WE SALUTE MABENA AND HIS COMRADES IN UNIFORM FOR EXPORTING PEACE TO THE DRC
A member of the South African National Defence Force, Vusi Mabena, was shot and killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week.
Mabena was part of the United Nations-led peacekeeping mission in the DRC. According to the South African authorities, the attack that led to the killing of Mabena was launched by M23 rebels, believed to be backed by Rwanda.
We salute Mabena and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, colleagues and friends. He paid the ultimate price for promoting peace on the continent, a prerequisite for economic growth and development.
Peace and stability have eluded the Congolese people since the days of colonialism. Arguably the richest country in the world in terms of its mineral endowments, Congo has attracted colonialists from all over Europe and America. When colonialists were carving Afrika into different colonies, the architects of colonialism from England, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and other European countries agreed on one thing: Congo was too big and too rich a country and that no colonial power should have the exclusive rights to be its colonial master. They agreed that all colonisers should have access to exploit Congo and its rich mineral resources. However, Belgium had an upper hand in the Congo.
For colonialism to thrive, the colonialists always find a useful idiot who would be turned against his people and become an agent of colonialism and colonial interests. When Congo attained its independence on June 30, 1960, Afrikan nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba became its leader. However, he did not last because he had a clear vision of stopping the plunder of the Congolese resources by the different colonial interests that had occupied Congo for more than a century.
Lumumba was assassinated in January 1961, less than a year after he took office as the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo. With his death, Congo returned to become a colony of those who had colonised the country. The colonial powers installed Mobutu Sese Seko, who enjoyed relative stability because he was a puppet of colonialism. For more than three decades, Mobutu was in office, but his country continued to be plundered by western countries.
Things changed with the fall of Mobutu when forces led by Laurent Kabila, supported by Rwanda, marched on Kinshasa in May 1997 and removed Mobutu from power. Rwanda, under Paul Kagame, wanted to control Kabila as they had installed him. When he tried to be his own man, he was removed by forces supported by Rwanda. However, his son Joseph Kabila took over the reins of power, but Rwanda continued to support M23 rebels who were fighting for his removal.
In an attempt to enforce peace in the DRC, South Africa deployed troops under the auspices of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force more than 10 years ago. There has been an understanding that Afrika would not know real peace unless the Congo has been stabilised.
More than five million people have been killed due to war and related issues in the Congo in the past 20 years in a conflict largely ignored by the international community.
For its part, South Africa is one of the few countries that has been constant in its support for finding permanent peace in the DRC. This is why we salute Mabena and his comrades for paying with their lives for Congo to find peace.
FLEEING FROM HUNGER ENGINEERED BY THE WEST
Latest news reports indicate that six people drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Afrika to Europe. According to figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 3000 people died while trying to cross on the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean as they tried to smuggle themselves into Europe in 2022. Since 2021, more than 5000 people have died trying to cross into Europe. What a tragedy!
What makes these developments painfully tragic is that more than 200 years ago, European and American slave traders would hunt down Afrikans from different parts of the continent so that they can take them to Europe and America. Almost 200 years after slavery was abolished, Afrikans are risking their lives in desperate plans to escape from the mother continent in search of a better life in Europe.
But why? There is a hidden hand of European and American imperialists behind this tragedy. When Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi decided that his oil should be traded in gold and not in paper money, US dollars, his decision amounted to a declaration of war on the United States of America.
Gaddafi was lobbying other oil producing countries that they should sell their oil in gold because they were being given papers while they gave the buyers a real commodity, oil. If his idea had succeeded, the US economy would have suffered irreparable damage. He had to be stopped.
The US used a common and old tactic. They supported rebel groups inside Libya under the guise that they wanted to introduce democracy in Libya. For the record, under Gaddafi, Libya had an effective participatory democracy. It may not have been fashioned along the bourgeois democracy of the West, but it enabled ordinary people to have a say in how their country was governed. People’s participation in the politics started at village level where they would elect a representative who would be sent to represent the village at the district level. The district congress would elect representatives to the provincial congress, and these would nominate candidates to the national congress. The national congress will elect the leader. This is the system that Gaddafi introduced after the September revolution of 1969. It worked. When he took over, he nationalised the oil industry and ensured that it became a national asset. He used revenue generated from the sale of oil to develop the country. Libyan people had access to free education and free medical care.
The living standard of the Libyan people under Gaddafi was comparable and sometimes even better than some of the most developed countries in the world. Under Gaddafi Libya was stable and peaceful. The country attracted immigrants from other countries because there was work and a better quality of living.
