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The misadventures of Boris Johnson in South Africa

By Gugulethu Hughes

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

Since the advent of colonialism, successive British Prime Ministers have formulated their Africa strategy around South Africa. While colonialism in all African countries centered around domination and segregation of black people, in South Africa the imperialists ambition went a step further by making South Africa a whites-only African state. 

While Britain dabbled in the executive management of the colonial and apartheid government, it also served as the board responsible for the direction of that system. In 1986, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, Britain became the only country that refused to sanction apartheid South Africa, something Thatcher argued would disrupt free trade. 

When the apartheid government started working on its nuclear build program meant to wipe out black people, the British government did not have an issue with Klaus Schwab-linked German company Escher-Wyss furnishing the South African regime with requisite equipment to nourish its nuclear build program. At the time, Klaus Schwab was serving on the Board of Directors, while his father Eugene Schwab had transformed the company into a formidable military contractor. This report by historian Peter Hug details the extent of Schwab and the Swiss government’s role in aiding the apartheid government in building six atom bombs

The British government as the holding company for South Africa, a country listed as a corporation as the USA Securities Exchange, arguably supported the building of these weapons of mass destruction. Such is colonialism, firmly rooted in destruction and race-driven capitalism, even if it means wiping out an entire population off the earth. 

Boris vs Africa

Boris Johnson became the British Prime Minister in 2019, and to this day has built on the foundation built by his predecessor Theresa May of seeing the United Kingdom become the top G7 investor in Africa. On the heels of British exit from the European Union, Boris made it his goal to tailor his imperialist strategy around Africa. 

In 2020, he hosted 21 African leaders in London in the inaugural UK-Africa Summit. The outcome was deals led by UK government’s CDC Group mostly in the Renewables sector in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and other countries. British private companies also secured their piece of Africa, and as usual – Africa came out with nothing but a quick route to further exploitation. 

The British adventure has been made possible by African leaders getting remunerated and incentivized for selling out. In shaping his Africa conquest strategy, imperialist Cecil John Rhodes conceived the Cape-to-Cairo logistics plan. Boris Johnson seems to have looked into that strategy for inspiration. 

Cape Town’s importance 

Cape Town’s importance to British colonialism can’t be understated. As stated in Britannica, the British occupied the Cape in 1795, ending the Dutch East India Company’s role in the region. Although the British relinquished the colony to the Dutch in the Treaty of Amiens (1802), they annexed it in 1806 after the start of the Napoleonic Wars. 

The Dutch, on the other hand, arrived in the Cape in 1652. At first, the Cape was nothing but a Refreshment Station and refueling station for ships and traders headed to the East. This is the reason why the Cape of Good Hope route is a strategic logistics corridor for the British. It now serves as a contingency in case of disruptions in Egypt’s Suez Canal, which serves as a quicker route between the West and the East. 

Britain took over control of the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 during the Battle of Muizenberg, a British military expedition launched against the Dutch Cape Colony. When the Dutch ventured into farming in the Cape, the British eventually took over those operations and created a structured capitalist market for the export of Cape wines to Europe. 

The same applies to extraction of minerals in later years. The business of mining in South Africa is structured around Britain’s favorite way of life; imperialism. The British then expanded beyond South Africa into other African territories using the same model of colonial, conquest, and incorporation – in all this, the Cape served as the point of departure and as a benchmark. 

Zuma vs Boris

When President Jacob Zuma led South Africa into the BRICS economic bloc, Britain considered this a threat to its geopolitical positioning in Africa, specifically the Cape of Good Hope logistics route. Britain felt threatened because even though South Africa had gained “independence” in 1994, the country’s software operations remained embedded in British colonial structure. It’s no wonder the country remains the most unequal society in the world. Within South Africa, Cape Town is the city with the most glaring inequalities. 

BRICS as an economic bloc is made of countries that boast of necessary resources and manpower to exist outside of Western economic models – and this directly threatened British and Western hegemony. Britain understood it was incapable of waging a direct war with any of the BRICS countries, but Britain also understood that losing its stranglehold on South Africa would mark a slippery slope towards the loss of its other African colonies. South Africa had to be stopped, and when the enticement failed, Jacob Zuma had to be stopped. 

Neoliberal forces within the ANC, Non-Governmental Organizations, opposition political parties, and the media were directly and indirectly funded to unseat Jacob Zuma. However, all efforts to remove Jacob Zuma within the confines of the horrendous constitution yielded no results, but he eventually resigned anyways as neoliberal forces continued calling for his head. His resignation saved the country from descending into a bloody black-on-black confrontation sponsored by the West. 


