So. Africans act for peace

South Africa’s Stop the War Campaign – a broad alliance of organizations from different sectors of South African society – has launched a ten-day period of intense anti-war activity aimed at bringing the maximum number of people and organizations into action against the Bush administration’s drive to attack Iraq.

“The world has witnessed with alarm a growing resort on the part of leading western powers to unilateral and militaristic solutions to global problems,” the Campaign said in a statement Feb. 6.

“In particular the United States of America has increasingly exhibited a preference for acting alone in its own national interest, backed by military might and economic weight.” The Campaign warned that these developments threaten a “global conflagration in which the poor will be the main losers,” and called on the masses of South African people to act with peace loving people around the world in defence of peace, democracy and development.

Events began this week, with circulation of an anti-war petition, a press conference to announce signing of the Declaration of South Africans United Against the War, and prayer services in churches, synagogues and mosques.

The Feb. 15 International Day of Action against the war will feature marches in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban and many other cities.

On Feb. 16, churches around the country will hold prayer services for peace, while musicians and other cultural workers will march through the township of Mamelodi, under the auspices of Musicians United to Stop the War.

Actions will continue with a Feb. 19 march to the U.S. Embassy in Johannesburg, followed by a picket line and the presentation of a memorandum to the ambassador. That evening, drivers will turn on their headlights for peace, between 4 and 5 p.m. And on Feb. 21, organizations will gather to evaluate the actions and project the way forward.

The struggle for world peace “is a struggle for peace and development in our own country and our continent, for a new world order of peace, development, justice and prosperity for all,” South African Communist Party (SACP) General Secretary Blade Nzimande wrote in the current issue of the party’s journal, Umsebenzi. Pointing out that the masses of South African people have a direct interest in the peaceful resolution of the Iraq question, Nzimande called for the largest possible participation in the current actions.

Stop the War Campaign participants include the African National Congress, Azanian People’s Organization, SACP, United Democratic Movement and other political parties, as well as the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Also, religious organizations including the Catholic Bishops Conference and Council of Churches, the Muslim Judicial Council and Muslim Alliance against the War. And, the South African National Civics Organization, along with the country’s major women’s, student and youth organizations.

Besides this month’s activities, the Campaign is emphasizing the need to initiate a longer term movement in the country for peace and international human solidarity. It is also working closely with the Anti-War Coalition of non-governmental organizations to ensure the maximum unity in action of all South Africans opposed to war.

The author can be reached at cpusainternat@mindspring.com