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South African activist rejects Blair’s neo-liberal agenda for Africa

Trevor Ngwane, organiser of the Anti-Privatisation Forum in South Africa, warns against New Labour’s hype on Africa

Issue No. 1949

I hear that Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s finance minister, has appeared in the British press calling for people to vote Labour because of the party’s commitment to tackling world poverty.

I suppose it’s not too surprising coming from someone who was on Tony Blair’s commission for Africa. But people should know Manuel’s record before taking him too seriously.

He was a top board member at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, where he enthusiastically pushed the neo-liberal polices that are the very basis of Third World poverty.

In South Africa he has presided over one million job losses, privatisation and a harsh austerity programme, which has reversed many of the promises made when apartheid ended.


He is trying to balance his desire to impose policies that please the bankers and multinationals with the fear that these measures are so destructive they will lead to rebellion and riots.

It tells us a lot about the Labour Party that the backing it is getting is from the most pro-business, most pro-privatisation forces in Africa.

Instead of supporting a neo-liberal and pro-war party like Labour, I would urge you in Britain to look for forces which are focusing the anti-war movement and fighting against privatisation.

In South Africa and Britain we have a common experience of electing governments that people hoped would bring real change — and then finding those hopes dashed.

The ANC, led by giants compared to Britain’s Labour Party, has become a government of privatisation, wage cuts and evictions. We are not happy to say this — it is sad to say that it has failed. But in that sadness is the hope of tomorrow.

Because if we are the people who forced the apartheid government out, the people who moved forward against all that repression, then we are the people who can do it again.

You must do something similar in Britain.

Trevor Ngwane will be speaking in Britain this July at the G8 Alternatives and Marxism 2005 events

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Sat 30 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1949
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