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“Bush must be declared a war criminal!” says youth festival judge

The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students was held in South Africa in December 2010 amid media reports of the event being a disaster. A much less publicised component of the event was a mock trial against imperialism. Young people from all over the world presented evidence on the impact of imperialism on their lives to a court held especially for this purpose. Andile Mngxitama, the editor of New Frank Talk, was the Judge President. Below is his final judgment after two days of court proceedings.

JUDGMENT

The Youth of the World vs. Imperialism and its Agents

Presiding judges:

1. Mr Andile Mngxitama (Judge President)
2. Adv Kholeka Gcaleka (Deputy Judge President)
3. Mr Sipho Mafuyeka
4. Mr Jack Cooper
5. Ms Nyaradzo Muzah
6. Tran Dac Loi

Firstly, I wish to thank the judges who sat for two days listening to testimonies from witnesses and evaluated evidence to check, where possible, the veracity of allegations. We have listened to more than 40 testimonies from a range of witnesses who come from all different parts of the world. I thank those young people of the world who appeared before this court. I appreciate their dedication, diligence and the courage they have had to face difficult circumstances in their daily lives as a result of imperialism.

I also wish to thank the prosecution team which worked hard to prepare witnesses and lead evidence with professional conduct and dedication, as well as those who worked in the background including the clerks of the court. Thank you all for being here to witness this event.

The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students staged here on black African/Sub Saharan soil for the very first time, has been marred with negative publicity in our media. We came here amidst loud reports about “kissing competitions” and chaos on the organising front. We are in no position to pronounce on these negative perceptions and media reports (one of our papers had a headline that read: Cockroaches 1 – Imperialism 0).

As judge president of this court I find nothing wrong with young people kissing! I think the world needs less war, violence and aggression, therefore acts of love and affection amongst young people should not be condemned. After all, our entire world needs a little bit more love.
I wish to highlight the case of young people from Western Sahara who were arrested on their way to this very festival. We have been informed that the delegates from that country who escaped arrest may face state harassment when they return home. We have seen for ourselves how even at this very festival the harassment of Western Saharan delegates continues. Consequently court proceedings had to be delayed yesterday. This is disturbing given that the theme of this festival is peace.

I also wish to highlight the testimony from Vietnam for it gave us a concrete sense of the impact of imperialism on people’s lives and futures. We shall deal with these matters in some detail in the actual judgment.

ABSENCE OF AFRICANS

Before proceeding I would like to note with concern the absence of African voices in these testimonies. We heard only two testimonies from the continent: Western Sahara and Namibia. Africa is perhaps one of the continents under shocking permanent attack from imperialism. Whole societies and economies are destroyed and people are plunged into permanent warfare because of imperialism on this continent. Africa has seen no end to the aggression and domination of imperialism.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen the most debilitating form of occupation by Belgium. Horrific acts of genocide were committed by King Leopold in a quest to build Belgium into a modern country. The comparatively high quality of life Belgian people enjoy today comes from rivers of blood from the people of the DRC. Yet when the revolutionary leader, Patrice Lumumba, emerged to say, “Stop!” the governments of the world conspired to murder him. Unclassified documentation shows that Belgium was assisted by the USA, UK and other western countries to kill Lumumba. Not too long ago an imperial war took more than 4 million lives in the DRC because that country is rich in mineral wealth that imperial powers believe belongs to them.

Our neighbouring country Zimbabwe is under constant attack from imperialism for returning land back to its rightful owners. Again there was total silence on this front. South Africa, the host country of the Youth Festival, did not think it necessary to testify. We hope in future the African voice shall be raised on these international forums. We cannot be active participants in kissing games but be absent in the greater act of love which is to tell stories about the impact of imperialism on our lives. Perhaps, the colonial and imperial impact is deep that we simply don’t care anymore.

WHAT IS IMPERIALISM AND WHAT HAS ITS IMPACT BEEN?

