Wikimedia spindoctor on failed Decolonisation Conference

READERS may be aware of the circumstances surrounding the hosting of an exclusive “Decolonising the Internet” conference in Cape Town.

A conference so exclusive that that it was not simply a well-funded invitation-only event, in the run-up to Wikimania Cape Town, but one which bizarrely excluded anti-apartheid activists — in the process failing miserably to include the very same persons referred to in its bold statements, cynically referring to ‘representivity, inclusivity, the marginalised and the local (see my letter to Douglas Scott, and my complaint to Wikimania).

The organisers still persist in claiming they were promoting “newly created alliances and networks, [working] together towards more diversity and inclusion in the experience of internet design, architecture, content, and governance” while further proclaiming: “We intend to dramatically change the way the internet represents the majority of the world.”

Exactly how this will ever be achieved by hosting closed door sessions dominated by ‘privileged white persons’ from the global North is still a mystery.

What the organizers did accomplish was some skilled (read manipulated) agenda-setting and box-ticking for the main programme’s half-baked keynote delivered by Dr Sean Jacobs, who parachuted in from New York to deliver an uneven address on the subject while claiming that Wikimania had done its homework on apartheid memory.

Witness Jake Orlowitz a Wikimania volunteer being interviewed by a clueless volunteer who ends her interview by stating:  “you did all my work for me, I don’t even have to ask any follow up questions”.

The podcast is a nothing less than a puff piece for the closed-door fiasco, in which local activists were not informed by organisers that the event was being co-located by Wikimania, on an international programme held in Cape Town, which will be remembered for its failure to include a single session on apartheid memory. 

Ditto Rhodes Must Fall.

Attendees were then bussed to Robben Island, and sites in D6 and local townships, without bothering to create a safe space for the very persons affected by apartheid separate development, and the latest round of academic exclusions on the nation’s campuses, nor given any other opportunity to air their views on the subject.

Orlowitz, much like so many megaphoned and amplified ‘male allies’ in the global women’s movement, proceeds to hog a debate on issues to do with developing world invisibility and ‘your’e not welcome’ implicit race bias, acknowledges its a ‘middle class hobby’, touches on issues to do with representation, in an 11 minute podcast published by ‘WhoseKnowledge‘ the apparent backers of the pre-conference.

Startling in that the obviously ‘white privileged male’  without a hint of irony, goes on to say ‘Wikipedia [is] struggling with inclusion’, ‘consistantly white men from the global North who do well .., and often who don’t see a problem’, “it’s not me, I’m not a part of it”.

Orlowitz claims his role is one of ‘using his privilege to raise awareness’ then bizarrely proceeds to speak on behalf of ‘folks who were born native and privileged’ as well as those who are ‘excluded from the system [but] ‘who carry so much knowledge’, before admitting, “I don’t even know what is missing”.

A point of view which rubbishes claims made by a member of the local Wikimedia Chapter, that the event was limited to ‘indigenes’.

Strangely Orlowitz calls systemic Wikimedia bias merely a ‘meme’; while claiming the decolonising pre-conference was inclusive of diversity and marginalised persons, but does not make any cogent argument for why the conference was closed.

That organisers wants to reproduce this closed model surrounding an online site famed for its apparent openness, is risible.

WhoseKnowledge is clearly one of many opportunistic organisations possessed of politically-correct do-gooder-speak, with all the resources but without the right model. Reverting to a previous era of closed and proprietary debate, is what is at fault here.

I therefore have no hesitation as a publisher and anti-apartheid activist, affected by Wikipedia deletions of apartheid memory, in once again rejecting the WhoseKnowledge organisation on the basis of ‘nothing about us, without us

SEE: James Alexander, you’re out

Apartheid & Post-TRC Litigation FAQ

1. Is this case related to the 300 TRC cases referred to in the media?

Not as such, the 300 cases referred to by the media, are all criminal cases arising from the findings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). While certainly overdue, they have only now come under the spotlight following the Timol inquest and the failure of the NPA to prosecute. The Lewis cases referred to below are all civil cases brought to defend the TRC and its Report from further acts and omissions by the transgressors and perpetrators. Instead of covering the case, the media have chosen to obfuscate and deny involvement.

2. Why is Lewis suing the Legal Aid Board?

The Equality Court granted Lewis leave to sue the Legal Aid Board following lack of due process with regard to the correct manner in which Legal Aid is to be applied for in matters before the court. This action brought in terms of Promotion of Access to Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) follows a subsequent determination by LASA of ‘no reasonable prospects’ in a matter affecting the life of the TRC and its Final Report. LASA’s John van Onselen has stated that “to enable Legal Aid to prepare a substantive report it would be necessary to consider all the various pieces of legislation applicable, the findings of the report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission together with any other relevant documents.” van Onselen then goes on to state ‘it would take a long time to read the report’ and therefore, it may be ignored. LASA legal executive Themile Mtata has then stated in his explanation of a further determination of no prospects, that ‘the matter has prescribed since the commission wound up its work some time ago.’

