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Ngwane, Trevor (2005) 10 Reasons why the WSF 2007 should not come to South Africa . Centre for Civil Society : -.

1) The foundation of the WSF is international solidarity. The main reason
the WSF is coming to Africa in 2007 is because we must give solidarity where
there is the greatest need. Africa, taken as a whole, is undoubtedly the
one continent where the greatest suffering of humanity is to be found in the
world today. Capitalism has been exceptionally destructive in Africa:
slavery, plunder, colonialism, apartheid, neo-colonialism, structural
adjustment policies, etc. Africa has paid a very heavy price to facilitate
capitalist development. That is why it is absolutely correct that the WSF
must come to Africa just as it was correct to take it to India last year.
Following the same principle and logic we cannot turn around and say the WSF
in Africa must be held in SA because that is not where the greatest need is
in Africa. To the contrary, SA is a relatively rich country in Africa and
is classified as a middle income economy in the world. This is
notwithstanding SA being the second most unequal country in the world. It
would, in my opinion, be a grave mistake to take the WSF to SA because it
would be counter to this principle of going to where the greatest need is
and thus be a barrier to building solidarity inside Africa and
internationally. The points below are elaborations of this basic argument.
I also believe that it is more likely that we can make the WSF less into an
event, no matter how "successful", and more like a campaign if we avoid
having it in SA. It is for these reasons that I think the left in SA should
support the WSF going to Kenya especially as this is the only country which
has submitted a proposal to host the WSF in 2007.

2) South Africa (SA) is a neo-liberal state and no "better" than any African
state in this regard. In my opinion SA is worse because, as a middle income
economy in Africa, it has, at least theoretically, more space to resist
imperialism's neo-liberal impositions than other poorer African states.
Instead of using its limited breathing space SA has chosen rather the role
of a perpetrator and conniver in strengthening and spreading neo-liberalism
on the continent. During recent WTO ministerial negotiations the SA
government has mostly come out on the side of the imperialist countries
against the position of its fellow African and southern countries. The SA
government has at times exerted pressure on SADC states trying to coerce
them into adopting neo-liberal policies. Instead of using its position of
relative strength to resist neo-liberalism SA has opted to join the
exploiter and play the game according to capitalist rules e.g. GEAR is a
form of structural adjustment programme which most African were coerced to
adopt by the World Bank and IMF but the SA government voluntarily adopted.

3) Too many conferences and international events are coming to SA, namely,
the WSSD, WCAR, international HIV/AIDS, rugby world cup, soccer world cup
2010, etc. This is unfair on other African countries; they too must be
given an opportunity to host important international events and showcase
their countries and get whatever benefits accrue from hosting such events.
It is not right that SA should exploit its economic and political ascendancy
to dominate African events. This ascendancy is an inheritance from SA's
ruthless and predatory capitalist policy in the past and the struggle this
endangered. Lest we forget, the wealth, economic development and superior
infrastructure found in (certain parts of) SA are the spoils from the past
super-exploitation of black labour in the mines and factories. This labour
was sourced from all over Africa notably Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe etc.
Nor should we uncritically accept SA's credentials as the model democratic
country in Africa. A lie beloved by the international and local bourgeoisie
is that the people's victory over apartheid was a "miracle" born of
political good will, reasonableness, reconciliation and letting bygones be
bygones. Nothing could be further from the truth! The victory over
apartheid was no miracle. It was achieved on the backs of millions of
ordinary workers who suffered, many of them dying, for centuries and decades
under the evil capitalist system in SA. Remember the Sharpeville massacre,
the June 16 uprising, the Vaal 1984 uprising, etc. Remember how Stephen
Biko, Chris Hani, and many other leaders were murdered. It was the struggle
of the millions and millions and the attendant sacrifices by numerous rank
and file people that made possible the new democratic SA. Remember the
sacrifices many African countries gave in the struggle against apartheid:
hosting our guerillas, receiving fugitives from apartheid, sticking to their
guns in their principled opposition to apartheid in international forums and
so on. Mozambique, Angola and Namibia are countries which were wrecked by
the apartheid psychopaths because they stood with us against statutory
racism. If it was not for apartheid's destabilization policies these
countries would be much more developed than they are today. Samora Machel,
the Mozambican socialist president, paid with his life when the apartheid
state crashed his airplane at Mbuzini near Nelspruit because he stood firm
against apartheid under very difficult circumstances.

