Monthly archive - September 2012

Apartheid Is Alive And Well And Living In South Africa

Apartheid Is Alive And Well And Living In South Africa

In 1894 Cecil John Rhodes who at the time was Prime Minister of South Africa, implemented the Glen Grey Act which imposed a labour tax on black farm labourers which the farmers could not afford . The Act therefore forced blacks away from agriculture and towards the creation of a cheap labour force for the mining industry. Rhode’s company De Beers soon developed into a world monopoly leaving him a wealthy man. Amongst the liberals in Britain and America Rhodes was seen as a philanthropist. Ironically the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, still to date is granted on the basis of moral force of character, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness and fellowship, despite the abuse of human rights his empire was built on.
Rhode’s company De Beers was taken over by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer in 1927 with the formation of the Anglo America Corporation. Sir Ernest is described as a diamond and gold mining entrepreneur, financier and philanthropist . He left his empire to his son Harry Oppenheimer who was Chairman of the Anglo American Corporation for a quarter of a century and Chairman of De Beers for 27 years. He too was well know for his opposition to apartheid , philanthropy and business acumen, despite having done little for the workforce his empire was built on. His son Nicky Oppenheimer and Jonathan his grandson followed in his footsteps within the mining industry. One should give credit when credit is due, in more recent years improvements were made to the living conditions, wages and the health & safety of the worforce, treating people with dignity before leaving them without income by retrenching around 31 000 between 1990 – 2000 in the gold mining industry to keep Shareholders happy .
The Anglo American Corporation has been dismantled into diverse companies over the years , however, the mines in South Africa still have a majority English or American shareholding. As with the London Listed Lonmin who own the Marikana Platinum Mine at which the police massacred 34 mine workers last month. The press reported it as the worst display of state violence in the country’s post apartheid history.
But can one speak of a post apartheid era when the government is still protecting the interests of wealthy multinationals instead of the basic human rights of the workforce. After 18 years of a supposed “New South Africa” there is still no equitable labour regime and policies in the minerals sector serve a limited range of stakeholders. In 1961 UN declared apartheid a crime against humanity and economic sanctions were imposed against South Africa. Economic Apartheid is alive and well and living in South Africa.

(Safe guarding human rights – Law Firm Annino – Avv. Gianfranco Annino – Dr. Allison Lindsay Sutherland)


Italy, Autumn 2012. Part II

Italy, Autumn 2012. Part II

The next few months, being the first of 2013, will highlight an Italy in deep recession with the correlated risks of social unrest and violent demonstrations. The crisis that the country is going through is not only economic, the lack of work will act as a driving force and catalyst for problems within our civil society. Our first thoughts go to the dire situation of the Sardinian people. We have always had a special attraction to this area which we believe to be one of the most fascinating in the world, our frequent visits for work to Sardinia have highlighted a situation of limited sustainability. Primarily due to the events at Vinyls, Alcoa and Sulcis, but also due to the serious economic situation amongst small and medium enterprises, farmers, fishermen and the tourism sector, all united by the total absence of institutions. Speaking of work, it is virtually impossible for Italian companies to compete within this negative context of fiscal burden, obnoxious bureaucracy, lack of reliable and efficient infrastructure and with the threat of criminal activity that is paradoxically linked to a justice system which has been jammed since biblical times. In this context, it is not surprising that Mr. Marchionne said that Fiat did not see it’s way clear to operating within the obsolete Italian industrial context when compared to the dynamics in the United States. In essence this is the same belief held by many Italian entrepreneurs who have left or are leaving Italy to settle in Switzerland, Eastern Europe or China. With the resultant serious loss of credibility, historical memories, knowledge (many entrepreneurs have developed extraordinary patents recognised worldwide) and jobs.


Autumn in Italy 2012

Autumn in Italy 2012

The return to work after the summer break, manifests social tensions which will have a particular impact on Italy. All sectors of society are in deep suffering; the state of crisis amongst large companies and small and medium enterprises has resulted in substantial job losses and this negative trend seems unending. The justice system, health services, education, public administration and local authorities lack efficiency. The State does not seem able to safeguard their own citizens but rather displays illegal behavior through their inhumane treatment of prisoners; awaiting trial prisoners, who’s guilt is yet to be proven; the state is criminal in the way that prisoners are treated, the daily and systematic violation of fundamental human rights which has continued for decades. In light of this it is difficult to continue talking about constitutional values, democracy and the rule of law. In this troubled time in our history the advocacy is called upon to safeguard legality to the best of their ability.