past seven years. The governing party and its government pay lip service. White companies have noticed this and are taking full advantage of it.
Exxaro isn’t alone in being rogue, for lack of a better characterisation. Routinely, these days, black African male and female executives are being replaced by mediocre white men, not even white women, and/or foreign African men who won’t rock the boat. Examples are plenty. Sizwe Nxasana, one of a handful of successful black African executives to have survived a parastatal without a scandal, was replaced by a white CEO at FirstRand. A look at executive committees of the large banks bears this out. A troubled telecoms company recently replaced a black African CEO with a white man without a word on transformation or succession planning. The very same government has appointed two white men to head strategically important state-owned entities Armscor and the Post Office. The SABC, which we now know doesn’t do any security vetting of its senior personnel, is run by a foreigner.
If Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele fails to stop the Independent Communications Authority of SA from proceeding to auction off the spectrum to the highest bidder, the contest for the lucrative spectrum will just be between the two bullies – MTN and Vodacom – which have deep pockets, but shallow empowerment credentials.
How did we get here? A cocktail of factors explain this deprioritisation of empowerment and transformation. First, the state is to blame. Each year, the Employment Equity (EE) Commission issues a report on the shocking state of affirmative action in the workplace, but there are no consequences. Increasingly, empowerment is losing its importance in state procurement decisions.
Second, the state’s monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are woefully weak and inadequate. The departments of trade and industry and mineral resources are but two examples of poor enforcement. Instead of resolving the longrunning impasse over the mining charter with the industry, Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been fighting the release of the state capture