3. What is at stake in Lewis v Legal Aid SA (LASA)?

Two important constitutional issues revolve around this case. The first is the racist exclusion to the preamble to our Constitution, which results from AJ Martin agreeing with LASA that the TRC report may be ignored and/or the matter has prescribed and/or apartheid is no longer a crime against humanity. If we are no longer compelled to remember the injustices of the past, our constitutional rights and responsibilities make little sense, especially when stripped of the context in which this country was formed as a democratic South Africa.

The second important issue is AJ Martin’s strange determination that LASA falls within the ‘executive sphere of government’ and thus the High Court is effectively restrained by the separation of powers inherent to the Constitution, from interfering in the internal processes and the determinations made at LASA. This flies in the face of the Legal Aid Act which created LASA as a ‘national public entity’ in terms of the Public Finance Management Act which holds, that LASA is ‘reportable to parliament’ and falls under Schedule 3 ‘Other Public Entities” alongside the Accounting Standards Board and Boxing South Africa.

Aside from the blatant racism here, these determinations are neither lawful nor competent, since AJ Martin most certainly oversteps High Court authority by creating an exclusion to the Preamble, and then effectively rescheduling LASA within the same category as any ‘Constitutional entity’, rewriting instead of interpretting the very laws passed by our legislature.

4. What is at stake in the Equality Court matter?

This is a long-standing dispute involving Naspers/Media24 opposition to and failure to participate in the TRC where the company is named in Chapter 4 as one of the ‘perpetrators of gross violations of human rights under apartheid’. Under review is the dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by the company which has inter alia, sought to fabricate and alter the public record, while crushing the legacy of opposition to apartheid by struggle journalists, and  covering up the circumstances in which a group of Naspers journos approached the TRC in their private capacity and turned themselves from ‘apartheid collaborators’ into ‘conscientious journalists’.

The company and its subsidiaries are thus being sued in conjunction with the Minister of Justice due to the failure of the Minister’s TRC Unit to render any assistance in the matter, and thus the failure of the Minister to defend both the law and the TRC report before the courts. The TRC unit for example, has determined that since Naspers was a business it would not be willing to provide any support to the plaintiff in the matter. Failing to defend the TRC lowers the status of the TRC report, currently reduced to ‘simply a report’ and the commission, ‘merely a commission’ by Naspers/Media24 and LASA council.

5. What was Lewis 2010 labour dispute all about and is it relevant to the above proceedings?

While distantly related to the current proceedings, the only relevance here are the on record statements made by Naspers/Media24 council contra the TRC report. AJ Cheadle’s unlawful determination at para 98 that: ‘His evidence is unreliable because he is engaged in a campaign against the Respondent for its support of apartheid and its refusal to apologise for doing so before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ and thus the outcome of the Labour Court proceeding and other related issues, are not directly under review. For obvious reasons, if the status of the TRC and its report is upheld, the outcome will impact upon Lewis ability to bring a review application in the future on the basis of the unlawful denial of its findings.

6. Is there a roadmap for the Appeal petition?

In order to lodge an appeal of the decision in Lewis v LASA before the SCA and/or Concourt, Lewis will need to file documents and also provide the parties with transcripts of the proceedings, all of which costs money. The appeal petition is contingent upon Lewis having access to the courts either in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. If you wish to donate to the appeal campaign, you may do so via Lewis PayPal account.

7. Who is the complainant?

The complainant is a former banned journalist, musician and anti-apartheid activist. Lewis has worked for various publications and organisations banned by the apartheid regime, including inter alia New Nation, Grassroots, South Press, COSAW and SACHED. In particular his membership of End Conscription Campaign, South West African People’s Organsation (SWAPO) solidarity group, People’s Culture Festival, Cultural Workers Congress, Earthlife Movement (founding member), Koeberg Alert, People’s Health Movement (steering committee) are relevant to these proceedings.
PLEASE ASSIST IN DEFENDING THE STATUS OF THE TRC FINAL REPORT

PLEASE SUPPORT MY APPEAL & CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

BackaBuddy respond to my crowdfunding application

Dear David,

Thanks for the campaign submission. Given the sensitive nature of the campaign and that there is a legal allegation here, we are reluctant to create the campaign on the platform. We’ve had experience of a similar campaign in the past, and remember that the campaign creator’s legal action was almost jeopardised by public nature of crowdfunding. In short, we had to remove the campaign which was a distressing experience for all involved.

We cannot risk having the site shut down due to the fact that thousands of needy people rely on us monthly for crowdfunding support.

