, in due course, be provided by the EAAB to the Minister.

Strategies and programmes to eliminate racism

The EAAB, as a direct consequence of these events, has firmly resolved to institute appropriate strategies and programmes aimed at eliminating the scourge of racism from within the estate agency sector. The major underlying objectives of the proposed anti-racism and discrimination strategies that are to be generated and implemented by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) will be to:

  • create an increased awareness of racism and of the ways in which racism insidiously affects individuals, the broader South African community and the estate agency sector;
  • identify, promote and build on good practice initiatives so as to eliminate racism and discrimination generally as well as, more specifically, within the estate agency sector itself;
  • empower affected communities and individuals to obtain appropriate relief and redress against instances of racism and discrimination wherever and whenever they may occur especially if perpetrated by estate agents or persons holding themselves out to be estate agents; and
  • ensure the eradication of any perceived barriers to equality as a result of facets of racism that may still be prevalent within the estate agency sector.

To ensure their efficacy the proposed anti-racism and discrimination strategies to be devised by the EAAB will be implemented inter alia as follows:

Leadership role

The EAAB, as both a responsive statutory regulator and SAQA-recognised professional body, recognises that, despite having achieved democracy in 1994, large groups within South African society continue to experience discrimination based predominantly on race, but also on gender, religion and disability, within the property environment in general and the estate agency sector in particular. To counter this phenomenon the EAAB has always played, and will continue to play, a leading role in seeking to create an integrated property and real estate environment which is based upon, and as such values, diversity in all its many important aspects. There can be little doubt that such a property environment will inevitably lead to and ensure the creation of an equitable society.

The EAAB, as such, will allocate sufficient resources for the creation and implementation of suitable programmes aimed at addressing all aspects of racism in the property sector, sustaining affected communities and responding to the inherent needs of our more vulnerable populations. The EAAB, furthermore, will continue to speak out against all forms of discrimination, racism and inequality whenever and wherever they may occur within the property sector and, where able to do so, implement immediate action against the perpetrators of such acts or otherwise assist victims of racism to report the matters to other appropriate authorities. The inclusion in the proposed Property Practitioners Bill of a provision entirely outlawing racism and discrimination within the regulated sector is certainly within the realms of possibility.

Continuing its advocacy function

The EAAB recognises that the unique and troubled history of South Africa is the inherent cause of both the gross inequality and manifestation of malevolent acts of racism and discrimination that are so often encountered in the country. The EAAB, as such, proposes further to enhance its important advocacy role within the real estate sector to effectively render support to appropriate national and provincial legislation dealing with these matters, the provision of such funding as may be required and the introduction of special focussed programmes aimed at eliminating the scourge of institutionalised racism. The EAAB will, furthermore, concentrate significant resources, both human and financial, on sustaining the more vulnerable South African communities, advancing the full economic participation of all South Africans and delivering a responsive service to all consumers who may wish to utilise estate agency services. It will actively support the speedy and total elimination of any, and all, barriers, whether economic, legal or social, presently faced by particular groups including, especially, marginalised communities and actively strive to prevent the creation of any additional barriers to integration and prosperity. The EAAB, as it has done in the past, will seek to establish such further necessary partnerships with all relevant sectors to facilitate the integrated construction of an inclusive, non-racial, non-gender based, equitable and self-sustaining South African society.

Ensuring economic participation by all

The EAAB continues to support the full participation of all South Africans in the economic life of the country and, more especially, within the property and estate agency economic sectors. The EAAB intends providing as much adequate and accessible support to participants from previously disadvantaged communities seeking to enter the estate agency sector as a career of choice as possible. This will ensure that all such participants achieve both financial and reputational success within the sector and are also retained within the sector. The “One Learner – One Estate Agency” Youth Empowerment Brigade programme, which is funded by the Services SETA, has already proved to be most successful and will now be expanded. The ultimate objective of this programme is to ensure that the estate agency sector reflects the demographics of South African society as soon as possible. The EAAB, by supporting the entry of persons from previously disadvantaged communities to the estate agency profession, is confident that this programme will contribute significantly to the advancement of the sector and, indeed, of the larger South African economy to which the sector is devoted to.

Public education and awareness

It is incumbent upon the EAAB widely to communicate its unwavering commitment to nonracialism and non-discrimination within its regulatory environment. The EAAB proposes, accordingly, to do so through creating and implementing additional public awareness and communication campaigns and programmes. These will be designed not only to inform estate agents and consumers alike of their rights and obligations in property transactions but also to generate an increased understanding of and sensitivity towards the evils of racism and discrimination while, on the positive side, promoting a tolerant climate of respect, dignity and interaction amongst groups. It is essential, moreover, for the EAAB to continue to emphasise the immense  contribution made by all South Africans in building and advancing the interests of our country and it will do so accordingly without any compromise.

Service delivery

The EAAB will ensure that its various programmes, activities and services are readily accessible to, and serve the needs of, the entire South African population. The EAAB, as it has always done, will continue to provide equitable benefits and services, within its regulatory sector, to all. It goes without saying that the rendering of estate agency services must not only remain responsive to the changing needs of South Africans but also be focussed on building strong and vibrant communities that can make their voices heard, especially when confronted with incidents of racism. The EAAB is convinced that the estate agency sector, under its guidance and control, can play a far more meaningful role in assisting previously disadvantaged communities to participate in civil society alongside, and equal to, more established groups. The EAAB will, therefore, create and implement such programmes and interventions as may be necessary and desirable to attain this goal so as to enable previously disadvantaged communities not only to participate in but also advance civil society without having to encounter the rancour of racism and discrimination.

Accountability to the estate agency sector

The EAAB will be required to conduct relevant research and to publish reliable data on the status of the estate agency sector from time to time. Such research will enable the EAAB to develop appropriate policies and practices to combat any residual aspects of racism and discrimination that may thereby be revealed. Such research, moreover, will be instrumental in establishing indicators, evaluation mechanisms and regular reporting requirements to enable the EAAB to monitor and assess developments within the regulated sector and to takesuch appropriate remedial action as may be necessary timeously to address any problems or other identified deficiencies. Incidents of racism will certainly constitute an integral feature of such ongoing investigations.

Continuous consultation with stakeholders

The EAAB will also continue to consult with all relevant stakeholders, who inter alia currently comprise the Multi- Stakeholder Group, so as effectively to debate and resolve vital questions including:

  • What priorities should be addressed to eliminate racism and the forms of discrimination that might be prevalent within the sector and generally encountered by estate agency consumers?
  • In what way can the EAAB most effectively respond to and address those identified priorities?
  • What can the EAAB, and its various stakeholders, do to assist in building the necessary housing capacity?
  • Can the EAAB, and its various stakeholders, do anything meaningful to support participation by previously disadvantaged communities in the social, cultural, recreational and economic life of South Africa?
  • How can the EAAB, and its various stakeholders, best evaluate progress made in eliminating racism and all other forms of discrimination within the estate agency sector?
  • What will the benefits to South Africa be once all residual incidences of racism and discrimination have been entirely eliminated?

Conclusion

The EAAB is confident that the implementation of the practical strategies and programmes envisaged above will not only rapidly and effectively ensure the removal all forms of racism and discrimination from within the property sector but also be welcomed by all participants of goodwill within that sector. The outlawing of racism and discrimination within the property sector will surely ultimately redound to the benefit of all South Africans.

Courtesy: The Agent - Estate Agency Affairs Board

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