Patterns of ownership and labour unrest within the South African mining sector
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This article examines the impact of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment’s (B-BBEE) ownership element as a catalyst to labour unrest within the mining sector. The research shows that the B-BBEE policy has made limited inroads into the socio-economic disparities of mineworkers and their respective communities. However, since the new democratic dispensation in 1994, the policy has advantaged a selected few wealthy black South Africans. As a result of apartheid’s legacy, which disenfranchised the majority of South Africans, the emphasis of B-BBEE was on socio-economic development and enfranchising black South Africans to own or manage mines. Currently, the mining sector is one of the largest Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) contributors of the transfer of ownership from white to black stakeholders. The ownership deals, estimated at R200 billion, have benefited a select few black elite, but has not filtered down to the majority of mineworkers, who earn an estimated R4 000 per month. Consequently, this has led to the recurrence of labour unrest within the mining sector. With the use of exclusive interviews with cabinet ministers, BEE consortia, trade unions and mining companies triangulated with B-BBEE data and reports, the article provides one of the first analyses on the relationship between B-BBEE, in relation to black ownership, and labour unrest in the mining sector.