Serial litigator, Terry Crawford-Browne is at it again, this time in support of Putin

OVER the years, former gold-dealer and banker, Terry Crawford-Browne has proven to be somewhat of a jaded crusader against war, that is, an opponent of militarism whenever it suits him. Thus while he opposes Western arms deals under the rubric “Economists Allied For Arms Reduction” and especially local arms-procurement, he has often ended up supporting the stratagems and policies of foreign dictators and autocrats

Crawford-Browne rose to fame on the coat-tails of the Anglican Church’s sanctions campaign against apartheid, and then proceeded to oppose the controversial realignment and hardware acquisitions of the new government and South African National Defense Force. The result was that along with Patricia de Lille, Crawford-Browne was given a platform to pursue a political agenda that has involved, inter alia, promoting Hamas and Putin’s Russia.

That judeophobia and denazification make for strange bedmates can be seen by Crawford-Browne’s latest scurrilous attacks against US President Joe Biden at the same time as he promotes a Pro-Putin narrative that has been thoroughly debunked by news organisations which include Deutsche Welle.

Crawford-Browne claims: “Biden, then as vice president, orchestrated the 2014 Maidan Revolution ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, in which the US ‘invested’ $5bn.”

He then goes on to infer that the President’s son, Hunter Biden’s position on the board of an obscure Gas Company Burisma, is untoward and indicative of this conspiracy, a minor scandal in US politics according to Vox, and one which deserves to be compared to the equally stricken Nord Stream 2 deal between Putin and Germany.

Though money was certainly spent by the US Department of State, and by NGOs which had government grants, the result is far from an ‘orchestration of events’. Not only was the money ‘over the table’ and not in the least bit clandestine, the financial help to organisations committed to development of civil society and Democracy, occurred during the course of many years .

Assistant Secretary Nuland at the USA-Ukraine Foundation Conference for instance specified USD 5 billion in aid since 1991, which is a far cry from the latest story being touted by Crawford-Browne, who is not simply the author of conspiracy stories involving arms dealers and intelligence operatives, but a peddler of blarney, and a litigant held in contempt of court, for defaming Trevor Manual amongst others.

In 2014 Crawford-Browne similarly went before the Arms Deal Commission and proceeded to claim that the person really responsible for the assassination of Chris Hani in 1993 was none other than “former Defence Minister Joe Modise”. An outrageous, unproven conspiracy story, that to date, has never been substantiated by any evidence, and despite the primary problem — both Clive Derby-Lewis and Janus Waluz were found guilty, alongside a plot by the right-wing.

Earlier in 2008 Browne was found guilty of contempt of court over his claims that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is corrupt and was interdicted from repeating the corruption claims until a defamation action in which Manual was asking for a permanent gag on Crawford-Browne was settled. In the end, Manual was unsuccessful in his bid to permanently silence Crawford-Browne, in part due to his bid before the Constitutional Court to reopen the arms-deal inquiry — a move which itself turned out to be unsuccessful, with none of the issues ever finding any resolution.

In an opinion piece published by Business Day, Crawford-Browne finds an opportunity to repeat many of the lies being touted by Putin apologists. For example, the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, was merely a ‘secession’, thus no actual invasion as such occurred. It was the Azov battalion, (a Ukrainian militia formed in response to the creation of Pro-Russian militia after Putin flooded Eastern Ukraine with arms) who are responsible for the breakaway move, since they are in reality “Nazis flying Nazi Swastika flags” — an Anti-Jewish menace behind the ‘deaths of 14 000 Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas region.’

There is no source provided for the death toll, nor even a vague consideration of the deaths of either Ukranians and Russians, whether Jewish or Gentile, in Putin’s latest military invasion which has resulted in 4 million refugees and displaced persons, and which is certainly not restricted to the Donbas.

While the Azov adoption of a nationalistic symbol once associated with the Waffen SS, drew criticism from Israel at the time, resulting in the battalion being absorbed into the regular Ukrainian army, the result is far from the picture of white supremacy painted by Crawford-Browne, who is himself, white.

A statement by 250 Scholars of Genocide, Nazism and World War II thus rejected the “Russian government’s cynical abuse of the term genocide, the memory of World War II and the Holocaust, and the equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression.”

“This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of the Red Army” they said.

