Writing for TheRoot.com, Anita Powell reports that South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma celebrated the accomplishments of 94-year-old anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and Cuban Communist Leader Fidel Castro in remarks made to the Foreign Correspondents Association. Powell believes that this is Zuma’s attempt to distance South Africa from the economic crises of the West and to call for a greater voice for South Africa in the area of economics on the world’s stage. Powell writes:
‘In that speech earlier this week, Zuma hailed Castro as “one of the revolutionary icons in the fight for freedom and equity in a world free from oppression, exploitation and prejudice.”
South Africa has historically leaned left — Zuma and his cohorts in the African National Congress refer to one another as “comrade,” and the ruling coalition counts the South African Communist Party as an important member of the bloc. But one of the reasons South Africa may be pulling back from Western hegemony could be that it wants to distance itself from the current global economic crisis. Also, South Africa pushed for its finance minister to head the World Bank and clearly feels that its economic voice is not being heard.
The United States has close and positive diplomatic relations with South Africa, but this hasn’t always been the case. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney dredged up that fact from the past in the third presidential debate, when he equated Iran with apartheid-era South Africa.
“I would also make sure that their diplomats are treated like the pariah they are around the world,” he said, referring to Iran, “the same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa.”
These days, it seems as if South Africa is the one turning away a little bit. That’s exemplified by two recent South African actions: its decision to join a grouping of developing nations in 2011 and Zuma’s current crusade for more African representation on the United Nations Security Council.
Learn more about President Zuma’s remarks and read the piece in its entirety on TheRoot.com.