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Why South Africa Should Ban New HQ | Amazon | Ideas

On January 19, Amazon is facing a major court battle over the construction of its new headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa. The people of A Khoi and San, conservationists and other human rights activists are appealing to the Supreme Court of South Africa to ban the activity, which is on their parents’ property and will be detrimental to the environment.

If the plans for the new headquarters go ahead, the company will re-establish its neocolonial control and economic tyranny in Africa. Despite the lucrative promises of jobs and government funding, the growth of the Amazon will not benefit ordinary South Africans and will lead to labor violence and make the police look after poor and oppressed areas.

This is why it is so important that South Africans reject this work.

Human rights and environmental concerns

The Amazon headquarters is in the process of being part of a $ 350m real estate project at River Club, located on the Black and Liesbeek rivers near Cape Town.

The region is well-known for its anti-colonial ethnic groups. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese army was defeated by Akhoi and San forces. Nearly 150 years later, the real owners rejected the Dutch citizens who launched their campaign to take over the area. Indians consider their ancestral land to be sacred and its construction would be a violation of their rights.

The site is being monitored for National Heritage purposes and another section is within the boundaries of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Environmentalists also oppose the project, warning that it will seriously damage the environment. If allowed to continue, the builders elevate a number of areas above the natural ground and fill the Liesbeek River, which limits the potential for groundwater in the event of a storm. This could affect an area that can absorb water from storms and floods – especially as climate change intensifies – putting local people at risk.

Filling in the river also disrupts biodiversity. Like the “green lungs of the city”, the area is one of the city’s most affected areas with endangered plants and animals that need to be protected. In addition, the project has been criticized for its high levels of carbon dioxide which contradicts South Africa’s climate change policies.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is involved in a campaign that is destroying the environment. The company has pledged to remain politically neutral by 2040, but its carbon footprint is increasing every year since 2018. It also maintains contracts with oil companies and is among the top 10 offshore operators.

The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Management Agency (EMD) has rejected the proposal, finding that the project violates climate change policies and biodiversity. In view of the dollar and the rand, government officials pushed for the project, arguing that Amazon would create thousands of jobs and improve “global connectivity”. But will the project benefit South Africans economically?

Amazon is not good for the economy

At the River Club site, Amazon is planning to build a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) site, expanding the world’s most successful cloud service in Africa.

AWS currently owns 32 percent of the global market. Entering the underdeveloped market, with the help of large sums of money, could make AWS a leading provider of services in South Africa and possibly all other countries. This could hinder the visibility of cloud computing companies, especially those who care about the privacy and digital rights of users and derive from open source software.

If Amazon reopens e-commerce sites at River Club, it could use its deep pockets to hold home e-commerce players like Takealot and Superbalist. The company is known for squeezing retailers who use their marketing activities, take profits, and love their products on its platform, and reduce fair competition.

Expanding Amazon’s cloud operations and sales in South Africa could be a way for digital colonization. If the company loses its competitors, its self-regulation will increase and the economy will be taken out of the country.

If Amazon sets up an e-commerce store in South Africa, it could be bad news for workers’ rights in the country. It has already been mentioned how workers and contractors working in Amazon warehouses and whether carriers tolerate public supervision and automatic reimbursement.

They are monitored by AI-powered machines and cameras to ensure that they are meeting the requirements. In a warehouse, they had to pull out an object and scan it for nine seconds, to change for 10 and a half hours. Workers in the Amazon have compared their conditions to prisons.

It is highly unlikely that the company will use the same methods in its South African territory and not use the local economic crisis to pay less than its Western counterparts. And as in other areas, it may attempt to eliminate any attempts at cooperation, with aggressive practices and supervision.

In a country that has a history of police brutality and lawlessness, Amazon needs to step in. The company is known for providing monitoring expertise and liaison with US police departments and is. there is no reason not to do the same in South Africa. In an interview for the July 2020 survey, Cape Town Metro Police CCTV chief Barry Schuller told me that Amazon had contacted them to discuss the services they could offer.

For all these reasons, South Africans and their allies should refuse to build an Amazon headquarters. Legal practice by civil society and civil rights groups is one big part of this.

The Observatory Civic Association and the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council have filed a petition with the Supreme Court to reconsider their decision in favor of the development. As part of the process, they want the ban to halt the development of the River Club, which will be heard in court between January 19 and 21. Those leading the case believe that if the ban fails, it will be difficult to stop Amazon. , since they will have laid enough concrete to make the courts feel that it is not necessary to give up the job.

A verdict in favor of those who oppose the work is possible, although there are all the persuasions that his followers have made. In December, human rights activists forced a South African high court to ban a large oil giant from Dutch Shell to test earthquakes on the South Coast in South Africa. The campaign likened the colonial rule to South Africa and European countries.

Victory over Amazon in South Africa can be felt around the world. It can teach an organization and its Big Tech colleagues a great lesson: systematic rejection can block them. If the freedom fighters push Amazon into Cape Town, it could be a huge victory for human rights, environmental sustainability, and the struggle against digital colonialism.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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