[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Sneak preview, open the envelopes, the Corpse winners are ...
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Nov 10 11:35:19 GMT 2006
Here they are, coming down the aisle to accept their little coffin
awards... Do come to the Clairwood Racecourse near the Durban airport
(Exit 8) from 5-7:30pm, and see how the CEOs (or perhaps standins Ashwin
Desai, Trevor Ngwane, Mark Colvin, Mary Galvin, Patrick Bond, John
White, David Hallowes, Carvin Goldstone and Siziwe Khanyile) react to
community/labour testimony about the impressive piles of corpses and
ecological crap left about in factories, mines and fields.
Grim Reaper Floating Trophy Award!
AngloPlatinum Ltd is one of London-based Anglo American Plc’s most
profitable subsidiaries. For decades Anglo American helped to define the
character of the apartheid state through its economic dominance of the
mining and industrial sectors and its voracious hunger for cheap migrant
labour on the mines. Grand apartheid with its Bantu labour reserves was
mainly structured to serve the interests of Anglo and other mining
corporations. The ideology of white racial superiority was functional to
this industrial giant whose mines and mills killed and maimed black
workers on an industrial scale. Anglo American continues to exercise a
powerful – often decisive - influence over government policymaking.
AngloPlatinum is nominated this year by the Mapela community near
Mokopane which includes the villages of Ga Pila, Ga Puka, Ga Sekhaolelo,
Ga Molekana and Sterkwater and the Maandagshoek Community near
Burgersfort as well as the residents of the five small villages who were
relocated to Magobading. Their nominations are for several AngloPlats
achievements: removing communities from their ancestral land, stealing
peoples’ resources and gagging voices of resistance.
AngloPlatinum has imposed several ‘SLAPP’ orders - Strategic Litigation
Against Public Participation - against the mining communities’ legal
representative, Richard Spoor. An application by AngloPlatinum for an
urgent interim interdict to prevent the attorney from ‘defaming’ it as a
‘racist, thug and bully’ was dismissed in mid-2006. However, AngloPlats
is proceeding against Spoor with a R3,5 million civil claim for alleged
damages caused to the corporation’s trading reputation.
Baying For Your Rice Award!
Bayer Cropscience is nominated by the African Centre for Biosafety. At
present, Bayer Cropscience is bankrolling the South African Sugarcane
Research Institution, to test genetically modified (GM) sugar cane
varieties using Monsanto’s gene, eventually to get ahead in the
lucrative biofuels trade. Bayer has applied to the South African
government for approval to import genetically modified rice into SA.
Because of rejection of GMOs by consumers around the world, Bayer
Cropscience was forced out of the UK, withdrew its plans to
commercialise GM canola in Australia, and abandoned its research in India.
Now, the company is busy illegally contaminating the world’s rice
supply. Currently, only one variety of Bayer’s GM rice (LL62) has been
granted approval for cultivation in only one country – the United States
– yet due to global consumer rejection, US rice growers refuse to plant
the variety. But that move couldn’t protect growers from the insidious
nature of GM contamination. In late July of this year, Bayer sent
shockwaves through the rice industry when its experimental variety
LL601, not approved in any country, was found to have massively
contaminated US rice stocks. Global sales of US rice have plummeted and
US rice farmers are suffering huge economic losses. More than
twenty-five lawsuits have since been filed against Bayer by groups of US
rice farmers. More recently, a further case of illegal contamination has
been discovered in US rice found in France, involving Bayer’s GM rice
variety LL62. This same variety is pending approval in South Africa,
The African Centre for Biosafety is testing South African rice
considering the fact that South Africa imports rice. This is the second
time that Bayer has been nominated for a Corpse. Last year, Bayer
received the ‘Accountability and Liability Sucks Award’ for its chrome
pollution in south Durban.
Do You Think We’re Stupid Award!
South Africa’s Cement Industry is part of the ‘Cement Sustainability
Initiative’, promoted by the infamous greenwashers at the World Business
Council for Sustainable Development. The Council annually awards their
members for ‘best practice’ in climate protection, employee health and
safety and emissions reduction. Deploying a similar abuse of the English
language, our own cement firms have launched a grand frontal attack on
the brains of politicians, claiming that it is good for the environment
to incinerate hazardous waste from energy-intensive industries. They
call hazardous waste an ‘alternative fuel’ and aim to upgrade and expand
their activities for the huge stadiums required for the 2010 World Cup.
