Burning down the house, Zondo, Tutu, Mafe

NO SOONER had Desmond Tutu been given a rousing sendoff and funeral, when our Parliament was set ablaze, an inferno of epic proportions. This two days before the handover of volume one of the Zondo Report. It is a poignant, tragic moment in our nation’s history. Coming hot on the heels of the events of last July which saw KZN go up in flames after a failed insurrection launched by former president Jacob Zuma. It was a year which was meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Constitution.

I attended the inaugural signing of the foundation document by the first constituent assembly. A moment which ushered in the first chapter of our young democracy, and presided over by a government of national unity. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what has occurred under an embattled, diminished party, beset by factionalism, and the stench of corruption. It could not get any worse, if one launched a coup d’état of one’s own or realised the list of names implicated in state capture, include the very same individuals who in all likelihood will benefit from the massive distraction caused by the torching of the National Assembly.

Enter the proverbial scapegoat, Zandile Christmas Mafe, a man set to take responsibility for every sin committed by the ruling party in a vacuum caused by what appears to be Presidential immunity. Charges include arson, possession of stolen goods, and a growing number of allegations which could prove to be interesting from the perspective of anyone wanting to purchase a Ninja kitbag.

Not only is the Speaker and Secretary of Parliament blatantly misdirecting our attention from the turned off sprinkler systems, the failed alarms and lack of CTV monitoring, but we are now lead to believe, (this by our so-called authorities), that Mafe was carrying explosives. Next I suspect we will wake to find that Mafe is implicated in a plot to destroy the Republic in favour of the formation of Greater Pongololand, in a twisted narrative that will disguise the fact that one need look no further than Nkandla for the source of our current difficulties as a nation.

While it is clear that South Africa dodged a bullet in July, the Zuma counter-revolutionary shit-show is by no means over. We have a failed justice system to thank, one that is either incapable or unwilling to deal with the treasonous mastermind, the sinister force behind what should really be termed, the Anti-Zondo insurrection committee — those who have certainly attempted to turn this beautiful country into a feeble, tribalist homeland, merely in order to escape the implications of being named as the protagonists behind state capture.

It may be reassuring to some that Judge Zondo has recommended an ‘independent corruption agency’, free of party manipulation and executive control, but isn’t this what the Scorpions were supposed to be doing before they became the so-called Hawks?

Yet another government agency, costing millions which could turn out to be equally incapable of investigating a tuck shop heist even they are given specials powers to accomplish the task? This while the more troubling findings of the Zondo commission are steadily buried under a mountain of information and bluster, as the robust political discourse that passes for our nation’s realpolitiek takes its course?

Only time can tell whether our democratic, multi-party system will prevail over those who wish nothing more than to assert themselves as our ‘leaders in perpetuity’, who desire no less than the destruction of parliamentary authority — the end of democracy and the market economy, and its replacement by feudalism and dictatorship, all under the guise of a command economy.

Yes, we will rebuild, recover and restore our fledgling democracy, but only if the perpetrators of crimes against the state are dealt with post haste.

Time for patriots to assist the police in their duties?

SEE: Or Else, Dr Nie and the coming of the Warlords

Lord Musi, quit calling yourself a judge

IN THE PURSUIT of ‘open debate’ on the touchy subject of who is an African and who is not, commentators often fail miserably in their characterisation of continental identity as solely a ‘race issue’, in the process repeating many of the racist tropes and typology of the past.

If one follows Thekiso Musi on the subject, in ‘Don’t call me a black African’ published by Sunday Independent, and supposedly in the ‘interest of generating public debate’, one could be forgiven for adopting a mistake common to many, that of believing the word Africa, denotes ‘exclusive place of the people with the dark skin’.

The retired judge is not only wrong on this count, but his views require a quick history lesson, if not a full traversing of law.

Several well-established theories abound regarding the term Africa and its provenance, all pointing to weather and geography, not skin colour as the over-riding factor in attributing identity.

According to one theory, It is thought that the Romans called the region Afri-terra, meaning “the land of the Afri.” Later, this could have become contracted to form the single word “Africa.”

Another theory is the name was acquired during a series of three wars known as the Punic Wars between Rome and the ancient North African empire of Carthage (present day Tunisia) from 264 BC to 146 BC.

The word “Africa” is thus either derived from the Greek word “aphrike” meaning “without cold,” or from the Phoenician word “Afar” which means “dust” or from Latin “Aprica” which means sunny.

