African Politics

In 1948, South Africa’s new Prime Minister, Dr. Malan, summed up his government’s racial policy as one of “apartheid” an Afrikaans word meaning separateness. Successive systems entrenched this policy; making intermarriage between whites and non-whites punishable. In addition by consolidating the amended group areas Act, separate housing areas were designated for various races. The separation extended to the use of amenities, and sexual relations – the latter being socially obnoxious. The South African government was determined in causing complete chasm of white and non-white population.

This was further aggravated by the enactment of the marriage Act that strove to bar the union of people of different races. Retrospectively the anti-apartheid movement responded to the government initiative. Within and outside the South African State; pressure mounted for the boycott of South African consumer products and also they were not to be involved in sporting activities. Essentially, South Africa, deeply rooted in apartheid was ostracized by the international community. The South African government withdrew from the commonwealth in 1960 and declared itself a self governing republic.

By this time, this apartheid regime had defied practically all well intentioned avenues towards reconciliation, both within its borders and internationally. The use of sanctions to stem the harsh policies of an existing nation have had rampant views; for and against. Sanctions may curtail the movement of the proponents/officials of a regressive government. By denying them visas, to travel abroad, these people are cut off from possible financiers or supporters of such cause who have certain influence in global systems.

It also important to note that these oppressive regimes can possibly be involved in offshore banking and money laundering activities, and as such denial of travel permits curtails such dealings. The importation of arms and to great extent chemical products is a potential risk to the people oppressed by an existing regime. Lethal chemicals can easily be administered to these ostracized groups of individuals with complete disregard of the globally accepted human rights. The arms embargo, stem the flow of such weapons. The absence and barring of states from participation in sports is a gesture.

A sign, to the separated and oppressed, and equally to the oppressors that the world has uniformity in spite of ideological differences. At a glance sport is not about superiority but about interaction and sharing. By admitting an apartheid South Africa into the Olympics and other games; the risk would have been that it could have brought a show or element of race dominance, in fact dominance of white over black. Economic sanctions put a great strain on any nation. The existing government structure has a big challenge of raising revenue and meeting critical needs of its various sectors, if it s under sanctions.

This isolationist policy, which to a great extent affects the running of a government, causes the government to contemplate and actually opt for a way of getting rid of its poor policies and hence be able to renegotiate trade deals with its market partners of global levels. However, it is very possible for sanctions to be orchestrated against a specific country due to ideological differences. This is in spite of the policy pursued by a specific country being of benefit to its people. It is through political machinations, wrought out of personal differences that an embargo may be applied.

Industrial magnates, financiers and attendant influential people may easily bring sanctions to work especially if they are in a cartel and their interests are threatened. The citizenry take the toll in any sanction. The government in power may decide to ration the supply to the internal market or even may not have purchasing power, leaving most of the citizens poorer and n critical conditions, for example if food and drugs are rationed, hunger and disease (spread) are a recipe for death. Sanctions are regressive.

They deny a country any necessary route to development. They are excessive since they directly or indirectly infringe on the very human rights they seek to cement and protect. For example to advocate for the right to life and expression and deny medicine or new/press coverage is a contradiction. By blocking trade with global partners, a country’s economy is weakened. There is increase in inflation rate. Making the people poorer, even with commodities being available they lack buying power. The application of sanctions is also questionable.

Rich, industrialized nations have their own injustices, unfortunately they rarely face sanctions. Leaving developing nations to face the sanctions clause, anytime they fail to meet some policies. A glaring, stark reality of double standards The building of a consensus against separateness is the goal of the international community in its solidarity on the application of sanctions. At the first session, in 1946, the United Nations General Assembly learnt of the discrimination and deprivation of elementary rights, on people of Indian origin by the South African government.

The United Nations formed a special committee against apartheid, repeatedly stressing that public information on apartheid was an essential component of the United Nations. Specialized agencies, like UNESCO, WHO, UNICEF and ILO did annual reports on apartheid. A fund was created, to finance the unit on Apartheid; which ensured maximum publicity on apartheid. Observance of international years and days was a common culture. For example Day of solidarity with struggling people of South Africa (16th June, anniversary of 1976 uprising) and 1982 was the International year for mobilization of sanctions against South Africa.

Global personalities were also involved in the campaign against apartheid, in the world of art, music and sports. They exhibited in Museums and galleries global and at the UN headquarters. The international labor organization supported its workers when they refused to ferry the all-white South African team. Thousands demonstrated, risking imprisonment in the UK, New Zealand, Australia and U. S. A. International Solidarity versus politics of a struggle: Specific moral tenets govern the relationship between international solidarity and the particular struggle.

Whatever the struggle, it is required that it be done n a way that it does not violate the sovereignty of a nation, it be within the Human Rights protection and impartial. International solidarity may follow the requests of official leadership of a struggle. However, international solidarity has its ramifications being felt long before a struggle comes to the public scene. This is because most of these nations interests are in the form of investors and they shy-off at any inkling of instability. Summary:

In the preservation of the rights of the citizen of (an even alien living in) a country, sanctions applied by the global community have proved significant. The international community, in association with the people fighting for their “freedoms” will never cease to stand in solidarity, to safeguard human dignity and life.

References: 1. Desmond Tutu, the Rainbow People of God, Doubleday, 1994, U. S. A. 2. Tom Young, Readings in African Politics. Indiana University Press, 2003, U. S. A. 3. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Renascent Africa, Gower Publishing Co. , 1960 (Great Britain).