The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   S I G H T I N G S

South Africa's Call to Arms

Any lingering doubts as to the political- nature of 'U.S. multinational activity in South Africa may have been put to rest by, a new South African law: the National Key Points Act of 1980.

Passed in late July, and currently in the process of implementation, this act requires all companies, foreign and domestic, to cooperate with the South African Defense Forces (SADF) in putting down social unrest.

As for specifics, the act mentions only bolstering guard duty at unidentified key industries. However, the legislation may entail a good deal more than giving a gun to a security guard. According to a statement the SADF issued in late November, "The SADF is presently investigating the possibilities for establishing Industrial Commandos at industries which were declared National Key Points."

For U.S. companies classified as key points---Firestone and Exxon confirmed they have been so designated--the act poses a difficult problem, which they are still studying. If they choose to flout, it, they face stiff penalties.

The owner of a key point company faces up to five years in prison and a U.S.$25,000 fine for noncompliance.

If they choose to obey it, U.S. companies may be violating U.S. law, which prohibits, in accordance with U.N. sanctions, the lending of military support to South Africa.

Currently, the U.S. State Department. "gravely concerned" by the act, is examining "the implications under U.S. law of any paramilitary requirements which may be imposed on U.S. subsidiaries," stated an official press release issued in November.

The latest move by the South African government follows a period of growing black resistance, marked most dramatically by the sabotaging of the SASOL oil refinery in June. Fearing black nationalists would continue to attack South Africa's industrial strength, the government apparently decided to militarize the private sector. "After we had our attack on SASOL, we've been jacking up our Key Points protection," said Brigadier Philip Schalkwyk, SADF attache to South Africa's U.S. embassy. _

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