Mr Chairman and distinguished delegates to this important 8th Pan African Congress, let me…
Trade is not new. Struggle is not new. Both are as old as human endeavor and for as long as the two have been at odds , there have been fierce battles fought . Whether it was called imperialism, colonialism, global oppression, apartheid the struggle by the many against the economic tyranny of the few remains one of the longest in human history. International trade too has an ancient history. The context for Afrika includes a conflation between colonial interests ,political subjugation and economic control. The story of Afrika after the invaders is essentially a story of the West’s insatiable appetite for raw materials, cheap labour and beautiful minerals ,wildlife and fauna all of which Afrika “Free trade” is not a new experiment either it has been tried before. Prior to the advent of colonialism, the region used to dominate international trade. Colonialism distorted the terms of trade and Third World countries were transformed from being exporters of manufactured commodities to being suppliers of raw materials and a market for British manufactures. What has changed are the uncomfortable, unfavorable and often immoral terms of engagement between the global South and the North.
The prevailing trade paradigm presupposes the existence of equal power relations equal gender relations, equal race relations, equal access to resources and equal voice in economic agenda setting. This is an absolute lie. Some are clearly more equal than others and their voices more audible than others. The ascendance of the World Trade Organisation in 1995 as the overarching body has given rise to continued discussions detailing the historical and structural inequities that prevail unfettered in the current global trading system. It is in fact the institutionalisation of every lie about the supposedly equal nature of power relations between the global communities.
What the hell is wrong with Jacob Zuma? Doing the rounds in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek municipalities on Friday 20 August, he claimed to be shocked by the squalid living conditions of township residents in these areas which are regarded as top tourist attractions. You could guess that he expects the same sympathetic reactions he had from the public ahead of the 2009 general elections after similar incredulous exclamations of shock at the sight of poverty for poor whites in Pretoria.
Anyone with an introductory knowledge of the challenges facing transformation in South Africa should be well aware that the historical super exploitation of African workers and poor peasants is without measure. It is so deeply entrenched that it now appears ‘natural’ to both the beneficiaries and the victims. Poverty is poverty, Mr President; it is not black or white. Only racism defines it in those terms, with the mistaken belief that superior whites could not be poor and that inferior blacks should be pleased with their lowly station in life. In the lexicon of revolutionary Pan Africanists, Zuma’s interpretation is called colonial mentality of a special type.