THE condemnation and finger wagging of some white South Africans, with some of their black stooges in tow, at the ANC’s re-election of former Qedani Mahlangu is a stark reminder of the mixture of arrogance and political amnesia that has dogged this nation since the advent of democracy – not to mention the hypocrisy.
Mahlangu was the MEC for Health and Social Development when 143 patients died at psychiatric facilities in Gauteng.
The patients had initially been in the care of Life Esidimeni centres where 462 patients died in four years before the rest were transferred to the NGOs (non-governmental-orgnisations) where the 143 later died. Any loss of life is a tragedy but the question here is why the lives of the 143 would dominate headlines and not the 462. Life Even the inquiry into the deaths completely ignored the 462 deaths. Esidemeni had had a 40 year contract which Mahlangu terminated hence the transfer of the patients to the NGOs.
“ANC is forgiving and hence Mahlangu has been elected to the Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee (PEC)” they say. They say the ANC rewards its shameful leaders with leadership positions. Sure it does, but its forgiveness is not confined only to its leaders. Apartheid’s butchers, a system the United Nations described as a crime against humanity, loom large. They live among us, thanks to the ANC’s forgiveness.
Mahlangu is also criticised for accepting the nomination on the Gauteng PEC – “she lacks ethics” they say. Are DA’s Helen Zille and Dianne Kohler-Barnard not working for their party in leadership positions despite their racist rants praising colonialism and apartheid leader PW Botha, respectively? Were these same moralists outraged? Of course not!
In their self-righteousness these critics forget, conveniently so, that we have men and women who perpetrated the most evil acts on a people for nothing else but the colour of their skin and as a means of raping their land, culture, artefacts and a whole lot more, and who remain in the corridors of economic and political power today.
The National Party including its much celebrated leader FW De Klerk perpetrated the most heinous crimes against Black people. And with the help of a forgiving ANC these butchers have fashioned themselves as moral beacons of our society whose views are our guiding light today.
The Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) examined gross human rights violations from 1960 until 1994 only making it a mockery for truth about the brutality that took place in this country. Only 20,000 victims made submissions and 7,500 others applied for amnesty.
We’ve come to learn about the systematic purging of Black people and leaders of the liberation movements by De Klerk and company and very little punishment, if any, has been meted out to these thugs.
What was De Klerk’s reward for defending and overseeing a government that killed hundreds of people in the political campaign called “black-on-black violence” which was orchestrated and manufactured by his government?
What reward did De Klerk get for ordering the assassination of twins Sadat and Samora Mpendulo (16 years old), Mzwandile Mfeya (12 years old), Sandiso Yose (12 years old) and Thando Mthembu (17) in their sleep on that fateful October morning in Mthatha?
What was De Klerk’s reward for being part of a government that waged a chemical and biological warfare that included a special military research programme which sought a substance to sterilize Blacks, created special devices – like orange juice laced with strychnine and poisoned chocolates – to kill anti-apartheid activists?
Where are De Klerk’s lieutenants who waged these atrocities on his behalf? Many have received amnesty and received pension payouts and medical aid and psychological counselling while their victims still fight till today, for justice. Some of the victims were each given R30,000 in reparations, no medical aid or psychological counselling and left to fend for themselves. They are not only victims of a most vile political system that left many of them on the fringes of society but they are also victims of ANC’s forgiveness of perpetrators.
The men and women who committed these heinous crimes live among us; some in democratic South Africa’s government and protected by the sunset clauses; others face the men and women they tortured having now swapped the SAP uniform for SAPS; very few perpetrators who did not apply for amnesty or were denied amnesty have been prosecuted, and instead in 2007, there were about 147 who applied for special presidential pardons.
Here’s what human rights group Khulumani said about the presidential pardon of the butchers of liberation movements.
“In 2007 Mbeki established a special reference group made up of representatives of all political parties to consider the applications for presidential pardon. The process was secret. The applicants included former Minister of Police Adriaan Vlok and former police Commissioner General Johan van der Merwe, as well as a large number of offenders whose crimes ranged from serial murder and armed robbery to race crimes.
Victim groups had to approach the High Court to stop the President from granting pardons without consulting victims and interested parties. Surprisingly, Zuma joined members of the far-right AWB, who were convicted of brutal race crimes, in an ultimately futile appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Following the ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2010 that victims had a right to be consulted, the Department of Justice at first refused to disclose the application forms of the pardon applicants. When the forms were disclosed in January this year it became clear why the government was so reluctant to release them: in key cases little or no truth was disclosed. In several other cases, such as those in the ‘fundraising category’, which includes robberies and cash heists, the claimed political objectives were clearly fabricated”.
What happened to the multi-national companies that, despite the call for trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, continued to do business with it thus helping perpetrate gross human rights violations committed by the security forces and at the same time profiting immensely from the collaboration? These are companies which caused direct and indirect harm to many South Africans through their collaborations with the apartheid regime.
Car manufacturers such as Daimler Chrysler, profited from manufacturing the armoured vehicles used to patrol the townships, knowing that they would be used in repressive activities in the townships. Arms manufacturers profited by violating embargoes on arms sales to South Africa. Oil companies profited by violating the oil embargoes. Banks such as Barclays, Citibank, Deutsche Bank amongst others profited from making the finance available that enabled South Africa to expand its apartheid police and security apparatus. These companies chose not to appear before the TRC.
The ANC defended these companies. They forgave them despite abundant hardships they had caused. They sided with them when Khulumani filed a lawsuit against them in the US.
In April 2008, a ruling by District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan narrowed the number of respondents to five companies: Ford Motor Company, IBM, Daimler AG, General Motors and Rheinmetall.
In 2007, the New York circuit court of Appeal held that liability of corporations for aiding and abetting the perpetration of gross human rights abuses does exist and that it can be pled under the statute. The Alien Tort Statute (ATCA) allowed for people anywhere in the world to make claims against United States-based corporations that have caused damage to those people.
In 2013, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal, however, dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that US companies may no longer be held accountable for human rights violations that did not take place within the US.
The condemnation of the ANC would have had the necessary gravitas if it didnt come from a group of people who are so morally bankrupt that they defended and entrenched a system perpetrating genocide against Black people for over 40 years of apartheid and centuries of colonialism.
The problem we face in South Africa is one of a dominant minority group which, due to the fact that it has escaped the need to ask for forgiveness from Blacks and have a moment of introspection, now has this arrogance and sense of moral entitlement which it doesn’t deserve.
White South Africans on the main, have no moral ground to point fingers at the ANC for forgiving its own. It forgave the worst criminals and its descendants.