an article was published by the German newspaper Die ZEIT (No. 15/2020, 1st April) featuring the headline “Corona Fund: Europe can only live on if Europeans stand up for each other now – intellectuals, artists, politicians and economists call for a Corona fund”, which starts as follows: “In the last few days, thousands have died from the coronavirus in Italy and Spain alone, 1000 in 24 hours in Italy, 800 in Spain. These reports are not coming from another planet or from a distant continent. They are coming from our neighbouring countries to which we feel connected to.”
This is how supposedly leading intellectuals started a probably well-meaning public appeal. This statement deserves our critical attention: Are distant continents comparable to other planets? Would have those figures left the authors indifferent, if the reporting was from a distant continent? And how far away are “distant” continents in a globalized context within worldwide supply chains? A few days ago, the big shelf in a large supermarket in Hamburg, on which organic bananas are usually found, was empty. The hand reaching into the void, a brief moment when the dimension of one’s own involvement in global supply chains is literally within reach.
As campaign network “Plough Back The Fruits”, we have decided to bundle selected information from Southern Africa and make it available to you in the coming weeks. In this way we want to compile voices from Southern Africa during this health crisis, gaining insights and making the existing crises more visible and tangible.
Our campaign network was founded in the aftermath of what is known as Marikana Massacre to make the concerns of the bereaved and survivors, the platinum mine workers and their families in the platinum processing countries visible and audible. Usually, this time of the year, we would actually be in the final stages of preparations for the AGM of BASF SE. The German-based chemical company has been one of the world’s largest buyers and processors of platinum for decades and is therefore an important player in the international raw material supply chains. BASF’s annual shareholder meeting should have taken place on April 30th and has been rescheduled (due to the measures taken to combat the Corona pandemic) as a virtual meeting to June 18th, 2020. This situation forces us to realign our forms of action. We are taking this as an opportunity to refresh the campaign website and revive the newsletter.
During the following weeks and months we will compile information on the social and political situation in Southern Africa that is published by local actors from the journalistic and civil society backgrounds. In addition, this newsletter also will take a look at how the media is dealing with countries of the global South and at North-South relations in the wake of the Corona crisis. (Please see the postscript of this issue)
We are looking forward to a lively debate on these topics that we want to discuss in further online formats in the coming weeks. Please do take part and join us!
Maren Grimm and Simone Knapp
Network “Plough Back The Fruits”