4) SA has so far failed to repay the debt it owes to African states and
peoples who sacrificed to help us attain our freedom and the world acclaim
we enjoy today as the most democratic and progressive country in Africa.
Indeed, Mbeki's opposition to apartheid-financing reparations and default on
odious apartheid debt remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks to
international financial reform. Instead, SA has chosen to play the role of a
sub-imperialist power, encouraging its big capitalists and bankers to
re-colonise Africa through taking over African businesses and resources. The
mining houses like Anglo and DeBeers have locked up much of the mineral
wealth; ESKOM is buying African power stations for privatisation; Vodacom
and MTN are cornering the African cellular market; Shoprite Checkers is not
only demolishing the African retail sector but is also changing buying
patterns away from even local produce to imports; SABreweries has devoured
many African beer manufacturers; the Johannesburg banks are marching up the
continent. For many companies, profits that flow from Africa to South
Africa, then flow out to London which is the site of their new financial
headquarters. Does such a country's bourgeoisie deserve to be "rewarded"
once again - but this time by our movement, the global justice movement, a
movement expressly formed to fight against imperialism and the rich getting

5) South Africa does not convincingly reflect the cultural, political and
economic conditions in Africa if that is what the WSF seeks to find out by
coming to Africa. And even where there are similarities with African
countries, it is unlikely that the people coming to the WSF would be
adequately exposed to the realities faced by the South African working class
and the poor. Most delegates will content themselves to shuttling between
the seminar venues and their hallowed and comfortable hotel rooms and B&Bs;
they will be encouraged to do so by the hysterical warnings they will get
from the bourgeois press and the middle classes about crime in SA. In Porto
Alegre people were sticking to their air-conditioned rooms just because of
the heat! As a result the true condition of the Brazilian working class, in
particular, that of the Afro-Brazilians, is unknown to many who went to
attend WSF 2005. What indeed is the point of taking the WSF to Africa and
then choosing to have it in a country which in many respects is most unlike
Africa. It is like taking someone to Sandton in the name of showing them
what life is really like in Johannesburg for the masses.

6) The South African political and economic elite, in particular, President
Mbeki and the (black and white) bourgeoisie and its political corps, will
take full advantage of the WSF and use it to promote their hegemonic
ambitions in Africa. Already NEPAD is increasingly revealing itself as a
cover for Mbeki's bid to go down in history as the leading African statesman
in the globalization-afflicted new millennium. Obasanjo, Bouteflika, Wade
and other African neo-liberal leaders are contesting Mbeki on this but the
WSF in SA would certainly strengthen his hand. He will in all likelihood
project himself as the Lula of Africa. Lula has already unwittingly (or
perhaps wittingly) opened the door to this by his dubious G3 project where
Brazil, India and SA are meant to lead the world's poor countries by being
the main cocks on top of the neo-liberal dunghill of the south.

7) Mandela has been - wrongly - projected by the nave left and the
far-sighted right as the political saint of the new millennium. If the WSF
in 2007 finds him alive and politically active this will be a source of
great confusion to many activists and NGOers coming to SA. He will be the
neo-liberals' trump card. No doubt the bourgeoisie and political elite will
use him to make fantastic claims about how progressive SA is and how much is
being done for the poor and why the world should support the South African
government's capitalist machinations. Don't be surprised if Bill Gates and
Bono end up in the WSF rather than in Davos with the aim of grabbing a photo
opportunity with St. Mandela. And Mandela will charm everyone and tell the
world how he is a disciplined member of the ANC and answerable to "the
movement" (not to be confused with the anti-capitalist movement). Gracious
as always he won't attack anyone and use epithets like "ultra lefts" but
will leave this important duty to Mbeki, Ngonyama, et al.

