I am a San Diego city employee unequivocally opposed to the investment of San Diego City retirement funds in corporations with business holdings in South Africa. Additionally, when the City Council Retirement Board Subcommittee makes its final proposal, corporate signatories to the Rev. Leon Sullivan Principles should absolutely not be exempt from any city investment ban.
Of course it is easy to understand why city councils, city treasurers or retirement boards might want to settle for Sullivan Statement endorsements, which reaffirm basic American principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action. The rhetoric to some may sound well-meaning or even enlightened. But in the South African context, the Sullivan Statement has little meaning.
It is a dubious proposition that reforms of South African institutions are possible within the framework of apartheid. Affirmative action does nothing to address or even challenge the system.
The issue in South Africa at this time is black political power--it is not slightly higher wages or better benefits or training programs, unless these lead to basic social change. As one South African church leader put it, "These (Sullivan) principles attempt to polish my chains and make them more comfortable. I want to cut my chains and cast them away."