Africa’s Betrayal Of Libya, Côte d’Ivoire . . .
by Tafataona Mahoso
One of the unforeseen effects of the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe is that this country is now more independent and outspoken against racism and imperialism than other countries who depend on the white West for huge percentages of their budgets.
Worse still, those who still depend on Western aid have also become more vulnerable to the so-called global financial crisis which is also primarily a western problem. So it is the illegally sanctioned Zimbabwe which has been outspoken on Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.
In the first part of this instalment on April 2, I pointed out that in addition to scrambling for strategic energy and mineral resources; the other reason why the US and 19 Nato countries ganged up on Yugoslavia in 1999 was to rescue the prestige and credibility of US and EU foreign policy. But, why should US-EU prestige and credibility need rescue?
Libya happens to have the largest confirmed reserves of crude oil on the African continent, while Côte d’Ivoire is the largest producer of cocoa, not only in Africa, but in the whole world. But the continuing imperialist possession and plunder of Libyan oil and Ivorian cocoa producing land depend on having in power, Libyan and Ivorian stooge regimes, led by leaders who admire this apparent prestige and credibility of the imperialist racist enough to let him continue to plunder the oil and cocoa, undisturbed.
In other words, there is a direct link between the hard-nosed material pursuits and interests of the empire on one hand and the fight by the same empire to “open up” media space in Africa, to those media houses, publishers and journalists who will faithfully project and preserve the prestige and credibility of the white racist imperialist, especially in times of crisis.
Therefore the search for African leaders who are thoroughly impressed with illusions of white power and with faint associations with such prestige and “credibility” always accompanies the scramble for material interests.
To take the back-side of that linkage and reality: the need to attack, demonise and isolate African leaders who are not impressed with illusions of the white man’s “prestige” and “credibility” is part and parcel of the deadly scramble for strategic material gains and interests.
That is why Africa and its traditional allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to see Libya and Côte d’Ivoire beyond the Western media caricatures of Colonel Gaddafi and President Laurent Gbagbo. Africa and its usual allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to resist the white racists’ demand to use Africa for the purpose of restoring illusions of the white man’s power, prestige and moral superiority, which the white man lost (if he ever had them), in the days of slavery.
With the emergence of details of what happened at the last meeting of the Southern African Development Community’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in Livingstone, Zambia, it is clear also that the tendency of some leaders to want to preserve the influence and “prestige” of the empire is also blinding these same leaders’ understanding of the real interests of the majority of Zimbabweans as opposed to the caricature of President Robert Mugabe, which is so prevalent in the white racist press, and in sponsored media throughout the region.
It is remarkable that this failure of African leadership in recent years has brought civil war to Côte d’Ivoire, and a Nato invasion of Libya, both of which the empire can now justify using the wrong decisions made by African leaders.
What Africans need to know is that the issue of Euro-American prestige and credibility became critical at that point where the foundations of the empire became shaky. In other words, the white empire’s insistence on its prestige and credibility being respected or restored at the expense of Africans, is a direct expression of the weakening of that empire. Any leader who takes such demands seriously will cost his people heavily.
To take one example from outside Africa, when the former Soviet Union collapsed, the two Russian leaders involved in the transition, (Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin) were so over-awed by illusions of Western power and prestige that Russia lost wealth exceeding 225 000 companies and US$500 billion
The neo-liberal mentality expressed in relation to Russia is very similar to the stupid rhetoric of regime-change, which has been imported here as well:
“When the zeal for shock therapy was at its peak, its cheerleaders were absolutely convinced that only total destruction of every single institution (in Russia) would create the conditions for a national rebirth – the dream of the blank slate that would recur in Baghdad. It is “desirable”, wrote Harvard historian Richard Pipes, “for Russia to keep on disintegrating until nothing remains of its institutional structures.”
And, economist Richard Ericson wrote in 1995, “Any reform must be disruptive on a historically unprecedented scale. An entire world must be discarded, including all its economic and most of its social and political institutions . . .”
No matter how Yeltsin defied anything resembling democracy, his rule was still characterised in the West (through media, lectures and workshops), as part of ‘a transition to democracy,’ a narrative that would change only when (the next President Vladimir) Putin began cracking down on the illegal (and even treasonous) activities (of so-called reformers.”)
