Black South African capitalists rare
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 13 09:49:12 MST 2002
NY Times, Nov. 13, 2002
Rarity of Black-Run Businesses Worries South Africa's Leaders
By RACHEL L. SWARNS
RUSTENBURG, South Africa The white mining magnates huddle around the head
table, sipping sauvignon blanc and talking commodities at a gala luncheon
for the Anglo American Corporation's platinum mine here. Patrice Motsepe,
the lone black businessman at the table, jokes about fitting in.
He nods toward Barry Davison, the chairman of Anglo American Platinum, the
world's largest platinum mining company. "He's from the good-looking side
of my family," Mr. Motsepe quips and the table roars its appreciation.
In many ways, Mr. Motsepe is indeed part of the family. He owns three gold
mines and employs about 5,500 workers; five months ago his company, African
Rainbow Minerals, became the first new gold company to be listed on the
Johannesburg Stock Exchange in more than a decade.
But these days, Mr. Motsepe often seems a lonely pinstriped figure in a sea
of white faces.
Eight years after the end of apartheid brought black politicians to power
and black-controlled companies to the stock exchange, South Africa is
faltering in its struggle to build a successful class of corporate titans
from its fledgling black elite.
For many of southern Africa's young democracies, changing the complexion of
the corporate world is the next challenge. Repressive white governments no
longer control this region, but their legacy lingers in the low skills and
the lack of capital of many blacks. White minorities in South Africa,
Namibia and Zimbabwe continue to dominate local economies and aspiring
black business exectives continue to struggle.
In 1998, nearly 35 black-controlled companies were listed on South Africa's
stock exchange, accounting for about 7 percent of the market
capitalization. This year, 23 black companies account for about 2.2 percent
of the market capitalization, a decline attributed to a stock market slump,
spiraling debt and poor management.
Whites, about 12 percent of the population, still control the economy, the
mines, banks, factories and farms. Distressed by the slow pace of change,
the government is enacting new legislation and stepping up pressure on
industry to help increase the number of black-owned businesses and black
"We've got to open up and broaden the ownership of the economy," said Mr.
Motsepe, 40, who is considering listing his company on the New York Stock
Exchange next year. "In the boardrooms, I'm often the only one."
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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