PRESS STATEMENT: Outcomes of BDS SA bilateral with COSAS and ANC Youth League over #BoycottWoolworths Pigs

06 November 2014

A BDS South Africa high level delegation met with the leadership of the Congress of South African Students WC (COSAS WC) yesterday (Wednesday 05 November). The meeting was facilitated by the Western Cape ANC Youth League.

Following this meeting and intervention by BDS SA, COSAS Western Cape has resolved to suspend the placing of pigs in various Woolworths stores but will continue advancing the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. COSAS have been adamant that they might reactivate the pigs head initiative if the bosses of Woolworths don’t end their relations with Israel .

A. In the meeting it was communicated by Western Cape PEC of COSAS that:

- There are at least three Pigs heads still in various Woolworths stores that Woolworths has either tried to cover up or has not as yet located;
- The #BoycottWoolworths Cosas Pig head initiative was militant, radical and that COSAS WC does not believe that the media fairly covered their actions;
- They are extremely angry at the attitude of the pig-headed Woolworths management thus the pig head initiative was a radical part of their contribution to the #BoycottWoolworths campaign;
- Their logic behind the pig head initiative was not against particular people-  but rather an initiative against the ongoing support of Apartheid Israel by Woolworths;
- While they are an autonomous organisation they have huge respect for the ANCYL and BDS South Africa;
- Their efforts were acts of revolutionary love for Palestine and their priority was to support the Boycott Woolworths campaign which forms part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement;
- They accepted, through respect for BDS SA, to postpone their Woolworths pig heads initiative, but reserved the right to resume it if Woolworths does not withdraw their trade from Israel. This will be evaluated on the 26th of November at the upcoming Woolworths AGM;
- They will mobilize COSAS masses to support a protest outside the Woolworths AGM which is due to take place on the 26th of November and will be supported by BDS SA, ANC YL etc.;
- COSAS maintained that they were unapologetic but disciplined in their activism and campaign against the Woolworths pigheaded management;
- The pig head initiative was never a campaign of an individual, but of the COSAS WC Provincial Executive Committee and adopted in a PEC meeting.

B. The delegation of BDS South Africa communicated in the meeting with COSAS that BDS SA:

- Recognised that the COSAS Pig Head initiative was intended to support the #BoycottWoolworths campaign;
- Was concerned about the pig head initiative and viewed the Pig head initiaive as troublesome and threatening to marginalize supporters of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign;
- Noted that COSAS Western Cape had helped placed great pressure on Woolworths which seems to squirming under pressure;
- Appreciates the initiative taken by ANC Youth League to enable and organise the meeting with the COSAS Western Cape PEC;
- Believes that the pig head initiative should be stopped, in its current form and suggested other militant, but less offensive ways of supporting the boycott woolworths campaign which could be pursued;
- Was hopeful that a major share holder in Woolworths, the PIC would meet with BDS SA and support the call for Woolworths to end its trading with Israel;
- Will work closely with COSAS in the next few weeks to advance the #BoycottWoolworths campaign, the isolation of Apartheid Israel and other solidarity activities.

C. COSAS, the ANC YL and BDS South Africa jointly undertook in the meeting to:
1. Organise a major #BoycottWoolworths protest outside Woolworths Headquaters on the 26th of November during the upcoming Woolworths AGM;
2. Request the ANC, given its support for the boycott of Israel, to facilitate a meeting with the Public Investment Corporation to ensure that the PIC, being a major shareholder at Woolworths, demands that the management of Woolworths terminates its relations with Israel. If not, the PIC must withdrew all its shares from the company.
3. Continue calling on peace and justice-loving South Africans not to buy from Woolworths until it ends its trade relations with Apartheid Israel.

BDS South Africa maintains that the focus should not be on the young people of COSAS but on the management of Woolworths who are refusing to be on the right side of history and terminate their relations with Apartheid Israel. The arrogant refusal of Woolworths to meet with BDS South Africa, the NC4P and various other organisations is to blame for the increasing protests and boycott against the company.

Early in August, in line with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign, a call for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links was made by BDS South Africa, COSATU, ANC Youth League, MJC and various others including the National Coalition 4 Palestine (a coalition consisting of more than 30 organizations, trade unions and other groups). The #BoycottWoolworths campaign has received wide attention and support but much speculation and controversy surrounds the COSAS Woolworths Pig campaign, media will be briefed on decisions taken on the pigs campaign at the joint press conference.

For comment:
BDS South Africa: 0842119988
ANC Youth League WC: +27 (84) 7297229
Congress of South African Students (COSAS WC): 0789897987

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