AFRICANGLOBE – The saga that saw senior ANC member, and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale being arrested at the JFK International Airport in New York for being on the US terrorist watch list should open the eyes of the progressive world to the criminal nature of US sanctions.
Sexwale and fellow ANC comrades were placed on US sanctions by the Reagan administration at the height of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa.
They were just progressive African men demanding a stake in the country of their birth but the US would have none of that, and considered them terrorists for daring to challenge the repressive regime of P. W Botha.
To make matters worse, the ANC leadership was put on sanctions at a time the US government was busy circumventing legal, UN sanctions that had been imposed on the racist Ian Smith regime in the wake of its Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
When Smith made his Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1965, the progressive world was naturally outraged and the UN Security Council promptly responded by slapping the Smith regime with a raft of sanctions beginning that year till the brief restoration of British rule in December 1979.
Though the terms of the sanctions forbade trade or financial dealings with Rhodesia, the US supported the beleaguered settler regime regardless and covertly channelled assistance through White apartheid South Africa.
US allies among them Portugal — then under Marcello Caetano, Israel, and Iran then under the US proxy — Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi — also assisted and traded with Rhodesia.
In an attempt to bypass the UN sanctions, the US passed the so-called Byrd Amendment in 1971 and continued to buy chrome from Rhodesia in violation of the UN sanctions arguing that the mineral was a strategic raw material yet it went on to adorn the chrome-plated bumpers of America’s monstrous vehicles.
As if that was not enough, Washington also contributed to the establishment of an armaments industry in Rhodesia that enabled the Rhodesian Front to decimate over 50,000 Zimbabweans whose only “crime” was daring to demand African rule.
The US also provided the technical knowledge and support, again through White apartheid South Africa, toward establishing the 700-kilometre Border Minefield Obstacle along Zimbabwe’s borders with Zambia and Mozambique in an attempt to stop aspiring cadres from crossing to training camps and to blow-up trained combatants who were crossing back into Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, other American mercenaries and US servicemen joined the Rhodesian Security Forces ranks, with many of them bringing back to Rhodesia military ideas and concepts from Vietnam where the US had just been routed in 1975.
As such US actions have always been against causes that advance the lot of the Black man in Africa. Sanctioning the ANC leadership, and cavorting with the apartheid regime no doubt delayed the advent of democracy in South Africa, the same way US sanctions-busting moves in Rhodesia served to delay the dawn of independence at a cost of over 50,000 innocent African lives.
Today the same duplicitous US regime is on our throats for daring to transform our independence from the political to the economic dimension, and we hope the ANC leadership, and the rest of the progressive world will join us in urging this global bully to leave us to chart our destiny in peace.
It is quite instructive that we have never heard a report that any of the White apartheid South Africa top brass was harassed at JFK.
More so the likes of Sexwale are being harassed at a time former South African president Nelson Mandela’s statue is set to be erected in Washington, the seat of the US government.
The question then becomes, what is it that Mr. Mandela did, that Tokyo and other ANC comrades who are still on US sanctions didn’t do?
We will not attempt to answer that question serve to say Mr. Mandela was only taken off the sanctions list ahead of his 90th birthday in July 2008, when he had become a mascot for perceived political correctness in the eyes of the western world.
As Zimbabweans, we choose to die on our feet than live on our knees, the struggle continues.