Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “Mugabe”

Malema has matured

Please forgive me if the title of this post sounds like the condescending musings of an old fart grumbling about “the youth of today”. I suppose that’s what I am, even if I don’t want it to sound that way. And perhaps I’m writing for other old farts who think that Julius Malema is a bumptious young whippersnapper who still has a lot to learn. But I’m not as old as Robert Mugabe, and Julius Malema has rumbled him. And he’s seen through Jake the Fake. Julius Malema has shown that he can, and does, learn from experience, which crusty old farts like Jake the Fake and Mad Bob Mugabe evidently don’t.

Compare, for example, these two articles — Zimbabwe Government Mocks ‘Falsely Radical’ Malema Over Talks:

The Zimbabwe government has lambasted EFF leader, Julius Malema for being a coward.

The Mugabe led-government simply described Malema as a “young and impressionable” leader; who has turned himself into a weapon that fights against liberation movements “on behalf of imperialism”.

How’s that for a bunch of old farts telling a young whippersnapper to grow up?

But compare and contrast that with what happened when Julius Malema visited Zimbabwe only six years ago. There’s a big difference.

And when you’ve read those two, try this — Zimbabwe, Malema & the Court Jesters | The Con:

Former ANC Youth League president and current Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Juluis Malema who is often problematised and perhaps even celebrated by the mainstream media as a South African court jester is perhaps one of the most volatile voices in the public sphere.

Politicians have always employed performative techniques, to rally and garner support from their constituencies. Clive Gaser suggests that there has always been a sense of militancy in the conduct of leaders of the Youth League — performativity is not only specific to Malema. It was apparent in Malema’s predecessors.

I still think that the EFF is better at identifying problems than coming up with solutions but give it time. At least the EFF is identifying bogus causes for problems. The ANC has been blaming apartheid for poor service delivery, but Malema: ANC should stop blaming apartheid for not delivering | IOL:

The African National Congress should stop using the apartheid legacy for not delivering services to the people, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said on Sunday.

Speaking at an EFF August 3 municipal elections rally at the Zamdela Stadium in Sasolburg in the Free State, Malema lambasted the ANC leadership, saying the party was still using the apartheid legacy to cover incompetency and did not “care about black people”.

Apartheid is to blame for many things, but poor service delivery in municipalities that the ANC has controlled for the last 15 years is not one of them.

Mugabe, Malema and the future of South AfricaFor example, in the City of Tshwane, where I live, rubbish collection has been outsourced and privatised in the approved Thatcherist fashion. That was done by the ANC.

Why is this a bad idea?

Some time ago the municipality introduced wheelie bins and specialised rubbish collection lorries to pick them up in an automated process. The lorries were designed to compact the rubbish so that they would have to make fewer wasteful trips to the dump.

Since the rubbish collection was privatised, it has gradually reverted to a much more primitive process. Some rubbish lorries are simply a cage made of diamond-mesh fencing, into which the bins are manually emptied. Even some of the purpose-built ones look old and badly maintained.

The reason is not far to seek. If you tender for a rubbish-collection contract for three years, and it is uncertain whether it will be renewed after that period, but it might be given to someone else, there is little point in investing in specialised equipment. If you don’t get the contract, who will you sell it to? If the contract isn’t renewed, that cuts your losses.

Julius Malema Launches EFFOf course if the contract isn’t renewed, the workers might also lose their jobs. By their very nature, contractors for such services are inclined to employ casual labour, so the workers are unlikely to have such benefits as pensions or medical aid or job security. This was done by the ANC; it was not done in the apartheid period. The Tshwane Municipality has done some good things too, and I think it is one of the better-run municipalities in the country, but failures in service delivery in 2016 are not the fault of apartheid.

So it seems to me that though in the past Julius Malema took a shotgun approach to identifying problems, just blasting away in the hope that something would hit the target, he is now adopting a more pinpoint approach, trying to identify the real cause. I don’t know if the EFF will control any municipalities after the local government elections on 3 August, but even if they don’t control any, they could be useful watchdogs, keeping the other councillors on their toes.



Why Washington hates Hugo Chavez

Mike Whitney: Kill Hugo?:

Chavez’s policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation’s history. That scares Washington. US elites don’t want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That’s why Chavez has to go. He’s given people hope for a better life.

Hat-tip to Neil Clark: Why Washington hates Hugo Chavez.

I take this praise of Chavez with a fairly large pinche of salt, just as I do the Washington spin on him. Yes, Washington and the US media have tried to portray him as the bad guy, without much evidence. But I’m a bit sceptical about these attempts to portray him as an altogether good guy. I suspect that, like most politicians, he is a mixture of good and bad, though in his case the good may outweigh the bad.

The main reason for my scepticism about Chavez’s goodness is that he has been reported as thinking that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is one of the good guys. Anyone who thinks that has severely impaired political judgement, and if that is his view, then there is surely some truth in the bad vibes about him emanating from Washington.

