Above a faded couch in Moses Mkhondo’s makeshift home hangs a framed tableau of the perfect South African village. The collage was assembled by Mkhondo himself, back when he made a living driving trucks filled with Coca-Cola to spaza shops and taverns and corner cafes throughout Johannesburg’s East Rand. The collage is meant to represent Mkhondo’s ideal world: a bustling middle-class town, centred around a Coca-Cola depot from which great trucks ply the roads, dispensing bottled joy to a booming country. For 30 years, Mkhondo could pretend to himself that he lived in this world. In early 2014 he was forced to stop pretending. By DAILY MAVERICK CHRONICLE.
Yesterday, the Daily Maverick introduced a digital new initiative called the Daily Maverick Chronicle. Our first story, Casualties of Cola, immediately went viral, and we can’t help thinking that its success is largely due to a counterintuitive principle: readers are always shocked to learn that many of the worst things that happen in this country are entirely legal.
Casualties of Cola details the story of beverage behemoth SABMiller and its subsidiary, Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), one of the leading bottlers of Coca-Cola products in Africa, and how they’ve used a black employment empowerment scheme called “owner-driver” to turn employees into contractors, and to choke those contractors into penury. They’ve been able to do this because the law allowed them to do so, and because the concept of outsourcing has become corporate orthodoxy, even if its effects are patently catastrophic.
Casualties of Cola is the story of one particular catastrophe. But there are many. They happen all the time, all over the world. Because this is the new nature of work.