October 30, 2003

Call to do more for apartheid's victims

Apartheid victim support group Khulumani has asked government to set aside 1% a year of all taxes paid and impose a wealth tax on companies, arguing that government has not done enough to compensate the millions of victims of apartheid. The group, which is about to embark on a legal battle with multinational companies in the US, handed over a document drawn up by a number of senior academics in Pretoria in which it warned that South Africa would be better off dealing with the matter now, rather than waiting for individuals to file civil lawsuits.

Khulumani said in its report that the truth commission had recommended a wealth tax on companies that benefited from apartheid. "There is no evidence that such an action might affect foreign investment in South Africa. This did not happen in Europe," said Prof Michelo Hansungule of the Centre for Human Rights at Pretoria University.

The comment was a reference to the disappointment expressed by nongovernmental organisations over government's resistance to the US lawsuits, of which President Thabo Mbeki said they would discourage foreign investment. The same organisations were outraged by the president's decision to implement a once-off payment of R30.000 to apartheid victims without consultation with either the victims or the organisations representing them. Khulumani and Jubilee 2000 have argued that the amount is insufficient to help get individuals or communities back on their feet. (Business Day, Johannesburg)


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