8) The WSF's coming to SA will not challenge South African social movements,
trade unions, progressive NGOs and research institutes to broaden their
social base by working harder and closer to the ground. But this is exactly
what is required of them at this crucial moment in history, in particular,
to extend their work beyond South Africa's borders and endeavour to unite
the continent around an anti-capitalist platform and programme. Instead, if
the WSF comes to SA, they will get complacent in their comfort zones and
assume the posture of the South African bourgeoisie vis--vis African
movements because their "leading role" in Africa will be confirmed without
them having to lift a finger. Sadly some lefts in the movements and the
unions are already talking the same language as the capitalists and their
surrogate funding organizations; they express their doubts about whether any
other country in Africa besides SA can make a "success" of the WSF. Africa
is in a mess and South Africa is the exception. That was Verwoerd's and
Vorster's rationalisation of apartheid, remember? The South African
capitalists justify their plunder of African business and markets using the
same argument. The South African movement and union leaders seem to be
speaking the same language in relation to their exploited and oppressed
brothers and sisters in the rest of Africa. What a shame.

9) The WSF will prove to be divisive and damaging to the re-invigorated
struggle in SA and Africa. A complicated repeat of the tensions and
divisions that visited us during the World Summit on Sustainable Development
is bound to happen. Except there will be no World Bank and IMF to unite
against and thus help us to clarify our positions against neo-liberalism and
exposing the vacillators and collaborators. There will be no repeat of the
great march from Alexander to Sandton to forge our anti-capitalist platform
because the WSF is usually a medley of activities which absorbs the energies
of activists and blurs their political focus. With the WSF defined as an
open "space" where any organization can stage an activity the genuine
anti-capitalist movements will be swamped in the bog marsh of endless
workshops and seminars and exhibitions allowing the reformists to do their
dirty work under cover of the open space, horizontal decision-making and the
laissez faire atmosphere. The SABC will not be promoting the
anti-capitalist side nor will the funders fall over themselves giving us
money to stage more events. We will have no choice but to fight for the
visibility and hegemony of our anti-capitalist platform and ideas but I
foresee a spirited but frustrated contestation by the genuine left given the
odds against us.

10) The East African sub-region of the African Social Forum has already
submitted a proposal ("bid") to hold the WSF in Nairobi, Kenya. No other
sub-region or country has done so and we are left with barely 2 months
before the WSF international council makes its final decision at the end of
March. If SA were to submit their proposal now I think it will create
tensions and divisions. This won't contribute to building unity in Africa
nor help reduce the resentment some African comrades already feel towards
SA. I think it would be a mistake to develop a "fall back position" which
involves us writing (and submitting) a South African bid in order to
pre-empt any other organization doing so. The SMI took a clear position
against the WSF coming to Africa because it felt that too many events are
coming to SA to the exclusion of other African countries. Everyone
including ourselves will be totally confused if we now develop our own bid.
Comrades from Kenya and East Africa made a point of asking for South African
comrades' support for their bid in Porto Alegre. When the SMI discusses
this issue my suggestion will be that we should stick to supporting the East
African bid. Kenya, like SA, also has a rich history of struggle and
movements. Kenya is the land of the legendary Mau Mau; Kenyan movements
were recently part of thev victorious mass mobilization to get rid of the
dictator Arap Moi. Our job as South African comrades is to build on Kenya
and East Africa's strengths and help them overcome their weakness where
these are identified.

The vision of the African Social Forum is to make the WSF 2007 the biggest
initiative and meeting in post-colonial Africa. All African countries got
their independence but uhuru is bound by capitalist chains. In 2007 it will
be 5 years of NEPAD and the occasion can be used to evaluate this capitalist
policy and expose those leaders who champion it. Going to Kenya will be our
chance to take the message of resistance and grassroots struggle to Africa
as we understand it. Africa has a lot to teach us. Apartheid cut us off
from the rest of Africa. It is better to get to know a person by visiting
them in their house and neighbourhood rather than inviting them over to your
own place. Let us work with our comrades in East Africa and other parts of
Africa and other continents to prepare for the WSF 2007 through mass
mobilization. If we want to connect to the African masses outside our
borders we should think of filling a 100 buses and going to Nairobi rather
than expect the African masses to jet into SA. When we get to Nairobi we
should orgnise to sleep in tents and with villagers in their houses and
community halls. It is time to get out of our comfort zones, to eschew
insular and inward-looking methods of struggle and ways of doing things. It
is time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and from this vantage point see the whole
of Africa. Africa is a canvass and through struggle waged together with our
fellow exploited African brothers and sisters we can paint a new future, a
future without capitalism. Let us go to Kenya in 2007.

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