Many people are familiar with Israel’s use of Caterpillar armoured bulldozers in Palestine and the US military’s use of militarised bulldozers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. Now news has emerged that Caterpillar machines are responsible for the destruction of over 300,000 indigenous homes in Zimbabwe, during Operation Murambatsvina, (literally “clean out the trash” in Shona), in which impoverished supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were driven out of urban settlements into strenuously guarded rural camps.
The Cat bulldozers were supplied to the Zimbabwean state by Barzem, which is part owned by Barloworld, a Brand Management company which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Barloworld’s website proudly proclaims it’s inclusion in the JSE Socially Responsibility Investment Index, which includes the criteria that:
"Companies need to demonstrate the existence of implemented strategies to promote social upliftment, development and poverty reduction, while taking account of diversity, employment equity, empowerment, fair labour practices and health and safety."
Barloworld have also linked up with a South African "empowerment consortium", in order to meet requirements that South African businesses encourage the participation of Black South Africans at all levels.
Despite Caterpillar’s own Code of Conduct (pdf) and Barloworld’s boastful claims, Caterpillar is once again at the centre of a scandal where its machines are used to demolish the homes and livelihoods of the oppressed and disenfranchised.
Barloworld can be found at several locations in the UK.
Caterpillar products are available to US and foreign military forces and the company has developed new bulldozers specifically for military purposes, including the new modified D7.
Caterpillar products will be exhibited at the DSEi 2005 (Defence Systems and Equipment International) arms fair held in London Docklands Excel Centre from 13th-16th September. The UK Ministry of Defence awarded two contracts to Caterpillar UK Ltd in 2001 and 2000, worth £20-£50 million.A downloadable pdf version of War on Want's report: 'Caterpillar the Alternative Report'