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Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Gauteng ANC‚ SACP‚ Cosatu to stage protest march against Walus’s release

Cosatu in CrisisThe tripartite alliance partners in Gauteng – the ANC‚ South African Communist Party and the trade union federation Cosatu – are to stage a protest march in Tshwane on Friday against the release on parole of Chris Hani’s killer‚ Janusz Waluś.

The march will start from the main entrance of the Correctional Services Centre at 10 AM and proceed to Church Square, where a rally will be held.

“Alliance partners will protest against Janusz Waluś’s release on parole following the court decision made on 10 March 2016‚” the alliance partners said in a statement. “Janusz Waluś murdered in cold blood SACP General Secretary and ANC NEC member‚ Comrade Chris Hani on 10 April 1993.

“The march and rally also seek to support the decision of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha to appeal against the court order.

“The action will also serve to protest against the extremely controversial‚ unfortunate‚ insensitive‚ inconsiderate and regrettable remarks made by the Judge Nicoline Janse van Nieuwenhuizen calling on the Hani family to forgive‚ forget and simply move on with their lives.

“The Judge completely ignored the fact that the Hani family and the rest of the population still have many unanswered questions about the full details relating to the murder of comrade Chris Hani‚” the statement added.

Source: TMG Digital

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Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar, Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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‘Our country is a ticking time bomb’ – Zwelinzima Vavi at the launch of Cosatu in Crisis

Cosatu in CrisisThe Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business hosted the KwaZulu-Natal launch of Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation, edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall.

The forward to the book is written by former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who was in attendance at the launch and reportedly did not pull any punches.

Vavi compared the collapse of Cosatu with what he termed “the slide of our country towards a failed state”.

Read Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness’s report of the event:

[Vavi] described a subversive agenda, and how organisations that have raised reservations about our current leadership have been reorganised and how dissenting voices have been “managed off the scene” and replaced with a “choir of praise singers”. He stated that the collapse of Cosatu was designed, and that sadly, all that the powerful families and people in government currently cared about, was securing opportunities to “feed at the trough”.

When asked what role business should be playing, Vavi wasted no time in saying that business leaders needed to complain loudly about corruption and the crisis in our government, lest they be remembered for having been complicit in the downfall. “Our country”, he said, “is a ticking time bomb”.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Brigalia Bam reflects on the ‘suppressive streak of the Mail and Guardian’ after Thabo Mbeki article

Democracy - More Than Just ElectionsBrigalia Bam, former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and author of Democracy – More Than Just Elections, has written a response to the way in which the Mail & Guardian reported on the first of former president Thabo Mbeki’s series of articles on the period of his presidency.

Bam is Chair of the Board of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

The article in question was published on Thabo Mbeki’s Facebook Page on January 11. In the article, entitled “The tragedy of history: When caricature displaces the truth”, Mbeki addresses the documentation of the struggle and the subsequent “characterisation” of leaders of the liberation movement. He refers specifically to the controversy related to Minister of Safety and Security, the late Steve Tshwete.

Read the article:

For various reasons many of us who were directly involved in our struggle for liberation have not taken the time to write about this struggle and the subsequent efforts to build a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

One result of this is that people who were essentially observers of both these periods have written much of what has been published about these times, a good part of which has come to be accepted as authoritative and definitive, with no suggestion whatsoever that the authors of these supposedly authoritative and definitive histories had their own political or ideological mind-sets.

Some of this writing has sought to define my character as I served as President of the ANC and the Republic, and argued that this characterisation helps to explain various developments during this period.

On the January 15, the Mail and Guardian published a doctored photo of Mbeki with the headline “There’s an old sheriff back in town”, leading to a scathing editorial that asked the former president “to go back to not ruling from the grave”, and criticising his writing and choice of topic:

For all his reputation as being aloof and unaccountable, we always had at least some idea of what Thabo Mbeki was thinking during his time as president. Not always a clear idea, mind you; his use of impenetrable allusions and convoluted logic caused us a fair bit of head scratching. We had something to work with, though. Regular as clockwork there would be a lengthy essay in the ANC Today online newsletter, or a long academic speech to unpick. Mbeki was never a Twitter-length politician.

In her article, also published on Mbeki’s Facebook Page, Bam explains the context of Mbeki’s article and questions the newspaper’s response to it.

Read the article in full:

* * * * * * *


Dr Brigalia Bam 
January 17, 2016

Perhaps reflecting a dry week in the news business, an inability to make sense of so much that is happening in the world around us or just exhibiting an existential crisis of sorts, this week’s edition of the Mail & Guardian led with a piece pretending to be an informed explanation of the first of former President Thabo Mbeki’s articles on the period of his Presidency.

