Keans Calls For End To Apartheid, Plans To Sign Divestment Bill
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Gov. Thomas H. Kean says he will sign a bill to end New Jersey’s $2 billion pension investments in firms doing business in South Africa, making it the sixth state to take steps against the racially segregated nation.
″We can no longer stand by and watch while a system predicated on racism attempts to subjugate an entire people. The time has come for action to change - and to end, once and for all - the oppressive system of apartheid,″ he said at a news conference Tuesday.
The other states with similar laws are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and Nebraska. In Lansing, Mich., an Ingham County Circuit judge today upheld Michigan law prohibiting state colleges and universities from investing in corporations that do business in South Africa.
″The elimination of discrimination is a valid exercise of the state’s police power,″ said Judge Carolyn Stell.
She struck down arguments by University of Michigan regents that lawmakers violated the state Constitution by forcing colleges and public schools to sell their stock in companies doing business in South Africa.
About 20 percent of New Jersey’s $10 billion pension investment portfolio is in companies that conduct business in South Africa.
Kean also said he will ask lawmakers to pass a bill allowing him to modify the state’s investment policies in South Africa based on future actions of that nation’s government.
And he said he will direct the treasurer to determine if the state buys products manufactured in South Africa and to review the practices of companies doing business there from which the state purchases major goods and services.
Kean said the legislation may cause some losses for the state but ″the issue of investments in South Africa is not merely an economic issue. It is a profoundly moral issue as well, one so compelling that economic arguments against divestiture pale in comparison to the moral imperative of working to end apartheid.″
The legislation approved on June 27 mandates that no new investments be made either directly or indirectly with South Africa. Existing investments in the country would gradually be sold off as long as alternative investments for the funds are found.
The bill requires total divestment within three years.
More than two dozen New Jersey-based companies do business in South Africa.