News24

Poor join the army to protect the rich

2013-04-01 08:06

Chris Moerdyk

I am at a complete loss to understand why South Africa's opposition parties are insisting on an inquiry into what South African soldiers were doing in the Central African Republic.

The answer is dead simple and it's what soldiers have been doing for centuries. With very few exceptions, such as the first and second world wars, countries send their soldiers into other territories to either protect commercial interests or steal commercial interests.

Think about all the military conflict that's been going on in the past few decades - it's basically all about money.

After all, why would South Africa continue to keep its troops in the CAR to protect a president who gained power by military coup and then ran away leaving South African soldiers protecting an empty palace.

A silly way to die

Sounds quite absurd until one digs deeper, as the media have been doing in the past few days, and finding out that a lot of wealthy, influential South Africans have got a lot of wealth tied up in the CAR which of course, is rich in natural resources.

Some of those wealthy South Africans apparently have their companies registered in safe havens like the Virgin islands which, if true, means that South African soldiers were protecting  South African wealth that won't ever really actually be in South Africa or of benefit to anyone in South Africa.

I would hate to be the parent of a soldier who died protecting a rich countryman's offshore bank balance. It seems such a silly way for a kid to die.

Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new - it has been going on for centuries. Politicians and big business the world over have, over time, become very good at creating insurance packages with very affordable premiums. Human life.

It is indescribably sad that the South Africa that Nelson Mandela created is no more. It was a South Africa that was different to other nations because in it had a moral backbone. Now it has now become a South Africa that is no different to most other nations that put money before morality. Nations that bomb the living hell out of other countries on the flimsiest of excuses such as thinking that maybe the poor baggers might have weapons of mass destruction.

Countries that, as Wikileaks has proved, are conniving liars behind the diplomatic scene.

Beware the nanny state

And worst of all is the way that these countries make up for being corrupt lying bastards is to turn themselves into nanny states, mollycoddling their citizens in an attempt to show that they really care about the well-being of their people.

In my opinion, we should beware the nanny state - because these are the countries that behind a curtain of "caring", send soldiers to their deaths to protect the wealthy well-connected among them.

Yes, there occasions that one has to use soldiers. To protect trade routes, to protect the future of strategic raw materials and resources.

But, the trouble is that the protection of national interest is often just a red herring in the protection of the wealth of the politically well-connected.

Am I bitter? You bet I am. I am bitter because I really believed that South Africa changed when it moved from the apartheid era to a democracy.

In the past decade it has changed again and is getting to the point where the similarities of today and the apartheid era are growing.

Not learning from the past

As George Bezos pointed out to the police commissioner at the Marikina hearings; after the Sharpeville massacre the police also used self defence as an excuse.

And the chief of police at that time, also praised the police for a job well done.

It is sad to see a country that simply refuses to learn from the past. It will even sadder if it turns out that young men had to die in battle just so that some rich, connected people could become richer.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

Send your comments to Chris

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.



Comments
  • FLGN - 2013-04-01 08:23

    it is said that the more things change the more they stay the same.

  • Andries Hendrik Pretorius - 2013-04-01 08:23

    So the opposition parties should just look the other way????????? Chris has completely lost the plot.

      Steve Adams - 2013-04-01 08:30

      Could it be that he's being facetious?!

      Nick Edwards - 2013-04-01 09:54

      As Chris was trying to say (in my understanding) why waste millions of taxpayers money on an inquiry when we already know why the troops are still there?

  • ssegaetsho - 2013-04-01 08:31

    75% in agreement.

