All This ANC Talk of Imperialism in Africa Can Backfire Very Badly Indeed

Article excerpt

In an otherwise sensible if not electrifying set of foreign policy decisions from the ANC policy conference which ended on Saturday, a dire warning about the need to mobilise against the growing threat of "imperialism" stood out.

The conference made some useful decisions on international relations, including an important decision that Africa should take the slow road to its proposed United States of Africa, and should first consolidate existing bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

That is a highly topical issue which will be debated at the special African Union summit in Accra today and tomorrow.

But of what real value is the following warning? "Imperialism has mutated into a sophisticated system in the globalised world, often associated with violence and aggression in its pursuit for exploitation of resources in the developing countries and its impact in the African continent," the conference said in its international relations section.

The ANC determined that it needed to respond to "this challenge of imperialism" by strengthening itself and other progressive forces, and developing with them a common agenda. Presumably, the imperialists are the United States, but the reference to the violent and aggressive pursuit of resources in the developing world, including Africa, makes one wonder.

If the actions of the US in Iraq may, for the purposes of this argument, be characterised as "imperialist", there hardly seems much immediate danger of such action spreading to Africa. It is rather China which is assertively pursuing Africa's natural resources. But one presumes the ANC did not intend to characterise the behaviour of its ideological kindred spirit China as imperialist.

Yet the ANC determined to respond to this undefined threat by strengthening the alliance of progressive forces in the world. Perhaps that should be read with a further decision to prioritise the ANC's relations with former liberation movements. The conference specifically mentioned Namibia's Swapo, Angola's MPLA, Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF, Guinea-Bissau's PAIGC and Southern Sudan's SPLM/A. …