Nobama campaign – some lessons

by Aug 12, 2013Magazine

From the 26th June to the 3rd July, US imperialism sent its chief political representative to Africa on a public relations exercise. The trip was cynically billed as building ‘trade ties’ and ‘strengthening democratic institutions’. In the end, it emerged that Obama came to SA to award General Electric some juicy business. Eskom had to make a loan from the IMF, of over R7 bn to fund a gas generator, for something that was completely unnecessary (considering the renewable energy options available). The masses are forced to pay.

A number of left organizations, together with anti-war activists and Palestinian organisations spearheaded the formation of the Nobama Coalition. Although the SACP and Cosatu joined the Nobama Coalition, they failed to mobilise significant participation from their base. For each of the first 6 days of the trip, there were protests in SA. Slogans raised included ‘Free the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay’, ‘Free Bradley Manning’, ‘for the 5 million Palestinian refugees to return home’, ‘Anglo American stole our future’. This exposed the hypocrisy of any pretence at ‘democratic freedoms’. The shooting by the police of peaceful protestors at UJ, was an echo from the Marikana massacre. This showed that when any interests of imperialists are threatened, that the police, the ANC government sides with the capitalists against the masses.

Exposed too was the role of UJ and UCT management: US troops were allowed to occupy part of the universities, something that did not happen under apartheid. Even the audiences were chosen by the US embassy, which showed that the gains of ‘academic freedom’ were torn up in one second by the state. A number of activists internationally joined the struggle against US imperialism, including the Free Bradley Manning campaign. From Cairo to Cape, the mass resistance is growing.

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