AZAPO CONGRESS: THE HOPE FOR OUR COUNTRY
The Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) will hold its non-elective congress outside Tshwane this weekend. The congress will be charged with adopting policies that will prepare the organisation for the national and provincial elections next year.
Delegates from different parts of the country will converge to chart a way forward for the organisation. Within the movement, there is an appreciation that the country is in trouble largely because of poor and weak leadership which has no vision.
Increasingly the country is displaying features of a mafia State. Corruption is out of control with billions of rands that could be used to roll back the frontiers of poverty being stolen by members of the political aristocracy. Unemployment is at its highest, with 70 percent of young people without jobs. Public health care system has all but collapsed. Public education is in crisis. Crime is out of control, with 74 people being murdered each day. Citizens lack basic services such as water and electricity. While in the past the critical shortage of services was mainly confined in rural areas where poor Black people live, the same problems are now prevalent in urban centres as the country is failing to provide regular supply of water and electricity to the majority.
The country is fast drifting towards a failed State. The delegates at the congress of Biko’s movement should answer the question: what should AZAPO do to rescue the country from total collapse?
The delegates are fully aware that the most potent mechanism to address problems faced by the country is State power. This is why the congress will dedicate time to develop an election strategy designed to change the electoral fortunes of AZAPO. AZAPO will have to emerge from the congress with a clear and reassuring message to Black people that it can be trusted to radically change the lives of Black people for the better.
Fortunately, AZAPO is grounded on Black Consciousness philosophy that locates the solution of Black people in the hands of Black people. This means that one of the key resolutions that should be revived is to remind Black people in general that they, and they alone, are the masters of their own destiny. That they, and they alone, are the only people who can change their lives. They can start this journey of a better quality of life by working with AZAPO to remove thieves from power and replacing them with men and women of integrity.
The AZAPO congress should inspire the general population that the huge problems that the country is facing are not insurmountable. AZAPO should emerge from the congress with clear policies that will reassure the population that the dream of a free and liberated Azania is not only realistic but also attainable.
Under the leadership of President Nelvis Qekema, AZAPO is rekindling the hopes and aspirations of Black people and has displayed that it is capable of offering a real alternative to the poor governance and misrule that has characterised the country for more than two decades.
As the delegates converge this weekend, they should understand that they have no option but not to fail the Azanian people who yearn for real deliverance from the abuse by the current predatory rulers.
SHOULD SOUTH AFRICA ARREST RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN?
This argument should not even arise if we move from a point of view that South Africa is a Constitutional democracy that uphold the rule of law. South Africa cannot develop its laws and decides to violate them. It has a legal and moral duty to uphold its laws. Period!
In its own wisdom, South Africa, perhaps after it was made to believe that it was a moral conscience of the world and a leading proponent of world peace, chose to be party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC prosecute suspects who committed war crimes. There are 122 other countries that are party to this Statute. In terms of this treaty, countries that are part of the Statute are obliged to co-operate with the ICC when it requires the arrest of indicted persons. Russian President has been indicted with war crimes following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Logically, South Africa has no option but to arrest Putin if he was to set his foot in this country. That is the legal requirement. But there are other reasons why South Africa cannot afford to antagonise the West, especially the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
South Africa is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA, which was launched in the year 2000, allows sub-Saharan African countries to export products to the USA tariff-free. In 2021, South Africa exported products to the USA worth more than R45 billion. USA foreign direct investment in South Africa in 2019 was worth more than R132 billion. There are more than 600 American companies operating in South Africa, creating thousands of jobs.
In 2022, South African exports to the United Kingdom amounted to more than R126 billion. There are hundreds of British companies in South Africa, creating employment to thousands of people.
What will be the wisdom of South Africa to act in a manner that threatens these investments that contribute to the growth of the economy? Is it too much to expect a country to act in its own best interest? At the height of our liberation struggle, progressive leaders such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Samora Machel of Mozambique decided that they would not allow their territories to be used by guerrillas who were waging a war against apartheid South Africa. Much as they publicly supported our struggle, they were clear that they did not want to be part of the war between the apartheid regime and the liberation movement. Machel, whose country had earlier supported the struggle, signed the Komati Accord and committed his country not to allow his territory to be used for military attacks against South Africa. Mugabe was clear from the beginning. His country would not be used as a base for military attacks against South Africa. These revolutionaries were merely doing what was best for their country.
It may sound revolutionary to stand up against the West, especially America and Britain. Towards his last years in office, Mugabe stood up against the West, especially against the British and Americans. What were the results? His economy collapsed. Inflation was expressed in millions. The Zim dollar collapsed. You needed millions of Zim dollars to buy a loaf of bread. To this day Zimbabwe has not recovered.
