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May 06 2009

SA buys 570 luxury buses from Germany

Published by at 4:43 pm under Companies,Top Stories

There might be a few individuals in South Africa who are “angry” at Daimler and other international companies for their alleged “collaboration” with the apartheid government in the years before 1994, but the new South African government certainly isn’t.

At least, that’s the impression one gets when reading this

And so the list of “contradictions” grows, created by the recent US court ruling that a group of South African citizens may sue a specified list of international companies (including Daimler) in the US for “collaborating with the apartheid regime” back then. (All here.)

The same companies have also provided thousands of jobs over many years to South Africans, invested millions of rands in the country, trained many people, bought parts of state-owned arms company Denel (in other words, the SA government now collaborates with the “pariah companies”) and have employed senior ANC politicians and others from the “disadvantaged group” to manage the companies they own in South Africa.

In short, the same companies being “rapped” for the damage they had allegedly caused to “the people”, have also done lots of good things in the community over many years.   

When the US court made the above ruling, it said it had dismissed the argument that a court case of this nature in the US might strain racial relationships back in South Africa. That assessment of the situation is probably correct. But, could these companies continue their operations in South Africa unaffected (and there is no doubt that SA needs these companies in the country), while a high profile court case is underway between them and “the people of SA”, which could end in heavy fines?

I doubt that.

Imagine how Maria Ramos will feel (she is CEO of ABSA, a bank owned by Barclays, which is also on the list), when she has to face her “employer”, while “her people” are fighting a case for huge monetary compensation against Barclays.   

So, it’s not about the potential impact the court case might have on racial relations, but about the potential impact on the SA economy.

And here I’d say: The court case is not worth the potential economic damage. Let it be.

Such a court action might be in the interest of a few individuals, but won’t be in the interest of the community at large.

One response so far

One Response to “SA buys 570 luxury buses from Germany”

  1. ZiGermanon 12 May 2009 at 10:20 am

    Is it a coincidence that the SA Government is once again doing business with a company accused of fraudulent practices (MAN)? Will this be the next “Arms Contract” debacle?

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