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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.48 n.4 Pretoria  2008


Globalisering en 'n verdeelde gemeenskap in Suid-Afrika


Globalisation and a divided community in South Africa



Pieter Wagener

Fakulteit Regte, Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit, Port Elizabeth




Die verskil in invloed van globalisering op wit en swart gemeenskappe in Suid-Afrika word betrag vanuit 'n sosio-ekonomiese gesigspunt. Hierdie invloede kan in perspektief gesien word deur te kyk na die hoofperiodes van maatskaplike veranderings in die Westerse wêreld gedurende die afgelope 800 jaar. Die blanke in Suid-Afrika, in besonder die Afrikaner, is erfgename van hierdie veranderings en kon in Afrika tred hou met die globale veranderings van die onlangse verlede. Die swart bevolking, daarenteen, is nou skielik in die globale era gewerp. Met die gevolglike akkulturasie ontwikkel nou voorheen onbekende "Westerse kwale" soos hartvatsiekte, diabetes en vetsug. Globalisering, met die aggressiewe bemarkingstegnieke van multinasionale maatskappye, tesame met groepsdruk, veroorsaak boonop 'n ongebreidelde skuldlas. Hierdie skuldlas plaas groter druk op werkgewers vir verhoogde salarisse, wat op sy beurt kan lei tot die onttrekking van buitelandse beleggings en toenemende werkloosheid. Hierdie spiraal kan verder lei tot politieke onrus.
Vanweë sy agtergrond, kan die blanke 'n noodsaaklike rol speel in die globale ekonomiese wedloop. Om dit te verstewig, sal die beperkings van swart bemagtiging heroorweeg moet word.

Trefwoorde: Globalisering, arbeidsregte, ontwikkeling, skuldlas, Afrika


Globalisation is characterised by the economic control of national economies by two entities: multi-national enterprises (MNEs), with their foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, and the international financial institutions, which place neo-liberal economic conditions on loans and economic aid to developing countries.
We analyse these influences on the socio-economic structure of the South African community, with special reference to the existence of two disparate developed groups in the country.
These two groups, depicted by convention as white and black, respond in different ways to the socio-economic effects of globalisation. The white group is part of the cultural heritage of globalisation, as driven predominantly by European industrialised countries, and is not adversely affected to the same extent as the black group, which has been catapulted into the global era.
To analyse the consequences of the impact, we look at five main periods of socio-economic transformations in European, or Western, history. These correspond approximately to:
 The period from the Magna Carta of1215 to the establishment of a parliamentary democracy in England after the execution of Charles I in 1649;
 The Industrial Revolution from about 1760 to 1830;
 The period from the American and French revolutions to the end of World War II (~1780-1946);
 The Atomic Age from World War II to about 1990;
 The present Global Age.
If we combine the second and third transformations we have successive periods of 434, 200, 40 and 15 years. The acceleration of the transformation periods had disruptive effects on the sociological structure of Western society. This structure changed along the periods successively as rural farming, industrial workers, general commerce, technological society and the global village. European society adapted to these transitions over centuries, but the countries of Africa did not have that leisure.
Black society now has to cope with aggressive marketing campaigns and peer pressure to transform previously predominant rural societies into consumer ones. One result is reminiscent of European transformation during the second to third periods, which is described as "A society in which all members had relations of obligation and reciprocity to all others gave way to one in which individuals in their different roles were cut off from each other, and related to each other only within the marketplace." This reflects the present change in South Africa from the mutual concern of ubuntu to the competitive style of commerce and consumerism.
This acculturation is showing deleterious effects on black society. Previously unknown Western-type diseases such as heart disease and diabetes are emerging as major killers. Obesity is becoming rampant due to changes in eating habits, encouraged by advertising campaigns of fast-food MNEs.
Another consequence of modern marketing campaigns is the encouragement of debt. This is a worldwide phenomenon, but in Africa it can lead to serious political instability and social unrest. Uncontrolled debt leads to unreasonable demands for higher salaries, which will discourage further FDI. This will lead to a downward economic spiral and an increase in unemployment.
The present collapse of financial institutions in the US holds dire consequences for the economies of emerging markets. It is expected that the flow of funds to the developing world could be cut by 25%, making it imperative that South Africa, the industrial dynamo of Africa, uses all of its human and industrial resources to soften the blow to this continent. In this regard the continual loss of white expertise to the developed world should be reversed as a matter of urgency.
The upper middle class white sector in South Africa has adapted relatively effortlessly to global changes, which has resulted in a widening gap in affluence between white and black. The success of the white sector can be ascribed to its historical exposure to globalisation and finding methods to deal with it. The Afrikaner, in its isolation in the past, has been particularly adroit in adapting successfully to global changes. In this regard the white sector, especially its entrepreneurs, must be seen as an asset in competing in the new global economy and that economic development in South Africa is dependent on a greater involvement of this group. For this reason urgent consideration must be given to relax the strictures of affirmative action.

