Tuesday, 13 November 2007


The need has arisen to set the record straight on several matters. First, it seems that Vodacom management confuses the authority it has over its employees with authority over the union. Dear management, we are not your garden boys or kitchen girls, and we do not change our opinion based on your orders.

We understand that you are uncomfortable with us presenting the opinion that the working environment of your company is racialized, sexist and that you have tended to deny the rights of workers to join unions and go on strike, all of which the great Oliver Tambo opposed throughout his life. While you may see him as a late leader, we very much see him as a living figure, driving us to fight for a better South Africa where people have the same opportunities regardless of what colour their skin is.

Are we to understand that your company has completely overcome the legacy of apartheid? Please do tell. We are sure that millions of South Africans will be intrigued to know the secret.

Otherwise are you saying that you are satisfied with what Vodacom is doing to overcome this legacy? If that is so, we beg to differ. We can only be satisfied by justice, and it would be no favour to the nation to settle for less.

We predicted that the 3 employees you dismissed would be dismissed quite correctly, and we will not retract our statements to the effect that you had already sharpened the knives to cut off their livelihood even before the ink was dry on the summons to their disciplinary enquiries. We stand by our statement that this process was no more fair than a Nazi trial, where defendants were already tried, judged and sentenced even before they appeared before the judges.

We never made an analogy that Vodacom was Nazi due to racial or sexist policies, but if the shoe fits, wear it.

Finally, as a company that spends hundreds of thousands of Rands rewarding journalists, you should know that journalism is also about questioning the powerful, such as yourselves, and presenting opinions that might displease them. We do not aspire to your economic rewards with our humble blog, but we do aspire to maintain the highest standards of ethics in our free presentation of information and opinions. We will not retract statements just because they make you uncomfortable.

We do promise, however, to recognise your efforts the day you institute a policy f that clearly makes merit and contributions to the company the main reason for promotions and wage increases, and enact policy that actively militates against racial, gender or any other inappropriate discrimination. We would especially be please to see Vodacom ceasing to discriminate in payment and promotions against those of your employees who exercised their legal rights to join a union and strike.

Is it really too much to ask?

A reader had asked what the dismissed employees are doing in the mean time. We should make it known that they continued to draw salaries up to the date of their dismissal. Their cases are being appealed, but Vodacom is making things extremely hard, for example, by presenting 150 pages of documentation for one case and trying to drown justice in paperwork. The union continues to assist them and we are happy to report that our "fallen" comrades remain by our side as we move forward.

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