FORMER education minister Kader Asmal says the Zuma administration has created confusion by supporting an apartheid victims' lawsuit against American corporations.
On Monday 25 South Africans began their battle in a New York court for reparations from General Motors, Barclays Bank, Fujitsu, UBS, Ford, IBM, Rheinmetall Group AG and Daimler. They accuse the companies of propping up apartheid. Judgment was reserved.
On Monday Sowetan reported that Asmal had filed legal papers in support of the corporations. This sparked an uproar, with the Khulumani Reparations Group questioning why he was siding with the companies.
But writing in the Cape Times newspaper yesterday, Asmal defended his position. He said he did not know why President Jacob Zuma had overturned former president Thabo Mbeki's decision not to support the case.
"The Thabo Mbeki administration (of which I was a part) considered the matter very carefully in the early 2000s and decided that it was the very pendency of the apartheid litigation in the US that was against South Africa's own sovereign interests," he wrote.
But Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi lashed out at Asmal, accusing him of spitting in the faces of apartheid victims in favour of big business interests.
He said Asmal and the previous administration never supported any radical steps against companies that connived with the apartheid regime.
But Cope MP Thozamile Botha, a plaintiff in the case, said people should not attack Asmal.