Incidentally, it was Karl Marx who described most eloquently the nature of the global ruling class that emerged in modern times. He said that this class of rulers, which he called the bourgeoisie, “chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere. . . . It creates a world after its own image.”

Essentially, imperialism is about the global domination by one system of governance totally dedicated to turn the world into a personal possession of a global elite for its own interests. To “create the world after its own image”, the global elite undertakes expansionist campaigns. As the historian Michael Parenti says:

“The expansionists destroy whole societies. Self-sufficient peoples are forcibly transformed into disenfranchised wage workers. Indigenous communities and folk cultures are replaced by mass-market, mass-media, consumer societies. Cooperative lands are supplanted by agribusiness factory farms, villages by desolate shanty towns, autonomous regions by centralized autocracies”. For its own interest this global elite destroys and recreates.

Let it be emphasised: imperialism recreates our world. It determines what we eat and how, what we wear and how we talk, walk, love, live and die! It creates desires and wants, it forms ideas and habits. In a word therefore, imperialism creates culture. It creates a civilisation! All of this is in line with the one principle it obeys, that is, to satisfy the interests of a global elite that has conspired to rule the world by force and through cunning and evil means!

Africa was the first victim!

It is hard not to think of the first full-blown act of imperial aggression as a crime against humanity as the brutal enslavement of millions of Africans. The brutal enslavement of millions of Africans is easily identified as the first full-blown act of imperial aggression and therefore a crime against humanity. Millions perished and are buried deep in the belly of the Atlantic Ocean! Slavery must therefore be recognized as the first act of a massive, systematic violent and murderous campaign to dominate the world. The template of how far and what is permissible in the quest of amassing wealth and creating civilisation that destroys was established during slavery. Murder as an instrument of economic conquest and even development, can be traced back to the era of slavery.

Modern imperialism is certainly more than mere annexation of territory and occupation of people’s countries because effective imperialism is one that has local agents working for it! Where Washington, Brussels and 10 Downing Street, don’t have to send their own sons and daughters to enforce imperial occupation. It is even better if those implementing imperial policies are democratically elected by their own people! Michael Parenti tells us that:

“Rather than being directly colonised by the imperial power, the weaker countries have been granted the trappings of sovereignty, while Western finance capital retains control of the lion’s share of their profitable resources. This relationship has gone under various names: ’informal empire’’ colonialism without colonies’, ’neocolonialism, and “’neo-imperialism’”. I will later return to the idea of neo-colonialism as a key assistant of modern imperialism.

Imperialism is real!

Imperialism is not an abstract concept. Imperialism has planners, implementers, beneficiaries and victims! It is real living people who carry out the policies of imperialism and again, it is real people who, at the end, are its victims. This court heard testimonies from real people affected by imperialism. We also heard names of individuals, governments and corporations which carry out acts of imperialism. In this judgment we link the crime of imperialism to real actors in our contemporary world. It is only in this way that impunity can be stopped.

We also heard how our earth is bleeding! We have to speak for our planet which has come under attack from the same forces that have built an economic system based on aggression and greed. The fact of ecological catastrophe is no longer a preserve of the paranoid. Those who have no compunction to destroy lives have no shame or restrain in polluting our earth in search of yet more wealth and comfort for themselves. We must defend our planet! But to do so we must defend the people first.

INDICTMENTS

Having established that Imperialism has planners, implementers, beneficiaries and its victims we must now we deal with the indictments. Three broad indictments were presented by the prosecution team.

MAIN FINDING:

THE JUDGES ALL CONCUR, BAR ONE (JUDGE COOPER), THAT IMPERIALISM AND ITS AGENTS ARE FOUND GUILTY BY THIS COURT FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!

Now follows my judgment:

1. Australia
We heard testimony of how the Australian government has, over the ages, assisted imperial forces in acts of aggression against the people of the world. It breaks international law in pursuit of imperialism.
We find therefore that Australian rulers be charged with acts of war against the people of the world and also pay reparations to the Aboriginal peoples and return their territories.

