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Who I am for Africa and Africans?

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Actor Danny Glover advocates for reparations at the National African American Reparations Commission convened in New Orleans

Started by SendMeYourNews Dec 8, 2017. 0 Replies

 By Kynedi Grier, Louisiana Weekly —Reparations? Yes. When? Now. This was the rallying cry when the…Continue

Reparations Is An Issue Whose Time Has Come! We Need Your Support!

Started by TheBlackList News. Last reply by Brotha Lukata Nov 26, 2017. 1 Reply

Dear Friend in the Struggle:The issue of reparations for African Americans for centuries of enslavement and generations of discrimination, exclusion and oppression through legal segregation in the…Continue

Does Jamaica Offer Reparations Precedent for Caribbean?

Started by TheBlackList-Publisher Nov 11, 2017. 0 Replies

A statue commemorating the struggle against slavery at…Continue

The National African American Reparation Commission meets in New Orleans, NOV 30 - DEC 2: You Are Invited.

Started by SendMeYourNews Nov 9, 2017. 0 Replies

You have received this message either because you have attended an IBW event, subscribed to our mailing list or someone you know felt…Continue

Afrocentricity International organise un voyage en Australie en Mars 2018, et au Benin en Mai 2018, auxquels elle souhaite vous inviter a prendre part

Started by TBL_Promoter Nov 5, 2017. 0 Replies

L'Organisation Afrocentricity International organise un voyage en Australie en Mars 2018, et au Benin en Mai 2018,…Continue

The Most Influential Contemporary African Diaspora Leaders Featured and Honored in a New Book

Started by TheBlackList-Publisher Oct 31, 2017. 0 Replies

A book honoring the African Diaspora leaders across the globe…Continue

Pambazuka News

In South Africa, Ramaphosa rises as Lonmin expires

Sub-Title: 
Workers, women and communities prepare to fight, not mourn

South Africa’s currency rose rapidly in value after Ramaphosa won, for he is celebrated by big business and the mainstream media. But he has also gained endorsements – due to quirky local political alignments – from the SA Communist Party, ANC-aligned trade unions and most centrists and liberals who despise the Zuptas. With this base and some nominal prosecutions of corruption, Ramaphosa will likely relegitimize the fast-fading ANC in time for a 2019 electoral victory. However, given the narrowness of his win, he probably cannot engineer Zuma’s early departure as many hoped, in the way Zuma had ousted Thabo Mbeki nine months before his term was due to end in 2009.

Moreover, Ramaphosa’s much-anticipated attempt to clear Zupta muck from the corrupt stables of several parastatal organisations and government departments will fail. Too many ANC patronage systems have become cemented. And three other leaders elected at the congress are high-profile Zuptas with corruption-riddled reputations, including secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, as well as ANC deputy president David Mabuza. A new slur, “Ramazupta,” may emerge as the epithet for the coming regime.

Ramaphosa was a heroic mineworker leader during the 1980s, a crafty ANC secretary general under Nelson Mandela during the early 1990s when he led negotiations on many crucial semi-democratic deals with the outgoing apartheid regime, the main drafter of the country’s liberal constitution in 1996, and then – after losing the deputy presidency job to Mbeki in 1994 – a black-empowerment billionaire thanks to joint ventures in mining, banking and ‘food’ franchises McDonalds and CocaCola. He became ANC deputy president in 2012 and in government, became the national deputy to Zuma in 2014.

By the 2000s, Ramaphosa had earned a reputation for seeking profits at any cost. The worst incident was at the Lonmin platinum mines at Marikana, two hours’ drive northwest of Johannesburg. On August 15, 2012 Ramaphosa emailed a request to police – for which he weakly apologised only a few months ago – demanding “concomitant action” against “dastardly criminals,” against whom police should “act in a more pointed way.”

He was referring to 4000 desperately underpaid miners who had been on a wildcat strike the prior week, during which six workers, two security guards and two policemen had died in skirmishes. Neither Lonmin officials nor Ramaphosa wanted to negotiate. The following day, as strikers peacefully departed the strike grounds for their homes in nearby shantytowns, 34 men were shot dead by police, and 78 wounded.

Ramaphosa’s role was especially unconscionable given his struggle history. In the Emmy Award-winning film Miners Shot Down(from minute 13’), director Rehad Desai reveals the class-loyalty U-turn. In 1987 in the midst of a legendary strike, Ramaphosa accused the “liberal bourgeoisie” of using “fascistic” methods. Thirty years later Ramaphosa had become the main local investor in Lonmin, and within five years was a “monster,” according to local activists, playing a familiar role described by the workers’ lawyer, Dali Mpofu:

“At the heart of this was the toxic collusion between the SA Police Services and Lonmin at a direct level. At a much broader level it can be called a collusion between the State and capital… in the sordid history of the mining industry in this country. Part of that history included the collaboration of so-called tribal chiefs who were corrupt and were used by those oppressive governments to turn the self-sufficient black African farmers into slave labour workers. Today we have a situation where those chiefs have been replaced by so-called Black Economic Empowerment partners of these mines and carrying on that torch of collusion.”