If this is true of Chavez

Chavez’s policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than anytime in the nation’s history. That scares Washington. US elites don’t want well-informed, empowered people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That’s why Chavez has to go. He’s given people hope for a better life.

… then the opposite is true of Mugabe.

Mugabe’s policies have increased ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Zimbabweans are more victimised in the political process than at any time in the nation’s history, even under Smith. That’s why Mugabe has to go. He’s given people no hope for a better life.

It used to be said that one good thing that could be said of Mussolini was that he made the trains run on time. I doubt that Mugabe has accomplished even that. If Chavez supports a dictator like Mugabe there must be something seriously wrong with Chavez.

What’s the similarity between politicians and a bunch of bananas? They’re all yellow, they hang together, and there’s not a straight one among them.

The Dictator, The Bishops, and the Trade Unionists

Church leaders have criticised the South African government for being too chicken to confront the Fuehrer of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, over his stealing of elections and his war against his own people. And Mugabe himself has taunted his neighbours, saying that none of them is brave enough to remove him.

The Times – Tutu: Threaten Mugabe with force:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said that the international community must use the threat of force to oust Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe from office.

Tutu told BBC radio that he hopes African Union members can be persuaded to issue Mugabe an ultimatum, threatening to intervene if he continues clings to power in the ailing nation.

Asked if Mugabe should be removed by force, Tutu said there should ‘certainly be the threat of it.’ He said Mugabe should also be warned that he could face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for his violent suppression of opponents.

And, from South African Catholic bishops — The Times – Bishops blast SA for protecting Mugabe:

In a statement issued by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier , the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said Motlanthe should force Mugabe to leave office because talks aimed at forming a Zimbabwean unity government have failed.

“It is now time to isolate Mugabe completely and to remove all forms of moral, material or tacit support for him and his party. Regardless of whether he is a former ‘liberator’ or an ‘elder African statesman’, he must be forced to step down,” Napier said.

What this reveals, however, is the confusion in South African politics, especially in the ANC.

A year ago the ANC conference at Polokwane rejected Thabo Mbeki as president of the ANC, and elected Jacob Zuma instead. Zuma was supported by the trade union movement in the form of Cosatu.

Cosatu had been at odds with Mbeki over several issues, including Zimbabwe. A Cosatu fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe was turned away by Mugabe’s government. Cosatu’s natural ally in Zimbabwe is Tsvangirai’s MDC, which has its support primarily among the urban workers and the Zimbabwean trade unions. Yet the ANC government in South Africa does not seem to have changed its policy towards Zimbabwe since Mbeki’s departure, which seems to indicate that Zuma has drawn Cosatu’s teeth, and the trade union movement in South Africa is now Zuma’s lap dog.

Whether the South African government should threaten to use force to remove Mugabe is a moot point. The record of other violent attempts at regime change over the last few years is not good. The Nato war on Yugoslavia and the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have done nothing to improve things, and instead have made things worse. As someone pointed out, it is not ancient hatreds that cause wars, it is wars that cause ancient hatreds.

But the South African government has failed even to voice criticism of Mugabe’s stealing of elections and abuse of power. According to election observers, they were under pressure to declare elections free and fair when they knew they were not. And now Cosatu seems to have been coopted into the power structure too. Only the church leaders are left to speak out.

Archbishop Ncube ‘ready to face bullets’

Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube called for street protests against human rights abuses by the government of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and said he was prepared to face bullets if necessary

read more | digg story

Mugabe, Verwoerd and Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day in South Africa.

It commemorates the massacre of a group of peaceful protesters outside a police station in Sharpeville, near Vereeniging, on 21 March 1960. The protesters had gone to the police station without the passes that blacks had to carry on them at all times, and ask to be arrested for not having a pass. The campaign was started by the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC).

A couple of days later a young PAC leader, Philip Kgosana, led a march of 20000 people into the middle of Cape Town. There was a strong police presence, and after discussions with the senior police officer present, Philip Kgosana led the 20000 protesters peacefully back to the townships. The National Party cabinet was furious, because there had been no bloodshed. They wanted another massacre like Sharpeville, and the career of that police officer was ruined as a result.

There was a storm of protest from the leaders of other countries over the Sharpeville massacre, and one of Dr Verwoerd’s favourite mantras at the time was “we will not tolerate any outside interference in our domestic affairs.”

This was trotted out whenever other countries, especially those in Western Europe and North America, criticised the policy of apartheid, or the use of violence against political opponents, as at Sharpeville massacre.

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been uttering the same mantra for the last few years, and his policies look more and more Verwoerdian, with the violent suppression of political opposition. He has had as many Sharpevilles as Dr Verwoerd ever had, if not more. For years Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa have been telling how they have been beaten up by the police, had their homes burnt down or demolished and worse. Until recently this happened mainly to the less prominent opponents of the government. The beating up of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the parliamentary opposition, puts it on a different level. In Verwoerd’s South Africa, opponents of the National Party regime were beaten up, detained without trial, banned, banished, exiled, and sometimes killed. And the response to criticism of this from the USA or Europe was, “We will not tolerate any outside interference in our domestic affairs.”

