Friends in South Africa have responded to the article “Russia and South Africa: the oppressors make a deal”, by Bob Myers, published on People & Nature last month. Here are two comments, by Tom Lodge and Lesego Masisi, and a further comment by Bob.
Tom Lodge: ‘Treating Russia’s rulers as allies is short-sighted’
I think the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) are making a mistake in supporting Russian operations in Ukraine. [South African foreign minister] Naledi Pandor’s arguments are stretching the professed “neutrality” stance very thin. That said, Bob Myers’s article has too many mistakes to be taken seriously.
For example, Nelson Mandela in 1946 accompanied JB Marks on visits to the mineworkers’ compounds during the strike, speaking to kinsfolk who were among the isibondas who helped to supply local leadership. Far from opposing the strike, Youth Leaguers drew inspiration from it.
In 1957, local ANC leaders helped lead the Alexandra Bus boycott and the ANC helped organise solidarity boycotts elsewhere on the Rand. The politics of the boycott was complicated, and the ANC weren’t the only actors involved. There were disagreements over strategy, but it is simply untrue that the ANC refused support. The ANC bus owner was Richard Baloyi, but by the 1950s he no longer owned a bus company having been bought out by PUTCO in the aftermath of bus boycotts in the 1940s.
On Russia and Ukraine. That the ANC continues to have a sentimental regard for Russia is understandable, given the historic associations between Moscow and the anti-apartheid struggle (to which Ukrainians made a signal contribution as well). Naledi Pandor’s proposal that a multi-polar world might offer better developmental opportunities has merit. But Russia’s rulers preside over a criminalised capitalist autocracy. Treating them as allies is short-sighted.
Lesego Masisi: ‘It is not practical to take a stance that aids unilateralism’
One can’t be easily convinced by the contents of Bob Myers’s article, and what it ought to do, if they are grounded in solid analysis of current international geo-economics, in addition to a solid analysis of historical developments. Such lazy analyses seek to absorb some feeble/unsure leftists into right-wing and liberal (right-wing sympathisers) propaganda and conspiracy. It honestly takes away from South Africa’s sovereignty and its ability to think for itself.
This obviously does not mean that those who are involved in serious academia and the Genuine left are oblivious to the failures of the ANC in South Africa, and the Global Left, particularly in the context of historical institutional path dependency analysis, structuralist analysis and post-structuralist analysis of our current issues and how we found ourselves here today.Read the rest of this entry »