  • goyougoodthing - 2013-04-01 08:48

    The World Wars were NOT exceptions Chris. The world wars were simply part of the plan to destabilise Europe, sift more money and gold to Switzerland and enrich the USA at the time.

      roger.hess.14 - 2013-04-01 11:42

      You should look up some historical facts before throwing something like that out as I'm sure the British, French, Jewish, Polish, Russian and Czech communities have a much different opinion.

      goyougoodthing - 2013-04-01 15:20

      Doesn't matter what their opinion is Roger, it's quite simply the truth. Just because it does not fit with your school history or romantic notions of what it should have been doesn't mean anything. Perhaps you should stop believing the twaddle you've been force fed.

      sterling.ferguson.397 - 2013-04-02 02:03

      You are wrong the US didn't want to be involved in WW2 and had an isolation policy. The US became sucked into the war because the Japanese was trying to conquer all of Asia. The US was already a rich country and didn't need a war to make them rich. You should read your history books before making comments like this. As a matter of facts, the war started because Germany and Japan thought the US would sit it out. The US only used ten percent of her resources to fight the two wars in WW2.

  • Johan Schoeman - 2013-04-01 10:00

    We just keep on crying for this beloved country! Joan Baez got it right in her song for Sako and Vintzetti (I hope the spelling is right) Men will whore over gold. I just cannot understand this. I would rather be happy and comfortable that obscenely rich at the expense of the lives of others. We should no longer cry but mourn or get of our collective backsides and get and vote a less greedy government into power.

  • Imagine Sense - 2013-04-01 10:01

    Too true Chris. However, I have a feeling that Europe has learned this lesson and governments there will not simply get away with it so easily. We, on the other hand, are just starting out on this terrible road. Cry the beloved country.

  • Patrick Jolly - 2013-04-01 10:12

    "I really believed that South Africa changed when it moved from the apartheid era to a democracy." It did Mr Moerdyk, at the end of the "apartheid era" the South African Reserve Bank was the last publicly owned Reserve Bank in the Western World and within a few years of the "tripartheid era" had become private property. Find out who onws it and you'll find out why the police at Sharpeville were defending themselves, while those at Marikana were attacking protestors, far from the police stations like that one under attack in Sharpeville! One other correction: all wars ecept those where peoples are fighting for self-determination are wars of greed so, no, the World Wars were no exception but all wars against multi-national nation states and for peolples without representation are the exception. Many small countries free of big banker control are the only way we will get out of this greatest depression!

      goyougoodthing - 2013-04-01 10:13

      100% Correct Patrick. It is a pity that a lot of people don't know ir blatantly refuse to accept what is going on.

  • Graham Horn - 2013-04-01 10:45

    The headline is serious distortion of the reality. People do not join the army to protect the rich (what a stupid thing to say), they join it so that they have a paying job (at the taxpayer's expense, whilst they sit around doing nothing, achieve nothing and failing in the goal to protect this country).

      Samuel Slyme - 2013-04-01 11:49

      A hell of a lot of these men who you say are sitting around doing nothing are dying under fire on soil that is foreign to them. They were doing the one thing -- as the service arm of the executive branch of government -- without which no society can exist (a society within which wealthy business men/bank officials/ dividend-drawers like you prosper): they were carrying out orders. Something that cannot be said of most of our civil servants who do in too many case indeed seem to do nothing more than suck money out of the public purse. They believed that they were defending their country(which they were not) because they were lied to by the loose collection of imbeciles, pilferers and loafers that some people call our "government". Your contempt for ordinary people who lose their lives in carrying out orders that expose them to danger and death is in itself contemptible. The only lazy criminals here are those in high places who abuse their office. You also need to improve your comprehension. The word "to" in the headline does not mean "with the conscious intention of protecting the wealthy" it clearly means "to be used by /or tricked by/ the wealthy to protect their interests"

      Tebogo Fallen Ledwaba - 2013-04-01 12:06

      Mr Graham, its obvious that u r misinformed... I will not waste my time explaing 2 u why every state in the world have the army. U r free 2 use google.