If we can afford the tickets, we will watch the games high up in
stadiums constructed by cement made from hazardous waste.
The cement industry is responsible for 17% of all dioxin emissions in
the USA. In a 1998 report on US dioxins, scientists found that kilns
burning hazardous waste have 80 times higher toxic emissions in their
stacks than kilns burning conventional fuels. Further investigations in
the US indicated that clinker from kilns burning hazardous waste contain
high levels of toxins, so high that the clinker is unsuitable for land
disposal. Yet it is still incorporated into building materials.
Finally, these cement behemoths must be commended for their slyness and
ingenuity. For if government continues to allow this practice, the
import of hazardous waste – as in the case of Abijan, Ivory Coast – will
become a common practice in South Africa, because after all it is
‘merely a fuel’.
It Wasn’t Me Award!
FFS Refiners, an oil refinery based in Pietermaritzburg, claims that
they their ‘world class facilities’ operate ‘under stringent
environmental management systems and are ISO 14001 accredited’ – but its
neighbours claim otherwise, and have decided to nominate FFS Refiners
for a Corpse Award. Air samples were taken outside the facility which
indicated the presence of Benzene, p-Xylene, Hydrogen Sulfide, Toluene,
Ethyl Benzene, Xylene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Tetrachloroethane, and
Styrene. These chemicals are associated with the oil refinery industry.
The Msunduzi Municipality has received ongoing complaints for more than
a decade from residents of Pietermaritzburg about the ‘dirty oily petrol
chemical smell’ linked to these chemicals. But FFS Refiners look in the
other direction after stink emissions, claiming that the pollution and
smell are not theirs! In raising these issues publicly, groundWork has
been threatened with legal action by FFS Refineries, when we termed them
‘one of the bad boys of pollution’. The company’s environmental policy
claims they will ‘maintain open relations on environmental matters with
employees, relevant authorities, neighbouring organisations and other
The national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) gets
a supporting actor award, for refusing to meet with residents in
Pietermaritzburg to hear their concerns and for ignoring demands that
the FFS Refineries operation permit be made available for scrutiny by
the Msunduzi Municipality. The provincial KZN Department of Agriculture
and Environmental Affairs also gets a supporting actor award, for
granting FFS Refineries a positive Record of Decision on their
development despite the concerns raised by civil society.
Smoked Out at Last Award!
Chevron Oil Refinery (formally known as Caltex) has finally won a
coveted Corpse Award. The refinery was nominated for the second time by
the Table View Residents' Association, who represent communities
adjacent to the refinery. Air samples there have picked up high levels
of benzene and other chemicals. Association members report that refinery
management has been arrogant and in the past indicated that ‘they will
continue to pollute because their permit allows them’.
For years, residents of Table View have had to endure incidents ranging
from gas clouds overwhelming them to crude oil raining down on them. No
one in authority adequately responded to these incidents until finally
and belatedly, this year, the Department of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism ‘smoked out’ Chevron. Further investigations are underway into
incidents since June 2004, including emissions releases and fires.
But the Residents Association has indicated that aside from a bit more
state monitoring of air pollution over the last decade, nothing has
changed. There has been ‘too much talk and reporting’, and this
impressive record of negligence allows us to award a supporting actress
prize to Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who explicitly
supported the refinery at the recent anniversary celebration despite
knowing the concerns of the community.
Privatising Public Participation Award!
Engen finally wins a Corpse on their third nomination. Engen oil
refinery in south Durban was built in 1954 and is the oldest refinery in
South Africa. Engen has been nominated this year by the South Durban
Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), thanks to its notorious record
in the communities. Municipal air pollution monitoring instigated by
SDCEA has verified the problem. Over the last two years, Engen’s
pollution has exceeded the health guidelines values on more than 400
occasions. In spite of the recent eThekwini Health study, Engen has
asked permission from government to relax the rules to allow them to
pollute with legal authority, something they had permission to do during
the apartheid era.
But how might Engen avoid the obvious contradiction and smelly
publicity? In its boldest move to date, Engen and the provincial KZN
Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs have ‘privatised’
public participation by claiming that ‘public meetings are not a
constructive method of public participation’ in the Environmental Impact
Assessment process, in which complaints arose about Engen’s increasing
use of the dangerous catalyst hydrofluoric acid. This was after the
SDCEA and the south Durban community used the EIA process to demand
Engen consider alternatives. Engen and the DAEA agreed that the firm’s
community liaison forum will be the forum for participation, which has
the effect of isolating organisations such as SDCEA as well as the
Mangling the Workers Award!
