SA gets a taste of crooked global arms trade - Video | Fin24
 
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SA gets a taste of crooked global arms trade - Video

Jun 28 2016 07:52
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – There are signs that world leaders have had enough of the global arms industry, which accounts for 40% of all corruption in global trade, according to Andrew Feinstein, whose film Shadow World tackles the issue head on.  

A strong critic of South Africa’s Arms Deal, Feinstein was in South Africa in June to screen the film based on his 2011 book of the same name, which is the first account of the global arms trade since 1979.

The rights of the book, which is about 550 pages long with almost 3 000 footnotes, was bought by Hollywood star Danny Glover, who is an activist with his own production company. He brought on board Belgian director Johan Grimonprez to create a film that tugs at the emotional strings, instead of pulling down the viewer in a weight of detail.

Feinstein, who engaged with audiences for hours after screening the film in townships like Langa and Khayelitsha in Cape Town and Alexandra in Johannesburg, said he wanted people to get inspired to want to learn more.

“The global trade in arms is a business that counts its profits in literally billions of dollars and its costs in human lives,” he told Fin24 in a studio interview. “It is underreported on, there is not much writing about it, and (so) we really want the film to bring home to people the basic features of the trade."

WATCH: Interview with Andrew Feinstein about the global arms trade


Prioritisation of war over diplomacy

“It accounts for 40% of all corruption in all global trade … and these companies – the weapons makers – are incredibly close to their governments, who support them in all sorts of legal and illegal ways,” he said. “It also has a huge impact on the prioritisation of war over diplomacy.”

After years of the issue not getting any activist attention, Feinstein said the US war on terror had sparked concerns once again.

“People have become far more concerned about the conventional trade again,” he said. "The reasons for that … are that we are seeing a lot of war.

“The United States … employs more people to run one aircraft carrier than it has diplomats across the globe. And the US has ten aircraft carriers and is in the process of commissioning an eleventh.

“The default way to deal with differences has now become conflict,” he said. “More and more people are becoming disturbed by that and we’re seeing that in a whole lot of ways.”

WATCH: Trailer of Shadow World


Change is coming

Feinstein cited the European parliament which has been putting pressure on the US to stop supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia, which it sees as problematic in fuelling the Middle East crisis.

“It suggests to me that yes, people are starting to take notice,” he said. “But I think where people are most concerned is the way it affects their own pockets.

“In the United States of America, 30c in every dollar paid in tax goes to the weapons maker Lockheed Martin.

“Americans who have been struggling since the financial crisis of 2007/2008 are actually getting fed up with that.”

WATCH: Andrew Feinstein on how an arms company bribed the ANC

How it all began for Feinstein

Feinstein is a former African National Congress member of parliament, who resigned in 2001 when the ANC refused to launch an investigation into the Arms Deal, which he realised was problematic when he was the ANC’s spokesperson of the public accounts committee.

In April, Feinstein brushed aside the Seriti Commission Report on the Arms Deal, after it found that there was nothing wrong with the Arms Deal in its conception, execution or economic impact.

“We believe that the report represents a massive missed opportunity at arriving at the truth,” he said at the time.

While government announced in 1999 that the deal would cost R30bn, Corruption Watch revealed it could be anywhere between R43bn and R90bn.

"This industry, which is protected by governments in the name of national security, is really about corruption, massive wastage and huge profits rather than our security," said Feinstein in the above video post, which was produced when he launched his book.

"I tried to investigate a multi-billion pound arms deal between BAE Systems – the British company – and the South African government," he said. "The deal was concluded with the payment of £116m in bribes to senior politicians, officials and to the ANC itself."

ARMS DEAL REPORT: Statement by Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Hennie Van Vuuren

WATCH: Andrew Feinstein talks about SA's Arms Deal


Click here to learn more about the book and the film.


andrew feinstein  |  arms trade  |  arms deal
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