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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More