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What went wrong with SA independence to turn their anger and hate on foreigners?

18 Apr 2015 at 18:42hrs | Views
What went wrong with South African independence to turn their anger and hate on foreigners? Naomi Klein chronologies some facets of a stolen revolution: "Shock doctrine"

"Reconciliation means that those who have been on the underside of history must see that there is a qualitative difference between repression and freedom.  And for them, freedom translates into having a supply of clean water, having a good job, to be able to send your children to school and to have accessible health care. I mean, what's the point of having made this transition if the quality of life of these people is not enhanced and improved? If not, the vote is useless."  These are the words of Archbishop Tutu verbatim, Chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2001. Taken from the book: "Shock doctrine" by Naomi Klein.

Naomi Klein, the writer of "Shock Doctrine" follows the economic and political developments that took place in South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. Her analysis on SA could give us some clue as to what happened to the revolution in SA? Who benefited from the independence, why do people feel betrayed, do they know they got betrayed?  Now it seems the betrayal, the hate and anger are openly, is nakedly vomited on the foreigners. They are to blame! They must leave South Africa or else they will be killed!

When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, February the 12th, he came to a world that had changed from what it was in 1963 before he went to prison. He arrived to a new generational South Africa, New Africa and a new world order. The socialist revolutionary movements the whole world had ceased to exist. The Berlin Wall had fallen and as a result the cold war over. Che Guevara had died long back, President Salvado Allende of Chile died in a coup in 1973, President Samora Machel of Mozambique died of a plane crash in October 1986. The repression at Tiananmen Square was crushed and communism in China collapsed, says Naomi in her "Shock Doctrine." But what Mandela still had firm in his mind when he left the prison door of Robin Island, was power of the Freedom Charter, policies that he had worked on with other ANC stalwarts before he went to prison and the document spread like fire to almost all peoples of South Africa, everyone in the revolution was convinced that it was a document to free the people of South Africa from political and economic oppression. ANC policies had its roots, its values its principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter, a live and timeless document adopted in 1955. The objectives of this noble document were,

 - Landless people and dispossessed people should be given land
 - Workers should be given livable wages and shorter working hours
 - There should be free and compulsory education for all
 - Right to freedom of movement irrespective of color race, creed and nationality
 - Share the country's wealth of land, gold and diamonds
 - Banks mineral wealth monopoly of industries shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people

Before South Africa's democratic independence in 1994, South Africa had an economic system that perpetuated racism, and it implemented economic returns that were only to be enjoyed by the few white elite. The cheap labor they got forcefully from the black population nurtured the economy and it boosted, making South Africa the largest economy in the African continent. White people were paid ten times more than blacks doing the same job description. According to Naomi Klein, South Africa was a country with California living standards for the whites and Congo living standards for the black people. Mandela's release from prison could have sparked an economic collapse and civil war at the same time. He had to balance those forces never to be out of hand and explode into total civil war and chaos. The National Party of F. W. De Klerk provoked this scenario to prove that blacks were not capable of governing such a huge economy like South Africa. It was a two lane negotiation process; political and economical. Mandela and Ramaphosa, together with his ANC team had to negotiate the political independence from the hands of the few whites to the majority of South Africans. It is in this period when Mandela really shone out to the whole world, politically he was spot on, he had the subject knowledge in his fingertips.  Block by block he managed to get all the political power he had envisaged as leader of ANC for all those 27 years in prison. But it was something else with the economic liberation of South Africa. Mandela admitting his out of touch with the world developments that transpired in his absence, he gave the authority to engage with Apartheid South Africa to Chris Hani, who was known to be left oriented, and the then a young turk, Thabo Mbeki, an economist in Sussex University educated, bright and astute. For some reason, Chris Thembisile Hani was eliminated physically and otherwise, from the negotiating process, leaving speculation he may have been killed for his leftist ideas and the preservation of the ideals of the Freedom Charter. Chris Hani made it clear to all that he wanted to give relevance to the values and principles of the Freedom Charter in all economic transfer negotiations. If he had lived South Africa would be different from what it is now in terms of black economic empowerment and development, certainly not these cosmetic trickledown economics to empower blacks whose principles and values are the Washington Consensus, whatever that means.

The shrewd F. W. De Klerk managed to convince the ANC-team, then without Hani, that the economy of South Africa was going to be run at the behest of the Washington Consensus. That meant that trade policy, central bank, international trade agreements, innovations, constitutional and structural adjustment policies would be run by impartial experts such as the World Bank, IMF, GATT and the National Party and not elected law makers. The central bank was going to be independently run. ANC agreed! They failed to see the trick set against them by the Nationalist Party of F. W. De Klerk. The Freedom Charter was rendered useless overnight. According to Naomi in her book "Shock Doctrine" the monetary institutions, initially, were supposed to serve the new government and its noble goals enshrined in the Freedom Charter: growth, employment, redistribution of wealth. The ANC was then not going to implement the aspirations of the Freedom Charter because the central bank of South Africa was out of reach of the lawmakers from the onset. It was running as an autonomous entity from the State of Republic of South Africa and that was to be enshrined in the new constitution. It was first going to be run by Chris Stals as central bank Chef and Derek Keyes as Finance Minister. ANC agreed.

