South African groups critical of US President Barrack Obama’s global leadership will this weekend begin week-long protests against the US leader, whose visit to their country is scheduled to start on June 26.
The groups, who had planned to start the protests yesterday, said they were unhappy with US foreign policy under the stewardship of Mr Obama.
During Mr Obama’s three-day visit, the US leader is scheduled to be awarded with an honorary doctorate by the University of Johannesburg at its Soweto campus.
However, criticism and opposition to the decision to honour Mr Obama has grown in the run-up to his visit to South Africa, with several organisations forming a protest coalition named, ‘UJ, no, you can’t honour him’.
Local reports said the protests, led by the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Johannesburg, where expected to start on Friday and would go on through-out the week.
The SRC President at the University of Johannesburg, Levy Masete, told the New Age newspaper that the students’ council had unanimously voted against the institution’s decision to award Mr Obama a doctorate.
“Mr Obama is guilty of human rights violations and he does not strike us as the black president African-Americans have been waiting for,” said Mr Masete.
More influential organisations like the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Young Communist League have thrown their weight behind the protests.
Cosatu’s international relations secretary Bongani Masuku said in a statement on Thursday that it was joining “the millions of people and workers the world over, particularly on the African continent and in South Africa, who are outraged at the horrifying record of US foreign policy in the world.”
Mr Masuku said Cosatu was particularly disappointed by the Obama administration record in continuing “the appalling US foreign policy performance”. Cosatu names four of what it describes as “indicators” of poor US foreign policy performance.
They include the militarisation of international relations for the multinational companies and their profit-seeking classes in the US, the involvement of US military operations in scores of countries across the five continents, presence of Special Forces in different countries, as well the direct and indirect military-to-military relationships with 54 African countries.
Since the US announced that Mr Obama would visit South Africa as part of his three-country tour of Africa, the US leader has generated controversy around the country.
Early this month, the Muslim Lawyers’ Association in Johannesburg called for the arrest and prosecution of President Obama.
The group submitted a 600-page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions on June 7, saying they wanted an investigation into the use of drone strikes in the Middle East.