Leftsplaining Ukraine: Why does EFF support the Far Right in Russia?

JULIUS MALEMA cynically used an event held to commemorate the 1960 Sharpville massacre to lend his support by implication, to the bombing of a Mariupol Theatre four days earlier, in which 400 persons including children were sheltering. He thus praised Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine on a National holiday, now called Human Rights Day, more commonly associated with an apartheid-era massacre which killed 69 people.

Contrast this with Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist and former Finance Minister who has written a manifesto of sorts, on the Ukraine conflict. He says: “When a country or region is invaded, I am overcome by one duty: To take the side of the people facing troops with direct orders to violate their homes, to bombard their neighbourhoods, to destroy the circumstances of their lives. Without hesitation. Unconditionally.”

Varoufakis then proceeds, like many Pro-Palestine activists around the globe, to draw an analogy with events in Ukraine and children in occupied Palestinian territories throwing stones at “Israel Army bulldozers”. 

If that is not an indication of where many on the left find themselves in this conflict, then I don’t know what would rank as a typical leftist, albeit misguided position? The position of the leader of the so-called Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the other hand, can only be termed, despicable, and is perhaps redolent of nostalgia for the past?

Malema made much of the fact that Russia, during the Soviet period had armed MK guerrillas with Kalashnikovs as well as other war materiel and financial aid. He didn’t bother to inform his comrades that the Anti-Communist and fascist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin once expelled by Lenin, is considered to be a major ideological inspiration for Putin, who was personally involved in moving Ilyin’s remains back to Russia, and in 2009 consecrating his grave (see below).

Varoufakis states: “Today we must stand with Ukraine, unconditionally. And we must say it out loud: Putin is a war criminal whose campaign sits in the same category as the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland or the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. No ifs, no buts. Our task must be one: To help Ukrainians gain their independence against a ruthless invader.”

Like many anti-war resisters, I stood against USA and its war in Iraq, in the same manner that I oppose the war being fought by adults against children in the Middle East. I was thus an organiser and marshal at an event in 2002 (held on my birthday), which saw 100 000 people marching down Adderley St calling for an end to the war.

And while we may differ ideologically on the rationale and context of the issues affecting the two sides in Israel and Palestine (from my end, it’s a tragic case of injustice vs injustice, complicated by secular and religious identity), we can at least agree that we are opposed to war in principle, as a means of solving our problems, since at the end of the day, ‘it is not about who is right, but who is left that matters’.

Unlike the South African Communist Party (SACP) whose starting point is a universal ‘stand for peace’, or the Pan African Congress (PAC) whose position, much like the ANC, is seemingly one of non-alignment,( in this case, Pro-African non-alignment, rather than a flailing Pro-Brics effort at neutrality under Ramaphosa ) — the far-left EFF appear to have swallowed the lies being punted by Vladimir Putin, who is really nothing more than a white Christian Nationalist and despot.

One has merely to watch Putin addressing a flag-waving crowd, calling for Russian unity, whilst quoting from the bible to realise this is true.

Julius Malema, attempted pretty much the same feat by coming out in open support of the invasion, before a unified throng of red overalls,he reiterated: “We are not with America, we are with Russia.”

With deputy Floyd Shivambu earlier urging renewed support of Russia, the EFF appear to ignore the fact that Putin has been shown to be a disciple and scholar of Ivan Ilyin — a far-right Russian nationalist and anti-Communist expelled by Lenin in 1922, — and also Alexander Dugin, the Eurasianist and fascist geopolitician, who rank amongst other ‘symbols of classical Russian historiography’ quoted by the leader in the run up to the invasion.

Ilyin much like Malema, provided a metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism, which he expressed in practical outlines for a fascist state.

Read Putin’s 2021 essay outlining his claims over Ukraine, as a central part of a Greater Russia.

Malema of course, didn’t let on that since he is 41 and born 3 March 1981, he was not much older than 10 when the USSR broke up, paving the way for South Africa’s own negotiated settlement. In short, Malema never carried a gun during the struggle and was never part of the anti-apartheid movement, as anything more than a minor.

He thus requires a further lesson in history. For Ilyin, ‘any talk about a Ukraine separate from Russia made one a mortal enemy of Russia’. The philosopher disputed that an individual could choose their nationality ‘any more than cells can decide whether they are part of a body.”