Keywords: Globalisation, labour rights, development, debt burden, Africa


Full text available only in PDF format. 



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1 Gevestigde akronieme word gebruik waar toepaslik.
2 Om verwarring te vermy, word oorsese vorste deur hul nasionale name aangedui.
3 Die manlike term in die sin van 'man' as 'mens' word gebruik.
4 Die beginsels van SA se unieke uraanverrykingsproses is ontwikkel deur Pierre Haarhoff en Wally Grant. Hierdie prestasie is persoonlik aan die skrywer deur Philip Morrisson, een van die bouers aan die eerste atoombom, beskryf as een van die merkwaardigste prestasies van die huidige tyd. Die meganisme is deur Haarhoff beskryf (Haarhoff 1976). Sien ook
5 Hierdie artikel moet ook erkenning gee aan 'n wêreldleier in fisiese chemie, prof. Victor Pretorius, wat in 'n ontvankliker internasionale klimaat groter erkenning vir sy baanbrekerswerk in chromatografie sou ontvang het. Pierre Haarhoff was ook sy doktorale student.



Professor Pieter Wagener is 'n voormalige hoof van die departement toegepaste wiskunde aan die universiteit van Fort Hare. Sy kwalifikasies sluit in 'n BA (Afrikaans, Wysbegeerte), nagraadse diplomas in rekenaarwetenskap en arbeidsreg, magistergrade in chemie, wiskunde, fisika en arbeidsreg, PhD in toegepaste wiskunde en 'n LLD tesis oor die invloed van globalisering op mense- en arbeidsregte in die SAOG (beplande inhandiging: 2008). Hy is die skry-wer van etlike kortverhale, waarvan twee bundels, Boereboeddhiste (H&R) en Mantrakolie (Protea) verskyn het. Tans is hy 'n navorsingsmedewerker in die Eenheid vir Arbeids- en Sosiale Sekerheidsreg in die Regsfakulteit van die NMMU, Port Elizabeth. Sy akademiese navorsing is gesentreer in die ontwikkeling van 'n swaartekragteorie, asook die ontwikkeling van internasionale, arbeidsgerigte wet-gewing. Ook is hy besig met 'n geskiedskrywing van die ontwikkeling van fisika in Suid-Afrika, biografieë van SA kunstenaars, wiskundige handleidings vir skole, die vestiging van 'n Afrikaanse kultuursentrum in die Oos-Kaapse platteland en die versameling van geskiedkundige materiaal oor die Oos-Kaap.

Professor Pieter Wagener is a former head of the department of applied mathematics at the university of Fort Hare. His qualifications include a BA (Afrikaans, Philosophy), postgraduate diplomas in computer science and labour law, masters' degrees in chemistry, mathematics, physics and labour law, PhD in applied mathematics, and a LLD thesis on the influence of globalisation on human rights and labour law in the SADC (to be submitted in 2008). He is the author of a number of short stories, of which two collections, Boereboeddhiste (H&R) and Mantrakolie (Protea) have been published. Presently he is a research associate in the Labour Law Unit in the faculty of Law at NMMU, Port Elizabeth. His academic interest is centred in the development of a theory of gravitation, as well as the development of international labour law. He is also busy writing a history of physics in South Africa, biographies of SA artists, mathematics guides for schools, the establishment of an Afrikaans cultural centre in the Eastern Cape platteland and the collection of historical material about the Eastern Cape.

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