Monday, June 11, 2018

Modern South African History

On May 10, 1994, massive change came into South Africa. Nelson Mandela was the new South African President. He was the first black man being the President of South Africa too. Would massive revolutionary come or just reform? Time has shown us the answer to that important question. On 1996, there was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It held hearings on human rights crimes committed by former government and liberation movements during the apartheid era. It was controversial since many pro-apartheid criminals weren’t given lengthy jail sentences if they admitted publicly their crimes (only amnesty). Many black and white South Africans disagreed with the testimonies and the essence of the commission itself. Also, you must have justice first then reconciliation not vice versa. It did allow many people to see the viciousness of the apartheid regime. It allowed many victims of apartheid to share their stories to the world. On 1996, Parliament adopted a new constitution. National Party withdrew its coalition saying it is being ignored. By 1998, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report called apartheid as a crime against humanity (which it is) and found human rights abuses done by many groups. It criticized both sides for human rights abuses. Nelson Mandela had to hold together a fragile, multiracial democracy. Mandela promoted many progressive policies as President. Also, he promoted many neoliberal policies in favor of the World Bank, the IMF, corporate elites, and the growing black middle class crowd. Neoliberal policies can never adequately address unemployment, inadequate housing, health care, and education since you need grassroots, comprehensive, and revolutionary solutions beyond reform (in order to radically change society). The global capitalist world order is not for the poor, especially for the black poor as history has taught us. By 1999, the ANC won the general elections. Thabo Mbeki took over as President of South Africa. On December of 2000, the ANC prevailed in local elections. The recently formed Democratic Alliance got nearly a quarter of the votes. The Inkatha Freedom Party won 9%. On April of 2001, 39 multinational pharmaceutical companies ended a legal battle to stop South Africa from importing generic AIDS drugs. To this very day, many multinational corporations follow the neoliberal economic, disgraceful playbook. The decision to allow generic AIDS drugs to be imported into South Africa has been hailed as a victory for the poor people of the world in importing cheaper drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. May 2001 was when an official panel investigated allegations of corruption involving a 1999 arms deal that involved British, French, German, Italian, Swedish, and South African firms. South African government leaders were cleared of unlawful conduct on November of 2001. The famous Durban race conference was held on September of 2001. It condemned racism, it called for reparations, it condemned Zionism, and it inspired the world to fight for racial justice. The High court on December of 2001 ruled that pregnant women must be given AIDS drugs to help prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies.  The court dealt with Dr. Wouter Basson or Dr. Death. He ran the apartheid-era germ warfare program. He is acquitted unjustly and the ANC rightfully condemned the verdict.

On 2002, the constitutional court ordered the government to provide key anti-AIDS drugs to all public hospitals. The government argued that the drugs are too costly, but saving lives is more important than money. Right wing extremists bombed places in Soweto and near Pretoria on October 2002. The police charge 17 right wingers with plotting against the state. Walter Wisulu passed away on May of 2003. He was a key leader of the anti-apartheid struggle and he was 91 when he passed away. Thousands of people gathered to pay their last respects. The government of South Africa approved a major program to treat and fight HIV/AIDS on November of 2003. The program dealt with funding a network of drug distribution centers and preventative measure. Cabinet had refused previously to provide anti-AIDS medicine via public health system. The ANC won a landslide election victory of getting nearly 70% of the votes on April of 2004. Thabo Mbeki started his second term of President of South Africa. The Inkhatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was dropped from the cabinet. The investigators exhumed the first bodies in a Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigation into the fates of hundreds of people who disappeared in the apartheid era on March of 2005. The geographical names committee recommended that the culture minister should approve a name change for the capital from Pretoria to Tshwane on May of 2005. President Mbeki fired his deputy Jacob Zuma on June 2005 after a corruption case. 100,000 gold miners strike over pay which brought the industry to a standstill on August 2005. By this time, economic inequality in South Africa grew and many workers are fighting back heroically for economic justice. By May of 2006, former deputy president Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape charges by the High Court in Johannesburg. He was reinstated as deputy leader of the governing African National Congress. Bay this time, many ANC leaders have compromised to embrace neoliberal extremism. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited and promised to limit clothing exports to help South Africa’s ailing textile industry on June 2006. Zuma continued to run for President as corruption charges against him are dismissed by September of 2006. President Mbeki urged South Africans to bring rapists, drug dealers, and corrupt officials to justice on April 2007. On May of 2007, Cape Town mayor Helen Zille was elected as a new leader of the main opposition party of Democratic Alliance (DA).

