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4 new african october 2018
Better the devil you know…. Anver Versi’s editorial in the August/ September issue, ‘Brics throw down the gauntlet’ , is a barely disguised endorsement of China’s modus operandi in the world as well as Africa.
Highlighting the rise of China and the Asian Tigers, he writes: “ Th e West had two choices – either ride with the winds of change and benefit from the new prosperity emanating from the East, or confront it. The West chose the former option – until the election of Donald Trump who has effectively declared a trade war with China and by extension, with many of the Tigers, as well as Africa.”
He ignores the fact that the rise of China and Asia has come on the back of the almost total annihilation of the manufacturing sector in the US and Europe. By importing cheap goods in massive quantities from the East and running up a huge trade deficit, the West effectively killed its industrial base. Donald Trump has called this out. He has said he wants a fairer deal with China but it is China that has rejected this very reasonable offer. If it wants a trade war, it will get one. All the West has to do is to turn off the tap of cheap imports and China’s economy will collapse.
Versi concludes by writing: “Over the past two decades, most African countries have steadily moved their chips towards the East, whilst paying courtesy to the West. They have chosen the ‘win-win’ strategy over the ‘ beggar-thy-neighbour’ one. From all indications, they are holding an ace.”
It is all very well to talk of a ‘winwin’ situation as long as both parties are winning. I’m not so sure that Africa is gaining as much from China as China is from Africa. Let us not also forget that the West is still the largest donor of aid to Africa.
Sure, the relationship can be better and many mistakes have been made in the past but the kinship between the West and Africa goes way back and is deep. I say, better the devil you know than the angel you don’t.
Patrick Seal, New York, US
Myopic view of land reform I was pleased that N e w A fr i c a n, in its August/September issue, gave a lot of space to the World Bank’s analysis of the current land reform situation in South Africa but disappointed that Baffour Ankomah used it to push his own agenda about the Zimbabwe land grab some two decades ago.
He is guilty of the same myopia as the racist Americans and Australians who have seized on this report to issue a dire warning of ‘white genocide’. Sensible people have ignored the ravings of the racists and I suggest sensible people should take Ankomah’s emotion-charged outburst with a pinch of salt.
The report has said correctly, that despite considerable progress, a lot more still needs to be done. Is there anybody in South Africa who does not know this? It points out that land-holding is a complex affair, with the state owning large parcels, the tribal communities also holding a lot of land in common and a considerable amount being held by the country’s various state-run enterprises. It also says that thousands of black Africans have been paid reparation costs.
It does not endorse the seizing of land owned by whites because to do so would be to advocate a race-based approach, which is illegal.
While I agree that the pace of land reform has been slow, I know that it is a work in progress and that it is complex. There will be a tangle of legal issues to work through and it will certainly not be a situation where politicians march into former whiteowned lands, kick them out and settle in, as happened in Zimbabwe.
We will get there. It took a long time and many twists and turns and sacrifices before South Africa was freed from apartheid. It will also take a long time before the land reform process is completed.
We have learnt from Zimbabwe the consequences of taking a highhanded and brutal approach. We will not repeat that mistake.
Isiah Mlofe, Cape Town, South Africa