Trade and Investment: An Activist’s Manual

Jun 19, 2004

Every day we are told by our government, by employers and in the media that our quality of life will be determined by whether we get foreign investment into South Africa. TV news, radio programmes and newspaper editors tell us about the strength of the Rand, and call on us to be as excited about the strength of the Rand as we are about Bafana Bafana. Sometimes, between this world of business and investment we see images on the TV of people demonstrating against big businesses at the World Economic Forum or the government negotiators at World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings.

Yet through our union or our community organisation we are struggling to defend the most basic human rights – like jobs, like our water and electricity supply. Rights that seem far removed from the things the experts drone on and on about – about the economy and the value of the Rand – and even what the demonstrators are fighting about at international meetings. But every time we demonstrate or are militant we are told that our actions are “irresponsible” and will “scare investors away”.

This manual attempts to help us see the relationships between the daily struggles of our lives in South Africa and the big economic questions of trade and investment.