SOUTH Africa’s erudite Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, truly enhances the global standing of her country amidst the rapidly changing global affairs.
She is forthright, truthful, fearless and committed to Nelson Mandela’s non-negotiable stance to always stand on the side of the weak against the powerful.
Echoing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s concerns that in the aftermath of the successful SA-Israel matter at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pandor said SA will become a target of fierce attacks by Tel Aviv and powerful Western backers of the Jewish state.
The Western media, too, will likely become a platform to pour scorn on SA’s foreign and domestic policies. But then again, opined Pandor, it doesn’t matter because the Ramaphosa administration stands on the side of the truth when it takes up the cudgels for the powerless and beleaguered people of Palestine.
It was Mandela himself who said South Africa can never claim to be free “until the people of Palestine are free”, Pandor reminded a packed media briefing at the headquarters of Dirco in Pretoria this week.
Since SA’s noble and brave step to challenge the US-led Western hegemony, the country and Pandor has been pilloried and called names.
According to Pandor, she’s been referred to as a “Hamas operative”. She also commented on the circulating video clip purporting to be shot in Jerusalem, where the SA flag could been removed – almost torn – from where it once stood alongside that of the USA.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, there is a sickening video making rounds alleging that the Islamic Republic of Iran had funded SA’s legal bill at the ICJ in exchange for Iran settling the ANC’s debts and help prepare Madiba’s party for this year’s general elections.
The allegations are made by a self-proclaimed Rabbi, who further alleges that SA’s foreign policy is in custody of state capture by forces such as Iran.
Additionally, claims the Rabbi, SA banks serve as funding platforms for Hamas and that the US courts were looking into this and other matters in relation to SA “breaking US sanctions” regime by cooperating – through companies such as giant telecoms MTN – with Iran.
Now, I deliberately paint this picture for clarity’s sake, and context to back up claims made by both President Ramaphosa and Minister Pandor that we must fasten our seat belts, but remain calm and unwavering in championing our ubuntu/botho-led foreign policy.
This plain baloney spewed by the Rabbi cannot be allowed to pass without a challenge.
The majority of us in SA possess one citizenship only – nothing more, nothing less. We are South Africans, period. Unlike a significant portion of our citizenry, most of us do not enjoy the plum benefits of a dual citizenship. South Africa is our Alpha and Omega. In good times and bad times we are, as Pandor said, “Mandela’s children”.
Pandor challenged SA media – free beyond measure – to report fearlessly and tell the truth as we see it. Without elaborating, she was implying that the notoriously lopsided Western reporting of geopolitics should not be allowed to overwhelm local narratives in local media platforms. That, in my view, is part and parcel of the notion of sovereignty.
SA requires, and deserves, a patriotic press. And this does not mean a bunch of praise-singers. Our fledgling democracy needs no sunshine journalism.
We must question authority without fear or favour, standing in the truth even if it means being the only press in the world that stands on the side of the truth. That is what integrity is all about.
The claptrap that is being bandied about in social media by the powerful people who are used to getting away with murder – literally and figuratively – should end when the local press stands with the more than 122 media workers who have been killed in the unwavering onslaught of the US-backed Israeli bombardment of the innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip and across the occupied territories of the West Bank.
In my humble opinion, SA stands as a beacon of hope, a shining light amid ensuing geopolitical doom and gloom that is orchestrated from the global north.
Thanks to the current Ramaphosa administration, SA will not waver in pursuit of justice and security for Palestine, and in fact the very attainment of the elusive State of Palestine as part of the UN-sanctioned Two-State solution is what the world has set its eyes on.
We can no longer be led by the Western press in a flourishing democracy such as ours. We must begin to tell stories from our indigenous standpoint, espousing African epistemology as best we can in order to reflect who we are.
There are many examples of times when the indigenous press has dropped the ball, allowing external media to set our country’s national agenda.
For instance, the focus not so long ago during the BRICS Heads of State Summit held in Sandton was on whether the Russian President Vladimir Putin would be arrested should he attend.
And in the event President Putin came and Pretoria failed to arrest him, the bubbling excitement was on the US and the EU imposing sanctions on SA.
Yet the bigger story was how, in the view of many international relations scholars, SA was punching above her weight in steering the powerful ship that is the strategic BRICS bloc.
Top of the agenda was whether BRICS would adopt a resolution to expand membership, and what the implications would be in terms of the identity of the new additions and the implications thereof.
The fact that BRICS expanded by more than 100 percent sent a strong message in global affairs. And that SA as the occupant of the rotational presidency sat in the pound seats should have propelled the local press to churn rafters of articles on Pretoria’s rising geopolitical star.
Instead, the SABC as the public broadcaster tried evidently harder to carry out the corporation’s public mandate “to educate and inform” audiences about BRICS.
This is a sad example of the shortcomings of the country’s media fraternity. I raise these personal observations with great respect and deep sadness.
A total of 23 countries had applied to join BRICS at the Sandton summit. Only six were accepted. They were Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina, Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
They added to the original five member-states, namely: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Immediately, the newly reconfigured bloc was referred to as the BRICS-plus. In totality, the 11 countries account for nearly half of the entire world population.
There can be no better representation! Additionally, within the new BRICS-Plus family reside countries that are responsible for the production of nearly 80 percent of the world’s oil.
This is the story of a new geopolitical powerhouse in which SA played a mid-wife in front of the international community. There is no wisdom in underplaying the significance of these global developments.
The media across the global south remain excited by the story that came out of SA that is certainly at the centre of the rapidly-changing multipolar world order.
BRICS-Plus is the singular most powerful force that is challenging the Western hegemony. I am not about to engage in dwelling in some of the BRICS-Plus programmes such as the BRICS Bank and the gradual but fast-developing process of de-dollarisation.
Suffice to point, as Dr Pandor revealed this week, since the SA-held BRICS Summit toward the end of last year there has been – wait for it: thirty-four (34) countries that have applied to join the BRICS-Plus bloc.
I am aware that typically, the heavily Western-funded and Eurocentric press will focus on the new regime in Argentina pulling out of BRICS. Their loss, really, and nobody else’s.
Sooner than later, their own struggling electorate will wake up to the brutal truth of the avalanche of missed economic and geopolitical chances that are to be found in the membership of the bloc.
As for SA, the slings and arrows of the angered Israelis and their backers will point at our marvellous country. Our foreign policy is premised on our national interest.
And our national interest can be described as peace and security not only for ourselves (because that would be selfish) but for the entire mankind and the “human race”, as Robert Sobukwe argued.
“Mandela’s children” remain morally upright. Their detractors are morally bankrupt, as can be seen through the Israeli genocide in Palestine that continues unabated in spite of the ICJ’s damning ruling. But then again, they are a law unto themselves, aren’t they?