Opinion

  • Too Terrified to Enter an Arena of Ideas? The Debate Over Cornel West’s Critique of Ta-Nehisi Coates

    By Ejike Obineme via Truthout www.truth-out.org

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    Dr. Cornel West speaks at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 3, 2009. (Photo: James Stewart)

    When the history of resistance to oppression is written, it will be replete with the names of people who, at great personal cost, resolved to tell the truth.

    It can be said without uncertainty that the Black community has produced some of the most pioneering minds for social justice and human dignity in the United States since its inception. Furnished and shaped by a need to survive the brutal transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow and any emerging terrors that awaited Black people in North America, Black politics came about both out of necessity and from a thorough imaginative process whereby hope, prayer and blood willed into existence new possibilities for Black life. This journey, however, has not come without internal feuds and public disagreements amongst its most prominent thinkers — Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin and Audre Lorde — and in fact, this dynamic has become a recurring theme and important feature of critical thought in the ongoing fight for Black liberation.

    Today, we are in a special time in history where ideological differences are boldly held but rarely discussed. Anti-intellectualism, camouflaged with civility and politeness, has blocked the means to engage in critical debate. Contempt for the life of the mind and an obsession with comfort has made public discourse virtually impossible. And, with the avoidance of critical dialogue, we end up hiding the truth of our understanding from ourselves and each other, which may prove to be the greatest tragedy of all.

    The ideological battle between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornel West is the most recent example of how our society remains too terrified to enter the arena of ideas to sort out differences and push fellow contemporaries to think deeper about the implications of their work. Important disputes among public intellectuals, we are told by many in the movement, must be done in private. To many, it may seem that West’s target, in his article published by the Guardian, “Ta-Nehisi Coates is the Neoliberal Face of the Black Freedom Struggle,” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coates-neoliberal-black-struggle-cornel-west is Coates himself, but upon closer inspection, and in context of West’s political trajectory for the last several decades, it’s evident that his real crosshairs are located squarely on the nucleus of neoliberalism.

    Unfortunately, any attempt toward public discussion that involves a direct, ideological confrontation is quickly reinterpreted (mostly by liberals) as nefarious, disruptive and an attempt to self-righteously and selfishly reassert one’s self in the public sphere. And yet it is certain ideas going unchallenged that has led to this new era of neo-fascism and 21st century neoliberalism.

    Ideas, however, don’t magically drop down from the sky. Instead, they are produced and reproduced by culture, systemic structures and people of great influence. Coates is a best-selling author who has on many occasions praised, with much adoration, Barack Obama, former commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military. West’s disagreements with Obama are well-known, and whatever the genealogical makeup of his antagonism, history has certainly offered evidence to suggest that West’s critique of the 44th president may have some merit.

    For instance, Obama’s track record, especially in terms of his foreign policy, is clear. The Obama administration has substantially expanded drone warfare, deported more than 2.5 million immigrants, modernized the surveillance state and enriched multinational financial institutions in ways his predecessors could have only dreamed. He did all this with charismatic smiles and well-timed platitudes loaded with perfunctory, heartfelt promises of progress and diversity. Commemoration and alignment with Obama’s presidency through Coates’s recently published book, We Were Eight Years in Power, is to offer, at least implicitly, an apologia for the crimes committed on his behalf.

    Neoliberals encourage the replacement of human values for market values.

    Coates’s inability to mount a persistent, forceful critique of Obama is much of West’s gripe with the man who in 2015 became one of the recipients of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” award. The absence of analysis on gender, sexuality, class and the horrors of US imperialism suggests Coates’s politics travel no further than his own identity. It raises a fundamental question: Why is it suddenly permissible for the head of the US empire to bomb thousands of human beings across the globe just because, as Allan Boesak, author of Pharaohs on Both Sides of the Blood Red-Waters writes, “the pharaoh looks like us”?

    The aftermath of West’s article (internet chatter and various hot takes) confirms a theory long suspected: Public intellectual life has yet to recover from the days of McCarthyism and COINTELPRO, and has atrophied to an almost non-existent reality. Historically, the moral growth of a country has been measured by its ability (or failure) to bring into civic consciousness the plight of the silenced, oppressed and unremembered. The raison d’être for the intellectual, as Edward Said puts it in his short book Representations of the Intellectual, is to “publicly … represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten and swept under the rug.”

    Yet many of West’s detractors have rushed to Coates’s defense, saying that he is just a writer and never asked for the albatross of the public intellectual. While this may be true, when one is catapulted to the heights of public intellectual discourse, one must be mindful of the impact of one’s words and actions, or lack thereof. Useful here is Antonio Gramsci’s conception of the “organic intellectual,” a thought leader, a deputy of culture, an organizer of ideology who crafts and disseminates specific interests of a given sector in society — an emergent personification of class agency. That is to say, Coates cannot simply choose to speak for himself as a private individual. His words have consequences and he has, despite his attempts at abdication, been given the moral and political authority for formulating ideas that have real material impact on the dominant culture.

    West also condemned Coates for a failure to categorically repudiate the financial oligarchy and the philosophy of late capitalism. This silence on capitalism may come from a refusal to acknowledge its devastating effects all around the world. Capitalism has left at its feet impoverished nations, perpetual war, mass wealth inequality and a global climate catastrophe that scientists now believe has led to an ongoing sixth mass extinction.

    The latest flavor of capitalism is neoliberalism: an intense wave of economic policies, initiated by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the ’80s, that is marked by deregulation of market economies; acceleration of free enterprise; weakening of trade unions; dismantling of the Keynesian state (income assistance, public housing, health care subsidies, etc.); expansion of the security state (military, prison and surveillance); and erosion of democratic processes and institutions. However, with this specific political-economic shift came a neoliberal ethos that ushered in a specific cultural formation and gave way for a new set of personal identities and behaviors.

    At its core, neoliberalism is a celebration of the free market and a belief that it possesses in itself an elegant way to facilitate human progress. Neoliberals, although unknowingly, encourage the replacement of human values for market values, including individualism, wealth-accumulation and competition. For Black people, the civil rights movement and its integrationist strategies may have played a role in the embracement of such ideas from a society that not too long ago was heavily invested in the enslavement, and then later, legalized political and social exclusion of African-descended people. After all, with assimilation comes the adoption of cultural and structural values, the most noticeable of which — incessant consumerism and devout entrepreneurship — puts profits before people and individual comfort before social equity.

    Neoliberalism, additionally, cultivates an obsession with commodities, productivity and disposability; consumerist logics that travel far beyond shopping centers and the workplace and find their way into personal relationships, how we craft our social circles and the way we assign value to our peers — appraisals that are often determined by income or expected earning potential. Human values of kindness, love, compassion and the need for communion with others are eventually reduced to mere afterthoughts in the wake of our market-driven culture. Could this be what West’s critique of Coates ultimately means? Is it possible that anyone who talks only of their oppression while simultaneously memorializing a centrist president — who embraced the ostensible virtues of business supremacy and worked to modernize warfare against Black and Brown bodies internationally — embodies a political individualism that cannot be separated from the neoliberal culture of the day?

    No matter what speculations one can posit or ascertain as to West’s intentions for publishing the aforementioned article, it has undoubtedly unleashed a debate that needed to happen in the open. It has provided an opportunity for people to learn new vocabulary not yet firmly planted in the mainstream’s lexicon, and to challenge our politics and those of others in order to develop a shared, more far-reaching analysis. More personally, West comes from a long line of intellectuals from the African diaspora that took up the mantle of resistance, and he now hopes to secure its survival — and its integrity — in the coming generations. For the Black radical tradition is an unrestrained program that, once initiated, quickly moves past the confines of its own anatomy and seeks out international solidarity and commits itself to building a multi-identity, multi-issue social justice coalition for all those who are unjustly treated.

