JUSTICE MALALA: Ramaphosa, Saudi Arabia and human rights
'Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that Saudi Arabia will invest at least $10bn in SA, mostly in the energy sector, including building oil refineries'
A global firestorm is developing around Khashoggi’s disappearance. Pressure is mounting on the Saudi strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for a while seen as a reformer but now regarded by many as an autocrat, to disclose what happened to Khashoggi.
In the US even members of President Donald Trump’s own party are voicing dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to the story. Trump, whose son-in-law is very close to MBS, as bin Salman is known, seems married to the idea that commerce trumps human rights.
Remember that Saudi Arabia has pledged $20bn in infrastructure investment in the US. Further, the US president is keen to sell an eye-watering $110bn in weapons to the Saudis. Last Thursday Trump told reporters in the Oval Office: “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country ... I don’t like stopping an investment of $110bn in the United States.”
What comes first, investment or human rights? How much investment into a country does it take to secure support or silence when the investor country commits terrible acts and violates human rights? When should we tell an investor to take their money and walk away because they torture and kill their own people? This is a question SA may have to ask itself this week given recent events in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It’s a question that’s taking centre stage in the US. On October 2 a Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, entered his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, at about 1.30pm. Khashoggi, a former Saudi insider who had become increasingly disillusioned with his country’s current government, went into the consulate to obtain paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. She waited outside. He never came out. Saudi Arabia has insisted that Khashoggi left but, in this world of CCTV cameras and other gadgets, it has...