This is a far cry from the collegiality and internationalism for which communism was once famed, and even the Pan Africanism which informs many political schools of thought in South Africa.

Dugin can be credited with relocating Ilyin’s ideas within a geopolitical quest for Empire and apartness, what some would term multipolarity. As he puts it “we are not part of the global civilisation, we are a civilisation ourselves”. In this view, liberal values such as multi-party democracy, LGBTIQ and women’s rights are not necessarily shared values.

Dugin is a leading strategist behind the United Russia Party, which supports Putin in the Kremlin. A fascist and anti-Communist, he is the author of a Russian version of “Manifest Destiny” known as Foundations of Geopolitics (1997), a work used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

SEE: An Introduction to Ivan Ilyin, the Philosopher Behind the Authoritarianism of Putin’s Russia & Western Far Right Movements

Dear ‘Wokus Pokus’ Saffer Putin Supporter

Dear ‘Wokus Pokus’ Saffer Putin Supporter

Yes, I mean you. One of the many pseudo lefties in South Africa who claim “Russia is surrounded by Nato” despite the country sharing a border with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The average, misguided socialist wannabee stuck with what Nigel Gibson writing on newsite ‘Africa Is A Country’ calls “crude anti-imperialist positions that are silent about the actual invasion of an independent country.”

Always returning to the Marxist ‘bully pulpit’ to support a country which is no longer the USSR, for the sake of ‘solidarity’ with a cause that was dead and buried when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

One of many pathetic small minds who always seem to claim allegiance to a big man — today it is the dictator and homophobe, Vladimir Putin, despite his track record of poisoning his opposition and locking up girl bands like Pussy Riot, who criticise him — tomorrow who will it be?

As Mokubung Nkomo writes in ‘Russia has become a far-right, Orwellian oligarchy — any historical solidarity is with a state that no longer exists’ : “Unlike the socialist USSR, Russia has become an unapologetic, mainly mixed economy, with an oversized oligarchic disposition. There is a huge substantive difference in the philosophies and political economies between the old USSR and the Russian Federation.”

Like England’s Henry VII, the Kremlin seizes the property of its critics, says veteran political analyst Keith  Gottschalk. This week, the country arrested several anti-war protesters for holding up blank pieces of paper.

Perhaps you would care to study some Russian history?

The country was one of the parties to the 1884 Berlin Conference which redrew the map of Africa. Czarist Russia was represented by Count Pyotr Alekseyevich Kapnist, a diplomat acting on behalf of the Czar, who consented to the result which gave the British, French, Germans, Italians and Portuguese, African colonies, so that the Russian Empire could cling to its own European territories which included the Baltic, Poland, Finland and Eurasia.

Russia consented because it wished to keep its benefits from an earlier period of serfdom and white slavery in the face of European abolitionists, and though landlocked for the most part, Russia was happy to see the West doing what it was doing in Africa so it could expand into territories which are now Asian Republics.

Czarist Russia also supported the Boers in the Anglo Boer war, and committed mercenaries on the side of the Afrikaners in order to prop up white supremacy whilst it was committing pogroms against Jews in the Baltic — my own family history, surely demonstrates that immigrants are not always self-serving colonials, but often those simply fleeing tyranny?

Though the subsequent history of the Russian Revolution and the formation of the USSR is a lot different, a riveting piece of world history, it really is of no consequence to the current events playing out today, since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving only its successor, the so-called Russian Federation?

While you’re frenetically busy spreading Pro-Putin propaganda for a dictator who routinely silences dissent and are tediously, claiming this to be a noble fight ‘between socialism and capitalism’, try to quit Leftsplaining the conflict?

Why should we need to bother defending Russian state television RT and the loss of a solitary news feed from the Kremlin, if this means ignoring independent voices and media within Russia itself?

Consider the fate of Rain TV network, forced to close because of a Putin decree making it a criminal offense to criticise the Russian military, a law making it illegal to refer to the military operation as an ‘invasion’ or even a ‘war’.

Are you neglecting Russia’s many wars and invasions? The invasion of Afghanistan 1979? The invasion of Hungary 1956? The wars in Chechnya 1994 and 1999? ‘It’s exactly the same playbook as we’ve seen before in Grozny, in Chechnya and in Homs and Aleppo in Syria’.

