AN OP-ED in today’s Business Report asks the question: ‘is it time to see Koos Bekker in an orange suit?’ Sizwe Dlamini writes, “Naspers and Media24, by their own admission, were responsible for actively supporting the apartheid government. Naspers benefited by receiving textbook contracts as well as television licenses in exchange for hiding from the South African public the atrocities and destruction which the apartheid government put black people through. We know that these executives, along with their friends during apartheid, stole tens of billions from South Africans. This is fraud and corruption on a scale, which is far greater than that which Basson refers to.’
‘The ultimate irony of the new South Africa is that Naspers remains the largest dominant media company – the apartheid era from propaganda remains the dominant propaganda machine today. No other country or society in the world would have ever allowed a business such as Naspers, which was wholly complicit in apartheid-era crime and corruption, to exist today.’
Dlamini’s piece fails to mention Naspers opposition to the TRC, Naspers corruption and unlawful capture of the Labour Court and as a result the High Court. Naspers fraudulent and unlawful race-based 2010 inquiry into my own Secular Jewish identity and also repugnant interrogation of my struggle history, Naspers and its relationship to Remgro, and the questionable post-Codesa purchase of Kagiso and the resulting pathetic racist media cartel which runs a significant portion of SA media at the behest of apartheid bosses Bekker, Moolman, Rupert and Vosloo.
IT WAS during the dying days of apartheid, that I wrote a series of articles promoting ‘ecological sustainable development’ and deep ecology. The pieces published by Grassroots and South Press were extraordinary, the least of which is that they were published by a working class imprint shortly after the state of emergency.
They dovetailed my criticism of race-based conservation efforts by elements within the regime, for example the Rupert Family, and addressed perceptions that the emergent environmental justice movement in the country was, to put it crudely, an all-white affair.
The result was the ‘First National Conference on Environment and Development’, in which academics and activists from all quarters joined hands on a broad eco-justice platform which included both the ANC and PAC, and which resulted in the placing of Earth Rights at the centre of our Constitution, in the form of article 24.
Today’s political pundits Carilee Osborne and Bruce Baigrie , conveniently ignore the history of environmentalism in South Africa, preferring to situate their respective struggles within the contemporary milieu of the Climate Strike — the recent Cape Town March which saw some 2500 people from various organisations and civic structures take to the streets in what they view “as one of the largest environmental protest actions in South Africa’s history.”
This is no mean feet and without wishing to downplay the successes of these epic events during the course of the past year, one should always remember that the environmental justice movement arose as a foundation stone of our Constitution during a period of mass democratic action, the likes of which have yet to be repeated. And thus a struggle which was situated not upon my own writings, nor the writings of any one particular individual, but rather the Freedom Charter, which (within the colour of the time) called upon people black and white, to “save the soil”, whilst sharing the land, and assisting the tillers of the land.
A similar mistake in historical proportion and misreading of history occurs within the various articles penned by one Farieda Khan. She writes in “Environmentalism in South Africa: A Sociopolitical Perspective”, (an otherwise excellent paper written over the turn of the millennium): “The first extra-parliamentary political organization to commit to a formal environmental policy was the Call of Islam, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (the South African front organization for the then-banned African National Congress).” She goes on to state: “The Call of Islam had a formal environmental policy since its inception in 1984, due in large measure to the efforts of its founder, Moulana Faried Esack.”
If only history were so convenient as to claim environmentalism on behalf of any one religion or individual, whether Islam, or the Church, as many within SAFCEI and SACC would have it, or on behalf of one or more important groups or class formations formulated by those on the left, as those within AIDC would have us believe.
Rather, I think it more accurate and best to take a broader arc of history — one that includes the Freedom Charter and reaches forward to the essential humanism espoused by the deep ecology movement of the 1970s, whose distinguishing and original characteristics are its recognition of the inherent value of all living beings: “Those who work for social changes based on this recognition are motivated by love of nature as well as for humans.” And by extension, as much of my writing and published work from the 1980s suggested, an African environmentalism which realises that Ubuntu is not simply being human because we are all human, but rather, a common humanity contingent upon the necessary existence of our habitat, without which we could not exist as a species.
