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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

Address By Sidumo Dlamini, To The International Strategy Workshop Towards The International Solidarity Conference Of COSATU

26 March, 2009

Political party manifestoes, the media and how foreign policy issues are positioned in the current national elections

Comrade Chairperson,
COSATU CEC members present
Alliance partners
Members of civil society organisations
International activists

Dear Comrades,

We are gathered here today in the middle of a fiercely contested election terrain. In less than a month’s time, we shall all be at the polls deciding the future of our beloved country, the destiny of our revolution and the fate of our society. In doing so, we shall simultaneously be deciding the place of our country amongst other nations and the role it should play in advancing the cause for justice, social emancipation and freedom from poverty and inequalities beyond our borders.

As a society and people, we are faced with huge challenges within and outside the borders of our country. No one problem will be fully resolved within the borders of our country, unless we realise its inter-connectedness with its global dimension. We can talk about poverty, inequality, xenophobia, racism, sexism and economic recession; all are but a local manifestation of a bigger problem. The problem is rooted in the structural designs and systemic orientation of the global system called capitalism.

Certainly, our vote should talk even more loudly to the situation of our continent and send a clear message that unless Africans take charge of their plight, we shall forever carry a begging bowl to the metropolitan capitals of the west and expose ourselves to more plunder. Even if we make advances towards democracy, that does not necessarily stop the economic bleeding of our continent and continued suffering of our people.

In this regard, we need to know that in voting for any party we are making a statement about how we see all these problems being tackled and what amount of political will, capacity and strategic vision is required to confront these effectively. In doing so, we seek to prioritise our continent Africa and commit ourselves to support proven commitment to transforming the conditions of desperation on our continent and confronting the evils of imperialist underdevelopment.

We have no doubt the ANC is the tested and proven vehicle to make the vision of a new and profoundly better Africa a reality. Having devoted its energy and political will to supporting all efforts towards strengthening democracy, building institutions and the necessary infrastructure for development throughout the continent, the ANC was practically illustrating the point that our development is closely intertwined with that of our continent.

The DA’s foreign Policy and that of its lackey COPE are about imperial hegemony and control over Africa’s natural resources by multinational corporations, further undermining our potential to defeat underdevelopment and poverty

In the name of democracy, the DA is fronting for international capital, always acting to create the necessary conditions for the further penetration of neoliberalism in all spheres of our society, consciously and deliberately transforming every part of our life into commodities, affordable only to the rich few in our society and continent. Health, education and social services become objects of profit accumulation and not rights to which we all are entitled. This explains their passion for market fundamentalism, the rule of profit and the rolling back of labour standards and disregard for environmental justice. That is the essence of their foreign policy objectives towards Africa.

Democracy for us means that our people should fully exercise control over their natural resources, their decision-making and their future. It does not mean more privatisation, more market destruction, more IMF-World Bank economic looting and more reversal of people’s power and the strengthening of the state’s security apparatus against popular struggles.

Their foreign policy objectives are centred on:

Opening up Africa to the further penetration of market forces that undermine democracy, economic development and control over natural resources by the people, using the legitimate issues of democracy and good governance as cover for those pretexts

Protecting Israel at all costs and projecting the legitimate struggles of the Palestinian people as terrorism, which is part of their racist agenda to project Israel as a ‘civilised democratic’ state, and the Palestinians as blood-thirsty savages, yet hide the reality that Israel is the occupying force that has, through force, imposed itself upon the Palestinian people, murdering children and women and annexing more lands in the name of security. They support Zionism, a version of global racist domination and apartheid based on the doctrine that Jews are superior to Arabs and therefore have a right to oppress them and occupy their country.

Supporting at all times and at all costs, US and British interests in using the UN as an instrument of global domination through unilateralism and force against countries they regard as obstacles to their global imperial agendas, particularly in pursuit of oil and other strategic natural resources all over the world. This is why they can never speak out against Saudi Arabia as an undemocratic state, but can do so against Iran, because their masters in Washington dictate so.