    The path to building such a coalition is beset with numerous obstacles: fragmentation and isolation, enticement to hide in the dark shelter of pessimism and despair, or fall prey to the “nihilistic threat” as West himself describes it in his pivotal book, Race Matters. The intervention needed to overcome these obstacles, in this moral winter of rampant misogyny and growing neo-fascism, is a deliberate defiance of oppressive power structures and all their values. To these structures, unity is the most imminent threat; that if those alienated could join hands with people who do not look like them, people thousands of miles away, people with whom they will never break bread, whose names they will never know and whose families they will never meet but who share a deep, unassailable determination for a better world, they would have the power to bring about a radical transformation of society not in some dim, distant, unknowable future but in months, weeks or even in a matter of days.

    Although many may consider West’s critique of Coates harsh, it is because West understands that the fight for justice is a rigorous one: It is to wholly reject the infection of violence and conformity, however contagious, and be forever committed to inserting the best of ourselves in every nook and cranny of our movement work, every book, every discussion, every thought, word and deed. Indeed, West believes that the stakes are too high and the moment too serious for such a talented writer like Coates to do any less. In this time of peril, we need all people of every race and creed, who are willing and able, to join in the fight for human freedom because, as Audre Lorde tell us, “Without community, there is no liberation.”

  • The Poem Of Pastor Martin Niemoller And The Acquiesence Of The South African Body Politic In The Erosion Of Our Democratic Constitutional Dispensation

    By Greg Alexander Mashaba

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    In between joining family to celebrate Christmas and the ushering in of a new year, I have found time to reflect on the majority decision and the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the judgement of the Constitutional Court of South Africa on the application brought by opposition parties against the National Assembly of the republic which was delivered on 29 December 2017. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Mogoeng described the majority view of the court as “a classical textbook case of judicial overreach”. His dissenting opinion was met with a tirade of insults on Twitter and condemnation, especially by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The mainstream media seemed content to focus more on the majority decision than that of Chief Justice Mogoeng, with many of their analysts, (with much apparent glee), drawing the conclusion that the demise of the administration of President Jacob Zuma was imminent.

    Ds. Martin Niemöller neemt deel aan oecumenische samenkomst in de Grote Kert te Den Haag. Vlnr [Vrnl in spiegelbeeld!] . Ds M.N. W. Smitvoors (van de Haagse Oecumenische Raad), ds. Niemöller en prof. P. Kaetske, predikant van de Duitse Evangelische gemeente in Den Haag *27 mei 1952
    Pastor Martin Niemöller
    The fact that the majority decision of the Court set a dangerous constitutional precedent was seemingly lost to his critics, including non-governmental organisations and the clergy in the main-line Christian denominations. They were all blinded by the erroneous view that the majority decision only concerned the fate of their political nemesis, namely Jacob Zuma and, to a certain extent, the African National Congress (ANC) as a whole.

    After much reflection, I came to the conclusion that selective morality, betrayal of one’s own moral principles, cowardice, prejudice and hatred were possibly the greatest threat to our hard-won democratic and constitutional dispensation. I further came to the two following conclusions, namely that:

    • Decisions based on short-term political expedience can and do quite often bear adverse long-term political consequences;
    • Maintaining silence or supporting such decisions would in all probability result in those guilty of such silence or support for such decisions living to regret such and being found on the wrong side of history.

    It was within this context that I found myself pulling up the poem by the protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller ( 1892-1984 ). Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote his now famous poem after the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War. He was motivated in doing so by his frank admission that he had failed humanity by initially supporting the policies of Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s. By the time the true nature of Hitler’s policies and the consequences of pursuing them became apparent, the world was engulfed in a war hitherto never seen. Millions of Jews, Slavs, Russians, together with socialists, Christians and peoples of other faiths who fell outside the Nazi definition of humanity had been massacred in the Holocaust and other acts of unparalleled genocide. Millions others, including 20 million people in the former Soviet Union, died as a direct result of the war.

    Although there are many variations of Martin Niemoller’s poem, the common version is as follows:

    “ First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out-

    Because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out –

    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out –

    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    A lot has been written on the story of Pastor Martin Niemoller. However, for purposes of this particular discussion, I have opted to pull out an extract from an article by Robert Michael whom I quote at length :
    “ The foremost leader of the most significant resistance to Nazism during the first five years of the Third Reich was the Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller. He – as well as most of the rest of the leadership – agreed however with the Nazi regime in its position to the Jewish question. Both Nazis and their Protestant opponents were anti-Semitic, based on nearly two millennia of Judenhaass. They concurred that Jews were evil beings who deserved to suffer in this world. This agreement with anti-Jewish attitudes, together with other factors such as German nationalism and Lutheran Obrigkeit, weakened and nearly ruined the ability of the resisters to set themselves up as the moral opposition to Hitler. This kind of evil harmony between Nazis and anti-Nazis would prove fatal to the Jews . “ (1)

    Coming back to the situation in our country South Africa, one of the most disturbing features of our political history is the abuse of our courts by opposition, their allied non-governmental organisations like Freedom Under The Law (FUL) and the Society For The Advancement of The Constitution, and the clergy in the so-called mainline Christian denominations to advance narrow political strategies under the guise of defending the constitution. This flawed and ill-conceived strategy will certainly one day see all involved in this unholy alliance to be on the wrong side of history. Even as the ink on this short piece begins to dry, large sections of our communities will find that the ability of these formations to position themselves as the moral opponents of corruption and as defenders of constitutional democracy to have been severely compromised. They will find that they chose to ignore the minority decision of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to their own peril .

    Notes:

    (1) Robert Michael “Theological Myth, German Antisemitism And The Holocaust : The Case of Martin Niemoller”-Holocaust And Genocide Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1 January 1987. Pp 105-122

    Greg Alexander Mashaba is an Additional BEC member of the ANC Branch in Ward 23 , Ekurhuleni. He writes in his personal capacity

  • Open Letter To Corruption Watch CEO David Lewis: There Was A Time You Wanted To Get To The Bottom Of Allegations Of Corruption Of Courts..

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    David Lewis of Corruption Watch (left) Johann Kriegler of Freedom Under Law (centre), Johann Rupert Billionaire bought a farm in alleged trial fixing case (right). The author claims he was involved with Corruption Watch in investigating allegations of court corruption. Kriegler blocked the investigation. Rupert endorsed the investigation but seemingly lost interest when he was the beneficiary of a farm bought through alleged trial fixing & contrived auction.

    Dear David

    RE: Case 62470/2015 Corruption watch vs NPA head Adv Abraham’s fitness for office

    As First Applicant in the application requesting the removal of Adv Abrahams as head of the NPA, I thought given our history in the investigation of alleged corruption of the courts that Ella (of Corruption Watch) and I worked together on, which initial investigation involved alleged trial fixing in the Lloyd’s insurance fraud allegation that was blocked by FUL Judge Kriegler despite Johann Rupert’s support thereof

    I was able to brief the FCA (UK) authorities in London a month ago about that matter, who are continuing with the investigation ( see confirmation thereof included below from the Chancellor of the Exchequer (UK) and the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury – and my letter to the Minister of Finance – in the correspondence included below)

    Prior to that brief a year ago almost to the day I had also briefed the Hawks Judge Essa Moosa at the request of the Hawks, on a related investigation of alleged court corruption in what is known in the UK as the “UK widows case” of which Johann was a beneficiary of , which investigation the late Judge referred to as “syndicated organized crime”.

