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BRICS create new Development Bank as well as a $100 billion foreign currency reserves pool

By Helmo Preuss | The BRICS Post | July 15, 2014

Fortaleza, Brazil – After some tough rounds of negotiations, BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have created not only a new $100 billion Development Bank, but also a $100 billion foreign currency reserves pool.

The announcement was made after a plenary meet of the five BRICS heads of state in Fortaleza on Tuesday.

Shanghai finally won the bid to host the Bank while India will get the presidency of the Bank for the first six years. The Bank will have a rotating chair. The Bank will also have a regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa. All the five countries will have equal shareholding in the BRICS Bank.

The five Finance Ministers will constitute the Bank’s board which will be chaired by Brazil.

The Bank will initially be involved in infrastructure projects in the BRICS nations.

The authorized, dedicated and paid in capital will amount to $100 billion, $50 billion and $10 billion respectively.

The idea of the BRICS Bank was proposed by India during the 2012 Summit in New Delhi.

BRICS have long alleged that the IMF and World Bank impose belt-tightening policies in exchange for loans while giving them little say in deciding terms. Total trade between the countries is $6.14 trillion, or nearly 17 percent of the world’s total. The last decade saw the BRICS combined GDP grow more than 300 per cent, while that of the developed word grew 60 per cent.

Apart from the new development Bank, the group of five leading emerging economies also created a Contingency Reserve Arrangement on Tuesday.

BRICS central banks will keep their reserves in gold and foreign currencies.

China will fund $41 billion, Brazil, India and Russia $18 billion each and South Africa with $5 billion. The funds will be provided according to a multiple. China’s multiple is 0.5, which means that if needed, the country will get half of $41 billion. The multiple is 2 for South Africa and 1 for the rest.

BRICS Finance ministers or central banks’ governors will form a governing body to manage the CRA while it will be presided over by the BRICS President.

The BRICS CRA will not be open to outsiders.

Meanwhile, at the Summit in Fortaleza, Russian President Vladimir Putin said BRICS must form an energy alliance.

“We propose the establishment of the Energy Association of BRICS. Under this ‘umbrella’, a Fuel Reserve Bank and BRICS Energy Policy Institute could be set up,” Putin said on Tuesday.

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Riot control drone armed with paintballs and pepper spray hits market

RT | June 19, 2014

With drones designed to contain ‘unruly crowds’ and ‘violent protests’, a South African company is bringing riot control to a whole new high-tech level. The unmanned aerial system is able to shoot pepper spray and non-lethal paintballs to mark offenders.

Desert Wolf, based in Pretoria, has begun selling its Skunk Riot Control Copter, a drone it says “is designed to control unruly crowds without endangering the lives of the protestors or the security staff.”

The UAS has four high-capacity gun barrels, capable of shooting up to 4,000 paintballs, pepper spray balls and solid plastic balls at rates of up to 80 balls per second. The company notes that the frequency should usually be between one and 20 balls per second, and that the high frequency of 80 “will only be used in an extreme ‘Life threatening situation’.”

Skunk CAD design (courtesy Desert Wolf)

Skunk CAD design (courtesy Desert Wolf)

The paintballs can be used to “mark” people in the crowd. “The operator has full control over each marker. He can select the RED paint marker and mark the protester who carries dangerous weapons, he can select the BLUE marker to mark the vandalising protestors,” the Desert Wolf website said.

The Skunk Copter can also employ strobe lights, “blinding lasers” and on-board speakers to send verbal warnings to a crowd, though New Zealand’s 3News notes that the Geneva Convention prohibits the use of loudspeakers and laser pointers in combat. The UAS also uses a thermal camera with night-vision capabilities and two full-HD video cameras to record events as they unfold. The eight powerful electric motors with 16-inch propellers allow the drone to lift up to 45 kilograms (99 pounds).

“Our aim is to assist in preventing another Marikana, we were there and it should never happen again,” the Desert Wolf website said. Marikana was a wildcat miners’ strike at a South African platinum mine in 2012, where 44 people were killed in the violent protests. According to autopsy reports, many of the deaths occurred when strikers were fleeing police.

The company sold 25 drones to a mining company after it unveiled the Skunk at the IFSEC security exhibition outside Johannesburg in May.

“We cannot disclose the customer, but I am allowed to say it will be used by an international mining house,” Desert Wolf’s managing director Hennie Kieser told BBC News. “We are also busy with a number of other customers who want to finalise their orders. Some [are] mines in South Africa, some security companies in South Africa and outside South Africa, some police units outside South Africa and a number of other industrial customers.”

The International Trade Union Confederation, which supports workers’ rights, told the BBC it was horrified by the new technology.

“This is a deeply disturbing and repugnant development and we are convinced that any reasonable government will move quickly to stop the deployment of advanced battlefield technology on workers or indeed the public involved in legitimate protests and demonstrations,” International Trade Union Confederation spokesman Tim Noonan said.

“We will be taking this up as a matter of urgency with the unions in the mining sector globally,” he added.

The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) campaign group is also speaking out against the use of the Shark Copter and similar technology, such as the CUPID drone that employs an 80,000-volt taser dart.

Noel Sharkey, chair of the ICRAC, told the BBC he is concerned that the deployment of such drones risks “creeping authoritarianism and the suppression of protest.”

“The use of remote-controlled drones to police or attack civilian individuals or groups with violent force is an offense against human dignity and a threat to democratic sovereignty,” Mark Gubrud, a physicist with the ICRAC, told 3News. “It is also a potential precursor to scenarios in which the robots would operate fully autonomously, choosing their own targets outside of human control.”

“These weapons cannot be sufficiently well controlled to avoid causing serious injury, especially to eyes,” Gubrud told CNet. “Many existing ‘non-lethal’ crowd-control weapons can and often do kill.”

The first batch of drones, which cost about 500,000 South African Rand ($46,000) apiece, will be deployed to South African mines later in June, according to the Verge. Strikes against three of the country’s top three platinum producers have been going on for the last five months, though a wage deal between the mining companies and unions is imminent, Reuters reported on Friday.

June 20, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Rough and Polished: South Africa Shortchanged on Diamond Trade

By Khadija Sharife | 100Reporters |May 16, 2014

JOHANNESBURG – At every step, from mine to ring finger, South Africa’s diamond industry is benefitting from royalty and export tax structures riddled with loopholes, shortchanging citizens of one of the world’s premier sources of diamonds of tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue.

In 2011, South Africa produced diamonds whose uncut, or rough, value was $1.73 billion, or 12 percent of global production, according to the most recent government data available. Yet from 2010 to 2011, diamond-producing companies paid South Africa’s government just $11 million in mining royalties, according to the latest Tax Statistics report, produced by the South African Treasury and the South African Revenue Service.

A 100Reporters investigation of the diamond trade in South Africa has found that companies here pay a royalty rate far lower than that of other African states. Companies can also reduce or cancel out export taxes if they offer locally-mined diamonds to the state for purchase—even if the South African government never buys the gems, often due to formidably high prices.

In an apparent conflict of interest, De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., the dominant player until 2010, ‘donates’ paid staff to the State Diamond Trader, charged with assessing diamonds offered by De Beers and other companies to the State for purchase. Provided 10 percent of domestic diamonds are offered, these companies may then receive export tax exemptions.

The main beneficiary of a system tilted in industry’s favor is De Beers, the sprawling multinational cartel that accounts for 35 percent of global rough diamond production, mainly from Africa. Until recently, De Beers dominated the South African diamond industry.

In 2011, De Beers accounted for $1.34 billion of South Africa’s production, and it remains the country’s primary diamond importer and exporter. The only other significant player, Petra Diamonds, with whom De Beers controls 97 percent of the local diamond industry, neither imports nor exports.

From 2005 to 2012, diamond exporters, primarily De Beers, appear to have downplayed the market value of their rough diamond exports by $3 billion, according to an analysis* of declarations in corporate filings under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the rough diamond tracking system used to keep conflict gems off the world market. The same undervalued gems were then sold at market prices around the world.

Lynette Gould, head of media relations for De Beers, declined to comment on the findings, or to address questions about the valuation, sales and import and export volumes of diamonds from South Africa. In an email, Gould wrote that the “values and volumes of De Beers production is . . . proprietary.”

A Broken System

To ensure that the government gets its share of revenues from the extraction of the country’s diamonds, the South African government relies on a national agency, the Government Diamond Valuator (G.D.V.), charged with determining the quality, and thus worth, of diamonds. But highly-placed sources in the diamond industry said that the G.D.V. seldom issues independent assessments of the country’s diamonds, opting instead to echo the valuations that De Beers puts forth in the company’s price lists.

“The gap between the industry’s presence in South Africa and its contributions to the country’s coffers has its roots in how diamonds are valued in South Africa and who controls the process,” said Claude Nobels, a former government diamond valuator.

“We had a plan to create a system, under the Nelson Mandela government, that would generate fair revenues for all parties involved,” Nobels told 100Reporters. But to date, “the diamond mining and trading industry has not truly benefitted South Africans. The loss to the state is billions of dollars,” he said.