Lonmin unlamented

Last week, London and Johannesburg investors witnessed what seems to be the death of Lonmin, a firm born as the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company Limited in 1909. Lonrho had languished through the 1950s but then became one of the world’s most degenerate corporations, thanks to managing director Tiny Rowland’s corrupt deals across post-colonial Africa. By 1973 even British Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath labelled Lonrho “the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism.”

One reason for the company’s death was the backlash against the Marikana Massacre. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) became sufficiently strong to wage a five-month strike in 2014. The Massacre also humiliated a high-profile Lonmin booster, the World Bank. Its 2007-12 poster-child treatment of Lonmin’s so-called “Strategic Community Investment“ attracted persistent complaints from a Marikana community group, Sikhala Sonke. These grassroots feminists haverebuffed several bogus “dispute resolution” efforts from Washington, and their stinging legal critique of the Bank was deemedvalid by an internal ombudsman earlier this month.

But unless objections by such groups and trade unions prove overwhelming before Lonmin’s annual general meeting in London on January 25, the world’s third largest platinum corporation will be swallowed by the young (five year old) Johannesburg-based mining house Sibanye-Stillwater. The price is a measly $383 million, which is 1/7th Sibanye’s current share value and a tiny fraction (1.4%) of Lonmin’s peak value of $28.6 billion a decade ago.

The company’s complicated post-mortem will have two chapters:

  • partial suicide – by a wicked management abetted by the Bank and at least one allied politician, Ramaphosa; and
  • partial assassination – by the iron laws of capitalist crisis in the form of overproduction tendencies, combined with Volkswagen’s greenhouse gas emissions scam, which together drove the platinum price up too high and in 2015 crashed it too quickly.

Resource Curses reloaded

Consider the rapid reaction to Sibanye’s takeover by the main union leader representing Lonmin workers, Amcu’s Joseph Mathunjwa: “We are prepared to join forces with communities around Lonmin to ensure that the interests of mineworkers’ mine-affected communities are defended. We want to warn the new owners and current shareholders that we will fight and not sit quietly as our members’ future is destroyed.”

Not only are 38% of Lonmin’s 33 000 employees due to be retrenched within the next three years, according to Sibanye’s takeover plan. And not only did its CEO Neil Froneman immediately warn critics to cease attacking Lonmin for repeated violations of its state-mandated Social and Labour Plan: “Communities that are unhappy, the Department of Mineral Resources that is unhappy – need to stop and allow us to complete this so that in the longer-term we can do more.”

Just as importantly, Froneman’s takeover does nothing to resolve at least half a dozen underlying Resource Curses revealed at Marikana, though also witnessed to a lesser extent across the country’s ‘Minerals-Energy Complex’:

  • political – the obedience of politicians like Ramaphosa and the state security apparatus to the needs of multinational mining capital;
  •  economic – the tendency to overproduction intrinsic to the capitalist system, especially in times of a commodity super-cycle (2002-11) whose subsequent crash left Lonmin vastly over-exposed;
  • financial – usurious microfinance borrowed by mineworkers, leading to extreme borrower desperation by the time of the August 2012 strikes, and $150 million in World Bank ‘development finance’ investment;
  • gendered – especially the stressed reproduction of labour and community by women in the Nkaneng and Wonderkop shack settlements;
  • environmental – extreme degradation within fast-growing peri-urban slums, nearby which minerals are dug and smelted using high-carbon processes that also pollute local water, soil and air;
  • · labour-related –
    • platinum rock drill operators’ inadequate wages and deplorable working and residential conditions, especially in comparison to mining executives’ ludicrously generous remuneration,
    • the durability of apartheid-era migrancy, itself a condition dividing workers from the area’s traditional residents along familial, ethnic and (property-related) class lines,
    • intra-union battles which split workers and generated some of the initial 2012 violence, followed by further violence in 2017 including within Amcu, and
    • ongoing mass retrenchments due to a (failing) automation strategy and platinum gluts.

Unless there’s radical change, the industry’s future is gloomy. As Mining Review Africa acknowledged in November, “demand for platinum, used primarily in diesel-fueled vehicles, continues to take a hit from the repercussions of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal.” With the platinum market glutted, Froneman’s main rationale in buying Lonmin is to consolidate the firm’s relatively cheaper smelting over-capacity for use by other firms. Closure of Lonmin mine shafts will accelerate.

