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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Podemos Threaten to Storm Spain: the end of the post-Franco order and a return to radical politics?

In the wake of the triumph of the anti-austerity Syriza party in the Greek general election, hopes and fears abound that a similar success may be in store for the extreme left in Spain. There, the radical Podemos is threatening to break the monopoly on government that the centre-right People’s Party (PP) and the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) have held since the restoration of democracy in 1977 following the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Podemos (We Can) have quickly garnered a large and active support base
Podemos (We Can) have quickly garnered a large and active support base

Podemos advocates the ‘nationalization of key economic sectors, a state-guaranteed living wage, a 35-hour workweek, mandatory retirement age of 60, a law preventing profitable companies from firing their employees, and a citizen’s audit of public debt’. (Encarnacion, 2015) Such radical policies have populist appeal, particularly amongst Spain’s jobless youth. However, despite a general discontent with the mainstream political parties, are Spaniards ready for a return to radical politics given their recent history?

Prior to Franco’s dictatorship was the Spanish Civil War, which tore the country apart between 1936 and 1939 and ended up involving several competing European powers in a form of proxy war. This period was characterised by extremist political parties, ranging from the far-right Falangist fascists to the ultra-left FAI anarchists. In between was a diverse mixture of interest groups, including monarchists, republicans, communists, nationalists and trade unionists, each with their own agendas and each wary of their competition for supremacy.

Black-shirted Falangists march during the Spanish Civil War
Black-shirted Falangists march during the Spanish Civil War

An estimated half-a-million people died during the Spanish Civil War with the outcome being Franco’s brutal dictatorial regime. Atrocities were committed by both the Republican and Nationalist factions and this, together with pre-existing regional tensions, have created social unease in Spain ever since.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the Spaniards have largely remained patient with the PP and PSOE, despite their mixed political performance in the past few decades. Government incompetence and corruption is surely preferable to civil conflict and death. Yet with the number of Civil War survivors decreasing and a new generation of Spaniards intent on a political upheaval to revive their economic fortunes, Podemos may have risen at an opportune moment.

There is little doubt that, like Syriza in Greece, Podemos will find it impossible to enact their radical agenda without irreparably damaging their country. Whether this would stop them trying should they win the general election remains to be seen. Yet we could be witnessing another momentous change in one of the EU’s member states; a return to radical politics for Spain, whose tragic recent past is in danger of being forgotten.

Marcos Ana is one of just 12 surviving combatants of the Spanish Civil War. He fought on the side of the Spanish Second Republic and was imprisoned by Franco for years
Marcos Ana is one of just 12 surviving combatants of the Spanish Civil War. He fought on the side of the Spanish Second Republic and was imprisoned by Franco for years

Source

Encarnacion, O.G., ‘Can the Far Left Sweep Spain? Radical Politics and the “Podemos” Wave’, Foreign Affairs (08/02/2015)