phrase meaning "Unity is Strength", once the motto of the former homeland
. (South Africa
ns of all complexions have a great fondness for the idea of strength in unity, it was the motto
of the old apartheid
state as well.)
Nowadays Kopano ke Matla is the name of an investment company run by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, better known as Cosatu. Kopano (for short) was one of several union investment companies launched around 1996 to catch the wave of black economic empowerment deals -- not quite the traditional socialist way to seize the commanding heights of the economy, but possibly more effective. This was Kopano's chief executive Tumelo Motsisi in 1997:
"The driving objective within Cosatu is the ultimate seizure of economic power from a few powerhouses to the majority. This we share in common. But what Kopano does differently is to use a different avenue to ensure that there is significantly more capital circulating in the underprivileged areas of our country."
There was also much talk of "direct participation of the working class
" and "workers controlling the means of production
in a way that will benefit them".
A few individuals have made a great deal of money out of all this, but things have gone hard for most of the union investment companies since the emerging markets crisis of 1998, which cut off much of their funding.
Kopano's most high-profile deal was an attempt to buy a state-run chain of holiday resorts called Aventura; but the deal was called off in early 1999 after Kopano failed to meet payment deadlines. The company has been exceptionally quiet since then, focussing on trimming down the rather unfocussed portfolio of holdings it acquired in the days when cash was flush. There has also been some conflict between it and Cosatu: in the second half of 2000 there were several reports that the union federation wanted to tighten its control over Kopano and other investment companies -- including banning them from acquiring stakes in privatised state assets.