It may sound like cowardice but as a country, we must choose to advance our interests. We should accept the reality that we do not control the economy and have no luxury to bite the hand that feeds us. Can we afford sanctions imposed by the West? NO. We cannot.
We should choose our battles. In any event, we can hide our cowardice by stating that we are merely applying our laws as we are part of the Rome Statute.
In life not everything is in black and white. The timing by the West to issue a warrant of arrest against Russian President Vladimir Putin is perfect in the grand plan to force South Africa to lose its position of neutrality in the war in Ukraine. South Africa has adopted a neutral position in the war, opting to call for peace between Russia and Ukraine.
This has angered the West that perceive neutrality as support for Russia. The warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court against Putin will obviously put pressure on South Africa to choose. Is South Africa against Russia or with Russia?
Applying the narrow argument of upholding the rule of law will be failing to understand the global picture of what is happening. For the record, the biggest force behind the call that South Africa should arrest Putin is the United States, the very country that has withdrawn from the Rome Statute that anchors the ICC. In any event, if the ICC was genuinely pursuing peace and justice, it would have long indicted George W Bush for illegally invading Iraq, claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when the US administration knew that was a lie.
The success of BRICS can herald a new world order. These countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have a population of 3,24 billion people. This is more than 40 percent of the population. More and more countries are joining this group. If BRICS succeeds, the US dollar, the weapon that keeps America powerful and dominant in the world economy, will collapse as trade would be conducted in other currencies. The US is aware of this, and it would not allow BRICS to succeed. That is why it would do anything and everything possible to ensure that BRICS does not succeed. The pressure being put to bear on South Africa to arrest Putin should be seen in this light. It has little to do with the pursuit of justice but everything to do with protecting American economic interests.
Those counselling South Africa to avoid antagonizing the West as this may trigger economic sanctions fail to appreciate a few facts. AGOA and other trade deals between the West and South Africa are not acts of charity. In fact, western countries benefit more from South Africa by plundering South Africa’s resources for almost free given one unit of their currency is worth R18. In truth, South Africa is effectively a colony of the West, especially the US and Britain. These countries have a lot to lose by imposing sanctions on South Africa.
But the other spin-off that may be a result of the economic sanctions would be that South Africa would be forced to consolidate its trade deals within the BRICS countries. It will also be forced to cut the colonial ties to the west and chart its own independent path.
The argument that says South Africa should arrest Putin because the country has a legal obligation is weak. There are times when justice takes a back seat in pursuit of bigger country national interests. AZAPO challenged the law that established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, arguing that it was unjust in that it denied victims of gross human rights violations justice. The court ruled that while AZAPO was correct that the law denied victims justice, the legislation was in the national interest. AZAPO lost the case. Justice took a back seat to national interests.
It is important to have a full appreciation of the global picture. Otherwise, we will commit suicide as we try to please other countries who care little about our national interests.
VERDICT: THE POSITION OF AZAPO ON THE DEBATE
Both arguments expose one fact. South Africa is not an independent country. South Africa remains a colony that is unable to chart its own path. We should not delude ourselves. All countries act in their best interests. Western countries or those in the east such as the former Soviet Union, now Russia, or China all have one thing in common. They act to advance their interests and the interests of their people.
Instead of trying to choose which master to please, we should complete the project of liberation. True liberation means the ability to feed ourselves. True liberation means the ability to stand on our own to meet all that our nation demand to live. The dilemma facing the South African government authorities of trying to please both powers exposes the fact that we are a colony. Our survival as a country depends on the continued colonial economic infrastructure. This is what AZAPO need to do liquidate. AZAPO should dismantle the colonial architecture that survived the process of removing of apartheid laws from the statute book.
When our country is fully liberated, we would not have to explain ourselves to anybody. Our destiny will be in our hands. That is self-determination.
ANNA RAMABULA – THECOMMUNITY BUILDER
AZAPO Voice takes this opportunity to congratulate retired teacher Anna Ramabulana from Dzimauli in the Vhembe district for using her own money to build a state of the art crèche for the local community.
More than R700 000 was spent in the construction of the building that will benefit the community, especially children.
Ramabulana is a living example of what ordinary people can achieve to uplift their communities.
Our people are resilient. Many Afrikan people are willing to share the little they have with others. This is Ubuntu. We call on other people throughout the country to emulate Ramabulana and do what they can to help develop their communities and help in the on-going battle to fight ignorance.