Masilo Lepuru: ‘Africa, for the Natives Only.’

“We posit that the non-racialism of transformation of Sisulu and the non-racialism of decolonisation of Sobukwe and Biko are inadequate. Africans must stop to accommodate whites and opt for the uncompromising Africanism of Lembede in the form of Africa for the Africans and Europe for the Europeans” concludes an opinion piece by Masilo Lepuru, a junior researcher at the Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation( IPATC).

The Institute housed at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) claims to “provide a forum for scholars, practitioners, and civil society actors across Africa and its Diaspora to dialogue and contribute to the rigorous production and dissemination of Pan-African knowledge and culture” and further seeks to ‘promote original and innovative Pan-African ideas and critical dialogue in pursuit of global excellence in research and teaching, and to contribute actively to building an international profile for UJ on Pan-African issues.’

Lepura’s piece entitled “Non-racialism and its Discontent’s” published by IOL, thus purports to answer a question seemingly of utmost contemporaneous import — namely ‘the resolution of the national question’. Instead of providing any reasonable answers, he proceeds to fabricate a self-serving and overtly racist discourse. In other words, a false narrative in which the views of one Marcus Garvey, are hijacked and transposed with that of ANC Youth League founder and first president Anton Lembede.

It was the Jamaican Garvey, who whilst writing during the 1930s, first proposed “Africa for the Africans… at home and abroad.” A statement later memorialised in his poem of the same title which makes it clear he meant the term in a nationalistic sense, as in “America for the Americans”. Lepura writing almost 100 years later from the halls of UJ, sows a rather different, racist history of Pan Africanism within the country — a cockamamy yarn, obviously planted to subvert the very idea of non-racialism. An idea which has been at the bedrock of the ANC, in thought if not action, for decades. It is presented here as nothing less than a call for ‘Africa, for the Natives Only.’

At first he claims: “There are two dominant views regarding the resolution of the national question in South Africa. The first one posits that the national question revolves around the question of land and race, while the second one states that the problem of the national question is one of class in the form of the haves and have-nots.” Before proceeding apace, unapologetically towards an unpatriotic and clearly racist position.

His argument and proceeding bile, is best summarised as ‘the majority remain poor, therefore non-racialism has failed. Racism is the obvious answer.’

Tom Lodge writing in Black politics in South Africa since 1945, Longman (1983) describes the Pan Africanist movement’s rejection of “God’s Apartheid” by the inaugural Pan Africanist Congress held in Orlando, 1959.

“Four months after their secession the Africanists held the inaugural conference of the new organisation, the Pan-Africanist Congress, in Orlando. In a highly charged atmosphere, the conference was opened by the chairman of the Federation of Independent African Churches, the Reverend W. M. Dimba, who began his address by denouncing those ‘hooligans of Europe who killed our God’, and went on to salute ‘a black man, Simon of Arabia who carried Jesus from the cross’.”

“The delegates then elected a president, rejecting, rather to the surprise of observers, Josias Madzunya (who had disgraced himself by calling for ‘God’s Apartheid’, that is, Africa for the Africans and Europe for the Europeans), choosing instead Robert Sobukwe, a lecturer in African languages at the University of the Witwatersrand.”

The academic effort expended at framing a non-debate, one which clearly exists only inside the inner sanctum of the IPATC alone, is accomplished by Lepuru without so much as any demonstration of popular support. He immediately assumes his own authorship like a Monarch over the character of our country, and thus a contrived argument, which may have once informed the period immediately preceding the constitutional process. Current debates are thus subsumed by the introduction of hackneyed quibbles from a former era.

All cast here in the pursuance of a shallow academic and political project, calculated to re-engineer the country’s local ‘African Nationalism’ within the ambit of a particularly vicious trend amongst dissatisfied Pan-Africanists, namely their quest to create a continental super-state, one with overtly racist overtones.

It would not be all that bad if Lepuru were accurately relaying historical information as fact. If all he was doing was providing us with an opinion, as some do — one which myopically opposes the non-racial framework of the nation’s Constitution, whose Preamble states: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”. And thus critically tackling a foundation document, which attempts to negate racism by its clarion call to non-racialism. Instead what we have here is far, far worse.

Lodge goes on to record that in contrast, the ANCYL Anton Lembede believed in a racially assertive nationalism which would serve national self-determination: ‘Africa is a Black man’s country’ he stated, and thus ‘political collaboration with other groups could take place only with Africans acting as an organised self-conscious unit’. This early strain of ‘black consciousness’ is a far cry from the misreading of ‘Africa for Africans‘ of Marcus Garvey. It begs the question what any new sign reserving the future land might state: Africans here. Non-Africans there?

NOTE: Our constitution has several references to race. (Equality 9.3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race. Bars advocacy of hatred that is based on race in (16.2 c Freedom of Expression) ,bars discriminate on the basis of race in (Education 29.2c), provides person or community dispossessed of property restitution of that property or to equitable redress. Empowers state to introduce measures to redress the results of past racial discrimination (Property 25.6 25.7).