    As a human rights activist and not a lawyer, I was invited to be a “Mackenzie friend” at the Royal Court of Jersey(RCJ) on Friday last week where this related investigation was officially placed on the court roll; The case is listed on the Court table (item 9)

    https://www.gov.je/SiteCollectionDocuments/Government%20and%20administration/ID%20RCTable%2015.12.17%202%20CR.pdf

    I was able to brief the FCA (UK) authorities in London a month ago who are continuing with the investigation. The listing of the matter on the (RCJ) court roll could only have been possible as it is alleged as a result of what the late Hawks Judge referred to as trial fixing.

    One of the profound implications of this alleged conduct regarding concerns of alleged trial fixing is;
    Given that the Judge involved in the allegation came from the Gauteng High Court, and FUL (financed as I am advised by Rupert), are the second applicant in your matter, until the RCJ matter is finalised it is my duty to report the concerns to the Judge President Mlambo in pursuance to the right to fair trials and the combating of corruption as alleged

    I have also been asked to approach the State attorney as well but before I do so I wanted to bring you up to date as it were and brief you on the progress on the investigation that corruption watch and I worked together on.

    And also given that as first applicant your case may well be affected by the investigations referred to

    I include below my communication with Adv Abraham for your attention in further explanation of why I am contacting you given the potential effect your case for the removal of Adv Abraham

    Please contact me should you have any queries and if you could be so kind as to pass this on to FUL Judge Kriegler as I do not have his email address, I would be most grateful

    Kind Regards

    Justin Lewis

  • Why the Documentary Must Not Be Allowed to Die

    By John Pilger

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    I first understood the power of the documentary during the editing of my first film, The Quiet Mutiny.

    In the commentary, I make reference to a chicken, which my crew and I encountered while on patrol with American soldiers in Vietnam.

    “It must be a Vietcong chicken – a communist chicken,” said the sergeant. He wrote in his report: “enemy sighted”.

    The chicken moment seemed to underline the farce of the war – so I included it in the film.

    That may have been unwise.

    The regulator of commercial television in Britain – then the Independent Television Authority or ITA – had demanded to see my script.

    What was my source for the political affiliation of the chicken? I was asked. Was it really a communist chicken, or could it have been a pro-American chicken?

    Of course, this nonsense had a serious purpose; when The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast by ITV in 1970, the US ambassador to Britain, Walter Annenberg, a personal friend of President Richard Nixon, complained to the ITA.

    He complained not about the chicken but about the whole film. “I intend to inform the White House,” the ambassador wrote. Gosh.

    The Quiet Mutiny had revealed that the US army in Vietnam was tearing itself apart. There was open rebellion: drafted men were refusing orders and shooting their officers in the back or “fragging” them with grenades as they slept.

    None of this had been news. What it meant was that the war was lost; and the messenger was not appreciated.

    The Director-General of the ITA was Sir Robert Fraser. He summoned Denis Foreman, then Director of Programmes at Granada TV, and went into a state of apoplexy. Spraying expletives, Sir Robert described me as a “dangerous subversive”.

    What concerned the regulator and the ambassador was the power of a single documentary film: the power of its facts and witnesses: especially young soldiers speaking the truth and treated sympathetically by the film-maker.

    I was a newspaper journalist. I had never made a film before and I was indebted to Charles Denton, a renegade producer from the BBC, who taught me that facts and evidence told straight to the camera and to the audience could indeed be subversive.

    This subversion of official lies is the power of documentary. I have now made 60 films and I believe there is nothing like this power in any other medium.

    In the 1960s, a brilliant young film-maker, Peter Watkins, made The War Game for the BBC. Watkins reconstructed the aftermath of a nuclear attack on London.

    The War Game was banned. “The effect of this film,” said the BBC, “has been judged to be too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting.”

    The then chairman of the BBC’s Board of Governors was Lord Normanbrook, who had been Secretary to the Cabinet. He wrote to his successor in the Cabinet, Sir Burke Trend: “The War Game is not designed as propaganda: it is intended as a purely factual statement and is based on careful research into official material … but the subject is alarming, and the showing of the film on television might have a significant effect on public attitudes towards the policy of the nuclear deterrent.”

    In other words, the power of this documentary was such that it might alert people to the true horrors of nuclear war and cause them to question the very existence of nuclear weapons.

    The Cabinet papers show that the BBC secretly colluded with the government to ban Watkins’ film. The cover story was that the BBC had a responsibility to protect “the elderly living alone and people of limited mental intelligence”.

    Most of the press swallowed this. The ban on The War Game ended the career of Peter Watkins in British television at the age of 30. This remarkable film-maker left the BBC and Britain, and angrily launched a worldwide campaign against censorship.

    Telling the truth, and dissenting from the official truth, can be hazardous for a documentary film-maker.

    In 1988, Thames Television broadcast Death on the Rock, a documentary about the war in Northern Ireland. It was a risky and courageous venture. Censorship of the reporting of the so-called Irish Troubles was rife, and many of us in documentaries were actively discouraged from making films north of the border. If we tried, we were drawn into a quagmire of compliance.

    The journalist Liz Curtis calculated that the BBC had banned, doctored or delayed some 50 major TV programmes on Ireland. There were, of course, honourable exceptions, such as John Ware

    Roger Bolton, the producer of Death on the Rock, was another. Death on the Rock revealed that the British Government deployed SAS death squads overseas against the IRA, murdering four unarmed people in Gibraltar.

    A vicious smear campaign was mounted against the film, led by the government of Margaret Thatcher and the Murdoch press, notably the Sunday Times, edited by Andrew Neil.

    It was the only documentary ever subjected to an official inquiry — and its facts were vindicated. Murdoch had to pay up for the defamation of one of the film’s principal witnesses.

    But that wasn’t the end of it. Thames Television, one of the most innovative broadcasters in the world, was eventually stripped of its franchise in the United Kingdom.

    Did the prime minister exact her revenge on ITV and the film-makers, as she had done to the miners? We don’t know. What we do know is that the power of this one documentary stood by the truth and, like The War Game, marked a high point in filmed journalism.

    I believe great documentaries exude an artistic heresy. They are difficult to categorise. They are not like great fiction. They are not like great feature movies. Yet, they can combine the sheer power of both.

    The Battle of Chile: the fight of an unarmed people, is an epic documentary by Patricio Guzman. It is an extraordinary film: actually a trilogy of films.

    When it was released in the 1970s, the New Yorker asked: “How could a team of five people, some with no previous film experience, working with one Éclair camera, one Nagra sound-recorder, and a package of black and white film, produce a work of this magnitude?”

    Guzman’s documentary is about the overthrow of democracy in Chile in 1973 by fascists led by General Pinochet and directed by the CIA.

    Almost everything is filmed hand-held, on the shoulder. And remember this is a film camera, not video. You have to change the magazine every ten minutes, or the camera stops; and the slightest movement and change of light affects the image.

    In the Battle of Chile, there is a scene at the funeral of a naval officer, loyal to President Salvador Allende, who was murdered by those plotting to destroy Allende’s reformist government.

    The camera moves among the military faces: human totems with their medals and ribbons, their coiffed hair and opaque eyes. The sheer menace of the faces says you are watching the funeral of a whole society: of democracy itself.

    There is a price to pay for filming so bravely. The cameraman, Jorge Muller, was arrested and taken to a torture camp, where he “disappeared” until his grave was found many years later. He was 27. I salute his memory.

    In Britain, the pioneering work of John Grierson, Denis Mitchell, Norman Swallow, Richard Cawston and other film-makers in the early 20th century crossed the great divide of class and presented another country.

    They dared put cameras and microphones in front of ordinary Britons and allowed them to talk in their own language.

    John Grierson is said by some to have coined the term “documentary”. “The drama is on your doorstep,” he said in the 1920s, “wherever the slums are, wherever there is malnutrition, wherever there is exploitation and cruelty.”

    These early British film-makers believed that the documentary should speak from below, not from above: it should be the medium of people, not authority. In other words, it was the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people that gave us the documentary.

    Denis Mitchell was famous for his portraits of a working-class street. “Throughout my career,” he said, “I have been absolutely astonished at the quality of people’s strength and dignity”.

    When I read those words, I think of the survivors of Grenfell Tower, most of them still waiting to be re-housed, all of them still waiting for justice, as the cameras move on to the repetitive circus of a royal wedding.

    The late David Munro and I made Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia in 1979.

    This film broke a silence about a country subjected to more than a decade of bombing and genocide, and its power involved millions of ordinary men, women and children in the rescue of a society on the other side of the world.

    Even now, Year Zero puts the lie to the myth that the public doesn’t care, or that those who do care eventually fall victim to something called “compassion fatigue”.

    Year Zero was watched by an audience greater than the audience of the current, immensely popular British “reality” programmeBake Off. It was shown on mainstream TV in more than 30 countries, but not in the United States, where PBS rejected it outright, fearful, according to an executive, of the reaction of the new Reagan administration.

    In Britain and Australia, it was broadcast without advertising – the only time, to my knowledge, this has happened on commercial television.

    Following the British broadcast, more than 40 sacks of post arrived at ATV’s offices in Birmingham, 26,000 first-class letters in the first post alone. Remember this was a time before email and Facebook.

    In the letters was £1 million – most of it in small amounts from those who could least afford to give. “This is for Cambodia,” wrote a bus driver, enclosing his week’s wages. Pensioners sent their pension. A single mother sent her savings of £50.

    People came to my home with toys and cash, and petitions for Thatcher and poems of indignation for Pol Pot and for his collaborator, President Richard Nixon, whose bombs had accelerated the fanatic’s rise.

    For the first time, the BBC supported an ITV film. The Blue Peter programme asked children to “bring and buy” toys at Oxfam shops throughout the country. By Christmas, the children had raised the astonishing amount of £3,500,000.

    Across the world, Year Zero raised more than $55 million, mostly unsolicited, and which brought help directly to Cambodia: medicines, vaccines and the installation of an entire clothing factory that allowed people to throw away the black uniforms they had been forced to wear by Pol Pot. It was as if the audience had ceased to be onlookers and had become participants.

    Something similar happened in the United States when CBS Television broadcast Edward R. Murrow’s film, Harvest of Shame, in 1960. This was the first time that many middle-class Americans glimpsed the scale of poverty in their midst.

    Harvest of Shame is the story of migrant agricultural workers who were treated little better than slaves. Today, their struggle has such resonance as migrants and refugees fight for work and safety in foreign places. What seems extraordinary is that the children and grandchildren of some of the people in this film will be bearing the brunt of the abuse and strictures of President Trump.

    In the United States today, there is no equivalent of Edward R. Murrow. His eloquent, unflinching kind of American journalism has been abolished in the so-called mainstream and has taken refuge in the internet.

    Britain remains one of the few countries where documentaries are still shown on mainstream television in the hours when most people are still awake. But documentaries that go against the received wisdom are becoming an endangered species, at the very time we need them perhaps more than ever.

    In survey after survey, when people are asked what they would like more of on television, they say documentaries.

    I don’t believe they mean a type of current affairs programme that is a platform for politicians and “experts” who affect a specious balance between great power and its victims.

    Observational documentaries are popular; but films about airports and motorway police do not make sense of the world. They entertain.

    David Attenborough’s brilliant programmes on the natural world are making sense of climate change – belatedly.

    The BBC’s Panorama is making sense of Britain’s secret support of jihadism in Syria – belatedly.

    But why is Trump setting fire to the Middle East? Why is the West edging closer to war with Russia and China?

    Mark the words of the narrator in Peter Watkins’ The War Game: “On almost the entire subject of nuclear weapons, there is now practically total silence in the press, and on TV. There is hope in any unresolved or unpredictable situation. But is there real hope to be found in this silence?”

    In 2017, that silence has returned.

    It is not news that the safeguards on nuclear weapons have been quietly removed and that the United States is now spending $46 million per hour on nuclear weapons: that’s $46 million every hour, 24 hours a day, every day. Who knows that?

    The Coming War on China, which I completed last year, has been broadcast in the UK but not in the United States – where 90 per cent of the population cannot name or locate the capital of North Korea or explain why Trump wants to destroy it. China is next door to North Korea.

    According to one “progressive” film distributor in the US, the American people are interested only in what she calls “character-driven” documentaries.

    This is code for a “look at me” consumerist cult that now consumes and intimidates and exploits so much of our popular culture, while turning away film-makers from a subject as urgent as any in modern times.

    “When the truth is replaced by silence,” wrote the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

    Whenever young documentary film-makers ask me how they can “make a difference”, I reply that it is really quite simple. They need to break the silence.

    This is an edited version of an address John Pilger gave at the British Library on 9 December as part of a retrospective festival, ‘The Power of the Documentary’,held to mark the Library’s acquisition of Pilger’s written archive.

    John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

  • A Personal Tribute: Shadrack Msizeni Maphumulo: Ziyohamba Izinsizwa, Ziyosala Izibongo!

    By Greg Alexander Mashaba

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    The 12th December marks the anniversary of the death of the great but unsung hero of the national liberation struggle, Shadrack Msizeni Maphumulo, who died in a raid conducted by apartheid special forces in Swaziland in 1986. A great and yet humble cadre of our glorious organisation the ANC and a soldier of its military wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe, Cde Maphumulo was brutally killed in a hail of gunfire, in front of his wife and children. He was 48 years old at the time of his death.

    Shadrack Msizeni Maphumulo was born in Nsuze, in rural KwaZulu Natal in 1938. Like most people in that area, he was born into a poor peasant family. Most of the people in that area would either have been forced to work on farms in the surrounding areas or to seek employment in the major urban areas such as Durban, Emgungundlovu ( ie Pietermaritzburg ), and Newcastle. In addition to that, the fact that most, if not all of them, did not have basic education meant that they could only offer back-breaking labour which was specifically reserved for Africans in order to earn wages. It was against this background that Maphumulo headed for Durban in search of employment in the 1950s. He was joined in his relocation to Durban by another illustrious hero of the national liberation struggle, Johannes “Pass Four” Phungula, who was also his brother in law.

    In Durban he became drawn, like a lot of other people who had moved from the rural areas,  into the trade union movement. The principal trade union then was the South African Congress of Trade Unions ( “SACTU” ) which for close to three decades was regarded as the trade union component of the ANC. Some also joined the Communist Party of South Africa  as the SACP was then known). Maphumulo, like most members of the ANC and SACTU in Natal would later join MK soon after its founding on 16 December 1961. Indeed, the first batch of cadres to be sent for military training in Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania and the Soviet Union included a significant number of comrades from Natal. Among these were Johannes Phungula himself, Cletus Mzimela, Mathews Meyiwa, Curnick Ndlovu and Joseph Nduli.

    Having joined MK inside the country soon after its formation, Cde Maphumulo took part in the initial sabotage and bombing campaign which was carried out by the organisation in the Natal area. Their initial targets were electrical sub-stations, electricity pylons and the rail transportation infrastructure. He would be subsequently arrested and charged with sabotage in what came to be called the “mini Rivonia trial” for it came soon after the famous Rivonia trial where Nelson Mandela and his comrades were charged with treason following the arrest of the top tier of MK in Riven, Johannesburg.

    The other comrades who were jointly charged with Cde Maphumulo and convicted were Alfred Duma , Zakhele Mdlalose, Mathews Meyiwa, Mdingeni Mathews Mkhize, Riot Mkhwanazi, David Ndwandwe, Mfanyana Nkosi, Joshua Zulu, George Naicker, Billy Nair, Siva Pillay, Girja Singh, Kirsten Moonsamy . He was sentenced to a term of ten years which he served on Robben Island. He was released from prison in 1974 whereupon he commenced MK underground activity.

    When his comrades in the underground movement, Harry Gwala, Joseph Mdluli and Mathews Meyiwa were arrested in 1975, it was Cde Maphumulo, together with Judson Khuzwayo and Petros Nyawose who constituted the nucleus of ANC/MK underground structures in Natal, with Maphumulo serving as the major link between the underground structures in Natal and the ANC in Swaziland. Cde Maphumulo was subsequently detained again by the racist regime though he was never formally charged. He eventually ended up in Moderbee prison in Benoni. He apparently used the period he spent at Moderbee prison to recruit fellow inmates into the ranks of the ANC/MK.

    After his release in 1979 he was banned and restricted by the racist regime to Inanda in Natal. He escaped to Swaziland in 1981 where he joined his former comrades Judson Khuzwayo and Petros Nyawose. Cde Nyawose was killed the following year, together with his wife Jabu, herself a member of the ANC and SACTU, in a car bomb explosion carried out by an apartheid death squad.

    I was introduced to Cde Maphumulo by Cde Ivan Pillay sometime in 1984. This was during a very difficult period in the history of the organisation in both Swaziland and neighbouring Mozambique. These two countries had, in the period following the 1976 student uprising in Soweto, served as the principal staging areas for MK operations into the Transvaal and Natal. The terrain and the proximity of the major metropolitan areas in both provinces were such that MK cadres could infiltrate into such areas with relative ease. This factor was not lost to the racist military strategists in Pretoria. Through a combination of military and diplomatic pressure, the racist regime had been able to bring pressure to bear on the authorities in both countries. As a result of that pressure the government of Mozambique openly revealed that it had concluded a non- aggression pact with the racist regime (the “ Nkomati Accord “) in terms of which the ANC/MK would be barred from conducting military operations out of Mozambique. Only four ANC members and their dependents were allowed to remain in Mozambique, namely comrades Jacob Zuma, Joe Slovo, Moses Mabhida and Indres Naidoo. ANC/MK presence in Swaziland was also significantly reduced following revelation that the Swaziland government had also entered into a secret pact (the “Pretoria Accord”) which called for the curtailment of ANC/MK activity in Swaziland, with most senior leaders and combatants being deported by the Swaziland authorities. The fact that control of the Swaziland government had been seized by a group of very conservative tribal leaders grouped under the dreaded “Liqoqo”, who were very hostile to the presence of the ANC in Swaziland served to exacerbate. The “Liqoqo” was essentially a supreme traditional advisory body which was meant to give guidance to the Queen Regent following the falling asleep of King Sobhuza II in 1982.

    I personally found Cde Maphumulo to be very friendly and warm, with good mannerism. He spoke very softly and presented himself as one who, despite his lack of formal education, had a sharp analytical brain. I recall how he instructed me in IsiZulu to gain a thorough understanding of the class struggle and the related subject of the ideological struggle. He also instilled in me the virtue to always seek to find something useful in any negative situation. He calmly told me that no matter how difficult the situation one finds oneself in, it was important that one always identified therein those factors which he/she could use to his/ her advantage. He then calmly pointed out , “..that is why abelungu bethi ‘On every cloud there is a silver lining…” He was a regular visitor to what then served as our home in Manzini. He fitted very easily into my family and in a way became not only a comrade but very much a close member of my extended family. It was within this context that when I left Swaziland to further my studies in London in 1985 , I felt that I had entrusted Cde Maphumulo to my family, so that they would give him all the support that he needed as a senior ANC/MK cadre operating in Swaziland under very difficult conditions.

    Cde Maphumulo would eventually be appointed commander of the Natal Political Machinery ( which was later renamed the “Mandla Judson Khuzwayo Machinery”), having replaced Cde Ivan Pillay who was his immediate predecessor. In that capacity he worked very closely with the late Cde Jabulani Nxumalo (“Mzala”) the brilliant military tactician and political intellectual. Cde Mzala, author of the book on Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, “Gatsha Buthelezi: The Chief With A Double Agenda”, oversaw MK operations largely in northern Natal, in his capacity as commander of the Natal Rural Machinery.

    Cde Maphumulo was appointed a member of the Swaziland RPMC (ie “Regional Political and Military Council”) which was initially chaired by Cde Ronnie Kasrils and later by Cde Ebrahim Ishmael Ebrahim. Other members of the RPMC were Sello Motau (ie “Paul Dikeledi who was killed in an ambush outside Manzini in 1986), Muziwakhe Ngwenya (ie “Thami Zulu” or “TZ”), Vusi Mavimbela and Welile Nhlapo. Like all other RPMCs, the Swaziland structure reported to the PMC ( “Political and Military Council”) in Lusaka which was chaired by Oliver Tambo. Each RPMC was charged primarily with overseeing political and military coordination in its respective region. Critically, it was given responsibility for making operational decisions.

    I came to Swaziland in the middle of 1986 and was very happy to be united with Cde Maphumulo, albeit for a very short period. I told him that I was always very concerned for his safety given the very dangerous conditions under which he operated in Swaziland . Cde Maphumulo however assured me that since the coronation of Crown Prince Makhosetive as King Mswati III, which led to the dissolution of the “Liqoqo”, there had been a significant improvement in the relationship between the Swaziland authorities and the ANC. “ Sesihlala njengama khosi alpha comrade”, (“We are now treated like royalty here comrade”) was Cde Maphumulo response in his characteristic soft tone.

    On the night of 12 December 1986, apartheid special forces attacked Cde Maphumulo’s apartment at Magevini Flats, in Matsapha, the industrial zone of Swaziland adjoining Manzini. The intention of the apartheid murderers was apparently to kidnap Cde Maphumulo and whisk him across the border to South Africa. When he fought back, he was hit by a volley of bullets fired by his attackers. This all took place in the presence of his wife and infant son. A 13 year old Swazi national, Danger Nyoni, was killed in the raid. Maphumulo was dragged by his attackers into a car. He would later be hand-cuffed to Corrine Bischoff , the younger sister of an old family friend and comrade of mine, Paul Bischoff (currently professor and head of the Department of International Relations at Rhodes University). Corrine had also been seized together with her companion, one Daniel Schneider by the same group of attackers. Corrine would later recount how a mortally wounded and heavily bleeding Cde Maphumulo succumbed to his wounds and died even while they were hand-cuffed to each other. Because they also held Swiss citizenship, both Corrine and Daniel were eventually released by the racist regime following concerted pressure by the Swiss government and the international community.

