How can Old Mutual defend the indefensible?- Michael Trapido
Old Mutual says its investments are dictated by profit and not political considerations.
The insurance giant was reacting to a call to shed its investment in the Zimbabwean company that prints the Mugabe government’s propaganda mouthpiece, The Herald newspaper.
“Our investments are made for the benefit of our policyholders, meant to meet needs and expectations in terms of return and not contingent upon political consideration,” OM Zimbabwe group chief executive Luke Ngwerume said in a statement on Wednesday.” (Sapa)
Anyone who has been living in Southern Africa for more than an hour would be aware of the atrocities that have been committed by the Zanu-PF and President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe in order to cling to power.
One of the most important cogs in the machinery that they employ in order to achieve this is the Mugabe mouthpiece The Herald.
It ensures that only the information and disinformation he wants circulated goes out to the people through the major newspaper of that country.
Moreover the government censor, to a large degree, anyone who dares to take up an anti-government position.
This is not rocket science and everyone knows it.
Accordingly Old Mutual is acutely aware that this particular investment of theirs is occasioning untold hardship on the people of that country.
Personally I was shocked to hear that one of our major corporates was involved with a Mugabe propaganda machine.
It is totally unacceptable.
What is worse is that they try to justify the indefensible by saying that they have a duty to their shareholders to ensure that they retain profitable assets and anyway it’s an investment dictated by money not politics.
What a load of crap.
There are many corporate monsters that have tried singing the exact same song before and their conduct was equally disgusting. Let’s look at one example.
Zyklon-B was a commercial rodenticide and pesticide in common use before World War II. The active lethal ingredient in the product is hydrogen cyanide, which is deadly to warm-blooded animals in very low concentrations, and to insects in considerably higher concentrations.
DEGESCH (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung mbH / German Vermin Controlling Company), a subsidiary of IG Farben 4, licensed two German companies for the manufacture and distribution of Zyklon-B: Tesch und Stabenow (Testa) and Heerdt-Lingler (Heli).
Zyklon-B was also manufactured in one of its forms in the United States by the American Cyanamid Company 5 under licence from the patent holders, I.G. Farben.
Hydrogen cyanide has historically been employed for the destruction of rodents and insect pests.
When, however, the Nazis were looking for an effective method of gassing the Jews and other undesirables in their concentration camps they chose Zyklon-B as the most suitable for that purpose.
As a result huge orders went out to the suppliers who naturally also considered themselves indebted to their shareholders and only interested in profits and not politics.
Or that’s their version and they’re sticking to it.
If the comparison makes anyone uncomfortable it’s meant to.
In Zimbabwe we have 5 million people on the brink of starvation, political murder, millions in exiles and on and on.
The part that The Herald has played in promoting Mugabe and the Zanu-PF can never be underestimated. Despite millions starving, other millions leaving the country and their countrymen’s terrible suffering they simply keep pumping out the “good word”.
Old Mutual is an insurance company which weighs up risk very carefully before spending their money. In order to do this they need information in depth.
Accordingly if they invested heavily in The Herald they know far more about the horrendous goings on in Zimbabwe than almost anyone else.
Yet they say they are not concerned about politics merely profits.
I hope they’ve heard of Dormicum or falling asleep every night must be a bitch.
Thursday, November 12, 2009