2. Ireland

We heard testimony that Sean Garland, a veteran anti-imperialism fighter, is being sought by the USA. In 2005 the USA issued a warrant for his arrest. This was for anti-imperial activities related to the Korea War. Garland fought against USA imperialism. It was said that he is infirm and old and has no prospect of a fair trial.

We find that the indictment against Sean Garland be withdrawn. In any case, there is little chance that he will receive a fair trial in the USA as an anti imperialist fighter!

3. Vietnam

We heard testimony from two witnesses assisted by video material. We heard how Agent Orange was a US campaign used to enforce the US’s domination upon the Vietnamese people through the use of chemical warfare against a defenseless people. We heard that as a result of this campaign, both human and ecological disaster has followed. We heard how the US court system has refused to hear the matter and bring justice to the people of Vietnam.

We therefore find that the USA has willingly committed these acts of imperialism against the people and soil of the Vietnam and recommend that full and adequate compensation be paid to the people of the Vietnam for the activities related to Agent Orange. The born and unborn who are affected are to be properly compensated so that they can live relatively comfortable lives. The whole of the USA population must put moral pressure on its government to do justice to the people of Vietnam.

4. Sri Lanka

We heard testimony of how the Sri Lankan government has, over time now, handed over the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan people to corporations under the guidance of the World Bank and the IMF. The testimony showed that increasingly the mineral wealth of the country has been parceled out to foreign multinationals. Here the actors seem to be elected representatives of the people who serve imperialism out of their own volition. We did not hear that there was any aggression. In a sense therefore Sri Lanka would fall within the rubric of a neo-colony where it is the home based leaders who are assisting and abetting imperialism.

We find that the people of Sri Lanka should organise themselves and challenge these acts of economic sabotage by their own elites in cahoots with global elites

5. Canada

The witness identified crimes against the environment and their connections to war and peace, the development and resulting pollution of the Alberta’s Tar Sands, sabotaging the post-Kyoto negotiations as well as promotion of dangerous and toxic mining practices in Latin America and Africa.

The witness identified the crimes of genocide: failure to honour and negotiate treaties with Aboriginal people’s including the Métis; failure to provide promised resources to reserves resulting in unsafe drinking water, mass unemployment, and racial discrimination in housing and other social programmes; the death of 500 missing or disappeared Aboriginal women in Western Canada; the aboriginal teen suicide rate being 4 times the national average.

We find as follows:
1. That there should be a withdrawal of the military from all foreign lands,
2. We call for the return of President Aristide of Haiti to finish his term in office as a democratically elected president of his country
3. Also his party the Lavalas be unbanned.
4. Canadian companies pay reparations for their role in the destruction of Haiti.
5. That President of Honduras be re-instated,
That territory be returned to the Aboriginal people of Canada and reparations paid to them.

SESSION 2

1) Nepal

We heard testimony that in Nepal the British instituted a policy of recruiting soldiers called the Ghurka. We heard that these recruits dating back to the past 400 years of British imperialism are native Nepalese, who, at the beginning were recruited by force but later where recruited on a “voluntary basis”. It is hard to determine if without brute force, volunteering into this imperial army was not due to economic compulsion. If I take your means of survival and make joining an army of occupation attractive where there are few alternatives, then I have forced you to serve me.

It must be asked if under certain conditions people we would generally consider ‘mercenaries”, Askaris and soldiers of fortune, should not be judged on a different moral and even legal plain. I’m conflicted about this. For one thing Africa was destroyed by Askaris. The Mau Mau freedom fighters in Kenya were destroyed brutally by the Askaris. The question therefore seems to be: what responsibility should either Askaris or Gurkhas take in the colonisation process. It seems to me that they are simultaneously agents of imperialism and its victims!
This court can’t encourage the oppressed to join armies of occupation. We heard that these Ghurkas who were used and then dumped, now want reparations and equal treatment as part of the regular army of Great Britain., However they still consider themselves loyal soldiers of imperialism. A contentious issue is thus whether they can and should expect to be treated with dignity by their handlers given their participation in the colonial conquest.