Rest assured there are a plethora of such theories, one has it that the term is derived from two Phoenician words, “friqi” and “pharika.” Thought to translate as corn and fruit. Yet another theory suggests that the continent’s name came from even further afield, brought by traders from modern-day India. In Sanskrit and Hindi, the root word “Apara,” or Africa, literally translates as a place that “comes after.” In a geographical context, this can also be interpreted as a place to the west.

It is the modern emphasis on otherising Africa, as a place distinct from the West and in the face of a tragic history which has lead to terms that have less appeal to rationality and reason, rather than the return of a historical, albeit racialised claim to continental nation-building, ( one consistent with earlier racist attempts to build a white Volkstaat.)

Yet the distinction made today, between African and Non-African is as galling as the distinction made by the apartheid state, between European and Non-European, and so too Aryan and non-Aryan under Hitler’s Germany. Readers may recall the repugnant emphasis on pseudo-scientific race classification which was the hallmark of both regimes.

What exactly marks a person as African or Non-African? Is it ever possible to tell who is African and who is not by simply looking at a person? Are all black persons African? The former judge’s musings on the subject show evidence of a deep seated discomfort with identity that is not solved by our judiciary refusing to accept that such distinctions are, in and of themselves, racist. There is certainly no scientific basis for inferring a ‘separation between the species’.

For starters, Musi appears to assert the term ‘African’ refers exclusively to those who are ‘native to Africa’, and hence Africans can only be black and the term ‘black African’ is merely an unnecessary repetition. On the flip side, a ‘white person’, he seems to assert, can never be considered African since ‘Africans are not considered Europeans when they move to Europe’.

“By way of analogy,” says Musi, “an African who has permanently settled in Europe may acquire citizenship of whatever European country he/she has settled in, but he/she cannot be called a European. “

“If he/she has the citizenship of, say France, he/she is a French citizen and may be referred to as French, but that does not make him/her a European”.

These assertions are not backed by any evidence and contradict International and European statutes which assert both the equality of citizens and the right to individual identity. The term Afro European (or simply European) for instance, refers to ‘Europeans who trace at least part of their ancestry to Africa, mostly to former colonies’.

There are some 15 million people of African or Afro-Caribbean descent, living in the European Union comprising over 2.5% of the total population. Notable Afro-Europeans include the French writer, Alexander Dumas, tennis player Yannick Noah, and Rama Yade, a Senegalese-born French politician. They would all no doubt object to Musi’s characterisation of their status as ‘Non-Europeans’, as too would anyone confronted with the apartheid states own pencil test.

Bizarrely, Musi proceeds to conclude that since we as South Africans have a common citizenship ‘there are black South Africans and white South Africans’, just no black or white Africans.

“In South Africa, writes Musi, “we share a common citizenship with our white compatriots (and others) and we can, therefore, talk of white South Africans and black South Africans. But Africans should not get confused and call themselves “black” Africans.”

This is nothing less than racist twaddle, narrow-minded tinkering, chauvinistic bunkum and bigoted opinion by a member of our judiciary. Instead of asserting non-racialism, that we are all human beings, possessed of equal rights, Musi proceeds to claim race as a necessary defining factor in our lives. In this respect, we are all the poorer.

Far from encouraging open debate, the judge must be seen as a spokesperson for a moribund ideology, one that has succeeded in turning my own person, and others, into an absurdity in the eyes of the law.

Post-TRC Prosecutions: South Africans breathe a sigh of relief

FINALLY, after years of delay tactics and talk of a “blanket amnesty”, the much vaunted post-TRC prosecutions have arrived. A huge relief not only for the immediate victims of war-crimes and crimes against humanity but for all those South Africans who experienced apartheid and the military junta of Botha-Malan-Vlok.

If anything, the prosecutions will re-affirm the commitment by anti-apartheid activists to ending racial superiority in all its forms, and strike a note with those who criticised the TRC for not having any muscle. What is the use of granting amnesty to perpetrators of criminal activity if those crimes are later excluded from our social discourse?

There can be no Truth and Reconciliation without Justice and this missing element in our body politic will hopefully put the ghost of apartheid to rest,finally, as perpetrators are brought to book, in part for not having the guts to admit their wrongfulness or guilt before a world-wide audience.

Let there be peace, transparency and openness as the country watches, listens and waits for the post-TRC trials to start, and for the transgressors to be sentenced. Only then can we hope to achieve a national reconciliation built upon the moral structures of the anti-apartheid movement, one that refused to cowtow to the illegitimate structures of the apartheid government and which still aims to create a nation that is wider and broader than any single political structure or party.

As a war resistor I would also like to take this opportunity to renew my call for a national reckoning and atonement for the Border War and for our government to apologise to the frontline states, especially Namibia and Angola, for the war crimes carried out in the name of the Republic of South Africa.