PHOTOS OF MAGUDVU: Within the Wealth and Networks of Mondi

September 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

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BY ZAMA KHUMALO 

The company “Mondi Group” has created interesting records since its establishment in 1967. More interesting events have taken place in the history of Mondi. 

But until post-2000, when the company had left Magudvu, that it started providing some form of mini reparations to the people it wronged, particularly in the areas where it had economic investment. These people are called “previously disadvantaged black communities”. 

But by 2010, large portions of Mondi land were under land claims, after more and more black people came forward to confirm that the timber company benefited from land that was taken by force from them. 

The Afrikaners are known in human history for ruthless barbarism and hereditary chronic mental disorders when coming into contacts with black people, even long before they formed the Transvaal Republic in 1852. Even in post-1994 South Africa, there was never a time when the Afrikaners and blacks lived together in peace without the Afrikaners attempting to abuse blacks.

Land that was ill-occupied by Afrikaners were sold to Mondi in the late 1960s to begin what today is known as the biggest timber company in the world with a revenue of close to 100 billion rands. In most areas, land that was used to produce food (e.g maize and milk) for a large number of black people to eat as captives of white commercial farms was turned by Mondi into a one-culture land of growing trees, and trees only. 

In the area of Magudvu where Mondi derived it wealth and operated for more than 30 years, black people were not allowed to own livestock because it would distroy Mondi trees. In the advent of Murray & Roberts, and subsequently Mondi in 1967, blacks who owned cattle and goats were forced to slaughter or sell all of them, and then come to start making a living by working for Mondi. 

Initial profits for each of the various timber companies were estimated to be more than R4m a year. This is during the time when a bread cost only 2c, a brand-new high-performance car cost R3 500 (Mercedes Benz) and each black worker earned between R3 and R15 a month. 

Mondi also benefited from the 6 months free labour, in which other blacks were brought in by Afrikaner moguls to work for free in the development of Mondi forests. Other black workers belonging to Mondi were moved from one portion of economic base to start a new life in another portion, while their children were losing educational opportunities in the process. This movement also contributed vastly to the break-down of black families. Other families had a father who worked far, and because of underpayment, could not be able to come back home regularly to see his children.

In the worse form of human savage, other blacks who belonged to the Nguni tribe and lived in the northern part of South Africa and neighbouring Mozambiquan areas, who are known as Tsongas or Shangaans, were exposed to be banished by other blacks in the order of the Afrikaners in defiance of their leader Samora Machelle. 

The most painful thing during Mondi reign in Magudvu and Warburton was when other blacks realised that the new settler was a Shangaan. Mondi telephones were used to call the cops, who captured the new man identified with the Tsonga language and punished him in the most form of cruelty never told in human history. This was done, before a state vehicle transports the victim back to Mozambique, where state-organised Portuguese violence awaited him. 

During the 6 months free labour in South Africa, after the worker had worked for free until a certain date, then he would proceed to the next stage where Mondi would want to hire him, to enlist him in the large army of forestry field workers. But most accurately, all that we can say about the history of South Africa is that there is no single piece of land that was not owned by the Afrikaners and not envied by the English. 

A company called “Bowaters UK” during Apartheid, which specialised in marketing the soft papers used for printing news (news+papers), formed a joint company with a company called “SA Waxed” in 1966 and in 1967, Anglo American plc bought this company to form Mondi. 

Today we can say that Mondi is the most powerful timber company in South Africa, with other branches in Russia, Europe and America. But other branches outside South Africa were only formed recently after Mondi had already established itself in Magudvu, Warburton and surounding Mpumalanga areas. 

In Warburton, Mondi built plush homes for Afrikaner site managers and supervisors and their families in a suitable separate portion, and then left their large army of black workers and families to languish in muddy houses on the other side of the main road until in 2009, almost 40 years later, when the ANC government built free RDP houses for them. 

In Magudvu, Mondi did the same but the ANC never built RDP houses, instead it asked the people of Magudvu to choose between RDP houses or electricity, for which the people of Magudvu chose electricity! 

Mondi also produce office papers…

Another look at Mondi shows that certain benefits that were vehicled in the form of reparations to address past sins skipped the people of Magudvu and went to empower an annointed few blacks outside Magudvu suffering. In some of these episodes, and we shall see, vested elitist ANC interests played a major role in getting some crumbs of Mondi wealth into the hands of the few. 

Today we will attempt to show how the the benefits got into the hands of the few at the expense of the querilling conditions of workers…

Two weeks ago we showed how Mondi continued to operate through name-changed companies. In 2000, Mondi left Magudvu and formed Global Forest Product to remain and operate in its stead. 

In 2009, exactly 9 years after Mondi had left Magudvu, the company started a program in the current areas where it operates to supply “hot, cooked meals” everyday to underpaid field workers for what they say is “part of a broader programme to ensure that the group creates decent work for all employees.” 

One public relations writer, writting in the June 2010 edition of the SA Forestry Magazine on Mondi’s “hot, cooked meal for workers”, said that “forestry work is tough and demanding on human body, and a hot meal everyday contributes to the health and strength of workers”. 

The food program to workers was also overwhelmingly recommended because it brought “benefits in terms of enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved safety.” 

By the time Mondi left in 2000, Magudvu wages were just over R700. Mondi profits increased drastically in the past 43 years, but wages to workers remained at a steady pace almost forever. 

In 2008, the department of forestry in South Africa established the Forest Sector Charter Council which was meant to “extend economic opportunities and benefits to previously disadvantaged black groups.” 

This council reported directly to the BEE Advisory Council on progress of “ownership and socio-economic development”. The BEE Advisory Council is made out of black intellectuals who are connected to the ANC elitist ideology of self-enrichment… 

According to a statement released by the department of forestry in June 2013, the council performed well in terms of “socio-economic developmet and ownership.” 

But back in 2000, the year when Mondi was leaving Magudvu, a newly formed company called ‘Siyaqhubeka Forests’ was awarded a government tender to run 25 000 hectres of trees in KwaZulu Natal… 

Siyaqhubeka Forests, which is said to be “black empowered”, and which by 2012 had reportedly planted 21 000 hectres of land with new trees and delivers close to 500 000 timber poles every year to Mondi mills, is owned by Mondi and has some interesting faces to know about. 

TO BE CONTINUED…

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