Jubilee SA and the Khulumani Support Group said on Wednesday they were committed to securing reparations from foreign multinational companies who benefited under the apartheid system.
Human rights and social justice activist, and former MP, Professor Fatima Meer, said on Wednesday that 20% of South Africa national budget went to servicing the country's "odious" debt. "I use the word odious because the debt was largely incurred by the last government which did not represent us," Meer said. She said the money was used to support and strengthen the apartheid system and thereby the oppression of the people of South Africa.
Responding to President Thabo Mbeki's speech in parliament on Tuesday in relation to reparations, Meer said the government had not come out in support of Jubilee and Khulumani's call to seek reparations from the multi-national companies. "South African corporations must come to the party and make reparations. They profited from the apartheid system and should now repent and think in terms of reparations." She said current civil suits targeted foreign corporations.
Of the local corporations within the country's borders she said the activists would prefer not to deal with them in a court of law but "rather to open meaningful dialogue with our organisations". Referring to the 22 000 victims of apartheid who were to receive a once-off payment of R30 000, Meer said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had only scratched the surface. "There are millions of people who were left out and completely ignored in the TRC reports."
Meer said a call would be made on Jubilee South Africa's international connections to calculate exactly what the multinational corporations in America and Europe "owe us and how much they profited" during the apartheid era. Khulumani's executive director Ike Tlholwe said the group would launch a radio telethon next week to persuade corporations to make a commitment to make reparations. - Sapa