Sunday, February 3, 2008

Khulumani v. Barclays, round 3

Thanks to Scotusblog (and Diane) for this heads up. As I posted back in October, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit reinstated Khulumani v. Barclays, which combines 3 class actions involving numerous major transnational corporations and had been dismissed as an undue interference in the South African post-apartheid reconciliation process. The 2nd Circuit’s reinstatement decision was of course challenged by defendants, and the Justice Department has just announced that it will ask the Supreme Court to put an end to the suit. The South African government also continues to oppose the suit and will join the case should the Supreme Court grant review.
Not all South Africans oppose the suit, however. Umzabalazo we Jubilee (described as an activist, grassroots based, not for profit organization struggling for the total cancellation of Third World Debt, the payment of reparations, the abolishment of neoliberal economic systems, and the social transformation of South African society) fully supports the 2nd Circuit decision, which it sees as a “watershed moment in legal history”. According to Umzabalazo we Jubilee,
despite requests, none of the companies involved in the lawsuit deigned to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Activists from the organization have been unsuccessful in getting Barclays to “come clean on its Apartheid activities [or] to apologise and make reparations to the South African public”. Umzabalazo we Jubilee claims, in particular, that:

The charges against Barclays Bank are indicative of the charges laid against the other 22 corporations in the lawsuit:

*In 1976, Barclays bought R10 million in Defence Force Bonds and called it an act of “corporate and social responsibility”.
*Between 1972 and 1978, Barclays helped the Apartheid Government to obtain nearly US$500 million in loans
*In 1974, Barclays participated in a US$15 million Eskom Eurobond issue.
*In 1979, Barclays purchased R20 million in SASOL shares.
*Between 1982 and 1984, Barclays’ loans to South Africa totaled US$725.4 million.

Umzabalazo we Jubilee believes that if a decision against the defendants be forthcoming, “the days of large companies actively supporting illegitimate regimes will be over”.

Above, the logo of the AU (African Union) Monitor website from which I borrowed Umzabalazo we Jubilee’s statement. It’s taken from the Adinkra symbol Hwe Mu Dua, or measuring stick, the symbol of examination and quality control.

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