In addition, crowdfunding requires you to actively promote the campaign to your friends, family, and colleagues. If you are confident that you have the networks to fund your cause, no problem. But its best to be aware of this prior to the campaign creation.

While we sympathise with the issues you are highlighting, we are concerned that a campaign may be damaging to you and your case. Our terms and conditions do state that we do not routinely add campaigns that has:

·  details of a pending or current legal case which contain content that may be defamatory to the complainant or defendant.

Should you wish to proceed, we would ask that you review your text and provide us with contactable references/supporting documentation that can be used to verify your cause.


With kind regards,

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Georgie Berens

Community and Design Curator

 + 27 (0) 62 163 2276

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 www.backabuddy.co.za

 Where Cause Meets Crowd

Defend Status of the TRC Report before the Courts

DEFEND STATUS OF TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION BEFORE THE COURTS

DEFEND THE PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

I have less than one month in which to file an SCA appeal in terms of s17 (2) (b) against AJ Martin’s racist decision (CA18417/17) to not provide relief with regard to representation in a matter affecting the TRC and its Final Report.

The High Court decision literally agreeing with Legal Aid SA in first instance, that it ‘would take a long time to read the report’ and therefore it can be ignored, and also, in second instance, upholding validity of LASA chief officer‘s view that the matter has somehow ‘prescribed’ since the commission wound up its work some time agois demonstrably racist.

Attacking the legal basis of the TRC, an inquiry into gross violations of human rights under apartheid, still a crime against humanity, for which there is no statute of limitations, trivialises the report, lowers its status before the courts and denigrates the memory of the victims and survivors. It is certainly contrary to our Constitution and its preamble which states, ‘recognising the injustices of the past …’ not to mention several statutes each one promulgated in order to prevent ‘repetitions of the past’.

The decision impacts and affects my case before the Equality Court of South Africa (EC19/2015) brought to defend the report against the vicious and racist attacks by Naspers/Media24 and thus failure to defend the law by the former Min of Justice, Michael Masutha. My not possessing an attorney at state expense as contemplated in the constitution, is a substantial injustice when it comes to the odious task of defending the TRC.

AJ Martin’s sloppy and incompetent decision is nothing less than racist double standards, since I have already been taken to task on a previous occasion during the proceedings of Lewis v Media24 (2010) for my not having ‘read the report’, in particular chapter 4, and thus according to Adv Kahanovitz SC, ‘knew who I was getting involved with when I joined Media24’, a racist organisation at the time, opposed to the TRC.

Kahanovitz SC further claimed that the report was a ‘public record’ to which I could not claim ignorance, at the same time that he claimed the commission was ‘simply a commission’, and the report, ‘simply a report’. AJ Cheadle, who admitted to presiding over a case involving his own client (and thus a judgement written up by the opposing party), then proceeds to state in his 2010 decision at para 98: ‘His evidence is unreliable because he is engaged in a campaign against the Respondent for its support of apartheid and its refusal to apologise for doing so before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.’

Now Martin declaims loudly from the bench that it is okay to simply ignore the report, echoing Kahanovitz SC earlier direction that the report should be ignored when doing so favours his client, but be upheld when it affects my own legal standing.

Not only did AJ Martin refuse to recuse himself from the High Court, Western Cape on Monday 20 May 2019, after this contradiction was pointed out to him, but he has had the audacity to claim his decisions and findings in the matter are somehow obiter (merely in passing), and also “Judges can make mistakes that is what superior courts are for, correcting error.” There also appears to be some confusion here as to whether or not the court has the requisite power to review decisions taken by a ‘national public entity’ and thus other schedule 3 entities such as boxing clubs. Martin then proceeded to deny me leave on the basis.

The determination amounts to an exclusion of the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, not to mention the Bill of Rights. The separation of powers is between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature, not the public sphere versus the judiciary and represents a new low so far as the justice system is concerned.

The calumny against the TRC Act is not surprising since the the High Court of the Western Cape still houses portraits of apartheid and colonial era judges. Albert van der Sandt Centlivres for instance, was the Chief Justice of South Africa from 1950 to 1957, and the result is an embarrassing racist rogues line-up, book-ended by a beaming portrait of current Judge President of the Western Cape, John Hlophe. Portraits of Centlivres et al deserve to be in a museum not the chambers of active judicial officers.

I urgently require assistance in filing my documents on appeal in Bloemfontein, failing which an appeal directly to the ConCourt. If I cannot retain an attorney to accomplish this, I will be required to travel to Bloemfontein and/Jozi. I am also required to furnish the SCA/ConCourt judges and parties with the transcripts and records of the proceedings, all of which costs money. Some four hours of transcription is required.

Please assist me in defending the TRC and its Final Report in the matter Lewis v Legal Aid SA CA18417/17. This matter affects similarly-situated individuals and is a major test of the foundation stones of our democracy.

