Bank stormed

Today, Guild Gazette reports on the growing movement against Barclays Bank for their financial involvement in apartheid South Africa:

The branch of Barclays Bank on the campus of Essex University, Colchester, was stormed last Thursday by students protesting about the bank’s investments in South Africa.

This followed a mass meeting in the university last Tuesday which passed a resolution abhorring apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia.  The meeting also condemned the support given to the apartheid regimes by the university and by the bank.

According to the university’s newspaper, Barclays control 33% of South Africa’s banking assets and make huge profits from apartheid […]

Barclays said that the bank operates overseas in 50 countries, many of which are in developing areas where the bank was proud to be playing a part in economic advance.

A spokesman said that he could not understand why “these people were making a bee-line for Barclays.  Trade between South Africa and the UK is legitimate, ” he added.

The recent action at Essex is the start of a national campaign to persuade people to withdraw their accounts from Barclays, organised by the Haslemere Group and Third world First. […]

Footnotes from the future (2010)

Barclays bank was known by many in the 1980s as ‘Boerclaysbank’, due to its continued involvement in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. A student boycott of the bank led to a drop in its share of the UK student market from 27 per cent to 15 per cent by the time it pulled out in 1986.

In 2006 a South African activist group, the Jubilee South Africa backed Khulumani Support Group, sought reparations from Barclays in addition to Citigroup, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Ford, GM, and Deutsche Bank for their roles indirectly supporting the apartheid government in South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. The legal proceedings are being heard at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, and the South African Ministry of Justice is seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that it undermines its national sovereignty.
– Wikipedia

Almost 20 years ago, the British bank was forced out of the country, making a profit of only £6m when it sold out of Barclays National Bank (Barnat) after British students deserted it in droves because of its association with the apartheid government.
– Guardian

A company’s annual report usually focusses exclusively on one restricted question: the profits it has made and is likely to make in future. It seldom raises other issues of proper concern to the shareholders, such as the social effects of its activities. The first Barclays Shadow Report, published on 18 March 1981, aimed to fill this gap by examining the economic and political impact of a particular company in one particular country: not a country selected at random, but the one country of the world where racial discrimination avowedly remains integral to the political system.
Barclays Shadow Report, 1982, published by Anti-Apartheid Movement & Haslemere Group]

“I remember well 1977 and the so-called Carlton conference, at which Botha summoned all the leaders of big business and asked them to help the regime to beat the international arms embargo imposed by the United Nations.

After that meeting Barclays bank pledged a whopping R90m to the apartheid army for its defence force bonds, and I remember well The Citizen, ever the chief supporter and main praise-singer of the racist and oppressive apartheid regime, praising Barclays and carrying a cartoon showing two uniformed apartheid troopies lugging away a hefty Barclays cheque for R90m.

That bank was an unrepentant supporter of apartheid, and I would argue that their financial help for apartheid delayed our liberation by at least a generation.”
– Jon Qwelane, columnist for South Africa’s News24, Barclays’ role in apartheid, 16.5.2005

“Barclays, Apartheid Profiteer!!!

On behalf of those that suffered under Apartheid, Jubilee South Africa will oppose Barclays Bank’s takeover of ABSA until

  1. Barclays apologizes for supporting the Apartheid regime,
  2. Barclays makes reparations to those who suffered because of this support, and
  3. The Khulumani v. Barclays lawsuit in the USA is completely resolved.

Barclays’ Bank takeover of ABSA is an insult to the people of South Africa, especially to those who suffered under the illegitimate Apartheid regime. At present, Barclays is the lead defendant in a lawsuit brought in the United States of America by 87 South Africans who had been subjected to gross human rights violations during Apartheid.

The lawsuit charges Barclays National Bank Ltd and 22 other foreign companies with aiding and abetting the Apartheid regime, in the knowledge that their support (financial and otherwise) would be used to suppress the South African population through the most violent of measures. The lawsuit was lodged in the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which covers New York in the USA, on the 27 April 2005.
Barclays chose not to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), disclose its dealings with the Apartheid regime, and seek amnesty. This is despite being a major financier to the Apartheid regime. Barclays Bank’s role in supporting the Apartheid regime is well known.”
– Jubilee South Africa leaflet, May 2005]

Barclays is bankrolling President Robert Mugabe’s corrupt regime in Zimbabwe by providing substantial loans to cronies given land seized from white farmers.

The British bank lent £750m to the country’s new landowning elite in the first half of this year, mostly through a government scheme to boost farm productivity.

This weekend Barclays was under pressure to say whether it had lent money to five of Mugabe’s ministers — each named in European Union sanctions.

The Sunday Times has established that the five have received cash for their farms under the scheme to which Barclays is one of the main contributors. […]

Despite the worldwide condemnation, Barclays, which faced criticism for operating in South Africa during the apartheid years, has remained one of only a handful of banks with extensive operations in Zimbabwe. It has recently been opening new branches in the country.
– Sunday Times, Barclays bankrolls Mugabe’s brutal regime, November 11, 2007]


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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