WE joined the Earthlife Africa/Anti-War Coalition Protest outside Ysterplaat Airforce Base yesterday. Approximately forty people, mostly representatives of other organisations handed out pamphlets criticising South Africa’s arms deals with Israel and other countries. Nobody chained themselves to the front gate, because it was a weekend.
Workers International Vanguard were there as usual, advancing the cause of socialism or the internationale, one can’t be sure. Great banner against Imperialism but aside from the flyers, the placards could have done with a little more care. The ELA t-shirts abounded amidst a rather scraggly lot who seemed a bit confused as to what they were doing there except to demonstrate the result of living in a warzone caused by poverty.
After some initial car trouble, we eventually got to AFB Ysterplaat, a little later than planned , parked outside and then donned Food Not Bombs T-shirts, proceeding to picket the entrance while more cars filled with military types and I guess, some “arms dealers” drove past into the base.
Then a huge contingent of kitskonstabels arrived with one rather scrawny dog. A cameraman and reporter from the Cape Times luckily pitched up before anything nasty could happen and the presence of a very large camera stopped what could have been an awkward situation. One comrade then decided to attach a Food Not Bombs banner to one of the SADF poles and was surrounded by some burly men.
She then engaged about fifty officers in a discussion around the metaphysics of revolt and the machinations of the peace movement including the problematic notion of resistance to war versus peoples power. We managed to hold our ground for about 45 minutes after which the gathering crowd got tired of us and a very large man with lots of badges and shiny stuff on his lapels decided to read me the riot act. I was told to move 50 metres away from the base and after looking at his incredibly large cannon I chose to call it a day and regroup my comrades somewhere else.
CORPORATE South Africa has not yet transformed to the degree where we can safely say apartheid no longer exists, or racist behaviour and other forms of racism in the workplace are no longer significant issues. While empowerment deals have broadened from their original elitist and chauvinist aspirations, they have tended to be cosmetic and misrepresent the interests of those “empowered” but with no effective control over management decisions.
Corporate policies continue to reinforce segregation and racial divisions in our society instead of cutting across the colour lines separating us into various racial and ethnic groups. Equal opportunity for example, is still being subsumed under the mantra of “separate but equal” in the strange, twisted logic of the system bequeathed to us by the apartheid regime. What is more, South Africa’s conglomerates have deployed a global strategy which seeks to escape significant empowerment while ignoring the all-important debate concerning equal opportunity and local affirmative action criteria. Diversity remains an ideal spoken about only in the most progressive of boardrooms.