Max du Preez

Doing business with Mugabe

2008-07-02 08:10

Max du Preez

I'm confused. I need guidance on some moral issues. Two questions really bother me:

Why is it morally more reprehensible to accept a bribe than to offer someone a bribe?

Why is it ethically fine for private companies to have friendly dealings with evil regimes, but not for governments?

I am angry; I am outraged and ashamed at President Thabo Mbeki's continuing protection of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. My anger and shame are shared by, I believe, most South Africans.

I do know for sure that every single newspaper in South Africa has expressed its displeasure at Mugabe and his thugs and Mbeki's softly-softly approach towards him, even after the events of the last weeks.

Poor Thabo. The whole world is shouting at him for not damning Mugabe to eternal hell, but back home business people quietly go on doing business with Bob's evil regime.

Fine line

Paarl Web Printers print Zanu-PF's filthy propaganda for a fat profit while every living soul in its mother company is heaping damnation on Thabo's head.

The printers then tell us they didn't know what they were printing. So how come Van Zyl Slabbert, chairperson of Caxton, knew when the Zanu job was first taken to his company? Slabbert, may the Lord bless his soul, threatened to resign and the work was then sent to Paarl.

The printers tell us they didn't know what they were printing. So could it be that they have been printing the most disgusting child pornography in the past, they just didn't know it? Come off it.

I still want to get hold of the Johannesburg production company that designed and prepared the Zanu-PF pamphlets. Why are they still doing business with Bob's evil regime? The advertising agency in London whose agent in Harare had links with Bob was summarily cut down. That's how you do it.

And then there's the case of Anglo American, the company which never hesitates to remind us that they funded the white parliamentary opposition parties during apartheid and actually sponsored the first talks with the ANC back in 1987. How come they are presently spending billions developing a new platinum mine in Zimbabwe?

Luxuries

Did you know that a South African supermarket chain is still doing thriving business selling luxury goods to the Zanu-PF elite and the top military and police officers in Harare's wealthy suburb of Borrowdale? Isn't that as disgusting as holding hands with Evil Bob? The British supermarket chain Tesco should serve as an example - they've just announced an end to all transactions with Zimbabwe.

Other corporations with strong roots in South Africa still operating in Zimbabwe are Tongaat Hulett, SAB Miller and Barclays.

South African citizens, especially business people, cannot apply different standards to their own behaviour than to that of government.

Most South Africans moan and whine about the number of corrupt politicians, civil servants and policemen in South Africa. We are up in arms about the arms procurement scandal. But we don't seem to stop and ask: who are these people who offered the bribes? Who initiated the immoral behaviour?

If you bribe a cop, you're as corrupt as he is. The European arms companies who offered bribes to South African politicians and officials are as corrupt as they are. So why is there no scandal attached to any of these companies?

  • Paarl Web is part of Media24, who also owns 24.com and News24.com.

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