Flashback Friday: This week in history

Campanile
Daily Californian/File

Although the UC Berkeley divestment movement from South Africa took hold in the 1980s, student interest in the issues and problems associated with the apartheid government were present years earlier, as evident from this Daily Californian article from Sept. 1, 1978.

Industry Fighting Bill that Stops New Investments in South Africa

by Peter Pavilionis

Congressional business lobbyists are building a campaign to oppose a bill before Congress which would prevent new U.S. investments in South Africa.

H.R. 12463, proposed by representative Stephen Solarz (D—N.Y.) would not only stop all new investments in that country, but would establish a fair employment code and monitoring commission to make sure existing U.S. firms in South Africa employ whites and blacks equally.

Solarz said in testimony before Congress in May that he hoped to assuage the concern of those across the country who demand an end to United States corporate investments in South Africa. But by drafting the legislation, Solarz has been the object of protest by major corporations that have holdings in that country.

Wayne Fredricks, executive director of international governmental affairs for the Ford Motor Company, testified that while Ford is opposed to the policy of apartheid, it feels the penalties in Solarz’s bill, “including denial of export privileges and the right to contract with the U.S. government, are excessively harsh.”

Ford’s main concern, Fredricks said, is that the United States would be applying its laws in other countries, specifically the fair employment provision of the bill, which many feel will conflict with south African law. Ford’s subsidiary, Ford South Africa had assets last year totalling $167 million.

Echoing Ford’s sentiments, Lyle Shafer, vice president of personnel resources for the National Cash Register Company, which markets and services its products in South Africa, stated before the subcommittees that “the intent to impose the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (on South Africa) would not only put U.S. corporations in violation of South African law, but would raise serious questions about the right of the U.S. to force its standards of law and morality on another country.”

Shafer flatly stated that his company feels Solarz’s bill would not have any effect on the South African economy and would not achieve the intended goal of a positive change in the policy of apartheid.

William C. Norris, chairman of the board for Control Data Corporation, whose subsidiary Control Data/South Africa has been operating there since 1964, objects to Solarz’s bill because it says that the bill would hinder U.S. corporations employment of blacks in that country and “economic growth is the means for providing new jobs for black South Africans.”

Instead of favoring legislation like Solarz’s, affected companies say that they, in addition to maintaining affirmative action programs in South Africa, adhere to the “Sullivan Principles,” named after Zion Baptist Church Pastor and General Motors Board Member Leon Sullivan.

The six “internal” principles are 1. Non-Segregation of the races in all eating, comfort, and work facilities; 2. Equal and fair employment practices for all employees; 3. Equal pay for all employees doing equal or comparable work for the same period of time; 4. Initiation of and development of training programs that will prepare in substantial numbers, black and other non-whites for supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs; 5. Increasing the number of blacks and other non-whites in management and supervisory positions; and 6. Improving the quality of employees lives outside the work environment in such as housing, transportation, schooling, recreation and health facilities, according to the General Motors report published last year.

While opposition to the bill is mild now, a strong campaign to combat it will be conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Marvin Feuerwerger, a legislative assistant to Representative Solarz.

In the meantime, a number of bills reflecting Solarz’s concerns are also gaining some notoriety among business leaders. H.R. 12321, sponsored by Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), would “reduce the foreign tax credit for taxpayers found to be in violation of certain principles of fair employment in the Republic of South Africa.” Another bill, H.R. 13273 sponsored by House African Affairs Subcommittee Chairperson Charles Diggs (D-Michigan), would “prevent any new U.S. investment in South Africa…until such time as the President advises the congress that the Government of South Africa has made substantial progress toward the elimination of apartheid.”