White supremacy rears its ugly head over “racist Vodafone”

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao targeted for BEE scheme.

South Africa's black economic empowerment policy has been operating, if a little feebly, since the end of apartheid in 1994. Just last week however, a group of disgruntled Afrikaners launched a campaign to boycott the country's biggest cellular network, and its owners, Vodafone and Telkom, for selling just 3.44% of its shares to non-white buyers only.

The investment scheme, called YebuYetho, was launched by Vodacom in October 2008. Flagged as one of South Africa's largest broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) transactions, its stated purpose was "to provide the Black Public [which includes all non-Caucasian ethnicities] with an opportunity to participate in the ownership of Vodacom SA". The initiative, along with shares bought elsewhere, raised the company's percentage of black-owned shares from 1.9% in 2007 to 6.97% in 2009.

A year later, a viral campaign calling for the boycott of the three companies has emerged on the Web. A Facebook group, a blog, and an email campaign have been set up by one John Kerlen (who is incidentally, based in the United Kingdom and a representative of South Africa's Cape Independence Party).

Along with a dozen supporters, Kerlen is asking others to send a proposed email to Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao (seen above in the wanted poster), who he describes as "the disgusting man that sits back and allows his company to use racist policies." The email reads "Pretty disgusting isn't it? We are campaigning for all decent like-minded people across the world to boycott Vodafone, Vodacom and Telkom products".

The prospectus that caused the outrage

The full prospectus is available here.

“Had South Africa relied purely on the market, there would be no black business people today”

Steven Friedman is a political scientist and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes University and University of Johannesburg, specialised in post-apartheid reform.

While there is, appropriately, a debate about whether BEE is being applied appropriately, the claim that it is racist, in my view, is generally made by people who did not suffer under apartheid or are not familiar with its effects.

BEE is essentially an affirmative action policy based on the assumption that the disadvantages which black people suffer as a result of apartheid cannot be rectified simply by allowing everyone to compete in an open market. Since whites owned all the major businesses and had most of the skills and the money because of apartheid, had South Africa relied purely on the market, there would be no black business people today.

Whites were taught under apartheid that they were superior and most whites therefore find it difficult to believe that any black person could be good at business (or at many professions). The only way to correct this is to introduce concrete programmes encouraging black opportunities in business (as well as other areas of life)."

“Campaigns like this boycott will only reverse peace efforts”

Victor Macklenin is a business executive from Cape Town.

Given that the majority of Vodacom's shares are currently white-owned (only 2.31% are directly black-owned, or BEE, the other 4% are in pensions, and 35% is state owned, leaving direct white ownership at around 60%), this initiative is hardly weird. What doesn't sound right is that people are complaining that a white company, with majority white shareholders, and a white CEO, is issuing a racist product by inviting black people to get involved!

In fact, the said product raises a lot of questions about who presently owns the majority of shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; whites. [Black share-ownership has been estimated at 23% but this figure has been disputed because it includes pensions]. South Africa is a rainbow nation - an extension of a reconciled society that is meant to thrive and coexist without returning to issues of apartheid and inequality.

Campaigns like this ‘boycott' will only reverse peace efforts. Vodacom's offer is a mere encouragement to the formerly disadvantaged groups - not a guarantee that they will either own Vodacom or get shares at a discounted price. Besides, Vodacom is a listed company and anyone can go ahead and purchase shares with them outside this specified quota."


Thanks for the information,

Thanks for the information, it's enlightening.

Oi, what's this then?

Black People (African, Coloured, Chinese, Indian) - interesting selection of "black" people.
My final analysis of this article and its associated commentaries is just this, we have to keep racism alive in order to destroy it. We refer to people by skin-colour (shame) simply because saying African means everybody born in Africa and once we do that racism will be something of the past. Once we get this simple, but effective way of dealing with past, present and future into our so over-sensitive thick skulls, then maybe, just maybe we will get moving to a better tomorrow.

Black is a legal term in SA.

Black is a legal term in SA. It refers to all non-whites (Chinese, Indian etc); all people not excluded during apartheid.

I invite everyone to

I invite everyone to research the birth of France24 and what its purpose is.Chirac started France24 as a propoganda machine for the govt,yes,they sprinkle small meaningless stories in the mix about some small matters in France that arent very nice,but its a smoke screen,one only needs to search their articles to find they are all overwhelmingly antiAmerican antSemitic and only Pro socialist liberal one world govt crap. google is your friend.

I can say as a French, that

I can say as a French, that France 24, like all medias, might have some agenda, but don't think really they are that organized like others to propogate such a strong message. We have anti-usa people in France (like all countries). Don't think the editors in France 24 are them! If you watch the channel in English you will see many american presenters. It is probably one of the most American medias in the country. And sure lots of Israelis working there too. I think you have been spending too much time on google and not enough doing proper researches.

