|19 Sep 2001
SOUTH AFRICA: A Bridge Between U.S. and Developing World
South Africa is attempting to act as a bridge between the United States
and the developing world as Washington attempts to build a global coalition to
fight international terrorism.
''South Africa can play a constructive role if it presses the U.S. to
remember - when it wants to act like a cowboy - that it will alienate the
countries of the South, that it should rather consult them and move with
them,'' says University of the Witwatersrand foreign affairs analyst, John
Stremlau. South Africa is an influential player in the African Union (AU) and
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and chairs the Commonwealth
and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
''South Africa will co-operate with all efforts to apprehend the
culprits and bring them to book. It recognises the right of the U.S. government
to track down the culprits and bring them to justice,'' says a spokesperson for
the South Africa Cabinet, Joel Netshitenzhe. However, he adds, ''Any action
taken should be informed by thorough investigation and incontrovertible
evidence. Acts of vengeance or mobilisation directed against individuals,
communities or nations simply because of their faith, language or colour cannot
''In the least, terrorists should be isolated through international
co-operation to build an equitable world order. This medium term challenge
includes concerted efforts to resolve conflicts in all parts of the globe and a
joint commitment throughout the world to eradicate poverty and
underdevelopment. South Africa can point out that rather than spending all
their time trashing terrorists, the U.S. should back the development of African
countries - through the New Africa Initiative, for example,'' he says.
The New African Initiative is a programme to develop political stability
and kick-start economic development on the continent. South African President,
Thabo Mbeki, is one of the key promoters of the programme that he has made the
centrepiece of his term in office. Stremlau points out that the fight against
international terrorism is not primarily a military challenge, but requires
co-operation on intelligence and policing issues between the countries of the
South Africa has already handed a Tanzanian citizen, Khalfan Mohamed,
who has been convicted of charges connected with the bombing of two U.S.
embassies in East Africa in 1998, to the United States for trial. The U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracked Mohammed, who they suspected of
the bombing, to Cape Town, South Africa. He was living in the country under a
false name and with a fake passport. The South African authorities arrested
him, in October 1999, and handed him over to the FBI, who took him to the
United States for trial. South Africa insists Mohamed - when faced with
deportation - requested to go to the United States.
In the meantime, the South African Cabinet also has decided not to
declare a national day of mourning or lower the nation's flag in sympathy with
those who died in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.
The South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
says South Africa did not lower its flag when some 200 Angolans were killed in
terrorist attacks two weeks ago; or when thousands of Mozambicans died in
floods last year; or when about a million people where killed in civil
conflicts in central Africa.
However, she says South Africa is developing a policy around how it will
deal with terror incidents in future (IPS).