Statement on South Africa Before the Special Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
by Jennifer Davis, American Committee on Africa
New York, New York, United States
November 13, 1980
American Committee on Africa
Jennifer Davis testifies about how South Africa’s apartheid system of racial domination and exploitation has produced extraordinary privilege and wealth for sections of the white population. Davis says changes now occurring in South Africa are designed to preserve and protect the present system by improving its flexibility and efficiency. In the old days, mines and farms that need lots of cheap, unskilled labor dominated the economy, and the system of reservations or Bantustans, pass laws, and migrating labor was designed to fill those needs. Today, complex manufacturing plants require more highly skilled employees. Under the banner of "Total Strategy," we are seeing the increasing militarization of the society, concentration of political power within a smaller and smaller circle even inside the white sector, and the careful preparation of the economy for increasing self-sufficiency. In this context, accommodationist arguments such as that presented by President-elect Reagan's chief Africa advisor Chester Crocker, are particularly dangerous. Continuing U.S. corporate presence in South Africa gives support to the apartheid system in many ways. At the crudest level, this is shown by continuing sales to the South African government by U.S. businesses like Ford, General Motors and Mobil. Under the new National Key Points legislation, introduced after the African National Congress attacks on the SASOL plants, the Minister of Defense can declare any place or area a national key point "whenever he considers it necessary or expedient for the safety of the Republic." Since the large majority of direct U.S. investment in South Africa is in key industries such as oil, auto, and electronics, most will likely be declared key points in the event of any serious threat to the apartheid regime. In 1978, ACOA exposed a secret General Motors (South Africa) contingency plan which made provision for full co-operation with police and military in times of so-called "civil unrest." More recently, SWAPO released secret documents about a similar plan by the British multinational, Rio Tinto Zinc, at its uranium mine in Namibia. Widespread student activism has for several years focused on the goal of the withdrawal of U.S. corporations from South Africa and ending bank loans to all borrowers connected to that country. This campaign has already produced significant withdrawals from offending banks by diverse groups involving many millions of dollars. A striking new initiative is being taken by state and local legislators to prohibit investment of public money in banks and corporations involved in South Africa.
This item was digitized for Aluka, which made it available to the African Activist Archive.
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the American Committee on Africa).
Collection: Africa Action Archive