Calculating diamond revenue losses to the South African budget is complicated by a dearth of data, particularly concerning how diamonds are valued. Valuation, in turn, drives royalties and export taxes, as well various forms of tax exemptions. For example, companies can receive credits for importing diamonds to be cut and polished in South Africa, which in turn may reduce or even cancel export taxes.

Until 2012, government reports on diamonds generally showed blank spaces rather than reveal value and volume of local and export sales. Reports for other commodities such as gold and platinum, however, teemed with data. Martin Kohler, Deputy Director of Statistics for the Department of Mineral Resources (D.M.R.), said the government withholds diamond data to protect big producers, the largest among them De Beers, unless the companies authorize the release of the information.

“De Beers, who had a predominant share of the diamond market in the past, authorised us to publish the aggregated production data only (but not sales data),” Kohler said in an email. According to Kohler, the recent sale of De Beers’s mines to other owners meant that, “the predominant position of De Beers has been diluted, and we are able to publish sales data with effect from January 2013 (but not before that date).”

Kohler said such information was strictly confidential “where one company has more than 75 percent market share, or where there are less than three producers of a mineral, unless all such producers have granted permission to publish the data.”

In November 2013, the company moved its sorting, valuing, and selling center to Gaborone, Botswana from London. According to a knowledgeable source, the South African government pressured De Beers to shift sales activities to Africa, specifically South Africa. De Beers caved in to the pressure but preferred Botswana as a partner. The company signed a ten-year agreement relocating global production sales to Gabarone. South Africa, wary of being seen as a domineering neighbor, acquiesced, the source said.

“Bricks in the Wall”

To understand South Africa’s diamond industry and the system of taxation that now governs it, it helps to look to the industry’s origins, which are synonymous with De Beers. Historically, the apartheid regime cultivated close relations with South Africa’s diamond industry. John Vorster, an apartheid-era prime minister, once described corporate support from De Beers and other large companies as “bricks in the walls of the regime’s continued existence.”

De Beers was formed in 1888 by colonialist Cecil Rhodes and acquired by Ernest Oppenheimer’s Anglo-American in the 1920s. By 1987, Anglo-American PLC controlled over 60 percent of the wealth listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, through an estimated 80 listed entities.

Despite its dominant role in the global diamond trade, De Beers has a history of running afoul of the law in important markets. In 2008, the European Union forced De Beers to end decades of price fixing with Russia’s Alrosa, another dominant diamond producer. At the time, De Beers controlled 50 percent of global rough diamond production.

Meanwhile, for more than 60 years, De Beers was banned from directly trading in the United States because of price fixing, despite the fact that the U.S. accounts for half the world’s diamond jewelry sales. In 2012, a settlement of $295 million was reached between the U.S. government and Anglo-American, which currently owns 85 percent of De Beers.

In South Africa, De Beers functioned in a protected niche even after the end of apartheid. For instance, it paid no export taxes on diamonds until 2007. According to Parliamentary documents, De Beers extracted the advantage in a twist worthy of a B-movie: for years, it held the government at bay by citing a smudged, unsigned document generated under the apartheid regime, just prior to the first democratic elections, that allegedly provided the company with an export tax exemption for 13 years.

Further, extractive industries in South Africa, including diamonds, did not pay royalties until 2010, with the adoption of the Mineral and Petroleum Resource Royalty Act.

Royalties

According to the African Development Bank, South Africa was the “only major mining country on the continent without a royalty on mining” until the act’s passage. To address the gaps in the system, the act mandated that companies pay royalties at rates ranging from 0.5 to 7 percent. Royalties, calculated against criteria such as gross sales and the company’s net operating mining profits, are compensation to the nation for the permanent loss of non-renewable resources.Yet in crafting and applying the royalty rate, the diamond industry, rather than the South African government, has had the upper hand.

Take the rate itself, for example. Botswana and Namibia, major diamond-producing states, have royalty rates fixed at 10 percent. Yet because of its sliding royalty scale, South Africa averages an annual royalty rate of about 2 percent, which netted the government a total of $57.5 million from 2010 to 2012.

“The revenues from diamond royalties are very low – just 1.1 percent of sales for 2011,” said Mark Curtis, a U.K.-based development finance consultant for global non-governmental organizations. “If diamond companies paid the mid-royalty range of 3.5 percent, royalties would have amounted to $24.8 million more than the state actually received,” he said.

The explanatory draft of the act originally pegged royalties at 10 percent of the value of diamonds at the ‘mine-gate’ and at 8 percent after processing.  But the government reduced the rate following pressure from the diamond industry. Created around a complex profit-based system, royalties are considered a “cost” by business, and depend on the value of minerals sold.

Clarity Lacking

Though diamonds are valued by their clarity, the same cannot be said of South Africa’s diamond industry or its largest player, De Beers.

Unlike other South Africa diamond companies, De Beers does not allow the government to publish key information about the value of the diamonds it extracts. As a result, the state and the public cannot verify the fairness of the royalty De Beers ultimately pays.

In addition, to determine the value of a diamond, DeBeers and other companies use complex and closely-held pricing formulas, that they do not permit  the government to review. De Beers’s pricing formula counts 12,000 categories.

According to one European valuator who worked closely with De Beers, the company’s price book was not a single listing, but rather an “elaborate system used to value diamonds for different purposes. By manipulating various categories with price points, they can increase or decrease the value of diamonds . . . These figures have nothing to do with fair market prices.”

Speaking on behalf of De Beers, Gould said, “I’m afraid the information on pricing is proprietary and therefore confidential.”

Other companies also maintain proprietary pricing systems. In an email, the Government Diamond Valuator confirmed that it did not “have access to the pricing policies of other diamond companies,” but asserted that the Government Diamond Valuator assessed “each parcel imported or exported to determine a value deemed to be fair market value.”

However, highly placed sources in the diamond industry, including a former government valuator, said the G.D.V.’s relies on random spot checks, and verifies only the size of diamonds, not their quality. One official close to the Department of Minerals and Resources confirmed that mispricing of diamonds was easily possible due to what was considered the “very subjective nature of pricing.”

Export Taxes

In 2007, the South African government established an export tax of 5 percent on diamonds. But from 2009 to 2013, according to the latest Tax Statistics report, it yielded only $21.9 million to the national purse.

The state has pulled in little revenue due to exemptions built into the 2007 Diamond Export Levy Act. The exemptions were created ostensibly to encourage mining companies to make quality diamonds available to domestic industry, before shipping abroad. Companies that offer rough diamonds to local buyers for cutting and polishing, or beneficiation, through a government mechanism called the State Diamond Trader system can obtain breaks on export taxes.

Large companies like De Beers can get the exemption if they sell 40 percent of their South African rough diamonds to buyers in South Africa, and offer 10 percent to the State Diamond Trader.

The State Diamond Trader, however, often cannot afford to purchase rough diamonds because the price is too high. The trader’s annual reports disclose that purchasing diamonds for the local beneficiation industry was difficult due to, “unsustainable rises in prices at producer level” and “limited rough supply.”

De Beers further provides fully-paid staff to the trader to conduct diamond valuation, according to reports of the State Diamond Trader, which describe the presence of De Beers staff at the government agency as a “donation.”

In an email, De Beers said, “the arrangement between De Beers and the S.D.T. is subject to confidentiality and information relating to this arrangement cannot be provided without the S.D.T.’s consent.”

Futhi Zikalala, C.E.O. of the State Diamond Trader, told 100Reporters that each parcel was individually valued. “The process is legislated. We do valuations for the 10 percent offered to the S.D.T. It takes four or five days at a time, with 10 cycles a year.”

Asked whether she would comment on the apparent conflict of interest in the State Diamond Trader’s long-standing use of De Beers’s donated staff, she responded, “Actually, no. I do not understand why you are asking that question.”

A source close to the Department of Mineral Resources said that use of De Beers’s staff was for practical reasons: the S.D.T. was under-resourced and in need of diamond experts.

In October 2013, the Minister of Minerals Resources, Susan Shabangu, said that the State Diamond Trader system had failed and would require an overhaul.

Transfer Pricing

Companies can also win export tax exemption if they import rough diamonds for local beneficiation. The higher the value of the imported gems, the greater the import credits a company can generate to ultimately offset their export taxes, creating a system vulnerable to price manipulation.

But the arrangement appears to have done little to nurture domestic cutting and polishing industry. According to figures cited in a South African parliamentary report (2013), South Africa currently hosts just 300 polishers, down from 3,000 in 2008, when 140,000 carats, maximum, were locally beneficiated (see sidebar).

The report cited diamond industry officials who stated that the local cutting and polishing industry was “in distress.” While the 2008 recession had impacted the global diamond industry everywhere, beneficiation industries elsewhere–including India, China and neighboring Botswana–bounced back, even expanding training facilities as well as cutting and polishing labor. In 2013, African Romance, a medium-sized state-backed beneficiation diamond company, was liquidated. Reasons cited included the absence of consistent quality diamond supplies.

Until 2013, De Beers exported gems from its mines in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa to London for valuation and then imported them into South Africa for sale to select buyers called sightholders. The sales values declared to sightholders are confidential, the company said.

South Africa boasts curiously high import prices for diamonds. While higher import values are said to correspond to the quality of select rough diamonds, South Africa’s import price appears significantly more than the price of diamonds imported to other countries such as Israel, arguably one of the world’s leading gem quality cutting and polishing centers.

