#ZumaMustFall: Time for South African President to Go; But What Next?

Finally thousands of South Africans have taken to the streets to demand the ousting of their inept, corrupt and incorrigible President Jacob Zuma. It has taken some of the grossest economic mismanagement in African history – yes it is really that bad – for the popular tide to turn completely against the former African National Congress (ANC) warrior, his recent juggling of Finance Ministers the final straw in a tale of woe that has seen unemployment reach 25%.

South Africans rally against Zuma
South Africans rally against Zuma

Despite the popular discontent, Zuma retains support within the ANC itself. This is hardly surprising given that his rule has been characterised by cronyism and bribery, with his closest allies unlikely to desert a man who provides them with an income completely incompatible with their limited capabilities.

Just a few months ago I blogged about the rising popularity of Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who appear to offer black South Africans the only real alternative – albeit one based on mindless logic and dubious promises – to the decaying ANC.

Put simply, the lives of ordinary South Africans, regardless of race, have degraded drastically since Apartheid ended. Reverse discrimination has failed and the ANC has proved itself incapable of maintaining the legitimacy of South Africa on the international stage, despite the institutional and economic base put in place by its white predecessors.

Zuma's tenure has coincided with a decrease in international respect for South Africa
Zuma’s tenure has coincided with a decrease in international respect for South Africa

Malema must be laughing and white South Africans must be in despair, along with millions of others who continue their struggles against poverty, AIDS, lack of education, shortage of quality housing and security alone.

Below is a reminder of my previous post, with Malema’s rise now only likely to hasten, particularly if the ANC stubbornly supports its moronic and corrupt patron President.

ANC Failures Hasten Malema Rise: White South Africans Prepare for Exodus

Julius Malema drew thousands of supporters to his Economic Freedom March earlier this week, continuing his incision into the support of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) whose faltering performance, corrupt tendencies and listless leadership have led to widespread protests across the country.

Malema at the Economic Freedom March
Malema at the Economic Freedom March

Whatever the faults of the ANC – and there are many within the Jacob Zuma administration – growing support for Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is an alarming development, particularly if you happen to be a white South African. Malema has made no secret of his desire to completely disenfranchise the white population in favour of the blacks, advocating a raft of ridiculous economic policies likely to send South Africa back to the Dark Ages.

Left-wing struggles are not new in South Africa. In 1919, the Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) launched in Cape Town to provide a radical political vehicle for labour reform (regardless of race) and they were joined in 1921 by the South African Communist Party (SACP). These two groups provided a more effective opposition to white minority rule than the ANC did during the early days of protest.

The ICU pursued a populist mandate which neglected effective labour organisation
The ICU pursued a populist mandate which neglected effective labour organisation

Although the ICU was a short-lived organisation, the SACP would later align itself with the ANC as one of the foremost opponent groups of Apartheid. Indeed, the SACP actively encouraged and organised some of the earliest anti-pass book protests and bus boycotts in South African cities and townships during World War Two (WWII).

Of course the ANC would later be painted as communists by the ruling National Party (NP) in an attempt to retain the political backing, and economic support, of their Western allies. There was certainly a conflation of ideas and endeavour between the ANC and SACP. Indeed, longtime SACP leader Joe Slovo was one of the most prominent anti-Apartheid campaigners and a commander of the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe wing of the ANC.

Through a combination of militant violence, international lobbying and political and social persuasion, these ‘left-wing’ groups helped bring about the fall of Apartheid.

These groups were, however, fighting against an unjust and repressive political system. Malema and his EFF seek to topple the democratically-elected ANC so that they can use the levers of power to punish the whites. Should the EFF ever displace the ANC then there will be a repeat of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in South Africa.

Robert Mugabe has allowed blacks to seize white farms in Zimbabwe, destroying productivity in the process
Robert Mugabe has allowed blacks to seize white farms in Zimbabwe, destroying productivity in the process

The ANC has performed a wholly inadequate role in the post-Apartheid era. In a desperate attempt to reverse the racial discrimination of the Apartheid era, they have progressed too swiftly and with tragic results. Few incentives remain for white businessmen and farmers to stay in the country and yet they are the ones with the experience, capital and organisation to provide a sound economic basis for the country. The blacks, because of their stifled development under Apartheid, do not have the same economic capacity and this scenario will not improve if they are simply handed rewards without work (something Malema is keen to extend beyond the current ANC policy).