    While his family waited outside Greytown police station to receive his mortal remains, the racist regime purported to bury Cde Maphumulo in Nsuze, KwaMaphumulo in the presence of members of the apartheid security forces and two imposters who were presented as “his brothers, whom the family were however later to deny that they were in fact members of his family. His first wife, Thokozile, was subsequently granted an exhumation order. He was re-buried at Chesterville cemetery, outside Durban. A separate memorial service attended by comrades Ebrahim Ishmael Ebrahim, Lindiwe Sisulu and a few other members of the ANC and the South African community was held in Mbabane, Swaziland.

    In an article authored by Mhlaba Memela and which was posted on “Timeslive.co.za “ on 7 July 2011 , I got to read that President Jacob Zuma, himself an old comrade of and a very close friend of Cde Maphumulo, had built and handed over a house in Inanda, Durban, to Maphumulo’s family . This was apparently in satisfaction of an agreement between comrades Maphumulo and Zuma, made some time in the early 1980s, that should either of them die in exile, the surviving comrade would build a decent house for the family of the fallen comrade.

    For many years I harboured the desire to pay tribute to this beautiful and very warm comrade whom I sorely miss. Looking back, I can only say that it is a singular honour and privilege granted to me by God himself that, I, a lowly and insignificant figure , walked in the company of giants like Cde Maphumulo. I shall ever be grateful to God himself and to these illustrious leaders of our national liberation struggle for all that they taught me .

  • Plethora of ANCvANC Cases An Indictment On Secretary General’s Office

    By Pinky Khoabane

    Gwede_Mantashe

    ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe

    THE plethora of cases in the courts, with one faction of the African National Congress (ANC) pitted against another is a serious indictment on the secretary general’s office and points to the ineptitude and need to strengthen that office. Stemming from these cases, it is also clear that the ANC needs to familiarise itself with its own Constitution unless it is being deliberately misinterpreted for personal agendas.

    In the latest case, held in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, the ANC KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) appealed an earlier ruling which annulled the PEC and declared the provincial electoral conference of 2015 null and void. Judgement was reserved but Advocate Dali Mpofu who is among the counsel representing many of the disaffected ANC members in these cases tweeted that it would not be long before the current PEC would have to leave office. “After listening to legal arguments & questions of the judges it looks most likely that the KZN PEC will be booted out of office next week….”. Whatever your views on him, the truth is he and other lawyers have been winning these cases.

    The day before the Pietermaritzburg case was the ruling in Mangaung which annulled twenty-nine (29) ANC Free State branches which held their branch general meetings (BGMs) between August and September this year. The ruling said the BGMS were “unlawful”, “irregular” and “unconstitutional”. As the case was being heard, the Free State was also holding its hastily convened provincial general council (PGC) to consolidate the nominations made by the branches. Some say the same branches whose BGMs were before the court were being counted in the PGC. You have to ask yourself why anyone would want to convene a PGC within 24 hours notice when it was scheduled for three or so days later.

    Last week, Acting Judge C Moosa annulled the Ekurhuleni 6th ANC Youth League Conference that sat on 5th May 2017. The Judge, like others across the country on procedural matters of how ANC conferences are conducted, found the event to be “irregular and inconsistent with the ANCYL Constitution and ANCYL Congress Guidelines”. He declared all Youth League branch executive committees in the region to be null and void. He further instructed the regional youth league structure to “re-organise, re-establish and coordinate the Ekurhuleni Region and branches as per clause 7.2 (c) of the ANCYL Constitution”.

    On 13 December, the Johannesburg High Court will hear a case against the Ekurhuleni ANC Women’s League’s regional conference.

    These words – “irregular”, “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” – run through all the judgements. It must concern the ANC.

    Many lament the fact that ANC members resort to courts but in truth, the complainants have gone through the internal processes with absolutely no outcome.

    Many of the disputes currently before the dispute resolution committees following complaints about BGMs in most provinces have not been resolved. Again, the ANC faithful will have to resort to courts to bring urgent matters to finality.

    The incoming secretary general needs help in dealing swiftly with complaints that come before the office. Comrade Gwede Mantashe has not executed this function well and the plethora of cases against the ANC bears testimony to this fact.

    Like the ANC’s elusive call for unity this year – in the name of Oliver Reginald Tambo no less – the call to nominate competent leaders doesn’t seem to have mattered much. It is under Comrade Senzo Mchunu, now touted for the secretary general’s position on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s slate that the “unlawful” and “unconstitutional” KZN provincial conference occurred. He was the chairman of ANC KZN then.

    The ANC needs to revamp its constitution or ensure members understand and follow guidelines of its constitution to avoid internal disputes going to court. The proposal to increase deputy secretaries to ensure efficiency is no longer one to be debated but to be adopted. The secretary general’s office has been nothing but shambolic.

     

  • Belated Open Letter To Mosiuoa Lekota On The Land Issue

    By Brian Ebden

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    Mosiuoa Lekota

    A BELATED OPEN LETTER TO MOSIUOA LEKOTA WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR TELEPHONIC DISUSSION ON THE EUSEBIUS MCKAISER SHOW, RADIO 702 – 10 APRIL 2017 (Also known as “White people didn’t steal the land, they bought it legally”).

    Dear Mr. Lekota

    I must apologise profusely for this late response to your interview and am responding today as a result of this piece raising its head again yesterday via a number of right-wing white Facebook sites.

    Let me from the outset state that as a child growing up, I was strictly taught to respect my elders and this is a valuable lesson I have internalized and intellectualized for myself and have carried this over to my own children today – having said this therefore, if I depart from this in terms of my response, please be so kind as to understand and forgive me for it is not my intention to be rude.

    It is said Sir, that something is known by the fruit that it bears and the fruit that is borne by both you and your generation’s logic have thrown us as black people into a pit of despair and depravation. It is your generation to whom we gave our blood and trust and the net result of this is that we are left with very little, save a tiny black middle class who are fabulously wealthy and a mass of people living in grinding poverty the likes of which is second to none in the history of the world.

    After trusting your generation for more than 2 decades we have reached an impasse because the only direction we are going is nowhere and it is as a direct result of the caliber or should I say the lack of caliber of the leadership of your generation Sir.

    I particularly wish to draw your attention to two of your many comments you made during the radio interview vis-à-vis (your grammar) “There was things negotiated between the Khoi & the Dutch nation and later the English took over that – until that time there was no title” and loosely, once land has been appropriated from whites, “Which black family will you give that land to?” When I heard the first part I was horrified as it is not only bereft of logic but also devoid of historical fact and here I wish to give you a lesson in history because you need it desperately and urgently.

    Firstly, land was forcibly taken and stolen from Khoe-Khoe clans by Van Riebeek which resulted in full scale wars the first of which was in 1659 due to Van Riebeek erecting a fortified fence along the Liesbeek River and in Kirstenbosch to separate the Khoena from accessing their traditional grazing lands.

    The second full scale war began in 1673 between the Dutch colonisers and the Chainoqua, Hessequa, Quana, Cochoqua and Gouriqua clans around the Hottentots-Holland mountains – this war was so that the Dutch East Indian company could violently appropriate vast tracks of land as well as steal hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep.

    Then the 3rd full scale war was against the Cochoqua clan from 1674 until 1677 which laid waste to much of this Khoena clan and both their cattle and vast lands. During the time of the Dutch occupation there were numerous violent and murderous skirmishes between Dutch raiding parties and Khoena and San clans where entire villages were destroyed and all the men butchered and women and children enslaved in their thousands. The numerous raids are detailed in the book entitled “The Anatomy of a South African Genocide: The Extermination of the Cape San” by Mohamed Adikari.

