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.

Olga Meshoe-Washington at the UN in Geneva

THE suffering of black persons in South Africa under its apartheid regime has become an antisemitic tool by which to delegitimize Israel, Christian pro-Israel activist and Johannesburg native Olga Meshoe Washington said on Monday.

“My people’s history and experience is being used as an antisemitic tool to politically, morally and with incredible pretzel-like twisting and legal gymnastics, legally delegitimize Israel with the hope to criminalize her.”

“We have propped up the morally and legally corrupt notions that Israel is guilty of apartheid, colonialization and genocide. To what benefit? Africa is now the global eye of terrorism and slavery is rampant in no less than 5 African countries, some of which have had a seat on the UNHRC.”

Debate: Non-racialism vs Anti-racism

Neville Alexander’s Unity Movement opposed the now defunct, multi-regionalist theory of human evolution and proposed that all of humanity was the result of a common stream, not separate and distinct ‘race groups’. Given that non-racialism is now the basis for our Constitution one would think that Alexander’s ideas were relatively secure on our nation’s campuses?

Not so, according to Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seeking, who write about the influence of a “contemporary American antiracism … being promoted with a missionary zeal.”

They write in the Daily Maverick: “American antiracism does not simply mean being anti or against racism. It means adopting a racialised and profoundly American worldview that frames all disadvantages experienced by “black” people as the result of “systemic racism”, meaning the institutional and cultural promotion of “white supremacy”. Contemporary American antiracism entails a rejection of non-racialism. It emphatically asserts an essentialist apartheid-style understanding of ‘race’.”

“At the University of Cape Town (UCT), in a city where anti-essentialist ideologies of non-racialism — including radical as well as liberal and African nationalist ideologies — have a long history”, this contemporary American antiracism, they claim, is being promoted as a religion.

The imported, ‘racist conception of race’ flies in the face of science, since as scientists have elegantly put it, ‘adaptive traits such as hair and skin colour are not indicative of a separation between the species’, we are all one race, the human race, or as the late Robert Sobukwe put it, ‘there is no plural in race’. Issues such as discrimination, whether institutional or otherwise, are thus the product of racism, not race per se, since clearly race, is the ‘child of racism not the parent’.

Consider the Apartheid regime’s ‘separate and distinct’ race groups were tragically claimed to be the product of spontaneous human evolution, which they alleged had arisen in isolation on different continents. Race theorists, early paleontologists and bureaucrats such as Piet Koornhof, the so-named Minister of Plural Development, a man often drawn in cartoon caricature, spent their time on SABC pronouncing upon the classification of black persons as Non-White. ‘Plurals’ and similar such pseudoscientific nonsense, were terms often cast in direct opposition to apartheid’s many critics.

As a direct result of the Unity Movement’s interventions — and whilst Alexander was incarcerated on Robben Island, and a story often told by Alexander — the ANC adopted non-racialism as one of its central pillars, his having persuaded Madiba of the merits of the idea. Alongside a discourse similarly advocated by Sobukwe, the history of our country is in reality, an epic journey from the oblique multi-racialism of the Freedom Charter to the clear non-racialism of our Constitution. Nevertheless, the racist conception of an essentialist race identity persists.

You can read about my dis-enrollment from the ‘white race’ here. And the manner in which an anti-racist bigot and oxy(moron) on the bench acting in cahoots with the apartheid system, has censured me for simply advocating Alexander’s ideas, this whilst over-ruling several acts of Parliament, all of which provide a legal basis for non-racialism.

Or if you up for some additional UCT controversy, read Lushaba’s Faux Pas or take a bite out of some UCT Skeletons.

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

Yes, Adriaan Basson is automatically a racist

BOUWER van Niekerk, a Johannesburg-based attorney penned an opinion on a statement this month, written by a group of concerned advocates who “were outraged by what they viewed as racist attitudes toward black legal practitioners.” In the process he unwittingly raises a point in law, regarding the status of persons who like Basson, may not have gained amnesty for crimes under apartheid.

Niekerk states without any sense of irony: “If I utter racist views, I should be held accountable and prosecuted accordingly. But the mere fact that I may differ with the views of the concerned advocates should not automatically make me a racist. Such a conclusion is simply erroneous. (And, for the record, I am not a racist.)”

