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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 142

Paragraph Numbers 8 to 14

Volume 6

Section 2

Chapter 5

Subsection 2


8. At a consultative forum between business and the Commission, business leadership referred to the Business Trust as the vehicle through which business, in agreement with government, would honour its responsibility to the victims of apartheid. Some trustees of the Business Trust expressed great concern that there seemed to be no real relationship between the objectives of the Trust and the recommendations of the Commission. Another trustee seemed concerned that, on the whole, the majority of organised business was not committed, or had not shown serious commitment, to the Trust.

9. The Business Trust, established for the purpose of reparations, has to date received a total of some R800 million from the South African private sector. This is a paltry amount when one considers the massive amount needed to repair the inequities and damage caused to entire communities. A recent fund established in Switzerland to contribute to reconstruction and development in South Africa secured a commitment of less than 0.02 per cent of the profits made by Swiss banks and investors in South Africa each year during the 1980s.72

72 See the section on the role of Swiss banks during the apartheid years, later in this chapter.

10. In these disappointing circumstances, it seems essential to restate the p roposals made by the Commission for ways in which business could generate funds for this broader project of reparation and restitution. These were:

    a a wealth tax;

    b a once-off levy on corporate or private income;

    c each company listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange to make a once - off donation of 1 per cent of its market capitalisation;

    d a retrospective surcharge on corporate profits extending back to a date to be suggested;

    e a surcharge on golden handshakes given to senior public servants since 1990, and

    f the SASRIA (SA Special Risks Association) Fund (contributed to by business and individuals as insurance against material loss arising from political conflict).

11. The Commission further suggested that repayment of the former government’s ‘odious debt’ be reconsidered and that money released from this could potentially be used to fund both reparations and programmes of reconstruction and development.

12. It was also recommended that a ‘Business Reconciliation Fund’ be established that ‘could provide non-repayable grants, loans and/or guarantees to business-related funding for black small entrepreneurs in need of either … skills or capital for the launching of a business’.7 3

13. Further ways in which funding could be generated could include:

    a a restructuring of the state pension fund to release assets for social development;

    b a restructuring of service charges on parastatals such as the South African Energy Supply Commission (Eskom) to ensure that subsidies for white-owned large-scale businesses are replaced by subsidies for the poorest black consumers;

    c A claim for reparations lodged against the lenders who profited illegitimately from lending to apartheid institutions during the sanctions period.

14. The Commission reiterates its finding that business benefited substantially during the apartheid era either through commission or omission and has, at the very least, a moral obligation to assist in the reconstruction and development of post-apartheid South Africa through active reparative measures. While individual businesses may well have contributed to individual projects falling under the general rubric of restitution or reparation, it is the Commission’s view that business, possibly through the Business Trust, needs to commit itself to a far more focused programme of reparation .

73 Volume Five, Chapter Eight, p.319.
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