Abbas ’50 Holocausts’ comment draws fire, lame local response as Israel cracks down on Palestinian rights groups

IT’S BEEN quite a week. 7 days after Salman Rushdie was stabbed by an assailant and rushed to hospital where he remains on the critical list, Mahmoud Abbas was drawing fire for comments he made at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Scholz, prompting an investigation by Berlin police.

Abbas claimed that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.

The remarks, during a news conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond. Scholz said Wednesday he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by the Palestinian Authority president.

He also rejected the use of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israel.

Police confirmed a report Friday by German daily Bild that Abbas was being investigated for possible infringements of laws making it a criminal offense to downplay or deny the Holocaust.

Abbas’ statement is consistent with replacement theology which denies the involvement of Palestinian leadership in the tragedy under Amin al-Husseini (pictured touring concentration camps with German high command) and the result is Nakba inflation, in which massacres of Jews by Arabs in the Middle East, including expulsion and cession of land owned by Jews, some 100 000 square km of deeded property, is rendered invisible.

Nether remarks by Abbas or Sholz received media coverage in South Africa. Instead, I awoke this morning to press releases from local rights organisations such as South African Jews for Free Palestine (SAJFP), objecting to seven Palestinian civil society and human rights organisations ‘forcibly shut by Israeli raids on Thursday’. A tragic case of injustice versus injustice in which both parties to the conflict feel emboldened to deny the rights of the other?

The reasons offered by Israel seem to be allegations the organizations are being used as ‘fronts for terror activities’. JFP were quick to point out this was a common accusation made during the State of Emergency under apartheid. Whether the result actually translates into apartheid is another matter.

One can only hope the SAJFP is as vocal in its objection to Holocaust denial and will provides readers with an explanation as to why there is currently no Secular Freedom Charter in a struggle which purports to be analogous to the struggle against apartheid.

Oscar van Heerden: Evil academics are indeed banal

IN MANY respects Oscar van Heerden represents all that is wrong inside South African academia. Its de-emphasis of evidence-based research in favour of pure scholasticism. The rote repetition of other’s opinions, in an uncritical process which edifies ‘woke logic’ and the writings of the country’s institutional founders, in essence a thought-process emphasizing tradition and dogma.

Reading his latest missive published on News24, a title whose publisher sought my gagging in 2007 and then proceeded to lodge ecclesiastical charges on the basis of my attendance at a ‘mixed race’ nightclub on the Jewish Sabbath (in what can only be termed a racist inquisition of secular religion), one is struck, by the manner in which van Heerden fails to frame his writing within the context of secular humanistic norms and values.

I write this over the same weekend in which Salman Rushdie has been stabbed multiple times by an assailant enthralled by a fatwa issued against the author (and since retracted) by the Iranian regime.

Witness the callous manner in which van Heerden’s article: “The Israel-Gaza conflict and the ‘banality of evil’ proceeds to launch a bare assertion fallacy (ipse dixit) – “a claim that is presented as true without support, as self-evidently true, or as dogmatically true.” And thus a fallacy which “relies on the implied expertise of the speaker or on an unstated truism”. Which would not be all that troubling if it were not for the fact that van Heerden holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, (both in International Relations), and Salman Rushdie does not.

Van Heerden should know better than to posit a bald reversal of the context of Hanna Arendt’s “A Report on the Banality of Evil. Written by a Jew who fled Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, (who subsequently reported on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust), the resulting restatement would require extraordinary evidence. Evidence which he fails to either supply nor even cite.

Not even the much-maligned Amnesty Report into Israel and the Crime of Apartheid goes so far as to claim that the country is involved in anything resembling a ‘genocide’. Instead van Heerden relies upon a single source, namely the controversial opinions of one Gideon Levy, an Israeli author and journalist, resulting in immediate objections of exaggeration and hyperbole from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, exercising its purported ‘right of reply’, a right which I myself (as a person accused of being Jewish), do not possess.

Instead of reporting Levy’s views as his own opinions, van Heerden complicates matters by immediately assuming these views to be demonstrable facts. Thus the journalist’s open speculation as to why Israel does what it does, when the state, rightly or wrongly, practices a policy of asymmetric warfare, allegedly in defense of its own sovereignty, is presented as all true without the requirement of any further support.

The unhappy result is most certainly both a decontextualisation of history and current affairs which reaches out into the world of fantasy fiction. I am not going to continue with further analysis here suffice to add that I have already characterised the tragic situation in Israel/Palestine as one of ‘injustice versus injustice’, echoing writer Amoz Oz, who claims ‘a sad case of competing juridical systems’. In other words, a war over secular meaning.

One should add though, that Arendt appears to contradict her own thesis by arguing in The Origins of Totalitarianism, that “the evil of the Nazis was absolute and inhuman, not shallow and incomprehensible.”

