[DEBATE] : (Fwd) "Anti-imperial" ANC
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon Jun 30 04:08:25 BST 2008
(How much nonsense fits into one op-ed?)
28/06/2008 17:40 - (SA)
In the ANC anti-imperial
WHAT do China, South Africa, Brazil and India have in common? They are
the world’s fastest growing economies and are drafting the outline of a
According to Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, it is
incumbent upon Africa to cultivate stronger ties among these emerging
powers and Russia.
Since she made this statement before Parliament, it must be presumed to
be a well-considered ordering of South Africa’s foreign policy
priorities. Reduced to the core, South Africa’s central pre-occupation
in international relations is to curb the influence of the unipolar
superpower, the US, and its Western allies.
South Africa’s priorities have been put to the test since January last
year, when it became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
When the choice has arisen whether to vote in the interest of advancing
human rights and democracy or resisting Western dominance, South Africa
has chosen the latter. This has been the case regarding Myanmar, Darfur
and Zimbabwe. Its argument has been that some Third World issues do not
belong before the security council as they do not threaten world peace.
The driving imperative here has been to bypass the Western veto-wielding
powers in the council, a procedural matter. Yet, in practical terms this
has meant circumventing issues of life and death in places like Zimbabwe.
How does Russia fit into this scenario? It, like South Africa, is
interested in curbing Western influence. Former Russian president Boris
Yeltsin was content to let the former Soviet satellites adopt a Western
style of democracy and even join the EU and Nato. His successor,
however, was more circumspect. Vladimir Putin was suspicious that the
West was co-opting the former Russian “sphere of influence” to encircle
and isolate Russia, and did everything possible to counter Western moves.
It was Putin’s determination to influence the outcomes in the Russian
“near-abroad” when the US wanted to build a missile interceptor shield
in Poland that largely strained relations with the West.
Zimbabwe is seen in some quarters as South Africa’s “near-abroad”. And
Anglo-American support for Zimbabwe’s opposition is read as encroachment
on South Africa’s sphere of influence, with the objective of surrounding
and isolating it. This is particularly relevant to the issue of land.
Considering its land maldistribution in favour of whites, South African
officialdom “understands” and accepts Robert Mugabe’s land seizures.
Yet, it is widely believed that the Zimbabwe opposition has made a deal
with Britain that if it gets support for regime change, it will roll
back Mugabe’s land seizures.
Mugabe reads Zimbabwe’s opposition as a tool of a British grand scheme.
While most of the world takes the Zimbabwe crisis as a struggle for
democracy and human rights, to Mugabe it is a British-engineered
disruption to sabotage Zimbabwe’s independence in the interest of white
For Mugabe, the ongoing elections are a referendum on whether Zimbabwe
reverts to the defunct British imperial order or becomes truly free. To
the former, he says, no, that negates everything I’ve lived for!
In the ANC anti-imperial logic, Mugabe is an ally; Zimbabwe’s opposition
is an enemy, a stepping stone for the Western imperialists that once
In this picture, curbing Anglo-American influence in Zimbabwe is a
higher foreign policy priority than human rights and democracy. Not that
democracy and human rights are irrelevant; it is that in the context of
Western intrusions, those lofty objectives are as dry as dust.
Since Russia is opposed to Western imperial designs, it is a natural
ally of South Africa, Africa and emerging Third World giants.
# Karioki is a professor of international relations, with a special
interest in the African diaspora
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