Patrick Bond in the news

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jun 11 10:55:58 MDT 2001


The Sunday Independent

Marches against WEF herald things to come

June 09 2001 at 05:40PM

By Charlene Smith

"Away with the WEF! No to George Soros, Saki Macozoma and moneybags Coleman
Andrews!" says a press release issued this week by the Campaign Against
Neo-liberalism in South Africa (Canisa) on behalf of its anti-World
Economic Forum committee.

Nationwide marches focused on Standard Bank, "a South African symbol for
all that is wrong with the World Economic Forum," Canisa said. "The deputy
chair of Standard Bank is Saki Macozoma; the bank forces harsh conditions
on low-income borrowers, refuses to lend in inner cities, townships and
rural areas, and funnels the hard-earned wealth of our country to London,
Russia and the Channel Islands."

It is certainly a radical change from the days when Macozoma was a
respected African National Congress activist and the thought of funnelling
funds to Russia would have been applauded.

Activists are in constant e-mail contact with their global comrades
However, it is easy, and foolhardy, to scoff at the anti-globalisation
movement in South Africa.

It is fuelled by very real anger, particularly among trade union members
and non-governmental organisations, at increasing poverty, a lack of real
development and massive job losses instead of job creation.

The anti-globalisation lobby has watched televised running battles between
activists and police at the World Trade Organisation's summits across the
world (indeed Canisa had rescreenings of these battles on Tuesday along
with dinner at a supper club - how the venues for activism have changed, too).

Anti-globalisation activists are in constant e-mail contact with their
global comrades (globalisation has many faces), but mostly there is anger
at increasing poverty and the role of the international community in
blocking southern African exports, in foisting high-priced drugs and other
commodities on needy countries, and in compelling fiscal discipline on
nations such as South Africa to the detriment of development.

While Canisa represents a new radical chic that would not flinch at violent
street battles, there is real concern too among respected academics,
politicians and more conservative members of society at the impact of
globalisation on developing nations.

*80 countries are now poorer than they were in 1990 *

Activists' plans for next year's Earth Summit in Johannesburg already
indicate a split among those who will attend.

One source said: "Co-opted NGOs will go to Gallagher Estate, others will
try and shut the summit down. Others will say 'we do not want to see Colin
Powell, or the World Bank here' and will press for the defunding of the
World Bank..."

Marches against the WEF gathering of southern African nations in Durban
this week gave a small foretaste of what is to come.

The WEF gathering, activists say, lived up to the South African Communist
Party's predictions of "another round of bland assertions".

Indeed, what business leaders have yet to learn from the failed court
action by pharmaceutical firms against the South African government is that
the time has passed for unilateral, unquestioned business decisions that
affect millions of lives. A globalised world also means increased scrutiny
of multinationals and a network of rapid-response activism.

Mazibuko Jara of the SACP said the "WEF promotes the ruthless logic of the
market which rams privatisation, liberalisation, deregulation down the
throats of developing countries. As a result of these policies, 80
countries are now poorer than they were in 1990".

While it is unfair to blame all of this on the WEF, they certainly form a
corps that pays much attention to moneymaking and has scant regard for the
impact of economics on people's lives. Their January forum in Switzerland
saw militant protests and a dramatic, and probably excessive, Swiss police
presence.

Patrick Bond, a political economist at the University of the Witwatersrand
who has just completed a book, Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets
the World Bank, IMF and International Finance (UCT Press), said that global
apartheid, a term coined by President Thabo Mbeki, was a major
international issue.

"In the 1980s the Reverend Leon Sullivan of the United States coined the
Sullivan Principles, which identified apartheid as bad and harnessed
institutions and vehicles to diminish its efficacy. But Archbishop Desmond
Tutu said at that time: 'We don't want to shine the chains of apartheid, we
want to break them.'

"Mbeki says global apartheid is systemic and has to be fought, yet Mbeki,
Manuel (minister of finance, Trevor) and Ramphele (World Bank director,
Mamphela), as beneficiaries of the struggle against apartheid, have decided
to fight in ways that do not abolish global [economic] apartheid."

Bond argues that "global neo-liberalism" - which he says manifests itself
as rampant "free-market ideology that allows social programmes to be cut,
the abolition of foreign exchange control, an end to the protection of
infant industries and higher interest rates" - damages the developing world.

"In 1995 Chris Liebenberg [South Africa's then finance minister] and Chris
Scholtz [then Reserve Bank governor] abolished our only protection, the
financial rand. Since then we have had three currency crashes of 20 to 30
percent."

Bond believes the impact of globalisation - seen on a more localised level
as the cutting off of electricity in Soweto by partially privatised Eskom
-is seeing "the left of the [tripartite] alliance wake up, as our society
is going to the highest bidder".

Over the long term, Bond believes these pressures could lead to the
collapse of the tripartite alliance, "because the ANC is finding it
difficult to deliver the goods".


Louis Proyect
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