Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Apartheid Reparations

Jubilee South Africa welcomed on 21 February 2003 the filing of a further major apartheid reparations complaint against international corporations and banks that aided and abetted the apartheid state, in the New York Eastern District Court today. The complaint names seven banks, and thirteen international corporations from Germany, Switzerland, Britain, the United States, the Netherlands and France. For more information on the filing see:

Meanwhile, on the domestic front the South African government continues to ignore its responsibilities to fulfil its commitments in the TRC Report regarding reparations. The excuse is they are waiting for the Amnesty Report, when in fact they got the recommendations in October 1998! In his State of the Nation speech Mbeki ignored it making some vague comments about the TRC, I quote:

"It is in this spirit that we should engage in a national dialogue on how we take forward the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which we hope will be presented to government in the next few months. This will afford us the opportunity to understand a critical part of our past and join hands in forging a people's contract for a better tomorrow."

"People's contract" - what is that? I presume is code for "the people" should benefit and not only those who went to the TRC - despite the implicit contract, not to mention clear obligations for reparations (and truth) as a poor trade-off for justice. A trade-off validated by the South African Constitutional Court. In practice, the "people's contract" will mean "community reparations". A fine concept in theory, don't get me wrong, but a way the government can minimise cost by saying they are already serving communities with new infrastructure. Infrastructure as reparation! Although this is important, if I am not mistaken this is the type of "reparation" what people voted for...