Consider the resulting disorder and disruption experienced by millions of refugees across Europe in the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945? The targeting of civilians in a campaign that resembles an earlier Russian effort to prop up the Syrian butcher Assad, a man who gassed his own people?

While you foolishly ‘rabble-rouse’ on the alleged racism experienced by Africans at the border with Poland only to end up being played by Putin, consider the losses experienced by African students forced to flee Ukranian universities? Before the war, in 2019 the country was listed in the top 20 for those seeking refuge including migrants from Africa It is now the World’s number one source of refugees.

And while you needlessly deploy the rhetoric of ‘whataboutism’ in a vain and selfish effort to string together each and every war and conflict around the globe in your hip, ersatz and cheap, anti-Western invective, pause to consider the uncomfortable ‘what-abouts’ — like what-about Saddam Hussein and his gassing of Iranians? Or what-about Osama bin Laden and his bankrolling of 911 hijackers? Or what-about Muammar Gaddafi, and his penchant for throwing his opposition in prison?

Did you also miss the fact that Gaddafi sent his jets to bomb his own people, forcing Sarkozy to react when pilots who refused to do so, started seeking asylum in France? Maybe it was because you were too busy watching Russia Today and ignoring France 24 and the BBC?

Criticise the West and its many wars, oppose all war if you will, but let’s get some facts straight:

The Russian Federation is not a socialist utopia, but rather models itself on the earlier Imperialist Russia, along with its oligarchs, aristocrats and billionaires. A recent stadium address by Putin has all the fanfare of an evangelical meeting of white Christian nationalists.

Ukraine broke from the USSR in 1991 and willingly gave up its nuclear warheads in exchange for guarantees of territorial integrity from Russia and the West, the so-called Budapest Memorandum: “On December 5, 1994 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The four parties signed the memorandum, containing a preamble and six paragraphs.”

Putin invaded Crimea, a Ukranian territory in 2014 following the events surrounding “Euromaidan” a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which ‘began on the night of 21 November 2013 with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv’ and resulted in a popular overthrow of Pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who then fled to Russia.

The Crimean Invasion was the beginning of the conflict in which Putin still seeks to install a government more to his liking in what is known as ‘regime change’. It is significant that Russia has done this on more than one occasion — Crimea was a vassal-state under the Czar, a Khanate under the Tatars, and a colony under the Ottomans.

Putin’s ambassador to South Africa claims Russia is merely defending the rights of Ukrainian separatists, but this has in reality, turned into an all-out war of occupation and conquest, as seen by missile salvos over Kyiv.

Since 2014, Putin has labelled any Anti-Russian opposition within Ukraine, the work of ‘Neo-Nazis’. By Putin’s own definition, instead of fleeing Russian Cossacks, my own family are Nazis since my Great Grandmother once criticised the Czar.

Putin’s pathetic claims of denazification have been shown to be totally false, the current Ukrainian President Zelensky is not only Jewish and his family Holocaust survivors, but Russia proceeded to bomb a Holocaust memorial last week and has shown no restraint in targeting civilians, including women and children, claiming that the Ukranian Defence Force are using them as ‘human shields’.

Instead of greeting the invasion with open arms, and the Russians as liberators, the Ukranians have shown fierce resistance to the aggressor.

Putin promises to purify Russia of scum who enjoy gender rights in the West

Dear Anton Harber, you’re nothing more than a Putin apologist

Dear Anton Harber,

YOU were once the editor of a weekly rag fundamentally opposed to the apartheid state. I read the Weekly Mail religiously every week, since the day it arrived on our newsstands, and followed often radical opinions, many white leftie columnists and also the writing of a sole, token black arts commentator.

In 1992 I visited your newsroom, and found to my dismay that unlike South Press, which was a veritable Rainbow Nation, the Weekly Mail was essentially an all-white newsroom, catering for academics and liberal-leftie types from Houghton.

On the strength of your paper’s success you became an adjunct professor at Wits.

In 2020 the EFF were forced to apologise for referring to you and Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki as ‘Stratcom agents’.

Absolutely nothing was said about the implications of testimony provided by one Paul Erasmus during the Timol inquest, which implicated the Weekly Mail in a disinformation campaign centering around a dirty tricks operation targeting the late Winnie Mandela, and also the struggle press.

