The South African Oil Juggernaut, Sasol (South African Coal and Oil) has recently announced that it will transfer 10 percent of it’s company to Black owners, in accordance with the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiative. For those of you who don’t know what that is, allow wikipedia to explain:
Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is a program launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups (black Africans, Coloureds and Indians) economic opportunities previously not available to them. (read more here.)
Granted, 10 percent is frankly peanuts, (especially for a company that was fueled by the Apartheid regime), Sasol is a still one of the biggest petrol and diesel producers in Sub-Saharan Africa, so we’re talking about some pretty big peanuts. With annual sales in the tens of billions, over 30,000 employees, (with the largest number of Ph.D.s of any company in the Southern Hemisphere) Sasol is one of South Africa’s largest employers. It produces about 38 percent of South Africa’s fuel and accounts for around 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP. I’m sure Kameelah probably recognizes the name, it’s as common in South Africa as Exxon/Mobil is here in the United States. Sasol chief executive Pat Davies is particularly excited about the new BEE initiative:
“The deal brings into the mainstream of the economy, people who were previously disadvantaged and who probably wouldn’t have been shareholders in a company like Sasol… It’s great for the development of our economy. The better the economy does we, as a fairly significant player in the local market, benefit as a result.” (read entire article here.)
Shareholders! We’re not talking about a one-time fixed fee or reparation – this is a company that benefited from Apartheid distributing ownership to the people who suffered under Apartheid. Of the 10 percent being transfered, shares will be available to Black staff, Black unions, Black suppliers, Black partners and Black community members. The effort seems to be a genuine attempt by Sasol to effectively redress the immoral institution that made them a multi-billion dollar corporation. However, the system is not flawless. Critics of the BEE legislation have accused Sasol of transferring ownership disproportionately to right-wing political conservatives. However, even with this hustle, I still see the initiative as a step in the correct direction. If only the American institutions that benefited from slavery and U.S. Apartheid would take more measures to redress their involvement in genocide.. In the mean time, all we can do is applaud South Africa for internationalizing the Affirmative Action struggle, and setting a precedent for other corporations with Black blood on their hands to follow. (ahem) In your face, Ward Connerly!!!
Other article/source: here.