Agents of imperialism perfected the plot to remove Gaddafi under the guise that he was a ruthless dictator. They removed him and supported the rebels and things began to fall apart. The once stable country was reduced to ruins. The economy collapsed. The people of Libya were forced to flee their country to Europe for better economic prospects. They are part of the people who are now drowning as they cross the seas to Europe. On the surface, Afrikans get blamed for failing to develop their countries but in reality, there is a hidden hand of imperialism that ensures that Afrika is not stable and Afrikans remain beggars to the West.
Afrikan leaders should wake up to this reality if we are to stop the drownings of the Afrikan people as they try to go to Europe and America.
MINING INDABA FAILS TO CONFRONT THE REAL ISSUE
It has become an annual ritual. Every year, the State of the Nation Address is preceded by a mining indaba. The conference brings together different stakeholders in the mining industry to discuss issues of mutual interests. The only missing category is that of the owners of the land from which these precious minerals are extracted.
The discovery of precious minerals such as gold and diamond in South Africa has been one of the most important drivers of land dispossession by colonialists. The mineral wealth of the country had been extracted to the exclusive benefits of the European settlers and the white tribe in general.
The fall of apartheid and the dawn of democracy in 1994 raised expectations of the oppressed that the new political dispensation might herald a new dawn that will result in the transfer of the natural wealth from the oppressor class to the to the oppressed masses. It was a false dawn. The oppressed were only given limited political freedom without any economic power.
The democratically elected government, dominated by Afrikans, took the responsibility of a matshingilane in that its main role was to protect wealth which was in the hands of the white tribe.
So, when the mining moguls meet in Cape Town, the meeting is dominated by those companies that benefited from cheap labour that was facilitated by apartheid. Of course, there will be few politically connected Black individuals who are part of the gathering to give the indaba some legitimacy so that the entire conference is not dismissed as a lily-white affair.
The issue that South Africans should be debating is not how many black people have been able to get into the mining industry. No. The real issue that should occupy us as a nation is how can South Africa use its mineral wealth to address its key challenges of poverty and under-development.
Countries in the Middle East are using revenues generated from selling oil to develop their people. There is an acceptance that the oil belongs to the country and its people, collectively. Not to a few politically connected individuals.
Equally, the natural wealth of South Africa belongs to the people of South Africa as a whole. Even the minimum program of freedom, the Freedom Charter, acknowledges this fact.
Of course, it would be difficult to argue that the State should get involved in mining when it is failing to keep the lights on. The track record of the current government is so poor that there is universal acceptance that everything they touch gets destroyed. So those in charge of the indoctrination tools such as the media and education will argue that we should allow the status-quo to remain. They say the business of government is not business.
However, they miss an important element of the debate. The minerals of South Africa cannot be the private assets of some private companies. True liberation must mean freeing the ownership of these assets from descendants of colonialists and transferring ownership to the people of South Africa as a whole. We can then open the debate of the modalities of how to ensure the most effective ways of getting maximum benefits from these mines. But what should be a non-negotiable is the ownership of the wealth of the country.
If we have an effective and accountable State owning mines and generating revenues from mines and not just through minimal taxation, the government will have access to more resources. We would not have to borrow from international mashonisa such as the World Bank and the IMF. Currently South Africa spends more than R200 billion a month to service interests on the national debt. This means that every weekday, South Africa spends R10 billion on interests. Perhaps that is the reason some bureaucrats get irritated when they were asked to explain a sponsorship of R1 billion to an English club. To them R1 billion is small change.
If the South African State can take control and ownership of the mines, the country would have resources to invest in social programs such as education and health.
With access to more funds, the country can roll out the much talked about infrastructure program. We can build more schools and ensure that no child learns under a tree. We can build more hospitals and clinics and ensure that public health care system functions properly and serve the poor. We can be able to employ medical doctors, some of whom are forced to emigrate because they are unable to find employment in the country.
The proponents of the National Health Insurance (NHI) can finally realise their dream of implementing the NHI in our lifetime.
We can build more universities and ensure that young people are able to get admission at our tertiary institution. Currently getting an admission in a university is so difficult that some members of university staff are selling admission spots. For example, at the University of Venda, there was a space of about 4 000 students, but the university received more than 75 000 applicants. At the University of Johannesburg, more than 400 000 applicants had to fight for the available 10 000 spots.
Sadly, such a topic does not feature in the mining indaba. It will not even feature during election campaigns led by the different political parties. We have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing that the State cannot run anything effectively.
The first step is to remove the mental chains that prevent us from imagining a future without white capital supervision. AZAPO exists to lead the struggle for mental liberation and total emancipation of Black people.