The trouble with this assertion, which of course, assumes the parties, including Basson and Dali Mpofu are ‘innocent until proven guilty’, is that when it comes to an opinionated critic of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Basson is also an “editor-in-chief of South Africa’s largest website News24” and former editor of Die Burger, and thus a member of an organisation opposed to the ‘transitional justice process’, in other words the outcome of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Basson is essentially the pitbull for a publishing concern which, despite its case-limited apology in 2015, clings to a version of history that is anything but truthful. A case of the pot calling the kettle black, since he took Dali Mpofu to task for his unsubstantiated aspersions against Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, during a round of hearings before the JSC, but thought nothing of his company deploying the exact same tactic when it came to hearings involving the TRC?

Naspers and its subsidiary Media24, has gone to elaborate lengths to avoid history, including tarnishing and scandalising the truth and reconciliation process before the courts, in the process engaging with acts of malfeasance and state capture (documented here), all calculated to stymie the victims and survivors of the apartheid regime. The company gave the ANC R1 million last year.

In its conclusions to the special inquiry into the media, Volume 4 of the TRC report stated: “As predicted by the chairperson of the Commission at the start of the media hearing, the absence of the Afrikaans press led to its being condemned as an extension and willing propaganda organ of apartheid.” [para 103, page 186]

The report thus issued its findings, including that: “The Afrikaans media (at least until the last few months of PW Botha’s tenure as State President) chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.” [para 115, page 189]

It found also that: “The racism that pervaded most of white society permeated the media industry. This is supported by ample testimony presented to the Commission concerning the failure of many white journalists to delve thoroughly enough into allegations of gross human rights violations involving black people.”

“With the notable exception of certain individuals, the mainstream newspapers […] failed to report adequately on gross human rights violations. In so doing, they helped sustain and prolong the existence of apartheid.

Persons such as Basson were thus essentially found guilty in absentia in a proceeding whose legal authority and standing has never been tested in a court of law.

SEE: TRC: No to Naspers dirty tricks

SEE: Naspers “half-apology” ignores decade-long battle for justice and contrition

SEE: Following Reconciliation Day, an open letter to the TRC Commissioners

Israel Amnesty Report, an exercise in ellipsis and paradox

THERE is an astonishing contradiction at the heart of the latest Amnesty International Report on Israel, one deserving further analysis. Resolving it, could be the key to unlocking a potential solution. Ignoring it, could mean, business as usual, since the document’s omission of history and demographic context, makes the report in all likelihood, an exercise in futility.

Prior to 2018 and the passing of ‘Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People“, by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s raison d’être was exactly, as the didactic law maintains, to provide a nation-state for the Jewish people. Yet there was always hope that the country could achieve a lot more for all its citizens. As a cosmopolitan and democratic hub in the Middle East, it had pretensions at being just like any Secular Western country, a melting pot of divergent interests.

It was successive Intifadas beginning in 1987, which put paid to this notion. The reason can be seen by the manner in which Amnesty International treats the issue of nationality, preferring to tackle the problem from the perspective of a proposed, single unitary state, one which ignores the logic of Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian separatism, all while holding to a UN-sponsored fiction that Israel occupies Gaza, for the purpose of analysis.

Thus Palestinians in Gaza, according to Amnesty are being denied their rights to become Israeli citizens, at the same time they are being denied their rights to become Palestinians in a country that includes all of the territory under the former British Mandate.

The same is true in the West Bank, where the issue of nationality, passports and permanent resident status are compounded by an ongoing dispute involving land and borders, one that revolves around a centuries old teleological crisis involving the City of Jerusalem. To put this another way, it is a crisis within monotheism, as to which monotheistic religion prevails at the end of the day.

In recent years there have been a number of attempts to apply UN definitions of the ‘crime of apartheid’ under international law to the conflict. I have written about some of these earlier, mostly misguided endeavours to impose pseudo-scientific race definitions onto the situation [1], and have routinely objected to the resulting category error, since clearly nations are not races. There is no distinct Palestinian ‘race’.

Page 7:
[Amnesty International] does not seek to argue that…any system of oppression and domination as perpetrated in Israel…is…the same or analogous to the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

Page 211:
Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control…It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid.

