Woolworths is quite emphatic, saying: ‘We do not have any political affiliations’

Woolworths said it has always taken a position of being non-partisan.

Woolworths said it has always taken a position of being non-partisan.

Published Oct 26, 2023


While tensions continue to boil over in the Middle East, as Israel continues its deadly assault on Palestine, closer to home political parties have targeted Woolworths and McDonald’s, calling for boycotts.

This comes after the EFF leader, Julius Malema, called for the stores to refrain from selling products obtained from Israel.

Malema also wants Woolworths stores, which are much loved by middle-class South Africans, to remove every Israeli product on their shelves, as well as made calls to cut ties with companies linked to Israel.

“Woolworths has a responsibility by the end of this month to remove every product on their shelves that comes from Israel. If they don’t, we will remove it ourselves,” Malema said.

After the statements made by the EFF, Business Report reached out to Woolworths to find out what their reaction would be to the politician’s warnings.

Woolworths said in a statement sent to Business Report, “Woolworths has always taken a position of being non-partisan, meaning we have no political affiliations and do not support any political party or country.

“We are a proudly South African retailer, and our preference is always to source locally to meet our customers’ needs and aspirations. More than 90% of our food is local, and we source food products internationally only when a product is out of season or in specific instances when a product is not available locally. We always label our products’ country of origin clearly so that customers can make informed choices. At present, one product on our shelves is labelled as being ‘imported from Israel and/or France’ based on availability of stock,” the popular retailer said.

The retailer said that the single product on their shelves at the moment is their ‘Pearl Couscous’.

The Pearl Couscous that the popular retailer said is on their shelves, Image: www.woolworths.co.za

Woolworths further pointed out that last year, in line with the store’s commitment to inclusive growth, it said it contributed more than R7 billion towards the revenues of 32 small- and medium-local enterprises in the Woolworths supplier value chain.

“In addition, consistent with our commitment to food security, Woolworths also donated almost R1bn worth of surplus food to communities in need. Action against Woolworths is action against South Africans, South African farmers, producers and manufacturers. It hurts employment and growth, which we all know we can ill-afford as a country – a sentiment we believe resonates with all our customers and stakeholders,” Woolworths said.

McDonald’s, on the other hand, has been accused of providing the Israeli military with food while they continued to kill Palestinians in cold blood.

Malema urged McDonald’s South Africa to distance itself from what was happening in Israel, adding that they had until the end of the month to issue a statement on the matter.

“They have until month end to issue a statement distancing itself from what McDonald’s is doing in Israel, giving food to murder women and children,” he said.

McDonald’s SA released a statement last week, reiterating it was a strictly South African operation and not affiliated with Israel operations.

“McDonald’s in South Africa is a local enterprise, with full ownership and operation overseen by local management. We are not affiliated with McDonald’s operations in Israel, which is a locally owned Israeli enterprise,” said the company.

The company said McDonald’s in Israel operates as a separate entity from McDonald’s South Africa and makes its own business and communications decisions, independent of the business in South Africa.

Adding to Malema’s calls, was the ANC Youth League leader Collen Malatji, who said that Woolworths should remove all Israeli products from its shelves.

“We are giving you a clear instruction that when you leave here, when you see Woolworths, you must close it down.

“Don’t be scared of anyone; the ANC will protect you. All Woolies shops must be closed down,” he said.

On Wednesday, the South African Halaal certification body, MJCHT, announced that it adopted a policy position to decline, refuse and not certify any goods or services emanating from Israel - to boycott all such Israeli companies and products.