Africa Contact, the Denmark-based NGO, is calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola products because of its links with King Mswati III of Swaziland and the way it helps to prop up the King’s regime which denies Swazi people their basic democratic rights. The company also exploits Swazi sugar cane workers and has a large control over Swaziland’s economy.
Africa Contact asks people to write a protest letter to Coca-Cola Denmark's Public Affairs & Communications Director in Denmark, Michael Bonde Nielsen (who is, also Public Affairs Director at the independent liberal, free market think tank, CEPOS). Click here for an online letter (in Danish) that you can add your name to.
Below is an article Africa Contact published yesterday (11 January 2011) in Danish. It has been ‘translated’ to English using Google (it’s far from perfect English, but you will get the point).
Coca-Cola controls Swaziland, boycott the company says Africa Contact
An English article from Africa Contact's website that more or less makes the same points as the Danish article, can be found here.
"Boycott Coca-Cola and tell them why! - It's the only way to stop the company's real support for dictatorships and the exploitation of poor workers," says the Danish solidarity organization Africa Contact.
Coca-Cola is one of the world's best known brands and biggest companies. More than one billion cans or bottles of Coca-Cola drink a day for everything from downtown New York to small villages in Africa. That the company while exploiting countries and populations in developing countries desperate situation to further enrich themselves are less known.
With over 70,000 employees Coca-Cola is one of the largest employers in Africa, a continent where many poor people spend money on unhealthy Cola instead of subsistence.
Coca-Cola's headquarters in Africa lies in the small absolute monarchy, Swaziland. Here the company manufactures its cola extract the entire production in Africa, parts of Asia and New Zealand and Australia.
Swaziland is a country where the king has the final say in all decisions where the country's nascent democracy movement brutally suppressed, where over two thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, many on food aid from the UN, and where life expectancy is under 40 years because of an AIDS epidemic that is out of control.
Simultaneously live country's royal family and King Mswati III and a small elite in the wild luxury, while the country is heading towards an economic collapse, where one has not even afford to pay public service salaries and pensions for the elderly.
The collaboration between Coca-Cola and the regime in Swaziland is especially for the multinational company's advantage. Coca-Cola contributes to approximately 40% of Swaziland Gross domestic product, giving the company a great influence to the country's regime - if not toe the regime, one can simply threaten to move elsewhere. In addition, you get access to its good infrastructure, cheap labor, favorable tax conditions, and sugarcane.
Swaziland's population, and especially sugar cane workers (according to Human Rights Watch doing the most dangerous farm work of all) who harvest the sugar cane along with water is the main ingredient in Coca-Cola, have not identified many benefits of working with Coca-Cola. King creaming off while the workers who harvest the sugarcane worker in miserable and almost feudal relationship with a very small salary.
In the villages in Vuvulane, Swaziland "sugar belt" working majority as casuals for a few hundred dollars a month - not even enough to secure food, medicine and schooling for workers' families. It also handles the subcontractors, such as Coca-Cola uses, almost works as serfs.
"Sugar Companies confiscate our kitchen gardens and close to our water supply in order to punish us," said cane workers in Vuvulane region Africa Contact. "Moreover, they ensure that we get caught and arrested when we fish in the local lake. They must use the water itself. "
The democracy movement in Swaziland has therefore appealed to the Coca-Cola to break off relations with King Mswati III's regime, without success.
Africa Contact calls for you, in solidarity with the people of Swaziland, is helping to put pressure on Coca-Cola in our part of the world by boycotting Coca-Cola, as well as any contacts Coca-Cola's Danish department communications director, Michael Bonde Nielsen (firstname.lastname@example.org), to tell the company about the basis of your decision.