Therefore, Africans are shocked to see in Côte d’Ivoire, in Libya and in Zimbabwe the persistence of this imperialist demand to disrupt and to destroy the institutions, the memory and the livelihoods of the people in the name of “transition” to nowhere. The deliberate disruption and infiltration of key institutions by foreigners cannot pretend to be a process of fostering democracy and human rights. And, Africans here are shocked to see that the last Sadc troika meeting associated itself with such imperialist terror.
The empire’s flattery and the false air of superiority among some African leaders
Just as Russia’s Gorbachev and Yeltsin were misled by the Western flattery of them as democrats and reformers against the real interests of the Russian people, so were the leaders of those African countries who betrayed Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.
The point to remember is that for every problem requiring mediation or intervention in Côte d’Ivoire or Libya or Zimbabwe, one may find even two or three in the states assigned to mediate.
Let us take the examples of South Africa and Nigeria:
Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, includes chapter ten, which is on the new South Africa and is entitled: “Democracy Born in Chains: South Africa’s Constricted Freedom.”
That chapter suggests that if a Tunisian-style uprising was to take place in this region, it would happen in South Africa. However, the nature of public education and political consciousness in that country means that the ruling elites have been able to avoid, or delay uprisings by turning the oppressed African working class against itself.
This has resulted in the misnamed “xenophobic attacks”, orgies of violence in which the local poor population is encouraged by irresponsible racist media to blame its condition upon immigrant African workers from the region, but never against immigrant whites. If “xenophobia” were the real cause of the violence, one would expect whites in general, and foreign whites in particular to be the target.
According to Klein, the following statistics are indicative:
- The number of persons living below the poverty datum line in South Africa rose from 2 million in 1994 (the year of freedom) to more than 4 million by 2006.
- Between 1991 and 2002, the unemployment rate for “blacks more than doubled, from 23 percent to 48 percent.
- In 2006, only 5 000 black citizens, out of a black population of more than 35 million earned incomes above US$60 000 per year. But the number of whites earning incomes above US$60 000 per year was more than 100 000, even though blacks are the overwhelming majority in the country.
- More than 80 per cent of South Africa’s land remains in the hands of the white minority, and more than 1 000 white farmers have been killed in conflicts over farmlands, in contrast to about six whites killed during Zimbabwe’s African land reclamation and land redistribution struggle between 200 and 2002.
- In 2006, more than one in every four South Africans lived in shacks situated in informal shanty towns and slums, which have no running water and no electricity and, which are also most prone to so-called “xenophobic” violence.
But this violence apparently does not qualify for troika talks! It is important to note that former Commonwealth Secretary General Ameka Anyaoku says Zimbabwe delayed its land reclamation and redistribution in order to enable the African National Congress of South Africa to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the white minority, as it was feared in that country that if Zimbabwe were to redistribute land early, whites in South Africa would become more intransigent and more violent against all proposals for African participation in governance.
The South African leadership’s apparent backlash against Zanu-PF in favour of the neo-colonial position of the MDC formations, can therefore be read to mean that Zanu-PF’s programme of land redistribution on behalf of the once dispossessed majority exposes the failure of the ANC to do the same in South Africa. This is to say that the ANC government no longer intends to redistribute land to its original African owners. Therefore, the removal of Zanu-PF from power in Zimbabwe would automatically lead to the conclusion that the African land reclamation and redistribution programme also failed, thereby removing the pressure from the ANC to have to deal with gross racial inequalities in land ownership in that country.
But, the people of Zimbabwe cannot say they were not warned about the possibility that certain leaders of the new South Africa might betray African interests and abandon African solidarity in favour of alliances with Western imperial powers.
In 2006, a document entitled “Towards an EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership” was leaked.
Just as some members of the EU have been trying to meet with Sadc or with the African Union, without Zimbabwe, the EU document -
“Towards an EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership” also envisions a European relationship with South Africa, in all sectors, which excludes Sadc. In fact, in this particular document, Sadc is taken care of through a disclaimer and as an afterthought, which says on page 8, in a 9-page document: “Sadc remains the major engine for regional political co-operation and the ‘natural’ alliance in the region, while SACU (Southern Africa Customs Union), plays an important role with respect to trade.”
