On the Eve of Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa, in a national day of “NObama” Campaign action Friday, over one thousand demonstrators protested him, his “oppressive” policies; imperialism, assassinations and other crimes of a “dictator.”
Speaking in Johannesburg last Sunday in preparation for the NObama Campaign against Obama’s visit, as Mandela has been in critical condition, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Gauteng chairman Phutas Tseki said “progressive forces” in South Africa would unite to reject the “unwelcome visit” of Obama.
Those progressive forces turned out for rallies in major cities.
In South Africa’s executive capital Pretoria, a thousand people marched from Union Buildings to the US Embassy.
They shouted slogans denouncing Obama’s foreign policy as “arrogant and oppressive” and they burned U.S. flags.
“Obama is a war criminal!” they chanted.
Some carried a large banner with Obama’s picture on it that said in bold letters, “The World’s Top Assassin” and listing his human rights violations and war crimes:
- Detention Without Trial
- Drone Attacks on Civilians
Shoes were pounded on the picture of Obama on that banner.
Obama had plans to visit his “personal hero” Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized in critical condition.
“Mandela valued human life,” said a protester, Yousha Tayob. “Mandela would condemn drone attacks and civilian deaths, Mandela cannot be his hero, he cannot be on that list.”
“Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, said the 94-year-old had made “a great improvement” in recent days, but was “still unwell,” adding that she felt it would not be right for Obama to visit Mandela while he was in a critical condition,” Press TV reports.
“Friendship with South Africa must be based on valued justice, freedom and equality and these the US has offended, undermined and ridiculed through its actions in the global front,” Mr. Tseki had said.
Muslim protesters held prayers.
“We hope that Mandela feels better and that Obama can learn from him,” stated Muslim leader Imam Sayeed Mohammed.
“We had expectations of America’s first Black president,” said Khomotso Makola, a 19-year-old law student. “Knowing Africa’s history, we expected more. He has come as a disappointment, I think Mandela too would be disappointed and feel let down.”
In preparation for what coordinators called a “NObama Campaign,” organizers condemned US imperialism and dictatorship, stating:
We call on all workers, communities and activists, particularly working with our alliance partners, the SACP and the ANC, as well as the various progressive civil society formations, to join the announced activities throughout the country, to demand an end to US warmongering and for a new foreign policy based on respect for human dignity and justice for the people of the world, including the people of the US itself.
The world-wide struggle against imperialism must be intensified and the people of Africa must lead the struggle to reclaim their natural resources and rise against oppressive dictators of various kinds that undermine their developmental and democratic aspirations for a better world. This means building progressive and popular working class alternatives to the crisis and failures of capitalism and dictatorship.
During his trip, Obama is also to visit Johannesburg and Cape Town where protesters have also gathered to let him know that he is an unwelcome intruder.
Obama’s visit to South Africa is the first since he was elected head of state.
“The USA under his leadership has escalated its assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing galloping of world resources at the absolute expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world,” the NObama Campaign organizers said.
The Muslim Lawyers Association had requested the National Prosecuting Authority to issue an arrest warrant for Obama, based on his weapon of choice, drones, for assassinations, “targeted killings”.
That was rejected and indication had been given than an investigation would not be initiated during Obama’s visit, according to Business Day (South Africa).
Sources: Press TV, Business Day (South Africa), United For Peace and Justice, Congress of South African Trade Unions