This week, South Africa can look forward to a visit from United States president Barack Obama, marking the American leader’s first visit to the nation since he took office in 2009. However, South Africa is not entirely united on the terms of the statesman’s reception as the government extends a friendly welcome while many communities and organisations within the country oppose his arrival.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has openly confirmed its disapproval of Obama’s visit along with the Muslim fraternity – both united on the basis that South Africa should have no part to play in supporting an oppressive nation such as the US. The Muslim fraternity going as far as insisting that the American president is arrested upon arrival.
BonganiMasuku, Cosatu’s international relations secretary has urged workers to display their opposition towards Obama’s arrival by actively participating in upcoming protests. The union particularly outlined America’s “oppressive regimes” and “narrow interests”, stating that the US supported “unequal and exploitative trade relations and underdevelopment in Africa and the rest of the developing world.”
The official objective of the visit includes bilateral discussion between President Jacob Zuma and Obama in the interest of forming trade relations between the two nations.
The DA – which supports Obama’s visit and has even made plans to grant him Freedom of the City of Cape Town – has advised the ANC not to be influenced by its ally’s attempt to disrupt development. “This is President Obama’s first state visit to South Africa and [it] is a significant event to the country to further our relations with the US,” stated DA foreign affairs spokesman, Ian Davidson, “It should not be blighted by Cosatu’s cheap political point scoring.”
The South African Deputy International Relations Minister, EbrahimEbrahim, diminished Cosatu’s protest threats, saying: “As far as protests are concerned, South Africa is a free, democratic country and anyone who wants to protest for whatever reason will have the right.”Speaking in favour of Obama’s arrival, Ebrahim stated “we would benefit” from these discussions.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to Land on Saturday.