These factors contributed to mass strikes in 2012 (one month) and 2014 (five months), to periodic social uprisings and to ongoing discontent. Most could have been avoided had the 1955 Freedom Charter calling for socialisation of mining wealth been heeded by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after liberation in 1994. The social democratic Charter was once, after all, the ANC’s ideological bible – and always vigorously opposed by capitalists.

But when ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema again raised the demand for mining nationalisation at a 2011 conference, a party disciplinary committee led by Ramaphosa expelled him and his comrades. They subsequently founded the Economic Freedom Fighters party and won a large share of the platinum belt’s vote in subsequent elections.

The massacre shifted South African politics forever. Wrongdoing was investigated by the 2012-15 Farlam Commission set up by Zuma, but the outcome was weak and biased. It is tempting to emphasise the negligence or malevolence of personalities. Judge Ian Farlam blamed maniacal police leadership. But recall, too, that Lonmin chief executive Ian Farmer’s salary was 236 times higher than the typical rock drill operator, that his main executive replacement Barnard Mokwena was later unveiled as a State Security Agency operative, and that Ramaphosa’s financial ethics were missing in action.

Ramaphosa was implicated in a Lonmin tax avoidance scandal via his Shanduka firm’s control of the Black Empowerment partner Incwala. According to Lonmin’s lawyer, “Incwala for very many years refused to agree to the new structure” to halt a $100 million outflow to the Bermuda tax haven justified as marketing expenses. As the Paradise Papers recently revealed, Ramaphosa’s firm also retained Mauritius accounts for nefarious purposes and as chair of Africa’s largest cellphone operator, MTN, he suffered continent-wide criticism for illicit capital flight.

Resistance rises too

Against mining capital and the politicians stand Amcu, Sikhala Sonke, the church-based Bench Marks Foundation (which earlier this year began campaigning for Lonmin divestment), the Marikana Support Campaign, Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, and solidarity activists in Britain and Germany. In addition to better wages and community investment, their four post-massacre demands are that Lonmin and the government publicly apologise, pay survivors and widows reparations (civil suits of more than $75 million have been filed) and declare August 16 a national holiday with a monument at the site of the massacre.

But now a much larger opportunity rises to cure the diseases that felled Lonmin, especially if Sibanye’s offer is rejected. After all, Lonmin’s nationalisation at such a fire-sale price is eminently reasonable and affordable. The state should also charge the firm’s shareholders for the costs – legal liabilities and fines – of decades of misbehaviour imposed on the economy, society and the environment. Moreover, so as to lessen vulnerability to volatile world capitalist markets, it is long overdue for South Africa (with 88% of world reserves) to join Russian and Zimbabwean authorities in a world platinum cartel, about which formal discussionsbegan nearly five years ago.

In the process, a genuinely green strategy for the region should move the economy away from overdependence upon traditional coal, iron ore, manganese, gold and diamonds exports, and ensure a ‘Just Transition’ to post-’extractivist’ economic activities in line with South Africa’s growing climate mitigation and adaptation imperatives. As Sikhala Sonke and allies point out, the latter should be especially friendly to women’s needs, within not just the sphere of production but also the reproduction of society. As an example, the Cape Town-based “Million Climate Jobs” campaign recently produced anther booklet explaining the Just Transition process: http://aidc.org.za/programmes/million-climate-jobs-campaign/about

These sorts of visionary demands contrast with the ANC’s lowest-common-denominator ideology of neoliberal-nationalism, now that the worst tendencies of both the WMC and Zupta camps are on display within the party’s leadership. Aside from a #FeesMustFall breakthrough when Zuma promoted free tertiary education last Saturday just as the ANC congress began, it is likely that 2018 will begin with budgetary austerity and a Value Added Tax increase. Meanwhile ANC leaders will continue to talk left (so as to) walk right, with renewed preparedness for a state of emergency if socio-economic protests continue rising.

But amidst undisguised pro-Ramaphosa media bias (e.g. the popular Daily Maverick), even his corporate backers are genuinelynervous about Monday’s “poisoned chalice.” As they are now realising, “Markets got this one wrong – and were pricing in a Cyril slate victory,” failing to comprehend new dangers within the ruling party’s fusion of the WMC and Zupta factions. Durable liberal-bourgeois concerns about the new leader have also been expressed in ascerbic critiques of the “Grand Consensus“ “nothing man“ by Business Day columnist Gareth van Onselen. I once debated another liberal commentator, Richard Calland a few years ago, in which he was pro-Ramaphosa for all the wrong reasons.

