Minister to Clicks: Apology isn’t enough, stock more SMME African hair products

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Image credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

The Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has rejected Clicks’ apology about its hair advert as “superficial” and “meaningless.”

In a statement on Monday, Ntshavheni said Clicks has to do more to make amends because the images were “insensitive” and represented the “racist” views of TRESemmé South Africa.

“Therefore to pull down the advert and issue a public apology cannot cut it. Clicks must remove the TRESemmé product from its shelves as an expression of their disassociation with suppliers who promote racist and insensitive marketing,” she added.

‘Stock African hair products by SMMEs’

The Minister further urged Clicks to stock more African hair products made by small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) on its shelves, adding that diversity and inclusivity training of staff isn’t enough. Her Department is prepared to assist Clicks in this regard, she said.

Ntshavheni added, “The time for South Africa to accept lip-service apologies on racism and derogatory acts is over, but apologies must be backed by action to build a non-racial and equal society. A non-racial and equal society can only be underpinned by an inclusive economy, which requires the empowerment of  black, women and youth-owned businesses.

“Minister Ntshavheni therefore calls upon Clicks to commit to a tangible corrective action by actively and visibly promoting black hair products that are manufactured by black, women, and youth-owned small businesses on their shelves. Any claim of non-racialism that is devoid of impactful economic transformation actions cannot acceptable.”

Clicks hair advert

Ntshavheni was reacting to the controversy surrounding a Clicks hair advert that appeared to depict African hair negatively compared to white hair. Images in the advert described African hair as “dry and damaged” as well as “frizzy and dull.”

The healthcare group apologised and took down the advert. It also said it had suspended employees involved in publishing the ad on its website. However, this did not stop the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) from holding protests and shutting down more than 400 Clicks stores around the country on Monday.

In the process, some stores were vandalised and trashed. In a statement on Monday, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the government was “equally disturbed by the crude racist display by the advertisement.” However, acts of vandalism and “lawless behaviour” are a “not a responsible way to resolve conflict,” he added.

“As this matter is being ventilated, government calls on all South Africans to resist the temptation to take the law into their own hands, remain calm and follow the correct and legal channels to address their concerns,” Mthembu said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) also said on Monday that it will lay charges of incitement to violence and destruction of property against the EFF and its leaders. A statement from Clicks similarly said the company will “take legal action against perpetrators and those seeking to incite violence or harm our people and our stores.”

The EFF indicated that it will continue shutting down Clicks stores until Friday or until the company accedes to their demands.

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