And note, van Heerden also appears to ignore the fact that Israel barely occupies 35% of Mandate Palestine, with Arab states holding 65% of the territory. I therefore urge readers to read: “Everything you know about the Palestinian Struggle is Wrong

Harber: Stop claiming you’re defending RT press freedom

MOVES are afoot by state-sponsored news channel Russia Today (RT) to set up a regional hub in South Africa. Despite our pacifist constitution expressly outlawing ‘propaganda for war’ under article 16, (2) (a) — limitations on press freedom when it comes to calumny and disinformation to pursue ‘special military operations’ are simply being ignored. The result looks a lot like the apartheid government purchase of the Washington Star.

Laws implemented in Russia earlier this year, make it an offense to criticise Putin’s ‘special military operation’ and lead to protests outside the Russian embassy by a local chapter of Amnesty International. In response, Independent Group have been running paid opinion pieces produced by Russia’s Sputnik news agency. There appears to be a well-orchestrated campaign of Russian influence and news-peddling when it comes to South African media — politics redolent of the manner in which the apartheid-state sort to win hearts and minds.

Claims made of press privilege that would allow RT to broadcast from South Africa ring hollow considering the level of aggression displayed by Russian military in the Ukraine, and the channels’ support for an imperialist ‘war of conquest’ outlawed by the United Nations Charter, and our own constitution.

Advocates of press privilege when it comes to state-news channels, such as Professor Anton Harber ignore warning signs that our own media, though relatively free, remains under threat from government intervention and non-aligned media within Russia is non-existent. Several news outlets are blocked within the country. The Setevyye Svobody (Network Freedoms) Telegram channel reports that editors for Mediazona, Republic, Taig.Info, and Lentachel had all filed lawsuits against Moscow decisions to block their sites .

Harber is the former editor of the Weekly Mail, a news title which experienced a dirty tricks operation, at the behest of the Bureau for State Security (BOSS) — instead of defending press privilege in terms of our constitution, (need I state my own case?) he has become somewhat of a stooge for Putin, a situation consistent with the professor’s acquiescence with similar campaigns during apartheid.

Apartheid operative Paul Erasmus, for instance claims that he succeeded in getting Harber to publish ‘absolute lies about the late Winnie Mandela.’ Though the adjunct professor of Journalism at Wits, refuses to apologise, nor does he engage with such public submissions, he successfully defended accusations brought by a mainstream political party that he was in effect, a ‘Stratcom agent’.

Correction, a mere tool of Stratcom.

Increasingly populist discourse in favour of any self-serving cause, is given the rubber stamp by Harber and his ilk, the result is a rejection of democratic centralism i.e. constitutionalism, in favour of narrow, authoritarian geopolitical goals of despots like Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi. With the inevitable silencing of debate in favour of political expediency — do South Africans dare to deliberate on anything these days?

As I write this, the events of last July look as if they are repeating themselves in Durban’s CBD as the current Ramaphosa administration falters under Arthur Fraser and Carl Niehaus well-orchestrated counter-intelligence campaign — all flowing from the accusations made at the Zondo Commission.

UPDATE: Harber – SA will be giving Putin the space he denies others

The Press Council’s deportment of SA Jewish Report

AT the face of it, a cartoon caricature of a ‘greedy capitalist’ isn’t anti-Semitic. Taken within the context of a boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israeli goods? Well, there are some who may be offended. Personally I don’t find such images, which are redolent of similar Nazi propaganda, in particular the earlier Dreyfus Affair, terribly problematic.

Distasteful yes, and often accompanying conspiracy theories of Jews controlling the world, or bizarre plots to murder Christ and Christian babies, the images are well-known and documented. The illustration in question is a stock ‘man eating money’ image, symbolising greed, similar in many ways to earlier NP-inspired ‘Hoggenheimer‘ images from the 1930s and also deserving of comparison with ‘watermelon men‘ images, from the 1950s symbolising, indolence.

Although the picture in question has appeared in the context of such mischief, and is often used by anti-Semites, it is not one of the truly abysmal images depicting Ashkenazi Jews, with over-sized facial features deserving of our opprobrium. Judge Bernard Ngoepe is right to some extent, and on this account alone, to attempt to discount the controversy, since the image could just as well have found its home on the cover of Noseweek.

Unfortunately the logical analysis provided by Ngoepe is absolutely flawed. The least of which is its resort to an a priori finding — reasoning which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience.

The argument goes: Somebody who is Jewish says the cartoon used in this context is not Anti-Semitic, therefore it must follow that the author Tali Feinberg cannot impute any Anti-Semitism to BDS on the basis and must apologise.

The finding is wrong for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is clear that Feinberg quotes the opinion of an esteemed academic and expert on the subject, Prof Milton Shain, whose conclusions are thus immediately at odds with the a priori finding. (Frankly, the result does pose the question, why similar union campaigns are devoid of caricature? The subject of the use of cartoons in politics is especially touchy when compounded by religion.)

Secondly, Ngoepe essentially quotes only one opinion, provided by the complainant, that of David Saks, a member of the SAJBD in order to substantiate his own opinion in the matter.

