SA unions, parties to protest against Obama visit

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to South Africa was condemned on Sunday by some trade unions, political parties, and civil society bodies.

“We categorically make it known that the visit of the US president to South Africa is an unwelcome visit that will be protested, picketed and resisted by all justice and peace-loving peoples of this country,” the organisations said in a joint statement on Sunday.

“Friendship with South Africa must be based on values of justice, freedom and equality, and these the US has offended, undermined and ridiculed through its actions in the global front,” they said.

The statement was issued by the National Unions of Metalworkers of SA, the SA Communist Party, the Young Communist League of SA, the SA Students’ Congress, the Muslim Students’ Association, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the Friends of Cuba Society, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in SA, and the World Federation of Trade Unions.

“Our rejection is based the US’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war-mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realisation of a just and peaceful world impossible,” they said.

Obama’s visit later this month would be his first to South Africa since he was elected head of state.

“The US, under his leadership, has escalated its assault on human rights, militarisation of international relations and continuing galloping of world resources at the absolute expense of the environment and oppressed peoples of the world,” the organisations said.

Issues such as the US’s use of world resources, its role maintaining the underdevelopment of the African continent, and its contribution to global warming would be highlighted in the protests.

The public was invited to participate in a national day of action on June 28, where there would be a protest march from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to the US embassy from 10am.

There would also be a demonstration on June 29 against the University of Johannesburg’s decision to award Obama an honorary doctorate. It would be held at the university’s Soweto campus at 11am. – Sapa