Massive strikes continued in South Africa. On June of 2007, thousands of public sector workers are involved in the largest strike since the end of apartheid. It went on for 4 weeks. Schools, hospitals, and public transport are disrupted. Zuma was elected chairman of the ANC by December of 2007. Prosecutors brought new corruption charges against him. Xenophobic violence happens in South Africa by May of 2008. Many victims are from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. Some immigrants return to their home countries. Zuma’s charges are dismissed and he decided to run for president in 2009. By December of 2008, a new political party is created in Bloemfontein. It is called the Congress of the People or COPE. It is made up of directors of the ANC and is headed by former defense minister Mosiuoa Lekota. On January of 2009, an appeals court ruled that corruption case against ANC leader Jacob Zuma can continue. Prosecutors rop their corruption case against Jacob Zuma on April of 2009.  The ANC won the general election in 2009 and Jacob Zuma was elected President by Parliament. The South Africa economy experienced its first Recession in 17 years on 2009. Poor people in townships protest by July of 2009. South Africa hosted its first World Cup football tournament on June 2010. Civil servants created a nationwide strike on August of 2010. In local elections, with opposition Democratic Alliance nearly double its share of the vote in the last poll on May of 2011. President Zuma mediates the Libyan conflict. On March 17, 2011, South Africa, as a member of the UN Security Council, supported a resolution put forward by the US, Britain and France allowing NATO to bomb Libya, eventually invade it and brutally assassinate its leader Muammar Gaddafi. The South African representative passionately argued in favor of the Western proposal. This caused South Africa to ally with Western imperialist policies. Gaddafi is not perfect, but he doesn’t deserve to be assassinated. President Zuma fired 2 ministers accused of corruption on October of 2011. The opposition Democratic Alliance picked Lindiwe Mazibuko (who is a black woman) as leader in Parliament.

The ANC continued to have troubles. The ANC suspended its controversial and influential youth leader Julius Malema of 5 years on allegations that he brought the party into disrepute. The National Assembly overwhelmingly approved the information bill. It is against the freedom of speech. The ANC supports it in saying it is needed to promote national security, which is ludicrous. By July of 2012, a member of a white supremacist group was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Nelson Mandela and trying to overthrow the government. One of the most disgraceful events in South African history was the Marikana massacre. This happened on August of 2012. It is about how the crooked police fired on workers at a platinum mine in Marikana. At least 34 people were murdered, 78 were injured, and more than 200 people were arrested. Neither the ANC, the South African Communist Party nor COSATU had condemned the killings immediately. These workers were protesting for their economic rights. Prosecutors dropped murder charges against 270 miners (when they didn’t murder anyone, but the cops did) on September of 2012. A public outcry caused the government to set up a judicial commission inquiry in October of 2012.  Julius Malema wanted Zuma to resign because of his response to the Marikana Massacre. Marlena is later accused of money laundering. Malema said that the charges are politically motivated especially after the Marikana shootings. On October of 2012, Platinum wine owner Amplate fired 12,000 striking miners as waves of wildcat strikes existed.

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. From 1918-1943, he was born from an aristocratic Xhosa family in South Africa and was educated heavily. From 1943 to 1960, he grew his revolutionary consciousness in fighting against apartheid. From 1960 to 1990, he became even more revolutionary by fighting oppression by any means necessary and being imprisoned for his heroic beliefs. From 1990 to his passing, he reflected on his life and shown compromises and revolutionary views. Tributes exist worldwide. Like with many iconic individuals, many people tried to sugarcoat his legacy, but Mandela worked in revolutionary movements. Plus, some of his greatest allies were socialists, communists, women rights activists, civil rights leaders, and other progressive heroes. Nelson Mandela was a political revolutionary who was once considered an enemy of the state by the U.S. government (during a time) plus the South African apartheid government. The irony of his passing is that many of the same Western capitalist elites who hated Mandela before his imprisonment are now praising him greatly. Many anti-corruption people criticized President Zuma for a twenty million dollar upgrade to his private home. On May of 2014, the ruling ANC party owned a majority in general elections. The Paralympics athlete Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail for killing his girlfriend on October of 2014. President Zuma, by February of 2015, announced his plan to limit farm seizes and ban foreign farmland ownership in trying to redistribute land to black farmers (being part of a longstanding ANC pledge). Power utility Eskom rations electricity to prevent power cuts. This is blamed of years of poor maintenance.  More anti-immigrant attacks leave several people dead from March to April of 2015. On June 2015, there were allegations of bribery to the international soccer body of FIFA to secure the 2010 World Cup. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa despite the International Criminal Court having an arrest warrant against him over genocide and war crime charges. The Supreme Court on March of 2016 ruled that President Zuma violated the constitution for not repaying public money used to improve his private residence. April 2017 was the time when President Zuma dismissed widely respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, leading to the country’s credit rating being cut to junk status. President Zumba survived his eight motion of no-confidence. This was on August of 2017. On February 2018, Mr. Zuma resigned as President. Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa (who is a wealthy elite person) is the current President of South Africa since February 15, 2018. South Africa made many contributions in history along with having the problem of economic inequality and corporate elites (from the Oppenheimers to other oligarchs) dominating much of the wealth of the land too. We know about the past and current revolutionaries of South Africa. Therefore, there are tons of South Africans today who are continuously fighting racism, xenophobia, militarism, free market fundamentalism, and other evils. We are in solidarity with them 100 percent.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

By Timothy

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