This week, you issued an opinion piece published on News24 tackling the removal of Russia Today (RT) from Multichoice entitled: ‘Don’t silence voices to counter malicious disinformation’ in which you state:

“I dislike the Russia Today (RT) television channel because it is the propaganda tool of a dangerous and corrupt autocrat. It shows little respect for the truth, and is happy to propagate the most appalling lies. But every now and then, I would turn to it – briefly – to hear how the Russian government was seeing the world and to get an alternative – and sometimes challenging – view.”

The piece is behind a paywall, so I can’t read nor respond to the rest of your article, but it appears to place RT within the liberal ‘marketplace of ideas’, and thus merely one source of information, to which you occasionally turn to for fresh, often ‘challenging views’.

Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last month, and following the events of 2014, and the annexation of Crimea, RT has become anything but a source of ‘challenging views’ and rather, as you appear to admit, ‘a mere propaganda instrument’ punting the alternative world-view, of the Russian plutocrat and his oligarchs — especially when it comes to reasserting Russian territorial claims over Eastern Europe.

Unlike the USA where no restrictions on speech exist, South Africa has a particular history which has resulted in constitutional limitations on freedom of expression. Thus there exist in our constitution prohibitions against hate speech, incitement of violence as well as propaganda for war.

The Pro-Putin RT evangelism and calumny around war certainly falls into this category. It begs the question why you as a professor of journalism, feel the need to apologise for it, and raises the issue of whether or not you are even qualified to deliver such an opinion?

It was Michael Osborne, one of the legal representatives actively involved in the constitutional process who reminded me of the pitfalls of claiming free speech absolutism of the type currently espoused by Elon Musk on twitter.

“Would you shout fire in a crowded theatre?” he asked, beginning what is a well-trodden philosophical argument against absolute freedom of speech.

Surely you must understand, from your years spent, apparently combating apartheid indoctrination and brainwashing, (save for your paper’s vicious campaign against Winnie Mandela), there are consequences to speech, especially when it incites a nonchalance over violence and aggression that runs contrary to our constitutional value system?

Putin has been exposed as a liar and charlatan over his reasoning for the Ukraine invasion. The bombing of a Holocaust war memorial should put paid to the idea that this has anything to do with ‘denazification’. In truth this phrase is merely a propagandistic trope used in rallying the military, rather than the basis for a factual case, and despite its use as a casus belli.

The situation is clearly not one of moral equivalence in which two equal forces are somehow locked in a relationship of equanimity in a dispute in which civilians can simply choose which side they support, as if democracy, the rule of law and the liberal marketplace of ideas prevailed.

Putin has clamped down on press freedom inside Russia, passing laws which stifle commentary on the war. Leading to the arrest of at ‘least 2,776 people’ who have been arrested for protesting in the three days since the war began.’

This news from OVD-Info, ‘a Moscow-based organization that tracks arrests linked to anti-government activities across the country’, was not reported on its website, which was “inaccessible to Russians Saturday night” but on its Telegram channel.

In a separate statement on Saturday also reported by Canada’s The Star, “Roskomnadzor announced an investigation into the reporting of numerous media organizations over their accounts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the language used to describe the offensive.”

The outlets are accused of publishing “untrue information about the shelling of Ukrainian cities and the death of civilians in Ukraine as a result of the actions of the Russian army, as well as materials in which the ongoing operation is called an attack, invasion or a declaration of war,” the statement said.

If your piece proceeds to defend journalists within Russia affected by Putin’s crackdown, then I apologise beforehand. However, I have yet to see you defend independent journalism inside the country — you certainly have remained silent when journalists such as myself are gagged by the very outlet upon which your views and opinions have been published.

I therefore reject your argument as diabolical considering the current circumstances in which Ukrainian men, women and children are being targeted by Putin’s death squads.

Sincerely yours

David Robert Lewis

Ukraine: Enter Dugmore & the Tankie Left

TANKIES are leftists who defend Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, but who are otherwise opposed to the use of tanks to resolve disputes. It is a term derived from an earlier generation of Western leftists who backed the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 — and who also defend Russia’s behavior today. It may applied to any situation of paradoxism in political outlook involving the use of state force, such as invasions, pre-emptive strikes and the like.

