Clover buyout leaves sour taste

Pro-palestine movement BDS SA opposes investors ‘tainted by the perpetuation of human rights violations’

Sunday Tribune | 10 Feb 2019 | LUNGANI ZUNGU lungani.zungu@inl.co.za

THE Department of International Relations is defending the R4.8 billion proposed offer by international consortium Milco to buy out Clover Industries, saying it is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive.

Some quarters want the deal to be blocked because the consortium is led by Israel’s Central Bottling Company. Those opposed to it don’t want an Israeli beverage firm to be involved because of the alleged injustices Israelis mete out to Palestinians.

However, department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said: “If it’s approved by the necessary competition and regulatory bodies, we see nothing wrong with the deal.”

“South Africa is open for business. Other direct benefits will be that Clover products will be exported.”

However, he stressed that South Africa would continue to work with international partners on the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS SA) movement against Israel in South Africa, which promotes solidarity with Palestinians, was leading the charge in opposing the deal.

This week BDS SA met with Brimstone Investment, a South African black-owned investment corporation that is part of the consortium. After the meeting, Brimstone announced it would review its role in the proposed deal.

BDS SA said it supported investment in the country, but it was opposed to investors tainted by violations of international law and human rights, as Israel was.

There was mixed reaction on Twitter to the deal. Twitter user @Sowellnomics said: “BDS and trendy lefties had no problem with Saudi Arabia investing R10bn into Denel and using Sa-manufactured weapons to kill Yemenis, but all of a sudden they have a problem with Israelis investing R4.8bn into Clover. Why? They are racist virtue signalling hypocrites.”

Another user, Roekeya Bardie, responded: “Because not so long ago SA was in the same position as Palestinians. And to deny that is an insult to an entire nation of Palestinians who suffer human rights abuses on a daily basis. Did u know that IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) led air strikes on Gaza last nite?”

@Sowellnomics replied: “Israel is nothing like apartheid SA. I think it’s an insult and it belittles what we went through. We couldn’t even go to the same schools or travel on the same buses. That’s not Israel, the situation is more complex than people make out.”

The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) has called on Brimstone and others involved in the Clover buyout to withdraw or find another anchor for the deal. Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said: “Apartheid Israel should not be allowed to do business in this country.”

Milco said it represented a group of operators and investors with extensive international and regional expertise in the dairy, juice and beverage industries and was committed to the deal.

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