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A Cambridge state representative introduced a bill to the legislature last week that will limit state contracts with companies doing business in or with South Africa or Namibia.
The bill, one of the key components of the 1987 legislative package of State Rep. Saundra Graham (D-Cambridge), will set guidelines for state contracts with companies linked to South Africa or Namibia.
While Massachusetts has already divested several state pension funds of South African linked investments, the Bay State government still contracts with several companies doing business in southern Africa.
"We must heighten the process of divestment, on the local level that means no trade," Graham said, explaining the reasoning behind the bill.
"The measures that Congress has passed to deal with divestment are not strong enough," Graham said, adding that her bill will encourage companies to leave South Africa and Namibia.
The proposed bill will set up an "apartheid list" of companies that are doing a large amount of business with South Africa, such as IBM, the Burroughs Corp., Control Data Corp., and Texaco, said Robert D. Slate '83, a legislative aide to Graham.
The state's Office of Federal Relations estimates that the total dollar value of state purchases in fiscal year 1985 from businesses with South African links is close to $50 million.
"The bill will give an incentive and bonus to those companies that are not working with South Africa and will hurt those companies doing business with them," said Slate.
"The state's Secretary of Administration and Finance will be responsible for maintaining the "apartheid list" and regulating the bids for state contracts.
The bill states that the only contracts to be accepted from companies on the "apartheid list" are those that the agency determines to be an essential purchase, or when the company is the only bidder for the contract, or if the bid is necessary to ensure a competitive bidding process. All other contracts will go to companies without ties to South Africa.
At present, the state gives its contracts to those companies who give the best cost, with some preference to Massachusetts based companies, Slate said.
Under the proposed legislation, when there arebidders who are on the "apartheid list," thecontract will go to that company only if there areno other bids within 10 percent of that bid.
"This bill is a good second step after the billthat was approved in 1984 to divest pension fundsfrom companies with activities with or in SouthAfrica," said Slate.
Graham said she first thought of this bill inKenya, where she talked with members of thatcountry's parliament about ways to fightapartheid.
This bill, said Graham, "is an educationaltool. We have to show people what the issue is allabout, and heighten the pressure on companies thathave not divested."
The bill is co-sponsored by 25 otherlegislators, and was drafted with the help ofSouthern Africa Support Coalition of Massachusetts(SASCOM), said Slate.
"This is a terrific bill," said Kathryn Kasch,a member of SASCOM. "It's the next logical stepagainst apartheid. This bill is all part of achain--it's not going to solve the problem byitself, but it is one of the few things we can doto express our views."
The Burroughs Corp. and Control Data Corp., twoof the companies on the "apartheid list," declinedto comment on the potential effects of the bill.
The bill will be referred to a legislativecommittee in March, said Slate.
Both Slate and Kasch said they were optimisticthat the bill will pass the legislature
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