Engaging deeply in defining a clear employee ownership (EO) policy framework would diffuse tensions around being forced politically to participate in transformation or including previously disadvantaged persons in companies’ ownership structures, Southern Africa Employee Ownership Association founding director Tendani Nelwamondo said on April 28.
It has been reported that more than 150 000 South African workers are now owners of the companies they work for and more employee ownership provisions are being put in place by companies.
Speaking during the Wits Business School’s Freedom Day webinar, Nelwamondo said employee ownership had a bright future in the country because the South African government has the right policies, especially the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, and also the political buy-in.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling African National Congress have shown enormous interest in EO to speed up transformation, contribute to the socioeconomic livelihoods of employees, grow savings and create new sustainable employment opportunities.
“These and similar statements by the President, the ruling party and also opposition parties show that there is full political buy-in on EO,” he said.
However, he noted that there was still a lack of willingness to implement EO policies and the EO model and objectives, or principles, were not well understood by shareholders, management or employees.
He added that there was no policy to attract and increase the uptake of EO, while there was also a lack of funding to finance EO programmes.
“There is a need for robust advocacy programmes, for information about the growing international movement towards EO and for a centre that can gather and make available international and local best practice in employee ownership.
“This would support all actors interested in promoting economic justice, greater social harmony and a growing economy through shared business ownership,” he said.
Nelwamondo stressed that EO would help grow the economy, create decent employment opportunities and eradicate poverty.