Wednesday, May 1, 2013

BBC Creates Bad Image Of South Africa

The ANC has expressed outrage over a BBC documentary on the Marikana Lonmin mine massacre.

The two-hour documentary, titled “South Africa: The Massacre That Changed a Nation”, depicted what appeared to be the ANC’s failures in providing services for the people since the organisation came to power in 1994.

It was created by British Labour Party MP and filmmaker, Peter Hain, who visited the scene of the Marikana massacre and the Eastern Cape to interview the families of the deceased miners.

ANC spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, said it was not for the first time that the British media created a bad image of SA.

“It is unfortunate that the BBC is portraying the ANC in a bad light. But we are no surprised because it is no for the first time that we hear of the British media doing this. Some segments of the South African media are also doing the same,” Mthembu said.

Hain described in writing on the BBC website the experiences he and his crew went through during their visit to the Eastern Cape while filming the project, which he said included driving on an impassable road. 

“Whatever happened to South Africa in the 18 years since the end of apartheid, not much had rubbed off on these people (of the Eastern Cape),” Hain said. He had met President Jacob Zuma and claimed to have put to him the allegations of corruption, cronyism and brutality “against their own people”.

Mthembu said the ANC had formulated the National Development Plan (NDP) aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past. “I don’t know if Hain wants us to take all the white-owned assets and give them to black people,” he said.

Check out the video:

Zuma Spy Tapes

The DA says Deputy Judge President Willem van der Merwe has instructed that the continued spy tapes battle be heard before a full Bench of judges.

A full Bench of judges at the North Gauteng High Court will now hear the Democratic Alliance’s application to gain access to transcripts of the alleged “spy tapes” that were used to have corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

“The case was due to be heard tomorrow [Tuesday], but the deputy judge president decided that a full Bench should hear the case instead. No date has been set yet,” DA federal chairperson James Selfe said.

The alleged spy tapes are said to be recordings of intercepted phone conversations between former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Bulelani Ngcuka and then boss of the now defunct Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy.

They formed the basis of then acting NPA head Mokatedi Mpshe’s decision to drop corruption and fraud charges against Zuma in 2009.

Tuesday’s court hearing was to be the latest instalment in a protracted battle by the DA to have the recordings released. The opposition party is vying to be granted transcripts and other internal NPA documents that led to the case against Zuma being quashed.

Supreme Court ruling

In March 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal gave the NPA 14 days to produce the documents which led to Mpshe’s decision to drop charges. Instead of producing the transcripts in April last year, the NPA handed them to Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley.

The DA then argued the NPA should be found in contempt of court because it had failed to comply with the court order.

The matter was further complicated as neither the president nor his legal representatives ever handed over copies of the tapes to the NPA in the first place.

When dropping the charges, Mpshe said Zuma’s Hulley had only allowed prosecutors Sibongile Mzinyathi and Willie Hofmeyr to listen to recordings of the tapes.

After Zuma’s representations, the NPA independently obtained recordings from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) of the same telephone intercepts

The president’s legal team argues that the tapes and their transcripts formed part of representations made to the NPA by Zuma and are as such confidential.

But, the DA contends the recordings were handed over to the NPA by the NIA and cannot be seen as privileged information.

Helen Suzman Was Against Apartheid

The DA has the right to blow its own trumpet about the role it played in history. But it has no right to insult the intelligence of our nation.

The Democratic Alliance last week launched its "Know Your DA" campaign, aimed at educating people about the party and the role it played in the anti-apartheid struggle. As the face of this campaign to claim its stake in the struggle for liberation, the party chose Helen Suzman, the MP of the DA's first predecessor, the Progressive Party, who used her tenure in Parliament to condemn apartheid.

Yet, not content with the role its beloved ancestor played as a lone opposition voice against the National Party for 13 years, the DA sought to exaggerate its role in history. It appropriated the image of former ANC president Nelson Mandela, the face of the anti-apartheid struggle, placing him with Suzman on the campaign pamphlet. 

The DA's campaign document vandalises and vulgarises the ANC logo and compares Africa's oldest liberation movement with the apartheid government. It mischievously draws parallels between post-1994 tragic events, which this government swiftly condemned and acted on, with the apartheid regime's deliberate brutality and institutionalised criminality against the black majority.

