5: Investments and racialism

One of the demands in the campaign which led up to the Senate occupation at Liverpool was that the administration should reveal its schedule of investments. The University has £6 million worth of investments and it was felt that it was not unlikely that the University was investing in firms with South African interests: an act of complicity in apartheid entirely at variance with the multi-racial principles upon which a University should be founded.

This section of the document will assess the exact role of capital investment in Rhodesia and South Africa and consider the way in which an institution like Liverpool University is involved.

A review of foreign investments in South Africa, issued by the UN, concludes that “foreign investment clearly plays an important role in the economy of South Africa”. (22)  This role is to

“make the largest possible profits. This is made possible, first, by the international monopolies’ rapacious exploitation of the natural resources in the colonial territories, secondly by their ruthless exploitation of the cheap labour of the indigenous peoples in these territories ; and finally, by the fact that laws of a discriminatorynature have been enacted by the Colonial powers to further the interests of the international monopolies”.

This is an extract from a report of the UN Committee on foreign economic interests and decolonization. (23) It continues:

“The economies of the colonial territories are dominated by foreign monopolies, and the local white minorities. Foreign capital is invested basically in mining and other industries which together produce almost all the exports of these territories and bring the highest possible profits. These profits are either taken out of the territories or remain in the hands of foreign settlers. They are, therefore, not used ….for the improvement of the economic and social conditions of the indigenous peoples … the indigenous African population remain in a state of impoverishment …. and is deprived of the right to take part in economic, commercial and other activities. Its destiny is exploitation….” (24)

The U.K. holds over 315 of all foreign investments in South Africa (25), the United States comes second with 13% of South African holdings. The value of direct private investment by British companies in South Africa amounts to £ 1,200 million and is 10% of total British investment overseas. (26)

The return on investments in South Africa is the highest in the world. In 1967 the UK-South Africa Trade Association in London stated that “the average return on investments in the Republic has been calculated to be about 15%” (27). An American calculation put the return as high as 26% (28).

It is, therefore, not surprising that the most active and enthusiastic lobbyists for the apartheid regimes in western capitals should be the business and finance groups. This is the major reason why Vorster and Smith remain in power:

“Just as in the 1890’s Rhodes found his allies in London, promising them seats on the boards of his companies and shares in the profits of exploitation, so today the forces of white supremacy in Rhodesia and South Africa find allies among the foreign investors who share with them the profits of cheap labour economies” (29)

The economic development of Rhodesia and South Africa resulted not only from the harnessing of the area’s bountiful mineral resources, but also from the exploitation and subjugation of millions of black Africans. The white minority has achieved a fantastic wealth at the expense of the African majority.

Today there are nearly 400 British companies with subsidiary or associated companies in South Africa, and more than 190 with subsidiaries in Rhodesia. Among them are household names like ICI, Courtaulds, Unilever, Shell, BP, Boots, British Leyland and Dunlop.

The governing body of Liverpool University – Council – is composed of leading figures from the local business community, many of them men who are the directors of companies who profit handsomely from the oppression of the black African.

Council members with South African business connections include: Viscount Leverhulme – director of Unilever, the giant Anglo-Dutch group which has an extensive stake in South Africa, D S Davies of ICI which has several Rhodesian and South African subsidiaries, including African Explosives and Chemicals Limited, which manufactures tear gas and small arms for internal use by the South African and Rhodesian armed forces.

M Conacher and G Tillotson are from Barclay’s Bank, whose subsidiary, Barclay’s DCO,  is one of the mainstays of the South African economy and one of South Africa’s biggest banks. It finances many of the big mining groups, like the British South Africa Company with which Lord Salisbury is associated.

L B Pilkington is managing director of Pilkington Brothers, the St. Helens glass firm which has extended considerably in South Africa in recent years. R W Johnson and R P Toosey are directors of Cammell Lairds, which has South African interests. Toosey is also connected with Barclays. (30)

Some of these companies operate directly through subsidiaries of the British company, but in other cases, “British companies operate in Rhodesia through subsidiaries of their South African subsidiaries, in others, British and South African minority shareholders are combined with local Rhodesian capital – sometimes in private companies and disguised as bank nominees”. (31)

British investment by these means in Rhodesia is estimated at £200 million: about £150 million of this in mines, farms and property. This is despite sanctions. Britain also supplies 30% of Rhodesia’s overseas purchases, valued at £40 million a year. (32) An authority on the area has written :

“Rather than a doctrine peculiar to Afrikaaner experience [apartheid’s] nationalist aspects can be de-mystified, revealing its organic connection with the operation of international capitalism. In South Africa the alliance between the white minority and international capitalism has seen the rapid industrialization of the country …. super-profits and white privilege depend upon the maintenance of white domination and the continued exploitation of black African labour” (33)

Big business and the Rhodesia/South Africa lobby in Parliament work closely together. Members of Parliament with directorships of South Africa-connected firms include Anthony Barber (Chairman of the Conservative Party), Nigel Birch, Cyril Black, Sir Arthur Vere-HaIvey, Quinton Hogg, Sir Gerald Nabarro and Geoffrey Rippon (35 ). All are supporters of a “negotiated settlement” with Rhodesia (34)

In the Lords are the two most outspoken and most deeply committed to white Rhodesia, two influential Conservatives connected with the British South Africa Company: Lord Salisbury, director of BSAC from 1957 to 1961 and still a large shareholder, and Julian Amery, a BSAC director at the time of its merger with Anglo-American, the giant South African mining company.

Of particular concern to us here in Liverpool are the activities of our Chancellor, Lord Salisbury. The Salisbury family has been deeply implicated in the exploitation of Rhodesia and South Africa since the foundation of the BSAC in 1889. Salisbury’s grandfather, Prime Minister at the time, accepted a place on the board of’ the Company and lobbied Queen Victoria for a Royal Charter for the Company.

Since then the family has retained a presence on the Company’s board, at least until the present Lord Salisbury’s resignation in 1961 to take up a post at Westminster Overseas Bank. Westminster Overseas acts as clients for many companies in South Africa, including Charter Consolidated, the group formed in 1965 through the merger of the British South Africa Company and the Anglo-American Corporation.

Today Salisbury remains a major shareholder in Charter Consolidated, which has 40% of its assets tied up in South African (35). Two subsidiaries whose interests are untraceable – Cecil Holdings and Cecil Investments – bear the family name. There is an extensive family estate wh ich includes two farms and a timber company in Rhodesia ( 36)

It is in the context of this financial involvement in apartheid that Salisbury’s public statements on Rhodesia, and his political activities in raising support for the regime must be viewed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s