For example, South Africa’s average import prices, at $544 in 2009 and $773 in 2010, were significantly higher than Israel’s at $165 and $156, respectively, according to certificates filed under the Kimberley Process.

In 2007, South Africa’s import price hit a staggering $1,706 per carat with a total import value of $2.1 billion. Yet only $670 million would be sold to De Beers’s pre-approved South Africa-based purchasers, known as Diamond Trading Company (D.T.C.) sightholders. Though these figures were published in a De Beers report, when asked for annual D.T.C. local sales, Gould responded that the information was proprietary.

According to a diamond specialist previously employed by the South African government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, import and exported diamonds were often “mispriced” by an average of 20 percent or more.

The other countries with similarly high import averages were those where De Beers also held a large presence, such as Namibia.

“South Africa’s import figures are improbable,” said a European Government Diamond Valuator. “These prices are exceptionally high as an average price.”

Most imported diamonds appear to be re-exported uncut and unpolished. While imports make up relatively small volume, or carats, they drastically increase the value of rough diamond exports. Subtracting the values and volume of imported diamonds shown on South Africa’s K.P. certificates from corresponding exports, the actual price per carat of rough diamonds being exported for the first time falls dramatically.

When asked about the anomalies in reported trade figures for diamonds under the  Kimberley Process (K.P.) in South Africa, where De Beers is a dominant player, Gould responded, “The primary purpose of the K.P. process (or the issuing of the certificates at least) is for Governments to certify the origin of diamonds, not to keep track of the volume and value of diamonds imported or exported; that is the function of the relevant Regulator and G.D.V.”

The Government Diamond Valuator

While the Government Diamond Valuator is responsible for independently appraising gems and for monitoring the trade in diamonds, it remains questionable whether the South African valuator is able to provide an independent assessment. Such assessments are critical for the South African government, and public, to secure royalties and export taxes that reflect the true worth of the country’s diamond trade.

Former De Beers director Bertie Lincoln, in a rare quote under oath to a South African court 17 years ago, described the Government Diamond Valuator as “an auditor. The value is the price which is in the [De Beers] Price Book. So the government valuator has got no input into the value of a diamond.”

The Government Diamond Valuator did not respond to follow-up questions about the source of information informing the G.D.V.’s Price Book, the size of the agency or office, the amount of time available for valuation of imported and exported diamonds, and other questions.

“The significant differences between the dollar-per-carat for South African rough diamond imports and exports suggest possible price manipulation for the purposes of aggressive tax avoidance,” said public finance specialist, Len Verwey. Companies like De Beers, he stated, may indeed have a plausible explanation, in which case, “diamond companies as well as the Government Diamond Valuator should provide more transparent reporting to society on the factors that determine such valuations.”

Verwey stated that the Government Diamond Valuator’s credibility “in ensuring fair market value for diamond transactions is essential to its success.”

But critics of South Africa’s current royalty and taxation system are skeptical that the government will impose greater transparency on De Beers and other major producers.

“Inevitably,” stated one former De Beers employee, “the company will stonewall and the G.D.V. will run a mile” from transparency and accountability in the diamond valuation system.

He added, “No one will want this brought into the open.”

*The information on transfer pricing manipulation of diamonds comes from a report by Sharife and Sarah Bracking, published by the Leverhulme Center for the Study of Value, University of Manchester, and supported by a grant from Oxfam Great Britain.

Khadija Sharife is the lead Africa forensics researcher for Investigative Dashboard (ID) and a senior investigator for African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR). She is the author of Tax Us If You Can: Africa.

June 19, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

A new take on land reform in Zimbabwe

IRIN | February 5, 2013

LONDON/HARARE  – More than 10 years after the chaotic and often violent farm invasions that accompanied Zimbabwe’s fast-track land reform programme, a new book argues that the redistribution programme has dramatically improved the lives of thousands of smallholder farmers and their families.

Starting in 2000, the government implemented an initiative to acquire 11 million hectares of white-owned farmland and redistribute it on a massive scale; the programme was often carried out in the form of farm invasions led by frustrated war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe. By its conclusion, only 0.4 percent of farmland remained in the hands of white commercial farmers, and smallholder farmers dominated the agricultural sector.

The land reform programme was followed by years of drought, hyperinflation and an economic meltdown.

Thirteen years later and more than 8,000km away, it still raises strong emotions. At a recent event hosted by London’s Chatham House at which authors of the new book, Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land, defended their work, the hall was packed, and a polite but persistent group of anti-Mugabe protesters occupied the pavement outside.

The book avoids passing judgement on the often violent manner in which the programme was executed. “This is not a book about what might have been, could have been, or should have been,” write authors Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Smart. Instead, it focuses on the results of a study they carried out in Mashonaland, a region of northern Zimbabwe covering three provinces, which found that many of the ‘fast-track’ farmers are faring much better than has been widely assumed.

Despite receiving very little government assistance, “we saw that these farmers had a real passion for farming. We found that farmers are making investments, building houses and barns… and buying farm implements,” said Manjengwa. “They are making the land their own, and they are becoming serious commercial farmers.”

Finding success

When Samson Pfumo, a 52-year-old teacher from Harare, applied for and received a 60-hectare plot in Marondera District through the land redistribution programme, his expectations were low.

“My brother, a war veteran, encouraged me to apply to the government for a piece of land, but I was pessimistic because of the controversy that surrounded the land reform programme,” Pfumo told IRIN. “When I got an offer letter for the plot [in 2005], I only set up a small mud-and-dagga [hut] and hardly visited the farm.”

When the economy started improving in 2009, after the formation of a coalition government, Pfumo developed a keener interest in farming and started raising pigs. A year later, he had 60 pigs, some of which he sold to buy farming implements and to start growing maize for feed.

Today, he has five large pig pens housing more than 300 pigs, which he periodically slaughters for sale, with each pig fetching an average of US$150. He is also rearing about 500 chicks for sale and is considering venturing into tobacco farming after noting that many resettled farmers have been making good profits from the crop.

“I managed to buy a truck to ferry meat to my clients and a luxury car. My two sons are now studying at reputable universities in South Africa because I can afford it, thanks to the piggery project,” said Pfumo, who has left teaching and now lives on the farm with his wife and mother.

Controversial progress

Manjengwa and her colleagues found that even the less ambitious among the new farmers surveyed, who mainly received smaller plots of five or six hectares, had greatly improved their standard of living. After being mostly poor, landless and unemployed prior to resettlement, virtually all of them were able to grow enough food for their families, and to sell the surplus to pay for their children’s school fees. But many were doing much better than that, producing significant quantities of maize, tobacco and other crops for sale, and building up capital in the form of livestock, farm buildings and equipment. They were also starting to employ labour.

The issue of labour is contentious because so many farm workers lost their jobs and their homes when the old white-owned farms were broken up; some are still homeless and unemployed. However, Hanlon, Manjengwa and Smart estimate that around 550,000 family members and 350,000 paid labourers now work full-time on land that previously employed 170,000 workers.

Charles Taffs, president of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers’ Union, reminded those at the meeting at Chatham House that the workers now being hired are not the same ones who were driven off the commercial farms. He also asserted that the figures presented in the study did not add up.

Zimbabwe’s agricultural production experienced a dramatic drop following the upheavals of 2000, but according to the authors, it is now returning to the levels of the 1990s. This is despite the fact that many rely on a much more labour-intensive form of farming than that used by the earlier white commercial farmers.

The authors also point out that, although many of the white-owned commercial farms were efficient and productive, many others were struggling and had far more land than they could use; some of the most fertile land in the country had gone uncultivated. The new smallholders have brought much of that unused land into cultivation.

Dilemma

Manjengwa and her colleagues are not the first to suggest that Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform programme has achieved a number of positive results. A 10-year study of land reform in Masvingo Province, led by Ian Scoones from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and published in 2010, challenged a number of the “myths” surrounding fast-track land reform, finding that many of the 400 households sampled were employing labour and expanding their farming operations.

“The suggestion that the fast-track land reform programme was not an unmitigated disaster presents dilemmas about whether to accept this growing body of evidence and risk endorsing the methods used to achieve the asset transfer,” commented Admos Chimhowu of Manchester University’s Institute for Development Policy and Management, who pointed out that neighbouring South Africa has yet to find a solution to its land reform challenges.

June 1, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | April 23, 2014

The United States court system, whose value to anyone but the rich is rapidly disappearing, may yet play a role in the unfinished business of South African liberation. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that a group of South Africans can proceed with a suit against Ford Motor Company and IBM for doing business with the white regime during the time of apartheid. The plaintiffs include victims of torture and relatives of people killed by the racist government. They will have to prove, not only that the American corporations knew that their products would be used to oppress and torture South Africans, but that Ford and IBM’s purpose in doing business in the country was to “aid and abet” the white authorities.

That’s a very high burden of proof. However, it’s a better shot than the U.S. Supreme Court gave to a group of Nigerian refugees who tried to sue Shell Oil for helping the Nigerian military to systematically torture and kill environmentalists in the 1990s. The High Court’s interpretation of the relevant U.S. law was that the crimes committed in Nigeria didn’t have a close enough connection to the United States. However, the justices left the door open to other cases that might have a stronger connection to the U.S.