The DA has the right to blow its own trumpet about the role it played in history. But it has no right to insult the intelligence of our nation through factual misrepresentation, distortion and lies.

To equate Suzman's role in the anti-apartheid struggle with that of Madiba, by publishing the picture of their friendly embrace, is an act of great desperation and political fraudulence. There is no denying that Suzman played a particular role in opposing apartheid as a member of Parliament. Nor is there any denying that public opinion about her role in an unrepresentative system was as divided as opinion has been on Margaret Thatcher since her recent death.

The indisputable fact is that Suzman served in a discredited political system, which was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations. Her participation in such a system legitimised an unjust order and made her complicit in the horrors it unleashed. Michael Morris, in Apartheid: The Illustrated History, eloquently describes her as a "token in itself of the political complacency of the bulk of white society". 

Parliamentary transcripts

Because of her participation, on behalf of the affluent minority white constituency of Houghton, she often found herself conflicted and speaking with a forked tongue on issues of principle. For this she drew the ire of true revolutionaries. For instance, in his message to the ANC's external mission in 1971, Oliver Tambo, then ANC president, chastised Suzman for being "in favour of change – but determined to prevent change".

In 1970, the ANC had said clearly: "Suzman has neither the mandate nor authority to speak on behalf of oppressed masses of South Africa."

Scrutiny of her parliamentary activism shows that hers was not the cause the oppressed masses shared. She supported some controversial Bills, including those that limited the rights of black South Africans, purportedly because – as she was fond of saying – they "represented a step in the right direction". 

Hansard, the parliamentary transcripts, reflects her vigorous push in 1973 for an increase in social welfare – for whites. 

Suzman threw her weight behind the Nats's counter-revolutionary campaign of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the objective of which was to weaken African countries' stance against apartheid. During her brief visit to Zambia in 1970, Suzman voiced her full support for official diplomatic contact between apartheid South Africa and African countries, with a view to ending economic sanctions. As Tambo said: "Suzman and lesser agents of colonialism have turned Africa into a veritable hunting ground for stooges and indigenous agents of racism."

During her visit to the British House of Commons in 1989, Suzman arrogantly reiterated to the international media: "I am against disinvestment and sanctions. I totally support Mrs Thatcher on this issue." 

Negative part of Suzman's history

Suzman did not only dedicate her energy to protecting the economic interests of the white minority by rejecting international calls for disinvestment. She also used her influence to block international financial donations to the liberation movements to help sustain their anti-apartheid programmes. In 1970, she opposed the decision by the World Council of Churches to grant $200 000 to liberation movements.

Much has been made of Mandela's "friendship" with Suzman, including her visits to him on Robben Island and the negotiations she facilitated for his release. But in 1969, during Suzman's visit to the island, Mandela maintained that political prisoners should be released, just as the Afrikaner rebel Robey Leibbrandt was released despite his treachery during World War II. Suzman's response was to echo the condition the Nats gave to Madiba for his release: that until he had renounced violence she could not ask for his release. 

Suzman opposed the use of arms by the liberation movement to defend the defenceless masses against a criminal and barbaric regime, but she seemed not to mind the apartheid regime replenishing its arsenal. As the regime escalated its violent attacks against opponents, including murder, banishment, persecution and harassment, Suzman stood with the Nats in endorsement of British arms sales to the murderous South African state. The resumption of arms sales to South Africa was against UN Security Council resolutions of 1963.

Today, Helen Zille has the audacity to paint the ANC and the deliberate acts of criminality and institutionalised violence perpetrated by the Nats with the same apartheid brush. 
Revolutionaries could not trust Suzman because of her double agenda, inevitably, given her compromised position as a supporter of human rights serving in a system guilty of gross human rights violations. As Joe Slovo, then chairperson of the South African Communist Party, said in 1983: "Mrs Suzman and I may both be against apartheid but we are certainly not both for liberation."

After her death on January 1 2009, the ANC, despite its clashes with Suzman during apartheid, said it "remembers and respects the contribution of Suzman towards the demise of apartheid". 