Thirdly, Ngoepe is correct in averring a lack of balance and fairness, thus an impact upon journalistic standards of their member, insomuch as the report in question failed to solicit either the opinion of GIWUSA or BDS, the two affected parties.

Lastly, the sanctions imposed do not fit the nature of the offense. (SEE: Sanef Urges JR to reconsider its position).

In upholding the complaint in its entirety, instead of making an objective ruling upholding the rights of both parties, and thus the complainants right to respond to the article (right of reply) — to thus have their views published by the Jewish Report, as too the publisher’s right to publish, Ngoepe chose to side with the complainant. It is thus a highly politicised stance and outcome, one which immediately calls into question the Press Council’s standing and capacity to act.

The Press Council’s opinion in this regard really runs counter to the idea that a publisher may publish an authors opinion, based as it is on an academic’s opinion, however problematic and contrary to mainstream politics, it may be, and is contradicted by its own previous findings — rulings made when similar complaints are lodged by Jews regarding anti-Semitism in the press, (see my own complaint against Cape Times).

Does this make me biased when it comes to pointing out the resulting hypocrisy? It certainly should and please mark my words — the result is now an exile of the party concerned, an outcome which does not bode well for the council since BDS via its advocacy of far-ranging sanctions, which often translate into cultural sanctions against anyone vaguely Jewish, has long since gained a reputation for Anti-Semitism, in other words, hostility to secular Jewish identity.

I have merely to refer readers to death threats issued against the runner up to last year’s Miss Universe.

In seeking to close down the debate on what constitutes anti-Semitism, (rather than interpretation of the cartoon per se), and instead of reaching out to issues of fairness, the result rubs salt in the wound as it were. Surely it is not up to non-Jewish members of the council to determine such definitions, same way as whites don’t get to define racism, and an apartheid media company doesn’t get to decide who is a member of the anti-apartheid movement or not?

The result thus erroneously attempts to limit discourse, to force an apology on the substance of the unproven allegations, instead of a sanction on the merits, and with the unfortunate effect, a professional excommunication from the council. Which leads one to conclude Ngoepe is really entertaining a presumption in seeking to set BDS up as a movement whose reputation is beyond question at the same time that he denies the right of SA Jewish Report to call out Anti-Semitism, however and whenever they see it (surely all a matter of opinion?).

I also note there appears to be some debate as to whether the Clover boycott effects the so-called occupied territories or not. For the record, both sides in the tragic case of injustice vs injustice need to be heard.

If anyone wishes to engage with Medialternatives on creating a press code of conduct that would include internationally accepted definitions of anti-Semitism that include the right to criticise the policies of the state of Israel, please comment below. Surely time for a South African code?

SEE Press Council Expels SA Jewish Report.

SEE: Furore over SA Jewish Report, BDS Clover cartoon and the Press Council — let the ConCourt decide

Absolute content hypocrisy from the Mail and Guardian

IN 2005 the Mail & Guardian launched a news aggregation site Amagama. At the same time it hijacked content from users on its own free Blogmark platform, and thus work posted under a non-commercial creative commons license scheme. The company thus simply appropriated the material and republished it sans permission under its own copyright and sold the result to advertisers.

Around the same time the company destroyed my book review of ‘A Secret Burden’, and locked me out of my own blog, claiming the piece had offended an apartheid-era war journalist.

When it came to the new online world of digital journalism and blogging, writers such as myself were simply peasants. Our new overlords, ‘data jockies and cyber-cowboys’ such as Vince Maher and the late Mathew Buckland, saw us as nothing more than a means to make money, monetising content without any thought of sharing a penny with the creators of said content.

I struggled to retrieve my writing on this blog (see how Medialternatives came into being) and the matter of the destruction of material and the use of my content, was never settled. The offending item remains destroyed. (See Toby Shapshak bleating about AirBnB deleting and then undeleting his own review). Needless to say Amagama was closed down after a not well-publicized bun-fight in which I invited hackers around the world to spam the site.

At one point spambots were opening accounts and flooding the site with the digital equivalent of canned beef, to the extant the M&G servers fell-over from the weight of electronic gristle. Not surprising considering I had attempted something similar back in 1994 when I launched the world’s first Internet Riot in protest against John Major’s Criminal Justice Bill.

Write a chapter on Electronic Civil Disobedience if you so wish.

Now Hoosain Karjieker, ‘CEO of Mail & Guardian Media and chairperson of a nefarious entity known as ‘Publisher Support Services’ has approached the competition commission claiming ‘platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance.’

“The main objective of our challenge is to protect the future sustainability of the local news industry. The proposed draft legislation aims to ensure fair and equitable remuneration for South African news media businesses, large and small, for the use of their content.”

Well hooray for you M’lord, since your racist, parasitic company has a history of similar abuse of its position and most certainly does not give a fig about the plight of online content creators.