Samancor Manganese PTY Limited, is nominated for poisoning workers with
manganese. The company is based in the infamous Vaal Triangle and has
been nominated by the Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee. Two
supporting actors who deserve mention in this case are last year’s
winner for the Sustainable Catastrophe Award, Mittal Steel, which buys
manganese from Samancor, and the National Centre for Occupational
Health, which is aware of the illnesses caused by Samancor but fails to
fully acknowledge the problem.
Manganese is inhaled through the air and poisoning leads to a range of
ailments including lethargy, sleepiness, weakness, problems with
balance, shaky hands, inability to perform fast hand movements,
emotional disturbance (mood swings), difficulty walking, recurring leg
cramps, paralysis, hallucinations, forgetfulness, insomnia, breathing
difficulties, pneumonia, impotence and children born with defects. The
company is accused of retrenching workers who were ill. In 2001, 509
workers were retrenched, and since then approximately 100 workers have
died. Workers have mobilised and organised and formed the Samancor
Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee which is pressuring the company for
compensation. But after the first few meetings, Samancor severed ties
with the Committee. The company is jointly owned by mining giants Anglo
American and BHP Billiton.
Picking the Public Pocket Award!
Paladin Resources, an Australian uranium mining company based in Perth,
is proposing to mine uranium in Malawi against the wishes of Citizens
for Justice, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, the
Foundation for Community Support Services, Karonga Development Trust,
and the Uraha Foundation Malawi, who have collectively nominated Paladin.
In an extreme case of naked greed, Paladin is lobbying the Malawi
government for a 16-year tax holiday. Paladin shares jumped an amazing
300% over the 12 month period to March 2006. Paladin has been
speculating on the open market and in Namibia two uranium sales
contracts were announced by Paladin’s Langer Heinrich uranium project,
well before the mine was commissioned.
In Malawi, Paladin’s proposed operations have divided the community into
camps for and against the development, given that jobs are desperately
needed in Malawi. Proponents claim Paladin can boost Gross Domestic
Product by 5% with this one development. With the state’s political
support, Paladin has no hesitation in destroyed shrines of the local
people. They have already started construction of the mine even without
being granted a mining licence.
Loot the Minerals and Bloodstain the Soil Award!
AngloGold Ashanti, which is 42% owned by Anglo American Corporation,
produces corpses at a prolific rate across the Third World, not only at
Carletonville’s Tautona mine near Johannesburg, which, according to the
National Union of Mineworkers, suffered an ‘unrelenting scenario of
fatalities’ – 16 in 2006.
In the DRC, according to the United Nations last year, AngloGold Ashanti
‘could arguably be in violation of the arms embargo’ applied to the
eastern part of the country, where at least three million people have
been killed in violence related to turf battles in the mineral-rich
region. According to Human Rights Watch researchers in 2005, fighting
between armed groups for the control of the gold mining town of
Mongbwalu alone cost the lives of at least two thousand civilians
between June 2002 and September 2004.
When accused of working hand-in-hand with Mongbwalu warlords, AngloGold
Ashanti CEO Bobby Godsell reacted in mid-2005: ‘Mistakes will be made.’
In Ghana such mistakes are killing artisanal workers. Civil society’s
National Coalition on Mining has assisted informal sector mineworkers
who are periodically tortured, shot and killed by Anglogold Ashanti
security forces. Moreover ActionAid’s recent report Gold Rush shows that
AngloGold Ashanti has other ecological corpses to its credit: toxic
pollution of local rivers and streams in Obuasi with pollution levels up
to 38 times the maximum legal limits, with high levels of arsenic, iron,
manganese and other heavy metals; dozens of rivers now unusable for
drinking, bathing and irrigation purposes; contaminated land affecting
the livelihoods of local farmers; and no compensation for locals
affected by AngloGold toxic spillages.
In Colombia, the AngloGold Ashanti subsidiary Kedahda was nominated for
a Corpse Award by the Colombia Support Network six weeks ago. On
September 19, the notorious Colombian Army murdered Alejandro Uribe, a
well-respected leader of the Mina Gallo Community Action Board.
