Tuberculosis

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that 750,000 TB cases—the most lethal ones—come from South Africa’s gold mines, and contribute 9% of the global total of TB cases, which are often linked to HIV? If so, does he agree that it is vital for the British Government to talk to British-owned companies that are mining gold in South Africa to try to resolve that terrible epidemic?

Nic Dakin: I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention. He is absolutely right that the Government have a leadership role to play both globally and in relation to British companies involved in South Africa and elsewhere. I am sure that the Minister will also pick up on that point when he responds to the debate.

Why Britain needs South Africa

Guardian

Under British rule in 1900, 50 years before apartheid was formally institutionalised in South Africa, most of its features were already in place in the bustling gold-rush city of Johannesburg: Africans were prevented from walking on pavements, had to carry “passes” to work in the city, could not use buses and trains designated for whites, were dreadfully exploited in the mines, and had no political rights. Even as late as the 1980s a British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was still siding with apartheid’s white oppressors, and denouncing Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”.

Now, with similar high-handed arrogance and contempt for those millions still suffering from the apartheid legacy originally bequeathed by Britain, the government is chopping its £19m aid programme to South Africa – itself a figure that has halved since it peaked at £40m under Labour. (By the way I checked, and South Africa was not consulted, simply informed. When asked why the rush, Justine Greening, the Conservative international development secretary, indicated on Tuesday to Pravin Gordhan, the South African finance minister on a visit to London, that she had to tell the electorate in advance of Thursday’s local elections).

Yet three-quarters of the world’s poor now live in “middle income” countries like South Africa – where, according to the World Bank, 7 million people are living on under $1.25 a day, and 15 million on under $2 a day. The United Nations reports that more than half of South Africa’s children still live in poverty. South Africa may be defined as middle income, but apartheid’s legacy is a population still divided between a wealthy – sometimes extremely wealthy – minority and a vast poor majority.

Greening blithely ignores this destitution – deepened by chronic rates of HIV/Aids and TB – in claiming that South Africa has made “enormous progress over the past two decades”. It is true that Mandela’s African National Congress has delivered electricity, water and sanitation to millions, built more than 3 million new houses, doubled the number at school and is spending more per head on education than almost any other country in the world – some schools financed by British aid.

Nevertheless horrendous levels of black unemployment remain, worsened by apartheid’s deliberate policy of ensuring that black people had no skills. A growing population, swelled by some 3 million migrantsfrom Mali to Zimbabwe, means the demand for basic services seems insatiable.

But let’s leave aside Britain’s historic responsibility for all this. Let’s ignore the view that insulting the South African government is small beer compared with its value as a dog whistle, on the eve of the local elections, to Tory voters the party fears are haemorrhaging to Ukip.

Let’s leave aside also the raids on Britain’s aid budget for defence and other purposes. And how even in the government’s own increasingly hard-nosed terms aid is once again becoming a tool of trade rather than an agency for tackling world poverty.

Purely out of self-interest this decision is catastrophic for Britain. South Africa, a key strategic partner, is the sole African member of the important Brics alliance, and is already turning to those countries, away from its traditional European trading links. In turn this threatens the gateway the country provides to vast African markets – where it has close ties of friendship and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements. It offers a solid base from which companies, including Britain’s, can develop their operations across Africa.

And the continent is awakening, with huge growth rates especially compared with sclerotic Europe. Soon seven out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies will be in Africa. If Britain wants to be part of that future, then being a respected partner of South Africa is key, accounting as it does for fully a fifth of total GDP for Africa – despite having a population of just 50 million in a continent of one billion.

Sadly it seems that the era when Britain under Labour could proudly lead the world in cancelling debt, conquering world poverty and establishing a funding mechanism for the millennium development goals, is now over.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/01/why-britain-needs-south-africa

Why Britain Needs South Africa

Guardian,

Under British rule in 1900, 50 years before apartheid was formally institutionalised in South Africa, most of its features were already in place in the bustling gold-rush city of Johannesburg: Africans were prevented from walking on pavements, had to carry “passes” to work in the city, could not use buses and trains designated for whites, were dreadfully exploited in the mines, and had no political rights. Even as late as the 1980s a British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was still siding with apartheid’s white oppressors, and denouncing Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”.

Now, with similar high-handed arrogance and contempt for those millions still suffering from the apartheid legacy originally bequeathed by Britain, the government is chopping its £19m aid programme to South Africa – itself a figure that has halved since it peaked at £40m under Labour. (By the way I checked, and South Africa was not consulted, simply informed. When asked why the rush, Justine Greening, the Conservative international development secretary, indicated on Tuesday to Pravin Gordhan, the South African finance minister on a visit to London, that she had to tell the electorate in advance of Thursday’s local elections).

Yet three-quarters of the world’s poor now live in “middle income” countries like South Africa – where, according to the World Bank, 7 million people are living on under $1.25 a day, and 15 million on under $2 a day. The United Nations reports that more than half of South Africa’s children still live in poverty. South Africa may be defined as middle income, but apartheid’s legacy is a population still divided between a wealthy – sometimes extremely wealthy – minority and a vast poor majority.