Militarising security and using peace missions as pretexts for more imperial control, with the proposed Africa command centre as but one example of such instances. This failure to recognise that security and peace are tied to development and access to natural resources by the people, rather than feeding the endless appetites of western corporations, is a serious fault line of their inclinations

Selectively exposing certain dictators and conveniently protecting or shielding and ignoring those who serve the interests of this agenda. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Gabon’s Omar Bongo are just some of those dictators that they never speak out against concerning the crisis of democracy in their countries, because they are clients of neo-liberalism

Undermining south-south initiatives that leverage a progressive global agenda, which acts to counter the dominance of the imperial north in world affairs, always protecting the interests of the south against the bully tactics of the north, with the on-going trade negotiations as a case in point.

Therefore, we need a foreign policy manifesto that captures the fundamentals of an all-rounded and comprehensive international strategy centred on the following objectives:

Building and promoting solidarity between progressive forces globally, with the south-south agenda as an example, prioritising Africa to develop a sustainable agenda for a new world economic order, that is founded on sustainable development for poor countries

Supporting and promoting experiences of alternative developmental paths to neo-liberalism, such as currently underway in Latin America to challenge the hegemony of imperialism and defeat underdevelopment, poverty and global inequalities.

Prioritising Africa’s development through integrated regional co-operation that promotes beneficiation of mineral resources on the continent, effective bargaining with regard to the international market prices of mineral resources, particularly because Africa has comparative advantage in this area

Placing a humane and democratic value system at the centre of our interaction with the world, with special emphasis on ensuring the expansion of human rights practices, rights of workers and social development of all marginalised groups throughout the world

Building partnerships of equality that challenge the hegemony of the rich countries’ tendency to undermine the alternative developmental paths chosen by developing countries in their search for the best means possible for their people in the context of the obtaining conditions in the world. In this case, solidarity initiatives such as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which arose in the context of the cold war require redefinition in different conditions, but the reason for their founding remains noble. They have played an outstanding role in defending developing countries and their right to choose their alternative developmental paths free from the clutches of imperialism.

By all accounts and standards the ANC, based on its firm political will and proven experience to build this movement, is only party that has the history, traditions and capacity necessary to roll back the fragmentation of a progressive response by Africa’s political players and to build on the proud legacy and gains made over the years towards this end.

The achievements of the ANC’s foreign policy in the last 15 years, include:

Creation of institutions that promote good governance, accountability and momentum for development on the continent; amongst these are the Peer Review Mechanism, NEPAD, conflict resolution efforts and creation of the African Renaissance Fund

Working with other progressive forces to build solidarity amongst countries of the south, including by leading the transformation of the OAU to AU, the NAM and G77 effectively

Leading the call for the transformation of the UN Security Council, International Financial institutions and other such multilateral bodies to respond effectively to the needs of developing countries and the world’s poor

Contributing to the relative stabilisation of several African countries, amongst them, Ivory Coast, the DRC (though it has suffered setbacks), Burundi, Southern Sudan (though problems in the western Darfur area are still many), etc.

Granting diplomatic status to Western Sahara and raising the plight of the Saharawi people to the world

Raising the issue of Palestine and its occupation by Israel consistently

Despite these and many other achievements, there is still a lot to be done, which is why we say that working together we can still do more on such areas as; Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Western Sahara, Burma, Congo and many other such places where serious challenges remain.

In relation to Zimbabwe, our Polokwane resolutions and manifesto are clear that we must intensify efforts to find a democratic and lasting solution to the crisis.

No doubt in Swaziland, the release of PUDEMO President, Mario Masuku and the speedy transformation of that country into a multiparty system and not royalist monopoly system, is urgent. No doubt the region for us is a matter of priority, hence the high premium we place on the Swaziland-Zimbabwe issues and will work with the ANC to ensure that these are dealt with immediately.