COVID-19 and affirmative action: a response

Phila M. Msimang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ovett Nwosimiri argues in a paper he published in 2021 that affirmative action and preferential hiring policies are no longer appropriate for South Africa because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case he makes is that since COVID-19 has impacted people of all races, there should no longer be any consideration of race in hiring policies and practices. He claims that continued preferential hiring practices unfairly discriminate against non-designated groups. I argue that this claim presumes that the pandemic has been a devastating but equalizing force in economic opportunity and participation for people in South Africa. I show that this claim is simply false and that the falsity of his claim undermines Nwosimiri’s case. Nwosimiri does not take account of the false premise his case is founded on because of his inappropriate methodological choice to ignore empirical evidence that has bearing on his argument.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-148
Number of pages22
JournalFilosofia Theoretica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Affirmative action
  • Apartheid
  • Economic justice
  • Preferential hiring
  • Race-based policy


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