In other words, the EU will pay attention to Sadc as a political superstructure, which can be used to keep radical members from becoming too radical, for instance, through the so-called African peer review mechanism, while dealing with South Africa separately on most issues and projects of strategic economic substance. The EU will not mind going through Sadc, and funding Sadc for the purpose of policing the region politically and making it remain peaceful and receptive to European capital and trade, penetrating the region through South Africa.
From the point of view of the EU then, Sadc integration does not mean what the majority of Sadc state parties mean when they espouse the ideals of Sadc regional integration.
For the majority of Sadc state parties, Sadc integration means the transformation and unification of the economies of all the 14 countries in the interest of the indigenous majority of the people, who have been marginalised victims of apartheid since the 1870s. Sadc regional integration means using the aspirations of the majority of the people of the 14 countries to drive economic transformation and asset reclamation and control by the indigenous majority.
For the EU it means three things:
First, that the stigma of the white settler and his European cousin was wiped away when former South African President Nelson Mandela and former apartheid President F W De Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize (which is European) on the same platform. That symbolic event abolished the need for African reparations, and for punishing the perpetrators of apartheid crimes.
Second, that once this stigma of apartheid was wiped away, the white capital of South Africa and even the white business class of South Africa can now heroically co-opt the new African political elites represented by Cde Mandela and march together, recreating in economic terms P W Botha’s constellation of states around South Africa.
Third, the infusion of European capital and culture into South Africa will bury for good, the traditional rivalry and friction between Boer capital and English capital, thereby enabling a pan-European capitalist face to gain acceptability if not popularity throughout the 14 countries of Sadc. This pan-European capitalist face will of course be integrated with a few African petty bourgeoisie businessmen and politicians who accept and benefit from this version of white-driven “integration.” The cultural, financial and commercial foundation of that integration will, of course, be European and neo-liberal.
What the document “Towards an EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership” seeks to neutralise for good is the “native factor” in southern Africa. The indigenous majority of South Africa still have to choose between this European vision and pan-Africanism. The recent Sadc decision chose the white imperialist agenda over the pan-Africanist agenda with regard to Zimbabwe.
A few quotations from the document may help to elaborate this reading. The introduction seeks to remove South Africa away from images of the radical African reparations movement, from images of radical anti-imperialist pan-Africanism, and away from images of the bitter armed struggles of the African liberation movements, which freed the region with the help of Russia, China, Cuba, Yugoslavia and the Organisation of African Unity. The introduction to the document seeks to delete these images when it claims that:
“South Africa therefore is a natural partner to Europe on the African continent and on a global level. Building on shared values and mutual interests as well as profound cultural links, the EU and South Africa have developed a multifaceted, comprehensive partnership based on the ‘Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement’ (TDCA) between South Africa, the European Union and its member states.”
Reading the document further, it is clear that the EU believes that the real trauma of apartheid was the stigma, which the white settler earned as architect of apartheid as well as the ostracism, which this white man suffered internationally, requiring his European cousins to have to apologise for investing in apartheid and for protecting apartheid man from the “native terrorists.” Therefore, this trauma of apartheid is presented in the document as having ended in 1994. Therefore, democracy day for Europeans is not really African liberation day. It is the day democracy freed the white man from his stigma as apartheid man, and allowed him to present himself to the rest of Africa and the world at large as proud integrated man.
The EU document makes this point clear in its celebration of the achievements of post-apartheid South Africa, which now make that country the best partner for Europe on the African continent. These celebrated achievements do not in any way threaten Europeans; in fact they benefit the European inside South Africa and in Europe. These achievements include:
A constitutional multi-party system; a functioning parliamentary democracy; a prevailing sense of constitutionalism and of the rule of law; mechanisms for accountability, transparency and information in public administration; and, an independent judiciary.
These achievements have to do with tertiary and secondary transformation, leaving the primary foundation of the white economy intact. They have to do with the trappings of authority without the foundations of real power.
In terms of history, since 1870, seventy percent of all investment coming from Europe and America to Africa came through South Africa. Given this skewed history, one would think that the EU would seek to change that legacy of apartheid instead of entrenching it by seeking to marginalise the rest of southern Africa, by further deepening the historical economic imbalance left by apartheid.
