NEWS & ANALYSIS

Sleeping with the elephant

Graham McIntosh says SA should take heed of Trump's Tweeted warning

When Pik Botha (now a member of the ANC) was South Africa’s Foreign Minister and eventually the longest serving Foreign Minister in the Western World, the Department of Foreign Affairs (now renamed DIRCO) maintained an internal study group on South Africa’s relationship with the United States of America. It was nicknamed in the Department, “Sleeping with the Elephant”. As one wag commented, “When you sleep with an elephant, you only stay awake”.

President Trump’s tweet on EWC and farm attacks has certainly got South Africans wide awake. In the Tucker Carlson FoxNews interview, which many allege, alerted President Trump to the EWC issue and led to his Tweet, it was Marian Tupy’s informed, calm and accurate analysis which was the important input. 

Twitter is a poor way to communicate about any complex issue. The only action that Trump’s Tweet has promised, was to “ask the US Secretary of State to look into the matter”. Our own Minister of DIRCO, Lindiwe Sisulu has responded calmly and with great concern and appropriately engaged with the US Embassy in Pretoria. Anybody who has been in the African bush and heard an elephant trumpet nearby, finds cold shivers running down their spine.

A famous cartoon depicted President Paul Kruger tweaking the tail of the lion of the British Empire, but eventually the Boer Republics reaped the whirlwind of a brutal crushing defeat as did the Zulus twenty five years before them. Turkey is feeling the pressure following Recip Erdogan’s failure to keep his promise to Trump to release an American pastor from prison. 

In his addresses, which are easy to listen to on YouTube, in Warsaw (July 6 2017) President Trump affirmed the values of the free world and then at the United Nations (September 19 2017), he called out Cuba and Venezuela for their policies which have impoverished their people. EWC and the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Policy (RDP) meshes with the policies applied by Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba.

In her campaign to be elected as President of the ANC, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, made it clear, in archaic Cold War language, that she detested and distrusted the USA and maintained her unwavering support for the policies of Robert Mugabe. Fortuitously, she lost the contest, but she still sits in President Ramaphosa’s cabinet as do other Communists and ANC members, who believe that Soviet era thinking and Marxist Leninism and Robert Mugabe are relevant to the modern economy and urbanising society that South Africa is today. 

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a unilateral and generous action by the USA which allows exports from African countries to enter the vast US market free of duty. We benefit hugely in motor vehicle related exports, clothing and other goods. So do Ethiopia and Kenya and Rwanda. It can be unilaterally cancelled by the US if we go ahead with EWC. Trump has demonstrated that he will take that kind of action, if he thinks it is necessary. Marian Tupy suggests that he must do so, if EWC becomes law.

Through his enthusiastic support for EWC, President Ramaphosa has opened a Pandora’s Box of bad news for South Africa. The internationally discredited, thanks, in part, to the New York Times, Deputy President David Mabuza, seems to have been deployed by the ANC to start soft pedalling on EWC. This strong supporter of Cuba, is doing it with the wily skill required for boiling a frog and he has started with some gullible farmers. 

To reassure our trading partners, including the USA, President Ramaphosa should ask the ANC NEC to formally abandon it’s attempt to amend Section 25 of the Constitution and stop its use of racist language. Furthermore the Cabinet should instruct the Minister of Land Affairs to immediately stop his plans for expropriating, without proper compensation and due process, privately owned land and to concentrate his land reform efforts on land owned by municipalities and the vast areas of “unallocated state land” (former homelands) under the administration of Traditional Leaders and on sorting out the Ngonyama Trust land issue. 

We have heard an elephant trumpeting, not in our African bush, but in a Tweet from the President of the most powerful country in the World. We need to beware and take heed. If we don’t, we run the risk of being trampled.