  • Samuel Slyme - 2013-04-01 11:16

    Your excellent satirical piece is undermined by the opening sentence, which is obviously intended as bait for ANC supporters to get them to read something they would otherwise avoid -- as part of the 1984 Collective they have been instructed by BIG MAMPARA not to read criticism. But it's a risky comment because most South Africans do not understand irony or subtlety and will think that you are literally saying that the opposition is being hypocritical or silly, and that therefore you are praising the Zuma Gang for doing the right thing. In South Africa satire is fine, but it has to be driven home with a sledge hammer or an exposed intromittent organ (preferably both together if sour old BIG SISTER has her way). We are not a very sophisticated people. We are People of the Book -- or rather People of the Tract and Pamphlet) Our brains consist of putu pap, our highest intellectual pursuit is to watch soccer or cricket on the TV while slurping beer or dop & dam, and our value system is what BIG MAMPARA and BIG SISTER tell us it is (not that the two of them are friends.

  • Ric Greyling - 2013-04-01 11:29

    couldn't agree more Chris,well written,you put in words ,that,that i can only think of.

  • Herman Burger - 2013-04-01 11:42

    Who are these wealthy South Africans? Apart from Zuma I have not heard any other names?

      june.fletcher.98 - 2013-04-03 17:26

      I can't believe you think Zuma is the only beneficiary. Read the attendance register at the Mangaung conference banquet.

  • Lorraine Clelland - 2013-04-01 11:44

    Well said.

  • JudithNkwe - 2013-04-01 12:12

    The truth is out, however the government still has to be called to account

  • Maria Roth - 2013-04-01 12:35

    I understand that soldiers are required to serve their country but I am not able to objectify them because I have a son and so I am alive to their humanity. So I find it disgraceful to think that so few of them were there to protect the assets of the politically well connected who idiotically thought they could do that in the face of an overwhelming force. On thinking it over I am becoming sure also that the "investors" must have been aware of the composition of the rebel army and were prepared to expose our soldiers to the further insult of discovering they were also fighting children. Now they are vilifying the French for doing what they were trying to do and trying to blame the whole debacle on them. I am sure that France is not blameless but they did not kill our soldiers and it seems succoured them when every thing fell apart. The fault is closer to home it seems to me and if at all possible we would like to know who these shadowy people are. We might never in the current opaque atmosphere find out who they are but we might expose the fact that they exist.

      june.fletcher.98 - 2013-04-03 17:30

      Well said.

  • Winston En Ria Worthington - 2013-04-01 12:45

    Stop living in the past. It is now 2013. Press/activate the "fast forward or, "back to the future" control. Break away from the dreaded, fatal, deadly contagious disease/plague of "LIMITED VOCABULARY".

  • ambri777 - 2013-04-01 20:46

    Really well written article. Giving good insight into real politics. Unfortunately human too many lives lost already and many more will die in future. So unneccesary.

  • ambri777 - 2013-04-01 20:46

    Really well written article. Giving good insight into real politics. Unfortunately human too many lives lost already and many more will die in future. So unneccesary.

  • Mora Thyle - 2013-04-01 21:34

    I agree with every word you delivered

  • Matthew Ferrey - 2013-04-02 07:41

    Excellent piece, Chris. Now please stay on topics you understand, not RA's!

  • AllcoveredinNinjas - 2013-04-02 10:22

    Why hasn't anyone called out the CAR rebels on anything . Even if they where there protecting interests (not saying it doesn't matter), do the people who actually killed our soldiers bare no responsibility ?

  • rob.martin.94402343 - 2013-04-02 14:39

    Poor join the Army as they cant get work elsewhere

  • june.fletcher.98 - 2013-04-03 17:17

    I have just returned from a visit to Lillieslief in Rivonia. This is a place we could all revisit to remember what the "struggle" was really about and the sacrifices made so that our country would be a better place for all.

  • Mike Suter - 2013-04-07 10:35

    Great article Chris . Sad but true .Keep digging .

  • Cheryl Bailey - 2013-04-08 15:15

    Yes,it seems the South African elite are no different from their counterparts all over the world. They are critical of imperialism but either do not understand it's a major feature and driver of world politics now, more so than in the past. They collude with it for personal enrichment and the prestige that is afforded those who sit on internationalist bodies, i.e. the U.N. and the World Bank to name only a few. These are the classic forked- tongued sell-outs. What a let down.

  • pages:
  • 1