    Furthermore, whether the indigenous peoples understood the European concept of private land ownership or held title deeds or not is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that they clearly and unequivocally understood the concept of ownership and this is expressed and well documented in the diaries of Van Riebeek himself – which is held in Amsterdam and detailed in the 1998 book by E. Van Heyningen, Nigel Worden, and Vivian Bickford-Smith entitled, Cape Town, the making of a city. He writes in 1655 that the Goringhaiqua (the senior clan of the Peninsula Khoe-Khoe sub-clan, Goringhaicona) stated that he was rapidly building on their land and as a result refused to barter cattle with him any longer. He specifically writes that they (Goringhaiqua) boldly declared that it was their land not ours.

    A year earlier in 1654, he wrote that the Cochoqua clan and their leader Gonnema refused permission to permanently occupy any land in the Cape Peninsula and showed their contempt by forcibly grazing their huge herds of cattle in vegetable gardens Van Riebeek planted. You can read this on pages 21 and 34 of the afore-mentioned book. This is underpinned from an entry in the diary of Colonel Omas Vandeleur on meeting Khoe-Khoe war leader, Klaas Stuurman in the Zuurveld, the then “Cape Colony” in March 1799. Said Stuurman to Vandeleur: “Restore the country of which our fathers have been despoiled by the Dutch, and we have nothing more to ask, though we have yet a great deal of our blood to avenge.” Stuurman told him (Vandeleur) that the Khoikhoi wanted to recover their lost lands and avenge themselves for years of oppression and abuse. Again, I should allow you a historical remembrance that it was Simon van Der Stel who in 1671 (as written by him in his diary) stated that he set land aside for French Huguenots in Franshoek and Drakenstein (now Paarl). He gave land owned by the indigenous to foreign French settlers without any authority from the local clans and because he then gifted them with a title deed implies in your mind Sir, that it hence became legal tender notwithstanding the fact that nothing legal can flow from an illegal transaction. The illegal transaction was the forceful theft of the land in the first instance.

    So Sir, it is painfully clear and obvious that your comment that Khoena clans “negotiated things” is hideously and horribly incorrect and the same goes for the Northern Cape where vast numbers of Khoena and San clans were decimated either through armed and or biological warfare (smallpox epidemics) – and I also wish to take the opportunity of correcting your further comment of government owning vast tracts of land is incorrect as private ownership of land in both the Western and Northern Cape is 89% to 8% Government control.

    Then Sir, I must bring your attention to a solemn Xhosa song all us activists of the 70’s sang and knew off by heart, the title of which is Thina Sizwe. Shall I remind you what the lyrics state for your benefit again (and I know that even though you were in the leadership of the white owned, funded and instituted UDF) that you cannot claim ignorance of this very well-known song. For your benefit Sir it goes as follows:

    “Thina sizwe esimnyama (We the black the nation)
    Sikhalelela izwe lethu (Are we weeping for our land)
    Elathathwa ngabamhlophe (Which was taken away from us by white people)
    Mabayeke umhlaba wethu (Let them return our land).”

    I question why Xhosa people would sing this song which as you know was adopted by all black groups in the country and may I remind you that President Zuma, a member of the Zulu ethno-linguistic group, sang this song at Mandela’s funeral in December 2013 (for avoidance of doubt here it is:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk1nR6n5KPw)

    The fact is that prime land and land in general was forcefully and violently stolen and appropriated from AmaXhosa during nine full scale frontier wars which raged from 1779 to 1879. These wars were exclusively about land appropriation and of course I am employing a simile for the word stolen.

    Then Sir, you forget the “Great” Trek from 1792 to 1852 where whites moved into the hinterland and wherever they went they first massacred the indigenous and then appropriated their land. Your great MoSotho King Moshoeshoe, who for 30 years fought both the Afrikaners and English whose sole intention it was, to steal land and again remind you that in 1838, the Trek-Boer Jan De Winaar attempted to colonise land in Matlakeng to which King Moshoeshoe replied, “The land on which they were belonged to me, but I had no objections to their flocks grazing there until such time as they were able to proceed further; on condition, however, that they remained in peace with my people and recognised my authority.” The same went for the Zulu, Tswana, Pedi and Ndebele nations who all defended the rights of their traditional land through numerous wars of attrition.

    To recap for your benefit Sir, the indigenous people knew and perfectly understood the concept of land ownership in collective and custodial terms for the benefit of forthcoming generations. Given that the autochthonous peoples of South Africa did not subscribe to individual and private ownership of the land, this should speak to your silly statement of which black family should the land be returned to. You make as if you are umlungu and don’t understand how these things work – but sadly Sir when white people need to cheat, deceive and trick black people they use and roll out their well-paid coons such as yourself – to speak on their behalf and in their stead.

    I understand why this argument and this a-historical and revisionist piece has raised its ugly head and making its rounds in our country – and its only because Mugabe has been seen to be defeated and now it’s time to prove that land was never stolen from us as the indigenous peoples. The fact is Sir, that land has been stolen and must be returned whether through peaceful or violent means. The choice is thankfully not yours to make.

    In conclusion, all black people originated in South Africa as the genetic-anthropological discoveries of Professor Chris Marean and his multi-nation team of archeologists, scientists and anthropologists proved that the origin of modern man is in fact Pinnacle Point in South Western Cape near Mosselbay. I am on record where I prove this scientifically beyond a shadow of doubt: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YofbEFfmPIY)

    I expect an apology and a public correction to your glaring errors and lack of scientific and historical knowledge on the subject you spoke on.

    Thank you in advance.

  • Can South African Government Hold It’s Mining Houses To Account & Pay

    By Pinky Khoabane

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    Miner’s lung with silicosis & tuberculosis

    WITH the vast shares held by some members of the ANC ruling party in mining houses, will the advice by Parliament’s Mineral Resources Committee for the Department of Mineral Resources to get involved in the silicosis class action case really materialise?

    Thirty-thousand (30,000) former miners are suing 82 mines for compensation for failing to protect them against lung diseases, according to a statement released by the Committee yesterday, following a briefing by lawyers representing ex-mine workers suffering from lung diseases and silicosis. There’s another suit against the companies for their failure to protect the workers from conditions that led them to contracting tuberculosis (TB). Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling fine dust.

    The violation of health and safety standards in South African mines has been described as ‘the world’s biggest, longest running industrial disaster; dwarfing Chernobyl’.

    The lawsuit includes current and former miners who contracted the disease since 1965 and dependants of the ones who lost their lives. Those of us who lived in neighbouring countries like Lesotho know of the thousands of miners who’ve returned home with nothing else but TB and left to die as a result of the poor health infrastructure in those countries. Their families, often dependent solely on the mineworker, are left completely destitute and live in abject poverty.

    GroundUp has written extensively on the case https://www.groundup.org.za/silicosis-court-case/. There have been ongoing talks of an out-of-court settlement between the miners’ lawyers and some mining companies but a conclusion is still to materialise. The companies involved include Anglo American plc, AngloGold Ashanti; Gold Fields; Harmony; and Sibanye Gold. In today’s reports, lawyers for the miners have confirmed that six of the firms being sued are holding settlement talks with the workers.

    The Chairperson of the Minerals & Resources Committee, Sahlulele Luzipo, said although he understood the seriousness of the case, he underestimated its complexity. “It is concerning that political guidance is missing and this case has been dragging on for four years now. The reality is that people will eventually complain to Parliament when things go wrong,” Luzipo said. In addition, the Committee said it had invited the Department to present it’s role in the case thus far.