City centres have become slums and impoverishment amongst the black population has increased under the ANC’s watch. Why? Because its leaders are more interested in lining their own pockets and protecting their own business and political interests than improving the lot of their people, a sad fact common across the African continent.

The once-trendy district of Hillbrow in Johannesburg is now a crime-ridden slum
The once-trendy district of Hillbrow in Johannesburg is now a crime-ridden slum

It is therefore understandable that Malema and his populist rhetoric have struck a chord with poor black South Africans. Undoubtedly, should he ever attain political office he is likely to go the same way as Jacob Zuma and all those other self-serving ‘freedom fighters’ he claims to revile.

More worryingly, however, is the fact that he will plunge South Africa into anarchy, sealing its economic fate and driving out the remaining few whites who have resisted the racist policies and declining opportunities of the past few years to contribute what they can to the country that they love.

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Coup or no Coup? Lesotho’s Endless Search for Political Stability

Exiled Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has called for southern African states to deploy military force to restore his rule. This proposal asks for a similar response to that given by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 1998 when foreign troops were sent into Lesotho to overturn a military coup and restore the rule of law. The capital, Maseru, was left in ruins.

Lesotho's army denies orchestrating a coup
Lesotho’s army denies orchestrating a coup

Thabane fled Lesotho at the weekend claiming that his position had been usurped by his Deputy, Mothetjoa Metsing, supported by the army. Whilst accurate details about this latest ‘coup’ are difficult to ascertain, it would not be the first time that military forces have destabilised the political equilibrium in this relatively-young nation, which only achieved independence in 1966.

In fact, this weekend’s events are almost a reversal of circumstances to a once infamous military crisis in Lesotho, that precipitated by South Africa in 1982.

As the African National Congress (ANC) increased the intensity of its armed campaign against the white-minority government in South Africa, many of its fighters were constantly on the run from the pervasive security police. Lesotho became a popular destination for these insurgents, something that unsurprisingly rankled with the National Party (NP). (Whitaker, 1983)

Whereas at this present moment refugees are attempting to escape further violence in Lesotho by fleeing to South Africa, in the early 1980s it was ANC activists that sought sanctuary within the mountainous kingdom of the South African interior.

Lesotho's mountainous terrain made it a popular refuge for ANC exiles
Lesotho’s mountainous terrain made it a popular refuge for ANC exiles

In December 1982, South African forces attacked Maseru in a bid to root out ANC cells in exile. Indeed, such was the chagrin of the NP at its inability to prevent the regrouping of what it deemed ‘terrorists’ in a foreign country, that it even gave its tacit support to the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA). (Martin & Johnson, 1984)

The LLA had begun life as the Basutoland Congress Party, a left-wing pan-Africanist political party. With military ties to South Africa’s violent Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), the LLA began a guerrilla insurgency against Leabua Jonathan‘s Basotho National Party in the late 1970s.

That the right-wing, white supremacist NP would support the LLA during its bomb attacks on Maseru in early 1983 (Whitaker, 1983) shows the extent to which it was willing to go to overcome its greatest enemy. Despite the show of force, however, most of the ANC fighters, used to a lifetime of covertness, escaped the net.

Jonathan was finally ousted in a 1986 military coup, supported by a South African-imposed blockade of Lesotho's borders
Jonathan was finally ousted in a 1986 military coup, supported by a South African-imposed blockade of Lesotho’s borders

Today, as has been common in recent history, Lesotho faces challenges from both within and outside its mountainous borders. Its tenuous status as a poor, rural, landlocked kingdom inhibits its potential for development and encourages political agitation. As with many African countries whose independence is fairly recent, it is riven by the factional strife that has existed since the tribal feuding of the 19th century.

It is unsurprising then, on this occasion, that the SADC has no intention of getting involved. Thabane’s request has been rejected and Lesotho is left to fend for itself once again.

Sources

Martin, D. & Johnson, P. ‘Africa: The Old and the Unexpected’, Foreign Affairs (1984)

Whitaker, J.S. ‘Africa Beset’, Foreign Affairs (1983)