Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Business As Usual


President Jacob Zuma's recent visit to Uganda drew a lot of attention to South African involvement in that country - and also to the revelation that there are many South African companies which have concerns, business interests and a corporate presence in that country. Despite the ongoing human rights violations against the LGBTIQ community in Uganda - and the consistent attempts by human rights organizations to draw attention to the threat against the lives of a minority group - neither the SA government, nor one of these companies has even once taken to speaking out against these devious and sinister practices.

There are quite a few very large SA companies foing business openly in Uganda - and we can be certain that there are many more companies who support the Ugandan regime just by doing business there - and by paying taxes to the Ugandan government. Of course, you are all encouraged to search for more online and to add them to your own lists and ask others to take further action yourself.

GLBTI people and those offended by this disregard for human rights, are encouraged to change whatever service providers they can - and to send emails to the SA government and these companies to express their disappointment and disgust at their continued silence on the gradual erosion of human rights in Uganda - and the tacit support of a regime which facilitates and enables this unacceptable situation to continue.

MTN, Standard Bank, ABSA, Shoprite-Checkers and SAB-Millers - all have substantial interests in Uganda. MTN was mentioned in President Zuma's speech in the Ugandan Parliament 3 weks ago, as paying 200 billion in taxes to Uganda each year. These are South African companies - with full support of the South African government - keeping that regime afloat and sponsoring a government which callously violates every tenet of human rights.

Eskom supplies electricity to Uganda, but we are realistic and do not expect people to sit in the dark and live like they are back in the Stone Age - even if Eskom parts of SA should, whenever it feels like it - and it's not like we can just stop paying them.

Have you even seen JZ's speech in Uganda? Here it is:

I encourage people to read it and to count how many times the abuse of human rights is mentioned before examining the list of SA Companies active in Uganda and in supporting Uganda's government through either loans, direct investment or tax payments:

MTN

Ugandan President Musseveni in a speech during a state visit by Jacob Zuma used MTN as an example of a South African company supporting his government through paying taxes. According to the newspaper article which covered the speech, MTN pays over Sh200bn annually in taxes.

Standard Bank

http://corporateandinvestment.standardbank.co.za/sa/country_offices/uganda.jsp

Stanbic Bank Uganda commenced operations in Uganda in 1993, and today provides a range of consumer, corporate and investment banking services.

http://www.standardbank.co.za/SBIC/Frontdoor_02_01/0,2454,10293765_31595717_0,00.html MTN and Stanbic

Bank Uganda (Standard Bank SA) has launched a mobile banking application called MTN Mobile Money which facilitates electronic banking by mobile phone.

ABSA Bank

http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/absa-capital-barclays-arrange-debt-facility-for-867m-uganda-hydropower-project-2008-01-17

17th January 2008

"South African investment bank Absa Capital said on Thursday that it had teamed up with its global affiliate, Barclays, to arrange for the commercial debt facility for a $867-million hydropower project in Uganda.

Absa Capital head of power and energy Anand Naidoo explained that the bank had underwritten and raised a 16-year commercial debt facility for the project and that it would continue to be active in Africa in the future. "

SHOPRITE CHECKERS

http://www.shopriteholdings.co.za/pages/1019812640/about-our-company/Geographical-spread.asp
http://www.shoprite.co.za/Pages/127416071/about/africa/Uganda.asp
http://www.eprop.co.za/news/article.aspx?idArticle=3394

This company owns supermarkets all over Southern Africa, listing two Shoprite outlets in Kampala, Uganda alone, since November 2000. Uganda is an exporter of locally produced coffee, and since 2004, Uganda now supplies its coffee to South Africa and other African countries through the Shoprite-Checkers Holdings chain.

SAB-MILLERS

http://forafrica.co.za/wp/?p=255 (This is JZ's adress to Uganda's Parliament)

"Nile Breweries, Ugandan subsidiary of SABMiller, has said that it will build a $16m malting plant to convert locally grown barley into brewing malt. The company said that construction will start in January 2010 on Nile Breweries' existing site in Jinja, and is expected to be completed towards the end of the year.

The company started utilising locally sourced raw materials in 2002 when Nile Breweries launched Eagle Lager, and subsequently Eagle Extra, both of which are brewed using sorghum grown by smallholder farmers in Uganda.

According to the company, purchases of sorghum by its subsidiary have multiplied from 1,600 tons in 2003 to a peak of 12,000 tons in 2007 and in doing so provided income of nearly $2m to an estimated 8,000 farmers and associated beneficiaries."

DIAMOND SHIPPING SERVICES

http://www.diamondship.co.za/

Diamond Shipping Services is a ships agency company based in South Africa and have been in operation since 1997. Their international head office is in Dubai, U.A.E and their local head office is in Durban with branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, and Saldhana Bay. They list offices in Qatar, saudi Arabia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Pakistan - and Uganda.

And then people say - "yes, but businesses are in Uganda to make money - what has human rights got to do with that?"

Yes, these are companies who are in business to make money - but yet, let's draw a comparison:

In the Apartheid years, South Africa was isolated and foreign companies pulled out of the country and would not do business with South Africa. This was done under the convenient guise of "morality". Years later, some foreign companies are still being sued by aggrieved individuals because they traded with South Africa during those times (and indirectly supported the Apartheid government).

Today you have a country destroying the lives of its own people along the lines of in-born characteristics, in fact gearing up to commit genocide - and South Africa is not boycotting their economy or trying to correct them - but instead encouraging the continued investment in that economy, pouring in billions to support a regime which abuses human rights and commits crimes against humanity.

Yet 25 years ago, racism was the grounds for a boycott and trade embargo against South Africa. What is wrong with this picture?

It seems that clearly, in the minds of SA government officials and corporate figures - racism is a serious crime - but crimes against humanity targeting GLBTI people just don't matter, and are just not worth even commenting on. When the target was Jews - the world went to war. When it was Blacks, the world locked out South Africa - all on the grounds of "morality". But now that it is us, it's just not important enough to bother - and it's business as usual.

Homophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, anti-Anything-that's-not-the-same-as-us-ism: they're all the same thing - equally threatening to equality, and equally dangerous to human rights.

Gradually negotiating away SA's independence and building a Pan African Parliament and United States of Africa explains why GLBTI rights in Africa are being increasingly made illegal and ignored and undermined in South Africa - because to rub out the borders, you have to agree on everything.

Hey, South Africa - where is your "morality" now?

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