Fahamu (Oxford)

8 January 2014

South Africa: Deception and Double Standards At Mandela Funeral

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It is therefore anyone's guess on which side Mandela threw in his lot. Once released, he visited the occupied Palestine where he walked down the streets, hugging the Palestinians, declaring: "I am Palestinian".

This was Mandela whose $ 3 billion "global" funeral took four years in the planning. It was a grand memorial ceremony with over 70 heads of state converging on South Africa to demonstrate their mourning. Indeed it was the biggest gathering of the state chief executives outside the United Nations

The security plan was based on the 2010 World Cup, with 800-strong SA Infantry Battalion put in place. Air force bases across the country were on alert while at least two SA Navy frigates were stationed off the coast and a no-fly zone was imposed over airports, with continuous aerial surveillance.

Mandela was so committed to the ANC that he would often quip that upon his death he would join 'the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven."

Perhaps he would can carry on the struggle against those who today abuse his memory for personal aggrandisement inside South Africa and globally. He might find veterans like Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo and Chris Hani arguing as to what went wrong with the ANC and its Freedom Charter

For what is hardly mentioned is that while Mandela and his comrades succeeded in toppling the political apartheid, they have hardly managed to dismantle the South African apartheid economy that has left millions of people in grinding poverty.

Thus the most uncomplimentary part of Mandela's legacy is the economic apartheid that still exists in South Africa today.

As Prof Issa Shivji aptly put it, Mandela's 'long walk' walked into the neo-liberal tunnel, the light at the end of which we still have to see.

* Nizar Visram is a Tanzanian freelance journalist from Zanzibar, writing on socio-political affairs. 

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