According to the Support Network, ‘the Colombian Army is engaged in
uprooting peasants and small-scale miners by attacking their leaders
such as Alejandro Uribe, so that the multinational mining corporation
Kedahda can enter the region and undertake mining operations on
peasants’ and miners’ lands.’ The Network accuses the terrorist state of
having ‘improperly licensed or conveyed’ land to Kedahda.
groundWork and the Centre for Civil Society cordially invite you to the
CORPSE AWARDS 2006
Date: 10 November
Time: 5pm (for 6pm)
Venue: Stewards Classic Room, Clairwood Race Course, Durban
A finger supper will be served between 5 and 6pm.
To reserve your seat and for further information please contact:
Bobby Peek - bobby at groundwork.org.za
033 342 5662
or 082 464 1383
Helen Poonen - poonenh at ukzn.ac.za
Centre for Civil Society
031 260 3195
Invitation to Southern Africa’s leading civil society awards for
corporate bad practice and abuse
groundWork  and the Centre for Civil Society  at the University of
Kwa Zulu-Natal have joined forces to offer the second edition of the
Southern Africa’s premier corporations will be considered for the 2006
Corpse Awards, after nine firms made off with prestigious prizes in the
2005 event. The Corpse Awards recognise worst corporate practice in
producing environmental injustice. Nominations for the awards come from
workers, people living next door to the corporate plants, and civil
society organisations concerned about the trashing of people and
Leading contenders for the 2006 awards are drawn from the oil giants,
the cement industry, mining houses, genetic modification operators and
Big Pharma. Multinational corporates in fierce competition to win a
Corpse this year include BHP Billiton, Lafarge Cement, Sasol, Sapref and
Engen, Caltex, Samancor, X-Trata, Paladin, Bayer, AngloGold Ashanti and
Anglo Platinum. All boast a stellar commitment to Corporate Social
Responsibility and the environment. Their advertisements and
publications claim best practice and continuous improvement, their
commitment to health and safety and to corporate social responsibility.
Some have even won awards for environmental and social reporting.
None of them have convinced their workers and neighbours who live with
the burden of ill-health – cancers, asthma and other breathing
difficulties, eczemas and allergies, and a variety of conditions
affecting the blood, nerve and immune systems.
Moreover, government departments which facilitate environmental
injustices will be considered for recognition as supporting actors,
without whom corporate greenwashing would be less ubiquitous.
You are hereby invited to join community people, labour, environmental
activists and civil society organisations campaigning against corporate
abuse at the Corpse Awards for companies operating in Southern Africa –
with some guest appearances from outside the region.
The “Master Undertaker” for the evening is Durban’s own social media
commentator Lev David .
Please join us. We suggest you arrive early for we are bound to have a
packed house. If you are lucky we may even be graced with the presence
of daring CEO’s who will travel to central Durban to accept their
Corpses in person!
 groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with
community people from around South and Southern Africa on environmental
justice and human rights issues focusing on Air Pollution, Waste and
Corporate Abuse. groundWork is the South African chapter of Friends of
the Earth International (FoEI), the world environmental justice
federation campaigning to protect the environment and to create
sustainable societies and is a member of Oilwatch Africa.
 The Centre for Civil Society is based at the University of
KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies: www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs . Our
objective is to advance socio-economic and environmental justice by
developing critical knowledge about, for and in dialogue with civil
society, through teaching, research and publishing.
 We take no responsibility for the utterances of the Master
Undertaker and various CEO’s on the evening!
CORPSE AWARDS 2005 PRESS COVERAGE, SUNDAY TIMES: the Grim
Reaper, the Master of Ceremonies - or Master Undertaker – handed out
mini-coffins to some of South Africa’s most powerful companies such as
Mittal Steel, Sasol and AngloGold Ashanti… Nine so-called “Corpse”
awards were given for “worst corporate practice in producing
environmental injustice”. Nominations for the awards came from community
activist groups representing residents living near industrial plants,
and organisations such as Earthlife Africa… Celebrity anti-corporate
activist Naomi Klein, who is in South Africa for a series of workshops,
said at the awards: “We know corporates are not just satisfied with
leeching your communities and poisoning your bodies. They want to be
loved, which is why government invented corporate social responsibility.
For them there is no problem that is so big that it can’t be solved with
fantastic public relations.” There was a mixed response from the winning
companies about the awards when Business Times contacted them for
comment… Risk management consultant Andrew Pike said: “Reputation is
everything for companies and something like this can really knock your
reputation – and there’s no reason not to run these awards, provided
it’s done objectively.”
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