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DIIS Working Paper 2006:33
The racially-constituted workplaces of South Africa under apartheid have been identified as obstacles to better industrial performance since the mid-1990s. The Department of Trade and Industry’s 2003 strategy identifies ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ (BEE) as being broadbased, inclusive, and part of a sustainable long-term growth and development strategy. In this, it is consistent with the 2001 Black Economic Empowerment Commission report, the ANC 2002 conference resolution and ultimately the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Programme of 1994. This paper uses firm-level information in the metals & engineering industries to examine the actual nature and extent of BEE across the dimensions of ownership, procurement, employment equity and training. Its aim is to examine the relationships between BEE concepts and provisions and the responses that firms took in practice. Direct pressure for BEE in metals & engineering firms arises from legislation and regulatory provisions governing employment equity, skills development and procurement. It also follows from procurement provisions applying to large companies that buy from metals & engineering firms, such as mining conglomerates and State-Owned Enterprises (e.g. Eskom and Transnet). This is a revised version of a paper presented at the workshop ‘To BEE or not to BEE: South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), Corporate Governance and the State in the South’, at the Danish Institute for International Studies Copenhagen, 25-26 June, 2006. We thank all the attendees at the workshop for comments and suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, and the involvement of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa in the research process. We thank Ganief Bardien and Neo Chabane for their collaboration in the research on which this paper is based. The study would also not have been possible without the participation of the 25 firms interviewed.The Independence of Namibia came about in 1990 as the result of a negotiated decolonisation process. The controlled change implied a perpetuation of the existing socio-economic inequalities under the former liberation movement as the new government. The country’s constitution endorsed the status quo in terms of property rights. Ever since then Namibia has remained the country with the highest income discrepancies in the world. In the absence of any coherent socio-economic redistributive measures for the formerly colonised majority, strategies such as affirmative action and Black Economic Empowerment have claimed to uplift the previously disadvantaged groups. The paper shows, that this has so far resulted merely in a slight diversification of the local class structure, with the new political office bearers and its clientele as the beneficiaries. They secure material privileges and individual gains by means of access to the state apparatus and control over resources, while the majority of the people remain poor. Consequently, Namibia’s BEE so far translates merely into a classbased interest policy to legitimise the (self-)enrichment of a new small black elite.
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