Accompanied by a photo-shopped image of the former President donning cowboy regalia and a hunting rifle, the total package (the headlines: “There’s an old sheriff back in town” and “Mbeki is back, with guns blazing,” the photo-shopped image and the article) sought to conjure an image of a vengeful Mbeki on a mission to settle old scores.

Reading the story, one imagines a shebeen where all manner of urban legends proliferate. And so, the less said of it, the better.

The editorial (“Please put a lid on it, Mbeki”) on the other hand is worth a brief engagement for its extraordinary counsel. It advises
former President Mbeki to stop writing; to shut up!

At last, the Mail & Guardian, one of our country’s self-proclaimed defenders of free speech, has let the guard down, revealing its true belief. Freedom of expression applies only to itself and those with whom it agrees!

The supposed reasons Mbeki must shut up are that his first article did not discuss his “stance on HIV,” his supposed “failure in oversight that led to current electricity and water shortages,” his alleged “role in making the ANC into the patronage-dispensing machine it is today,” and that there are ANC factions who, like the EFF, allegedly want to rehabilitate Mbeki for their own ends.”

Supposing that we agreed with the Mail & Guardian, are these the reasons for gagging someone in a democratic society? What business are ANC and other political parties’ factional machinations to a paper which professes non-partisanship? Is this an inadvertent admission that the Mail & Guardian is not, after all, as non-partisan as it claims; worst of all that it intervenes in political parties in a factional manner?

The baseless charge that “Now Mbeki … shows every sign of wanting to influence South Africa’s path again” is in similar disposition as the Mail & Guardian’s extraordinary desire for a gag on him. No one, certainly not Mbeki, has explicitly stated or remotely implied that the articles are about issues other than those that served on the agenda of public discourse during his Presidency.

On December 15 last year, the CEO of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Max Boqwana, published a notice on this Page on the “Forthcoming articles by Thabo Mbeki.” Among other things, Boqwana wrote that: “The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) regularly receives requests from South Africans and others in Africa and abroad asking President Mbeki to comment or speak on a whole variety of issues.

“Some of these communications request that President Mbeki should comment on matters which arose during the years he served in our country’s Presidency. These include direct criticisms that were and have been made over the years concerning his own personal conduct in Government.”

In the first article about which the Mail & Guardian complains, Mbeki would confirm that it is the first of many articles to come. Why then does the Mail & Guardian think that Mbeki must not continue to write if his first article does not raise the issues they protest it omitted? In principle, why does the Mail & Guardian think they have a right to determine for him or anyone for that matter, what to write and, by implication, what not to write, especially when the issues are of public interest?

Again, the reason can only be that the Mail & Guardian has long determined that Mbeki represents views with which they fundamentally disagree and do not want heard. The perverse reality is that the Mail & Guardian, which pretends to be one of our country’s torchbearers of free speech, is, at the best of times, effectively a Censorship Board, unafraid to gag and to set the agenda of public discourse by means subtle yet no less asphyxiating as those of the Censorship Board of yesteryear.

Alas, somewhere in the dark corners of the psyches of these purported defenders of free speech lurk an Idi Amin: “You have freedom of speech, but freedom after speech, that I cannot guarantee you.”

One might be expecting too much, but even in its Idi Amin mindset, the Mail & Guardian can surely do better than regurgitate swear words and phrases of no meaning and analytical value. What, for instance, does this verbiage mean? – “It was vintage Mbeki, right down to the hint of a whiff of pipe smoke and armchair leather – and the blinkered paranoia, the disconnection from reality, and the belief that he can change by decree how South Africans interpret facts.”

How does an article amount to a decree? Do South Africans interpret facts the same way? Which reality, which facts, whose reality, whose facts,
determined by who and why is a change in the interpretation of facts deemed impermissible in a democratic society?

The false and insulting charge that Mbeki believes that he can “change
by decree how South Africans interpret facts,” reveals more than it conceals the Mail & Guardian’s own undemocratic perspective which consists in the belief that society has a one size fits all lens of interpreting facts. We are firmly back to the era when it was widely
believed that the earth is flat, with the most grotesque and barbaric
violence visited upon those who dared to suggest otherwise.

But the newspaper may want to ponder the words of Naom Chomsky: “Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favour of free speech, then you’re in favour of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favour of free speech.”

We are indeed in the fortunate position that Mbeki’s articles are being published in a medium other than the pages of the Mail & Guardian. It gives South Africans the opportunity to interpret facts variously and differently from the lenses by which the newspaper interprets them. This surely can’t be a heresy in a democracy!

