Archive for the 'South African Politics' Category
June 29th, 2008 -- Posted in South African Politics, World Politics |
Today is a sad day in Africa, Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for a 6th term in a country that is falling apart. Some people even argue this fact which is beyond understanding since the numbers tell the story; 3 million Zimbabwean refugees live in South Africa. That is 25% of the countries population as Zimbabwe is rumored to contain just over 12 million people according to a July 2008 estimate. Can you imagine a quarter of a population being forced to leave their own country? Shouldn’t that give an indication to the President that things are not good?
Not in the fantasy land of Robert Mugabe where he might term these 3 million people “malcontents.” The situation is even tougher because of the politics involved. Robert Mugabe is well regarded in Africa for fighting for independence for his country therefore the leaders of the African Union give him a wide bearing. This is understandable but antiquated, how can the leaders of the AU abide by the level of violence and intimidation that preceded the election?
We can rule out an intervention from the U.K because they have their military committed to Afghanistan and Iraq with insufficient capacity for an effective operation in Zimbabwe. Can you imagine the headlines if they did act?
Ex-colonial power reasserts control in Zimbabwe…
The U.S could probably go in with some sort of military force but the PR fallout from such an action would be slightly less than the U.K. The only solution is for the AU leaders to combine their military might and send in a peacekeeping force to ensure free and fair election. Action is not likely to occur soon therefore I urge everyone to write to their designated South African ambassador in their respective countries and urge a greater effort to remove Robert Mugabe since “quiet diplomacy” is currently showing no progress. The address of the South African Ambassador in Washington:
Ambassador Welile Nhlapo
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Van Ness Building, Suite 2200
May 21st, 2008 -- Posted in South African Politics |
I was surprised to learn earlier this week about the news of foreigners being attacked in South Africa. When I thought about it though, I was not surprised; in a country of a population of 47.9 million people (2007 est.) they have a 25.5% unemployment rate (2006 est.). Speaking to a friend of mine who I went to high school with, he was telling me that the unemployment rate is in fact higher than the stated figure in 2008 which is why people are turning to violence with regards to the number of illegal immigrants in the country. These immigrants/refugees are perceived to be stealing job’s which in a country of high unemployment is not something to be taken lightly.
A quick refresher on some geography, South Africa has no border to the South as I don’t think the penguins would want to migrate into hot weather. South Africa does have a porous border to the north where it borders Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. The problem in recent years is that with corruption, economic mismanagement and a lackluster border force; South Africa has become a haven for people seeking better opportunities or simply to flee from their repressive governments in the case of many Zimbabweans. From the Independent:
An estimated five million refugees live in South Africa, 3.5 million of who are believed to be Zimbabweans fleeing violence and economic chaos under Robert Mugabe. Gangs targeting refugees claim immigrants get preferential housing treatment, taking scarce jobs and committing crime.
President Mbeki later made this statement:
Citizens from other countries on the African continent and beyond are as human as we are and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. South Africa is not and will never be an island separate from the rest of the continent.
I admire the President for making this statement and I also believe this applies to the American immigration situation as well but my anger at this point is due to the lack of things being done about the situation. I was watching CNN today and the reporter interviewed someone holding a sharp knife who admitted he was going to stab the next foreigner in the face. That is simply shocking because South Africa is going to host the next Soccer World Cup in 2010, how can this person be the face of the country? I think this incident has damaged South Africa as well as the current electricity crisis, and as much as I like the President for what he said earlier, he has clearly mismanaged the country in a big way.
The good news is that President Mbeki has finally given the go ahead for the army to go in and stop this senseless violence but I fear the damage has already been done to the reputation of the country and any potential foreign investors seeking to put their money in a growing economy. We are all born equal and no person in any country whether they be legal or illegal deserves to be treated like this.
April 27th, 2008 -- Posted in South African Politics, World Politics |
Thanks to the folks at Wikileaks, I have come across an interesting document which is the shipping order for the weapons from Poly Technologies Inc. in China to the Ministry of Defense in Zimbabwe. Now, Zimbabwe has been in the news quite often in Europe because it used to be a British colony back however the country is in a crisis of leadership with the current administration trying desperately to cling to power while the rest of the world wants a change for the people of Zimbabwe. This man is Robert Mugabe, who I will from now refer to as “funny moustache”:
Now the even bigger news, was that despite the fact that that Zimbabwe is experiencing 165,000% inflation as of February. He has managed to pay for a shipment of Arms from the Chinese totaling $245,508. Now I wonder which Swiss bank did he have that money stored in? That shipment included the following (The scanned documents were not that clear so I did my best to reconstruct the cargo):
- 7.62 x 54mm Ball (What is this for?)
- 7.62 x 39mm Ball (What is this for?)
- RPG7 40mm Rockets HE Type G9
- 60mm Mortar Bombs Type PP89
- 80mm Mortar Bombs Type W81
- 80mm Mortar Tubes Type W91
- 6 Fighter Jets (unconfirmed)
I have a few problems with this whole scenario:
- Why did South Africa even allow this shipment to proceed all the way from China? I think we can blame president Mbeki for that as he has continuously been soft on President Mugabe because he helped out the ANC during their struggle against the prior Apartheid government. That is no excuse for letting the citizens of your neighbor suffer.
- What was China thinking? Seriously? Why sell weapons to a truly crazy man like Mugabe? I think the Chinese government made another serious error of judgment in pursuing its non-interventonist policy in Africa. This is terrible to say this but at the moment looking back at the Chinese government’s dealings in Africa, we can truly say that they are motivated by economic gains rather than making a difference to the lives of people in Africa. Sure they perform a few goodwill gestures here and there but if that shipment of arms had landed in Africa, we might be hearing about Mugabe slaughtering the opposition in “defending his government from conspirators”
- Lastly what is Mugabe thinking? Why does he want these weapons? My theory is that he is either preparing for more drastic measures against the opposition MDC or perhaps he is waiting for the international community to invade Zimbabwe so that he can put up a fight with his dying breath. Given the circumstances at the moment, I am more inclined to believe the 1st scenario but I guess we can thank the powers that be that no arms have gone into Zimbabwe.
People may criticize the United States for lacking a moral compass these days and that may be true considering the massive civilian casualties in Iraq but comparatively speaking, the U.S is nowhere near as bad as the government of China. There are over 300,000 dead in Darfur and the only government that can really do something about it is sitting in their cushy leather chairs and counting the money. My pick (Barack Obama) for the president of the United States said this:
Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.
Now let’s put this into a nice short summary to simplify the situation:
The People’s Liberation Army (China) which owns Poly Technologies sends a shipment of Arms using the Cosco shipping company which is based in China but has an office in South Africa to the Ministry of Defense in Zimbabwe. Cosco relies on its subsidiary Cosren which is based in Durban (RSA) to unload the shipment and see it on its way to Zimbabwe. The Chinese don’t anticipate any problems (Are you kidding me?) but the Durban Dock Workers refuse to unload the weapons. The ship leaves South Africa to the chagrin of the Chinese government who insists that we should not mix politics and economics (doesn’t that sound familiar…). The ship tried to dock in Angola but is turned away again to have to make the long hard journey back to China with all the cargo “safely” on board.
Now if anyone would like to dispute what I have written today, please do so but read the facts first and I have nicely put the shipping documents in the Downloads section so make use of them before stating your argument. I am honestly ashamed to say that South Africa has a role in this saga and I hope South Africa, the international community and the Chinese government will take a sterner stance with Robert Mugabe so that the people of Zimbabwe can finally put their country back together.