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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid