Few things are more disturbing than the collaborative media silence that attends the ongoing disintegration of post-apartheid South Africa. The nation’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), led by President Jacob Zuma, is the essence of corruption in a nation with one of the highest rates of rape in the world, and a murder rate best described last September by MP Dianne Kohler Barnard of the Democratic Alliance, the nation’s second largest political party. "We have 47 murders a day,” she said. "That sort of figure is what one would expect in a war zone.”
In her book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot" author Ilana Mercer cuts through the tyranny of political correctness that surrounds the ostensible improvement that was supposed to have emerged in that nation, following the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990, and the subsequent adoption of a new constitution in 1994, enfranchising blacks and other minorities. While she rightly describes the “terrible injustice” of the apartheid regime that produced an average of 7,036 people murdered per year, she reveals the Western-celebrated ANC government saw an average of 24,026 murders annually in the first eight years of its existence.
The South African government currently estimates there are 31 murders per 100,000 people per year, which comes out to about 50 per day. That ranks the nation above drug cartel-infested Mexico, the nation of Rwanda that endured the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers in the ‘90s, and Sudan, where the government of Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir precipitated the mass slaughter and rape of Darfuri men, women and children that continues to this day. That would be the very same Omer al-Bashir the ANC allowed to leave South Africa on June 15, ignoring a pending arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had charged him with multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. In doing so, the ANC violated South Africa’s international legal commitments and its own constitution.
The same stench of ANC corruption applies to the aforementioned murder statistics: outside groups believe the murder rate is actually double that total admitted by the government.
Moreover, white Boer farmers remain a primary target. According to the Times of London, over 4,000 of them were murdered since the end of apartheid in a nation rated six on a scale of eight for genocide by Genocide Watch. Of the 50 murders committed daily, 20 percent of the victims are white, and the black on white murder rate is approximately 95 percent.
Some of the carnage is attributable to Zuma himself. In 2013 he led a crowd in a song promoting the murder of the Boers. “We are going to shoot them with machine guns, they are going to run… The cabinet will shoot them, with the machine gun… Shoot the Boer, we are going to hit them, they are going to run,” Zuma chanted. Hence it is no surprise the murder rate of white farmers is quadruple that of the rest of the population.
South Africa’s rape statistics are equally appalling. Approximately half a million rapes occur on an annual basis, of which only one in nine are reported. This amounts to 132.4 rapes per 100,000 people per year, far and away the highest total in the world. Many of those rapes are of the “corrective” variety, precipitated by legions of men who believe that raping a lesbian will “cure" them of their homosexuality. “There is a clear sense of entitlement to women’s bodies which underlies the general rape pandemic, and no doubt the attack of lesbian women or women who read as gender non-conforming,” says Emily Craven, policy and program manager at ActionAid South Africa, one of the first charities to document the use of "corrective rape." “The notion that women do not need men for either economic support or sexual pleasure is one that is deeply threatening to entrenched patriarchal values.” Those same patriarchal values undoubtedly factor into the reality that for every 25 men brought to trial for rape, 24 will be freed.
They also factor into predictably twisted attitudes. According to research group CIET, an anti-violence NGO, 20 per cent of rapists insisted the victim “asked for it.” A related survey reveals 25 percent of Soweto schoolboys described as “fun" the local term for gang rape known as “jackrolling.” And many so-called corrective rape survivors have reported their attackers wanted to show them “how to be real women and what a real man tasted like.” Furthermore many rapists are not content with that crime: 32 women have been raped and murdered in the last 15 years, but since underreporting of such incidents remains rampant, the number is likely to be far higher. South African charity Luleki Sizwe contends more than 10 women are raped or gang-raped on a weekly basis.
In the economic arena, South Africa’s the primary reasons for a rapidly deteriorating economy are succinctly described by Mercer as “apartheid in reverse.” In an effort to correct the racial disparities of the past, the ANC established the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program, followed by Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) program. This is a system whereby all enterprises public and private were required to “make their workforces demographically representative of the country’s racial profile,” Mercer explains. In 2013, ANC parliamentarian Mario Rantho described his party’s vision for government. "It is imperative to get rid of merit as the overriding principle in the appointment of public servants,” he declared.
The results were predictable. Black households saw their incomes shrink by 19 percent during the first six years of ANC rule, and the total number of persons of all races living in “absolute poverty” had doubled following the ANC’s ascension to power. Farmland confiscated from whites as part of a land-sharing agreement remains virtually barren. Life expectancy has declined from 64 at the end of apartheid to 56 today. And as The Economist put it, "Public healthcare, the roadways, ports and road infrastructure bear testimony to the insidious effects of racial preference on South Africa.” More recently, economic growth has been anemic, the national debt has grown by 44 percent, the nation’s rand-based currency lost 20 percent of its value in 2013, and the current unemployment rate stands at 25 percent. Moreover, the city of Durban has fallen off the list of the world’s 50 largest container ports.
And with those racial preferences, coupled with de facto one-party rule, came the inevitable corruption. Plum government jobs were given to ANC insiders, irrespective of qualifications, and President Zuma recently spent $24 million of public money to add a pool and amphitheater to his private home. Nonetheless he was reelected to another five-year term in 2014. Think-tank theorist Leon Louw, who helped defeat apartheid, characterizes the crime and corruption in South Africa as “a simple manifestation of the breakdown of the state. The government is just appallingly bad at everything it does: education, healthcare, infrastructure, security, everything that is a government function is in shambles,” he adds.
And it is not likely to get better. The Communist-aligned ANC has a vise-like grip on the corridors of power, getting 62 percent of the vote during the 2014 election. The second place Democratic Alliance, won a paltry 22 percent of the vote. Thus, it’s no surprise that the nation’s justice system as described by the Daily Maverick’s Ruth Hopkins is “broken beyond imagination.” South Africans are battling a dysfunctional court system "where lengthy delays put presumed innocent suspects behind bars for years, where overworked state-funded lawyers do not bother to question glaring inconsistencies, shoddy evidence and lying police officers,” she writes.
Politically-driven favoritism abounds as well. Richard Mdluli, former head of the South African police’s crime intelligence section, was charged with murder, attempted murder, intimidation, the kidnapping of a man who married his former lover, money laundering charges, fraud, theft, and corruption. All charges were dropped and he was re-instated after he sent a letter to Zuma and his police bosses promising to help Zuma win reelection in 2014. It was one of many cases where connections to Zuma have have influenced judicial proceedings conducted—or dropped—by the nation’s official prosecutorial body, known as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Zuma himself had an astonishing 783 counts of corruption against him dropped a few years ago. “There is no political will to subject politically-connected people at the highest levels of government to the criminal justice system when there are allegations of wrongdoing,” wrote Gareth Newham, head of the Crime and Justice Program at the Institute of Security Studies in early 2014. Mdluli was suspended in 2012, but continues to live a lavish lifestyle underwritten by South African taxpayers. And despite renewed calls to push criminal proceedings against him, that effort remains in politically-influenced limbo.
Following their victory in 2014, the ANC promised to embark on "a second radical phase of the national democratic revolution!” that included the "strategic transformation of the ownership and control function of key commanding heights of the economy.” In short, the nation is on the fast track to emulating the disastrous policies of Zimbabwe, a nation destroyed by mass-murdering Marxist despot Robert Mugabe and his minions. And as goes South Africa, so goes the Western-promoted halo surrounding Nelson Mandela: shortly after his death in 2013, the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress both released official statements acknowledging his role as a Communist Party leader who served on the Soviet-backed organization’s Central Committee. Nonetheless, he remains a revered icon among Western apologists—one whose terrorist past of bombing campaigns against fellow black South Africans opposed to his communist predilections has been all but erased.
South Africa had the potential to serve as a great example of the cause of human equality winning out over prejudice and political injustice. Unfortunately, the far-left seized the opportunity to institute their policies of perpetual poverty, violence and race hatred. The failure of South Africa is the failure of the world to acknowledge this reality. Where it might have been a model for other nations, it instead stands as a dire warning -- while the toxic seeds of leftist politics grow elsewhere, including in our own backyard.