Thank you Whoopi, your statement demonstrates an important point of departure in our common struggle

SOME get what Whoopi was trying to say: ‘Slavery wasn’t about race, Apartheid wasn’t about race, the Holocaust wasn’t about race. It was about man’s inhumanity to man.’ (Or in the case of Leni Riefenstahl, woman’s inhumanity to woman). Except, that wasn’t exactly what she was saying. The wording is mine. The actor and talk-show host, wasn’t drawing a humanistic lesson from Hitler’s Final Solution, a universal truth that could apply equally to slavery, apartheid, the Rwandan Genocide.

Instead she was responding to the school-banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus by a Tennessee School Board. And engaging in a trite intellectual exercise that often begins by downplaying the profound impact of Auschwitz, (why get hot and bothered by the banning of a comic book?), a dramatic intervention which then proceeds to ignore the role of the perpetrators, in order to raise an anti-racist point or two about Israel.

Absent the Holocaust, and the Nakba seems to be a terrible, singular tragedy unleashed upon innocent civilians by Jews on holiday from Eastern Europe. Absent the 1929 Hebron Massacre, subsequent 1941 Farhud Massacre, and especially the complicity of Palestinian leadership during the 1940s and 50s in pursing a ‘definitive solution to the Jewish problem’ — a broad campaign to remove Jews from Arabia articulated by Amin al-Husseini, and the result looks a lot like apartheid South Africa.

Whoopi’s ‘inhumanity to mankind’ spiel, is often trotted out whenever the privileged ‘woke’ few, wish to castigate the Zionists for defending their attempts to create, what they claim, is a secular safe haven for Jews. Since I am a non-theist and non-Zionist, I often used to engage in exactly the same type of rhetoric. Whoopi was being rhetorical, she was not adding, so much as subtracting from an important conversation, one which needs to begin by drawing humanistic and universal lessons from history.

Unfortunately the conversation around Maus, was not the correct moment to be doing this. It was downright offensive and insensitive. Amidst the resulting twitter backlash, Whoopi was forced to apologise and has been suspended from her show The View, for two weeks.

If there is a universal truth to be drawn from Belsen and Treblinka, it is not by denial of Hitler’s attempts to create an Aryan master-race. It is not by denial of the Nuremberg race classification laws, nor denial of the Nazi’s attempts to cast persons as superior and inferior.

It is by examining the manner in which pseudo-science and cherry-picking of facts are abused by crackpots on the far right, and also by misguided individuals on the left, and realising that Hitler’s propaganda machine had a massive role to play in creating the necessary conditions for the genocide, not simply one or two bloody massacres listed in the hundreds, but rather an industrial-scale effort to affect the euthanasia of an entire population in the millions — the sheer magnitude of which is mind-boggling.

It is often said of the Rwandan Genocide that radio played an important part in the deaths of Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus. Television and social media have become integral players in formulating public opinion. In my own country I have witnessed the emergence of anti-immigrant pogroms and the failure of newshounds and journalists to do anything about prejudice and bias when it comes to debating issues. Need one refer to censorship?

Last year, South Africa was entertained by a controversy surrounding Miss Universe, at the same time our then chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was taken to task for expressing his opinions on a political controversy. This year, we have seen an Emma Watson ‘solidarity’ fiasco (solidarity is ordinarily expressed with persons sharing common values and interests, not those like Hamas, opposed to our constitutional dispensation) and readers will no doubt find much of interest in the latest Amnesty Report on “Apartheid Israel’ (more analysis on this I promise).

When we find ourselves thus regailed by our media, remember there are always two sides to every story, and then there is the truth. Not even during apartheid did we attempt to negate our opponent’s very existence, nor did we advocate the removal of the Boers from an existential perspective. Rather, we arrived at our common peace settlement because we debated and hosted talks, talks which included all parties and all factions, listening and listening again to each other’s different perspectives, in arriving at our democratic solution.

Tutu, a leading light of the anti-apartheid movement was no Saint

MANY eulogies following the death of Desmond Tutu exaggerate the Anglican cleric’s post-democratic contribution in the process glossing over serious shortcomings. That Tutu was a leading light in the struggle against apartheid can never be cast in doubt, and I take pride in having marched with him on the famed Cape Town Peace March (1989).

