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Joan Veon

In the book of Exodus Moses is telling the Israelites with regard to their journey out of Egypt, “And you shall tell your son in that day saying, “This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.It shall be as a sign to you upon your hand and as a memorial between your eyes.” Here in Johannesburg, while there are great expectations as what will come out of this historic summit, I can tell you that the fact they are holding it in South Africa—a country which had a communistic take-over in 1994—if this is a sign of what we are to expect, then we had better get our teabags and head for Washington D. C. instead of Boston.

There are two major themes and concepts here in South Africa:sustainable development and public-private partnerships.Sustainable development refers to the concept that there are too many people on the earth who are going to eat up and use up all of the earth’s resources.Specifically those eating and using up 80% of the earth’s resources are the rich countries of the north, which have 20% of the world’s people.Therefore the underlying theme is transfer of wealth in order to have equity in the world. Public-private partnership is the merger between government, business and non-governmental organizations.It is a business arrangement for profit. Although the idea of business co-partnering with business was part of a hidden agenda in 1992, the Preamble of Agenda 21 said “No nation can achieve this on its own, but together we can—in a global partnership for sustainable development.”It was not until 1996 at the UN Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul that the UN unveiled the concept of public-private partnerships.UN officials have told me that the reason why they did not unveil them sooner is that they had to wait until the right time.Perhaps I should mention that Bill Clinton started moving America in this direction when he began reinventing government through public-private partnerships in 1994.When business creates a partnership with government, there is a shift in the structure of government to fascism.We are specifically talking global corporate fascism.

Here in Johannesburg business leaders have been holding a parallel business conference that is sponsored by Business Action for Sustainable Development that is an initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce-ICC and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development-WBCSD, which began August 29. In a press briefing, Bjorn Stigson from WBCSD said, “We describe ourselves as a catalyst for change.”He is right.For the last ten years, transnational corporations have been working on sustainable development.Here they are unveiling, revealing their global ties and partnerships.How can you hold back the mighty oceans or the roaring winds of a hurricane?You can’t.

For eight hours on Sunday, business leader after business leader discussed the partnerships they are involved in.From Dupont to World Wildlife International, to ESKOM (South Africa), to Toyota Motor Corporation, IUCN, International Fertilizer Industry Association, World Energy Council, Ontario Power Generation (Canada) along with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to name a few.They all sang from the same song sheet:“We must all work together through free trade:government, business and civil society.

Information on Sustainability in the Electricity Utility Sector, the Sustainable Mobility Project, the Cement Sustainability initiative, Sustainable Energy, Coal and Sustainable Development, Financing the Future—Executive Summary of the London Principles (financial services and sustainability), Bridging the Water Divide, Business and Biodiversity, and Business and Sustainable Development, are just a few pamphlets which were available.

This is a summit about “Walking the Talk”.What have business leaders been doing this week?NEGOTIATING for their rightful place in partnerships.There are dollar signs in their eyes—all of them!Oh yes, just like the Crusades, for a price they are going to save the world from pollution, smog and degradation.

In a press briefing, I asked this question, “When people form partnerships they have high expectations as to how much money they will make and the partnership.Sometimes partnerships don’t work out.Could you please tell me Mr. Tokyo Sexwale how you will protect the natural resources of South Africa and your company in a public-private partnership? And you Sir Mark Moody-Stuart (Director of the Board of AngloAmerican) “When business decided they wanted to partner with government, they had to have an estimate of how much money they would make, could you please tell me what kind of estimates you calculated?”

Mr. Sexwale, who is director of the second biggest producing diamond mine and the fourth largest platinum mine, did not answer directly how he was going to safeguard the natural resources of South Africa but went on to explain that business creates jobs, builds schools and has a duty to shareholders.Sir Mark told me that he could not put a figure on the amount, “but it was enough to get the interest of all the major companies.” 

Look, you and I invest in corporations through mutual funds, trust funds, personal portfolios, 401ks, IRAs and the like.But you see when business becomes government; the kind of power they acquire becomes greater than the balance of power in government since there are no limits to what they can do.

By way of interest, you now have the communists who were fighting to end apartheid as the new leaders in the New South Africa and in key business positions.Mr. Sexwale was a political prisoner with Nelson Mandela.When he got out he was rewarded with the premiership of Gauteng in Johannesburg.He then left to take an executive position with the mining company.While he is extremely capable to carry out his functions, I find it interesting that as a die-hard communist fighting for a new way of life that he now has assets in the millions.Furthermore, he with Cyril Ramaposa and several others form the core of black empowerment through mergers and consolidations of companies.These former hard-core communists are living the good life as capitalists.They have become what they railed against.

Oh yes, one of the definitions of sustainable development that I have been given by these global insiders is that it is a merger between capitalism and communism.Many of the native South Afrikaners are appalled at what has happened to their country.From being a first rate nation where theirrand traded at $1.36 to the dollar now to a rand which is 11 to 1 with the dollar. 

So what will we tell our children when we explain the change in the world?“This was done as a result of the United Nations Conference in Johannesburg.”