However, as per the testimony, if indeed the Ghurkas are part of the British military establishment then it is unfair to discriminate against them. We therefore recommend that they be treated as all army personnel are treated by the UK.

We also recommend that the Gurkha and all Askaries ask for pardon from their people and denounce imperialism. We also recommend that they reveal all the acts of aggression and violence they were party to as agents of imperialism. Furthermore, they are to undertake education or awareness campaigns about what the consequences of being agents of imperialism can be. This court is critical of the fact that no Gurkhas have been known to have formed themselves into a movement for the liberation of its people even after such direct injustice of imperialism.

2) Honduras

Testimony was led that the president of Honduras, Jose Manuel Zelaya, was deposed by an illegal coup on 28 June 2009. It is said that this act was carried out on instruction and in the interest of the military, Honduras politicians and business elites in service of imperialism. We heard that Mr Zelaya, at the time of his ousting, was following and implementing anti- imperialist policy while also trying to democratise the economic benefits and improve the conditions of the working people of his country. It is clear that the USA as an imperial force has a hand in the events around Mr Zelaya. Testimony was led that the military base to which he was taken was under the influence of the USA. In any event, the USA has done nothing ever since the coup to suggest that it is either against it or that it was not involved in any way. The removal of a democratically elected president by a coup is a very serious matter. It also raises the matter of whether the highly popular USA president Mr Barack Obama is another participant in the scramble for global power whose mandate is geared towards imperialism.

It is of course disturbing to note that just like in the Haitian situation, the USA under Obama is supporting acts of imperialism against the innocent people of these countries!

We demand that Barack Obama ensures that president Jose Manuel Zelaya is returned to his office as president of Honduras with immediate effect! As president of the USA Mr Obama has the power to effect such a change.

3) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

We heard testimony from Korea that it has been under constant imperial harassment since about 1945. We heard that various acts of provocations have been instituted against the people of Korea.
We recommend that the USA cease all activities of aggression and withdraw its troops and war arsenal from the Korean sphere of influence.

4) Cuba

We heard three witnesses from Cuba. We heard that many countries and even UN linked agencies such as Amnesty International have condemned the continued unjust incarceration of the persons now known as the Cuban Five. Testimony indicated these men’s activities in the USA were in no way threatening to the USA or its people. We heard that some families of the Cuban Five have been denied visas to see go see their family members. The witnesses told us boldly that the “Cuba Five are not spies but anti-terrorist fighters”.

We heard that policies of Mr Obama are not different from those of his predecessors when it comes to Cuba. That the blockade continues and that he has not made any moves to change this situation.
We hereby find as follows:

1. That the USA government immediately release the Cuban Five who have been in jail for 12 years now!
2. That the families of the two political prisoners be allowed access to their families and be given visas.
3. That the USA end the illegal blockade immediately

Tribute to Cuba

I wish to take this opportunity to salute the Cuban people for the gallant fight they have mounted over the years against imperialism. We can testify even from the bench that Cuba remains a shining example of the struggle for peace, honesty and life worth living. We say this fully aware of the realities and contradictions in that country including the need to end anti -black racism which continues today. We note that the relative freedom we in SA enjoy today was gained through the blood of the Cuban soldiers of liberation who fought and defeated the Apartheid monster on the plains of Angola!

5) Cyprus

We heard that Cyprus feels betrayed and that it’s under, foreign interventions and the chains of occupation. Our modern history began with a given and shackled independence established by the Zurich–London Agreement in 1960. Imperialism fought against the independence of Cyprus.