So too, the manner in which Tutu’s civil disobedience campaign tackled 80s beach apartheid and rankled the feathers of the apartheid regime with calculated showmanship and aplomb, and riled later governments.

However, the failure of the leading figure behind our nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to do anything tangible in defending the commission’s findings before the courts, must rank as a form of complicity in a regime he otherwise vigorously attacked. 

Primarily a theologian,Tutu’s morality turned out to be incompatible with justice, requiring that we “believe” in an intangible God, and practice Christian forgiveness instead of acting upon our convictions and dealing with reality.

In this sense, Tutu’s position, (aside from his use of satire and laughter as a weapon), was one of ‘speak out but do nothing’. Provide amnesty to those who came clean, but then go the extra mile in awarding de facto blanket amnesty to those who did not. Thus the perpetrators were let off Scott free, while apartheid’s many victims still sit outside our courts without any hope of justice.

In 2015 I filed a case before the Equality Court of South Africa, citing a similar failure by then Minister of Justice Michael Masutho to render any support in a matter affecting the status, prestige and outcome of the TRC.

Having been granted leave to sue Legal Aid SA, I ended up with a decision effectively stating inter alia that since the ‘TRC Report would take a long time to read, it may be ignored’ (see decision para 5 below). As an earlier submission by the second respondent, an apartheid-era media firm maintained, the report was ‘simply a report’ and the commission, ‘merely a commission’. Consequently Tutu was merely the leader of a Sunday School outing, not the figurehead behind our transitional justice system.

Writing this piece on Martin Luther King Day, it is clear that Tutu could have been colossal, someone after whom Holidays are named — if only he was consistent in his outlook, for instance his support of LGBTIQ+ rights and Same-Sex marriage which was entirely absent when it came to expressing solidarity with the cause of Palestinian Nationalism. A movement still opposed to LGBTIQ+ rights, and which much like our own country’s struggle, has decoupled its narrative from the reality of past injustices.

Just why this is so, is all the more poignant in the light of ​a ​UN resolution proposed by Germany and Israel aimed at combating Holocaust denial (and subsequently passed without a vote by the 193-member General Assembly), and follows the school banning of Art Speigelman’s Maus. It needs to be said, Palestinian leadership involvement in Hitler’s Final Solution​​ predated the formation of an All-Palestine government in Gaza by Amin al-Husseini.​

A foremost proponent of replacement theology, Tutu’s support of the Anglican Covenant which views the Church as the colonial inheritor of the Old Testament’s Hebrew Covenant was perhaps Tutu’s only political constancy. Thus Tutu preached Freedom for Palestinians whilst denying there was anything at fault with the Palestinian leadership which had earlier signed a pact with the Devil as it were, collaborating with none other than Adolf Hitler in pursuing a Jew-free Arab world, and campaigning as Hamas does to this day, for a world without Jews.

It was to my dismay that Tutu refused to engage with those like myself who view the ongoing conflict as a tragic case of ‘injustice vs injustice’ or to use the words of writer Amos Oz, a situation of ‘competing juridical systems’.  And thus a never-ending war being fought by adults against children.

The world is poorer for the African clerics’ prejudiced conclusions — Tutu’s failure to link the struggles of the Tibetan people with the struggles of those Palestinians who still suffer under occupation, and yet have been unable to advance their cause because of an abject failure to articulate a secular solution, one which does not negate nor deny the rights of minority religions.

Despite his insistence on meeting the Dalai Lama, amidst his government’s own intransigence on the issue, and his open support of the Ba’hai faith in Iran, Tutu paid lip-service to secularism and never managed to escape the Anglican cloister of easy homilies, cheap platitudes and hackneyed sermons that cast the Jews as simple stereotypes and the Palestinians as lost sheep in need of guidance into the greater body of Christ.

Tutu’s political sermons on the subject of the Middle East, in the absence of a Palestinian Freedom Charter, must therefore rank alongside those of earlier Popes and Bishops who painted Jews as apostates and heretics and the Jewish faith as heresy. Tutu’s astonishing failure to defend the TRC Report should be listed as one of the root causes of the current malaise affecting our society.

It is a harsh criticism I know, and may be unpalatable to some, but as the saying goes, ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’.