Neither the ANC nor Lonmin are going to exit their respective crises in the immediate future. The notion of crisis has always implied both destruction and opportunity. Mining tycoons and political elites have generally (except in 2015) avoided the former and are now grabbing the latter. So even if the South African state under Ramaphosa’s leadership can never become a trusted ally of the left, resistance from below will no doubt expand activist horizons, the more damage Lonmin does – even now in its messy death throes.

The takeaway message is the same threat “Cyrilina Ramaposer” offered in her haunting Makarena on Marikana: “This shit ain’t over.”

* PROF PATRICK BOND is Professor of Political Economy at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author of Uneven Zimbabwe: A study of finance, development and underdevelopment (1998) and co-author of Zimbabwe’s Plunge: Exhausted nationalism, neoliberalism and the search for social Justice (2003).

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to [email=editor@pambazuka.org]editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org[/email] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Issue Number: 

Fahamu@20: Schooled in the ways of activism

In October 2006, I barreled into the Oxford office of Fahamu, Networks for Social Justice, looking for something socially redeeming to do with my limited free time. Back then, I was a 25-year-old firebrand just starting a masters degree in African history and politics at the University of Oxford.

Quite pompously, I thought I knew everything there was to know about political, economic and social transformation in Africa. I thought community activism was my forte. I couldn’t have been more naïve or wrong.

The nine months I spent at Fahamu as a multi-media producer intern felt like an incubation period, a launch pad of sorts for deepening my commitment to radical social justice, scholarship and storytelling about and for Africa. These were some of the most transformative moments of my lifetime.

In January 2007, I was part of Fahamu’s delegation to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. In commemoration of the organisation’s decade-long existence, we convened a panel of African and Chinese activists to discuss whether China’s engagement with Africa was a form of renewed South-South cooperation or a heightened form of neo-colonialism. We produced an in-depth podcast of those discussions, and Fahamu eventually published an anthology of radical political economy analysis about Africa-China relations, titled Chinese and African Perspectives on China in Africa. Fahamu was at the forefront of these deliberations long before Africa-China engagement became sexy or topical. 

On the advent of Liberia’s transition from a war-torn country to post-war posterchild, I also co-produced and co-edited with Liberian publisher Stephanie Horton a special issue on Liberia for Pambazuka News, which served as a platform for some of Liberia’s most prominent thinkers, artists and activists to speak candidly about what transformation should look like, feel like and taste like after 160 years of independence. This special issue would eventually metamorphose into my deeper engagement with the Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings, a vibrant platform for Liberian arts and letters.

The incubation period at Fahamu also enabled me to write a scathing critique of Firestone Rubber Company’s protracted assault on Liberian workers, which was eventually published in Pambazuka News and the 2007 book, From the Slave Trade to ‘Free’ Trade: How Trade Undermines Democracy and Justice in Africa.

A few months before leaving Fahamu and Oxford to take up a fellowship in the Office of the President of Liberia, I travelled to The Hague to cover Liberian warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor’s trial at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, producing a podcast interview with the chief prosecutor as well as an in-depth analysis for Pambazuka News about how Taylor’s trial highlighted the nature of selective international justice against Africa.

All these personally fulfilling memories came flooding back last week when I attended Fahamu’s 20th anniversary celebration in Nairobi, Kenya. It felt like coming full circle 10 years after attending the World Social Forum with the organisation. That Fahamu has survived and thrived, even under very difficult circumstances, while other African progressive forces of change have succumbed to funding cuts, political intimidation, and general fatigue is a testament to the organisation’s resilience and vitality.

Listening to multiple panels of young African activists talk about how Fahamu had shaped and energised their commitment to social change reminded me so much of myself 10 years ago. Back then, I was looking for a progressive outlet to channel all of my angst into action, and Fahamu meaningfully schooled me in the ways of activism.

A decade ago, I learned that racist, sexist, neoliberal forces were hard at work organising, and that we progressives had to be 10 steps ahead of them. I learned that activism is a way of life, a deep and abiding commitment to fighting inequities big and small. For that, I am eternally grateful to Fahamu and the legion of African social justice gurus who continue to proclaim forcefully that another Africa is imperative. An Africa that sets its own agenda, funds its own agenda, and stands by its own agenda. An Africa whose agenda dignifies the majority of its citizens and transforms their lives for the better.

African American public scholar Cornel West once said that an activist is someone who is “maladjusted to injustice.” I wish Fahamu 20 more years and beyond of pushing people to be maladjusted to injustice, in Africa and beyond.

* ROBTEL NEAJAI PAILEY, PhD, is a Liberian academic, activist and author.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to [email=editor@pambazuka.org]editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org[/email] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Issue Number: 
Article Image Caption | Source: 
Fahamu

Zambia must clarify whether it will host Israel-Africa summit

Several news articles were published in early December indicating that Zambian President Edgar Lungu has agreed to host a summit meeting between African Union (AU) member-states and the State of Israel. (See Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2017)

These reports first surfaced during the inauguration ceremony for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. President Lungu attended the second induction into office of Kenyatta who is the leader of East Africa’s largest economy.

