Cape Town is gearing up for a string of ‘Nobama’ protests when US President Barack Obama lands in the city this week. The newly formed Nobama Coalition Cape Town said Sunday that it has met at Community House in Salt River to finalise plans to “mobilise widespread protest against Obama’s visit to Africa while exposing US imperialism”.
Organisations that are part of the coalition include the Gugulethu Anti Eviction Campaign, Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign, Zilleraine Heights Community in Struggle and the Workers International Vanguard Party. The campaign organisers issued a statement criticising the Obama administration for its “escalated assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing galloping of world resources at the absolute expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world”.
It said: “Much more is stolen from Africa than is received in ‘aid’. We demand all the stolen wealth to come back. In fact, US and other imperialism are responsible for the plunder of the world.” Nobama Cape Town said it also supports the Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) call for Obama’s arrest when he lands in South Africa. The association wants Obama tried for war crimes under the International Criminal Court.
It said Obama’s drone programme is “responsible for extra-judicial killings of both innocent civilians as well as US citizens abroad”. “The drone strike policy has continued unabated with total disregard for territorial sovereignty and this is cited as the primary reason that Obama should be investigated and tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” said MLA.
Nobama Cape Town’s action plan includes protests on Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm to 2pm. Protesters plan to meet at the Cape Town taxi rank opposite the entrance of the Civic Centre. This would be to “for the masses and to reject freedom of the city for Obama”. The Freedom of the City is an honour that city officials wanted to bestow on Obama during his visit.
It was instead quietly handed to a US government official earlier this month, following a row between city officials and President Jacob Zuma’s office. Protesters plan to picket at Parliament on Friday from 12pm until 2pm against the “government’s role in inviting Obama to South Africa and their complicity in allowing plunder by US monopolies”.
“For those who cannot make it to the city centre on these three days, we call on them to mobilise for lunchtime pickets at these times, to either hold education programmes about the role of US monopolies, or to take to the streets,” said organisers. “Picket forming human chains outside your workplaces, or at a selected point, to show rejection of the visit and of US imperialism. We call for the masses to ready themselves at a moment’s notice to come to the areas where Obama may appear, so we can protest and issue our own warrant of arrest for him.”
On Monday president Jacob Zuma said the US president’s visit to South Africa will help strengthen ties between the two countries. “This will present an opportunity to showcase progress since the establishment of the African Union, and to discuss co-operation on matters of socio-economic development, as well as peace and security on the continent,” Zuma said in Johannesburg. “…The US is a major investor in South Africa, with about 600 US companies operating within the South African economy.”
Zuma said about 90 percent of South African exports to the US entered that country duty-free. The visit would further strengthen US-SA dialogue on areas including health, education, agriculture, law enforcement, trade, investment, energy, nuclear security and non-proliferation, and regional security. VOC (Yazeed Kamaldien)/ SAPA
The opposition to United States President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to South Africa and the rest of the continent by the Muslim Lawyers’ Association (MPL) earlier this month has now turned into a full scale civil society protest. Now working under the ‘NObama Coalition’ moniker, a range of civil society bodies has warned that protest action is planned for this week ahead of his week.
The coalition was formed by a range of organizations, who gathered at Community House in Salt River last Thursday, in partnership with the already formed Nobama Johannesburg. Mustafa Jacobs from ‘NObama’ Cape Town told VOC Breakfast Beat on Monday that the president was not welcome in South Africa. “This is an affront to the South African people. We are appalled that our government is allowing this visit knowing the crimes committed by the US government all over the world.”
The Cape-based organisations that form part of the coalition are: Gugulethu Anti Eviction Campaign, Newfields Village Anti-Eviction Campaign, Zilleraine Heights Community in Struggle, Consumer Fair, Concerned Education Forum, Anti-War Coalition, Muslims against Illegitimate Leaders, Muslims Against Global Oppression, Struggle Veterans, Mitchell’s Plain activists and Workers International Vanguard Party.
In a joint statement, the coalition said it supports the call by the MLA for the arrest of Obama, made in terms of international customary law, as well as the implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Act 2002 (the ICC Act). “The [US] drone programme is responsible for extra-judicial killings of both innocent civilians as well as US citizens abroad. The drone strike policy has continued unabated with total disregard for territorial sovereignty and this is cited as the primary reason that Obama should be investigated and tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” said the coalition.
On Sunday, local pro-Palestinian lobby group, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign South Africa (BDS SA), added its voice to the joint front against Obama’s visit. Trade federation Cosatu and its affiliates Nehawu, Popcru, Numsa, the South African Communist Party (SACP), MLA, the University of Johannesburg and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) have already come together to collectively reject Obama’s visit to the country.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the BDS SA’s campaign Officer and national co-ordinator, said Obama’s human rights track record was deplorable. “The USA under Obama’s leadership has escalated its assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing guzzling of world resources at the expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world.”
Ndlozi added that the coalition’s actions are based on the U.S.’s “abrasive foreign policies”. “Our rejection is based on the USA’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realisation of a just and peaceful world impossible.”
The president and first lady Michelle arrives in the country on Saturday 29th June. First on his itinerary is a meeting with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, followed by a talk to young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. Obama jets into Cape Town on Sunday and is expected to host a roundtable discussion with business leaders and visit Robben Island.
The first protest planned by the Johannesburg coalition will take place on Friday 28 June, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Another protest will follow on Saturday 29 June at the University of Johannesburg in opposition to an honorary doctorate to be awarded to Obama by the University. VOC (Andriques Ché Petersen)