NO TO HIGH COURT APARTHEID

NO TO RACIST DOUBLE-STANDARDS 

NO TO APARTHEID DENIAL
NO TRASHING OF THE TRC REPORT

Caster Controversy: Male or Female, or Both?

THE first I got wind of some of the more troubling underlying ‘facts’ surrounding the Caster Controversy, was after a posting by the Dagga Party’s own Jeremy Acton. In a posting on social media, Acton argues that ‘Semenya’s XY chromosomes’ prove the athlete to be both a “man” and a “fraud in athletics”.

“I do not care that this view might upset anyone. It is my Section 15 right to have this opinion and my Section 16 right to express my viewpoint,” Acton added.

In the post, the leader of the Dagga Party stated that he only supports “real women’s rights”, adding that he wants Semenya to return all titles and earnings, and that “his” records should be declared null and void.”

While the net is full of opinion pieces, some comparing the IAAF investigation to treatment of Saartjie Baartman, they are invariably thin on substance, compared to the citations provided by Acton.

You can read Acton’s views in the Citizen article.

If one follows the links to the story provided on Letsrun.com, you will find the real dope on Caster written up by one Robert Johnson.

Letsrun is a longstanding site for “Olympic track and field fans” with athletic articles and popular message boards.

Johnson writes “its absolutely mind-boggling that virtually every major outlet in the world reporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling yesterday has failed to mention one of the most important facts of the entire case.”

“Caster Semenya has XY chromosomes. It was generally accepted by people following the case closely that Semenya was XY, but now it’s been confirmed as fact since the CAS press release specifically says, “The DSD covered by the Regulations are limited to athletes with ’46 XY DSD’” (DSD = difference of sex development).

The scientific reality, if true, unfortunately places Caster in the troubling terrain of birth defects and other childhood deformities, instead of traditional femininity insofar as athletics is concerned. There is some speculation here as to the role of external, environmental factors at birth, such as exposure to dioxins by poor, under-serviced communities.

And there I was thinking that Caster was potentially intersexed, not simply sex reassignment at birth, and all this was a case of interpretation (see Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag), see my earlier piece Caster Deconstructed.

On the other hand D. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University, still believes “Semenya is a female with a birth defect, simple as that”. There is a good article on the crisis of definition in the Washington Post.

This contrarian view however elegant, doesn’t deal with the reality that Caster is technically, neither male nor female. It is not simply a case of testosterone, nor even transgender for that matter.

(Listen to this podcast on Eusebius McKaiser show, still focusing on hyperandrogenism and the test issue, but a good history of similar controversies).

It would seem that when it comes to the IAAF, biology most certainly overrules psychology (and even the advances of jurisprudence and socio-political rights) since while anyone may change legal gender these days, by identifying as either male or female, one has to be a genuine, ‘bone fide women’ in order to compete in athletics. Fair is fair after all.

Blur the gender boundary too much, and’all sports events become men’s events’, says sports scientist Dr Ross Tucker.

The rights of ‘real women’ according to this admittedly binary view, need to be taken into account, and it will take decades to unravel the truth behind the Caster saga, even if the period of s/he, and WoMans reign, much like the Zuma administration, was an interesting, and very public joy ride.

For the record, Medialternatives was one of the first outlets to champion Caster’s ‘right to be a women‘ in the face of scientific determinism.

What are your views on the subject, please use the comments section below.

 

Review: Between Rock & a hard place

IF YOU remember South Africa during the 1980s, then you probably were never there. Check out this review of Carsten Rasch’s semi-autobiographical work ‘Between Rock and a hard place’, written up by Michael Hardaker on Litnet. “This is a vital, tumbling, scrambling, breathless, profane, sweat-stained, music-infused, whisky-soaked, acid-tinged, dagga-scented, sometimes poignant, often side-splitting, speed-freak roller coaster ride through early 1980s South Africa,” says Hardaker.

At least that’s what he claims, and who really knows if Rasch just made up a character named Lew? Or contrived a literary work of imagination? The Latin word fictus means “to form” rather than to inform. All I can confirm is that like many of my generation, I was at the Harbour Cafe when James Philips played pool.

It’s the raw and honest beat culture that Media24 and Multichoice have been desperately trying to suppress, alongside the history of cannabis and jazz music. The case involving what jazz legend, Robbie said or didn’t say, is now in its 12th year, as I bring a review application exposing the corruption by the apartheid dirty tricks brigade.

While you’re busy smashing your DSTV decoder just like Steve Hofmeyr.  (See Steve Hofmeyr Syndrome) you can catch some banned alternative South African counter-culture online. Getting Afrikanerdom to implode by itself is what we were contemplating, all along.

Bask in the glory of James Philips, Radio Rats and the local punk scene.