For years publishers have abused the default position when it comes to the Copyright Act. Any so-called unsolicited content submitted for publication is deemed to be the work of the publisher. The drafters never envisioned a situation in which the Internet existed, nor did it envisage a position in which writers published their own content.

In 2022 the Australian High Court was asked to find whether or not search engine Google was a publisher, since it linked to online content. The question as to whether or not Meta and Google are publishers remains a sensitive one, since depending upon how one answers this question, the result impacts upon whether or not the company’s ‘revenue and royalty’ model is a legal one, especially if original content creators are deprived of income. In this age of fractional investment schemes it stands to reason that a revenue sharing model would be the only fair way forward.

Google however threatened to block publisher’s links, in effect to shut-off Australia if the company was pursued with any tentative revenue-sharing schemes. The issue of fair use / fair dealing (how much one can publish before running into copyright issues) is dealt with to some extant by the latest amendment to the Copyright Act. IMHO, the way to deal with the problem is via resort to WTO/Davos and previous settlements with book publishers.

Vince Maher is currently the Group Executive Head of Digital at MultiChoice Group, a subsidiary of Media24, an apartheid company which rigged an unlawful decision before the Labour Court in 2010. At the time, acting justice Halton Cheadle was in business with Kagiso, a media company supplying content to Multichoice. The corrupt ANC party apparatchik proceeded to rubber-stamp a ‘racist religious inquisition’ into my identity with the resulting condemnation of the outcome by myself, as absolutely false, devoid of any truth, and alienating of press privilege.

For the record I am a secular humanist, not an Orthodox Jew per se.

You can read about my experience with Amagama here.

And my experience with Media24 here.

Radical birthkeeper, a non-traditional birth attendant controversy?

IN 2005 the earlier apartheid-era Nursing Act was redrafted to provide a ‘democratic sheen’. Gone was the French term ‘accoucheur’, meaning ‘one who assists at birth’ usually a ‘male midwife or obstetrician’. Colonial distinctions between midwife and pupil were instead replaced by several new categories including, ‘midwife’, ‘learner midwife and ‘auxiliary midwife’. No allowance for complementary or Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) was deemed necessary by the drafters.

According to the World Health Organisation 22% of all births are performed in the world by TBAs particularly in underserviced areas and rural communities. In countries where TBAs have been encouraged to work in more collaborative ways with formal health systems, and community-based ‘Skilled Birth Attendants’ (SBAs), they were able to overcome the rivalry that existed between them and ‘facility-based staff’.

Historically the role of TBAs is one that has been usurped by the Colonial Authorities. In particular the history of Nursing in South Africa reflects an over-emphasis of Western norms and standards (some would say for good reason), with a resulting centralisation of care and authority, and an undermining and de-emphasis of the power of woman-hood. The result is that not everyone can afford a professional midwife in private practice.

“When programmes used broad participatory approaches to design new models of care which included TBAs, and where TBAs were given clearly defined roles (such as birth companions or interpreters for women during labour and birth) they were more readily accepted …” write Tina Miller & Helen Smith in ‘Seminars in Perinatology‘ (2019).

Where the earlier apartheid Nursing Act (1978) failed to define midwifery, the new democratic version defines “midwifery” as certification, referring ‘to a caring profession practised by persons registered under [the Act], which supports and assists the health care user and in particular the mother and baby, to achieve and maintain optimum health during pregnancy, all stages of labour and the puerperium‘ i.e. six weeks from childbirth.

The act itself is, for all intents and purposes, the self-same colonial framework predicated upon the Medical Model introduced into the country by Western Medicine, with the only exemptions from the aegis of the act, being those actions ‘conducted during an emergency.’ It thus blatantly neglects TBAs and consequently forgets almost a quarter of births occurring in the country (and this tentative figure may be even higher!). In the process these births are effectively rendered invisible by the system and its emphasis on professionalism, under a status quo where traditional midwifery is swept under the carpet.

Enter a controversy

Enter the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, enacted in 2007 to “establish the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa; to provide for a regulatory framework to ensure the efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health care services; …” An instrument which defines TBAs as” a person who engages in traditional health practice and is registered as a traditional birth attendant,” and thus operating much in the same vein of the Nursing Act, save for its emphasis on registration rather than certification.

The latest controversy regards amateur birth practitioners, lay midwives, radical birthkeepers, traditional birth attendants and doulas (hereafter home-birthers) and at the face, revolves around interpretation of the above two acts, our Constitution and also natural law.

The resulting Carte Blanche documentary “Radical Birthkeeper” proceeds apace without any context other than the Medical Model and seems to suggest that home-birthers should be placed in the same category as back-street abortionists, fraudulent plastic surgeons and all those who wish to provide hospice patients the right to die and dignity in death.

Worse still, the documentary creates the impression that our public health system is abundantly resourced and more than willing to provide professional midwives for gratis, is otherwise supportive of home-birth, in a situation where the infant mortality rate for a professional practice is claimed to be “2 in 20 years” (Carte Blanche) or “Zero” (M&G) and that ‘if only the persons concerned had utilised this free service, all would be well?’ I note too that the days of GPs arriving to deliver home births are long gone.

