Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to introduce Proposal 10, on behalf of Harrington Investments, regarding the importance of McDonald’s global political transparency. I am Palesa Ramolefo, Food Justice Campaigner of the South African NGO amandla.mobi.
I grew up in Soweto, a low-income Black township where both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived. Over the years I’ve seen more McDonalds and other fast food outlets open. The lines at our public health clinics have grown longer as the prevalence of diet-related diseases has grown.
South Africa has succeeded in advancing policy to address health disparities, such as the recent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, but we have faced opposition from the food industry and its proxies. Health experts fear corporate interests will obstruct other policies to protect the country’s health. The public has a very limited view of what McDonald’s and its competitors are doing to influence life-saving policies.
That needs to change. And it’s something our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, affirmed when he divested his ownership stake in 145 South African McDonald’s franchises prior to being elected. His statement was that fast food corporations shouldn’t dictate public policy, let alone operate without full political transparency.
McDonalds’s political activities in the U.S. have been toxic to your reputation. I know the corporation argues it has nothing to hide and that its global political activities are limited. If that is the case, a YES vote on this resolution is simple.
Short of this, McDonald’s is sending a clear signal to investors that it has something to hide from them that could hurt the corporation’s bottom line and directly harm the billions served by its restaurants worldwide.
Vote yes on Proposal 10 and Proposals 5, 6, 8, and 9, which similarly demand the corporation align its stated values to its actual business practice. Thank you.