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Activists confront Woolies board at AGM

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Tensions are high at Woolworth’s AGM in Cape Town on Wednesday, with pro-Palestine lobbyists confronting the retailer on its trade links with Israel. As demonstrators picketed outside the company’s headquarters, members from BDS South Africa and the National Coalition for Palestine posed questions to the board and shareholders before the voting on resolutions began.

BDS SA and other activists with shares in Woolies are currently focusing questions on Woolworths’ ethical policy and how that relates to its trade with Israel. BDS SA coordinator Muhammed Desai asked auditors if all the VAT has been paid on Israeli imports. The auditor responded that all VAT had been paid up and no transfer pricing with regard to Israeli purchases.

Alan Horwitz representing Jewish shareholders asks if the board has assessed the risk of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Other shareholder activists asked if Woolworth’s figs are from Occupied Palestine Territories and if the audit committee looked into this.

The board has only responded with general answers and often referred to the questions as irrelevant, saying Woolworths abided by constitutional and international laws. VOC

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