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The Dilution of South Africa's Leadership Role in Africa

By Udo W. Froese

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and most of its member states disrespected, feared and despised pre-1994 colonial-apartheid South Africa for its racialist ideologies, its merciless and formidable warmachine, the South African Defence Force (SADF), the South African Police (SAP) and their intelligence networks. In addition, Africa criticised South Africa's close links with the state of Israel publicly. In fact, after World War 2 and the Nazi regime of Germany, both countries stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, jointly accused as enemies of humanity.

The realistic observation was then that South Africa is in actual fact no part of the African continent. Meanwhile, the cold-war era played itself off on the stage of sub-Saharan Africa. The continent paid a heavy price with criminal operations such as Angola's UNITA; Mozambique's FRELIMO; Inkatha, the "vigilantes" and socalled "xenophobic" acts-ofcrime in South Africa and many other such highly trained and armed groups causing much bloodletting throughout southern Africa.

However, when the ultraright- wing, arch-racist president of exclusive white-nationalist, colonial-apartheid South Africa, Frederick Willem de Klerk, set the ANC leadership free, unbanned all opposing, blacknationalist African political movements in February 1990, Africa welcomed that strategic move cautiously. Hope for a real turn-around of personal and economic freedoms under South Africa's new flag of democracy came up.

The international Western community hailed both, Mandela and De Klerk, as peacemakers and democrats and awarded them jointly with the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, South Africa's exclusive, oligopolistic and cartelised, multi-national business-, financial-, mining-, manufacturing-, telecoms- and retail industries celebrated their new, "democratic" success, polishing the doorknobs of the office of the new president of a new South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

Mandela was bestowed with another "prestigious" award the 'Cecil-John Rhodes Foundation', which was re-named to become the "Nelson R. Mandela-Cecil J. Rhodes Foundation". The former "terrorist" and fighter for African liberties, Mandela, joined the ever exclusive, British arch-conqueror, Rhodes. It was a sign of the ultimate "reconciliation". Pan- Africanists however, view that arrangement as the "final conquest" of South Africa.

The paymasters of the discriminating and exclusive colonial- apartheid system and owners of the economy - also owners of the media- and the advertising industries - became new 'Comrades-in-Arms' overnight, condemning the colonial-apartheid history, crying out loud, how racial discrimination and a pure-white military machine had also made them suffer. The "Damascus Experience" became heart wrenching.

Meanwhile, their status quo, which they had established back in 1948 when the exclusive, colonial- apartheid Nationalist Party-regime was elected into power, remains firmly in tact in 2012 and will most likely do so for many decades to come.

Pretoria's newly elected administrators under Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki travelled Africa. They took their new friends from the economy and multi-nationals along with them. Mandela and Mbeki introduced those vicious plunderbarons as their "trusted friends", who had only Africa's best interests in mind, as expressed in their latest approach of "investing in Africa".

Africa looked with envious hope at the new "super power" on the African continent. It welcomed the "change of heart" and the "Africanisation" of those new investments with open arms. It was received in good faith. South Africa and the ruling ANC under Nelson Mandela and his men and women were widely respected and even praised as Africa's rescuers. "Look South!" became Africa's new motto. However, like the proverbial "Chinese year-end fireworks display", this mirage faded suddenly.

After too many business deals gone sour; empty promises; signed-up investments not forthcoming; continuous attempts to manipulate political power in souvereign African states in order to gain powerful influence; lower salaries for staff in those new African countries; no real, visible return of capital made from large profits and endless "business contracts", many fronting for Australian-, British-, Canadian-, Israeli-, US- and EU interests, have all strained Africa's relationship with the "power house", South Africa.

Influential African business people across the continent observed, "that new interest in Africa is actually known as furthering a vested, neo-colonial drive to conquer the African continent similar to Cecil J. Rhodes' ambitious plan for Africa."

It is said, "South Africa is merely fronting for a global business-, mining-, telecomsand banking elite. It is described as a proxy." And, "South Africa's 'Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE)' is just a front to create a white-owned black South African and African middle class." Others go even further, "South Africa poses a security risk, similar to the former colonial- apartheid system did." Is South Africa a "security risk" for Africa?

There are instances where South Africa's role is perceived as unsupportive, if not siding with interests of the international West. Recent UN Security Council decisions seem to bring it up, as for example when South Africa supported the decisions of the US, UK, France and other permanent members to (a) sanction NATO to bomb Libya and (b) to topple Syria's head-of-state, despite Russia and China's clear veto. The above-mentioned perception calls for examples, to shine a light on those fears.

In the case of Liberia's former president, Charles Taylor, Nigeria's former president Olusegon Obasanjo and South Africa's re-called, former president Thabo Mbeki had negotiated as members of the AU and thus, for and on behalf of the African Union (AU), to accept Taylor's peace offer.

Taylor would seek asylum in Nigeria, where he most likely, would have lived for the rest of his life. In return, Liberia's army and Taylor's followers would end the civil war. The war ended. Obasanjo and Mbeki signed the aforementioned peace-agreement together with Taylor. The AU accepted this agreement. It brought peace not only to Liberia, but also to the region. It was an African success. However, international Western interests overruled this African arrangement. Nigeria's head-of-state was invited to the White House in Washington DC. Obasanjo looked forward to meeting his American counterpart, George W. Bush.