Lungu met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the Kenyatta inauguration events. The Zambian leader was photographed shaking hands with Netanyahu during the meeting.

A similar summit was scheduled earlier in 2017 in the West African state of Togo. However, mass demonstrations by Togolese opposition parties and coalitions demanding the resignation of the government of President Faure Gnassingbe for undemocratic practices, forced Lome to postpone the announced summit.

Zambia’s largest newspaper the Times reported on December 5 that: “President Edgar Lungu, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week at the re-inauguration ceremonies for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, told ZNBC that ‘For whatever reason, we have been given the mandate to host this summit which will bring its own benefits to Zambia.’ President Lungu said Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked Zambia to host an Africa-Israel summit that was originally scheduled for Togo in September.”

Despite this claim of mystification by President Lungu, it is quite obvious that there were definite reasons why Zambia was targeted to host the meeting. The Southern African state is one of the few countries within the AU which has a military attache stationed in Israel where it opened an embassy in 2015. Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.

Lungu paid a state visit to Israel in February 2017. The president was accompanied by a large delegation of ministers from his administration.

After his return to Zambia, Lungu was quoted in the Times as saying: “Israel is a pacesetter in survival instinct because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip.”

Unfortunately, no statement was recorded in the same publication which cites the plight of the Palestinian people who share a similar history with Africans as it relates to colonialism and imperialism. Israel under successive leaders since 1948 has collaborated with the same white supremacist forces which conquered, exploited and oppressed African people and their descendants throughout the world.

The Times then quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was in Kenya for the inauguration of Kenyatta as emphasizing in regard to Zambia that Tel Aviv’s aim was to: “deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”

Africa and Israel: A comparative history

Although Jewish people were subjected to national discrimination in Europe and the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, today since the recognition of the State of Israel by the United Nations in May 1948 most people do not consider them to be an oppressed people.  However, it is important to make a distinction between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as an ideology and political movement.

In fact when the founders of the World Zionist movement began in the later years of the 19th century, its leaders specifically sought to align themselves with the rising tide of colonialism throughout Asia and Africa. During the early phase of the Zionist movement Palestine was not the only location examined for the establishment of a Jewish state. (See Weizmann and Smuts: A Study in Zionist-South African Cooperation. Institute for Palestine Studies Monograph No. 43, 1975)

Other areas considered by the Zionists included territories in Africa such as modern-day Madagascar, Uganda and Libya. By 1917, British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour issued his famous declaration which mandated the creation of a state for the Jewish and Arab peoples in the-then colony of Palestine. Most historical literature on this territory prior to 1948 referred to the area as Palestine. (https://www.globalresearch.ca/palestine-israeli-foreign-policy-and-the-pan-african-movement/5333199)

Nevertheless, when the State of Israel was recognized by the UN it was done so as exclusively a Jewish state where millions of Palestinians had been forcibly removed and disenfranchised. In 1948, the UN was dominated by the European colonial powers and the U.S. The Soviet Union, whose military had made the greatest contribution to breaking the expansionist program of the Third Reich under Adolph Hitler, also voted in the UN to recognize the Jewish state in Palestine.

The overwhelming number of colonies in Africa did not gain their independence from European imperialism until after World War II with the upsurge of national liberation movements in Sudan, the Gold Coast (Ghana), Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Angola, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southwest Africa (Namibia), etc. After the century-long existence of the Atlantic Slave Trade which uprooted millions of Africans from the continent to Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, the advent of classic colonialism was imposed on the continent.

During 1884-85, the Berlin West Africa Conference was held in Germany. This gathering carved up Africa among the imperialist powers. It would take over a century to bring about the independence of the continent with the Republic of South Africa overthrowing the racist apartheid system in 1994. At present only the Western Sahara, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), remains under the colonial control of the North African monarchy of Morocco.

Africa and Palestine solidarity

After the 1956 Suez Canal war when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in order to retake control of this strategic asset, the political sympathy of most African states has shifted solidly in the direction of the Palestinian and other Arab people.

Later, as a result of the Egypt-Jordan-Syria wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973, a majority of independent African governments and national liberation movements broke relations with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is viewed by progressive forces throughout Africa as the de facto representatives of the people. After the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993 which gave rise to the Palestinian Authority, there has been a period of thawing relations between Tel Aviv and some African states.

However, African solidarity with Palestine remains strong. The Republic of South Africa under the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to be a bulwark of sentiment in favor of the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. This mood has existed in Zimbabwe as well during the 37-year presidency of Robert Mugabe, the former leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF).