    The real question is how  and whether this Department can hold mining houses to account and push them towards a settlement. As we know, businesses that benefited from apartheid and most were culpable by virtue of operating in a racially structured economy, have hardly been held to account let alone pay towards restitution. The much touted wealth tax proposed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) never materialised but as we showed here two days ago, many of these companies have become the biggest beneficiaries of the democratic dispensation with many of them having on their boards and shareholding some very powerful and politically connected individuals. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/companies-propped-apartheid-complicity-anc-revolutionaries-apartheid-amnesia/

     

  • Companies Which Propped-Up Apartheid & Complicity of ANC “Revolutionaries” In Apartheid Amnesia

    By Pinky Khoabane

    Unknown

    FW De Klerk – Last President of Apartheid SA

    FROM using former revolutionaries of the liberation struggle to employing their relatives in strategic positions, many of the individuals and companies that propped-up apartheid have become big-time beneficiaries of the democratic dispensation.

    The names of some of these donors who were complicit in apartheid and profited from the system are contained in archives discovered by Open Secrets while doing research for the recently published book “Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit”.

    The group collected approximately 40000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries.

    Some of the donors include Barlow Rand (now Barloworld), Shoprite’s Christo Wiese, PG Glass, Tedelex, Altech (now Altron) and many more.

    The same companies which profited immensely through apartheid feature on today’s government tender bulletin – under both “bidders” and “successful bidders”.

    A few names from ANC revolutionaries feature on many of these companies’ BEE deals enabling them access to government tenders.

    “Some donors were unsurprising, given their long term complicity with the regime. In a letter written in 1988, FW de Klerk informed PW Botha of a R50 000 donation from Barlow Rand – now trading as the large conglomerate, Barloworld.

    “De Klerk notes that, “they prefer to keep their contribution confidential…” before stating that one of the companies directors D.E. Cooper would handle the donations.

    “Barlow Rand was one of the chief suppliers of technology to the government.

    “Between the 1960s and 1980s, the corporation’s leadership sat on PW Botha’s Defence Advisory Board all the while presenting itself as an enlightened opponent of apartheid”.

    Barloworld was the pillar of the military-industrial establishment that thrived during apartheid. In post-apartheid South Africa, it had among its new South Africa “partners” people like acclaimed human rights lawyer and former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza. As Barloworld’s non-executive chairman in 2007, he praised Barlow for its resistance against apartheid. In the 2007 annual report he wrote: “Barlows was also a pioneer in corporate social investment in those days and then, during the early 1990s, the company gave measurable support behind the scenes to the negotiation process that led to our transition from apartheid to democracy.”

    The Open Secrets team also found letters from Altron’s Bill Venter.

    “We also found letters of support from Altech (now electronics giant Altron) head, WP (Bill) Venter. A long-time ally of the apartheid military, Venter made profits supplying the military with missile systems and other key technology at the height of apartheid’s war in Angola and cross-border raids. To return the favour, Venter made hefty donations to the NP. In 1982 he pledged R150,000 (R2.4-million in today’s terms) with promises of more to come which he honoured in 1985 and 1989 with generous donations of R200,000 (R2.2-million in today’s terms). In the letter Venter points out the success that his company has achieved, adding, ‘…we believe that we would be able to achieve very little without the firm support of the current [NP] government…’

    “In February 2017, Venter finally stepped down as Altron chair and was praised for his contribution to the South African economy. His collaboration with the apartheid state was conveniently ignored,” writes Open Secrets.

    A statement released by the company on his decision to retire read: “Dr Venter founded the Group some 51 years ago. He has dedicated his life to the Altron Group and his significant contribution to South Africa and the business community has always been widely recognised by both the public and private sectors”.

    Altron has, since the advent of democracy, employed Blacks with political connections as part of their executive management team.

    Altron continues to rake in billions from government tenders.

    The archives also show some “surprising donors”. A letter by PG Glass’ executive chairman Bertie Lubner, “written to PW Botha dated 23 June 1982, Lubner writes to thank the prime minister for ‘a very wonderful evening which we spent with you, charming members of your family and other guests’. He proceeds to write of how much he admires Botha’s leadership of the country: ‘It is men with such high ideals and determination like yourself that create history.’ Post-apartheid amnesia ensured that at the time of his death last year, Lubner was praised as a beloved philanthropist and iconic business leader with far too little said about his support for the establishment during apartheid”.

    “This letter and others of a similar nature from Bennie Slome of Tedelex and Macsteel’s Eric Samson were some of the more surprising finds in the archive. This is because these men were widely known as part of the self-proclaimed liberal English-speaking business elite of the time. Though perhaps this surprise is misplaced – big business motivated by profit notoriously funds whoever is in power”.

    There are many such stories, with perhaps the saddest part being the complicity of the ANC “revolutionaries” in contributing towards apartheid amnesia.

  • SA Must Take Lessons From Germany In Dealing With Nazis

    By Pinky Khoabane

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    WHITE SUPREMACISTS in Germany who wish to demonstrate their longing for Adolf Hitler and Nazism have no choice but to find “creative” ways of showing their nostalgia than to boldly display the Swastika and other Nazi symbols.

    A silent march on the outskirts of Berlin in August this year for example, was hardly recognisable as a neo-Nazi protest. It was attended by hundreds of Germans wearing white or black shirts. They waved white, black and red flags – which was a flag of the German empire until World War 1. Some had placards which read “I do not regret anything” – a quote from the final statement by Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, at the Nuremberg Trials. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The protestors would not speak to journalists and instead turned their backs to anyone who sought to speak to them.

    Contrast that to the celebrations that took place in South Africa last week under the banner of #BlackMonday where white farmers publicly waved the old South Africa flag, sang Die Stem and burnt the democratic South Africa flag. These are the symbols of the heinous crimes of apartheid against Black people. In order to understand the pain Blacks go through when they think of apartheid, one need only go back to the testimonies at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as victims, weeping, spoke about the horrors of apartheid. The testimonies revealed many cases of rape, torture, deaths in detention, and human burnings whose ashes were then thrown into rivers.

    Like the holocaust which was genocide and a crime against Jewish people, apartheid was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations. These were deliberate and structured attacks on a people.

    The difference between the two countries is that democratic Germany, unlike democratic South Africa, focussed on retributive justice and not amnesty and restorative justice. Instead of the TRC where perpetrators  were forgiven by victims and amnesty was granted in the name of peace and reconciliation, Germany held the Nuremberg Trials where Allied powers – Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States—presided over the hearings of twenty-two major Nazi criminals. Twelve prominent Nazis were sentenced to death. Nazi criminals are hunted-down all over the world and face criminal prosecutions.

    In addition, modern day Germany does not allow anyone to display the Swastika, Nazi memorabilia, invoking Nazi-era slogans and making racially derogatory statements. The supremacists are allowed to protest but they are legally prohibited to display these items.

    In democratic South Africa, ministers of the ruling party which entered into the TRC compromise with the apartheid government, can simply issue statements condemning “the display of apartheid symbols”. They can do nothing else because these symbols are not outlawed.

    The usual outcry at the sight of apartheid symbols is simply misplaced and is a contradiction in terms. These symbols of the horrors of apartheid are not outlawed and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) can only offer a sad whimper. Die Stem, for example, continues to be part of what should be a symbol of a nation’s pride – the national anthem.

    Germany’s intolerance for neo-Nazi’s hate is careful deliberations over decades, on how to strike a balance between democratic freedoms and democracy itself.

    South Africa would do well to take lessons from Germany and save its Black populace the pain of persistent provocation by right-wingers.

     

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