The ANC’s Cameron Dugmore best epitomises South Africa’s tankie left. In 1987 as UCT SRC president, he appeared on a combined ECC – IDF platform alongside then SAUJS President, Johnathan Handler. It was the first of a large group of 23 objectors, which included Christian pacifists, Jewish and also Atheist objectors

Handler opposed the use of SADF tanks in the townships, but paradoxically supported the IDF and its war in Lebanon. It was the 1982 invasion of Southern Lebanon under direction of then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon  which had lead me to a path of opposition to the use of force by the State of Israel. Of course, I naively assumed at the time, there were parallels between the SADF war in Angola and what was happening in the Middle East (you can read my response to Seth Rogen here).

This week at a combined Russian and South African gathering, hastily called to celebrate apparently ’30 years of solidarity’. Dugmore took issue with the Democratic Alliance (DA) for wanting to light up Cape Town’s public buildings in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. He also attacked what he claimed was the parties ‘refusal to debate issues to do with Palestine’.

That Dugmore shares the Russian autocrats homophobic and misogynistic worldview is not that surprising given Palestinian opposition to LGBTIQ+ rights, and the Tankie left should pause to consider that Putin is admired by Republicans on the far-right, and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish.

Russia proceeded to bomb a well-known Holocaust war-memorial yesterday, commemorating Babi Yar, a site where some 150 000 Jewish Ukrainians were massacred.

Many on twitter were quick to point out that Ukraine had also been a part of the USSR, and if anything, South Africa owes the country a debt of gratitude for its support of the anti-apartheid movement.

South Africa itself has ties with the Russian people and the former Soviet Union going back over 70 years and to World War 2 where it fought alongside the allies. The attempt to recast Putin as a contemporary savior figure has been condemned as nothing short of foolish nostalgia, the result of the ANC’s moral agnosticism.

Naledi Pandor for example was quick to jump on the ‘unconscionable racism’ experienced by many Africans attempting to flee Ukraine under martial law amidst unavoidable restrictions on travel — nothing less than ‘supporting evidence’ for Putin’s claim that he was ‘denazifying the country by invading’. (read my previous open letter to the Minister)

Poland for example has a 1 in 10 policy, only letting in 1 Foreigner for every 10 Ukrainian women and children. Africans fared a lot better at the Hungarian border, where unlike Poland, there were no far-right groups objecting to their presence.

Meanwhile a Russian millionaire offered a $1 million bounty for the arrest of Putin, stating: “As an ethnic Russian and a Russia citizen, I see it as my moral duty to facilitate the denazification of Russia. I will continue my assistance to Ukraine in its heroic efforts to withstand the onslaught of Putin’s Orda.”

And by that he means to De-Putinise Russia.

Though our own country is a partner in BRICS, (an economic block dreamt up by economists, in the same vein as FAANG, a Wall St acronym), there is little to be gained by equivocating on the issue. The government has been taken to task for being on the ‘side of the oppressor’.

The much-vaunted BRICS bank is bound to come under pressure from economic sanctions, even China has baulked at the prospect of a financial fall-out from Putin’s war, bearing in mind that the Chinese economy has just experienced a major event in the managed deflation of a stupendous property bubble.

President Xi Jinping can ill-afford to bankroll his neighbours war adventure in the Ukraine, and neither is South Africa able to afford the luxury to go it alone so far as international sanctions and pressure on Putin is concerned, –our own sovereign debt and junk rating, must rank high on the agenda of our finance minister.

South Africa chose to abstain from a UN General Assembly vote this week, condemning the Russian invasion. Pretoria may live to regret its lack of action.

BRICS dilemma, folly or curse?

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Master of Junk

IT WAS never meant to be anything more than a political union, similar in status to the non-aligned states. Economically, only two of the five BRICS nations, China and India are doing well, the rest are all currently in junk status. Russia was junked in 2015, followed by Brazil in 2016 and South Africa in 2017. In many respect it is Russia which has tilted BRICS in favour of junk, and has lead the pack in this regard, with the result, there is now a Good BRICS and a Bad BRICS story.

Goodness BRICS

Let’s take a look at what is good here. So far as the China is concerned, the need to create markets for its overproduction of goods has meant that it is forced to continue investing in overseas markets, and the result is largely of benefit to us.

