As South Africa marks what would have been global humanitarian icon Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, former president of the United States, Barack Obama, is scheduled to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg on July 17 this year. The lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”.
A number of organisations have raised their objection to Obama’s address at what is considered the foundation’s principal event. The Media Review Network (MRN) and CAGE South Africa have gone a step further and penned a letter to the host of the event, the Nelson Mandela foundation, in the hopes that the decision will be reviewed.
Senior researcher at the MRN, Ibrahim Vawda explained that the network wrote to the foundation in an attempt to address its concern that Obama does not uphold the legacy of the struggle icon. Vawda said that since 2018 is the year in which Mandela is being celebrated his legacy of democracy, freedom and liberty should be upheld.
“If you look at Barack Obama and his track record while he was president of the United States, he spoke like somebody with a false tongue – he says one thing and he did something else.
“In our letter to the Nelson Mandela Foundation we based our argument on the fact that Obama was really not an honest politician – like all politicians I suppose,” Vawda stated.
Vawda said that as the first black American to hold office in the Unites States, Obama’s tenure as president had been disappointing.
“When he became president, the first thing he did was he addressed the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC. That immediately sent out a signal to say that this man is more obligated to the Zionist lobby in the United States than Human Rights.”
He added that Obama did not take action when it was revealed that Iraq housed no weapons of mass destruction, the premise for America’s 2003 invasion of the country.
“Those two international criminals – George Bush and Tony Blair – they are still to this day walking free and nobody has done anything about it. Obama did not have the courage to stand-up and speak against this illegal invasion of Iraq,” he explained.
Vawda further questioned why the US has found it necessary to establish an estimated 800 military bases around the world.
“Why is it so imperative that they must have military bases around the world and why is it so important that Israel must be allowed to carry nuclear weapons and not Iran?
“If you look at his definition of democracy; [the US] would allow an authoritarian government in Saudi Arabia, because it is in their interest to have such a government in place in Saudi Arabia. But, for them Muammar Gaddafi from Libya was not a good enough leader simply because he was not in favour for their agenda.”
Describing the United States as having set “unacceptably low moral standards” for the preservation of human rights, CAGE SA’s letter had echoed the MRN in its call to have the foundation review its nomination of an American leader to render the address.
“Numerous first-person accounts and reports are evidence that Obama and his supporters have cultivated a new kind of colonialism in the name of the ‘War on Terror’, spreading fear, violence and destruction in particular among Muslim communities, through rubber-stamping over 100 military actions a day throughout Africa and many more in the Middle East. US foreign policy has left destruction, division and suffering in its wake, and led to the rise of violent groups,” CAGE SA’s letter to the foundation read.
Vawda confirmed that the Nelson Mandela Foundation had acknowledged receipt of their open letter and would most likely respond after Obama’s visit.