The radical black consciousness movement, Black First Land First (BLF) met with the CEO of MiWay, Rene Otto, last Friday at their head office in Centurion. The meeting followed a leaked email which revealed allegations of serious racism at the company. The company released a statement claiming the emails were fake and that it would inveatigate them.
BLF leadership said it didn’t trust the process reported by the media, “so our movement went to have a ‘face to face’ with the leadership of MiWay to get at the bottom of the matter. A picket was organised to demand a meeting. Miway granted the meeting led by Mr Otto, where the company made firm commitments to BLF,” Andile Mngxitama said.
According to Mngxitama, BLF raised three issues during the meeting. Firstly, that it was not acceptable that MiWay was investigating itself on the issue of the emails. The CEO and his team reported that second investigations were being instituted which would be undertaken by “independent auditors”.
“BLF indicated that it wishes to reserve the right to do its own investigation should we be not satisfied with the “Independent Auditors” process. There was agreement between the parties that BLF would be granted such a right should it request it. It was also agreed that BLF shall be sent the report once it’s done,” Mngxitama said.
A related point raised by BLF in the meeting was that there is currently a big controversy around leaked emails being used as a sufficient basis to make accusations which are often damaging. What the MiWay preliminary process shows is that emails can be manipulated and falsified. It’s a lesson to the nation and the media to be careful about how they use “emails” as evidence of wrongdoing. The movement raised the matter of how the white owned media was quick to accept accusations of corruption against black people but were not as ready to accept email evidence when it pointed to white companies doing wrong. According to the white media, fake emails are only ‘real’ when black people are implicated badly.
The second matter BLF raised relates to the untransformed Board of Directors of MiWay. “It’s shocking that a company that makes the bulk of its money from black people has not even one black person in its Board. BLF equates such boards as being engaged in theft because they take from blacks but do not want black representation. MiWay agreed with BLF that the untransformed board is indicative of racism and can not be tolerated. A commitment was given by MiWay that the board would be transformed in the next six months. It was further agreed that BLF shall visit MiWay in six months to monitor progress,” Mngxitama said. “The CEO is on record for saying that if in the next six months there is no change then he will resign. This is a commitment BLF shall hold the company to,” Mngxitama said further.
The third issue raised by BLF related to the MiWay’s policy on racism. To this end Mngxitama pointed out “BLF was told that a policy exists which regulates employment equity, enterprise development and procurement. A verbal report on the representativity of the Executive was given and also the percentages of black employees across the levels. BLF asked for specifics on procurement spend on black owned companies. This was not readily available.”
The two parties agreed that BLF would be given the reports to study including the procurement spend. The movement indicated that after studying the reports it would raise issues of concern where they apply and add these to the agenda of the meeting scheduled in the next six months.
Finally, BLF demanded that MiWay issue a strong and clear statement on racism. This was agreed to by MiWay.
“BLF shall continue to monitor developments in MiWay and shall ensure that the commitments made are fulfilled. Furthermore, BLF calls on other companies to be proactive in dealing with workplace racism. BLF shall apply the “face to face” strategy each time acts of racism are committed,” Mngxitama said.