South Africa, an outlier so far as size is concerned, has seen several deals involving, variously, the creation of an entire city in Modderfontein, the relocation of a Hisense television factory to our shores, and the latest investment of 11Bn Rand towards a new car factory in PE. So in addition to our ample resources and export market, there is now significant beneficiation of goods within the country, in an evolving relationship, all producing goods which in turn end up in the West.

India, another global leader, has taken a slightly different tack. The past decade has seen successive major investments by Asian-based entrepreneurs in the South African economy. Beginning with Lakshmi Mittal, who bought former state-owned ISCOR shortly after democracy, to create ArcelorMittal. More recently the Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal bought a substantial stake in Anglo American, a traditional dual-listed South African business, which has relocated its headquarters to London. The pattern is thus one of picking up bargains, arguably to the benefit of stakeholders. Though trade between the two countries is booming, this is often however at the cost of local clothing and textile workers.

Badness BRICS

Where trade with the two Asian economic giants of BRICS has tended to benefit South Africa. The reverse is true when it comes to Russia. Instead of buying out state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as in Mittel, relieving taxpayers of an unnecessary drain on the treasury, or simply just investing money, the Russian strategy has been instead to hijack the remaining SOEs whilst foisting projects upon us of dubious merit. In effect it is Russia which has engaged in what can only be called a form of state capture, and nuclear colonialism.

The proposed Rosatom nuclear deal along with its many intrigues under Malusi Gigaba is very bad for South Africa, both economically and politically. Apart from the fact that the deal will result in an unnecessary 1Trn Rand expenditure from the treasury on nuclear technology already past its sell-by-date, — bringing to a halt and seriously compromising a highly successively renewable energy programme — it will not only relieve the country of taxpayers money, but will also remove scarce foreign exchange.

If implemented the Rosatum deal would commit South Africa to paying forward for its electricity in Dollars for the next 60 years — a currency that Russia desperately needs in order to balance its own books. In effect no money is being invested by Russia as such. Instead, the country would borrow money on the open market against its forward production, in order to buy moribund technology from Russia in a similar deal already concluded with Saudi Arabia. The ‘sukuk deal’ financed Medupi and Kusile in this way, and albeit local technology which benefitted, the resulting finance model is no doubt to the ultimate detriment of the economy and climate. See how Saudi money dried up.

Will Brexit give way to a Brixit?

THE EXIT of the United Kingdom from the European Community is not solely a result of economic forces (who would vote for market turmoil?), but is rather an abject political lesson in democratic power relations. Will Brexit give way to a Brixit, the dissolution of BRICS?

If it wasn’t the constant flow of immigrants from the continent that riled the British voter, then it was the growing centralisation of power in Brussels, the plethora of EU legislation, the imposition of European laws and legal precedents and the resulting erosion of the powerful common law in Britain, which appears to have put paid to the European union for the meantime.

As Larry Kudlow writing for CNBC online put it: “For a country which has routinely acted to limit the power of royalty, which holds stock in documents such as the Magna Carta … Britain will regain its political freedom, its autonomous self-government, and its independence from an European Union that is spinning out of control under the power of establishment elites, unelected and unaccountable socialist bureaucrats, and a court that is increasingly making legal decisions that replace Britain’s powerful common law.”

The same uneasy indictment could easily apply to other economic blocs such as SADC, the AU and its much vaunted rival and successor, BRICS. In the short space of two decades, South Africa’s political leaders have taken our nation into a number of regional and international, monetary and economic unions. The introduction of the Rand-based Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 17 August 1992 was quickly followed by the African Union (AU) 26 May 2001, and then BRICS on 16 May 2008.

By all accounts South Africa is thus a serial unionist. Having arisen like the United Kingdom as an aggregation of several states, including the Boer Republics, Cape Colony and Natal. The country’s first experience as an economic and political union was as a member of the British Empire, followed by the Commonwealth, a block of 52 nations. Then another bout of Republican nationalism followed, with successive periods of relative isolation resulting from apartheid.

Upon the emergence of the new era, a majority government,the Bill of Rights and an inclusive democracy, South Africa embarked on an outward path, which lead to a regional 15 member economic block in Southern Africa including Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. This was quickly followed by the rise of the 54 member African Union under Mbeki. By all purposes, an attempt to emulate the emergence of the EU.