This week, federal judge Shira Scheindlin – the same judge who issued the sweeping ruling against New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies, last year – gave the South African plaintiffs permission to make their case. She also rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits. Judge Scheindlin found no basis in law to argue that international laws against such things as genocide, slavery, war crimes and piracy “apply only to natural persons and not to corporations.”

The South African plaintiffs are part of the Khulumani Group, which was created as a response to the weaknesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new Black government of South Africa. The Khulumani activists say the government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims. Most importantly, the Black government that came to power in 1994 and its reconciliation program provided no redress for the systematic social and economic crimes of apartheid. The Khulumani Group agreed with Frank Meintjies, a South African activist and intellectual who wrote that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “failed to address the more collective loss of dignity, opportunities and systemic violence experienced by the oppressed.” He continued: “No hearings were held on land issues, on the education system, on the migrant labor system and on the role of companies that collaborated with, and made money from, the apartheid security system” – companies like Ford and IBM.

Thanks to the Khulumani Group’s lawsuit in Manhattan, two U.S.-based multinational corporations may finally have to explain why they gave aid and comfort to South African apartheid.

~

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

BRICS rejects sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

Press TV – March 25, 2014

The group of five major emerging national economies known as the BRICS has rejected the Western sanctions against Russia and the “hostile language” being directed at the country over the crisis in Ukraine.

“The escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions, and force does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution, according to international law, including the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter,” foreign ministers of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – said in a statement issued on Monday.

The group agreed that the challenges that exist within the regions of the BRICS countries must be addressed within the framework of the United Nations.

“BRICS countries agreed that the challenges that exist within the regions of the BRICS countries must be addressed within the fold of the United Nations in a calm and level-headed manner,” the statement added.

The White House said earlier on Monday that US President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan decided to end Russia’s role in the G8 over the crisis in Ukraine and the status of Crimea.

Meanwhile, the G7 group of top economic powers has snubbed a planned meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to host in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in June.

The G7 said they would hold a meeting in Brussels without Russia instead of the wider G8 summit, and threatened tougher sanctions against Russia.

Russia brushed off the Western threat to expel it from the G8 on the same day. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which nearly 97 percent of the participants voted in favor of the move.

On March 21, Putin signed into law the documents officially making Crimea part of the Russian territory. Putin said the move was carried out based on the international law.

March 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Palestinians Allowed to Resist? Part II

By Dina Jadallah-Taschler | Palestine Chronicle | February 28, 2009

There is an abundance of discourse over the means and methods that are pursued and/or justified by the Palestinians in their quest for independence and liberation. In the first part of this essay, I presented the legal, historical, and current context that forms the root of their current predicament. In this segment, I want to address the pros and cons of pursuing an exclusively non-armed struggle both by looking at the uniqueness of Palestinian circumstances and also by comparing it with the Indian National Liberation Movement, which is usually presented in Western narratives as almost exclusively non-violent, and successful, for having (ostensibly) been so.

A Brief History of Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance

Palestinians are continuously asked to not resist. The truth is that whether they resist violently or non-violently, Israeli violence continues unabated. Perhaps the scale, ugliness and the immediacy of the trauma are exaggerated in a massacre like we recently saw in Gaza, but the reality of purposeful eradication persists.

Examples of Palestinian non-violent resistance have existed since the very start of Jewish immigration into Palestine, but were never enough to attain freedom. Ultimately it is an imperative but frequently unstated precondition, that Palestinians accept a permanent subjugated and defeated status, preferably outside of their historic lands.  It is otherwise known as the Yigal Allon Plan (1967), a policy actively pursued by even the “Dove” Shimon Peres and entailing the expulsion of Palestinians. The Allon plan formed the basis of Israel’s settlements/colonization. Frequently unacknowledged in mainstream Western coverage is that only after acceptance of defeat and eradication can Israel’s violence (aka “retaliation”) against Palestinians stop.

Unwilling to accept that, and choosing a policy of “sumoud”/steadfastness on the land, Palestinians pursue(d) non-violent resistance as a complimentary and grassroots approach against the occupation. Here are just a few examples of Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israeli aggression: in 1902, villages of al-Shajara, Misha, and Melhamiyya peacefully protested against the takeover of 7000 hectares of agricultural land by the first Zionist settlers; in 1936, Palestinians held a six-month industrial strike protesting the British Mandate’s refusal to grant them self-determination; in 1986, Hannah Siniora and Mubarak ‘Awad (who advocates the power of non-violence and is a self-described disciple of Gandhi; recently deported by Israel) drew a list of civic disobedience activities heavily reliant on boycotting Israeli products and economic self-sufficiency, helping launch the 1987-93 First Intifada; in 1993, the signing of the Oslo Accords and the pursuit of the “settlement” path; and currently, the holding of protests in the villages of Jayyous, Budrus, Bil’in, Ni’lin and Umm Salamonah against the apartheid wall (1: See here). Today, the tradition of non-violence is still practiced and promoted by some secular and independent Palestinian political leaders, like the Palestinian National Initiative led by Mustafa Barghouti. And even Hamas, often presented as the ultimate terrorist organization, upheld a six month ceasefire with Israel but was still subjected to a non-lifting of the suffocating siege of Gaza. (The ceasefire ended on November 4, 2008 when Israel conducted a targeted assassination that killed six Hamas members.)

Needless to say, these facts are rarely, if ever covered in mainstream accounts.  Instead the focus is consistently on “terror” and “Israel’s right to defend itself,” ignoring the cumulative suffering of the occupation. As for Israel’s response, it consistently uses overwhelming force, including tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition, etc.  against protesters and justifies this as “self-defense,” even when protecting illegal settlement colonies.

Which raises the question of the efficacy of non-violent resistance as the sole or primary means of achieving national liberation. While each national liberation struggle is unique, there are certain conditions and methods that may translate across people. One thing that many have in common is that non-violent resistance was not pursued exclusively. This was true of the African National Congress’ anti-apartheid Boycott and Divestment Movement in South Africa, which accompanied armed struggle. It was also true of the struggle for national liberation from British rule in India, a fact usually unmentioned in Western press, which tends to focus on Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha / non-violent path to resistance. In doing so, there is a grave disservice done to explaining how Indian independence came to be. There is also a convenient decontextualization of the struggle.  And I use “convenient” intentionally, because Gandhi’s model is often held up (by Israel and the West) as the best and “most civilized” one that ought to be emulated by the oppressed Palestinians.

Gandhi in Context: Was the Indian National Liberation Struggle Entirely Non-Violent? The name Gandhi and non-violent resistance (satyagraha) are almost synonymous in most people’s minds. Satyagraha’s aim is not just to defeat the opponent, but aims to convert the adversary as well. And yet there are important nuances and definite progression in Gandhi’s approach to war and colonialism. On the subject of whether it is better to be a coward or to resist violently, he said: “I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence… I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour…” (2:  Eds. R. K. Rabhu & U. R. Rao, “Between Cowardice and Violence,” The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Ahemadabad, India, 1967, p. 3) He also said: “Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenseless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery.  Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right. (3: Ibid, pp. 369-70) Applied to the Palestinian context, this would indicate that Palestinians have the duty to fight back against their own annihilation. However, he would have probably qualified that by saying that non-violence could cause the same changes with lower loss in life.

Historically, too Gandhi’s attitudes to war evolved.  While still in South Africa, and in reaction to the Bambatha (Zulu) Rebellion of 1906 against a new British poll-tax, to which Britain responded by declaring a war, Gandhi encouraged the British to recruit Indians. He wanted to advance Indian claims as full citizens of the Empire.  He also encouraged Indians to join the war through his columns in Indian Opinion.

Gandhi’s statecraft and thought did not happen in a vacuum. Likewise, India’s independence was not the work of only one man or one concept or one strategy.  In fact, India’s nationalist feelings pre-existed Gandhi and the Congress Party, and evidence of it can be found as early as 1857.  The first group to call for complete independence was the uncompromisingly secular Ghadar Party, organized in 1913 by Indian immigrants in California. (3: See here) The party actively pursued violent resistance and revolution (rejecting caste as well) and predictably, their actions were labeled as “terrorism” by Britain. Operating mainly in the first two decades of the 20th Century, the Ghadarites were successful in recruiting Indian soldiers in the British Army (in Hong Kong, Singapore, Rangoon, and Basra) and urging them to revolt.

As for Gandhi, once in India, he progressed to advocating non-violent resistance as a “weapon.” His political views on Indian independence evolved as well. Consider that at the age of 45, Gandhi still held some esteem for the British empire, calling it a “spiritual foundation,” in contrast to the views of most Indian revolutionaries. (4: See here) It wasn’t until after the Amritsar Massacre of civilians by British troops in the Punjab, that Gandhi advocated complete self-government  maturing into independence (swaraj). In the intervening years there was a constant push and pull between Gandhi’s satyagraha policy and other political personalities and groups pursuing independence — not always non-violently.