Dr. Brigalia Bam is Chair of the Board of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

* * * * * * *


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“We are Fully Behind the Call for a Free Education as Promised by the Freedom Charter” – Cosatu on #FeesMustFall

Cosatu in CrisisThe Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) issued statements on Monday and Wednesday in which they expressed their ongoing support for the wave of student protests that have taken the country by storm.

The #FeesMustFall movement have had a ripple effect across the campuses of the University of Cape Town, Wits University, Rhodes University, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape and more, culminating in the #NationalShutDown movement this week where students have been marching to Parliament in Cape Town, Luthuli House in Johannesburg and the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand action from government.

In the first statement, Cosatu’s national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla says: “We are fully behind the call for a free education as promised by the Freedom Charter.”

For more on the organisation that has played a crucial role in championing democratisation, read Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall.

Read the article:

We are fully behind the call for a free education as promised by the Freedom Charter. This commodification of education will continue to keep working class children at the bottom end of the economic pyramid.

It is an established fact that higher education is correlated with better employment outcomes and greater labour market participation. For most people a university degree offers an escape from unemployment and grinding poverty. Pricing education out of the reach of most people is suicidal for this country.

Cosatu strongly believe that education should be treated as a societal issue, largely located in the hands of government. The whole concept of institutional autonomy of universities does not work because it disconnects these institutions from the reality of our society.

In the second statement, Pamla reaffirmed Cosatu’s support of free education for all, but cautioned against the flinging of insults against Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande: “Minister Nzimande is not Father Christmas, who will deliver free education, but that is the responsibility of the entire ANC led government.”

Read the article:

We believe that all stakeholders need to have sober and frank discussions on how to resolve the funding, governance/management crises in specific institutions. We are fully behind the campaign to do away with the commodification of education and the call for fundamental transformation of universities.

Whilst we support this campaign, we want to make it clear that we are opposed to the opportunistic attacks directed at the Minister of Higher Education, Cde Blade Nzimande. The responsibility of delivering free education and fix the apartheid fault lines that have led to the current situation, cannot be left at the door of one individual, who is subject to the decisions of both Treasury and the cabinet.

On Tuesday, Cosatu shared their wishlist for the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement with News24, which includes their expectations for basic education and higher education and training.

Read the article:

Higher Education and Training

Whilst government has done excellent work since 1994 in increasing student bursaries from R10m to R10bn, we expect to hear that the administrative chaos in NSFAS is being addressed and that we are moving towards free tertiary education.

The current crisis at our universities shows that students and their families can no longer bear the high prices being forced upon them. Now is the time for a bold and decisive intervention. We also expect Treasury to reclaim the financial reserves that have been privatised by many universities and are sitting in their accounts.

They should be audited by the Attorney General and turned over to National Treasury for funding of academic projects in schools.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

Cosatu’s Gripes with the ANC, SABMiller and Its Own Affiliates

Cosatu in CrisisCosatu, the powerful union federation that is the subject of Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall, is making its displeasure with respect to ANC government decisions known this week.

In an article for Business Day, Karl Gernetzky reported on Cosatu’s gripes with the ANC. They include e-tolling and the ruling party’s habit of ignoring key policies. Gernetzky writes that Cosatu members will be addressing issues relating to the ANC as well as problems within the federation itself at their upcoming national congress.

Read the article:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is concerned that its alliance partner, the African National Congress (ANC), is ignoring key policies on the ownership of strategic levers of the economy, including the governing party’s resolutions to establish a state-owned bank and a state-owned mining company, the union federation said on Friday.

Cosatu is going to have a careful look at the outcomes of the ANC’s mid-term policy meeting at the union federation’s national congress in November, general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said on Friday.

Cosatu has also voiced their dissatisfaction with SABMiller’s takeover by an overseas brewery, and the South African government for allowing it to occur:

“We will never allow a situation where the South African offices of SABMiller are relocated away from South Africa and the local revenues are spiralled out of the country to the detriment of the entire economy,” Cosatu said in a statement.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

Are the New Parliamentary Rules Designed to Shut the EFF up? Justice Malala Grills Lechesa Tsenoli (Video)

Let Them Eat CakeJustice Malala recently invited the deputy speaker of parliament, Lechesa Tsenoli, to The Justice Factor show to discuss the new parliamentary rules that were put in place last month to regulate disruptive members of parliament.

Malala’s first question to Tsenoli is, “Were these rules designed essentially to shut the Economic Freedom Fighters up after what happened this year and last year?”

