Accepted paper:

Capital and "Care" for a sugar mill community: An International Corporation in South African Sugar, 1969-1996


Bernard Dubbeld (Stellenbosch University)

Paper short abstract:

My paper presents the history of Lonrho’s ownership of Glendale's sugar mill between 1969-1996. It considers the international corporation's claims about care for the community and modernisation of the mill amid changing labour relations during Apartheid's last decades.

Paper long abstract:

In 1969, the London-Rhodesia Company (Lonrho) bought the sugar mill at Glendale in South Africa. Situated about 30km inland from KwaDukuza, Glendale was one of the few mills that was not in the hands of the dominant South African families producing sugar—dubbed the Sugarocracy by Lincoln (1985), having been owned by an Muslim family, the Paruks, for more than forty years. But with sugar and other industrial interests across Africa, Lonrho represented the entry of international capital into a local market long shielded from international competition. In this paper, I tell the story of Lonrho in Glendale, presenting accounts of competition with the local industry, their upgrading of the mill, as well as the "care" managers and workers claimed the corporation showed to the community in Glendale. Analytically, I suggest that the story of Lonrho in Glendale is akin to accounts of the company town (cf. Ferguson 2006), and ask how, under conditions of late apartheid, we understand "care" for black workers undertaken by an international corporation.

panel P138
Encounters of the Urban and the Rural: Labour in Durban/KwaZulu