International briefs

May 27, 1998

International briefs

Soyinka calls for 'complete embargo' against Nigeria

Nigerian writer and Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka has called on governments and peoples of the world to impose a "complete embargo" against General Sani Abacha's military regime in Nigeria.

Speaking in Paris on May 13, Soyinka advocated "a very thoroughgoing isolation — culturally, sporting, diplomatically and, above all, an embargo on oil, which is the main resource for the machinery of terror". Such sanctions helped the people of South Africa win their freedom, he pointed out.

Soyinka hit out at multinational oil companies that prefer to deal with military strongmen in Africa in order to avoid democratic debate on their energy projects. He singled out Shell for the "ecological tragedy" it has imposed on the Ogoni people in the south-west.

South African arms exports

Answering a question in parliament on May 7, South African defence minister Joe Modise revealed that the country's arms industry in 1997 exported more than R1324 million (US$265 million) worth of weapons and equipment. Weapons and equipment exported between January 1 and March 4 this year were worth R125 million (US$25 million).

South Africa's arms industry — developed to protect the apartheid regime — is the world's 10th largest and Africa's largest. It employs 50,000 people. Since 1994, South Africa has sold or attempted to sell weapons to more than 70 countries, including Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

The export of arms has been heavily criticised by the archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane. Modise has defended the trade because it generates foreign exchange.

SAMWU condemns new privatisation

The South African Municipal Workers Union on May 9 condemned the ANC government's latest privatisation of public assets. Government minister Valli Moosa announced the successful bidder for Kwazulu-Natal's Dolphin Coast municipality's water and sewerage services.

"Water privateers claim to be investing billions of rands to improve water delivery when they first privatise. In fact, they usually take up loans instead and cover the repayment costs by raising prices to consumers", SAMWU pointed out.

March against privatisation in Turkey

Around 40,000 workers, members of TURK-IS (the biggest trade union confederation in Turkey), marched against privatisation in Ankara on May 16.

Fiji unions threatened

SUVA — The Director of Public Prosecutions has directed Fiji police to investigate the recent nationwide protest strike by the Fiji Trade Union Congress and determine whether it was "illegal and breached the Trade Unions Act", reported the Fiji Times on May 13.

DPP Nazhat Shameem said the directive was issued after her office received an official complaint from the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations, claiming that the April 23 protest was illegal. The ministry claims the FTUC did not give adequate notice to employers. About 40,000 members walked out for the day.

FTUC national secretary Pratap Chand said congress members had exercised their fundamental rights, enshrined in the constitution. He added that the FTUC remained opposed to government policies which brought hardship to its members.

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