News / Africa

South African Party Says Call Their Country ‘Azania’

'We are the only free African country that still has a colonial name,' says AZAPO's leader. Members sing protest songs at a recent Johannesburg meeting. (Courtesy AZAPO)
'We are the only free African country that still has a colonial name,' says AZAPO's leader. Members sing protest songs at a recent Johannesburg meeting. (Courtesy AZAPO)
Darren Taylor
South Africa’s next general election is to take place on May 7. Political analysts expect voters to return President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) to power – albeit with a reduced majority. However, with black consciousness as its central philosophy, the Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO) aims to take advantage of what it calls “chaos” and “selfishness” in the ruling party.
 
“To a very large extent there has been destruction and betrayal of the principles that [Nelson] Mandela sacrificed his life for – especially selflessness when serving your people," said AZAPO deputy president Strike Thokoane.

“Just look at the government – it builds Zuma a palace worth more than 200 million rand ($20 million) using tax money that could have been used to build many houses for poor people.” He said his party wants to “totally” transform South Africa – starting with its name. 
 
“We want to give it a new name, which is a freedom name called Azania. Azania is a name that AZAPO associates with liberation. Azania (means) ‘the land of black people at the tip of the continent,’” Thokoane explained. 
 
Hear Strike Thokoane tell Darren Taylor about change
Hear Strike Thokoane tell Darren Taylor about changei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

“South Africa is a colonial name. When South West Africa got independence, it changed its name to Namibia. When British East Africa got independence, it became Tanzania. As soon as Rhodesia was free from the British, it became Zimbabwe. We are the only free African country that still has a colonial name.”
 
  • Deputy president Strike Thokoane guides his AZAPO party on the path to a radically new South Africa (Courtesy AZAPO)
  • Members of AZAPO have participated in anti-government protests across South Africa in recent years. (Courtesy AZAPO)
  • AZAPO frequently supports protests by striking workers and against capitalism. (Courtesy AZAPO)
  • AZAPO members sing protest songs at a recent meeting in Johannesburg (Courtesy AZAPO)
  • An anti-apartheid protester killed by the earlier white supremacist government graces a poster at an AZAPO rally held in his honor. (Courtesy AZAPO)
  • Older AZAPO members wear shirts honoring a deceased party supporter in Johannesburg (Courtesy AZAPO).

Abolish the nation’s nine provinces  
 
AZAPO plans to “abolish” the country’s nine provinces.
 
“Why must we complicate governance by splitting it into many regions, each governed by a premier and other ministers? This system increases inefficiency. It increases corruption, where provincial ministers can hide away from the eye of national government. It’s a waste of resources,” Thokoane maintained.

AZAPO deputy president Strike Thokoane is trying to put his party on the path to a radically new South Africa (Courtesy AZAPO)AZAPO deputy president Strike Thokoane is trying to put his party on the path to a radically new South Africa (Courtesy AZAPO)
x
AZAPO deputy president Strike Thokoane is trying to put his party on the path to a radically new South Africa (Courtesy AZAPO)
AZAPO deputy president Strike Thokoane is trying to put his party on the path to a radically new South Africa (Courtesy AZAPO)
“You have a [national] minister of education and then you also have another minister of education in the nine provinces, under this minister. So there’s just a lot of duplication, which goes to create (an expensive) bureaucracy.” 
 
He added, “Then you have rich provinces that have good services and poor, rural provinces that have inferior services. This is unfair. We must have one national government that apportions our country’s wealth equally among all Azanians.”
 
South Africans don’t vote for presidential candidates; they vote for parties. The party that wins an election then chooses the president. AZAPO says this system is “anti-democratic.” 
 
“It’s not democracy to have someone imposed on us by the ruling party,” said Thokoane. “The election of the president of the country must be (by the people) because there are so many people who may qualify to give our country a good president. He may not come from the ruling party.

"We, as South Africans, should be given the leeway to look around and identify statesmen, stateswomen, who we think can present a good image of running the country.”
 
Tax big landowners so they give land up
 
AZAPO wants to “reconquer” the land and distribute it “fairly” among South Africans.
 
“I must stress that we don’t want another Zimbabwe here, where people are targeted simply because they are boers (white farmers). We are not going to go into farms and start killing boers who own land,” said Thokoane.  
 
The official symbol of the Azania People's Organization. (Courtesy of AZAPO)The official symbol of the Azania People's Organization. (Courtesy of AZAPO)
x
The official symbol of the Azania People's Organization. (Courtesy of AZAPO)
The official symbol of the Azania People's Organization. (Courtesy of AZAPO)
He said his party would “repossess” land from white and black owners of large tracts of land, through taxation.
 
“We want to… force those who own land to sell it to government. Those who own big chunks of land must be taxed such that they don’t need to own that land; they must give it up,” Thokoane stated.
 
He added that, unlike the ANC, AZAPO would not give land to people “simply because they are black and landless. This is why land reform is failing. AZAPO will invest a lot of money in agricultural experts to teach people to be proper farmers. There is no way you can nationalize the land when your people are not ready to till that land.”
 
Thokoane also talked about land owned by mining companies.
 
“Big multinationals are getting rich from these mines but the people around them, the legitimate owners of the land, are poor. AZAPO will have policies that say to these companies, ‘If you don’t have social development projects that benefit the people of the area, you are out,’” said Thokoane.  “You can’t produce gold and diamonds and platinum in a place and still find people living there in abject poverty and slums. That is completely, completely evil.”  
 
‘White fear’ of AZAPO is misplaced
 
Ever since AZAPO’s formation and its radical black pride message, white South Africans have been wary of the party. But Thokoane said “white fear” of AZAPO is “misplaced.” 
 
He explained, “At meetings we are always asked if we want to drive white people into the sea. It happened again at a recent meeting. Someone wanted to know: ‘Do you black people of AZAPO hate white people?’ We said: ‘No, we don’t hate white people but we are just tired of loving them.’
 
“What we mean by this is that it is time to even the playing fields,” Thokoane said. “Black people must no longer bend over backwards for whites so that we lose shape as black people. All black people and not just elite blacks must have a slice of the economic pie that is still owned by whites.”
 
He emphasized that white South Africans would be legitimate citizens of Azania, “if they are prepared to live according to the terms of black people. These terms are, ‘Don’t live in our country and oppress others. Don’t live in our country and use our resources to exploit black people.’” 
 
'We should have disappeared a long time ago'
 
After South Africa’s previous election in 2009 AZAPO secured one seat in parliament.
 
“We are amazed that with the little resources we have, we still continue to capture one seat. We should have disappeared a long time ago, because victory in elections everywhere really depends on how much money your party has,” said Thokoane.
 
He maintained that his party is “realistic.”
 
“We will not stand here and tell the world that we are going to take over power (soon). It will be a pipedream. We don’t have the kind of resources to be able to take over power.
 
“But we think we can get enough of the vote to get us between three and five seats in parliament. From there we can start, in a small way, to change the way this country is governed, and to build our party.”

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid