David W. Robinson, an assistant professor of History at Yale is sponsoring a proxy resolution which would prohibit the International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) from selling or leasing any of its products to the government of South Africa.
The resolution must first be approved by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) before it can come up for a vote at IBM's annual meeting in late April.
The staff of SEC's Corporate Division rejected Robinson's resolution on Feb. 15. A day later, Robinson filed a motion with the five SEC commissioners requesting an appeals hearing. The decision of the commissioners on whether or not to grant the hearing is expected imminently.
Robinson charged yesterday that the new 360-50 computer, which IBM is leasing to the South African Government, would "probably be used by the government to gather vast storehouses of information concerning the personal lives of black people."
Robinson added, "IBM is one of a number of companies which is deeply involved, both psychologically and economically, in the South African Government. It is essential to the well-being of South African blacks that this trend of growing American investment and involvement in South Africa be reversed."
IBM representatives said yesterday that they would not comment specifically on Robinson's resolution until the SEC had made its final decision. However, spokesmen for the company did release a general statement defending the company's business operations in South Africa.
The statement read in part: "We (IBM) feel strongly that we have a constructive role in South Africa. For example, IBM's policy in South Africa is to pay all of its employees--black, white, colored or Asian--equal pay for equal work. Black IBMers get more employee benefits than do whites, including free medical aid, a home-improvement loan plan, and special transportation benefits.
"In our view, pullout would accomplish only one thing for sure: It would destroy the jobs of the South Africans whom IBM now employs, white and non-white alike.
About two weeks ago, IBM made an agreement with the Church Project on U.S. Investment in Southern Africa to issue a report disclosing in full the company's operations in South Africa.
Rev. Everett W. Francis, chairman of the Church Project, said yesterday that IBM has promised to release the report shortly after its annual meeting in late April.