About 99% of maternal and newborn deaths occur in low and middle income countries, globally amounting to about 500 000 maternal deaths and 8 million peri-neonatal deaths per year. While the trend in South Africa is downward, (if one ignores the past two years), the country still experiences some 12 000 perinatal deaths per year, mainly due to complications of pregnancy, labour and delivery.

The documentary is loosely based on a slightly more informative article published by the Mail & Guardian which raises several issues to do with infringement of the Nursing Act, the subject’s efforts to certify their midwifery practice, the role of Traditional Birth Attendants and the Free Birth Society as well as testimony by Angela Wakeford, a registered midwife. No real stats are provided by either of these contributions.

Putin is South Africa’s problem

FOR too long my own country South Africa has been trading off bloodshed — the 69 deaths at Sharpville, the apartheid-era massacres of Boipatong (45), and earlier loss of life at Bulhoek (163) and Leliesfontein (35) which occurred under the colonial authorities. As a consequence, of our hard-won transition to democracy and peaceful end to apartheid, we have taken it upon ourselves to lecture all and sundry on human rights. No longer.

The introduction of an alternative UN resolution on the war in Ukraine — a resolution which did not mention Russia at all — was resoundingly rejected by the General Assembly, ‘leaving South Africa’s facade of neutrality in the conflict in tatters’. It literally went down like a concrete Dolossus chucked into Table Bay.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN likened the South African motion to ‘knowingly giving a dying child a placebo instead of medicine’ and slapping ‘fresh paint on the moldy rotten structure of the assembly’ and ‘criticised South Africa for neither condemning Russia nor consulting with Ukraine on the matter.’

As the events surrounding the massacre and atrocities at Bucha play out, absolutely nothing to do with a ‘natural disaster’, as the SA rhetoric might suggest, one can only hold one’s head in shame, apologise to the world community while calling for restraints on ANC top brass — sanctions that could include restrictions on members’ international travel, and even the removal of South Africa from international organisations such as the UN Human Rights Council if necessary.

The ANC has been scrambling to reframe South Africa’s position on the humanitarian crisis, with Naledi Pandor issuing statements to the press on Friday saying the country “always opposed violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states and we don’t choose which member state”, whilst she also opposed Western intervention in the crisis, and insisted that Russia was the real victim, ‘an injured bear being constantly poked with a stick.’

Ramaphosa telephoned Joe Biden late Friday evening in a diplomatic effort around his thus far unsuccessful mediation efforts, and in an attempt to rescue trade relations. 

For nearly a decade, South Africa “unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency og f Jacob Zumaer (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa,” writes Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Moscow’s strategy was multifaceted,” he says, capitalizing on well-established close ties with Zuma, a former African National Congress senior intelligence official with extensive Soviet bloc connections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials pursued a series of initiatives, such as the inclusion of South Africa in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) grouping and the launch of ambitious forms of cooperation between state-backed energy interests primarily in the nuclear sector.”

To its credit, the so-called BRICS bank has placed a temporary halt on new Russian loans. The same cannot be said of the Ramaphosa administration which has been reluctant to sanction the Russian regime. Pandor hypocritically favours sanctions when it comes to the Palestine issue, but non-alignment and no sanctions when it comes to Ukraine. It remains to be seen whether or not the temporary suspension by the BRICS bank will hold, especially when alternatives to the SWIFT embargo are proposed from the far-left in South Africa.

The second largest opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters, (EFF) openly supports Russian aggression, while the official opposition Democratic Alliance is more supportive of Ukrainian independence from Putin.

Russian-South Africa nuclear projects keep on reappearing in various forms, though currently halted by the country’s robust environmental movement — the latest plans touted by Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe suggest Russia still has a role to play in South African energy policy and despite the presence of international sanctions.

Deputy President David Mabuza for instance, defended South Africa’s decision to buy gas from Russia some days ago.

Mabuza is reported to claim there was nothing “sinister” about his close ties to Russia and the country’s gas deals in the wake of the war in Ukraine. He said that ‘his visits to Russia for medical reasons should not be viewed with suspicion as the country tries to access more natural gas.’

Gazprombank, owned by Russia’s state-owned gas supplier, confirms it is considering a bid for what is potentially a multibillion-rand contract. The country is considered an essential part of Putin’s geopolitical grand strategy and is part of a minority of African states which refused to condemn Russia.

Though South Africa’s constitution is pacifist — a democratic instrument which has translated into a multiparty democracy, with a semblance of an independent executive and judiciary — the revelations of the Zondo Commission of inquiry into corruption under the Zuma administration paint a picture of a state which in many ways, is eerily similar to Putin’s Russia.

ANC ties reach back to the days of the struggle when the old Soviet Union was a major sponsor of the party.