A massive wave of revolutionary unrest swept India in 1919.  British violent retaliation was unable to quell it. For example, there were more than 200 strikes in the first six months of 1920 alone. And yet in 1921, when Muslim leader Hasrat Mohani wrote a resolution asking for complete independence, Gandhi led the opposition against it and secured its rejection. Likewise, he supported Britain in WWI by trying to recruit Indians for the war effort. He himself volunteered twice for it, in present-day Iraq and in France, reasoning that he “owed” this to the empire in return for military protection. (5: Ibid) This led to deep divisions within the Congress party and also caused a dramatic drop in the popularity of Congress. Young revolutionaries like Rash Behari Bose, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, and revolutionary groups like the Workers and Peasant Party (Kirti Kisan Party) and militant unions like the Bombay textile workers were frequently at odds with Congress. Armed revolutionary groups that emerged in this period included the Hindustan Republican Army and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army in northern India, as well as the “Revolt Groups” in Bengal (e.g. Chittagong group led by Surya Sen).  Working class and union resistance continued throughout the 1930s. Eventually, it was in response to this revolutionary tide, that the Congress Party became less conservative and more supportive of the more militant attitude. As for Gandhi, he returned to advocating non-violent struggle and launched the salt satyagraha (1930-31) and the boycott campaigns. He has been criticized by some for not taking advantage of this revolutionary tide, thereby delaying independence.

Even at the time of World War II, Gandhi prevaricated on non-violence: first offering “non-violent moral support” to the British effort, and only later rescinding that decision when members of the Congress Party objected to the inclusion of India in the war effort without her consultation. In 1939-40, strikes and uprisings in the countryside swelled dramatically. Afterwards, the Congress party was compelled by grassroots pressure to launch the Quit India movement in August of 1942. It is important to note that this period in the struggle was one of extreme violence, mass arrests, and so forth. And yet, Quit India’s success in contributing to independence is controversial.  Those arguing that it failed say that it fizzled out after five months (largely due to the army’s loyalty) and didn’t topple the Raj or bring it to the negotiating table for independence. In contrast, those who see it as a success, focus on how it sapped colonial energy and resources and on its success at mobilizing masses of people.(5: See here)  Importantly, it inspired the final phase of the fight for independence, which witnessed increasingly militant peasant uprisings, sometimes joined by some of the landlords.

By the end of the war, Britain was indicating that power would be transferred to Indians.  Aware that they couldn’t hold on any longer, they instead focused on partitioning India – bringing to mind Israel’s recent attempts to divide Gaza from the West Bank. In the meantime, Congress’ adherence to a policy of non-violence was entirely dependent on the British soldiers – as opposed to the armed Muslim League – and were unable to prevent partition. Thus, Congress’ inherent conservatism with regards to armed struggle hindered its goal of keeping India intact. They failed to build on numerous past instances of Hindu-Muslim cooperation against British colonialism. (Not all members of the Muslim league supported Muslim self-determination: Communist leader Ghaffar Ali opposed it vociferously.)

As is evident from the history recounted above, the agreeable and reasonable- sounding frame of the superiority of peaceful resistance sets up a false dichotomy. Presenting satyagraha as the exemplary approach to liberation is deceptive mainly because India’s independence was not achieved through non-violence alone. Moreover, its historical context and enemy are do not translate well across time and location.  Finally, while inspirational and useful on many levels, it is not sufficient as sole guide or solution to achieving Palestinian liberation.

Options for Palestinian Resistance

Fundamentally, all theories of national liberation emanate from the ethical and legal principle that a people have the right to be free from alien occupation and exploitation.  Resistance is their inalienable right. Insistence on non-violent resistance can sometimes be counterproductive – as happened with Gandhi’s insistence on it when confronting partition. Relying solely on non-violence subordinates the fundamental moral and ethical goal of independence to all sorts of conditionalities in order to achieve it in the “right” way.

All events so far indicate that non-violent resistance has been of modest benefit to Palestinians, with the important exceptions of tarnishing Israel’s image and moral claims.  One could argue that Israel pursued the (sham) Oslo peace process precisely because the First Intifada rendered the population ungovernable. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, the Fateh leadership of the PLO squandered those achievements and marginalized popular input.  Since then, pursuit of “settlement” and “negotiation” in the absence of a concomitant armed struggle has produced regressive and contradictory effects. Why is that?

One reason is the nature of the adversary. Zionist and Israeli ideology and statecraft are fundamentally violent, involving ethnic cleansing and relying first and foremost on war as an instrument in achieving Greater (Eretz) Israel. Unlike Great Britain, which had developed a liberal democratic tradition when Indians were struggling for their independence, Israel is essentially a highly militarized, ethnically-based and legally privileged society. It made no difference whatsoever how the Palestinians resisted, whether violently or not. As happened in other Western colonial historical experiences, like the US, Australia, or apartheid South Africa, the settlers use overwhelming force to convince the native populations of their ultimate defeat.

A second important difference is that after World War II, England could no longer hold onto its colonies. This is in sharp contrast to the US-superpower-backed-Israel, which maintains a pronounced military superiority over all its neighbors.

A third difference is that ever since the Jewish Land Agency started buying Palestinian lands from absentee landowners, and continuing after its war-time conquest of land, Israel stipulated that Palestinians cannot lease or be employed on purchased land.  As a result, Palestinians are less important to the Israeli economy than India was to Britain.  Their marginalization and de-development are intentional and serve to facilitate Israeli expropriation of valuable water, land, and other resources. Moreover, Israel receives significant financial and military “aid” from the United States which also reduces its need to integrate economically with its neighbors. The lack of economic dependency makes non-violent resistance much less effective as a weapon in fighting the occupation.  Any economic levers the Palestinians may have had were further diminished (intentionally) via their PA leadership’s dependency on and distribution of foreign “aid.” This had the double effects of corrupting and ensuring the cooptation and cooperation of the leadership, as well as minimizing the size and role of an educated middle class that could lead the struggle – as was the case in India.

A fourth difference is the lack of a charismatic leader like Gandhi. Which brings us right back to the first reason, the nature of the opponent. Israel has a long history of assassinating and / or deporting any potential leader who is incorruptible or charismatic or effective. (6: For a partial list of Palestinian leaders assassinated by Mossad, see here.)

In the final analysis, non-violence is still a worthy means of resistance. Significantly, it enhances growing international perceptions of the brutality of the occupation and builds on the legal consensus and framework of the legitimacy of Palestinian rights, as recurrently affirmed through UN General Assembly annual resolutions and the most recent ruling against the apartheid wall at the International Court of Justice. Non-violent resistance, by being more accessible to ordinary people, additionally creates more sustainable and widespread networks of resistance. At a minimum, it establishes a network of interdependence for the newly liberated society to build on.

But it is not enough. And arguably, it has never been enough, especially in the absence of a more just as opposed to legalistic international relations.

- Dina Jadallah-Taschler is an Arab-American of Palestinian and Egyptian descent, a political science graduate, an artist and a writer. Contact her at: dina.jadallah.taschler@gmail.com.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Africa miners demand 100% wage increase

Press TV – January 23, 2014

Thousands of platinum miners in South Africa have embarked on a strike demanding their entry-level pay be doubled to nearly 1,200 dollars a month.

Workers at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum, and Lonmin mines embarked on an indefinite strike on Thursday, crippling output at the world’s three biggest platinum producers.

Striking miners chanted slogans as they marched to Wonderkop Stadium near the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.

The protest, organized by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, is the biggest industrial action in South Africa’s platinum sector since 2012, when police shot and killed 34 striking miners in Marikana.

South Africa’s mining companies have been rejecting calls for a wage increase, pointing to weaker profits and rising costs.

South Africa’s mining sector has been paralyzed by a series of wildcat strikes over miners’ low pay since August, 2012. The strikes have also damaged South Africa’s reputation as an investment destination.

The three top platinum companies operating in the African country say strikes cost the industry a total loss of output amounting to about USD 1.2 billion in 2012 and 2013.

South Africa possesses nearly 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves. The country’s mining sector directly employs around 500,000 people and accounts for nearly one-fifth of the country’s gross domestic product.

January 23, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

South African organisations call for Israel to be excluded from diamond processing

MEMO | June 5, 2013

Human rights groups, trade unions and several other major civil society organisations have called for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to exclude Israel. The international diamond regulatory body is meeting in South Africa and is chaired currently by Pretoria’s former ambassador to Washington, Mr Welile Nhlapo.

Organisations including South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM); the country’s largest trade union federation, COSATU; the SACP; YCL; South African Students Congress (SASCO); Congress of South African Students (COSAS), the Coalition for a Free Palestine and BDS South Africa are behind the call.

A statement issued at a press conference held at COSATU’s Head Office in Johannesburg pointed out that the KPCS presents an opportunity for South African officials to show “moral vision and political leadership” by excluding Israel. “The billions of dollars’ worth of diamonds exported via Israel are,” said the coalition, “a major source of revenue for the Israeli military, which stands accused of war crimes.” Such a move would have local benefits too, it added, by “bringing home” many lucrative diamond processing jobs to South Africa. Income from diamond processing carried out in Israel also, alleges the coalition, helps to develop military hardware such as pilotless drones.

