[OPINION]: Has the ANC abandoned Mandela’s noble foreign policy legacy?


The ANC has declared during its policy conferences that the party is still having leftist views. But the latest BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue showed that the ANC wants to engage more with the ruling parties in the world.

Celebrated statesman and human rights champion Nelson Mandela was renowned for his principled stand against human rights violations and violators. But recent developments suggest his party may have deviated from this path writes Türkmen Terzi.

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) last week hosted the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue, which coincided with the Nelson Mandela International Day.

The day celebrates the iconic leader who is globally recognised for his lifelong struggle for peace, social justice and human rights.

The participation of political parties from 45 countries in the BRICS meeting shows that the ANC maintains its popularity in the international arena. But the real issue is whether the ANC raised the voice for human rights during the commission meetings as many oppressive governments were in the gathering.

These include India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and many others.

Although the Dialogue was a BRICS gathering, the ANC as the host party seems to have carefully selected who should be invited, avoiding to invite local opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, which is a socialist party. Instead, the ANC invited the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, a party with the lowest representation in the National Parliament.

The criteria for International invitations was not clear. Both ruling and main opposition were invited from BRICS member India, but it was not the case for other countries.

Interestingly, while it sidelined the ANC’s historically aligned Turkiye’s socialist parties, the governing party invited Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist AKP which is notorious for human rights violations.

The declaration mentioned that ANC invited parties who are willing to join. Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) might not be keen to join ANC events as the party is critical of Nelson Mandela who rejected the Ataturk Peace Award in 1992 because of Turkiye’s human right violations against Kurdish citizens. But it was most probably pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party would have happily welcomed the invitation and be ready at the event as the party has similar ideological views and ties with ANC.

Former co-chair of HDP, Selahattin Demirtas who has been jailed by politically motivated Turkish courts since November 2016, despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that his pre-trial imprisonment was “unjustified”. The ECHR called for his release.

General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Solly Mapaila criticised the ANC for not inviting Turkish opposition which are historically aligned to the organisation. “We are a joint team under the leadership of the ANC organizing this event. It’s an ANC organized event. Largely they (ANC) focused on parties that can contribute in the context of current power relations within the framework of what needs to be achieved. But it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t invite our comrades. For instance, where there are comrades from Western Sahara who are here. But there are other comrades that we feel that their struggle and ours is one. The same as the Kurdish people,” he said.

Mapaila shared the details of ANC’s engagement with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the armed group has been fighting against the Turkish state for an autonomous or independent Kurdish state within Kurdish majority South-Eastern part of Türkiye.

The PKK is listed as terrorist organization by Turkiye, USA and the EU. Mapaila continued: “The Kurdish struggle is too important for us. Particularly as the Communist Party. Let me be clear on Communist party because I don’t think collectively the ANC has a clear position. The Turkish government, together with the CIA as well as Israeli intelligence, abducted Abdullah Ocalan, from Kenya, when he was supposed to come to South Africa in 1999, invited by President Nelson Mandela to take asylum here; as President Mandela was preparing to engage in peaceful negotiation with various governments regarding the Kurdish question. They (Turkiye) hijacked a plane. Ocalan was put in the island prison, guarded by one thousand armed forces…So the exclusion of the Kurdish people in this regard is inexcusable.”

“There are 53 million, over 53 million people who are stateless as we speak, to take great injustice to the commissioner for the Communist Party states completely in solidarity to the Kurdish people, and we call for the Turkish government to release unconditionally their leader (Ocalan) from Imrali prison, and other leaders, including the leaders in Turkey, who are Kurdish members in Turkish Parliament, representing to different parties in Turkey who have been arrested for simply speaking their own language.”

ANC deputy Secretary General Nomvula Mokonyane, made a comment in a press conference during the Dialogue that ANC had only invited fraternal and sister organizations and liberation movements, political parties in BRICS countries, and political parties from different parts of the world which wanted to join the dialogue.

The ANC has declared during its policy conferences that the party is still having leftist views. But the latest BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue showed that the ANC wants to engage more with the ruling parties in the world. And sending an invitation to Türkiye’s autocratic president Erdogan’s AKP, which is conservative and Islamist, and the ruling party has been pursuing extensive crackdown against his critics, is a clear indication that the ANC is no more prioritising Nelson Mandela’s human right oriented foreign policy.

Türkmen Terzi is a Turkish journalist and advocate for justice, human rights and democracy.

Source: Mukurukuru Media

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