When on December 6 U.S. President Donald Trump issued his executive order to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been held throughout the world. The three leading alliance partners in South Africa, the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have all issued statements decrying the policy decisions of Trump.

The U.S. government is the staunchest supporter of the State of Israel providing billions of dollars in assistance and military hardware on an annual basis. Egypt, due to military and political considerations ranks as the second largest recipient of direct aid from Washington. However, Africa as a whole can in no way compare to the economic, military and diplomatic support which is received by Israel irrespective of the fact that people of African descent in the U.S. are numbered in excess of 40 million inhabitants.

Consequently, the holding of an Israel-Africa Summit in Zambia would represent a tremendous setback in the progressive legacy of independent states on the continent. At this critical stage in international relations AU member countries should be intensifying their cooperation with other fraternal governments and peoples on the continent and indeed throughout the world.  

* ABAYOMI AZIKIWE is the editor of Pan Africa News Wire.

* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

* BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

* Please send comments to [email=editor@pambazuka.org]editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org[/email] or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Issue Number: 
Article Image Caption | Source: 
Pan-African News Wire

Why nuclear power is high on South African government’s Christmas wish-list

Recent developments in South African politics, such as the unexpected second cabinet reshuffle this year in which former state security minister David Mhlobo was moved to the energy portfolio and his ever more strident pro-nuclear announcements, amongst others, have fuelled speculation that momentum for the government’s nuclear energy plans is building once again. Coming after suffering what was widely perceived to be a series of setbacks this year, such as April’s high court ruling that the agreements the government struck with a number of nuclear vendor countries (including Russia) was illegal, and finance minister Gigaba’s pronouncement that nuclear power was unaffordable right now, the speed with which these developments have occurred and the noticeable swagger about nuclear supporters of late has caught many observers off-guard and has alarmed others besides. As a result, questions have been raised as to why the government has suddenly acted with such urgency with respect to the nuclear deal.

According to the most popular view, this urgency is born of uncertainty about the ruling party’s nuclear stance after nuclear champion President Zuma steps down as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) at its upcoming electoral conference to be held later this month. For good measure, an added impetus is that President Zuma is reportedly anxious to push the nuclear deal through before the end of his term of office as president in 2019. President Putin of Russia is rumoured to be growing impatient with the tardiness with which Zuma has been carrying out his side of an alleged secret agreement to award the nuclear contract to Russian energy giant Rosatom. The explanations proffered tend to attribute this flurry of activity to the personal motives of certain key individuals involved in the deal and are based on the presumption that changes in personnel could spell a change in the ruling party’s (and by extension the South African government’s) nuclear policy.

There is, however, little to suggest that this might be the case, no matter how popular they are or how plausible they appear given the topicality of the notion of ‘state capture’. By way of support for this assertion, it is pointed out that the government’s nuclear policy was approved by a full sitting of cabinet back in 2015 whilst the government has remained steadfast in its nuclear policy choices despite numerous staffing changes at Treasury, the Department of Energy and electricity parastatal Eskom or the identity of the incumbent in the Union Buildings for that matter. This suggests that more systemic reasons may lie behind the government’s commitment to nuclear power and the haste with which it appears to be acting at the moment.

To get an indication, in an earlier piece, we argued that South Africa’s commitment to nuclear power could be explained in terms of its foreign policy objectives (Boyce, 2016; pending). More specifically, it was contended that the government’s nuclear plans constitute a key part of South Africa’s bid to court Russian and Chinese support for a greater role in world affairs in general and African affairs in particular. Entering into a long term contract with key allies for sensitive technology is not merely an administrative decision but represents a shared vision and a commitment to a long-term strategic relationship. From a South African policymakers’ point of view, solidifying this relationship would bestow long-term diplomatic pay-offs especially should, as many in the upper echelons of power in South Africa already believe, the geopolitical axes of world power be inexorably tilting in favour of the emerging BRICS alliance of countries. The nuclear deal would provide the ideal opportunity to increase collaboration and cooperation with key allies Russia and China. Both these countries are likely to be keenly interested in South Africa’s nuclear plans for their own reasons: The Russians to showcase their nuclear technology and increase their earnings from the sale and transfer of Russian nuclear technology; and the Chinese in the provision of financing for this deal for, though the Russians may well be the preferred provider of nuclear technology, the only way they and South Africa, already downgraded to junk status, would be able to finance it is through securing outside financing.