The History of Apartheid in South Africa
South Africa is a country blessed with an abundance of natural resources including fertile farmlands and unique mineral resources. South African mines are world leaders in the production of diamonds and gold as well as strategic metals such as platinum. The climate is mild, reportedly resembling the San Francisco bay area weather more than anywhere in the world.
South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. English domination of the Dutch descendants (known as Boers or Afrikaners) resulted in the Dutch establishing the new colonies of Orange Free State and Transvaal. The discovery of diamonds in these lands around 1900 resulted in an English invasion which sparked the Boer War. Following independence from England, an uneasy power-sharing between the two groups held sway until the 1940's, when the Afrikaner National Party was able to gain a strong majority. Strategists in the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system. Initially, aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation. Starting in the 60's, a plan of ``Grand Apartheid'' was executed, emphasizing territorial separation and police repression.
With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalized. Race laws touched every aspect of social life, including a prohibition of marriage between non-whites and whites, and the sanctioning of ``white-only'' jobs. In 1950, the Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or colored (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians. Classification into these categories was based on appearance, social acceptance, and descent. For example, a white person was defined as ``in appearance obviously a white person or generally accepted as a white person.'' A person could not be considered white if one of his or her parents were non-white. The determination that a person was ``obviously white'' would take into account ``his habits, education, and speech and deportment and demeanor.'' A black person would be of or accepted as a member of an African tribe or race, and a colored person is one that is not black or white. The Department of Home Affairs (a government bureau) was responsible for the classification of the citizenry. Non-compliance with the race laws were dealt with harshly. All blacks were required to carry ``pass books'' containing fingerprints, photo and information on access to non-black areas.
In 1951, the Bantu Authorities Act established a basis for ethnic government in African reserves, known as ``homelands.'' These homelands were independent states to which each African was assigned by the government according to the record of origin (which was frequently inaccurate). All political rights, including voting, held by an African were restricted to the designated homeland. The idea was that they would be citizens of the homeland, losing their citizenship in South Africa and any right of involvement with the South African Parliament which held complete hegemony over the homelands. From 1976 to 1981, four of these homelands were created, denationalizing nine million South Africans. The homeland administrations refused the nominal independence, maintaining pressure for political rights within the country as a whole. Nevertheless, Africans living in the homelands needed passports to enter South Africa: aliens in their own country.
In 1953, the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act were passed, which empowered the government to declare stringent states of emergency and increased penalties for protesting against or supporting the repeal of a law. The penalties included fines, imprisonment and whippings. In 1960, a large group of blacks in Sharpeville refused to carry their passes; the government declared a state of emergency. The emergency lasted for 156 days, leaving 69 people dead and 187 people wounded. Wielding the Public Safety Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the white regime had no intention of changing the unjust laws of apartheid.
The penalties imposed on political protest, even non-violent protest, were severe. During the states of emergency which continued intermittently until 1989, anyone could be detained without a hearing by a low-level police official for up to six months. Thousands of individuals died in custody, frequently after gruesome acts of torture. Those who were tried were sentenced to death, banished, or imprisoned for life, like Nelson Mandela.
The Ethical Questions Posed for the International Community
Although the conditions in South Africa were unique, the lessons learned from studying the actions, motives, and results are universally applicable since the essential topic is political and economic power and the use of technology to support it.
The evidence in the two sections above leave little doubt that apartheid was immoral. It was a living vestige of the colonial racism that emanated from Europe in the early days of Imperialism. In modern times, power structures that sustain racism have come under close scrutiny. History has shown that systematically dis-empowered classes eventually rise to right the imbalance, frequently "by any means necessary." The historical development and natural wealth of South Africa had combined to support a political anomaly, a contemporary country caught in the morals of Imperial Europe.
The interesting ethical consideration in the case of apartheid is not whether the system itself was right or wrong, but rather what the ethical stand of the governments, corporations and people outside South Africa was and what it should have been. In this section we discuss international reactions to South Africa, particularly with regards to its use of computer technology.