Afterwards, Britain essentially hired current SA President Cyril Ramaphosa. This gave Britain a glorious opportunity to reset South Africa back into full blown imperialist design. The uninspiring Boris was granted the opportunity to convert the Ramaphosa tenure into a lifetime heritage for the British – and he has so far delivered the New Dawn for Britain. 

Boris Johnson’s inroads in British relations with South Africa are not a product of any form of deft touch from the man, but rather that he’s dealing with a weak apparatchik in the form of Cyril Ramaphosa. Since his presidency was purchased, he must continue paying back to his funders whose records have been sealed by the South African courts. His method of “paying back” is by making senseless concessions to deals that explicitly benefit Britain and the West. 

To keep his Presidency that he so desired for a long time, he must keep selling out, even if it means keeping some of the proceeds under his mattress. Cyril Ramaphosa is acting like a British paramount chief for the African region. He’s been tasked with leading African Union Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement strategy, and has secured countless loans from the IMF and World Bank whose conditions amount to the surrender of sovereignty to imperialist hands. The Bretton Wood institutions are the brainchild of a Brit and an American, after all. 

During 2022’s UK-Africa Summit, Boris Johnson argued humanity can aid its rescue from catastrophic climate change if Africa partners with the UK in its “Clean Green Initiative.” South Africa was also the highlight of the COP26 Glasgow gathering as it signed a climate-finance deal worth US$8.5 billion. The deal was meant to force the country into deserting coal powered energy and transition into renewables whose leading players are European companies. Coal caters for more than 70% of South Africa’s energy needs, and that is a conservative percentage. 

The countries funding this deal are the USA, Britain, and the European Union. The climate deal consists of concessional loans and grants whose model will be set as a benchmark for similar colonial adventures in the rest of Africa. Britain has made a guarantee of US$1 billion towards the fund and is set to assist the power utility Eskom add renewable energy suppliers to its grid. 

But all these funds imposed on South Africa are not gestures of goodwill and the country shall remain liable for repayment. Even though it is stated that some of the funds will be advanced by the African Development Bank, the imperialists still stand to benefit more because the AfDB is itself a colonial institution getting more than 70% of its funding from the International Monetary Fund.  

After slapping Russia with sanctions and failing to secure stable gas and coal supplies from Russia, the same western countries advising South Africa to ditch coal are now stampeding to secure South African coal to power their own coal plants. It would seem the environment only gets affected when coal is burnt in Africa and not Europe. This year alone Germany, France, and Poland have imported more coal from South Africa than in previous years. At the same time, South Africa’s power utility is being privatized and the country has been plunged into darkness reaching Stage 6 of loadshedding. These are some of Boris Johnson’s achievements in South Africa. 


The sooner Africans realize that Cyril Ramaphosa is the continent’s weakest link, the better. He has turned South Africa into a launchpad for western imperialism in Africa and mainstream media is part of the rot. No economy has ever been built on wind and solar energy. To ensure the rollout of green capitalism, the City of Cape Town governed by the Democratic Alliance is likely to be the first to do away with Eskom as it earlier this year opened an Independent Power Producer which came to a close in the last month. The City of Johannesburg held its inaugural Energy Indaba in May 2022, and commitments were made to kickstart the process of Independent Power Producer energy procurement for addition into the City’s power grid. 

To the unsuspecting eye, these may seem like radical acts of municipalities looking out for their residents, but in essence these are the early stages of South Africa handing over its energy sector, a huge national security factor, to imperialists on a silver platter. 

The colonial enclave that is Cape Town has even gone further and is actively working towards privatizing the rail services and network in the city. The mayor has stated that he is surprised and excited at how he is not receiving any pushback from the Ramaphosa-led government. There also exists a Cape Secession plan which will mostly succeed under the watch of Cyril Ramaphosa. In June 2021, the DA introduced a Private Members Bill in parliament. The bill seeks to give premiers the power to call a provincial referendum, the outcome of which would be legally binding on the national government if more than 50% of the voting population in the province voted in favour of it.  

No one talks about the lifecycle costs of setting up renewable energy plants, the lack of ethics in the procurement of raw materials for manufacturing equipment, or the land costs for the setting up of renewable energy plants in a country ravaged by landlessness. There is absolutely nothing worthwhile about green capitalism. It is a rebranded colonialist expansion mechanism that will turn Africa into the dark continent we’re told it is. 

Concerned citizens across Africa and the world must map a way of repossessing power from Boris Johnson and other imperialist stooges.

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Gugulethu Hughes


Gugulethu Hughes is the ScoonTV Africa correspondent

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