Although the proposition that the South African government might want to use its nuclear plans for the purpose of advancing its global position can be used to explain why the government remains keen on nuclear power, and possibly why Russia is the preferred nuclear technology supplier, this cannot be used to explain the sudden urgency with respect to nuclear power it has shown. To make sense of this haste, one may have to look closer to home. Specifically, one may have to look to two developments on the national and continental political scene. On the African front, Nigeria and Russian company Rosatom recently struck a deal for Rosatom to build two nuclear reactors. South African policymakers may well interpret this deal as a diplomatic overture towards the Russians by the Nigerian government in their bid to usurp South Africa’s (perceived) preeminent position as Africa’s representative on the global stage and enlist Russian support for their own legitimate aspirations, as Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country, thereto. Local policymakers may thus conclude that it is crucial for South Africa to speedily advance its own dealings with the Russians to avoid being diplomatically out-manoeuvred by the Nigerians.

Domestically, Koeberg nuclear power station is rapidly approaching that time by which hard questions will start being asked about its decommissioning. All indications are that Eskom has not made sufficient provision for this eventuality nor, judging from the latest news reports and revelations at the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into state-owned enterprises, will the cash-strapped entity be able to undertake this task without requesting another government bailout. Awarding additional funds to Eskom to undertake an exercise it was supposed to have set funds aside for is likely to be politically costly given the reputational damage this parastatal has suffered of late. This has not been helped by its current application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for another significant electricity tariff increase. Fears of the fallout associated with bailing out Eskom yet again may lead pro-nuclear policymakers to conclude that it would be prudent to force the nuclear agenda through now, before questions about the costs of decommissioning come to the fore, lest they jeopardise the government’s nuclear plans.

Taken together, these factors rather than looming personnel changes in the public service, may better serve to explain what is driving the flurry of activity around nuclear of late. They may also explain the new-found confidence of nuclear supporters, who realise that the government must act now if it wishes to realise its larger vision for South Africa on the global stage. It is therefore asserted that nuclear power will remain firmly on the government’s Christmas wish-list regardless of the change of guard that will result from decisions taken at the ruling party’s upcoming electoral conference.

* DR GERARD BOYCE is an economist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He writes in his personal capacity.

References

Boyce, G. 2016. Behind South Africa’s nuclear ambitions: A foreign policy perspective. Pambazuka News, 29 September 2016. Web address: https://www.pambazuka.org/human-security/behind-south-africa%E2%80%99s-nuclear-ambitions-foreign-policy-perspective

Date accessed: 3 December 2017

Boyce, G. forthcoming. Nuclear endgame: The geopolitical calculus behind South Africa’s nuclear energy programme. Alternation.

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NYMetro
Comment by Nefertari Ahmose on April 13, 2012 at 3:07am

The sure way out of the trickery is being presented with the truth, but we are a very brainwash people and so it is hard to digest. Firstly, I have to give credit to those who seek righteousness through religion. Applauded they must, but because there are so many different churches and denominations it is very hard to ferret out the truth. Also with the accomplishment of science we must give appaulse, but I am afraid that the foundation of science is not based on the truth neither is our religious base. I will tell you why. If we go back to the era before Christ we will see that our ancestors revered the creation much more than the Creator. The ancestors did not only revere one God. They revered many Gods. The ancestors did not only revere a son, but sons and daughters. The ancestors did not only revere the male divinity, the ancestors also revered the female divinity. They spoke of Gods and Goddesses. Therefore Akhenaten with his conviction towards one God led to monotheism which the Christians, Moslems and Jews made their foundation. King Tut'ankhamun, a boy king overthrew Akhenaten one God philosophy and restored the many God philosophy. But what happened to King Tut'ankhamun? He died young and became the Hero who a certain Lord and his wife in England for a better place sold to certain American entity the whole story of Tut'akhamun. We are in America so I think it is only appropriate for those who are the keepers of the life of King Tut would come forward and so instead of me telling the story I would reserve that for them to tell. I need for this bit of knowledge to surface so I can continue with the falsehood of both science and religion, though with good intentions.


NYMetro
Comment by Nefertari Ahmose on August 26, 2010 at 4:27pm
Freedom comes from the innermost control of oneself. Therefore it is what one does or involves oneself with that determines his freedom. Why are we not free? We are not free because we do not make day to day decisions that concern us as a people. We talk of providers, is it us that provide food for our table? Is it us who provide the curriculum for our children's education? Is it us who fund our own operations? Is it us in charge of our mental condition. We can go on and on with these questions and if in deed you answer yes, then in my mind you are a free human being with potentials to be great.

South
Comment by ms. gg owens aka QUEEN AKEBA on August 12, 2010 at 9:50am
HOTEP ...WE WILL HONOR THIS MOST ARTICULATE AFRIKAN KING THIS AUGUST 17, 2010 WITH A GLOBAL READ A THON....VISIT THIS SITE FOR MORE INFO....IT IS A GREAT FEELING TO BE AN AFRIKAN FOR ME !!!!!!!!