As a movement rooted in the ancient African traditions of ubuntu, which teaches us never to talk ill of the departed, the ANC did not mention the negative part of Suzman's history. 

Today, because of the reckless political posturing of her successors, we are forced to reflect on this painful part of our history. We would have preferred that she be left to rest in peace.

Moloto Mothapo is the ANC's ­parliamentary spokesperson

We can learn from Zimbabwe's Flourishing Farms

By Max du Preez

It is something many South Africans do not want to hear and would probably find hard to believe: Zimbabwe’s radical land redistribution has worked and agricultural production is on levels comparable to the time before the process started.
What is more meaningful is that the production levels were achieved by 245 000 black farmers on the land previously worked by some 6 000 white farmers.
I got this information from a new book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land by Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Smart.
Hanlon is a senior fellow at the London School of Economics and had written many books on southern Africa, especially Mozambique. Manjengwa is the deputy director of the London School of Economics and Smart is a visiting fellow at London University. The book’s findings came as a surprise to me. I was under the impression that most of the farms taken from white farmers were occupied by squatters or cronies of president Robert Mugabe and were largely lying fallow.
Not so, say the authors.
Mugabe cronies own less than 10 percent of the land. Many of the small farms (a few hectares) make a profit of about R90 000 a year while some of the more commercial-sized farms have turnovers of more than R1 million.
The authors also state that it is widely estimated that new farmers take a generation to reach full production, so the new farmers can be expected to raise their production significantly in the next decade.
All this information is relevant to us in South Africa. Land reform is just as emotive an issue and important to development here as it was in Zimbabwe.
But land redistribution has been painfully slow here, partly because of budgetary constraints and partly because of bureaucratic incompetence and corruption.
It would be a huge mistake to argue that, if forced, land redistribution without compensation has worked in Zimbabwe it should also be done here in South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s land processes seriously undermined stability and the economy for more than a decade. Millions of Zimbabweans fled the country and sought refuge in South Africa and other neighbouring states.
A similar undermining of our economy and stability could have a more serious impact on South Africa and could lead to great suffering and conflict, indeed to a fatal blow to our far more modern and sophisticated economy.
A radical disturbance of the equilibrium in South African commercial agriculture would have dire consequences for food security and could lead to dangerous social upheaval, even a low-level civil war.
There is another crucial difference. With few exceptions, white farmers were only established in Zimbabwe from the early 20th century onwards, most of them British and most of them arriving after the end of World War II. The man who led the white Rhodesian government after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, Ian Smith, farmed land given to him by the colonial authorities after evicting the indigenous owners.
Most white South African farmers are Afrikaners whose forebears arrived in the coutry from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany between 1652 and the early 1700s.
They lost all loyalty to a foreign “motherland” within a few generations and eventually came to regard themselves as indigenous people. REALLY!!!
Many Afrikaner families even had a slave woman from the late 17th or early 18th century as materfamilias. In the Western Cape, it is not uncommon to find a family on the same farm their ancestors had occupied 300 years ago, and elsewhere in the country a century or more ago.
Most dispossessed white Zimbabweans emigrated to South Africa or the UK. That is not an option open to more than a handful of white South African farmers.
Another difference is that, unlike Zimbabwe, we have a constitution protecting private property ownership and the rule of law. Even if the government appropriates land, it still has to pay some compensation.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t learn lessons from the Zimbabwean experience.
The first is that most new black farmers can actually farm successfully and commercially if given enough time and help. There are far too many South Africans who believe the opposite.
The second is that an ambitious land redistribution programme can play a large role in alleviating poverty and providing employment and dignity to large numbers of marginalised people.
The conventional wisdom among most academics, economists and political analysts in South Africa is that urbanisation is the answer to poverty alleviation and the successful provision of education and skills training.
Too many leaders in agriculture agree with this view and declare that smallholder farmers simply undermine the potential of available agricultural land.
Zimbabwe and the experience of Ethiopia and other countries in the last two decades are proof that they’re dead wrong.
We urgently need to throw old, conventional thinking overboard and tackle our problem with more vigour.