We recommend further negotiation and respect for the ideal of self rule and national sovereignty

6) New Zealand

We heard that New Zealand is a consistent supporter of imperialism and has supported the USA in many transgressions against the people of the world including, currently Afghanistan, Korea, and was also involved in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia. We heard NZ repressed workers in its country.

We recommend that NZ cease all acts of imperial aggression and give workers their rights in NZ.

7) USA

We heard testimony that the USA is the main imperial power even if it is not the only one. We have heard that the USA used massive violence against the peoples of the world to ensure elite reproduction of wealth accumulation. We heard that with the global crisis of accumulation manifested as the global financial and economic crisis, the USA has become more dangerous and treacherous.

We also heard that whilst slavery has formally ended black people in the USA are enslaved in the form of unjustified imprisonment. It was noted also that black people are over represented on death row meaning that lynching has now become legalised.

We heard that Mumia Abu Jamal has been on death row for over 30 years. It was said Jamal is a political prisoner and a victim of American anti-black racism. Mr Jamal is a symbol of the hundreds of political prisoners in the USA. Also we heard that Ms Assata Shakur has been a victim of the same anti-black programs of the USA against black people. She is now exiled in Cuba and the American government wants her extradited so that she can be captured and possibly placed on death row like the rest of the black liberation fighters.

George Bush

The name of George Bush and his assistants has come up many times during this trial as the main architect of imperial war at the end of the 20th century!

On this I find that the USA is implicated by many of the other witnesses who have come before this court. It’s hard not to find the USA as the most active and most influential imperial force on earth today. It’s impossible to imagine world peace with the USA continuing its policy of world domination. I therefore make the following recommendations:

1. That the USA withdraw, with immediate effect, its military forces in the different countries of the world.
2. That the USA end its Africommand military bases on the African continent.
3. Barack Obama, the president of the USA must now make a presidential intervention and free Mumia Abu Jamal.
4. I also recommend that president Obama withdraw the unjust indictment against Ms Assata Shakur who is now an exile in Cuba, and ensures that Ms Shakur is now a free citizen. I now take this opportunity to thank the government and people of Cuba for having hosted Ms Shakur who is a clear victim of the USA systematic program against black people in that country.
5. Finally, I also recommend George Bush be declared a war criminal. Furthermore, I recommend that young people of the world who stand for world peace make sure to affect a citizen’s arrest on George Bush so that he may be brought to justice. From this court let it be clear that George Bush is a wanted man for crimes against humanity and crimes of imperialism.

8) Iraq

We heard testimony on the illegal and brutal occupation of Iraq by the USA. We heard of the devastation this occupation has brought about including the destruction of infrastructure, cultural sites and massive loss of life. We heard that this occupation was not for democracy and that it is in fact about the interest of American corporations. The focus was on the natural resources of Iraq, especially oil. George Bush was identified as a war criminal.

We recommend that:

The USA withdraw from Iraq completely.
That the USA pay reparations for the damage caused and lives lost.
That George Bush be tried for war crimes.

SESSION 3

1. Palestine

We listened to testimonies from six witnesses who have experienced various acts of oppression and repression against them. We were shown video evidence relating to the occupation of Palestinian territories and the resultant denial of rights, as well as the evasion of the application of international humanitarian law and the resolutions of the International Bill relevant to the Palestinian cause.
We recommended the following:

1. That the occupation of Palestinian land be ended immediately
2. That refugees be allowed to return to Palestine
3. Lasting peace, in which rights of people are respected irrespective of religion or racial identity, should be sought
4. Reparations for all the loss and suffering the Palestinian people have suffered must be paid
5. The USA should withdraw its support for the state of Israel, and it must be held responsible together with Israel for the continued suffering of the Palestinian people!

2) Puerto Rico

The court heard that there is a long history of imperial interference and oppression of the people of Puerto Rico and that the country is practically under occupation.

We recommend that Puerto Rico be given its full national independence and its right to sovereignty ought to be respected.

