As Woolworths faces public pressure ahead of its Annual General Meeting AGM this week, local Palestine solidarity organisations have upped the ante in their boycott campaign against the retailer. On Monday, the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) and a number of civil society organisations held a joint media briefing where they announced their full support for the campaign in the days leading up to Woolworths’ AGM. Shareholders and Woolworth’s executives are expected to sit through the retail giants annual general meeting on Wednesday where Palestine supporters are hoping these issues will be raised. Shareholders have recently come out against the company for the stocking of Israeli products and further encouraged the South African community to stand in solidarity.
The briefing called by NC4P and headed by the organisation’s Reverend Edwin Arrison, brought forward new statistics on the success of the campaign against Woolies.
“BDS SA recently conducted an online survey where about 4000 participants were asked about their support for the boycott campaign, with these numbers BDS estimated that Woolies is currently loosing R40 million,” Arrison explained.
The panel ranged from representatives from all spheres consisting of human rights advocacy groups, trade unions, anti-apartheid activists and members of the South African community. Student representatives from the Palestine solidarity group at Stellenbosch along with the University of Cape Town pledged their support for the campaign.
Other representatives such as Marthie Momberg from KarooSan, a Christian based organisation, is also a Woolies shareholder. She has called on her fellow shareholders to stand up during the AGM on Wednesday and speak out against continuing any trade with Israel.
Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) public relations officer Nabeweyah Malick expressed the support from the Muslim community in Cape Town.
“We believe that the campaign is purely there to allow the entire community to show their support for the Palestinian people. This is more than just a boycott campaign. This is a stand for justice by people who want to be on the right side of history,” she said.
“We call on Woolies to re-look at their stance and see how they are playing a role during a critical time when Palestinians need their help. This is reminiscent of the Apartheid years when businesses cut trade with SA. We are calling on Woolies to do likewise. A failure to do that is really a failure to the actual policies Woolies trumps in the media when they speak about ethical trade,” Malick added.
During the briefing, Arrison told journalists that the NC4P plans to hold a collective picket outside Woolworth’s headquarters in Cape Town during the retailer’s AGM where they will be reading out the names of Palestinian children who have died at the hands of the Israeli Apartheid in the Occupied Territories of Palestine.
“We call on Woolworths to not waste the time of our courts, to immediately drop the court application against BDS SA and to rather do what should have been done long ago: to accept the numerous requests that have been made to meet with NC4P and its constituents organisations and more importantly to heed the call made by various government ministers, trade unions and other organisations to terminate the relations with the apartheid state of Israel,” Arrison stated. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)