The deputy speaker answers, “No, the rules are intended to prevent disruption, the rules are intended to protect the rights of all political parties in the National Assembly to have an opportunity to ask the President questions and that no one party must monopolise that time and actually disrupt the proceedings.”

The author of Let Them Eat Cake insists that surely the new rules could allow the ANC to “remove the EFF for something that they’ve said, on a subjective basis” and argues that the rule can enable the speakers, who belong to the ANC, to treat the EFF unfairly. “It’s almost like an ANC disciplinary hearing,” he says.

Watch the video:

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Justice Malala Believes China Dictates Human Rights Policy too Strongly to South Africa

Let Them Eat CakeIn Justice Malala’s “The Burning Platform” show on Cliff Central recently, he examined South Africa’s relationship with China.

Malala believes it is time for South Africa to reassess how it interacts with China, as he does not like where it is going with regard to human rights.

“China increasingly seems to dictate to South Africa what our human rights stands should be,” Malala says. “For example the Dalai Lama. Increasingly we are listening to China, and not saying, ‘what was South Africa about?’ South Africa was about human rights, and we should stand with those who are facing human rights abuses around the world.”

Malala’s piece starts around the hour mark:

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“McCyril The Killer” AKA Cyril Ramaphosa – Fred Khumalo Celebrates Freedom of Expression

Zulu Boy Gone CrazyIn a recent article, Fred Khumalo praised the freedom that allows South Africans to make up creative – and sometimes insulting – nicknames for their leaders.

The author of Zulu Boy Gone Crazy refers to “McCyril The Killer”, the nickname given to Cyril Ramaphosa, who was exonerated from a role in the 2012 Marikana massacre when President Jacob Zuma released the Farlam commission report last night.

Khumalo says he is glad South Africans continue to “test the limits of freedom of expression” as these freedoms “give us succour in these horrible days when we have become playthings for those who have power”.

Read the article:

We have a president who no longer bats an eyelid when we call him the Kangaman, or Showerhead. But the man has taken all these barbs in his immeasurable stride, so much so that it looks as if he is immune to attacks of whatever kind.

Have you noticed how he has turned the Nkandla imbroglio on its head? Now, it’s as if his detractors are the ones who need their heads read.

There’s a character!

Then we have his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, now called McCyril The Killer thanks to a T-shirt that features those words and the head of a buffalo (one assumes the reference is to the buffalo that he famously bid for at an auction some years ago – drawing the ire of Julius Malema and others).

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“No One Left to Speak for Me” – Fred Khumalo Highlights the Danger of Silence During Xenophobia

Zulu Boy Gone CrazyFred Khumalo, author of Zulu Boy Gone Crazy: Hilarious Tales Post Polokwane, has written an article about the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Khumalo says if South Africans keep quiet as foreigners are attacked, “we are only making the ground fertile for the germination of other chauvinistic tendencies”.

He refers to the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller on the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis during World War II, and says they are worth remembering today:

He said: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. 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.”

When the new wave of xenophobic attacks took place in Soweto a month ago — new because the first real wave dates back to 2008 — many looked the other way, and dismissed it as “something that will pass”.

It did not. Like all good viruses, it restlessly moved around the country, looking for a place it could get traction. It finally settled for KwaZulu-Natal.

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President Zuma will Heave a Massive Sigh of Relief as Helen Zille Steps Down, Justice Malala Believes

Let Them Eat CakeJustice Malala, political commentator and author of Let Them Eat Cake, has written an article about Helen Zille for the Rand Daily Mail.

On Sunday, Zille announced that she will not stand for re-election as leader of the Democratic Alliance. In the article, Malala considers Zille’s impact on the DA. Big questions are being asked, he says, about the party’s immediate future.

Malala points out that Zille has made “some serious strategic and tactical mistakes”, including the merge with Agang. He says she is also perceived as “shrill and irritable”, both with her own party members and the media. However, he also points out her positive achievements.

Read the article:

She inherited a party perceived as rabidly right-wing in 2007 and softened it. She lauded and supported the National Development Plan, thereby subtly pushing the party into more centrist politics and away from the hardcore capitalism of the 1990s DA. Crucially, though, since 2007 she has exposed the corruption and bankruptcy at the heart of our current political leadership.

Her rise to the top coincided with the rise of President Jacob Zuma, and he will be heaving a massive sigh of relief as she rides into the sunset.
Zille has run him ragged, exposed his attacks on the constitution and called him out on his laissez faire attitude towards public money.

Under her leadership, the DA has begun to counter the narrative that the DA is a “white” party. Patricia de Lille, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Mmusi Maimane and others have emerged as leaders.

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