FAO Newsdesks - 20th April 2001
'Celebrate South Africa' Festival Sponsored by UK Arms Companies
'Celebrate South Africa' - a festival designed to celebrate the "multifaceted, multi-lingual, multi-cultural" new South Africa - is being part-supported by British arms suppliers BAE Systems and Rolls Royce.
CAAT's Press Officer Richard Bingley said: "Although there is much to be applauded by the democratic and human right achievements gained in South Africa since apartheid ended, it is wholly inappropriate that manufacturers of arms equipment - often tools of internal repression - are officially patronising this event."
Controversy stirred at the start of this year when allegations were made by some leading South African politicians claiming that senior ANC government members benefited personally from contracts worth around £3.5 billion, which were promulgated in September 1999.
Part of the package comprised of BAE supplying 28 Gripen multirole fighters and 24 Hawk trainer aircraft. In January, South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, quashed calls for an independent investigation amidst allegations of a 'cover-up' by senior officials. Perversely, a thorough investigation would have given his administration an opportunity to surpass another milestone to democracy.
BAE and Rolls Royce, who are late sponsors to the event and therefore not listed on the festival website, will be contributing to an event that hopes: "Central London will explode with music, contemporary dance, film, theatre, technology, craft and food." (http://www.celebratesouthafrica.com)
Contact Richard Bingley on +44-(0)-20 7281 0297