Africa Notes: In Search of South African Analogies - June 1989
June 30, 1989
1. The World's Last Colony?
South Africa is not a colonial society. It was given effective self-government by Britain in 1910, and obtained the same sovereign status as Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 1933, with the advent of Dominion status.
2. Algeria Revisited?
Alistair Horne's A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 enjoys wide readership and seems to evoke feelings both of deja vu and of foreboding amongst South African readers. . .
3. Iran, Haiti, the Philippines?
The South African state is fundamentally different from the type of state overthrown in Iran, Haiti, and the Philippines. Those states were authoritarian regimes that were led by one man, often with the major goal of enriching the ruler and his relations. In contrast, the South African state is an institutionalized system of repression that is dedicated to preserving the political and economic superiority of an entire racial group.
If you changed the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa
Whenever human beings are mistreated, decent people have a duty to protest, and South African whites deserve such protestation. But hold on. [In 1988), the Tutsi tribesmen in Burundi went on another genocidal rampage and in the space of several days slaughtered an estimated 5,000 to 20,000 members of the Hutu tribe ...
6. White Voters' Options?
White voters yearn for an alternative [that meets their legitimate fears and aspirations]. They flock to hear Leon Louw and Frances Kendall talk about cantons, and they pore over Dennis Beckett's theories about leaders. They have made of Clem Sunter a phenomenon as they search desperately for an answer to one question: what will happen after apartheid?
7. De Klerk/ Jan Smuts?
Much hangs on the outcome of [F.W. de Klerk's] formation European tour [this month.] It. . . offers an internationally inexperienced Mr. de Klerk the chance to make personal contacts ... and, if all goes well, to become, in effect, the first "respectable" Afrikaner leader since Field Marshal Jan Smuts.
8. The Angola-Namibia Negotiations?
When South Africa's President-in-waiting, Mr. F.W. de Klerk, takes tea in Downing Street this week he will be aware that the invitation would not have been extended had he already succeeded Mr. P. W. Botha to the Presidency. Such is the isolation he will inherit.
9. President Nixon?
White South Africa may have found its Richard Nixon in F.W. de Klerk. With the selection . . . of Mr. de Klerk as head of the ruling National Party, white South Africa may at last be poised to break the deadlock in white-black relations. Just as President Nixon was able to go to China, so Mr. de Klerk could be the leader to go, metaphorically, to Soweto or Lusaka. . .
10. U.S. and Belgian Models?
[T]he NP is not as ideologically obsessed with the group concept as has been suggested by many critics. Our strong emphasis on group rights, alongside individual rights, is based on the reality of South Africa and not on an ideological obsession or racial prejudice.
We have been informed by various groups and organizations of the disastrous effects of the U.S. sanctions against Panama. These sanctions have led to the destruction of the country's economy, caused immense suffering on the poorest of the poor, increased unemployment, and aggravated social problems. .
12. Camp David?
The new Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman J. Cohen, believes there is "new thinking on both sides" of the white-black deadlock in South Africa. He sees a chance for a process of real political change to begin, and he thinks the United States can effectively encourage it.