For South Africans wondering how their country will earn its keep in a world that is fast-moving to non-racialism, some companies offer cause for cheerfulness. These companies are moving away from the corporate social investment as it is generally known by South African public.
They are practically making it possible for racial groups to work together without being suspicious of each other as it has been the case despite the all-important race elections in 1994.
A Port Elizabeth-based German multinational, Schaeffler South Africa, has launched what is called
The Rainbow Nation Club (RNC) which aims to move towards racial integration in the workplace and uplifting the lives of many of its under privileged workers and people.
This is very critical for the process of transformation given the fact that many South African companies are still divided along racial lines in the workplace.
There is no doubt that South Africans of all races still do not trust each other in the workplace with whites saying they are being discriminated against by affirmative action. And black people on the other hand believe that white people still occupy positions of influence in most companies.
Launched 18 months ago, the Schaeffler initiative provides short and long-term relief to 500 workers stationed at the PE plant. The plant makes clutches which are supplied to independent aftermarket with 60 percent of production volumes exported to other countries.
Len Terblanche, the company spokesperson spearheading this project, told TransformSA, this initiative began because he strongly believed that the solution for this country’s problems lied in building a unified nation as envisaged by Nelson Mandela with his Rainbow Nation vision.
“If South Africans stop dwelling in the past and concentrated on building relationships, everything might fall in place as it did when the Madiba Magic was unfolding,” said Terblanche, referring to the role former president Nelson Mandela played in reconciling the polarised South African nation.
The Club has encouraged other companies to join and has since succeeded in signing up several company managers to the club’s membership, which adds to their existing members. All 500 employees include workers that are members of the worker federation Cosatu.
Employees have received a lot of support. According to Terblanche, the head office of Schaeffler Gruppe in Germany, the parent company, has committed to pledging R3 million toward the Rainbow Nation Club and its activities.
Sponsorships at non-governmental organisations across the city, including Kwazakhele High School, ACCV Khayalethu Youth Centre, SOS Children’s Village, and 120 school children from Veeplaas who received new uniforms have been awarded.
“Through the launch of the RNC at Schaeffler, we believe it has removed the ‘them’ and the ‘us’ and made win-win decisions possible,” Terblanche said.
“We are truly passionate about this initiative as we believe that something needs to be done about the poverty in SA and the inequalities that still exist. We should make nation building a top priority and convince our leaders to embrace once more Madiba’s legacy of a unified Rainbow Nation.”
This should include political, business and civic leaders. South Africans should be encouraged to make up-liftment of the underprivileged a priority.
“We all have to realise that the government alone cannot solve this and that we are all part of the solution,” he said.