It is no coincidence that the ANC has modelled itself after the oligopolistic, post-Communist Putin regime in which many parts of the economy are beholden to the Kremlin. South Africa’s 700+ State-owned Enterprises have acted to hobble our nation’s energy, transport, and telecommunications infrastructure, in the process breeding corruption and graft, a situation which has only begun to be corrected under Ramaphosa.

Given South Africa’s failed UN resolution, some would say the would-be reformist President is surely past his prime and unfit to govern? It is perhaps apt, that in Greek mythology, Dolos, (also a South African invention) is the spirit of trickery.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this article had 64 deaths at Sharpville taken from the SAhistory.org.za site.

A version of this piece was published by Daily Maverick 9 April 2022

Serial litigator, Terry Crawford-Browne is at it again, this time in support of Putin

OVER the years, former gold-dealer and banker, Terry Crawford-Browne has proven to be somewhat of a jaded crusader against war, that is, an opponent of militarism whenever it suits him. Thus while he opposes Western arms deals under the rubric “Economists Allied For Arms Reduction” and especially local arms-procurement, he has often ended up supporting the stratagems and policies of foreign dictators and autocrats

Crawford-Browne rose to fame on the coat-tails of the Anglican Church’s sanctions campaign against apartheid, and then proceeded to oppose the controversial realignment and hardware acquisitions of the new government and South African National Defense Force. The result was that along with Patricia de Lille, Crawford-Browne was given a platform to pursue a political agenda that has involved, inter alia, promoting Hamas and Putin’s Russia.

That judeophobia and denazification make for strange bedmates can be seen by Crawford-Browne’s latest scurrilous attacks against US President Joe Biden at the same time as he promotes a Pro-Putin narrative that has been thoroughly debunked by news organisations which include Deutsche Welle.

Crawford-Browne claims: “Biden, then as vice president, orchestrated the 2014 Maidan Revolution ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, in which the US ‘invested’ $5bn.”

He then goes on to infer that the President’s son, Hunter Biden’s position on the board of an obscure Gas Company Burisma, is untoward and indicative of this conspiracy, a minor scandal in US politics according to Vox, and one which deserves to be compared to the equally stricken Nord Stream 2 deal between Putin and Germany.

Though money was certainly spent by the US Department of State, and by NGOs which had government grants, the result is far from an ‘orchestration of events’. Not only was the money ‘over the table’ and not in the least bit clandestine, the financial help to organisations committed to development of civil society and Democracy, occurred during the course of many years .

Assistant Secretary Nuland at the USA-Ukraine Foundation Conference for instance specified USD 5 billion in aid since 1991, which is a far cry from the latest story being touted by Crawford-Browne, who is not simply the author of conspiracy stories involving arms dealers and intelligence operatives, but a peddler of blarney, and a litigant held in contempt of court, for defaming Trevor Manual amongst others.

In 2014 Crawford-Browne similarly went before the Arms Deal Commission and proceeded to claim that the person really responsible for the assassination of Chris Hani in 1993 was none other than “former Defence Minister Joe Modise”. An outrageous, unproven conspiracy story, that to date, has never been substantiated by any evidence, and despite the primary problem — both Clive Derby-Lewis and Janus Waluz were found guilty, alongside a plot by the right-wing.

Earlier in 2008 Browne was found guilty of contempt of court over his claims that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is corrupt and was interdicted from repeating the corruption claims until a defamation action in which Manual was asking for a permanent gag on Crawford-Browne was settled. In the end, Manual was unsuccessful in his bid to permanently silence Crawford-Browne, in part due to his bid before the Constitutional Court to reopen the arms-deal inquiry — a move which itself turned out to be unsuccessful, with none of the issues ever finding any resolution.

In an opinion piece published by Business Day, Crawford-Browne finds an opportunity to repeat many of the lies being touted by Putin apologists. For example, the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, was merely a ‘secession’, thus no actual invasion as such occurred. It was the Azov battalion, (a Ukrainian militia formed in response to the creation of Pro-Russian militia after Putin flooded Eastern Ukraine with arms) who are responsible for the breakaway move, since they are in reality “Nazis flying Nazi Swastika flags” — an Anti-Jewish menace behind the ‘deaths of 14 000 Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas region.’

There is no source provided for the death toll, nor even a vague consideration of the deaths of either Ukranians and Russians, whether Jewish or Gentile, in Putin’s latest military invasion which has resulted in 4 million refugees and displaced persons, and which is certainly not restricted to the Donbas.

While the Azov adoption of a nationalistic symbol once associated with the Waffen SS, drew criticism from Israel at the time, resulting in the battalion being absorbed into the regular Ukrainian army, the result is far from the picture of white supremacy painted by Crawford-Browne, who is himself, white.

A statement by 250 Scholars of Genocide, Nazism and World War II thus rejected the “Russian government’s cynical abuse of the term genocide, the memory of World War II and the Holocaust, and the equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression.”

“This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of the Red Army” they said.

Leftsplaining Ukraine: Why does EFF support the Far Right in Russia?

