Writing on the blog This Is Africa, Malawi journalist Levi Kabwato tackled the much reported story of “Brexit” from his own unique perspective.
“European Union policies towards Africa and the rest of the Global South are unhelpful to the ordinary African,” he began. “It is against this backdrop that we must see Britain’s referendum on the EU and use what we have already seen the EU do to its poorer member countries to craft more critical and useful thoughts on how Africa can respond to developments such as Brexit.”
Kabwato noted the near uniformity of news reports on Brexit, bemoaning “a weakened South African rand” and prophesizing an apocalypse as “vital trade agreements” implode.
He continued, “This is the same EU that, earlier in June 2016, signed an Economic Partnership Agreement in Gaborone, Botswana that included a bilateral protocol between the EU and South Africa on the protection of geographical indications and on trade in wines and spirits.”
“What would this actually mean for a homeless person? Or a struggling Black farmer, marginalized and not empowered?” he asked.
“The absence of an alternative narrative regarding this main news story should worry Africans who have been made to believe that they are facing imminent problems should Britain leave the EU.
“Is a weak Britain necessarily bad for the continent because it threatens the ‘Empire’? Is it not an opportunity for Africa to negotiate future trade and cultural deals from a position of strength?
“If Brexit must point Africans to anything, it is the pace at which democracy is being threatened in Europe, how poor countries like Greece are being further impoverished via their association with the EU and how the EU itself has become an anti-democratic institution, often meddling in domestic policies of member states. This means that the organic (local) hopes, dreams and aspirations of ordinary European citizens are routinely dismissed or ignored altogether.
“Is this what Africans concerned about Brexit are mourning? Or is it the myth of British exceptionalism, with its painful links to colonialism? Perhaps it is the trade agreements—most of them kept in secret?
“Maybe it is to stand in solidarity with the working class of Britain, which has borne the brunt of EU-imposed policies that have impacted negatively on their income and quality of life.”
On a lighter note, the website OkayAfrica posed the hashtag, “#IfDavidCameronWasAfrican,” regarding the just-resigned Prime Minister. Patrick Nkusi tweeted back: “We would still be counting the votes and only God knows till when…”
LONG-RUNNING APARTHEID CRIMES CASE AXED BY SUPREME COURT
(GIN)—Efforts by South African victims of racist apartheid to obtain justice suffered a new defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court this month when the judges declined to revive a suit against two U.S. companies that, according to the complaint, helped to suppress the Black population.
The judges left in place a 2015 ruling that cleared Ford Motor Company and IBM Corporation. According to the claims raised by the South Africans, Ford was complicit in extrajudicial killing, torture and directing and controlling the sale of specialized vehicles to the South African security forces, and IBM created and maintained an identity card system to denationalize the Black population.
Several of the plaintiffs were former employees of Ford who were arrested and tortured after Ford released information about protests to the apartheid government.
Over the years, dating back to 2002, complaints against dozens of corporate defendants that collaborated with apartheid were filed by a South African legal team and Harvard law faculty and students. The cases were all dismissed by a district court despite a law that allows non-U.S. citizens to seek damages in American courts for egregious human rights violations committed abroad.
Initially, 23 companies were named in the suit, including Citigroup, Exxon Mobil, American Isuzu Motors, General Motors and Barclays Bank. They were liable, according to the suit, because the police shot demonstrators “from cars driven by Daimler-Benz engines,” “the regime tracked the whereabouts of African individuals on IBM computers,” and “the military kept its machines in working order with oil supplied by Shell.”
“[A]t the least, defendants benefitted from a system that provided a glut of cheap labor,” the South Africans maintained.
In a friend of the court brief, former U.S. ambassador for war crimes David J. Scheffer, said, “The United States cannot afford as a nation and world leader to undermine international law by immunizing its nationals who aid and abet atrocity crimes from civil liability for their knowing conduct, absent a specific mandate to do so by Congress.”
Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza, founder of South African National Association of Democratic Lawyers and president of South Africa’s Black Lawyers Association, represented the victims.