Instead of situating the environmental movement within so-called ‘working class’ struggles, or working class factions as Osborne and Baigrie attempt in “Towards a working-class environmentalism for South Africa”, and thus the binary of a grand populism vs narrow neoliberalism which simply perpetuates the idea of man’s dominion over nature and thus a struggle which of necessity is juxtaposed alongside the authoritarian grip of party politics, another path must be found.
It is all too easy to issue anti-capitalist prescriptions, leftist directives and cadre-based imperatives calling for the end of free markets whilst, forgetting that it is Eskom’s captive market, Eskom’s socialist ambitions, and Eskom’s coal barons which have pushed South Africa ahead of the UK in terms of GHG emissions, a country with 10-15 million more people. Although only the 33rd largest economy, South Africa is the 14th largest GHG in the world. Our national energy provider, Eskom has yet to adopt GHG emissions targets.
All the result of the boardroom compromises of the statist, authoritarian left, whose policies have seen our country embrace ‘peak, plateau and decline’ alongside a COP-out strategy excluding South Africa from the Paris Agreement, and thus a national environmental policy which is not based upon empirical science and evidence-based research but rather class driven kragdadigheid and Big Coal.
If those on the far left expect us all to reject secular humanist values alongside Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess who introduced the phrase “deep ecology” and thus an environmentalism which emerged as a popular grassroots political movement in the 1960s with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, simply because these persons are lily-white, or tainted by the liberal economics of the West, then they are sorely mistaken.
Instead, I believe, that it is far better to formulate an African-centred response, and rather a Pan-African struggle which is broad-based and inclusive of our collective humanity and common habitat. Such a broad-based struggle out of necessity includes an African-Centered Ecophilosophy and Political Ecology.The draft Climate Justice Charter is one such vehicle and deserves our full support.
The struggle for survival during the collapse of the Holocene, includes those already involved in conservation and preservation efforts and those who now join because of concerns about the detrimental impact of modern industrial technology. When one talks about climate justice we thus need to include the voices of those who have not been given an opportunity to speak, and remember that without mass mobilisation, nothing would have changed during apartheid.
READERS may be reminded of one Terry Bell, a columnist for News24 and his hokey reference to the ‘Second Industrial Revolution” (2IR). Medialternatives took Bell to task for suggesting we were all about to enter, wait for it, the ‘Second Industrial Revolution’, this sometime in 2015. And that’s from a company which attempted to gag and silence me, and when they could’t achieve that, they corruptly bought a decision in the labour court of South Africa effectively trashing the TRC Act and Preamble to our Constitution.
Well, this morning I read another equally galling piece by Sarah Gravitt published by the Mail & Guardian, blithely suggesting alongside so many google addicted learners, that none other than Davos founder, the German economist Klaus Schwab was the brains behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Readers may therefore be interested to gain some insight into the controversy between Jeremy Rifkin and Schwab. Rifkin is an erudite futurist whose various books on economics, and labour have painted a picture of essentially a ‘third industrialisation’ only to have Schwab rebrand most of the central thesis touted by Rikfin in his books, as a “Fourth Industrialisation’.
A shout out to visionaries such as Alvin Toffler whose prescient writing on the ‘Third Wave’ predate both Rifkin and Schwab.
For all its pitfalls, I agree with those who suggest the term 4IR is a convenient way of talking about where we are now, especially when it comes to the impact of technologies such as AI, augmented and blended reality, and most obviously when their capacity for exponential improvement in human progress is concerned. The distinction between third and fourth industrialisations is of little significance when the overall pattern of industrialisation is considered, but will no doubt make for much academic tinkering. In fact one can pretty much guarantee that some pundit will propose a fifth industrial revolution in five years time, in the same way web 2.0 begat web 3.0 ad infinitum.
And it won’t matter which conferences you attend, or which degree you have, so long as somebody is making money out of selling you on the idea.
