Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Democracy in South Africa more vigorous under apartheid?

So says Helen Suzman according to the Daily Telegraph, for many years the lone voice against apartheid in South Africa's white-only Parliament. Mrs Suzman is now 86. Her claims against the South African government include:

- "Debate is almost non-existent and no one is apparently accountable to anybody apart from their political party bosses. It is bad news for democracy in this country. Even though we didn't have a free press under apartheid, the government of that day seemed to be very much more accountable in parliament"

-"The poor in this country have not benefited at all from the ANC. This government spends 'like a drunken sailor'. Instead of investing in projects to give people jobs, they spend millions buying weapons and private jets, and sending gifts to Haiti."

-On Zimbabwe "Mugabe has destroyed that country while South Africa has stood by and done nothing. The way Mugabe was feted at the inauguration last month was an embarrassing disgrace. But it served well to illustrate very clearly Mbeki's point of view....Don't think for a moment that Mbeki is not anti-white - he is, most definitely. His speeches all have anti-white themes and he continues to convince everyone that there are two types of South African - the poor black and the rich white"

- "For all my criticisms of the current system, it doesn't mean that I would like to return to the old one. I don't think we will ever go the way of Zimbabwe, but people are entitled to be concerned."

The Helen Suzman Foundation is one of the best sources of excellent comment on affairs in southern Africa, certainly it beats the mainstream international media which by and large continues to fawn at the feet of the ANC. This statement on its website tells much:

"The Helen Suzman Foundation supports and promotes liberal democratic policies and ideals in the South African political situation. Views such as these are very similar to those held by liberals in Europe and certain countries in the East, where liberals are non-racial in their views, support free enterprise and are generally sympathetic to individualism, although their views on, and support for, welfare policies vary both within countries and between countries.

As we understand it, in the United States of America, however, the way in which "liberals" are defined differs from the South African and European definition. Liberals in the United States include many people who hold "progressive" views in the sense that they are less sympathetic to free enterprise and individualism and more consistently supportive of public welfare. In Europe and South Africa such people are very likely to regard themselves as "social democrats" or socialists, which are less familiar categories in the United States.

American visitors to this website should bear these differences in mind when reading about The Helen Suzman Foundation and its mission."

1 comment:

mawm said...

Helen Suzman is a truly remarkable woman.

She and Desmond Tutu are the two South Africans that I regard as having the greatest stature and of being absolutely non-rascist. Both of them have critisised both the National Party 'apartheid' government and the ANC government for their non-democratic behaviour, their abuses of human rights, their corruption and their lack of performance.