CORPORATE South Africa has not yet transformed to the degree where we can safely say apartheid no longer exists, or racist behaviour and other forms of racism in the workplace are no longer significant issues. While empowerment deals have broadened from their original elitist and chauvinist aspirations, they have tended to be cosmetic and misrepresent the interests of those “empowered” but with no effective control over management decisions.
Corporate policies continue to reinforce segregation and racial divisions in our society instead of cutting across the colour lines separating us into various racial and ethnic groups. Equal opportunity for example, is still being subsumed under the mantra of “separate but equal” in the strange, twisted logic of the system bequeathed to us by the apartheid regime. What is more, South Africa’s conglomerates have deployed a global strategy which seeks to escape significant empowerment while ignoring the all-important debate concerning equal opportunity and local affirmative action criteria. Diversity remains an ideal spoken about only in the most progressive of boardrooms.
The Campaign Against Corporate Apartheid (CACA) will seek to address issues such as the foreign listing of local companies who wish to escape broad-based empowerment and the use of multiple holdings to prevent real grassroots reform. It will target cosmetic change, tokenism and misrepresentation of transformation and equal opportunity in shareholder statements. It will also raise debate around issues such as the “Anglo-American system” of corporate governance which fails to recognise the interests of workers, managers, suppliers, customers, and the community at large.
Some economists favour a more coordinated approach such as the current European model which seeks to avoid market fascism and the unavoidable sacrifice of local, community standards in favour of a one-size fits-all global marketplace. A market in which democracy and equality are seen as distant cousins to the overall quest for profit. Global corporations have all to often covered the wool over people’s aspirations, persuaded by investors that money-making and expansion comes before ethical and justicable norms.
The Campaign Against Corporate Apartheid intends exposing both the hypocrisy and short-sightedness of this approach by tackling some of the worst corporate offenders in South Africa. Apartheid has always been bad for business, whether it be practiced by a racist government or the chauvenistic corporations of today.
Campaign Against Corporate Apartheid
PO Box 4398,
Cape Town 8000,
Republic of South Africa