South Africa: EFF Condemns the Police Protection of the British American Tobacco
The Economic Freedom Fighters condemns the undue police protection that the imperialist multinational corporation, British American Tobacco (BAT), enjoys. It has been reported that this cigarette company which controls 80% of the tobacco industry in South Africa has been given members of the police elite squad, the Tactical Response Team, as private security guards for its private distribution vehicle; while the other 20% of actors in the tobacco industry have to spend millions on their own private security.
It is suspicious why government has allowed this to occur despite complaints that go as far as the head of the police, Riah Phiyega. Given how corrupt this government is, the possibility of exchange of bribes and kickbacks cannot be out ruled. We suspect that the BAT has bribed politicians to instruct the police to act as their own private security. The SAPS, as proven by the Marikana Commission Report do take illegal instructions from politicians and this is clearly one of those cases where they are protecting a multinational company.
The EFF is particularly concerned because BAT is one of the multinational companies that is involved in tax avoidance and illicit financial flows that erode the South African tax base. Billions of rands through aggressive tax avoidance schemes leave the country because BAT like many multinationals that are engaged in illicit financial flows, under declare taxes through a complicated schemes that uses bogus companies in tax havens. According to ActionAid, BAT has 142 companies in tax havens. There is no company in the world that established subsidiaries in tax havens that has any other intention other than to avoid paying taxes from countries where they do business and generate profits.
So far SARS did an reassessment of BAT to an amount of R1,74 billion of unpaid taxes between 2006 and 2010, which BAT is disputing. BAT has no other interest in South Africa other than to sell tobacco and make profits, which explain their tax avoidance schemes and exploitation of the police who are payed by taxpayers.
There is no private company that must receive undue state protection. The BAT has basically outsourced its private security needs to an elite unit of the police at no cost other than suspected kickbacks. This is no different to privatisation to the Tactical Response Team of the SAPS. In addition, BAT trades in tobacco which is responsible for many deaths and diseases in society. Research shows that more than 20 000 people die from tobacco related deceases a year. Had it not been for smoking, 58% of lung cancer deaths and 20% of TB related deaths would be avoided.
It can be proven that resources used to address the health damages caused by tobacco in society far exceed what the industry contributes to the fiscus. They cause more harm than they help build society. In addition, there is no single clinic, hospital or pharmacy that BAT has built or supported in South Africa. Thus, receiving police protection means BAT is literally receiving state sponsorship to go and physically place people’s lives and health at risk.
We call upon IPID to conduct an investigation into the protection of BAT by the police because this is criminal and an utter disrespect of the constitutional role of the police. IPID must also not rule out possible involvement by politicians who are taking bribes, including high ranking police officials from BAT. There is no way that such a crime can go on for almost two year without bribes, thus all involved politicians must be named, shamed, fired, tried and sent to jail.