DON’T RUSH INTO THINGS (AUGUST 2023)
PART 2 -The Bear and the Springbok.
Do you think Nelson Mandela might have been vocal on the war in Ukraine? Those who have researched Madiba will know he had a frustrated relationship with FW De Klerk, but I suspect he would have preferred De Klerk over Vladimir Putin any day of the week.
Nelson was one of a handful of people who managed to prevent civil war in South Africa.
I like to imagine Madiba would have said the moment Russia moved their army into Ukraine, Putin lost his moral high-ground because there was no substantive evidence of any looming military threat against Russia from Ukraine, Western Powers or NATO. It is hard to digest the entrée Putin served, expecting us to consume the reason for the attack was a pre-emptive defensive measure.
A popular theory for the invasion is the land is a lost ‘asset’ of Russia and therefore in an attempt to reclaim Ukraine, force is justified. If you read Part 1 of this article, this type of logic is repetition of Russia’s history. In the past it was rarely the desire of the populace to expand territory. I find no substantive evidence confirming that the majority of people in Ukraine wanted to re-join Russia, or Russians wanting to reclaim Ukraine. Expanding territory was the motif of many renowned Russian leaders and a sign of great strength. If you narrow the agenda behind the invasion to focus on Putin alone, the reason for war might have meant to be his life’s legacy.
In the end, and inspite of the theory you prefer, the reason for war actually doesn’t matter because either you believe good can come from conflict or not. Either you are the type of person who believes that the innocent who died and property destroyed were an acceptable loss, or you do not. Sitting on the fence only happens if someone wishes to protect their own interest, and these people are easy to spot because of blatant double standards in their dealings.
Russia and Africas relations stretch back many years. If you choose, you could pin point the ‘Scramble for Africa’ (late 19th century) to be the time when Russia first stuck its finger in the pie, and Ethiopia was the first slice. South Africa came into play in the year of 1896 when the Transvaal Republic set up diplomatic relations with the then Soviets
During the South African Border War the Soviets provided weapons and trained the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA fighters). Around the same time, Russians were exposed to news about the Boer war through media which pushed pro-Boer propaganda. The message overflowed into plays and poems. A British historian called R.W. Johnson wrote: “Russian conservatives were pro-Boer not only for the usual nationalist, anti-British reasons but because they thought the Boers were like the best sort of Russians: conservative, rural, Christian folk resisting the invasion of their land by foreign capitalists”. Sentiments flowed both ways, and I can give an example of a South African Prime Minister named J B M Hertzog who endorsed the Russian Revolution. He said that the goals of Afrikaner Nationalism were identical with that of Bolshevism.
A little further down the timeline, opinions started to change. One of the reasons was Russian Soldiers who made their way to fight in the Transvaal found the government to be corrupt and brutal in their treatment towards black Africans. The Soviet Union withdrew its ambassador after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. Once South Africa became a republic in 1961 relations pitted out and then deteriorated wholly. A point arrived when the South African government said the Soviets were enemies for supporting the communism movement, which in South Africa was spearheaded by the ANC. The Soviets assisted the MK (uMkhonto we Sizwe) military with training.
In the years that followed the ANC received tremendous support from Russia and in return Russia secured its foot in the door of the African continent.
Mr Oliver Tambo travelled to Moscow in 1963 in his capacity as deputy president of the ANC. At this point Russia’s support in South Africa had done a complete shift towards leaders which shared ideological beliefs and offered future political and financial opportunities.
Towards the end of the Cold War, Russia’s involvement in Africa minimized a little. The Cold War was all about nuclear weapons which FW de Klerk was opposed. He disclosed information about South Africas nuclear weapons to the United States in an effort to get international support to disband our weapon program, which happened in 1989.
Directly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, South Africa recognized the Russian Federation and established diplomatic relations on February 28, 1992, becoming the first African nation to do so.
It is impossible to get the distant history between South Africa and Russia into a few chapters of an article, but I will encapsulate that up and until this point weapon trade and anti-Western sentiment where ubiquitous.
Today, Russia is a federative state and their Constitution, federal and regional laws form the foundation of their legal system. Russia’s government has many more ‘parts’ than South Africa, which is a constitutional democracy with a three-tier system of government.
Ties between our two countries are based on two fundamental bilateral treaties: the Treaty on Friendship and Partnership of 2006 and the Joint Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of 2013.
Russia has an embassy in Pretoria and a consulate-general in Cape Town, and in return we have an embassy in Moscow. Both countries have chairs at the UN, participate in the Paris Agreement, and are involved with the G20. There are over 80 treaties in various areas of collaboration but the most talked about partnership is of course BRICS.
Russia and South Africa have an emotional pact indulged by the ruling party. This relationship reached its peak during the Putin-Zuma administration. Putin visited South Africa in 2006 and over that period a number of intergovernmental agreements and contractual documents between companies were signed. Other agreements were also put in place related to agriculture, arts and culture, defence, education, energy, mining, fisheries, science, technology and transport.
