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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.