ANC’s double standards on human rights: Condemning Israel but ignoring atrocities closer to home – Andrew Kenny

In a continuation of South Africa’s questionable track record in international human rights, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor, raised eyebrows by requesting the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes against Palestine. This move comes after the ANC’s failure to apprehend Sudan’s Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir in 2015, a leader responsible for the mass murder of black Africans. The ANC’s selective condemnation raises concerns about its commitment to true human rights causes and its diplomatic priorities.

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The ANC’s sordid record on international human rights

By Andrew Kenny

This week, Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, continued South Africa’s shameful tradition in international human rights. She showed, once again, that the ANC has no interest in helping oppressed people around the world, but only in supporting the oppressors. This time it was to do with the International Criminal Court (ICC), an international body dedicated to prosecuting tyrants for tyrannical acts. South Africa is a member of the ICC, and has a legal duty to co-operate with it, including issuing arrest warrants against those who commit gross violations of human rights. Such a tyrant visited South Africa in 2015.

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is a racist mass-murderer, responsible for the systematic slaughter of about 200,000 black Africans in the Sudan. Al-Bashir, an army brigadier, came to power in a coup in 1989. There is a tragic history in north Africa of Arabs belittling, persecuting and enslaving black Africans. Al-Bashir continued this practice but on a new and terrible scale, especially in the Darfur region of western Sudan. His Arab Janjaweed militias carried out a reign of terrorist ethnic cleansing of the black people in the area, murdering, torturing and raping black people on a huge scale. It was regarded at the time as being the worst violation of human rights in the world. Al-Bashir came to South Africa in 2015 to attend an African Union (AU) Summit. The AU, like the OAU (Organisation of African Union) before it, is essentially a dictators’ club and so al-Bashir would have been perfectly at home in it. Perhaps he felt that he had slaughtered enough black people to be made head of the AU, as Idi Amin had been made chairman of the OAU in 1975, as a reward for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of black people. However, the ICC saw things differently and ordered the ANC to arrest him while he was here. The ANC did not do so. It let him depart freely.

Did the ANC applaud al-Bashir’s killing of black people? I don’t know, but guess it just regarded the killing with indifference. Black lives mean nothing unless a white person is responsible for the suffering.

This week, Dr Naledi Pandor asked the ICC to charge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with war crimes against the people of Palestine. On 7 October, Hamas terrorists from Gaza invaded south Israel and proceeded to murder, torture and rape Israeli men, women and children, and to desecrate their corpses. 1300 Israelis were killed. 200 were kidnapped and taken back to Gaza. Hamas filmed some of their actions, including murder, torture and rape. A Professor at Cornell University, USA, found this “exhilarating”. It seems so to many people around the world. After quite a pause, Israel hit back at Hamas. After showering Gaza with millions of pamphlets asking, begging, pleading with the Palestinians to pull back out of Hamas areas, making it quite clear that they did not want to kill any innocent people, especially children, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) moved into Gaza to attack the terrorists. Thousands died as a result. This is why the ANC wants the Israeli PM to be charged by the ICC.

I think Netanyahu was terribly wrong to send his fighting forces into Gaza. It was a stupid thing to do. It was exactly what Hamas had hoped for and they are now absolutely delighted about the Palestinians who have been killed. The idea that you can defeat Islamic terror by “wiping out Hamas” is absurd. Even if the IDF does kill every single Hamas terrorist – which is next to impossible – they will all quickly be replaced by new terrorists consumed with hatred for everything Western and for all Jews. Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban are just different sides of the same thing. They all hate the West. They all hate its prosperity, tolerance and liberal ways; they hate the fact that it gives equal rights to women and the fact that it tolerates homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They all want Sharia law, where women are chattels, where adulteresses may be stoned to death, and where homosexuality is punishable by death. They hate Israel because, alone among countries of the Middle East, Israel also gives full rights to women and respects all LGBT groups. The only place in the Middle East where Palestinians have full political rights, full women’s rights and full LGBT rights is Israel. This drives the anti-Israelis mad with rage, and there are plenty of them, ready to replace Hamas any time.

Trying to “wipe out Hamas” was a bloody mistake. It has resulted in the deaths of innocent women and children. I condemn it. But it is simply not in the same league as the real crimes against humanity, which the ANC often condones. It is certainly not in the same league as al-Bashir’s crimes, which the ANC condoned by not arresting him.

Perhaps the worst case of ANC complicity with atrocity against black people is on our northern border. After Robert Mugabe came to power in Zimbabwe in 1980, one of his first acts was the solve the Ndebele problem in Matabeleland. The Ndebele had belonged to a rival guerrilla group and had voted against him in the 1980 election. They had to be dealt with. So he embarked on Gukurahundi, the very carefully planned and prepared operation to murder tens of thousands of Ndebele men, women, children and unborn babies. Between 1983 and 1987, Mugabe’s extermination squads, directed by his security minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, went from village to village, slaughtering Ndebele. Over 20,000 black people were murdered, perhaps double that number. The ANC, which had been operating in Matabeleland, knew all about Mugabe’s deliberate massacres of black people, and said nothing. Gukurahundi was far worse than anything that ever happened under apartheid, but when the ANC came to power in 1994, it never mentioned Gukurahundi. But it did praise Mugabe to the skies. Mugabe lost every election after 2000 but resorted to fraud and terror to maintain power. The ANC helped him cling to power, helped him defy the will of the Zimbabwe people, cheered him when he seized the private farms and drove hundreds of thousands of black farm workers and their families into destitution and even starvation, while he himself and his family lived in sumptuous luxury, with palaces and Rolls Royces. After yet another blatantly crooked election in August this year, an election so obviously fraudulent that even SADC, usually supine, had to admit it had been rigged and marked with intimidation, the ANC congratulated President Mnangagwa on his glorious victory. President Ramaphosa, grinning and grovelling, was one of the very few African heads of state to attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration.