Greening blithely ignores this destitution – deepened by chronic rates of HIV/Aids and TB – in claiming that South Africa has made “enormous progress over the past two decades”. It is true that Mandela’s African National Congress has delivered electricity, water and sanitation to millions, built more than 3 million new houses, doubled the number at school and is spending more per head on education than almost any other country in the world – some schools financed by British aid.

Nevertheless horrendous levels of black unemployment remain, worsened by apartheid’s deliberate policy of ensuring that black people had no skills. A growing population, swelled by some 3 million migrantsfrom Mali to Zimbabwe, means the demand for basic services seems insatiable.

But let’s leave aside Britain’s historic responsibility for all this. Let’s ignore the view that insulting the South African government is small beer compared with its value as a dog whistle, on the eve of the local elections, to Tory voters the party fears are haemorrhaging to Ukip.

Let’s leave aside also the raids on Britain’s aid budget for defence and other purposes. And how even in the government’s own increasingly hard-nosed terms aid is once again becoming a tool of trade rather than an agency for tackling world poverty.

Purely out of self-interest this decision is catastrophic for Britain. South Africa, a key strategic partner, is the sole African member of the important Brics alliance, and is already turning to those countries, away from its traditional European trading links. In turn this threatens the gateway the country provides to vast African markets – where it has close ties of friendship and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements. It offers a solid base from which companies, including Britain’s, can develop their operations across Africa.

And the continent is awakening, with huge growth rates especially compared with sclerotic Europe. Soon seven out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies will be in Africa. If Britain wants to be part of that future, then being a respected partner of South Africa is key, accounting as it does for fully a fifth of total GDP for Africa – despite having a population of just 50 million in a continent of one billion.

Sadly it seems that the era when Britain under Labour could proudly lead the world in cancelling debt, conquering world poverty and establishing a funding mechanism for the millennium development goals, is now over.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/01/why-britain-needs-south-africa

BBC TV: From Sharpeville To Marikana

Politicsweb.co.za

Paul Trewhela

BBC television screened a major documentary in Britain on Wednesday night, “South Africa: The massacre that changed a nation”, with a quite exceptional political reach across more than 50 years: from the massacre at Sharpeville in 1960 to the massacre at Marikana last year.

That grim framework from one massacre by armed police to another – from the apartheid state under the rule of the National Party to present-day South Africa, after nearly 20 years of ANC government – from black-and-white to colour, in documentary footage  – received a thread of continuity from its presenter, a former British cabinet minister whose parents had been banned activists of the long defunct Liberal Party of South Africa in Pretoria, where he grew up.

Peter Hain – chairman in 1969 and 1970 of the Stop the Tour campaign in Britain against cricket and rugby matches played against teams from apartheid South Africa, and today a veteran Labour Party MP, with a constituency in a former mining area in Wales – travelled across South Africa’s social, racial and geographical spectrum. He interviewed high and low, from President Jacob Zuma in green official gardens to the mother of a slain Marikana miner, destitute on a hilltop in the Eastern Cape.

Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke affectionately recalled bars of chocolate which Hain’s mother, Adelaine, had brought him every day while he was a youngster awaiting trial, before serving his ten-year term on Robben Island – the site of another interview, with Nelson Mandela’s Rivonia Trial co-accused, Ahmed Kathrada.

A survivor of the shootings at Marikana on 16 August last year was counterposed with a senior executive of Lonmin, and both counterposed with Julius Malema giving forth about poverty and nationalisation on his own luxurious green lawn.

“My husband was killed by the ANC”, said the widow of a Marikana miner.

“The media exaggerates”, said President Zuma, as he explained (and explained away) his Nkandla estate, professing ignorance of its actual costs. The difficulty at Marikana, regrettable as it was, had been “provoked.” (As a journalist explained: the president’s new Secrecy Law, more terrible than anything under apartheid, was his solution to the nuisance caused to him by others).

“White monopoly capital” collaborating with the ANC state, said Julius Malema, adding that the government had no clear idea about how to “resolve the two economies”, of those in the abyss and those enjoying the good life in Sandton.

“It looked like the ANC turned its guns on its own people,” reflected Peter Hain, who 48 years ago as a 15-year-old delivered the memorial address which his parents were barred from giving themselves, after their family friend John Harris was hanged in Pretoria Central prison for the Johannesburg station bomb of the previous July, which killed an old woman and maimed many others. His parents’ friend, Jill Wentzel, author of The Liberal Slideaway and veteran champion of the Black Sash, sitting in the same courtroom, recalled the grim face of the hanging judge on the day of sentencing.

Ferial Haffajee, editor of City Press, spoke of corruption, while Ronnie Kasrils – ex-minister in both Nelson Mandela’s and Thabo Mbeki’s governments, and former head of military intelligence in Umhonto we Sizwe in exile – spoke of a “comprador class” of black tenderpreneurs which had become attached to the structures of white-owned capital, resulting, he said, in “crisis.”

Guided by associate producer Sue Cullinan, the programme provided as sharp and accurate a survey of South Africa’s great historic conflicts and their only very limited resolution as any likely to be seen.

But between the denialism of the President (looking and sounding very uncomfortable) and the demagogic mirage of a statist heaven asserted by a very comfortable Mr Malema, there was no leadership.

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