Harvard's Share in Apartheid

by Neva L. Seidman, Harvard-Radcliffe Southern Africa Solidarity Committee
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
About October 1977
2 pages
Type: Leaflet
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: The Apartheid System • U.S. Corporate Involvement in Apartheid • Harvard’s Interest in Major U.S. Investors in South Africa • Reprint of portions of an article by Neva L. Seidman that appeared in the Harvard Crimson on September 27, 1977.  The article says on July16, 1976, South Africa's Soweto township exploded in rage against the racist apartheid system; since then, thousands of protestors have been killed, wounded or jailed without trial by South Africa’s white minority government; but U.S. companies have refused to end their involvement in South Africa. The article says Harvard's links to these corporations tie the University to oppression in South Africa; but the Harvard Corporation has consistently refused to sell out of companies involved in South Africa, or even to support shareholder motions for withdrawal from that country. The article says the role of U.S. corporations in South Africa can only be understood in the context of apartheid, which is based on a system of enforced migrant labor; opposition to the South African regime is illegal; people can be arrested and detained without trial at the whim of the Justice Minister, who does not have to give any reasons; recently, 18 more anti-apartheid organizations and the largest black newspaper, the World, were banned. The article says U.S.-based transnational corporations have greatly aided South African industrialization. U.S. involvement in South Africa has grown especially rapidly in the last ten years, as apartheid has been more and more strictly enforced; U.S. firms have invested heavily in manufacturing in South Africa, a sector which is key to development, and which they have avoided elsewhere in Africa; seventy-five per cent of U.S. investment in African manufacturing is concentrated in South Africa. The article says an oil boycott would seriously damage the South African minority regime as the country has no known oil deposits; U.S. firms have played an important role in enabling the regime to overcome this vulnerability by helping it to set up plants to extract oil from coal and look for oil. The article says U.S. banks and financiers play a key role in furthering investment in South Africa, providing advice and capital for U.S. corporations there; recently, U.S. finance companies have organized a huge loan to the South African regime. The article says Steve Biko, the South African leader who died recently in prison, called for the withdrawal of U.S. firms: the ANC, South ·African student organizations and independent African trade unions, as well as the Namibian and Zimbabwean liberation movements also call for a boycott. The article says in view of the role of U.S. companies m South Africa, described in this paper, the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee advocates the withdrawal of commercial, defense, intelligence and agricultural attaches from South Africa, an end to tax credits and Export Import Bank credits to U.S. companies doing business there, and support for strong United Nations sanctions against South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The article discusses Bantustans, pass laws, Bantu Education, the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), the Sabotage Act, Suppression of Communism Act, the African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Bram Fischer, direct investment, pay, black workers, the auto industry, General Motors (G.M., GM), Ford, Chrysler, IBM (International Business Machines), General Electric (GE), ITT, Standard Oil of California, Ford, Union Carbide, 3M, computers, Mobil, refineries, Rockefeller banks, Chase Manhattan,  Citicorp, Manufacturers Hanover, Morgan Guaranty, Continental Illinois, divestment, shareholder resolutions, universities, foundations, pension funds, churches, and private investors. 
Used by permission of former members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Southern Africa Solidarity Committee.
Collection: Harvard-Radcliffe Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (Cindy Ruskin collection), Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections