The ANC’s 2019 election manifesto released in January refers to the need to broaden ownership of the economy and “a focus on extending worker ownership across the sectors” as an essential part of transformation. Including workers in the democratic ownership of companies via employee stock ownership plans (Esops) may well be a viable option to achieve that goal. Social reform and empowerment strategies usually involve either getting the government to do more good things for people or empowering people to do more good things for themselves. Employee ownership of companies is part of the second strategy and Esops are a potential entry point for such employee ownership. Esops have proven successful in 7,000 enterprises in the US over the past 40 years, covering 10% of the private workforce. This model can readily be adapted to other private property market economies such as SA. However, the problem in SA is that Anglo-American set up some sham Esops in the late 1980s that were quite rig...

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