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Washington / Morocco Board News- The inhospitable atmosphere that marked the nine-day controversial 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (ANCYL) held in Pretoria, South Africa, is emblematic of a diminished status of the post-Mandela South African foreign policy. The Algeria backed supporters of the Western Sahara Polisario separatists and members of the Spanish Communist party delegation repeatedly assaulted the Moroccan delegation. Moroccan delegates were called derogatory anti-Semitic curses and ultimately dismissed from the meeting before being kicked out by the African National Congress- the political party currently in power in South Africa- (ANC) organizers.
The more than 18500 participants from 153 countries met in Pretoria to discuss themes centered on fighting “imperialism”, “neocolonialism” and “American hegemony.” The poster child of the ANCYL was Fidel Castro.
This, sadly, reflects the lack of vision and leadership that have plagued South Africa since the departure of Nelson Mandela. The arrival of Jacob Zuma as president has further entrenched the ANC's one party rule dictate, compounded the economic despair of the disadvantaged South Africans, and worsened the political woes of an already persecuted political opposition and the independent press. Like his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, Zuma has addressed neither the socio-economic needs of South African nor the aspiration of the African at large who were expecting South Africa to play a major political role on the international scene.
Unlike Nelson Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma had reduced the international status of South Africa by adopting a “demagogy based foreign policy” that made the country ineffective and irrelevant on the African and international scenes.
As evident from the meek role, or lack thereof, South Africa has played in attempting to solve major African crisis and Mbeki and Zuma’s ill-conceived Zimbabwe policy, the current ANC leadership lacks the vision and the diplomatic heft to turn South Africa into a major regional power that matches South Africa’s economic and financial strength.
Alas, South Africa has joined Nigeria in the club of failed African powers. Like its “African giant” sister, South Africa under the ANC is plagued with endemic corruption. From Mbeki’s wild statements on the HIV virus as not the sole cause of Aids to Zuma’s flirting with the world’s dictators, South African diplomatic image continues to be tarnished. The ANCYL anti-American and Anti-Semitic twists are indicators of a new Zuma foreign policy.
South Africa’s overly anti-Morocco position on the Western Sahara conflict is a telling indictment of post-Mandela’s national slackness in foreign policy. As a potential power on the African continent, ANC’s South Africa should assume a mediator role in conflicts such as the Western Sahara, instead Mbeki and Zuma chose to side with their friend [ Algeria’s President] Bouteflika against Morocco.
The ANC’s sham call for self-determination of the [Western Sahara] people makes mockery of South African efforts to establish itself as a leading power in Africa. The ANC “hypocrisy” is no less evident than in the twisted way ANC leaders including Mbeki played Taiwan against China by auctioning South Africa’s diplomatic support to the highest bidder with the proceeds going to ANC leaders packets.
As much as Zuma champions the Algeria and Cuba supported Polisario’s rights for self -determination, the South African President repeatedly sided with China to block UN resolutions condemning gross human right abusers such as Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
In the same way as South Africa squandered a chance to act as a true African leader during Pretoria’s passage as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2007, it will behave the same way in 2011 further disappointing Africans when the continent is in need of a strong leader. South Africa’s subjective anti-Morocco approach goes against Zuma’ so called appeal to boost African solidarity and unity. This rash attitude is one of the many reasons South Africa is likely to fail in the bid for a permanent Security Council seat.
Author: Hassan Masiky is a native of Morocco. He graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in political science. Upon graduation,Hassan joined the Washington DC based non government organization the Parliamentary Human Rights Foundation (PHRF) where he worked as a consultant for USAID democracy projects in Mexico, Haiti, Republic of Georgia and the European Parliament. After leaving PHRF, Hassan dedicated his time advising Amnesty International USA on African and Middle Eastern affairs and representing the organization in press conferences. Mr. Masiky was a host on several television shows discussing human rights and democracy. He is currently working for a Federal Agency in the Washington area.