Research methodology

The research methodology pursued involved utilisation of both primary and secondary material.  Primary data was gather via questionnaires which were elaborated to gather information from different target groups of informants, namely from the companies themselves, the government institutions related to the companies’ work, and non-governmental organisations, trade unions and community-based organisations, and local communities.

At Mozal, the research team attempted to make appointments with the management. Letters requesting appointment were sent and many calls were made to the Human Relations Officer to receive guidance regarding appropriate interviewees, and approaches were made to the company’s investor relations office in London.

However, our requests were variously denied or ignored, the only exception being the Social Corporate Responsibility branch, the Mozal Trust for Community Development, which provided the research team with data regarding social responsibility. Similarly, the Corporate Affairs Manager at Sasol indicated to the research team that for any response to be made to the questionnaire, approval would be required from the “Disclosure Committee” in South Africa. Only a sheet with responses to the call for the Ernest & Young Entrepreneurs of the year 2008 was made available, which relayed information about social responsibility projects the company had undertaken.

However, interviews were carried out with a range of informants and stakeholders; from high level government officials in ministries, district officials, companies’ managers and officials and non-governmental organisations officials, community leaders and community-based organisations leaders. Interviews were generally carried out through the administration of questionnaires. However, in some instances, informants chose to respond to the questionnaires in writing and to send their responses to us.  Furthermore, discussion focus groups were held with affected and beneficiary communities. The focus groups were constituted by the community-based organisations or groups that benefited from the projects. In addition, the research team made its own direct observations of infrastructure and community-based organisations’ activities which fell within the scope of social assistance by the companies.

Secondary data was collected from available reports from diverse sources such as the reports made available by research institutions, non-governmental organizations, companies reports and Websites, government institutions reports, Central Bank, Promotion Investment Center, community-based organisations, district government and local government reports, and information gathered from interviews with officials of the different institutions mentioned above. Other sources included government Websites, newspapers, magazines and broadcast news.

The reticence of the two companies in providing information directly to the research team placed unfortunate limits on the depth of the study, for while the interviews with stakeholders proved valuable, this report is otherwise heavily reliant upon secondary sources.