3) Brazil

We heard how Brazilian Amazonian biodiversity is being destroyed by imperialism. The Amazon belongs to specific countries! It must be protected. Amazon belongs to the Amazonian people.

Recommendation:

That the rights of people who live in and have a right to the Amazonian biodiversity be protected.

4) Denmark

We heard that Denmark alongside other imperial countries is responsible for the destruction of our environment with grave consequences such as death, hunger, floods, malaria and other related negative consequences on people. The EU and the USA are the biggest polluters, yet the consequences are felt by the people of the world.

We recommended that the USA, EU and the state of Denmark be held responsible for their presentation.

5) Namibia

We heard that the first act of genocide in the 20th century was experienced by the Herero and Nama people of Namibia as a result of German colonisation. Between 80 000 – 100 000 people who constituted 60 -80% of the Herero and Nama population at the time were exterminated through brutal force. In 2004, 100 years after this genocide, Germany symbolically apologised but this is clearly not enough.

The court recommends:

1. That this genocide be recognized as such by the German government
2. That Germany pay reparations to the Herero and Nama people
3. The Namibian government should start negotiations with the affected people so as to begin the process of restitution
4. That the skulls of the Herero and Nama people stored in Germany be returned immediately.

6) Western Sahara

We heard testimony from four witnesses who have all had different experiences of torture, incarceration, denial of medical assistance and general repression. We heard of the 2000km long wall that has been built for the purposes of segregation complete with military personnel stationed at various points. We have also heard how the Western Sahara people demand and have struggled for many years for their independence from Morocco. Testimony was given that whilst the African Union recognises Western Sahara, the UN has dragged its feet or has shown no interest in implementing the segment of the agreement that would lead to the independence of Western Sahara. Testimony suggests that the UN system may be under the influence of powerful imperial interest such as France who are in cahoots with the rulers of Morocco and therefore are in no hurry to grant the people of Western Sahara their deserved liberation.

We heard how there is no media freedom in Morocco and that there is general repression of the Western Sahara people. We have no reason to doubt these damning testimonies.

We as a court are particularly disturbed by the testimony that 11 young people who were on their way to this festival are incarcerated as we speak. We condemn these acts of as intimidation, which are contrary to the letter and spirit of a world free of repression and suffering. This court feels especially aggrieved that such acts of state repression can happen against young people for merely attending a festival of young people.

We further note that there was a disturbance of this court yesterday morning. From the bench we made the appeal that both Morocco and Western Sahara present their case before us. In fact we went further to say Morocco has a right in this court to respond to the allegations put before us. Needless to say, the Moroccan delegation has not taken the opportunity to do so. We are therefore left to make the inference that Morocco has little regard for this court or how the people of the world feel about what’s going on in their country perpetrated by their government. This is indeed disturbing and unfortunate. Morocco behaves as an arrogant imperial force that refuses reason and relies on the might of arms to sustain its oppression over a people!

We therefore rule as follows:

1. That Morocco release with immediate effect the 11 young people arrested for attending this Festival!
2. That Morocco release all political prisoners in its jails
3. That the Moroccan government publicly gives the people of the world guarantees that the delegates attending this Festival who are here with us will not be terrorized in any way when they return home.
4. I’m perplexed by the South African government. We are signatories to the AU and many charters. We boast a constitution that claims to protect and promote human rights. Our government and ruling party declare in word and symbolically significant ways that it supports the cause of the Western Saharan people, but we have maintained diplomatic and trade relations with Morocco. I call this double speak.

This court therefore, recommends that South Africa withdraws all diplomatic and trade relations with Morocco until all the demands of the Western Saharan people are met. That means that South Africa must, with immediate effect, request the Moroccan government to demand that the Moroccan embassy leave South African soil!