Rifkin writes: “Professor Schwab introduced the theme in a lengthy essay published in Foreign Affairs in December 2015. He argues that we are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will fundamentally change the way we work and live in the coming decades. Much of the essay’s text eloquently describes the vast technological changes brought on by the digitalization of economic and social life and its disruptive impact on conventional business practices and social norms. I don’t disagree. Where I take exception is with Professor Schwab’s suggestion that these initiatives represent a Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
For my part, I tend to believe that we are approaching a singularity in which the term ‘industrial revolution’ will cease to have any significance so far as economics is concerned. The post-human epoch, predicated as it is on technological prowess on the one hand, and species extinction on the other, will most certainly lead to the demise of humans in their current form, but this is a debate for another time.
Readers may therefore wish to review my 2018 piece on the End of the Anthropocene.
And caveat emptor to all those wising to steal the singularity.
MEDIALTERNATIVES covered the creation of a cartel affecting thousands of media workers, the attempted gagging of journalists and the ongoing campaign against the TRC at the behest of holding company Naspers. It was only a matter of time before journalists began to take notice, this time, the retrenchments at Multichoice have rung alarm bells. Opinion-makers are beginning to join the dots and there are lot of angry and affected people on the ground. Yes we told you so and it is not at all surprising that there is a new press emerging upon the ashes of the struggle.
“An ex-manager in the customer care department at MultiChoice, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, exclusively reveals how the media giant’s managers allegedly “bullied and unjustifiably force-retrenched” support staff to make way for a cheaper call centre service provider already accused of paying its workers “slavery wages”.
“We created a hostile working environment for the staff by giving them [an] unreasonable workload, frustrating and emotionally abusing them to the point [that they] no longer wished to work for the company. We were given instructions to dig [up dirt and then] dismiss staff … Our primary focus was to get rid of staff. It’s easier to fire them than to pay them. I acknowledge my role in this, from a moral perspective. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was basically fighting to save my job,” says the former manager.”
TIMES LIVE reports that justice minister Ronald Lamola apparently wants the deaths of anti-apartheid activists Neil Aggett and Hoosen Haffejee to be re-investigated. Only time can tell if he is serious this time.
Lamola announced on Friday, according to the online daily, that he had requested the judges president of the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal divisions of the high court to each designate a judge to reopen the inquests in relation to the deaths in detention of the activists.
The justice department is reported to have said Lamola’s decision was in terms of Section 17(A) of the Inquest Act of 1959 and follows an application by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the reopening of the inquests.
Readers may remember that Aggett was a doctor who died in detention in Johannesburg in 1982, aged 28. The inquest into his death held that no one was to blame. Yet another reason not to trust the apartheid-era justice system.
THERE is no evidence that the Ruperts were during the 1980s, for all intents and purposes, in favour of anything more than apartheid euphemism and cant — the shallow transformation which characterised PW Botha’s much-vaunted tricameral Parliament and which for a short time, allowed for separate houses of parliament for citizens classified as Indian and Coloured. This while maintaining a bantustan system which disenfranchised, de-emancipated and dispossessed black South Africans.
The families’s own submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission demonstrates a willful obfuscation of the truth, and despite elegant pleading, contains a number of half-truths and a strange anomaly. On the one hand, it is claimed that they were opposed to apartheid which they considered ‘an immoral, oppressive attempt at social engineering’ and consequently had chosen the path of ‘loyal resistance’ to ‘fight the system from within’, writing letters to NP officials stating that apartheid in its then form, was unsustainable since the Afrikaner was being crucified: “it is destroying our language, it is degrading a once heroic nation to be the lepers of the world.”
On the other, the submission, fails to explain what they were doing inside the system, in the first place, and thus why Rupert maintained a loyal membership of the National Party to the very end, refusing to break ranks by siding for instance, with the then all-white opposition Progressive Federal Party? A party which as its name suggested promoted a federal solution and held seats until 1989 when it became the DA?
Johann Rupert (JR) went so far as to claim at the TRC, that he was unaware of any financial contributions to the National Party, despite there being extensive evidence of his corporate involvement with the system. His assertions have not been tested in a court of law. This despite Remgro (former Rembrandt Group) being fingered in an apartheid bail-out scandal.
The letters between Anton Rupert and various National Party leaders such as PW Botha, all point to the fact that the Ruperts business partners included apartheid finance minister Owen Horward and titular head of the country, Nico Diedrichs. Far from advocating a ‘one-person, one vote’ democracy and majority rule, as Johann Rupert would like us to believe — which would have made him a champion of the cause and policies of the ANC and PAC — the truth is rather different.