The ANC’s diplomacy for Russia follows the same pattern. Russia has a violent record of repression in its Moslem state of Chechnya. Recently it has helped Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, to kill Moslems in Syria. At the ghastly Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinians in Syria, they suffered worse than they ever did in Israel in the last fifty years. About 160,000 Palestinian Syrians were forced to flee. Russia’s record in Ukraine is far worse. During the years of communism, Russia inflicted on Ukraine some of the worst atrocities in history. In the Holodomor, from 1931 to 1934, Russia under Stalin deliberately starved to death nearly four million Ukrainians. Only Hitler’s Holocaust was worse than this. Russia systematically persecuted and enslaved people in Ukraine. On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine with military aggression not seen in Europe since WW2. It is estimated that about 10,000 people have been killed so far (the figure is vague) and the Ukraine economy has been ruined. The ANC made attempts to appear neutral, even sending the grinning one to Ukraine, but actually made it clear that it supports Russia. This suggests it thinks the invasion was justified. The ANC has not broken any diplomatic ties with Russia, as it has with Israel, has not condemned the invasion as it did the retaliatory strike by Israel against Hamas. It has not come clean about the Russian Lady R ship in Simonstown, bound for Russia with some cargo that it wants to keep secret.

In China, the communist government has treated its Uyghur Moslems far worse than Israel has ever treated the Palestinians living in Israel. The Uyghurs, who live mainly in the Xinjiang region in the west of China, are thought to number about 20 million, although this is uncertain. They have been brutally oppressed and discriminated against by the Chinese government. About a million Moslems have been detained without trial in internment camps, where there has been forced labour. They have suffered forced sterilisation and forced abortion. Hundreds of thousands of Moslem children have been separated from their parents. 16,000 mosques have been damaged, some razed to the ground. What does the ANC think about this? Absolutely fine. No problem at all. I haven’t heard a word of criticism against these atrocities by Dr Pandor. There has been no diplomatic action against China, no denunciation of China in international forums. And China remains one of our biggest trading partners. 

In Cuba in 1959, a rich, privileged white man, Fidel Castro, took over the country by force and proceeded with the brutal exploitation of the working classes, the persecution of homosexuals, a ban on free speech and free elections, and the torture and killing of anyone who opposed him. He reduced Cuba from one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America to one of the poorest, while making himself exceedingly rich. Hundreds of thousands of working-class Cubans fled from the terror and deprivations of his tyranny. In Africa he propped up corrupt despotisms such as Angola, which waged war against their African citizens. The ANC worshipped him and his successors. In March this year, Dr Naledi Pandor informed us that South Africa would be sending R50 million in aid to Cuba. In South Africa, thanks to the ANC, there is mass poverty. Working class African people are going hungry. 27% of our children are stunted by malnutrition, their brains permanently damaged by lack of food. Dr Pandor would obviously prefer to send R50 million to Cuba rather than spend the money on our own children who are starving. This shows her utter contempt for poor black people. Black lives don’t matter to her if they are poor and working-class. She is unexceptional among the ANC elite, no different morally from Jacob Zuma or Dr Dlamini Zuma or Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. She is simply the ANC’s representative international voice.

The ANC despises the West, and especially the USA. It hates the USA, it mocks the USA, it boos the USA and jeers at the USA. At every international forum, the United Nations or any other, the ANC can be depended on to attack the USA and praise its enemies, whoever they may be. (I am told that when a busload of ANC members heard of the 911 attack on the USA, they all cheered loudly. This may well be false, an urban legend. The trouble is it rings true.) The ANC supports Russia and attacks the USA in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It tried to humiliate the US Ambassador in the case of the Lady R. It attacks the USA over the Hamas atrocities. Yet it begs the USA to renew AGOA, the trade agreement that favours South African exports to the USA, especially for motor cars. AGOA is a sort of foreign aid to South Africa,  but the best sort, encouraging trade. China would never offer us such a generous deal. China would not want our cars, far too expensive for them. Our trade and industry minister, Ebrahim Patel, is begging the USA to renew AGOA. The USA motorcar company Ford has now been in SA for a hundred years, benefiting us more than the USA. Why should Ford want to stay here when other countries, which do not hate the USA, can make their cars better than we can? Why should the USA buy our cars on favourable terms when we belittle it all the time?

The ANC believes, quite rightly it seems, that no matter how much it abuses Western countries, particularly the USA, they are so feeble and apologetic, that they will continue to do whatever the ANC tells them to do. It laughs at the USA for its pathetic weakness. It knows the USA will renew AGOA no matter how much the ANC openly despises it.

Meanwhile the ANC ignores terrible atrocities against black people, against Muslems, against Palestinians and against Ukrainians by African tyrants, by Russia and by China, and condemns only the actions of Israel, ham-fisted though they were. But they are not in the same league of evil as the atrocities it condones or applauds. The ANC, which has wrecked the South African economy and impoverished the black working classes, has sullied South Africa’s name in international diplomacy.

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*Andrew Kenny is a writer, an engineer and a classical liberal.

This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission