With only weeks to the start of one of the greatest sporting spectacles — the soccer World Cup — the organisers have an embarrassing problem on their hands. While millions of football fans across the globe will turn on their televisions to enjoy the contest, FIFA officials are worried that viewers may be distracted from the football action on the field by the lack of action in the stands. It is feared that the six purpose-built stadiums will be beamed around the world showing a conspicuous lack of spectators. The reason? Such is the poverty in the host nation — South Africa — that most of the population simply cannot afford to pay the entrance fee to see these games.
The contradiction between splendid spectacle and paltry participation by ordinary South Africans comes at a poignant time. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s historic release from prison — after being incarcerated for most of his adult life by successive racist white governments and their abominable apartheid regime. Celebrating the pinnacle of the most popular sport on earth should coincide with a joyful anniversary that marked the liberation of black South Africa.
But 20 years after Mandela’s release and 16 years after the handover of government from the white Afrikaner rulers to the African National Congress, the people of that naturally wealthy country still find themselves shackled. Not by apartheid masters, but by grinding poverty and a plague of social miseries.
Official figures show that over half of the mainly black population lives in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 25 per cent. Millions of these people eke out a life in Shantytowns that rim the capital Johannesburg. Rampant crime and disease are the concomitants of the grim social conditions. It is estimated that some 300,000 people were killed during the civil war between the ANC and the South African Defence Forces. But, according to political analyst Mike Molyneaux, since the ANC assumed power, nearly 250,000 people in that country have been murdered and one million have died from AIDS (1).
Molyneaux, who was born in South Africa and fought against apartheid, says: “Every year, the nation celebrates it’s freedom from white rule, but, for most, freedom means only the fact that their rich rulers are black rather than white and there’s more poverty, disease, unemployment, violence and crime than ever before.”
He adds: “When the ANC first came to power there was such optimism. But within a few years that hope gave way to disappointment over the lack of progress in improving social conditions for the black majority.”
In social and economic terms, the status quo of apartheid-era South Africa would appear to be firmly intact. How is that? Given that the ANC fought a “war of liberation” alongside the South African Communist Party, which vowed to overthrow the capitalist white regime.
Contrary to popular myth, the handover of power was not so much a surrender by a discredited regime buckling under the weight of international opinion and internal dissent. It was rather more of a choreographed changing of the guard in which the white rulers dutifully stood aside to let the ANC leaders take their place. But the tacit understanding was that nothing of substantive change — in terms of economic policy and wealth distribution in that country — would take place.
Key players in this choreographed, political musical chairs were US and British mining companies, with the blessing of their respective governments. As early as the 1980s, mining giants such as De Beers, Anglo-American Mining Corporation and Rio Tinto, were grooming leaders within the ANC for the eventual handover of government.
One such meeting occurred in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1984 between Gavin Reddy, the chairman of Anglo American Mining Corporation, and exiled senior ANC figures. “It wasn’t long before Western governments, corporations and institutions were being lobbied and organised to take over the sponsorship of the ANC,” says Molyneaux.
Of vital interest to the US and British governments was South Africa’s vast wealth in “strategic minerals”, says Molyneaux, who also worked as a material engineer.
While Africa’s richest country is mainly known for its gold and diamonds, it is also the main repository in the world for “strategic minerals”.
Molyneaux explains: “South Africa contains up to 70 per cent of essential alloying metals: manganese, nickel, cobalt, chromium, vanadium and molybdenum.” Without these alloying elements, iron and copper have much reduced industrial value.
“A key to world domination is control over the supply of oil and gas as well as strategic minerals. Strategic minerals are those metal ores that are essential to the manufacture of armaments and weaponry, ships, submarines, aircraft, tanks and missiles.”
Three factors moved the US and British to engage with the ANC. Firstly, since independence from Britain in 1961, the white South African government had proved to be something of a recalcitrant client for Washington and London. It had begun courting trade in minerals with other nations such as Japan, Germany, France and South Korea. Secondly, the Soviet Union was then the major patron of the ANC. The US and Britain could not risk the mineral wealth of South Africa falling into Russian hands, so they had to hedge their bets. Thirdly, as Molyneaux points out, “the ANC leaders lacked political experience to thwart globalist plans so they made good servants to the super wealthy elite”.
The current facts on the ground of South Africa’s worsening poverty and social misery for its black majority would tend to verify this analysis.
The US and Britain have become the top two foreign investors in South Africa, reversing the years of decline in mineral trade before the ANC took “control”. Meanwhile, says Molyneaux: “The ANC government basks in the glories of political victory with monuments for the war heroes and mansions for their top brass. But thanks to the ANC’s broken promises of liberation, millions wander and languish in poverty, disease and hopelessness. South Africa’s black majority is free — free to be poor, free to be unemployed, free to be mugged, robbed, raped or murdered, free to die of AIDS.”