JULIUS MALEMA cynically used an event held to commemorate the 1960 Sharpville massacre to lend his support by implication, to the bombing of a Mariupol Theatre four days earlier, in which 400 persons including children were sheltering. He thus praised Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine on a National holiday, now called Human Rights Day, more commonly associated with an apartheid-era massacre which killed 69 people.

Contrast this with Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist and former Finance Minister who has written a manifesto of sorts, on the Ukraine conflict. He says: “When a country or region is invaded, I am overcome by one duty: To take the side of the people facing troops with direct orders to violate their homes, to bombard their neighbourhoods, to destroy the circumstances of their lives. Without hesitation. Unconditionally.”

Varoufakis then proceeds, like many Pro-Palestine activists around the globe, to draw an analogy with events in Ukraine and children in occupied Palestinian territories throwing stones at “Israel Army bulldozers”. 

If that is not an indication of where many on the left find themselves in this conflict, then I don’t know what would rank as a typical leftist, albeit misguided position? The position of the leader of the so-called Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the other hand, can only be termed, despicable, and is perhaps redolent of nostalgia for the past?

Malema made much of the fact that Russia, during the Soviet period had armed MK guerrillas with Kalashnikovs as well as other war materiel and financial aid. He didn’t bother to inform his comrades that the Anti-Communist and fascist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin once expelled by Lenin, is considered to be a major ideological inspiration for Putin, who was personally involved in moving Ilyin’s remains back to Russia, and in 2009 consecrating his grave (see below).

Varoufakis states: “Today we must stand with Ukraine, unconditionally. And we must say it out loud: Putin is a war criminal whose campaign sits in the same category as the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland or the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. No ifs, no buts. Our task must be one: To help Ukrainians gain their independence against a ruthless invader.”

Like many anti-war resisters, I stood against USA and its war in Iraq, in the same manner that I oppose the war being fought by adults against children in the Middle East. I was thus an organiser and marshal at an event in 2002 (held on my birthday), which saw 100 000 people marching down Adderley St calling for an end to the war.

And while we may differ ideologically on the rationale and context of the issues affecting the two sides in Israel and Palestine (from my end, it’s a tragic case of injustice vs injustice, complicated by secular and religious identity), we can at least agree that we are opposed to war in principle, as a means of solving our problems, since at the end of the day, ‘it is not about who is right, but who is left that matters’.

Unlike the South African Communist Party (SACP) whose starting point is a universal ‘stand for peace’, or the Pan African Congress (PAC) whose position, much like the ANC, is seemingly one of non-alignment,( in this case, Pro-African non-alignment, rather than a flailing Pro-Brics effort at neutrality under Ramaphosa ) — the far-left EFF appear to have swallowed the lies being punted by Vladimir Putin, who is really nothing more than a white Christian Nationalist and despot.

One has merely to watch Putin addressing a flag-waving crowd, calling for Russian unity, whilst quoting from the bible to realise this is true.

Julius Malema, attempted pretty much the same feat by coming out in open support of the invasion, before a unified throng of red overalls,he reiterated: “We are not with America, we are with Russia.”

With deputy Floyd Shivambu earlier urging renewed support of Russia, the EFF appear to ignore the fact that Putin has been shown to be a disciple and scholar of Ivan Ilyin — a far-right Russian nationalist and anti-Communist expelled by Lenin in 1922, — and also Alexander Dugin, the Eurasianist and fascist geopolitician, who rank amongst other ‘symbols of classical Russian historiography’ quoted by the leader in the run up to the invasion.

Ilyin much like Malema, provided a metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism, which he expressed in practical outlines for a fascist state.

Read Putin’s 2021 essay outlining his claims over Ukraine, as a central part of a Greater Russia.

Malema of course, didn’t let on that since he is 41 and born 3 March 1981, he was not much older than 10 when the USSR broke up, paving the way for South Africa’s own negotiated settlement. In short, Malema never carried a gun during the struggle and was never part of the anti-apartheid movement, as anything more than a minor.

He thus requires a further lesson in history. For Ilyin, ‘any talk about a Ukraine separate from Russia made one a mortal enemy of Russia’. The philosopher disputed that an individual could choose their nationality ‘any more than cells can decide whether they are part of a body.”

This is a far cry from the collegiality and internationalism for which communism was once famed, and even the Pan Africanism which informs many political schools of thought in South Africa.

Dugin can be credited with relocating Ilyin’s ideas within a geopolitical quest for Empire and apartness, what some would term multipolarity. As he puts it “we are not part of the global civilisation, we are a civilisation ourselves”. In this view, liberal values such as multi-party democracy, LGBTIQ and women’s rights are not necessarily shared values.

Dugin is a leading strategist behind the United Russia Party, which supports Putin in the Kremlin. A fascist and anti-Communist, he is the author of a Russian version of “Manifest Destiny” known as Foundations of Geopolitics (1997), a work used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

SEE: An Introduction to Ivan Ilyin, the Philosopher Behind the Authoritarianism of Putin’s Russia & Western Far Right Movements