The Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has already condemned the award of a contract for the manufacture of models of Zakumi, the 2010 World Cup official mascot, to a Chinese sweat-shop company, is further outraged by the revelation that an ANC member of parliament was the central figure in fixing the deal.
The dolls are being made by the Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products and Gifts Co Ltd (SFPPG) which pays its workers the equivalent of R23 a day. It has landed several international subcontracts, worth as much as R840-million, through agreements with companies in Europe, North America and South Africa to make 2.3 million toy figures of the dreadlocked leopard mascot.
An order for South Africa was negotiated by SFPPG with a company called Ascendo Industrial, based in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, which is owned by ANC MP Shiaan-Bin Huang and his wife Su-Luan.
According to the agreement signed by Huang and David Lau, CEO of SFPPG, in September last year, "the Zakumi products will be manufactured in China by Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products & Gifts Co and distributed by Ascendo Industrial in South Africa".
Huang told the Sunday Times he had visited the Shanghai factory and ordered 50000 units at R85 each, which might eventually retail at a discount price of around R199 in SA. He said Ascendo had requested permission to distribute in the UK and US, but this had yet to be granted.
COSATU is requesting the ANC to call Comrade Huang to account for his role in selling jobs which could have gone to unemployed South Africans to a firm which ruthlessly exploits its Chinese workers.
Even more worrying is Huang's claim that his contract was approved by both Fifa and its product licensing and brand management partner, Global Brands Group (GBG), which signed a "Product license agreement" with Ascendo, with the Fifa logo on it.
This agreement, together with the contract between SFPPG and Ascendo, can be viewed on the company's website:
Fifa has denied that any of its representatives had ever visited the factory and a spokesperson said GBG would be investigating the use and conditions of the Chinese factory.
Huang, who ironically serves on parliament's economic development committee, is a prominent figure in Newcastle, where he has also been deputy mayor and regional chairman of the IFP. On his ANC parliamentary profile he writes that "we need more opportunities in order to bring more projects into the country"!
Yet here he is doing the exact opposite. COSATU repeats its call for all World Cup paraphernalia to be manufactured in South Africa so that we can create jobs and inherit a legacy from the tournament.
The federation urges its members and all South Africans to insist on buying only Proudly South African made World Cup-related products. We must put a stop to the use of this historic tournament for profiteering and exploitation of workers.