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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 3 of Episode 74

18:21The Truth Commission special hearings such as those on the health sector, the legal sector and the media have become a very important exercise; not only for the Commission who has to write a full report about our past, but for us as citizens. It gives us a chance to look at what went wrong in the past and it stimulates debate among the different groupings called to testify. This week representatives of black and white business as well as very vocal and angry COSATU workers came together in Johannesburg to talk about apartheid and the economy. It was in many respects a strange hearing, between the statistics and business speak. Afrikaans business in particular made some moving admissions and apologies about the past. It was also a very historic moment to see the powerful men from Anglo American, the richest and most powerful corporation in South Africa, take their place on a Truth Commission platform. But despite the many dark suits and striped shirts one could at times be forgiven for ...moreFull Transcript and References
19:31When the National Party came to power in 1948 it was also a major boost to Afrikaner business. The Truth Commission asked this week, did they benefit from apartheid and the National Party government that was running the country at the time?Full Transcript
19:47The fact that whites have been advantaged within the private sector is undeniable. Now with the advent of apartheid, I wasn’t born yet, but especially the Afrikaner had a couple of simple choices. One either agreed or you emigrated or you try to oppose the system from the inside. For quite a long time the Nationalist Party viewed themselves as the permanent government and then the critical distinction between government and state disappeared. Therefore in the attacks on the Nationalist Party’s racial policies became viewed as attacks on the state. Now despite all of the above, did we do enough to fight apartheid? Did we do enough as the BMF have correctly said to advance black management? No. At the time we certainly thought we did. In retrospect, one could never have done enough.Full Transcript and References
20:585.1. Support for separate development. As explained before, the AHI supported separate development in the belief that it would bring about acceptable results for all in the country as it didn’t do. Separate development in the end meant social engineering with brutal human costs and enormous wastage of resources.Full Transcript and References
21:25What I can comment on is our own industry, whether we as a predominantly Afrikaans speaking organisation had advantages relative to our English speaking competitors and I believe no. I believe that we as white organisations had an advantage relative to disadvantaged organisations within the disadvantaged community. But I do not believe that there were significant advantages based on the language, or the predominant language of the business organisations.Full Transcript and References
21:59Eskom acknowledges that it did not behave as it should have in the past. For this Eskom apologises unconditionally.Full Transcript and References
22:07But Afrikaner capital, even at its most powerful, was only a small part of the overall economy. The most powerful businesses and industries continued to be controlled by white English speaking businessmen. In general they denied that apartheid served them or they apartheid and pointed instead at the past Afrikaner government.Full Transcript
22:31I personally can perceive no definition of direct human rights violations which could possibly be attributed to business generally during that period. My view is that business could certainly have been seen to be doing more, but whether that would have had any affect on a government determined to hold its mistaken philosophy and power at all costs, I very much doubt. // But what I find difficult then is, how do you reconcile this government that doesn’t want to change, that’s intransient, that’s imposing this immoral political order on the country and yet your company, Barlow Rand, by the eighties the period of the worst repression which was inside the country - not outside - is the leading local supplier of arms. // I can only repeat that I don’t believe that you can repress people with avionic equipment.Full Transcript and References
23:36It is impossible to suggest, as some have tried, that there is a collective culpability on the part of the business sector. // I believe that we have consistently shown that we did not support the system of apartheid. // Chairperson, the culture was that the organisation stood for change. I mention the 1979 meeting with PW Botha, I wasn’t there but I know many people, who were, and I recall at that time him pointing at businessmen and saying you keep out of politics, you keep to business, we don’t want to hear from you, and that was a consistent theme.Full Transcript and References
24:24Mining is South Africa’s largest industry and has always been its single greatest source of wealth. It is also South Africa’s oldest industry, its roots stretching back to the previous century. The mine bosses were asked to explain the discriminatory labour practices that began well before apartheid officially became law 40 years ago. Practices like the migrant labour system.Full Transcript and References
24:53Mining was South Africa’s first modern industry and was crucially shaped by the colonial and the racial hierarchy of the day. Migrant labour, job reservation, wage distribution, housing, health care and other conditions of service were racially described. The racial organisation of work was discriminatory by any account. Its key features were importantly cast prior to 1960 and were subsequently reinforced by further legislation.Full Transcript and References
25:24The then Minister of Native Affairs, Dr Verwoerd, wanted no married housing at all, indeed he instructed Anglo to destroy the housing already constructed. The compromise reached at that time was to retain houses already built, but build no more. And this is the origin of the 3 percent quota that was only scrapped with the scrapping of influx control in 1986 and which was applied to the whole mining industry. The particular failure here is that Anglo itself failed to meet this 3 percent quota and in fact the married housing built never exceeded 1 percent. Efforts were made from the mid 1970s onwards to desegregate work places. These efforts however should have commenced much earlier, proceeded much more quickly and been achieved much more consistently. Without a shadow of doubt all white South Africans fared very much better than their black compatriots throughout the apartheid decades. So all white South Africans were beneficiaries of apartheid.Full Transcript and References
26:28There is an accusation that precisely because it was black labour and because of the nature of the racism, in fact that black lives were considered expendable, that the mining industry did compromise when it came to questions of safety. // Firstly I think that a suggestion that management in the mining industry had deliberately chosen unsafe methods of mining rather than safe methods of mining is one I would absolutely reject. I think apart from anything else it suggests that there is only one colour of people who work underground. I think it’s a strange and a thoroughly wrongheaded suggestion.Full Transcript
27:14The development of black business has over the past decades been deliberately stunted. The angry voice of black businessmen this week contradicted many of the interpretations their white counterparts gave of the past.Full Transcript
27:28These were the same people I mean these were the same people. This is where the problem comes in … this denial. There is nothing that separated the people that ran the state and the people that ran business. These were the same people. I mean literally the same people, brothers and sisters. These were the same people. So that pressure, as opposed to standing on the side of justice and fairness, I think the choice was a relatively easy one for business to make.Full Transcript
28:01It is an open secret what the circumstances of the black man has been in this country over the years. And black business was no exception to the situation that prevailed at the time. We could never be sufficiently persuaded that the SA Corps of that time could truly and honestly commit themselves to the self advancement of black business, hence we found that at every corner and turn, in fact, the entire social engineering of apartheid was such that it intended to repress a black man in all his aspects of existence.Full Transcript and References
28:43‘Thank you comrades, can we settle down please.’ // The last word however belonged to the workers of COSATU. They were not amused by the apologies, explanations and sometimes fancy footwork of big business.Full Transcript
28:57For the past three days the TRC have heard how all South Africans, black and white, big business and workers, were all freedom fighters for liberation. We have also heard about the fact that business were victims of apartheid and have never benefitted from it. Furthermore, that they are not a homogenous group. It would be very nice if we were all revolutionaries. Oppression, exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, starvation wages, the migrant labour system, child labour, dismissal of strikers - particularly those who went on legal strikes or engaging in political strikes – would never have happened because we would all have been revolutionaries.Full Transcript and References
29:54Overwhelmingly, no one can stand up here and claim to be speaking the truth when they say that business were not the direct beneficiaries of apartheid. In fact, the core of apartheid was a perpetuation of a cheap labour system.Full Transcript and References
30:11Besides the apologies, denials and analysis of what went wrong one of the most outstanding features was white business saying that apartheid was bad for the economy and black business blaming their white counterparts for taking capital out of the country.Full Transcript
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