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Time to vote them out — the relentless cynicism of South Africa’s foreign policy


Velenkosini Fiki Hlabisa is the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

It is nothing less than risible that the ANC, which for years has engaged in the systematic plundering of its own people, has suddenly become champions of justice and altruistic fighters for the oppressed. It provides the ANC with a useful distraction before the elections.

If Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi loathed anything, it was cynical political manipulation masquerading as principle.

The recent behaviour of the government brings this to mind. Unfortunately, we are the sad spectators as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) tries to play a foreign policy role reliant more on past glories than its current governance reality.

While the ANC might be benefiting from this cynicism, it is an approach that is costing South Africans dearly.

There are few incumbent governments with as long a track record of failure as that led by the ANC. Far from the euphoria of freedom and the transition from minority rule 30 years ago, the record of governance has been dismal. Far from promises of jobs for all, unemployment has increased to 32%, meaning 16.7 million people are without jobs. Far from the largely peaceful transition of 1994, public security is approaching utter chaos as South Africa closes in on the dubious honour of becoming a world leader in murder, with an average of 75 people slain every day.

Armormax, a leading security company, included five South African metros in its list of the 20 “deadliest and most violent” cities in the world. And no wonder — the conviction rate of those arrested in South Africa is 6.8%, which means that more than 90% of suspected criminals will never be convicted.

To these sad metrics of failure can be added endemic electricity shortages, plummeting water quantity and quality, dysfunctional hospitals, collapsing transport infrastructure and a chronically ill education system. While the wealthy can largely insulate themselves against this environment, by “privatising” (at the household level) their access to electricity, water, healthcare, transport, education and security, the vast majority, made up of poor South Africans, do not possess this privilege.

Buthelezi warned that this slide was inevitable because the ANC was wedded to outdated ideological doctrines and had chosen malign actors as bedfellows. The fear then was of a drift towards state control of the economy under the influence of the ANC’s Soviet friends. The fear now is of a government that milks the state of every penny, leaving it unable to deliver under the influence of its oligarch friends.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Lest one day we forget: With Putin’s Russia, South Africa is committing a historic mistake

It is no surprise that South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, though the elites are no longer exclusively defined by race. Access to government contracts has been a key means through which a new, black elite has been created and support for the ANC incentivised. Rent-seeking has reached an art form in the ANC’s South Africa, colouring and distorting efforts at governance.

Brazen corruption

The scale and brazenness of corruption is startling. A fish always rots from the head, and South Africa is no different. South Africa is led by a President who hid undeclared millions, in foreign currency, in a sofa, got robbed, deployed his government-supplied security across international borders on a mission to retrieve the cash, and then bribed the thieves to return it. This story is so ludicrous and the explanations provided by the President so laughable that not even a toddler would swallow them.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far

Yet ANC MPs dismissed the call for an inquiry made by a body appointed by Parliament. The President continues to serve as President because the ruling party cares more about power than governance. The Deputy President, Paul Mashatile, has been exposed for accepting millions of rands in favours for personal gain. The party secretary, Fikile Mbalula, is accused of money laundering and corruption. The Speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is accused of receiving over R2.5-million in bribes. And the list goes on and on. This is the leadership that is telling South Africans that they deserve to continue leading this great country.

But the greatest scam of all was the case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) launched by South Africa against Israel. Allow me to explain.

While it is indisputable that the conflict has cost too many civilian lives and that both sides need to step back, the ANC’s sudden embrace of Iran and Hamas deserves scrutiny. Out of the blue, this confederacy of crooks turned into “knights in shining armour” with Hamas on speed dial and a jet ready to fly to Tehran for tea. It is nothing less than risible that the very same lot, who for years have engaged in the systematic plundering of their own people, have suddenly become champions of justice and altruistic fighters for the oppressed. It provides the ANC with a useful distraction before the elections.

