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from The Great Debate:

Mandela and De Klerk: Essential partners

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When Nelson Mandela and South African President F.W. De Klerk began their historic negotiations to end apartheid, each man professed respect for the other. Indeed their relationship appeared not only professional, but personal.

Yet as the negotiations dragged on through 1992 and 1993, tempers grew short, and South Africans grew increasingly frustrated with the slow progress toward the liberation that had seemed so promising just a few years ago. Most worrisome, violence was growing between the supporters of Mandela’s political party, the African National Congress, and Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkhatha Freedom Party.

Much of the turmoil flamed in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, but it also spread dangerously into the outskirts of Johannesburg, which soon turned into a patchwork of no-go areas. On my effort to visit the area, for example, we were stopped by gunfire and forced to retreat. By the time of the elections in 1994, at least 3,000 people would be killed.

Mandela was convinced that De Klerk could stop this violence. There was widespread suspicion among South Africans that agents of the government were conspiring in the violence. Even if that were not true, Mandela felt De Klerk had both the responsibility and the capability to stop it.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

What Mandela meant

Nelson Mandela will be remembered as the person who, more than any other, brought an end to apartheid, the heartless policy of “separate development” in which white, black and South Asian South Africans were obliged to live apart. It is part of his towering achievement that the very notion of racial segregation is anathema to democrats throughout the civilized world. He will be mourned as a freedom fighter and the father of his nation, whose wisdom, patience and courage tormented his oppressors and finally drove them to accept that racial discrimination should have no place in a system of government.

Along with eight other conspirators, in 1964 Mandela was accused of sabotage and armed insurrection against the apartheid state. (He admitted sabotage but denied conspiring to violently overthrow the government.) He spent the next 18 years caged in primitive conditions on Robben Island and a further six in Pollsmoor Prison. Outside the prison walls, the government insisted on “grand apartheid,” the creed that insisted that whites, “natives,” “Asians” and “coloreds” should live in separate areas. Education, medicine, public services, and public spaces and buildings were similarly apportioned by race.

from Africa News blog:

S.Africa must reform white-dominated economy

South Africa's economy is still largely under the control of whites who held power under apartheid, President Jacob Zuma has said calling  for a "dramatic shift" to redress the wealth balance more evenly in favour of the black majority.

Zuma, speaking at the start of a major policy meeting of his ruling African National Congress, said the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality posed long-term risks for Africa's richest country 18 years after the end of apartheid.

from Africa News blog:

“Kill the Boer”: History or hate speech?

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SAFRICA-ELECTIONSThe African National Congress has defended the singing of an apartheid-era song with the words "Kill the Farmer, Kill the Boer", saying it is no incitement to violence but a way of ensuring a history of oppression is not forgotten.

That does little to assuage the concerns of the white minority, however, in a country branded the “Rainbow Nation” after the relatively peaceful end to apartheid 16 years ago and the government's message of "unity in diversity".

from Africa News blog:

Nigeria’s image problem

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For anyone who has seen the hit film District 9, it’s no surprise a Nigerian minister would be upset by it.

The science fiction film, set in South Africa, is an allegory on segregation and xenophobia, with alien life forms cooped up in a township of the type that grew up under apartheid and victimised and despised by humans of all descriptions.

from Africa News blog:

Was it right to grant refugee status to white South African?

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Canada's decision to grant refugee status to white South African Brandon Huntley has drawn anger from the ruling African National Congress, which described it as racist, and has again stirred the race debate in South Africa 14 years after the end of apartheid.

Huntley had cited persecution by black South Africans as the reason why he could not return to the country of his birth. The chair of the Canadian panel that granted his request said he had shown evidence "of indifference and inability or unwillingness" of South Africa's government to protect white South Africans from "persecution by African South Africans".

from Africa News blog:

South African fury at sex test for track star

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Eighteen-year-old Mokgadi ‘Caster’ Semenya is being celebrated as a national hero in South Africa after winning the 800 metres at the World Athletics Championships, but the decision by international athletics officials to order a gender verification test has stirred deep anger – and brought accusations of prejudice against the country and the continent.