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

Imperialism has planners, implementers, beneficiaries and victims. Imperialism is not only sustained by force of arms, even if predominantly it is sustained by its capacity for violence! It also sustains itself on the basis of hegemony over a people and their minds. This is perhaps what we call Cultural imperialism. It is about deeply ingrained ideas we have about ourselves and the world. Initially, this can be imposed by force, and then later we do it ourselves without any coercion.

The colonial and imperial iconography bears testimony to this: the appearances that give neo-colonial power legitimacy and respect which it does not deserve. We mask simple truths and deny people the right to make decisions and participate in their own lives thereby leaving it to the so-called experts to make decisions about our lives. We reproduce the heritage of colonialism and imperialism by protecting and promoting it daily. . We need a bit of resistance, changing how things are done! We need to be able to say no and act as such. This is a challenge that even cause offense to friends and colleagues, including family members. But in our times such risks must be taken in order to preserve the dignity of the oppressed peoples of the world. And it’s not just the politicians but the owners of corporations, the judiciary, our artists and poets who have upheld imperial actions, laws and morality.

CONCLUSION

In closing, let me talk a little bit about my own country, South Africa. South Africa got its independence in 1994. Our first democratic president as you all know was Nelson Mandela who was honored together with President Fidel Castro in this festival.

There is a case to be made that the absence of South Africa on this tribunal is indication that we have defeated imperialism in our country. However, reality seems to be at variance with this picture. For starters, this very important festival follows on the heels of another very successful international event, the Fifa World Cup where our government spent about R120 Billion!

This is a country where teachers, nurses and other public servants have had to go on month long strikes for very modest increases. Our public schools and hospitals are falling apart. Our people are not housed, or fed, 50% of the population is designated poor, and we have up to 40% unemployment.

16 years since the first democratic elections, only 6% of the land has been returned to the people because of the World Bank/IMF land policy – willing buyer willing seller – the same policy that has been imposed on the people of Namibia. Right now 1% of the population owns 80% of the land. We didn’t hear testimony on this but I can tell you that since 1994, more than a million farm workers have been evicted from land by white settler owners of the land (who are part of the abut 65 000 families that own more than 80% of the land)..
There is therefore, no surprise that this very festival has received very bad publicity from our media. While it can be said that our media is anti-government this does not necessarily mean that our government is anti-imperialist.

We have a situation here where 60% of young people have no means of income; they are badly educated and hopelessly trapped. Our government spent R69 million on this conference alone, a luxury we certainly cannot afford. As we speak, very mild rains have caused life threatening floods in townships such as Soweto and this is not because of a natural disaster but due to a criminal under housing of our people. I can’t say with a clear conscience that indeed this observation has no merit. We can’t host festivals and conferences when we haven’t served the people! We must take care of the people if we are serious about ending imperialism.

This brings me to a second important observation here. It is my view that to talk about imperialism whilst pursuing policies that do not benefit the people is hypocritical. To speak about imperialism whilst maintaining trade, and diplomatic relations with the main imperial countries is, to use a colloquial word, “dodgy”.

It means that our government is using the legitimate fight for justice against imperialism and reducing it to mere rhetoric This makes me wonder if countries that, in their policies support neocolonialism, imperialism and capitalism such as South Africa have any moral authority to condemn imperialism? We must remember imperialism is not out there in a distant world we do not inhabit. Imperialism is what we do, it’s our what our governments do, and this is the only basis to judge if a government is anti-imperialist or not.

The best indication of the love the true friends of South Africa have for us is to not look the other way or be seduced by proximity to power. True solidarity will come from ruthless, principled criticism from friends we trust. True solidarity must be based on asking difficult questions of us: if as is the case, 80% of the known deposits of platinum are in South Africa, how come our country is the world champion of inequality? Unlike most countries, South Africa is known to be one of the countries with the largest deposits of mineral rights on earth. We have been producing billionaires in an alarming rate, whilst the people suffer.

Poverty, suffering and structural marginalisation can be defeated and solved in our country. We certainly have the means!

And with that, I declare this court adjourned!

Thank you.

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