A little later, we saw South Africa’s State Security Agency travel to Russia for training and the country seeking to build its own satellite surveillance capabilities with Russian support. Jacob visited Russia to receive ‘medical treatment’. Soon after his return, the Russian government offered to build and operate up to eight nuclear power plants at a cost of one trillion Rand. This deal was canceled by court order in April 2017.
Jacob Zuma and Vladimir Putin share a common interest or two, one being that they are both anti-Western. Jacob Zuma is documented to be one of the most corrupt heads of State South Africa has had since it became a democracy. Of course Zuma never got caught with millions in international funds in a couch, so let’s see if Zuma maintains his award in the coming years, or if someone else takes that. (Even if the Public Protector exonerated this non-traditional banker.)
South Africas Presidents wealth (both declared and hidden) pale in comparison to Russia. Elon Musk has publicly said Putin is richer than him, and there are some experts who have reported Putin is probably the wealthiest man in the world with a total asset value of $200 billion. He has a huge property overlooking the Black Sea, 58 aircraft and helicopters, about 700 cars and let’s not forget his toilet made of gold!
Inspite of economic agreements and the ‘unconventional romance’ in place between Russian and South African leaders, the benefits for our citizens pale in comparison to trade with the European Union, China and the USA. One entity does appear to profit a lot, and I can give the example of Mr Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian businessperson who is reported to be the largest donor to the ANC. This year Viktor made a donation of $826000.
Facts might inspire the question why are we working so hard to maintain something that is not helping us? My theory, again taking many things into consideration, is that some people within the ANC are in deep ‘debt’ to Russia after Zumas nuclear power deal fell through, and that the ANC desperately needs support from Russia in the next election. The people of South Africa and Russia want the same things. I do not think our leaders do. If the South African government of today cuts ties with the leadership of Russia will the losses be greater than the gains? Absolutely not.
South Africa will see a significant rise in investment, but at the same time a few politically well-connected will suffer a substantial loss, and this is the reason why we continue to see our nation doing some odd things, to name a few: abstaining from a UN vote to insist Russia withdraws from Ukraine, or taking part in naval drills with Russia and China, or allowing a Russian warship (displaying symbols for the war in Ukraine) to dock in Cape Town, or another Russian ship, this time a cargo ship which turned off its marine tracking system, to dock in Simon’s Town when cargo ships don’t use this harbour in the first place!
Anyone reviewing these examples could argue this was just ‘business as usual’. That comment would be true because Russia and South Africas very foundation stems from mutual support of each other’s military action. Anyone who pleads innocence of the South African or Russian Government in armed conflict is perverse.
There are people reading this article who are ready to argue that the USA and the ‘West’ are also to blame, that their leaders should also have warrants of arrest out for them. What these people are not expecting me to say is that I agree with them, but I need to remind them that this article is about South Africa and Russia. I have written plenty about other countries and will continue to do so.
In this age we have the scientific means to alter our bodies and sex. This is a new option available to us but does not mean it’s a new desire for humans, or a new feature in nature. A step further you can consider that people will merge with machines. Is this change natural? Do you think the evolution of living things was ever going to be bound to DNA or organic carbon life?
These concepts will be tested in my lifetime and will challenge everyone’s moral codes. Let’s get back to the subject of this article.
Business has a great deal to do with money so let’s talk about the pink Dollar or pink Rand! There is a ‘rumour’ that ‘pink money’ has obscene worth. The truth is it does. Some of the values I found during my research are extraordinary. The LGBTQIA+ do not necessarily earn more (although in some cases they do), they simply have more disposable income and ‘flamboyant’ spending habits. On these facts alone a business owner might decide to target them and give the idea of boycotting the LGBTQIA+ the middle finger and roll out a red carpet for them instead.
Each business owner can make their own decision to target the LGBTQIA+ as clients or not, but a business is also obliged to comply with the law of the land and in South Africa the law is clear, and to quote a tweet from Woolworths: “Every person has the right to dignity regardless of their identity – this is a fact enshrined in our constitution”. You cannot refuse to sell to LGBTQIA+.
It’s not up for debate. The question evolves to ‘do you wish to be law abiding and target new potential clients or not?’. During the week I wrote this article a friend of mind responded on Facebook and said one of the great things about the capitalist system is we get to decide if we trade with someone, and that he wishes both mine and their business well. My friend was responding to a post I made about me rejecting a potential client who wished to use a supplier of mine to promote a business that made ammunition for hunting. My response to that was “it is great to wish a business well’, but is it a well business?”
But wait, there is MORE!
Who is Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline?
Jean-Pierre is a South African Serial Entrepreneur, Published Author and Change Champion who has worked in over 300 types of industries in some capacity or another. His own online businesses have generated millions of Rands and involved sectors including Law, Web & App Development, Events & Entertainment, Property, Technical Services, Media and Tourism.
He has travelled to over 50 cities World-Wide, and is extremely active as a Business and Environmental Technologist.
Jean-Pierre is often asked to be a Guest Speaker on any variety of the many subjects he continuously studies and writes about.
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