Many in South Africa feel a victory by their talented young athlete is being tarnished by bad losers and a world all too  ready to mock. Sensitivities to prejudice are never far from the surface in the country where apartheid white minority rule ended just 15 years ago.

from Africa News blog:

Holding President Zuma accountable

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Making sure South Africans hold their new government accountable is essential if the country is to succeed under Jacob Zuma, believes Mamphela Ramphele, an anti-apartheid activist and prominent South African businesswoman.

"We underestimated what it means to govern a modern democracy," she told Reuters. "In that context we have made many  mistakes. The first mistake was to conflate the leader, the party, the government and the state. That conflation leads to the undermining of state institutions ... and abuse of state resources for party political reasons."

from Africa News blog:

Can Zuma live up to unity pledge?

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Pledging to work for national unity is pretty much a formality for any election winner, but in the case of South Africa’s Jacob Zuma it may be more than a platitude. It may need to be.

“The new President of the Republic will be a president for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement in the delivery of services,” Zuma said after the African National Congress won its sweeping victory.

from Africa News blog:

Africa: Will Zuma crack the whip?

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Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng is the coordinator of the Africa Institute of South Africa’s South African 2009 Election Observation and Monitoring Team. He writes in his personal capacity.

The Zuma administration’s foreign policy will be determined to a great extent by the struggle to satisfy national needs and demands.  These can best be understood if we take into account not only the country’s  increasing level of corruption and violent crime, but also high  level of  expectations  from the urban and rural unemployed, the poor and the working class expecting the qualitative improvement in their material conditions.
     
The Zuma administration will commit itself in practice to the value of continuity in South Africa’s foreign policy. Central to this tradition will be popular foreign policy objectives pursued by South Africa since the end of apartheid.
     
They include support for peaceful resolution of conflict on the African continent and beyond, support for the regional and continental organisations and integration as well as multilateralism. It will continue with the country’s practical and theoretical call for continental socio-political and economic renaissance or transformation.
     
South Africa under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki used the African Renaissance to contribute towards the resolution of conflicts in African countries conducive for the operations of its capital and the realisation of the objectives of its socio-economic policy objectives.
     
It regarded its active participation in conflict resolution as key to peace, security and stability in Africa. It viewed continental socio-economic transformation or renaissance as the process to be achieved through peace and stability creation and consolidation, actions against corruption and implementation of socio-economic policies conducive for the operations of foreign investment.
     
The Mbeki administration was reluctant to lead Africa in international relations. It called for a further integration of Africa into the global capitalist system and African solidarity and unity to fight what Mbeki refers to as global apartheid and to contribute towards an equitable world.
     
These two central aspects of South Africa’s foreign policy, focusing firstly on Africa and secondly on developed countries, raised high level of expectations within Africa and the rest of the world and placed its policy on grounds vulnerable to criticism from individuals with different positions and interests in its efforts to serve as a leader of Africa in its transformation and its relations with the rest of the world particularly developed countries.
     
These problems are a dilemma it faced in its attempts to serve as the representative of Africa to the developed countries and the representative of developed countries in Africa. This policy helped to explain why South Africa under Mbeki was unable to substantiate its declared theoretical position on African Renaissance in practice. It impelled it not to antagonise developed countries in its African Renaissance project and to seek support from weak African countries.
     
Under Mbeki, South Africa put itself on the level that Africa expected more than it could deliver in resolving Africa’s problems.
     
It pretended that it could meet requirements of this expectation. It did not substantiate Mbeki’s progressive position that its role in the resolution of the African conflicts should be guided by the struggle to achieve African transformation in the interests of the masses of the people. South Africa remained central to the consolidation of dominance of Africa by developed countries.
     
The Zuma administration will be a substantial and welcome addition to the struggle against Africa’s problems.
     
It will use the country as the regional and continental power to criticise African leaders who are enemies of their people and strive for free, independent exercise of foreign policy.
     
There will be a shift in the direction towards South Africa realising its potential as a centre of independent development on the African continent.
     
It will be under enormous internal progressive pressure to ensure that the country constitutes a strategic continental threat to the internal and external interests inimical to the interests of the continent and its people.

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