Shortly after the ICJ verdict, the ANC treasurer, Gwen Ramokgopa, officially declared that the financial woes of the ANC were over and its coffers full. This miraculous recovery took place only weeks after three separate rulings by nine judges delivered a unanimous verdict that the party had failed to honour a contract with the company Ezulwini Investments for R102-million for the supply of election banners in 2019. Unfortunately, Ramokgopa has not further enlightened us as to how these magical funds have found their way into the ANC coffers, leaving the suspicion that the ICJ case was just a contract job.

The ANC government delegation returned from The Hague amid much fanfare, with only the foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, spoiling the fun by saying that she was disappointed as she had expected from the court an order of immediate ceasefire.

Cheap publicity

Subsequent attempts of the ANC government to “recapture the moment”, obtain some cheap publicity and harass the court by filing complaint after complaint against Israel, have failed, as anticipated, and been rejected by the court. Moreover, the ANC deliberately disregarded the ICJ by completely ignoring a particularly important part of the court’s verdict, namely its order that Hamas release the hostages. South Africa does not refer to this part of the verdict, apparently happy that these innocent people continue being kept in Hamas tunnels with no communication with the outside world for more than half a year. Perhaps the people they are trying to impress in Iran would frown on this.

No less ridiculous were the ANC’s mysterious statements regarding an invisible foreign hand intervening against their electoral success on 29 May or the “threats” supposedly made against Pandor. So far, not a shred of evidence has been provided to substantiate these allegations.

In foreign affairs, the ANC has come to run on a brew of hearsay, innuendo, conspiracy and radicalism. It has sought to trump geo-economics through geopolitical machinations like the ICJ case and through BRICS, China’s principal foreign policy vehicle. But this combination cannot fuel the progress that the country needs to make in growing its economy and changing the fortunes of all its 62 million citizens. Little wonder that the majority of South Africans polled today blame the ANC government for the failures of the last 30 years, while just one-tenth continue to blame apartheid.

Ramaphosa scampers

With choices come costs, however. President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently had to scamper to avoid a collapse of US-South Africa relations after Pandor’s visit to the US. The minister, who considers herself very knowledgeable and is highly vocal on every subject, surprisingly claimed to be ignorant about the dictatorship of the Iranian regime. Asked whether the Iranian regime — in which only a committee of clerics can approve parliamentary candidates — was authoritarian, the minister claimed, unconvincingly, “I don’t know”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Bill that calls for full review of US relations with SA crosses first hurdle in US Congress

The President attempted to save the day and published an article in The Washington Post in which he desperately tried to spin-doctor the South African position on Hamas. In his article, the President referred to the “atrocious attacks of Hamas”. It was the first time since the 7 October events that he had unequivocally condemned the attacks by Hamas, almost certainly out of fear that South Africa could be thrown out of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade deal with the US.

This is particularly noteworthy given that on 17 October Pandor initiated a telephone conversation with the perpetrators of these “atrocious attacks”. At the end of that fateful October, the minister found time to visit Teheran, the sponsors of the perpetrators of the “atrocious attacks”, and in December, a delegation of Hamas visited South Africa and held meetings with senior ANC officials.

This was not an isolated event. South Africa has long cosied up to dictators and perpetrators of atrocities, including Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir in 2015. Undeterred by the controversy of that visit, Ramaphosa received another man widely considered to be an international criminal, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known by his nom de guerre Hemedti, the head of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces which has its origins in the Darfur Janjaweed militia, barely a week before South Africa brought its genocide case against Israel.

South Africa has a record of laundering lies, justifying extremism and cosying up to human rights abusers. This is far from model behaviour in support of democracy and the rule of law. It’s time to put an end to this costly charade.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections hub

On 29 May, South Africans will decide which party they want to govern our beloved and troubled country. Will we continue to place faith in the same gang of thieves who have brought SA to the brink of collapse, or will we be ready and willing to install a new leadership into government?

This is a weighty decision, with long-term implications. The choice belongs to the people, since they will reap the repercussions.