Speaking to Business Day newspaper, Southern Africa Resource Watch director Claude Kabemba commented that most diamond-linked conflicts had been resolved, and the Kimberley Process now had to expand its mandate and monitor the entire diamond chain: “The Kimberley Process has played an important role over the past decade in resolving conflicts linked to the diamond trade but there is no doubt that it has to be reformed… [by] expanding the definition of conflict to include human rights abuses linked to diamond extraction perpetrated by governments and companies; and expanding downstream monitoring so that the process covers not just the rough diamond trade but also the international movement and polishing of diamonds.”

The statement from South Africa’s civil society groups called on the Kimberley Process to:

  • Exclude Israel from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) due to Israel’s human rights abuses against the indigenous Palestinians;
  • Expand the Kimberley Process to include cut and polished diamonds in addition to rough diamonds; and
  • End all exports of rough diamonds to Israel immediately.

A member of South Africa’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign said that a boycott of Israeli “blood diamonds”, and specifically the banning of diamond-polishing in the country, is a win-win solution for all. “Consumers will have a clear conscience that their diamonds are not funding, assisting or in any way involved with the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine,” insisted Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, “and more jobs will be created locally for our people by bringing this diamond processing back home instead of it being done in Israel.” While opponents of the Israel boycott often try to claim that the boycott will harm South Africans, added Ndlozi, this is a case where it only benefits them.

The Kimberley Process was launched 10 years ago to address the trade in conflict diamonds and to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements seeking to undermine legitimate governments. It has 54 participants, representing 90 countries, and its members account for about 99.8 per cent of the global production of rough diamonds. The KPCS is coming under increasing pressure to exclude Israel due to the Israeli government’s involvement in human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

When Israel Was Apartheid’s Open Ally

By Lenni Brenner | Black Agenda Report | November 6, 2007

Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, has opened up much of the American public to serious discussion of Israel’s realities. He’s no expert on Zionist history, but the Anti-Defamation League and other pro-Israel propagandists must now work 25 hours a day, 366 days a year, trying to discredit equating Israel and apartheid South Africa.

Curiously, Carter only mentions South African apartheid 3 times. He relates how, on his 1973 visit to Israel,

“General Rabin described the close relationship that Israel had with South Africa in the diamond trade (he had returned from there a day or two early to greet us) but commented that the South African system of apartheid could not long survive.”

He also tells us that

“Israeli leaders have embarked on a series of unilateral decisions, bypassing both Washington and the Palestinians. Their presumption is that an encircling barrier will finally resolve the Palestinian problem. Utilizing their political and military dominance, they are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories. The driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa — not racism, but the acquisition of land. There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life.”

And he presents the 3 unattractive options in front of Israel’s public. One is

“A system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, ‘I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank is not worth it.’”

Beyond that, his only citation re post-apartheid South Africa is listing Nelson Mandela as supporting the “Geneva Initiative” Israel/Palestine peace plan that Carter was involved in drawing up.

In reality, Israeli and American Zionist ties to racist Pretoria were so close that there can be no doubt that Zionism’s leaders were accomplices in apartheid’s crimes, including murderous invasions of Angola and Namibia.

Israel denounced apartheid until the 1973 Yom Kippur war as it sought to diplomatically outflank the Arabs in the UN by courting Black Africa. But most Black states broke ties after the war, in solidarity with Egypt, trying to drive non-African Israel out of the Sinai, part of Africa. Jerusalem then turned towards South Africa.

During WW ll, Britain had John Vorster interned as a Nazi sympathizer. But in 1976 Israel invited South Africa’s Prime Minister to Jerusalem. Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s PM, hailed “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence.” Both confronted “foreign-inspired instability and recklessness.” Israel, alone in the world, allowed Bophuthatswana, SA’s puppet ‘black homeland,’ to open an embassy.

In 1989, Ariel Sharon, with David Chanoff, wrote Warrior: An Autobiography. He told of his 1981 trip to Africa and the US as Israel’s Defense Minister:

“From Zaire we went to South Africa, where Lily and I were taken to see the Angola border. There South Africans were fighting a continuing war against Cuban-led guerrilla groups infiltrating from the north. To land there our plane came in very high as helicopters circled, searching the area. When the helicopters were satisfied, we corkscrewed down toward the field in a tight spiral to avoid the danger of ground-to-air missiles, the Russian-supplied SAM 7 Strellas that I had gotten to know at the Canal.

On the ground I saw familiar scenes. Soldiers and their families lived in this border zone at constant risk, their children driven to school in convoys protected by high-built armored cars, which were less vulnerable to mines.

I went from unit to unit, and in each place I was briefed and tried to get a feel for the situation. It is not in any way possible to compare Israel with South Africa, and I don’t believe that any Jew can support apartheid. But seeing these units trying to close their border against terrorist raids from Angola, you could not ignore their persistence and determination. So even though conditions in the two countries were so vastly different, in some ways life on the Angolan border looked not that much different from life on some of our own borders.”

Sharon went to Washington to deal with a range of Middle Eastern questions. He also

“took the opportunity to discuss with Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinburger, and CIA Director William Casey other issues of mutual interest. I described what I had seen in Africa, including the problems facing the Central African Republic. I recommended to them that we should try to go into the vacuums that existed in the region and suggested that efforts of this sort would be ideally suited for American-Israeli cooperation.”

By 1989 it was certain that apartheid was about to close down, hence Sharon’s “I don’t believe that any Jew can support apartheid.” But a 12/14/81 NY Times article, “South Africa Needs More Arms, Israeli Says,” gave a vivid picture of Israel’s earlier zeal for its ally’s cause:

“The military relationship between South Africa and Israel, never fully acknowledged by either country, has assumed a new significance with the recent 10 day visit by Israel’s Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, to South African forces in Namibia along the border with Angola.

In an interview during his recent visit to the United States, Mr. Sharon made several points concerning the South African position.

First, he said that South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa and southwestern Asia that is trying to resist Soviet military infiltration in the area.

He added that there had been a steady flow of increasingly sophisticated Soviet weapons to Angola and other African nations, and that as a result of this, and Moscow’s political and economic leverage, the Soviet Union was ‘gaining ground daily’ throughout the region.

Mr. Sharon, in company with many American and NATO military analysts, reported that South Africa needed more modern weapons if it is to fight successfully against Soviet-Supplied troops. The United Nations arms embargo, imposed in November 1977, cut off established weapons sources such as Britain, France and Israel, and forced South Africa into under-the-table deals….

Israel, which has a small but flourishing arms export industry, benefited from South African military trade before the 1977 embargo.

According to The Military Balance, the annual publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the South African Navy includes seven Israeli-built fast attack craft armed with Israeli missiles. The publication noted that seven more such vessels are under order. Presumably the order was placed before the 1977 embargo was imposed….

Mr. Sharon said Moscow and its allies had made sizable gains in Central Africa and had established ‘corridors of power,’ such as one connecting Libya and Chad. He said that Mozambique was under Soviet control and that Soviet influence was growing in Zimbabwe.

The Israeli official… saw the placement of Soviet weapons, particularly tanks, throughout the area as another danger.

South Africa’s military policy of maintaining adequate reserves, Mr. Sharon said, will enable it to keep forces in the field in the foreseeable future but he warned that in time the country may be faced by more powerful weapons and better armed and trained soldiers.”

American Zionists were equally committed to apartheid. The 5/86 ADL Bulletin ran “The African National Congress: A Closer Look.” It revealed the organization’s hatred of the movement leading the liberation struggle in South Africa. The ADL sent its tirade to every member of the US Congress!

It formally bowed to political correctness: “Discussion of the political scene in South Africa properly begins with the self-evident stipulation that apartheid is racist and dehumanizing.” But

“… this is not to suggest closing our eyes to what may emerge once apartheid is gone…. We must distinguish between those who will work for a humane, democratic, pro-western South Africa and those who are totalitarian, anti-humane, anti-democratic, anti-Israeli and anti-American.

It is in this context that the African National Congress (ANC), so frequently discussed as an alternative to the Botha government, merits a close, unsentimental look…. The ANC, which seeks to overthrow the South African government, is a ‘national liberation movement’ that, plainly said, is under heavy Communist influence. The ANC has been allied with the South African Communist Party (SACP) for 50 years…. The fall of South Africa to such a Soviet oriented and Communist influenced force would be a severe setback to the United States, whose defense industry relies heavily on South Africa’s wealth of strategic minerals.”

ADL spying on America’s anti-apartheid movement, for BOSS, South Africa’s secret police, became public in 1993 when San Francisco papers revealed that Tom Gerard, a local cop and ex-CIA man, illegally gave police information to Roy Bullock, ADL’s man in SF.

Gerard pled no contest to illegal access to police computers. The ADL made a ‘we didn’t do it and won’t do it again’ deal with the DA. It agreed to an injunction not to use illegal methods in ‘monitoring’ the political universe. ADL National Director Abe Foxman said that, rather than go to trial, where — of course! — they would certainly have been found innocent, ADL settled because “continuing with an investigation over your head for months and years leads some to believe there is something wrong.”