The Rupert’s though critical of the policy of separate development, instead advocated a form of “Volkstaat” in the form of a Swiss Canton System, which would have kept large swathes of the country under white rule. The logical extension some might say to the policy of apartheid bantustans, and which would, in the Rupert’s view, have been maintained in comparison to the federalist position, a position which resulted in the system we have today.
In essence they had argued for a more refined version of the plans laid out by the infamous Rubicon speech of PW Botha, a proposal which would have maintained the boer republics of old, had it not been for the guarantees on property rights issued by the ANC.
This telling fact can be seen at pages 288 and 289 of Anton Rupert, a Biography by Ebbe Dommisse.
Johann has gone so far as to claim at the TRC and without any evidence, that he had the confidence of the BC leader Steve Biko, whilst he was head of student organisation SASO, but has shied away from quoting his own father on the subject of what was to be done about the situation. Significantly, JR dropped out of university to pursue a career in business and did not figure in university politics.
The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) on Monday said “Biko never even met Rupert and they have records of the Struggle icon, which will back this up.” Medialternatives has covered previous Rupert gaffes, such as his specious claims about being on the receiving end of Magnus Malan’s death squads.
To say the Ruperts were “openly critical of the apartheid system, both at home and abroad” as a current article on Wikipedia does, and that they have been lauded by President Thabo Mbeki for calling upon the Apartheid leadership to “do something brave” by creating a partnership with the black majority in the ’80s,” ignores the fact they were the financiers behind apartheid, and consequently demonstrated an absence of any tangible and practical support for democratic forces within and outside the country. Witness the sad fact of their proposed ‘canton model’, the self-same politics which produced the white enclave of Oranje.
One does not therefore, hear Johann Rupert taking any credit for this small and somewhat discredited achievement, and his submissions to the TRC as a cherry-picker of facts, surely need to be revisited, if only to set the matter straight. If anything JR, like his father, favoured a gradualist approach to the problem of loss of white minority power, preferring a plan which would have maintained the status quo indefinitely had it not been for the momentum of history which resulted in the CODESA negotiations.
Bear in mind that it was Verwoerd, the architect of grand apartheid who explained apartheid as simply ‘good neighbourliness’, and who like Rupert snr, was more than prepared to accept that all human beings are equal, so long as race segregation and partition of power could remain in place. The ‘separate but equal’ madness of the multiracialist school of thought, which epitomized the regime’s many racist adherents.
Neither completely ‘verlig’ nor totally ‘verkrampt’, as the Afrikaans terms of the day for liberal and conservative suggest, Rupert is better cast as himself, in an obscene privileged position, pulling the National Party purse strings as it were, whilst maintaining his own ill-gotten advantage — all-important brokers behind the apartheid system. An unmatched aegis without which nothing would have happened at the negotiating table.
Far from being allies of opposition politics as some would have it, nor positioned like myself and many of my fellow South Africans, within the internal and external freedom struggle, the Ruperts, were in reality part and parcel of the apartheid state apparatus to the very end, negotiating a deal, which resulted in an interim constitution and various ‘sunset clauses’.
In this respect they benefited immensely as kingpins, financiers and powerbrokers from the super-exploitation of labour which continued past 1994, so too the sanctions busting era, which occurred alongside the dirty tricks campaigns against opposition leaders and the likes of Winnie Mandela. After their successes in global financial circles, to their own benefit and the benefit of the NP, the Ruperts bailed out apartheid’s banks to form Amalgamated Banks of SA, giving the lie to claims made about the lack of money available for such an endeavor.
The Rupert hagiography, refers to humble beginnings in the Tobacco industry. JR, is current chair of several JSE listed companies, including Richemont, Reinert, Remgro and Mediclinic. The truth behind the apparent success — the family succeeded in extracting capital garnered from the Rupert’s cosy relationship with the state, (State Capture 1.0) and with the help of Horward and Diederichs, achieving the truly remarkable — sequestering apartheid slush money in Switzerland, while granting an unfair advantage when it came to the post-democratic period.
