Rendition South Africa style
Senior officials in the Hawks and SA Police Service are conducting illegal ‘renditions’ of Zimbabweans, who are deported from South Africa, handed to Zimbabwean security forces and then murdered. Rendition is the illegal kidnapping and transfer of a prisoner from one country to another. This practice has become infamous through USA operations aimed at people involved in resisting US operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
According to the Sunday Times (6 November 2011), Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa claims allegations of renditions were ‘baseless and imaginative’, and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe believes the rendition claims were ‘very worrying’. Head of the Hawks, Anwa Dramat, confirmed that his unit had ‘deported three individuals, Witness Ndeya, Gordon Dube and Pritchard Tshuma.” All three were killed, having been in custody in Zimbabwe. According to Givemore Nhidze, an MDC activist who was granted asylum-seeker status in South Africa, he was arrested in Polokwane by South African and Zimbabwean security forces and taken to a torture camp near Mutare where he was assaulted and left for dead. He was eventually smuggled back to SA where he has made a full statement to a law firm on his rendition and torture in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean activists are demanding a full investigation into this practice by SA’s security agencies and for the South African government to put pressure on the Mugabe administration to immediately stop its violent repression of democratic forces in Zimbabwe.
G20: to the streets
Over 10 000 demonstrators marched on the streets of Nice on 1 November, to denounce the illegitimacy of G20 and the injustice of economic policies that it advocates. Indignant Spaniards, Wall Street occupiers, Greek and Senegalese rebels, Tunisian and Egyptian revolutionaries, Latin American, Italian, English, German, and French global justice activists – all were there. Engaged in their own battles, they were united during the demonstration and a summit of peoples.
To the rhythm of sambas, colourful and lively marches demanded an end to tax havens, financial transparency, a real financial transaction tax, radical regulation of banks, a citizens’ audit of public debt, more funds for social programmes and ecological transition, solidarity with the peoples of the South, food sovereignty, the free movement of women and men, and so on. Held after the announcement of a Greek referendum on the European Union’s austerity plan, this festive demonstration testifies to an irrepressible demand for real local, national, and global democracy.
G20: summit failure brings world recession closer
The G20 meeting held in France has once again revealed the deepening fractures in the world economy and the inability of the ruling to tackle its problems, let alone resolve them. The meeting began with fears over the consequences of a Greek default and withdrawal from the eurozone and in ended in disarray amid concerns that Italy was about to take the place of Greece at the centre of the European debt crisis.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper described the second day of the talks as one of ‘unrelenting gloom’. It warned that ‘a world recession has drawn closer after a fractious G20 summit failed to agree to fresh financial help for distressed countries and debt-ridden Italy was forced to agree to the International Monetary Fund monitoring its austerity programme’.
In the lead-up to the summit, there had been talk that the G20 would agree to boost IMF resources by as much as $250 billion in order to try to alleviate the financial crisis. But disagreements over the proposal – the United States and Britain have been strongly opposed to additional IMF funding – meant that a decision was put off until a meeting of the G20 finance ministers next February.
The G20 meeting provided no assistance. The explosive potential of the contradictions gripping the world economy was made clear in the comments on the Greek referendum proposal and the prospect of default as the meeting was convening. British Labour peer Lord Soley remarked: ‘When the history of this period is written it may well be that the Greek decision will be seen as the economic equivalent of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo in 1914. It will trigger events way beyond the borders of Greece or even Europe.’ At the conclusion of the summit, as on so many other occasions, the official communiqué called for measures to ‘reinvigorate economic growth’. However, as the Financial Times noted, the ‘action plan’ for growth and jobs ‘committed countries to almost nothing they were not already pursuing’. It cited former IMF senior official Eswar Prasad, who castigated the G20 for offering nothing but ‘vague promises for the future and a series of short-term fixes that are hostile to the political circumstances in individual countries’.
The global unemployment crisis
The International Labour Organization’s report on global unemployment paints a stark picture of the global economy. Three years after the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, the global jobs situation is disastrous. According to the ILO, 80 million jobs would have to be added in the next two years just to reach pre-crisis employment levels. Basing itself on extraordinarily optimistic assumptions, the ILO anticipates that only half that number will be created.
In the advanced industrial countries, including the United States and Europe, there are 13 million fewer jobs now then four years ago. Employment in these countries is not expected to recover until well past 2016. Youth unemployment is above 20%, and long-term unemployment has soared to record heights.
Beyond the immediate indicators of social distress – to which many more could be added – the ILO report points to an unprecedented build up of social tensions that are giving rise to conditions for new social explosion on a world scale. One of the ILO’s comments is especially revealing. Its report refers to the ‘paradox’ of the past three years; that ‘the impact of the global economic crisis of 2007–08 on the financial sector was short-lived initially – despite it being at the very origin of the downturn’.
There is, however, nothing paradoxical about this. The crash of 2008 was set off by the collapse of an enormous speculative bubble. Since that time, world governments, led by Washington, have scrambled to ensure the wealth of the very financial elite that created the crisis, at the direct expense of the vast majority of the population.
In South Africa, we should be particularly mindful that during the 2007–09 crisis more than a million jobs were lost. South African corporations, which have seen profit levels rising, have been on an investment strike for some time now, well before the onset of the current global crisis. The South African government has been forced, in the face of lack of investment, to try to crowd in investment by undertaking a massive infrastructure investment programme. But even this has not been able to address the crippling unemployment crisis that has precipitated a destabilising social crisis in the country; crime, substance abuse and violence against women and children are only some of its most visible manifestations.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine held its third international session from the 5th to the 7th of November at the District Six Museum in Cape Town. It explored the state of Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people and determined whether these actions constituted that of apartheid. While apartheid is prohibited under international law and classified as a crime against humanity, the Tribunal itself holds no state-sanctioned power to exercise. As an ‘international citizen-based Tribunal of conscience’, its aims are to create a basis from which to enlighten and mobilise public awareness, as well as to pressurise international decision makers to give agency to the human rights of the Palestinian people. Residing on the jury were Alice Walker, Cynthia McKinney, Ronald Kasrils, John Dugard, Yasmin Sooka, Mairead Maquire, Michael Mansfield, Stéphane Hessel, Jose Antionio Martín Pallín, Aminata Traoré and Gisèle Halimi. Testimonies were given by a handful of international activists, academics, legal professionals – all deemed as experts on the matter – and a few Israeli and Palestinian witnesses.
After two days of intense and often emotionally evoking witness and expert accounts, the jury found that Israel’s discriminatory and abusive practices against the Palestinian people, particularly in the Occupied Territories, equates to an aggravated form of apartheid. While these abuses vary in degree depending upon location (i.e. whether in Israel proper or in the Occupied Territories), the Tribunal concluded that Israel unequivocally ‘subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law’. Arab citizens and Palestinians under occupation have undergone a myriad of human rights violations which include sub-par legal status, widespread torture, forced removals, deprivation of life under military occupation, targeted killings, denial of the right to return for refugees, and so forth. The Tribunal will hold its fourth and final session in New York City next year.