Pretoria - Those who had hoped US President Barack Obama’s term of office would be different had been disappointed, Young Communist League (YCL) national secretary Buti Manamela said on Friday.
Obama’s three-nation tour, scheduled to bring him to South Africa later in the day, was a one-sided affair for the US's benefit, Manamela said.
“In reality, Obama is here for trade relations, not for the benefit of the continent, but the gain of United States imperialism. The benefit of American companies to continue raping our mineral resources.”
Manamela and other officials led more than a thousand activists in a march to the US embassy in Arcadia, Pretoria.
“We are here to display our anger and frustrations in relation to continued US domination, not only of the economy, but the political sphere as well,” he said.
“We had hoped that with his election those things would come to a decline.”
The world had hoped he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan, allow Africans to use African solutions to African problems, and close down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Manamela said these expectations had become a pipe dream.
Obama decided to tour Africa because America felt threatened by Chinese infiltration of the vast African market, Manamela said.
“They (the Americans) see that China is already here. It is because of that threat posed by China that America is here. This whole thing (the trip) is influenced by the fact that Africa’s economy is growing,” he said.
“It is opportunistic of the Americans to present this trip as beneficial to the continent when it is part of their battle against China.”
When the protesters reached the embassy, a group of Muslim activists held a prayer session. The small group moved to a place in front of the embassy, where small blankets and carpets were spread next to a public address system. A man addressed the kneeling group.
“As far as Obama is concerned, he doesn't represent any democracy. We have seen an acceleration in the killing of people. Look at Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries,” he said.
The rest of the protesters, wearing mainly YCL regalia, watched the prayer session.
Numerous police officers stood at the embassy's closed entrance. More than 20 police vehicles, including a Nyala, were parked outside.
Protesters burnt an America flag near the entrance.
Some of the protesters' placards read: “Obama, stop supporting dictators in Africa. No oil here, move on”; “100 years of genocide in Iraq. War in 100 countries. Rogue State.”
A young boy's poster read: “No you can't spy on me”. Another placard read: “USA Under Satanic Administration”.
Many protesters wore orange overalls and black hoods. Some wore camouflage outfits and red berets.
A large banner bore a picture of Obama's face and the words:
“Meet the world's top assassin”.
The banner showed a picture of Obama behind prison bars.
Many local and international journalists, who were camped outside the nearby Medi-Clinic Heart hospital, where former president Nelson Mandela is being treated, rushed to the protesters.
As people in the group passed close to the hospital, they shouted messages of support for the ailing anti-apartheid icon. - Sapa