[Documents menu]documents menu
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 12:02:42 -0500
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.95.981130113639.4540p-100000@essential.essential.org>
Sender: stop-imf@essential.org
From: Robert Weissman <rob@essential.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list STOP-IMF <stop-imf@essential.org>
Subject: Re: Jubilee 2000 South Africa Launched (fwd)

International Campaign against Apartheid Foreign Debt and Apartheid-caused Debt

From Jubilee 2000 South Africa
30 November 1998

Research just completed indicates that the debt South Africa accumulated as Apartheid foreign debt is larger than previously thought and is well in excess of R100 billion [$18 bn]. In addition, Apartheid destabilisation of the Southern Africa region has been estimated to have caused physical destruction to the amount of US$117 billion and to have claimed over 2 million victims.

These findings were made public at a Jubilee 2000 seminar on Apartheid-caused debt held at Khotso House on Thursday 26 November. The meeting was convened by the Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation (ESSET), the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and the Campaign Against Neo-liberalism in South Africa (CANSA) and attended by representatives of close to 30 organisations, including church, trade union, civic and NGO structures.

It was addressed by Theo Kneifel and Amanda Weibel, the coordinators of the German and Swiss Aparheid-caused debt coalitions, and Joy Kennedy of the Canadian Jubilee 2000 structure, Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative.

The larger than previously realised Apartheid foreign debt stands in sharp contrast to the repeated claims by the Ministry of Finance that South Africa does not have significant debt. The research highlights the role of German and Swiss banks in particular. According to Weibel, "the German and Swiss banks jumped into the breach in 1985 to rescue Apartheid." The level of their investment in Sou Africa increased during the Apartheid years after 1985, decreased at the onset of negotiations process and decreased further after the first democratic elections in 1994. This emphasises the importance of campaigning for the cancellation of this debt.

The meeting was a first for South Africa in addressing the impact of Apartheid destabilisation on Southern Africa and the Apartheid-caused debt for the entire region and in discussing strategies to address the effects of this debt on people and communities in the region.

Kneifel raised the importance of going beyond the call to cancel Apartheid-caused debt and to extend this to a call on creditors to make reparations in the form of compensation for the victims of the Southern Africa region from the debts that have already been repaid. In criticising the difficulty in getting the Swiss banks to compensate the victims of Nazi Germany, Weibel stressed the call of the Swiss Apartheid-caused debt coalition: "Don't make Southern Africa wait another 50 years as the victims of Nazi Germany did."

In relation to the TRC, Kneifel argued, "One of the severe limits of the mandate of the TRC is that it stopped at the borders of South Africa. An important part of the campaign is to take the TRC to the region and to Europe." The European creditors have a moral and financial obligation to make reparations for the Apartheid-caused damage throughout the region

Kennedy raised the importance of locating the debt within the global financial crisis and the need to ensure that debt cancellation is not subject to conditions imposed by the international financial institutions, notably the World Bank and the IMF. Instead, she shared the Canadian call for the start of the next millenium as a new beginning in promoting sustainable economic and social development.

Participants at the seminar committed themselves to building the international campaign to cancel the Apartheid-caused debt and Jubilee 2000 South Africa will take this forward as a central area of focus.

The research report will be formally launched in Germany, Switzerland and Southern Africa in early 1999.

Contact: George Dor, Publicity Officer, Jubilee 2000 South Africa, tel 648 7000, george@sn.apc.org

George Dor
60 Isipingo Street, Bellevue East 2198,
South Africa
Tel: (27) (11) 648 7000
Email: george@sn.apc.org

[World History Archives] [Gateway to World History] [Images from World History] [Hartford Web Publishing]