As Nigeria's presidential plane was about to take off, Obasanjo received a telephone call from the White House. The president's office recommended that the Nigerian authorities would release Liberia's former president, Charles Taylor, from his asylum and hand him over to Sierra Leone, from where Taylor would be transferred to the European International Crimes Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

To avoid embarrassment not to be received in America, Obasanjo agreed to the US's request. He then flew on to Washington. Taylor was handed over to the Sierra Leonean authorities. The original African agreement became redundant. It was not worth the paper it was written on. Neither were the signatures of the heads-of-state of the "power houses", Nigeria and South Africa and neither was the African Union's acceptance of that all-African deal. All of them had to bow to Washington, as their new colonial dictator. The ever-present French Connection in Africa showed its hand. France's economy depends heavily on its "former" colonies in Franco-phone Africa.

France declared that Cote d'Ivoire is not "democratic" enough for the interests of Paris. The Ivory Coast was told to rid itself of its president, Laurent Gbagbo, an academic and historian, who, together with his circle of friends and advisers, showed to have serious problems with French interests in that souvereign West African state. However, the elections were declared "rigged" and therefore, were unacceptable to the international community.

Paris brought in their man from the north of Cote d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara. The US supported France's preference over Gbagbo. South Africa's recalled, former president Thabo Mbeki, tried to broker peace and a smooth election process, but failed.

The UN representation was accused of meddling in the internal, souvereign affairs of Cote d'Ivoire. Washington's secretary of state, Hilary Rodham-Clinton made it clear whom she supported the Muslim; former Ivorian prime minister, Ouattara, who was appointed by former president and friend of colonial-apartheid president P.W.Botha, Felix Houphouet-Boigny; former deputy head of the IMF and economist.

Former president Laurent Gbagbo and his family were unceremoniously forced out of office and publicly humiliated, as television footage showed. South Africa's brokering efforts were simply ignored, so was the input from the AU. The so-called "Arab Spring" with its subsequent ultimate goal of "regime change" targeted North Africa and the Mid East. That evil crime peaked in Libya, when "pro-democracy forces" unleashed a civil uprising.

As Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya exploded; a naive population was coaxed into mass-demonstrations through Twitter, mobile phones and BBMs, among others. Tens of thousands of people followed the calls. It spilled over into Yemen and Syria, targeting Iran, finally setting sights firmly on the Federal Republics of Russia and China.

South Africa serves as a temporary member on the UN Security Council. The international West and its NATO clearly targeted Libya and its oil resources. They pushed for a "no fly zone" over Libya. At that time South Africa agreed to such a "no fly zone" over Libya, little realising the murderous plan behind it. NATO used that opportunity to execute "humanitarian bombing" of that country. Thousands of innocent civilians were killed, whilst that act-of-crime continued. Eventually, Libyan president Muammar al Khatafi was captured and assassinated, as shown live on television news networks around the world. US secretary of state, Hilary Rodham Clinton, jubilated in front of the television cameras.

A "Transitional Revolutionary Council (TRC)" was formed to re-place the former government. Muammar al-Khatafi paid he heaviest price. Having lost two of his sons and another currently incarcerated by so-called "rebel forces", he lost his life. Al- Khatafi's assassination was displayed in front of a hostile international Western media.

At the latest UN session on Syria, South Africa was advised to and thus, decided to follow the decision the 'Arab League' has taken. That decision also reflects the stance of the US, Israel, the UK and the EU. They want the current president Bashar al-Assad to step down, or be removed, similar to the ways, NATO got rid of Libya's Muammar al Khatafi.

Many African states accused South Africa, as a member of the UNSC, of the G-20, the AU, the Commonwealth and the SADC, of taking advice from the powerful, permanent members of the UNSC - the US, UK, France and others and siding with those forces.

Another delicate situation is that of working out a solution for neighbouring Zimbabwe. Despite joint public appearances demonstrating close cooperation with all parties in Zimbabwe, some of the SADC members, more particularly Zimbabwe, did not necessarily concur with South Africa's views of the situation in and around the country and of postponing democratic elections in Zimbabwe.

The reasons for insisting to delay national, general elections in Zimbabwe seemed fickle and play into the hands of Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition MDC-T. The ruling party, ZANU-PF, however grudgingly, seemed to have gone along. Interestingly, through re-writing the constitution, the negotiators on Zimbabwe's future want to make sure, Mugabe will not be able to participate. This would mean that 25% of the national Zimbabwean vote would be lost and ZANU-PF would be weakened. The henchmen for the international West would deliver Zimbabwe, hoping, the MDC would receive the majority of the vote then.

When Zimbabwe's Prime Minister and opposition MDCT president, Morgan Tsvangirai, visited South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at his private home in Nkandla in the KwaZulu/Natal Province, asking for protection against a possible legal action against him, Zuma entertained Tsvangirai.

In the past, Morgan Tsvangirai attacked former, recalled president Thabo Mbeki from many public platforms inside South Africa. In addition, Tsvangirai and his deputy, Tendai Biti, now Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe, were spotted during the so-called "xenophobic attacks" on Zimbabweans in South Africa in May 2008. The internal threat of socalled "xenophobia" has not endeared South Africa to the rest of the continent. The ruling ANC, the PAC, the SACP, including thousands of South Africans had sought refuge on the continent during the height of colonial-apartheid. They were accepted and enjoyed the hospitality there.

Those countries have asked, whether or not South Africa's security cluster and intelligence agencies could not have picked up the criminal destabilisation strategies against the country and the foreigners living there, as serious allegations of 'criminal third force activities' emerged, operating outside the law. The aforementioned has come back to bite Pretoria and has diluted South Africa's leadership role in Africa. With all good intentions, it also demonstrates how unfree not only South Africa is, with its prestigious memberships of the UNSC, the AU, the G20, the Commonwealth, the SADC, SACU and RMA, but how limiting those indeed are.


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