NYMetro
Comment by KWASI Akyeampong on February 22, 2010 at 12:50pm
Brother Ali Aminitu, I get that "Tricks are still, being played", so then, where do you we as a people go from here? What is the way out of the TRICKERY?

kwasi

Chicago-Midwest
Comment by Ali Aminifu on February 22, 2010 at 12:20pm
Hotep, words from one of our greatest ancestors. The concept of an African Union is the workings of The Illuminati. They are making it sound and look good, by uniting the countries in Africa, under The African Union. It's not what it seems...Tricks are still, being played.

South
Comment by Osiris Akkebala on December 21, 2009 at 7:24am
Hoteph Beloved Black Divine Beings:

I am humble to be invited to be a member of a wall that set upon the foundation of the Greatest Black advocate for the freedom of Black people and Afrika since our fall ever!!!

The Honorable Marcus Garvey I respect to be my Leader and Spiritual Father, a Father who demonstrated how much he loved Afrika and the Afrikan.

You have as they say, hit a Home Run by erecting this Wall and the members of this wall must serve to not allow it to be penetrated by traitors to Afrika and the Black Race.

To You Do I Bow, Beloved KWASI Akyeampong.

Divine Respect To The Honorable Marcus Garvey

Be Kind To Your Self, Beloved.

Hoteph

Osiris
Chief Elder
The First Way Institute Of Afrikan Mythicism/Reparation/Repatriation

South
Comment by ms. gg owens aka QUEEN AKEBA on July 19, 2009 at 10:09pm
MA'AT HOTEP....IT IS INDEED AN HONOR TO BE PART OF THIS PARTICULAR GROUP,,,MARCUS M. GARVEY IS HIGH ON MY LIST FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE INSPIRED ME TO WANT TO BECOME MORE CULTURALLY AWARE OF WHO I AM AND THOSE AROUND ME...THE RED/BLACK AND GREEN...WHICH GAVE ME THE DESIRE TO PURCHASE A FLAG OF THOSE COLORS AND HANG IT HIGH ON MY HOUSE...WEAR MY FIINGERNAILS IN THOSE COLORS NOW FOR 15 YEARS AND THE NOSE RING FOR 16 YEARS WITH THE CULTURAL COLORS ON MY HOOP..READING ABOUT HIM AND HIS INTELLIGENT WIFE HAVE LEFT AN IMPACT ON ME ABOUT LIBERATION THAT WILL NOT AND CANNOT BE DENIED...STAND UP YOU MIGHTY RACE..WE CAN ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE CAN AND WILL....ASANTE' SANA FOR HAVING THIS SITE TO SHARE ON AND KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING........QUEEN AKEBA.

NYMetro
Comment by Nefertari Ahmose on March 1, 2009 at 5:12pm
All honour and praise to Sister Agnes Johnson with let us get with reality. Our Black masses will not buy into this, meaning Merkhutu and the Queendom of Wafrakan. My dear sister the good part is that Merkhutu is not just for sale, but for a people to grow in the knowledge and understanding of self and when they do be rewarded the things that give honour, dignity, success, education, self-worth and excellence by just making the effort. One cannot be apart of something that is truly not inclusive of them. Hence, the Civil Rights Movement, Garveyism, the struggle to reach today's height. I leave you with the Jamaican saying, "What is for you cannot be not for you". Love, peace and blessings. Nefertari A. Ahmose.

South
Comment by Okpara Nosakhere on February 28, 2009 at 9:31pm
Greetings Everyone,

Educational Management Associates, www.educationalmanagementassociates.com, has been given the honor of arranging speaking engagements starting the month of May 2009, for Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association of 1914.

Dr. Julius Garvey will be available for lectures to discuss the life of one of our most revered and greatest freedom fighters in America, his father.

"Where did the name of the organization come from? It was while speaking to a West Indian Negro who was a passenger with me from Southampton, who was returning home to the West Indies from Basutoland with his Basuto wife, that I further learned of the horrors of native life in Africa. He related to me in conversation such horrible and pitiable tales that my heart bled within me. Retiring from the conversation to my cabin, all day and the following night I pondered over the subject matter of that conversation, and at midnight, lying flat on my back, the vision and thought came to me that I should name the organization the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities (Imperial) League. Such a name I thought would embrace the purpose of all black humanity. Thus to the world a name was born, a movement created, and a man became known." Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

If you know of an organization that would like to have him share an important part of African American history contact: Okpara Nosakhere at okpara@aol.com. This would be an excellent opportunity to support your fund raising efforts. Peace!

West
Comment by Prophetees Leerma on February 28, 2009 at 4:24pm
Blessings to you and may you be richly blessed.
 
 
 

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