Apart from the TDCA, the EU has or is proposing separate agreements with South Africa in several key areas which exclude Sadc.
There is the Free Trade Area agreement to be completed in 2012.
“South Africa has a separate Science and Technology Agreement with Europe. Its performance in the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development is improving steadily.”
The behaviour of the South African leadership over the question of white racist interference in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Zimbabwe suggests that Europe and North America have succeeded in convincing some of the South African leaders to value integration into the Western system over Sadc integration. This would mean that South Africa reverts to its colonial and neo-colonial role of the period 1870 to 1994. South Africa would become the Israel of the southern African region, the beach-head where Western capital and ideas are granted their landing rights to penetrate Africa from Cape to Cairo, in exchange of a small share in the illusions of prestige and credibility; in exchange for a share of the African market.
Such an arrangement then means that South Africa will pay lip-service to Zimbabwe’s anti-sanctions campaign, while companies based in that country continue to benefit from the effects of the sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe. South Africa will not take any tangible steps to punish either the sanctions-mongers or the sanctions imposing nations in solidarity with Zimbabweans.
The Zambian government is even in a more contradictory position. Neo-liberal reforms and compromises over debt relief mean that it cannot even collect decent taxes from the massive exports of copper whose price keeps rising. The question of economic indigenisation and African empowerment is as pertinent in Zambia as it is in Zimbabwe.
Moreover, the people of Zambia have long awakened to the fact that the democratic credentials of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) are on paper only.
The last election was rigged and, according to The Sunday Times of April 3, the MMD government has been drawing up flawed (draft) constitutions for the last 20 years, (which the people have rejected.”)
“The government of Zambia had a particularly bad day at the office on Tuesday, March 29. Twice that afternoon, it failed to muster the two-thirds majority required to secure passage through the national assembly of the all-important Constitution of Zambia bill . . . The failure to muster the required majority was unexpected, a nasty surprise . . . The real lesson may be that the political landscape in Zambia has changed.”
The people of Zambia have awakened to the emptiness of the promises of “democratic reform.” Likewise, the people of Zimbabwe have awakened to the bankruptcy of the foreign-sponsored democratic reform promised by the same MDC formations, which some Sadc states have been pampering in exchange for aid from the sponsors of the same formations, and at the expense of the people of Zimbabwe.
The method of importing so-called experts from outside to draw a political roadmap for elections in Zimbabwe is exactly the method, which has brought civil war to Côte d’Ivoire. It was also the US-imposed “roadmap” for the Middle East, which sold out the Palestinians and brought Israeli-sponsored genocide to Gaza. Sadc cannot be that ignorant.
One of the main reasons why imperialism ignores mass violence and serious violations of human rights in Nigeria is that the violence and human rights violations involve Africans against other Africans, whereas Zimbabwe took back its land from white racist settlers.
Hundreds of people are murdered or massacred in conflicts in Nigeria, which are presented as caused by religious differences between Christians and Moslems, usually between the “Moslem” North and the “Christian” South and East. But the African Union or the Economic Community of West African States have never sought to tell Nigeria how to solve these very serious sectarian conflicts.
Another area of great concern to Africans is the relationship between the federal government and foreign oil companies. Recently, WikiLeaks revealed that BP-Shell has been able to infiltrate the entire Nigerian government system, placing personnel within almost every department for decades. Meanwhile, the people of the Niger Delta have been struggling to claim a fair share of the oil wealth coming from their region. The Federal Government of Nigeria appears to be allied with the foreign multinationals against its own people.
This is an issue which is of interest to Zimbabweans because of their own successful African land reclamation movement and land redistribution programme. Zimbabwe has now entered the economic indigenisation and African empowerment phase of this movement. As a result, Zimbabwe has been placed under illegal sanctions.
The recent betrayal of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire as well as the attempt by some Sadc states to favour the neo-colonial position of the MDC formations against the interests of the Zimbabwean majority seem to suggest that the so-called “new African leaders” have abandoned pan-Africanism, and embraced Western neo-liberalism at the very moment at which neo-liberal reform has reached a dead-end characterised by the global financial crisis and the resort by imperialism to endless war as a means of survival.
Africa and Sadc should never dignify such racist aggression as promotion of reform or democracy.