By the look of things, economic transition in South Africa was a horse trade scenario and consequences of which were never thought through by the ANC-Team. To put it crudely, ANC was outmaneuvered by the ruling National Party of F. W. De Klerk. Apparently ANC did not have the negotiating skills based on the economic transfer knowledge of a colony of 400 years to an independent South Africa. But it seems the Nationalist Party of F. W. De Klerk had rehearsed this scenario long back and they were smart from the onset of the negotiations. By surrendering unknowingly to give up the monetary institution, ANC got stuck into a web and never was able to untangle themselves out of it. It was still ringing in Mandela's mind that they needed to negotiate to offer the black's majority what they promised long back during the liberation struggle, well documented in the Freedom Charter. It was this rude shock to find that their hands were tied, they could not. They had all the political power but not the economic power to implement policies that were pro-poor. They needed money to build houses, give clean water and sanitation, free education for all and raise minimum wages, free health care. They were going to get the money by nationalizing the most important industries and assets: the mines and the land. Did ANC not know all these years of freedom struggle and all the precedence around them that the struggle for independence is economic power mostly?

The most interesting events happened during those negotiations. The government of South Africa had its sanctions lifted and it meant that there had credit lines opened to monetary institutions: the World Bank and IMF. Behind the back of the coming ANC government, Apartheid South Africa borrowed money from the international monetary institutions, clandestinely. Overnight SA had an extra debt of just less than a billion US dollars, ($850 million) to be added to the already existing $4 billion dollars. It is this money that got looted by the NP and the debt was put paid on the lap of the new government of ANC. Naomi Klein says "it was the nature of democracy that was altered in the negotiation to set up a new system that was going to be impossible to untangle if the black government came to power." Banks, mines, 70% of the best lands, monopoly industries remained firmly in the same hands of those few whites and corporate national and international owners, who also controlled 80% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, very little or nothing changed significantly.  Indeed Mandela tried to negotiate; please raise the minimum wage, the answer was flat no. The money institutions talk of wage restraint, "you will shake the market confidence," again SA had signed a GATT making it illegal to subsidize factories and industries. Those commitments should be adhered to. What commitments? Did ANC realize that it was the Washington Consensus dictating the modus operandi, how the coming dispensation will function? Mandela wanted money just to improve housing, give electricity to all urban dwellers and clean water at least for black disadvantaged communities. Again it was no, those services should be in private hands.

President Mandela and the ANC had to be schooled to speak the language neo-liberalism of Milton Friedman. The economic negotiations were done in such a way that there was no departure from the Chicago School of neo-liberal thinking, genius unfetted capitalism. Thabo Mbeki's secret meetings with top businessmen may have sold the heart of the Freedom Charter, wholly unintentional, wholly unknowledgeable about the effects of neo-liberalism. The questions will insist, Mbeki is an economist, educated in UK's top University, was resident in London under Prime Minister Thatcher administration, how did he miss it at this crucial point of this great country's economic transformations, South Africa? His change of language changed from a revolutionary to Thatcherism. He, at one time said in 1996, you can call me Thatcherist if you want. He had managed to put together a neo-liberal document, a template that ANC would use to administrate the government of new democratic South Africa. "No taming of the free market, just feed it what it craves, only then, can there be growth unending."  It will be interesting to know if he still believes in these words that came from him, verbatim. Mbeki did not stop there, he went further and he managed to convince President Mandela about the neo-liberal policies and jettison the Freedom Charter. The rhythm and grammar was that South Africa must speak the language of the global markets. Indeed the ANC dropped the party's manifesto the "Great Freedom Charter." Mbeki told Mandela that South Africa needed a new economic plan, which was shocking and bold. That was to be the neo-liberal shock therapy for South Africa, Naomi Klein wrote. Neo-liberalism means privatization, cuts on social spending, flexible labor, free trade and looser controls on cash flows – a market performance.  This is what South Africa's economy is based on despite all the deaths and sacrifices the people of South Africa have gone through the past 70 years of liberation struggle, they landed on neo liberalism as answer to their life long struggle - a curse, but Nelson Mandela lived it and he endorsed it.

The Freedom charter was going to be a template for all other African countries in the continent if it was implemented successfully in South Africa under the great leader Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela.  