The result inside the country was a long boom, as South Africa became the gateway of choice to the rest of Africa. But then things began to unravel somewhat. Not content with being a regional superpower within the AU, South Africa, ever much the Casanova of politics, jumped into bed with Brazil, Russia, India and China to form BRICS. All of which, except for India, have atrocious levels of public debt and weak currencies. Brazil was recently given junk status.

It is this awkward attempt to create an alternative to the Post-WW2 Bretton Woods structures such as the IMF and World Bank, which has presented huge problems. The grouping is not simply a marriage of convenience, predicated on the numbers, like the G20, but has come to dominate foreign policy, to the detriment of both the SADC region and the increasingly insignificant AU. Under the Zuma administration, one could be forgiven for thinking that both SADC and the AU no longer exist. The result can be seen in the re-emergence of regional conflict, such as the political turmoil in Mocambique and continental instability.

Time to think the unthinkable. Time for a Brixit?

Latest fibs by South Africa’s Jingoistic Press.

READERS who enjoy spotting lies, may entertain themselves with today’s offering of blarney from South Africa’s jingoistic “yellow-press”

First up, there’s a paid-for-by-the-nuclear-industry piece by Mathew le Courdeur, published by News24, which just proves that if you fly a group of journalists on an all-expenses paid holiday to Russia, you can get easy coverage on nuclear reactor technology. Technology which has yet to solve the problem of waste. The cost alone of dealing with nuclear waste makes the industry prohibitive.

The news site published by Media24, recently closed down its comments section, to avoid criticism of its apartheid past following a recent reversal, in which it suddenly offered a half-apology after defending corporate failure to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the past decade.

If the the rave reviews of Russia by a journalist without any credibility isn’t your cup of tea, then try a more nuanced Pro-Putin piece in the Mail & Guardian. What is surprising about the Russian reality is how images on the ground, are disconnected from the content of a news piece which ignores atrocities such as Aleppo and Ghouta. Syrians were gassed by Assad, with the full support of the Russian government.

Thus the image of a poster with the words: “Rassia (sic) is the enemy of Syrian people” published right next door to the article with the charming but misleading title: West ‘ignored Russian offer to have Assad step aside’ appears to contradict each other (evidence perhaps that you can try to lie, but your conscience might just get the better of you?)

The content of the obviously Pro-Russian propaganda piece, appears to implicate the West and not Russia for supporting Assad. The revision of history via the culture of published lies is demonstrable.

The Mail & Guardian started out as an all-white newspaper publishing propaganda for the anti-apartheid movement. It now appears to offer similar services to Oligarchs and dictators around the world.

South Africa fails to attend Russian Victory Day celebrations

The massive VE day celebrations in Moscow have put the rest of the world to shame. While the UK was experiencing election drama of a hung parliament, and the USA was still mulling over the collapse of Bears Sterns, Greek Contagion and banking reform, Russia held one of the largest VE day celebrations in the world in Red Square.

That there is something incredibly significant about the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism in Germany and Facism in Italy could be seen by the unprecedented sight of a US battalion and a UK regiment marching side-by-side Russian troops, so all was not lost as one of the largest shows of military force since the Cold War era flung Vladimer Putin into the international spotlight.

South Africa, which was a part of the allied forces which pushed the Nazis out of North Africa towards the end of WWII was however, nowhere to be seen, and Medialternatives has been unable to confirm whether or not any local politicians were in attendance. If they were not, then it was a poor show indeed as far as South Africa is concerned.

Have we nothing to celebrate in the defeat of the Nazis? Is there nothing to be learnt by the siege of Leningrad (now Volgagrad)? Are we not a nation which remains unbowed by tyranny and which still has a Bill of Rights expressing freedom?

Unfortunately, Julius Malema’s visit to Zimabwe could have played a part in the embarrassing shunning of overtures by Russia which is in the process of redefining its role in the world.

No longer the Cold War pariah, Russia is picking up where it left off but Malema’s feting of Mugabe, a staunch support of Hitler’s race supremacist thinking appears to have dampened the ANC ruling party enthusiasm for all things Soviet and our country’s support for freedom around the world.

It is therefore time for the ANC to move into the ranks of the opposition. Enough is enough, we need a ruling party which supports freedom and equality.