A cartoon in the Johannesburg Star of 2 April 1960 showed Dr Verwoerd surrounded by a group of world leaders preparing to throw stones at Verwoerd, with a Sharpeville label round his neck. There is an anonymous USA figure, with a label of “Little Rock, negro lynchings, Ku Klux Klan”, Nehru of India with the label “Kashmir”, Krushchev of the USSR with the label “Hungary”, and Nkrumah of Ghana with the label “prison for political opponents”. And the caption is, “‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…’ St John, Chapter 8”

Today Mugabe is taking a similar line, and it could be argued that the other world leaders have more blood on their hands than those of 1960. The US government was not itself responsible for the Ku Klux Klan or lynchings, but it is responsible for Guantanamo Bay and the endemic violence in Iraq, which is worse than anything taking place in Zimbabwe, a state of affairs for which Tony Blair of the UK is equally responsible, along with the continuing human rights violations in Kosovo. Tony Blair indeed wanted to introduce 90-day detention in Britain, as was done in South Africa under Verwoerd, and was lauded by the British media for “taking the moral high ground” in doing so — how the mighty have fallen! They certainly have no room to point fingers at Mugabe, but neither does Mugabe have any room to point fingers at them. Mugabe and his detractors are indeed birds of a feather. But the behaviour of other world leaders does excuse Mugabe for the human rights violations that are taking place in Zimbabwe.

Where the situation differs is that South Africa did not get into serious foreign military adventures until after the death of Verwoerd.

What brought Zimbabwe to its present state?

The main cause was, ironically, its interference in the domestic affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, when Mugabe sent troops to support one of the factions in the civil war raging there in the 1990s. Zimbabwe could not afford this, however, and the result of the foreign military adventure was a critical shortage of foreign exchange. This led to a shortage of fuel, which disrupted imports and exports. Zimbabwean businesses that relied on imports and exports began to go bankrupt, unemployment rose, and the urban workers, in particular, became disgruntled with Mugabe’s government. The opposition coalesced in the movement for Democratic Change, which derives its main support from the urban workers, much as Cosatu does in South Africa.

Mugabe saw the writing on the wall when he lost a referendum that would increase his executive powers as president. He adopted a two-pronged strategy to win back his lost electoral support: intimidate the urban workers, who were unlikely to switch to supporting him, and bribe the rural peasants. The bribe he could offer the rural peasants was agricultural land owned by commercial farmers, most of whom were white. Farms were expropriated and redistributed to ZANU-PF supporters, or potential supporters, to win back their support at the polls. The farm workers for the most part were evicted, and lost not only their jobs but their homes.

The resulting disruption to agricultural production meant a further dramatic drop in export earnings, which exacerbated the foreign exchange crisis. There was even less money to buy fuel, which meant it was more difficult to export the dwindling cash crops. Maize production also dropped, and Zimbabwe hd to import maize to feed its population, whose army of unemployed was growing and couldn’t afford to buy the maise at ever increasing prices. Thousands of Zimbabweans have emigrated as political and economic refugees to other countries, including South Africa, where many have taken to a life of crime.

People sometimes talk of economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, but that would make no difference at all. Economic sanctions imposed from outside could not possibly harm the economy of Zimbabwe any more than the policies of Mugabe’s government has done. Mugabe has already imposed the most effective sanctions himself.

Some have suggested that the South African government should “do something”, but it is difficult to see exactly what it could do. It could, possibly, emulate George Bush, and send in the army to bring about “regime change” as Bush did in Iraq. But the result of the Iraq adventure is not very encouraging. Life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, bad as it was, was nothing like as bad as life in Iraq is under George Bush. There is no reason to believe that Zimbabwe would be any better.

And the South African government is divided on the issue. The South African government is a tripartite alliance of the ANC, Cosatu and the Communist Party. Cosatu and the Communist Party have protested vociferously about human rights violations in Zimbabwe, because it is their class allies, the urban workers, who are suffering most under Mugabe’s regime. A Cosatu delegation to Zimbabwe was turned back at the Harare airport, with minimal protest from the ANC.

And the spectre of Zimbabwe looms over the tripartite alliance: if Cosatu and the Communist Party split from the ANC, they could very soon find themselves in a similar position vis-a-vis the government as the MDC does in Zimbabwe. Some have suggested that there should be a break, with the Thatcherist ANC and the socialist Cosatu and Commubnist Party appealing for support for their policies from the voters. But if they were outside the government, Cosatu and the Communist Party would have less influence in moderating the Thatcherism of the ANC. So the alliance as a whole would prefer to shut its eyes and hope the Zimbabwe problem would go away. It is one of the roads South Africa could go down, and we don’t want to go there.

Today is Human Rights Day.

And while the focus in human rights violations has shifted from South Africa to Zimbabwe, we are no nearer to a solution to the problem of human rights violations in southern Africa than we were 47 years ago.

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