Despite the slap-on-the-wrist deal, Bullock’s activities were documented. The ADL claimed that he was a free-lance informer whose activities for the apartheid regime were unknown to them. But (FBI) FD-302, a 1993 FBI report on an interview with Bullock, takes up a letter found in his computer files, “prepared for transmission to the South Africans.” It said that, “during an extended conversation with two FBI agents,” in 1990, they asked

“‘Why do you think South African agents are coming to the West Coast? Did I know any agents’ they finally asked?…. I replied that a meeting had been arranged, in confidence, by the ADL which wanted information on radical right activities in SA and their American connections. To that end I met an agent at Rockefeller Center cafeteria.”

The FBI said that “Bullock commented that the TRIP.DBX letter was a very ‘damning’ piece of evidence. He said he had forgotten it was in his computer.” Of course he hastened to tell the FBI that “his statements to the FBI that the ADL had set up his relationship with the South Africans were untrue.”

The ADL was so anti-ANC that only fools could think that they didn’t know that Bullock was working with the South Africans. Isn’t it more likely that he told the truth in 1990 and lied in 1993? The feds came on another matter in 1990, surprising him with questions re South Africans. They interviewed him in his lawyers’ office in 1993. Be certain that they told him what not to say. He also knew that if he wanted ADL help in his FBI troubles concerning South Africa, he had to claim that they had nothing to do with his BOSS connection. In any case, the ADL continued to work with Bullock. And NY’s 7/27/93 Village Voice reported that Irwin Suall, its Chief Fact-finder, i.e., head spy, told the FBI that “he didn’t think dealing with South African intelligence was different than dealing with any other police agency.”

Time hasn’t been kind to the ADL. The ANC runs its country and is a model of ethnic and religious tolerance. It never was anti-Semitic and there are Jewish ANCers in the Pretoria parliament. But Foxman always has a cleanup for Israeli and ADL infamies. On October 11th, 2007 he spoke at a NY Barnes & Noble bookstore on his latest book, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control”. It has a chapter denouncing Carter. I was in his audience and challenged him:

“You brought up the fact that Jimmy Carter used the word apartheid in his title. But I would remind you that of course that Israel was allied to apartheid South Africa. I’m looking at the December 14, 1981 New York Times, “South Africa needs more arms, Israeli says,” Israeli meaning Ariel Sharon, the Minister of Defense, who was on a tour, as it were, with the South African army as it was invading Angola. And then, in May 1986…

Foxman: I get the point.

Brenner: Excuse me! The ADL sent this to every member of Congress, denouncing the African National Congress as pro-Soviet and wicked, yes, and anti-Semitic and so on and so forth.”

I sat several rows from him. Two words on my tape are indistinct and tentatively printed here in caps. But they don’t effect general understanding of his statement, even with its grammatical irregularities as he grappled with my surprise accusations:

“OK. The African National Congress during the fight for SUFFRAGE, the struggle for AFRICAN liberation, was anti-Semitic, it was pro-Communist, it was anti-Israel, it was, where ever it could, become friends and allies of Arab, Palestinian terrorism, etc.

I had the privilege, I had the privilege of flying to Geneva to meet President Mandela, before he was President, after he was freed and before he came to the United States on his 1st visit. I had the very, very special privilege of spending 5 hours with him and several American Jews who came to meet with him in advance of his visit, to better understand. And he said to us, ‘if,’ he said,

‘I understand why Israel made friends with apartheid South Africa. Because Israel was boycotted all over the world, Israel couldn’t have relations with other countries in the world, Israel wasn’t sold arms to defend itself, so I do not judge Israel, I understand why Israel, you need not to judge me, for the friends that I make. I make friends with the PLO, I make friends with those who supported our liberation movement, and if you don’t make it as a prerequisite that your enemies have to be my enemies, I will not make it a prerequisite for me.’

So Mandela, who was a heroic fighter in the struggle for, understood, very well, that just like he had to make deals with the devil, he made deals for support with people that he didn’t agree with, that he didn’t like. You certainly know from his record, he was not a Communist, yet he took the support of Communists, because they were the only ones, he understood, and respected, that Israel was dealing with South Africa.

South Africa was one of the few countries that sold it arms. Now these were the years that America wouldn’t sell Israel arms. Those were the years that Europe wouldn’t sell Israel arms. So he understood it. Was it pleasant for everybody? No. Did we send the stuff about the ANC then? Yes. And today things are changed, very dramatically changed.”

How accurately did he recall Mandela’s remarks? We know that the ANC made a deal with apartheid’s leaders. Blacks got their rights and hearings were to be held on what repressive crimes actually happened during the racist era. But white military and other officials retained their posts under the new Black-led government. So if Mandela said what Foxman claims he said, it was in that reconciling spirit: ‘You did what you thought you had to do, same with me, now lets move on.’

The ANC’s generous peace didn’t retrospectively make apartheid less criminal. If Mandela wanted relations between his new government and Israel to go to a friendlier level, that didn’t make Israeli and ADL collaboration with racism even a speck less felonious. And of course ANCers still denounce Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was emphatic at a Boston “End the Occupation” rally in 2002:

“You know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal. To criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic…. People are scared to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful — very powerful. Well, so what?

For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”

Five years later, Israel is still very powerful. But in time it too shall be replaced by a democratic secular binational Palestinian/Israeli state. The model for that is today’s South African constitution. Most whites there say that they as well as blacks are the better for it. And when secular bi-nationalism finally wins, Israelis as well as Palestinians will likewise rejoice in their equality, peace and prosperity.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the ANC Sold Out South Africa’s Poor

A Faustian Pact With Neoliberalism

By RONNIE KASRILS | CounterPunch | December 11, 2013

South Africa’s young people today are known as the Born Free generation. They enjoy the dignity of being born into a democratic society with the right to vote and choose who will govern. But modern South Africa is not a perfect society. Full equality – social and economic – does not exist, and control of the country’s wealth remains in the hands of a few, so new challenges and frustrations arise. Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle like myself are frequently asked whether, in the light of such disappointment, the sacrifice was worth it. While my answer is yes, I must confess to grave misgivings: I believe we should be doing far better.

There have been impressive achievements since the attainment of freedom in 1994: in building houses, crèches, schools, roads and infrastructure; the provision of water and electricity to millions; free education and healthcare; increases in pensions and social grants; financial and banking stability; and slow but steady economic growth (until the 2008 crisis at any rate). These gains, however, have been offset by a breakdown in service delivery, resulting in violent protests by poor and marginalised communities; gross inadequacies and inequities in the education and health sectors; a ferocious rise in unemployment; endemic police brutality and torture; unseemly power struggles within the ruling party that have grown far worse since the ousting of Mbeki in 2008; an alarming tendency to secrecy and authoritarianism in government; the meddling with the judiciary; and threats to the media and freedom of expression. Even Nelson Mandela’s privacy and dignity are violated for the sake of a cheap photo opportunity by the ANC’s top echelon.

Most shameful and shocking of all, the events of Bloody Thursday – 16 August 2012 – when police massacred 34 striking miners at Marikana mine, owned by the London-based Lonmin company. The Sharpeville massacre in 1960 prompted me to join the ANC. I found Marikana even more distressing: a democratic South Africa was meant to bring an end to such barbarity. And yet the president and his ministers, locked into a culture of cover-up. Incredibly, the South African Communist party, my party of over 50 years, did not condemn the police either.

South Africa’s liberation struggle reached a high point but not its zenith when we overcame apartheid rule. Back then, our hopes were high for our country given its modern industrial economy, strategic mineral resources (not only gold and diamonds), and a working class and organised trade union movement with a rich tradition of struggle. But that optimism overlooked the tenacity of the international capitalist system. From 1991 to 1996 the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we “sold our people down the river”.

What I call our Faustian moment came when we took an IMF loan on the eve of our first democratic election. That loan, with strings attached that precluded a radical economic agenda, was considered a necessary evil, as were concessions to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people. Doubt had come to reign supreme: we believed, wrongly, there was no other option; that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses to overcome all obstacles. Whatever the threats to isolate a radicalising South Africa, the world could not have done without our vast reserves of minerals. To lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable. The ANC leadership needed to remain determined, united and free of corruption – and, above all, to hold on to its revolutionary will. Instead, we chickened out. The ANC leadership needed to remain true to its commitment of serving the people. This would have given it the hegemony it required not only over the entrenched capitalist class but over emergent elitists, many of whom would seek wealth through black economic empowerment, corrupt practices and selling political influence.

To break apartheid rule through negotiation, rather than a bloody civil war, seemed then an option too good to be ignored. However, at that time, the balance of power was with the ANC, and conditions were favourable for more radical change at the negotiating table than we ultimately accepted. It is by no means certain that the old order, apart from isolated rightist extremists, had the will or capability to resort to the bloody repression envisaged by Mandela’s leadership. If we had held our nerve, we could have pressed forward without making the concessions we did.

It was a dire error on my part to focus on my own responsibilities and leave the economic issues to the ANC’s experts. However, at the time, most of us never quite knew what was happening with the top-level economic discussions. As  Sampie Terreblanche has revealed in his critique, Lost in Transformation, by late 1993 big business strategies – hatched in 1991 at the mining mogul Harry Oppenheimer‘s Johannesburg residence – were crystallising in secret late-night discussions at the Development Bank of South Africa. Present were South Africa’s mineral and energy leaders, the bosses of US and British companies with a presence in South Africa – and young ANC economists schooled in western economics. They were reporting to Mandela, and were either outwitted or frightened into submission by hints of the dire consequences for South Africa should an ANC government prevail with what were considered ruinous economic policies.

