Our sorry foreign policy

2013-09-23 00:00

ROBIN Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. The South African government steals from the fiscally strangled taxpayer to buy favours from the corrupt.

Inspired by its bizarre partisan foreign policy, aid is doled out to the ruling party’s friends, regardless of how they loot their country’s assets to enrich themselves.

A recent media headline “Caring SA gives R3 million in DRC aid” enraged me. In relation to the R100 billion spent on consultants in 2012, R3 million seems small fry. But that is not all. South Africa also provides aid in kind, such as helicopters and over 1 000 soldiers, to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In addition, it bankrolls the profligate dictatorships of Swaziland, Zimbabwe and even the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The Swazi king, with his harem of wives and multiple Rolls-Royces, and a daughter who brags on TV about her Louis Vuitton bags, Jimmy Choo shoes and other brand labels, was allegedly offered R2,4 billion of South African taxpayers’ money in 2011.

Zimbabwe also receives millions of rands in cash and kind, as well as electricity from South Africa’s grid, when we have regular power outages here.

Recently, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, handed over millions of rands in aid to the PLO from our much-ravaged coffers, for reasons none other than his party’s hatred of Israel.

While the world throws vast amounts of money at the PLO, it also turns a blind eye to the PLO’s gross mismanagement of the funds.

Unfortunately, the ANC government’s political predilections determine very clearly where our taxes go.

With regards to our military support of the DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR), where it backfired horribly, we need to understand the reasons why our foreign-policy interventions take a specific ideological bent.

The aid of R3 million to the DRC, which was intended to help the UN World Food Programme (WFP) alleviate hunger in the country, was inspired by a support for dictators and not by altruism, despite Ebrahim’s sentiments. “It is against this background that the South African government, as a caring country, on the principle of ubuntu, responded positively to WFP’s appeal by contributing an amount of R3 million.”

Why would we support the DRC, one of the richest in mineral wealth in the world, according to Wikipedia?

The additional in-kind support of three Oryx helicopters and 1 345 soldiers provides the clue.

“Estimated to have $24 trillion (equivalent to the combined gross domestic product of Europe and the United States) worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of diamonds, gold and copper”, why does South Africa have an interest in this misnomer of a country?

A failed state in every way, I suspect South Africa is as much a part of the marauding troops from Uganda and Rwanda, all wanting their hands on the DRC’s assets.

Its inability to govern and regulate itself, with its endemic corruption, becomes all the more glaringly evident when one reads how foreign soldiers and military commanders, supported by businesspeople from everywhere, are involved in the racketeering and looting of the DRC’s coltan, cobalt, diamonds and other minerals.

Ebrahim’s assertion that South Africa “as a caring country, on the principle of ubuntu” responded to the UN’s request for aid in the DRC is a load of hogwash. What goes on in surrounding African countries and the wholesale looting of the DRC’s minerals by insurgents is very much our business as citizens, because the ruling party’s dubious and limitless interests in the DRC and the failed states of Africa will have consequences for us in the long term.

This article first appeared in Die Burger.

• Rhoda Kadalie is a human rights activist based in Cape Town.

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