In the late 1970's through the 80's, a spirit of collective responsibility as well as cold war politics compelled nations to take actions against South Africa - to pressure the South African government to clean up its act. The U.N. issued a series of declarations urging member states to embargo South Africa:
1977: The United Nations issues the mandatory arms embargo on South Africa. The U.N. asks member states "to cease forthwith any provision to South Africa of arms and related materials of all types."[Slo90] Note that this declaration does not mention computers.
1980: A U.N. committee charged with strengthening the South African arms embargo tells the Security Council that
states should prohibit the export to South Africa of dual-purpose items, i.e. items provided for civilian use but with the potential for diversion or conversion to military use. In particular, they should cease the supply of aircraft, aircraft engines, aircraft parts, electronic and telecommunications equipment and computers to South Africa.[Slo90]
Here the importance of cutting off South Africa's supply of computers is brought to the Security Council's attention. The Security Council does not act on these recommendations.
1985: In July the Security Council finally brings computers into the scope of the embargo. It urges states
to prohibit all sales of computer equipment that may be used by the South African army and police.[Slo90]
In September countries belonging to the European Community establish that they will
cease exports to South Africa of computer equipment which will be used by the police or the military. [Slo90]
Note that this resolution is substantially weaker than the Security council appeal. The E.C. countries only embargo those goods which are to be used by the military or police, not all those which could be used.
1986: The Security Council recommends to member states that they prohibit the export to South Africa of items which they have reason to believe are destined for the military and/or police forces of South Africa...
There are two important points concerning these declarations.
they only embargoed goods destined for the police and military. "Thus classified as civilian material, computers and electronic equipment [were] still being exported to South Africa."
the U.N. never took any significant measures to enforce the embargo.
Though well intentioned, the embargo against South Africa was ineffective at stopping the exports. Here we list some of the major problems with the technological embargo:
Civilian Front Organizations: the embargo only applied to goods destined for the military and/or police. Goods were frequently shipped to South African civilians and then appropriated by the military or police.
Indirect Channels: some countries participated in the U.N. embargo and some did not. Computer equipment could go from countries that were participating in the embargo such as the U.S. to those that were not, such as Israel and Taiwan, and then onto South Africa.
Limited Scope: by specifying only the military and police, computer equipment kept flowing to military production facilities and research and development organizations in South Africa.
Computer Timesharing: the nature of computer technology is such that computers in one place can be used by people at other locations. Computers at non-military and police locations could thereby be used by the military and police through remote hookups.
The embargo of technology to South Africa was weak. The 1949 Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export (COCOM) embargo provides an example of a stronger and more successful technology embargo. The aim of the COCOM embargo was to prevent the Warsaw Pact countries from receiving technology they could use for military purposes. Three lists of strategic goods were developed that listed items that couldn't be exported to the Warsaw Pact Countries. The participants then established a complex system of permits which required complete and explicit recording of who was receiving goods from companies in the COCOM countries. The final and key ingredient of this embargo was enforcement. The U.S. government in particular monitored and punished countries that broke the embargo.
In the case of South Africa, nations including the United States did not demonstrate a conviction to make the embargo work. We can speculate as to why this was the case. South Africa was a profitable market for computer equipment; multi-national corporations with South African investments became an effective lobbying group against strong enforcement. Unlike the case of the Warsaw Pact countries, South Africa was not perceived as a threat to the U.S. So the main advantage of the South African embargo for the U.S. was to make its human rights policy look good. One group wrote regarding the technological embargo of South Africa:
The embargo is at best a mild irritant to the South Africans. More than anything, it appears to be largely irrelevant to the flow of technology from U.S. suppliers to South African end-users.
Although the sanctions were not effectively enforced by the U.S. government, they provided a basis for voluntary compliance. Compliance was "encouraged" in the U.S. by civil protests magnified by media exposure. Technology and other companies that had substantially dealings with South Africa were embarrassed by the exposure brought to light by student and other activists. The damage to the corporate image had a tangible effect on profitability and so translated the ethical issue into terms that the corporate system is designed to respond to.