I know that Buthelezi would have said: “Don’t vote for manipulators!” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • ST ST says:

    Yep…I hear you Velenkosini. Your views represent those of so many. If you told me in 94 that this would be the extent of ANC betrayal, I would have not believed you.

    Incompetence is one thing, it could have been corrected with time and will. They didn’t because they lost their moral compass. The complete loss of their moral compass has led us here. They saw nothing wrong with continuing to deploy incompetent individuals in positions of high importance because this helped siphon public funds. They suddenly failed to see the urgency of rescuing those who’ve been long suffering. Because of their lack of morality, they have no empathy for their own and can sleep at night. They don’t care what history will say about them as they have no higher calling like great leaders should.

    So much blood on their hands. Betrayed by own fathers and mothers. It’s the worst kind. Actually, one of the worst outcomes of the ANC, has been to make some people actually utter that things were better during apartheid! They’ve proven those who doubted them right. In the process, gave them a ticket to continue to say black is stupid, incompetent and corrupt. Unfit to run their own affairs and must continue to second class citizens in their own land.

    The fact that there is a youth league in this now morally bankrupt ANC is scary. Maybe some of them think they can reorient the ANC. But the rot seem too deep. Whoever still has a moral compass in the ANC shouldn’t be there anymore. Simple.

  • William Dryden says:

    I hope and pray that the majority come to their senses and use their vote to get rid of the ANC once and for all, however we must not forget the radical Malema and his gardening and household crew calling themselves the EFF.

  • Deon de Wet-Roos says:


  • Reginald van Rossum says:

    All good but…….16.7 million unemployed representing 32%, therefore the total available work force would be around 52 million. Bit of a stretch, only about 10 million for all the learners, pensioners and those who choose not to work out of 60 million citizens.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Since when do facts like you point out matter … especially to politicians ? What started out as reasonable critique of the shortcomings of the current ANC … wandered off like an apartheid era spokesperson trying to defend the genocide (ask Albanese) in Palestine by a semi-fascist regime that had an ‘incestuous’ relationship with our apartheid era government. The upcoming ‘election’ will tell us if the IFP will even manage a return to its so-called ‘glory’ days, when the ANC first come into power. If they can even muster enough support to outwit that umshiniwam MK rabble … they will have done ‘exceptionally’ well. It is destined to remain and be consigned to ‘parochial’ ambitions. No doubt he will get the raving endorsement (but unfortunately not vote !) of steeped in apartheid era thinkers, like Beyond Fedup et al .

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Absolutely brilliant and so succinctly put. This man has said it all, no punches pulled and the truth. He exposes the vile, stinking and rotten anc that it has become with all its lies, hypocrisy, depravity, deceptions and outright immorality. They do not deserve to exist, let alone be in power and are nothing but a massive ball & chain to our country, dragging us to the sewer. I certainly and many, many other South Africans despise and do not want to be the monster and mass-murdering Putin’s friend, nor the evil Iranian mullah regime etc etc. They can all burn in hell forever more!

  • MT Wessels says:

    “Velenkosini Fiki Hlabisa is the President of the Inkatha Freedom Party.”
    Imagine this eloquent, right -thinking man was the leader of the DA instead of Inkatha (or a coalition between the two): imminently electable in the SA context vs the white-faced leadership of the DA, whatever the argument.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Love IFP,loved Buthelezi,they are the light in KZN,acoalition between them and DA in KZN ?

  • Denise Smit says:

    I vote Hlabiza for President of South Africa. He is a wise and brave and principled man. Of Zille stature. And those anti-Zilles, please stop your howls

  • dexter m says:

    i may not agree on many policies of the DA’s . but have to give them credit for where they govern they get the basics right, IFP have not achieved the same results where they govern. so even though may agree with much of the authors comments the DA gets my nod for KZN.

  • John Belyeu says:

    I have been known to waffle on…but here, I say “nuff said!”.

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