This is quite the opposite of the strange claim that there were ‘no sweetheart deals’ with the regime.The Ruperts are named in the CIEX report commissioned in 1997 to investigate the theft of R26 billion of state money during apartheid.
In 2017 Medialternatives exposed a cartel active within South Africa’s media, the result of a cross-networked entity with Rupert at the helm, and with assets comprising investments in Remgro, Kagiso, Caxton and Naspers. The resulting corruption and influence peddling, included the rigging of a 2010 labour case involving Media24 — a company which had previously attempted to gag me from speaking out about racism, race profiling and de facto newsroom segregation at its community newspapers division.
The case remains unresolved.
FOR DECADES Naspers was during the apartheid years, an incubator for racist government, producing no less than three Prime Ministers. PW Botha, HF Verwoerd and DF Malan. All had the backing of the corporation formed by the Broederbond. With the appointment of a new local CEO, following a listing in Amsterdam, the company has once again attempted to rebrand itself.
Unfortunately, the focus on assets avoids questions as to why Naspers was a ‘traditional sinecure for the national party’, providing funding, propaganda and support. This is a lot more involvement than today’s media spin-doctors would have us believe.
Naspers collaboration with apartheid is given short thrift by the likes of Joseph Cotterill of BDlive, who believes the group was simply “a publisher once condemned as a mouthpiece of the apartheid regime in SA .” These reports all fail to mention ongoing litigation against the company, and continued opposition to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
A more balanced view of the campaign against the commission can be found in a review of Ton Vosloo’s biography “Across Boundaries” by veteran journalist and former Mail & Guardian editor Anton Harber.
Lizette Rabie also finds time to present her case in support of the so-called ‘TRC rebels”, a group of former apartheid collaborators who succeeded in turning themselves into ‘conscientious journalists” while ignoring the plight of those in the struggle press, recipients of Naspers dirty tricks.
But according to Hennie van Vuuren, the company was also a ‘tap root of the National Party’.
So what exactly is going on?
After 1994, the corporation found itself on the back foot politically-speaking. Sanctioned by the TRC for its failure to come clean over its role during apartheid, but with PW Botha avoiding a subpoena to appear, the company grudgingly introduced a BEE scheme, appointing Jakes Gerwel of the President’s office to the board, alongside Francois Groepe.
And so the game of political chicanery continued.
With Groupe moving on to the Reserve Bank, Chairperson Gerwel passing on in office, and the company still attempting to gag me for speaking out about racism, race profiling and de facto newsroom segregation at its then community newspapers division.
The resulting anti-Semitic and anti-Secular counter-case, was more than simply a corrupt and unfair proceeding before the labour court of South Africa. Nothing short of a racist miscarriage of justice involving a Naspers business associate and labour broker presiding over a matter involving his own client, while I was restrained from calling witnesses. The corruption is currently the subject of an as yet unresolved complaint to the Judicial Services Commission.
Two days after filing a further Equality Court complaint regarding the Group’s ongoing campaign against the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and thus the trashing of the report by Naspers council, then Group CEO Esmerie Weideman issued an apology to the heavens. The 2015 statement references one case-limited example of a single employee of colour, Conrad Sidego, who had experienced problems with separate facilities.
The EC case is currently in abeyance pending an appeal of a decision by Legal Aid SA not to grant legal aid where a substantial injustice would result from my not possessing an attorney in the matter.
If you wish to fund my action against LASA, you can do so on BackaBuddy.
Needless to say the latest racist decision by the High Court, once again trivialising the TRC report, (‘too long to read’, according to AJ Martin) in the process, creating an exclusion of the Preamble to our Constitution, cannot hope to gain any approval under our nation’s Constitutional dispensation.
With pressure mounting for change, and with a sophisticated new share structure that preserves white privilege, in the process moving the now multinational operation out of the country, Naspers mandarins have once again dealt out a hand that seeks to gain influence within South Africa’s political sphere.
The appointment of no less than Ramaphosa Foundation board member Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa to manage Naspers South African operations, echoes the groups earlier effort to inveigle Mandela. This while Ramaphosa is on the ropes following a report by the Public Protector.
Time can only tell whether the strategy of co-opting the incumbent President, while maintaining apartheid profits within the company, (now outside the country), will succeed in burying the TRC Final Report once and for all.