All means to eradicate poverty, which was Mandela’s and the ANC’s sworn promise to the “poorest of the poor”, were lost in the process. Nationalisation of the mines and heights of the economy as envisaged by the Freedom charter was abandoned. The ANC accepted responsibility for a vast apartheid-era debt, which should have been cancelled. A wealth tax on the super-rich to fund developmental projects was set aside, and domestic and international corporations, enriched by apartheid, were excused from any financial reparations. Extremely tight budgetary obligations were instituted that would tie the hands of any future governments; obligations to implement a free-trade policy and abolish all forms of tariff protection in keeping with neo-liberal free trade fundamentals were accepted. Big corporations were allowed to shift their main listings abroad. In Terreblanche’s opinion, these ANC concessions constituted “treacherous decisions that [will] haunt South Africa for generations to come”.

An ANC-Communist party leadership eager to assume political office (myself no less than others) readily accepted this devil’s pact, only to be damned in the process. It has bequeathed an economy so tied in to the neoliberal global formula and market fundamentalism that there is very little room to alleviate the plight of most of our people.

Little wonder that their patience is running out; that their anguished protests increase as they wrestle with deteriorating conditions of life; that those in power have no solutions. The scraps that are left go to the emergent black elite; corruption has taken root as the greedy and ambitious fight like dogs over a bone.

In South Africa in 2008 the poorest 50% received only 7.8% of total income. While 83% of white South Africans were among the top 20% of income receivers in 2008, only 11% of our black population were. These statistics conceal unmitigated human suffering. Little wonder that the country has seen such an enormous rise in civil protest.

A descent into darkness must be curtailed. I do not believe the ANC alliance is beyond hope. There are countless good people in the ranks. But a revitalisation and renewal from top to bottom is urgently required. The ANC’s soul needs to be restored; its traditional values and culture of service reinstated. The pact with the devil needs to be broken.

At present the impoverished majority do not see any hope other than the ruling party, although the ANC’s ability to hold those allegiances is deteriorating. The effective parliamentary opposition reflects big business interests of various stripes, and while a strong parliamentary opposition is vital to keep the ANC on its toes, most voters want socialist policies, not measures inclined to serve big business interests, more privatisation and neoliberal economics.

This does not mean it is only up to the ANC, SACP and Cosatu to rescue the country from crises. There are countless patriots and comrades in existing and emerging organised formations who are vital to the process. Then there are the legal avenues and institutions such as the public protector’s office and human rights commission that – including the ultimate appeal to the constitutional court – can test, expose and challenge injustice and the infringement of rights. The strategies and tactics of the grassroots – trade unions, civic and community organisations, women’s and youth groups – signpost the way ahead with their non-violent and dignified but militant action.

The space and freedom to express one’s views, won through decades of struggle, are available and need to be developed. We look to the Born Frees as the future torchbearers.

Ronnie Kasrils was a member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress from 1987 to 2007, and a member of the central committee of the South African Communist party from December 1986 to 2007. He was the country’s minister for intelligence services from 2004 to 2008. This is an extract from the new introduction to his autobiography, Armed and Dangerous.

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada: Apartheid Template

By Yves Engler | December 10, 2013

It’s enough to make one who knows even a little history gag.

The death of Nelson Mandela has led to an outpouring of vapid commentary about Canada’s supposed role in defeating South African Apartheid. “Canada helped lead international fight against Apartheid”, noted a Toronto Star headline while a National Post piece declared, “Canada’s stance against apartheid helped bring freedom to South Africa.”

Notwithstanding this self-congratulatory revisionism, Canada mostly supported apartheid in South Africa. First, by providing it with a model. South Africa patterned its policy towards Blacks after Canadian policy towards First Nations. Ambiguous Champion explains, “South African officials regularly came to Canada to examine reserves set aside for First Nations, following colleagues who had studied residential schools in earlier parts of the century.”

Canada also supported South African apartheid through a duplicitous policy of publicly opposing the country’s racist system yet continuing to do business as usual with this former British Dominion. It’s true that in 1961 John Diefenbaker’s Conservative government called for South Africa to be expelled from the British Commonwealth. But this position was not a moral rebuke of apartheid. “Nothing has been more constant in Diefenbaker’s approach than his search for a tolerable way of averting South Africa’s withdrawal,” commented an External Affairs official at the 1961 Commonwealth meeting where South Africa left the organization. Diefenbaker pushed for South Africa’s exclusion in an attempt to save the Commonwealth. The former British colonies — notably in South Asia and Africa — threatened to leave the Commonwealth if South Africa stayed. This would have been the death of the British Empire’s Commonwealth. Diefenbaker’s lack of principled opposition to apartheid helps explain his refusal to cancel the 1932 Canada-South Africa trade agreement.

Sentenced to life in prison in 1964, Mandela joined 1,500 black political activists languishing in South African jails. In June 1964 NDP leader Tommy Douglas told the House of Commons: “Nelson Mandela and seven of his associates have been found guilty of contravening the apartheid laws … [I] ask the Prime Minister if he will make vigorous representation to the government of South Africa urging that they exercise clemency in this case”? Lester Pearson responded that the “eight defendants … have been found guilty on charges of sabotage and conspiracy … While the matter is still sub judice [before the courts] it would, I believe, be improper for the government to make any public statement on the verdict or on the possible sentences.” This author found no follow up comment by Pearson regarding Mandela.

Widely viewed as a progressive internationalist, Pierre Trudeau’s government (1968-1984) sympathized with the apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups. Throughout Trudeau’s time in office, Canadian companies were heavily invested in South Africa, enjoying the benefits of cheap black labour.  In October 1982 the Trudeau government delivered 4.91 percent of the votes that enabled Western powers to gain a slim 51.9 percent majority in support of South Africa’s application for a billion-dollar IMF credit. Sixty-eight IMF members opposed the loan as did 121 countries in a nonbinding vote at the U.N. General Assembly. Five IMF executive directors said South Africa did not meet the standards of conditionality imposed on other borrowers. The Canadian minister of finance justified support for the IMF loan claiming that “the IMF must be careful … not to be accused of meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states.” A few months later, Ottawa opposed IMF funding for Vietnam because of its occupation of Cambodia (largely to stop the Khmer Rouge’s killing).

Officially, the Trudeau government supported the international arms embargo against South Africa. But his government mostly failed to enforce it. As late as 1978 Canadian-government financed weapons continued to make their way to South Africa. Canadair (at the time a Crown company) sold the apartheid regime amphibious water bombers, which according to the manufacturer, were useful “particularly in internal troop-lift operations.” (The official buyer was the South African forestry department.) In the early 1970s the Montréal Gazette discovered that the RCMP trained South African police in “some sort of liaison or intelligence gathering” instruction.

Supporters of apartheid would say anything to slow opposition to this cruel system. At a 1977 Commonwealth meeting, Trudeau dodged press questions on post-Soweto South Africa suggesting that Idi Amin’s brutal regime in Uganda should be discussed along with southern Africa. For its part, the Globe and Mail argued in 1982 that “disinvestment would be unwittingly an ally of apartheid” since foreign investment brought progressive ideas.

After decades of protest by Canadian unions, churches, students and others, Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government finally implemented economic sanctions on South Africa in 1986. The Conservatives only moved after numerous other countries had already done so. “The record clearly shows”, notes Ambiguous Champion, “that the Canadian government followed rather than led the sanctions campaign.” Unlike Canada, countries such as Norway, Denmark New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina also cut off diplomatic ties to South Africa. Even U.S. sanctions, due to an activist Congress, were tougher than those implemented by Ottawa.

From October 1986 to September 1993, the period in which economic sanctions were in effect, Canada’s two-way trade with South Africa totaled $1.6 billion — 44 percent of the comparable period before sanctions (1979-1985). Canadian imports from South Africa averaged $122 million a year during the sanctions period.

Canada did business with the apartheid regime and opposed the liberation movements. Ottawa’s relationship with the African National Congress (ANC) was initially one of hostility and then ambivalence.

Canada failed to recognize the ANC until July 1984 and then worked to moderate their direction. In an August 1987 letter to the Toronto Star, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Clark explained the government’s thinking: “Canada has been able to develop a relationship of trust with the … African National Congress that it is hoped has helped to strengthen the hand of black moderates.”

With apartheid’s end on the horizon, Ottawa wanted to guarantee that an ANC government would follow pro-capitalist policy, contrary to the wishes of many of its supporters. The man in charge of External Affairs’ South African Taskforce said that Ottawa wanted an early IMF planning mission to the country to ensure that the post-apartheid government would “get things right” from the start. One author noted: “The Canadian state has entered fully in the drive to open South Africa to global forces and to promote the interests of the private sector.”

Ottawa’s policy towards apartheid South Africa was controversial among Canadians. There was an active solidarity movement that opposed Canadian support for the racist regime and to the extent that Canadian politicians played a role in challenging South African apartheid it was largely due to their efforts.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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