COMMUNI'IY-BASED DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGNS: THE OAKLAND EXPERIENCE (1985-86)

by Natalie Bayton, Bay Area Free South Africa Movement
California, United States
Undated, about June or July 1986?
Publisher: Bay Area Free South Africa Movement
5 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: Namibia, South Africa, Southern Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: DIVESTMENT: VEHICLE FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE • COMMUNITY-BASED DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGNS • OAKLAND DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGN • KEY ELEMENTS OF THE OAKLAND DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGN • CONCLUSION • The report says after almost a year, the City of Oakland took a major step toward honoring its commitment to break all ties with South African apartheid when it ended the city's 30-year business relationship with the Bank of America; the city's action was a direct result of the Divestment Ordinance adopted unanimously by Oakland City Council on July 9, 1985 --depriving the BofA of some $400 to $600 million in municipal deposits per year. The report says less than two weeks later, the "Bank of Apartheid" announced its decision against new loans to any South African borrower -- whether public or private -- "as long as the apartheid system exists." The report says BofA, the nation's second largest bank, was clearly influenced by the growing uneasiness of the business community over the stability of South Africa and the mounting effectiveness of the international movement for sanctions against the apartheid regime. The report says divestment and disinvestment are powerful tools in the arsenal for democratic change in South Africa; and while sanctions alone will not automatically topple the fascist apartheid state, it is widely believed that effective sanctions could change the balance of power so substantially that the people's victory would be greatly accelerated. The report says it is fighting a war on two fronts -- one to maintain control over the people and resources of its neighbor state Namibia while attempting to roll back the revolutionary gains of Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe; and, another to defend the continued existence of apartheid within South Africa itself. The report says until the federal government imposes comprehensive sanctions against South Africa / local government and institutional divestment efforts will continue as the main leverage point for impacting private-sector decision-making on the viability of continued or future investments in apartheid. The report says in sum, the city's initial proposal amounted to little more than "selective divestment," falling far short of the desired goal of total severing of ties to the system of apartheid; the BAFSAM immediately recognized that passage of an ordinance with teeth would require the active and organized response of the people of Oakland and established a Divestment Task Force (DTF) to orchestrate this response and develop a meaningful alternative proposal for consideration by Council. The report says almost before the ink was dry on the Oakland Ordinance, the cities of Berkeley and San Francisco were reviewing and strengthening their own positions on divestment; soon afterwards, Hayward, Richmond, San Jose and the counties of Alameda and Sonoma passed legislation based on the Oakland model. The report discusses "red-lining", plant closures in the U.S., cheap and highly exploitable black labor, the Oakland Divestment Ordinance, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), BAFSAM (Bay Area Free South Africa Movement), the  Oakland Divestment Ordinance, a proposed City Ordinance, and  a public education effort.
Used by permission of David Bacon, a former member of the Bay Area Free South Africa Movement.
Collection: Miloanne Hecathorn papers