Idiot Journalist creates sensationalist headline

Perhaps this article should be titled "Idiot Journalist tries to create another sensationalist headline".

This is more than whether we think this policy is right or wrong, it's about journalists who are in a position where they can influence and incite people with their irresponsible reporting. How can a person who's only motivation is selling newspapers or news slots, be allowed to have so much influence over what people think?
Turn back to the start of the banking crisis in the UK... the bloke who almost single-handedly brought down Northern Rock was a journalist who thought it'd be a great story to let it slip that there was a bit of a financial problem in the bank... Whether they were capable of pulling through or not became irrelevent the second the newspapers were delivered because everybody wanted their cash out of that bank. And he didn't stop there... If he had even a few morals he would have realised what he had done and called it quits.
They should have learned by now that the general public are sheep - you can't say "don't panic buy petrol", because people WILL panic buy the second it is mentioned, or "the banks are in trouble - but don't withdraw your money because it is safe" - people withdraw all their cash and bring it all down.
It's all the same, journalists sell their narrow minded stories and ideas, and in the process cause mass hysteria and pandemonium. They don't care if the story is full of half truths or only represents one side of the story - just as long as it sells.
Instead of prizes, they should be given jail sentences.

Tit for Tat World

So boiled down your reply is, they did it to us so we can do it to them? Is that what you're saying? Because that will just perpetuate the hatred etc. Why not get it right and stop all racism, however it is disguised?

I'd also like to point out that this has nothing to do with white supremacy despite what the headline of this article says. This is a fight for equality for all in South Africa. Not just for whites, not just for blacks, not just for any particular race group. If you take the time to see my rebuttal on the blog you will see it has nothing to do with thinking white people are superior to black people. BEE is not helping blacks, in fact it's widening the gap between rich and poor.

It's a fight for common sense...

Lest we forget

The very same people responsible for Bantu education, for ushering in policies that ensured a subservient enslaved black population, who stood on pulpits proclaiming that it was Gods calling for them to dominate, are crying foul today? Are talking about wrong? Should we be so ahistorical because we are white, we feel threatened, we were used to unbridled power and privilege. By virtue of being white, the privileges we accrued during apartheid still sustain us today, the educational opportunities, business establishments, basically the position of superiority has remained.

We cannot even talk about our grandfathers crimes, because South Africa is only 15 years old, and protagonists of apartheid, recipients of TRC amnesties, are still alive and kicking, running mercenary missions throughout the world, still trying to further the cause of our fellow white supremacists. This very failure to acknowledge the sources and continued presence of white privilege are obstacles to transformation. BEE or not, something has to be done to try and uplift those who have been downtrodden for centuries, otherwise they will continue wallowing as if they are no longer independent. Education is important, so are many other gradual policies, but what should be done now for a people mutilated and massacred at the hands of a colonial oppressive and exclusionary system. It is noble and respectful that post-1994 Black South Africans did not seek an immediate reprisal against the white apartheid population.

Today, crime statistics, the high levels of inequality in South Africa, speak to the inadequacies of the government of the day, yet they are also a poignant reminder of where this country has been, just 15 years back.

Independence for a country is meaningless when there is no sense of socio-economic and political autonomy, and the benefits of that autonomy are not reasonably spread throughout the society. Disparage BEE, ACCUSE BLACK PEOPLE OF THIS AND THAT. The honest truth is that as long as there are prominent and visible inequities along racial lines ,which find expression in historical exploitation, something will have to be done. The same way the Irish today feel the impact of British colonialism, South Africa is still fresh from apartheid, and to expect overnight transformation is utopian.

Let us as white people not just make proposals and statements out of spite without due recognition of the privileges we have had, and continue having. If we are white, and truly believe we are African and should work towards developing our countries and the continent, rather make constructive input, say and show how a previously oppressed population can participate in the benefits of independence, not only 'flag' independence, but the fruits that come with it.The market has never worked for everyone, we need something now, before any 'invisible hand' destroys any remnants of sanity that gives us voice today.

Even the Race Relations Institute Agrees

And I quote:

"However, inequality among race groups is also clearly a problem. High rates of inequality among blacks in particular are cause for concern and may be an unintended consequence of the country's black economic empowerment equity policies," said Lebone.


rich getting richer

BEE (Black Empowerment Deals) are an accepted way of righting the injustices of history in South Africa. No one really complains about the transfer of assets to “previously disadvantaged communities."

What does cause problems is the fact that so few of the poorer people actually get these shares. (It may be interesting is that they used to be called "broadbased black economic empowerment" (BBBEE.) The Mbeki reign saw the end of that as a working concept.


Today BEE deals are seen by many as simply a way for the rich to get richer. An article worth reading, if you haven't seen it yet is: