Students and activists totalling approximately 100 protested at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Wednesday where United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered her speech on the strengthening of US-SA ties. Workers International Vanguard Party (WIVP) and Palestine Solidarity Group (PSG) were among the organisations protesting against US imperialism and American involvement in Africa and South Africa.
Shaheed Mahomed of WIVP said it was a pity they never had shoes and tomatoes in their possession to throw towards Clinton. Clinton was touring seven African nations in 11 days, and during her Egypt trip in July her motorcade was pelted with tomatoes.
“We were outside the main hall picketing … when the students saw what was happening, a number of them joined the protest and some of them made their own placards,” said Mahomed. “We had 48 hours to mobilise this protest and we are happy that a statement was made that the people of South Africa reject US imperialism.”
While the youth were most times thought to be complacent about politics and social issues, Mahomed said South African youngsters should not be underestimated.
“The youth are very highly conscientised and they have access to social media where often they have links to activists on the ground in Palestine and all over the world and they get the news uncensored and direct,” said Mahomed. “Many of them said they will join the protest because Clinton is here for one thing – in the Middle East they took the wealth and oil and here they want to take everything.”
Meanwhile, US and SA officials have signed many agreements, some of which ensured that SA would be able to fight HIV and Aids more efficiently. On Wednesday morning a document was signed at the Delft-South clinic that was said to have marked a big transition in SA’s fight against HIV and Aids.
“SA will become the first country in Africa to plan, manage and pay for more of your own efforts to combat the epidemic while the US will continue to provide funding and technical support through our Pepfar programme,” said Clinton during her speech.
She indicated that “leaders” from American companies such as FedEx and Chevron were looking to expand their work in South Africa. “They met with their counterparts in the South African business community … nearly 200 representatives are looking to strengthen our ties commercially.”
A multi-million dollar public-private partnership to improve teacher quality would be launched that would bring together the two governments’ foundations and businesses. Grants would also be provided to disadvantaged South African students to be able to study in the US.
Clinton announced a global disease detection centre was established that would be led jointly by health experts from both SA and the US. A new programme was also established that aimed to assist judges and court systems more effectively to combat gender-based violence. On Wednesday afternoon an agreement with the City of Cape Town was signed that would provide high-speed internet access to Khayelitsha.
Clinton admitted that SA and the US have not always seen “eye to eye” on matters of safety and security, but encouraged SA to help stop Iran from continuing with its nuclear programme.
“The differences we have between us in these moments are over tactics, not principles and that should not obscure our many shared goals from supporting the political transition in Somalia to combating the piracy, from addressing the threat of terrorism and violent extremism,” said Clinton.
“SA has set the standard for the world in stopping nuclear proliferations … you can most convincingly make the case in giving up nuclear weapons as a sign of strength, not weakness and you can help ensure that any country that pursues nuclear programmes will invite more pressure and isolation. This means SA can play an even greater role on issues like curbing Iran’s pursued nuclear weapons or preventing nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.” VOC (Faatimah Hendricks)