Iwi selami newi!
As Jambo Africa Online, we congratulate the people of Uganda for joining other nations in delivering medical supplies to save lives of citizens using drones. It is estimated that, sometime in future, this technology may develop the ability to deliver these supplies right to people’s bedsides.
Congratulations also to South African Irvette van Zyl for setting a new world record in the 50 km Nedbank Runified race in Gqeberha on 23 May 2021. She broke the previous record set by a British athlete, Aly Dixon, by over 3 minutes. The new record is 03:04:23.
Our congratulations also go to the people of Eritrea who celebrated their 30th Independence day on 24 May 2021.
From the onset, I should express my sense of disgust at what was beamed across the globe showing a section of South Africans literally lashing nationals from a neighbouring country purely because they suggested that the latter was responsible for their job losses and inability to feed their families. The suggested justification for this, namely job losses, is an apathetic defence and abuse of power by a group that’s failing to direct their anger at their own government and the private sector. As we continue entrenching the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), we call upon authorities to expedite the process to allow free movement of goods and people across the continent.
The despicable and horrendous ill-treatment, assault and point-blank humiliation of Africans from eSwatini by a group of their fellow Africans from South Africa is the worst form of human rights violations one can imagine. It is inhuman and, just like its cousin Apartheid, it should be condemned, frowned upon and criminalised. This has to be contained since it has the potential to frustrate efforts that are aimed at encouraging trade between African countries.
Let me also hasten to clarify that this group of hooligans does not in any way represent who we are as a country. We believe in ubuntu/botho and people-to-people contact is one of the cardinal principles of South Africa’s foreign policy. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Charolotte Mannya-Maxeke, Sol Plaatje, JB Marks, Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and other warriors of our liberation struggle should be turning in their graves.
In our Publisher’s Comment, we focus on the importance of forging a pan-African identity.
Colonialism of a special type
The national democratic revolution (NDR) against apartheid has always been categorised as a unique one compared to various upheavals across Africa and the world. That’s why it has been referred to as a colonialism of a special type. This was necessitated by the fact that unlike in other colonised countries, colonisers in South Africa were not foreign as they had no links with European motherlands – they were as South African as the colonised.
The colonialists played a give-and-take game between one another. In 1814 the Kingdom of Holland sold their ‘claim over the Cape’ for ‘two million pounds’ to the British in 1814 with the consequent delivery of a massive number of British citizens in 1820. This was to re-define the state of politics in South Africa as the colonialists fought amongst themselves over who controlled the economic muscle of South Africa.
It is these tussles that led to the movement of a disgruntled group of colonisers (mainly made up of Europeans of Dutch, French, Belgian and German descent who slowly evolved into a culturally distinct group that ultimately became Afrikaners) moving inland. They did this in search of territories wherein they could exercise their power of socio-economic dominance. In their ‘Great Trek’ they, in a countless number of battles against inland resident indigenous Africans, crushed and squeezed many African tribes pushing them, mainly, to mountainous and economically less productive areas.
This, today, defines the state of resource distribution in South Africa. The re-discovery of minerals like gold and diamond, inland exacerbated the tug of internecine battles among the colonisers and ultimately a war at the turn of the 19th century. The international isolation of South Africa by the rest of the world, though this may have been an unintended consequence, solidified the roots of the character of this unique form of colonialism that this country continues to face.
But the effect of apartheid colonialism was the balkanisation of our people into tribes restricted in bantustans; their denial of access to economic resources; and these resulting in the creation of two nations: one poor and exclusively black; and the other wealthy and white.
To whom does South Africa belong?
Having outlined colonialism of a special type, I guess the question to whom does South Africa belong is answered. The Congress of the People in 1956 declared in the Freedom Charter that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white…” This became the preamble to our post-apartheid Constitution.
Furthermore, at the adoption of this democratic constitution, the then Deputy President, H.E. Thabo Mbeki, in his address declared: “I am an African!” And later following this speech with another aptly titled, “The African Renaissance”. The two speeches were warmly embraced and largely celebrated by all South Africans. That’s why I declare this band of xenophobic hooligans don’t represent us as a people.
The country is a constitutional democracy. But the means of production are owned by a minority while the overwhelming majority lives in squalor and poverty.
Beyond that the mining and manufacturing infrastructure, that informs the productive economy, is disproportionately owned. The economic muscle, therefore, that the country is reputed for was and continues to have Black people participating as a labour force.
So the owners of the companies that play a role in this intra-African trade system for manufactured goods are largely white-owned companies. The truck drivers (whether from eSwatini or from South Africa) are working for white-owned companies who are driven by an insatiable appetite for profitability – hence they will prefer to employ cheaper labour.
Power is the missing link in Africa
The acquisition and control of power have to be managed appropriately. The continued disproportionate ownership of resources by a minority and their deliberate avoidance and evasion of from labour relations prescripts opens African workers to abuse and thus pushing them to compete against one another for the crumbs dangled in front of their eyes. This is the authority to make, break and dictate the pace and identity of life. Power is the centre of existence.
I want to assert that the powerlessness and dispossessions among Africans are the sources of strife among them.
The unfortunate acts that took place between these Africans goes a long way to define the status of power in a post-independent Africa. To what extent did the political power of 27 April 1994 manage to re-define the status of Black South Africans in transforming the country?
“The drivers are complaining that employers chose the foreign nationals because they take whatever salary they are offered and don’t comply with the road freight bargain council (as provided for by the labour relations Act). These employers hire these foreign nationals and they work non-stop (for wages below the minimum standard set). Our foreign nationals accept pittances offered out of desperation,” said Anele Skit from the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU). This is a reflection of abuse of power by the captains of the industry. The money is in the hands of business sector whilst the scramble for low wages ensues between indigenous Africans – both local and foreign nationals.
Political commentators always speak of a relationship between political power and economic power. Political science defines power as “the ability to influence the behaviour of others to get what you want”. The political power is undivorce(ably) married to economic power and, in fact, philosophy views economy as a key determinant of the nature of relations entered into in the superstructure. Therefore, those who command the economy control society and, therefore, control the political power.
AfCTFA should be alive to the dictates of history
Allow me to be pedantic and dispassionate in analysing this issue. AfCTFA efforts should be alive to the dictates of history and the disproportionate distribution of wealth whilst juxtaposing the two with the political outcomes of a successful intra-continental trade. We should be careful not to widen the gap between the rich and poor and perpetuate the famous formula: “the rich are becoming richer whilst the poor grow poorer”.
We should, therefore, define AfCTFA in the context of pushing forward the quest to liberate an African and not allow the possibility of intra-african trade being used to enslave Africans even more.
Enjoy this weekly updates from all of us and the last few days of the Africa Month celebrations.
See you next week Friday.
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