The bitterness comes from the fact that the new government of South Africa under ANC failed to meet the aspirations of liberation struggle. It is however not enough to go and vote for ANC. South Africa should never be fooled by one man one vote politics! South Africa should never be fooled by political power they possess. The neo-liberal policies of ANC that they adopted, how they got maneuvered by the NP in the economic transformations, makes black majority rule a lost out revolution completely. Archbishop Tutu says: "can you explain how a black person wakes up in a squalid ghetto today almost 10 years after independence. Then he goes to work in town which is still largely white, in palatial homes. And at the end of the day he goes back to his home to squalor. I don't know why these people can't say to hell with peace, to hell with truth and reconciliation commission."  According to Naomi's "Shock Doctrine," below are the facts that the citizens of the country should know and give thought; Since 1994 the year ANC took power, the number of people living on less $1 a day has doubled from 2 million to 4 million in2006.   Today 9% of the population live on just about $1,20 a day. Between 1991 and 2002, the unemployment rate for black South Africans more than doubled from 23 % to 48%. Of South Africa 38 million citizens only five thousand earn $60,000 a year. The number of whites in that income bracket is twenty times higher and many earn far more than that amount. The ANC government built 1.8 million homes, but in the mean time 2 million people have lost their homes. Close to one million people have been evicted from farms in the first decade of democracy. Such evictions have meant that the number of shack dwellers has grown by 50%. In 2006, more than one in four South African lived in shacks located in informal shanty towns many without running water or electricity. The life expectancy of blacks in South Africa has dropped by 13%

The people of South Africa are advised to revisit the Freedom Charter, which is where the solutions to South African social problems today are shelved. South Africa is advised to launch a second liberation movement and re-address social issues embedded in the Freedom Charter. They should revisit the system of apartheid and re-negotiate the question of land, the role of multi-nationals who played a big role in boosting the Apartheid regime, the reparations. A holistic revision of history should be done. South African ANC government should stop paying Apartheid debt and that money should go and build schools and hospitals and homes for the young South Africans living rough in the streets of Soweto. In the mean time the Freedom Charter has long been forgotten. It is decorated in pillars that read: "South Africa belong to all who live in it, blacks and whites. The Freedom Charter in Kliptown mocks the very poor black people in the area. It is now a tourist attraction, nationals and international visitors come to see the monumental place that  seems to be saying the dreams of the majority of South Africans were lost here in Kliptown, ironically the place where the Freedom Charter was born, launched in 1955.

 Mandela was told rudely in G20 Leaders conferences that the "Marshal Plan that he envisaged in South Africa: the Marshal Plan that gave birth to West Germany's economy after WWII was no longer relevant in today's economic order, a new world order he was not sure of, he was 27 years out of all global developments, be it technological, political-ideological or economic, he was almost mistaking a microphone for a modern weapon of mass destruction!

The crime rate is the most alarming development in South Africa. Unemployment is very high among the youth.  The prospects of a decent future seem to escape most of South Africa's young black population. Again the number of foreigners coming to South Africa is also alarmingly high. It is estimated that in South Africa, there are 3 million Zimbabweans looking for those jobs: technical, professional and also manly menial jobs. In hindsight, SA gained a lot from the professionals who left their African countries for SA. SA gained mostly from these unskilled workers; South African work ethics are not applicable to migrant workers. There are other nationals too from other African countries, millions in number looking for those jobs. This competition for jobs between the SA nationals and the foreigners creates race tensions. The casual comments coming from national and traditional leaders heighten already tensed-up and poisonous atmospheres that ignite Xenophobia. Black South Africans were known to be the most politicized people during their struggle for their independence. It is not so now anymore especially from the young generation. Their fathers and mothers were politicized yes, most of them have passed on, leaving social insecurities that the present government is not able to solve- neoliberal policies do not allow it. The social problems facing foreigners in South Africa comes from the regional countries within SADC who failed to address their own social national problems in their countries leading to mass exodus of people going to South Africa in the hope of a better future. Employers in South Africa usually prefer foreigners to national South Africans because it is where there can be paid far less than the minimum wages, a foreigner, a migrant will take anything in terms of employment wages to survive and still send some to their countries in case of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has 95% unemployment.

  It is very challenging to be a migrant worker in South Africa. A democratic country like South Africa sends its powerful institutions: army and police to Marikana to quench social unrest with guns blazing, killing 34 demonstrators cold blooded, like flies. The world was shocked! It happened in Apartheid South Africa, why is it happening in a black government South Africa and ANC in the government? It is still the brutal system of Apartheid South Africa operational in a black government of ANC, the revolutionary party that once was, and no more, as they now understand the neo-liberal language of global economics, the Washington Consensus.  It happened in Chile, Argentina, and many countries in the Southern Cone. What chance does a migrant worker, menial worker, farm worker, domestic worker from Lupane/Zimbabwe have in such an already poisonous cocktail of economic betrayal of the revolution of the great South Africa? Does a national South African and a migrant worker from Lupane/Zimbabwe know and understand what is credit crunch, debt ceiling, Washington Consensus, neoliberalism of Milton Friedman, perhaps not. The price of gold will be maintained at the stock market, it does not matter how much they demonstrate and get killed down the chain. That is not interesting to the global markets! Production targets have to be met. Jacob Zuma does not understand the Washington Consensus either. He is too much with his six women at Inkundla. Sure what do you expect from him, he is more on the traditions of the Zulus that allow him to get married every year. He wishes he could live another 100 years possibly, just to enjoy the presence of his women around him, what he glorifies most.
Source - Nomazulu Thata
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