Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Blackout crisis: states comment 'nonsensical'

Henri du Plessis
January 29 2008 at 06:16PM

he government was lying when it said it had been caught unawares by the electricity crisis, a prominent energy researcher charges.

And ID leader Patricia de Lille is to move for a vote of no confidence in President Thabo Mbeki and his Cabinet during the first sitting of Parliament in February.

The government's claims that South Africa was "the victim of its own success" were nonsensical and so were suggestions that the crisis had been unforeseen, said independent energy researcher Andrew Kenny.

He pointed out that the government's own economic growth forecasts had been as high as 6 percent before the crisis developed.

'President Mbeki and his Cabinet have failed the South African people'
"If they truly believed that, why did they not plan for it?"

"The truth is that our economic growth had never attained that. It got to 4 percent at the most. And still it outgrew the country's ability to produce electricity.

"The government has to take full responsibility for the debacle and admit that it failed badly. The fact that they did not plan for the 6 percent growth they themselves predicted shows they did not believe it themselves.

"As for claiming that they had been caught unawares, that is also nonsense. It is on record that they had been warned about it well ahead of time."

Kenny said Eskom, too, had to shoulder blame for not properly advising the government, preferring to keep quiet to ensure that the bottom line looked good.

"They are the electricity experts in this country. The department of minerals and energy affairs know nothing about it.

"But building new power stations makes the bottom line look bad and they kept quiet."

Kenny said Eskom boss Jacob Maroga was not to blame as he had taken the reins only about a year ago.

"His predecessor and the top executives at the time, however, got away with it. They have got their money and they are not suffering," he said.

De Lille said on Monday that the ID would move a motion of no confidence in Mbeki and his Cabinet on Tuesday, February 12, at the first sitting of Parliament after the State of the Nation Address.

She cited Section 102 (2) of the constitution, which stipulated that if the National Assembly, in a vote supported by a majority of its members, passed a motion of no confidence in the president then the president, cabinet ministers and deputy ministers had to resign.

"President Mbeki and his Cabinet have failed the South African people," said De Lille.

"The failure to plan, despite documented warnings almost 10 years ago, to avert a national electricity crisis has already cost our country billions of rand in lost production and tax revenue, which threatens the job security and livelihoods of millions of South Africans.

"Service delivery and the provision of basic needs will be severely hampered due to the failure of government to ensure we continue to have an affordable and steady flow of energy," De Lille said.

SA following Zim, warns Minto

Louise Luttig, Beeld

Auckland - If the South African government doesn't change its economic policy to meet the needs of the country's unemployed masses and the poor, it will follow the path of Zimbabwe.

This is the warning of John Minto, leader of the anti-Springbok Tour movement and a political activist in New Zealand.

Minto says he has decided to decline his nomination for the Companion of OR Tambo award put to him by a government official in November last year, as he could not associate him with the award.

However, Mukoni Ratshitanga, a spokesperson for President Thabo Mbeki, said on Tuesday that Minto had not been nominated for any of South Africa's orders.

A 2005 documentary on New Zealand's top 100 history makers listed him as No 89.

In an interview, Minto said he was deeply dismayed at the African National Congress's following of the free-market economy, which is mainly based on profit, and has not met the needs of the poor and the unemployed.

Open letter to Mbeki

Millions of South Africans are worse off than in the days of apartheid, or, at best, their already poor situation has remained the same.

In response, he has written an open letter to President Thabo Mbeki explaining his reasons. The contents have been covered extensively in the media.

According to Minto, the ANC government received a mandate in 1994 to improve the lives and circumstances of all in the country, something for which he and many others fought bitterly, and has failed miserably.

Minto acknowledged that he had never been to South Africa, but had an intense interest in what was happening in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He also had contact with many organisations there and followed events on the internet.

He said the South African government was making the same mistake as Zimbabwe did 20 years ago when they adopted a free-market economy.

Playing the race card

And, when it did not work in Zimbabwe and the poor started to show their frustration, President Mugabe played the race card, and blamed the whites for the country's problems, with tragic consequences.

Minto said the ANC would do the same.

Instead, the South African government should take control of the infrastructure, such as electricity and water, and govern it to improve the circumstances of each man, woman and child, not only those who were able to pay for it. Minto said he put it to President Mandela's delegation when Mandela visited New Zealand in 1992, that they should learn from the mistakes of New Zealand, which also adopted free-market principles, and which he believed did not benefit all in society.

He was aware of state-owned Eskom's inability to meet the electricity demands, but saw that as a management problem and not the result of government policy.

He did not believe Jacob Zuma, with his leftist support base, would make a difference, said Minto, as it was all rhetoric and no policy.

He hoped South Africans did not get sucked in by such rhetoric.

Mandela's legacy

If the ANC did not drastically change its policy, the country would follow Zimbabwe, he said.

Minto believed it was only the legacy of Nelson Mandela that ensured the ANC of its huge support.

He believed that if Mandela was no longer there, and economic policies remained unchanged, the country was facing a destructive outcome.

Minto intends to visit South Africa later this year to get to know the country and its people firsthand, and to meet with the many organisations with whom he has had contact.


— 01/29/2008
Paul Trewhela

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but our selves can free our minds.
- Bob Marley, ‘Redemption Song,’ from the album, Uprising (1980)

The heritage of Biko and the problem of mental slavery
Bantu Stephen Biko was by far the most original political philosopher in South Africa of the past century, and Marley's words - first released three years after Biko's murder, and a year before Marley's own early death from cancer - encapsulate for me the essence of his philosophy. It was no wonder Biko was derided as a 'CIA agent' by the political commissars in the African National Congress camp at Nova Catengue (Nova Katenga) in southern Angola shortly before his arrest and murder in South Africa by the security police of the apartheid regime, which caused the ANC commissariat in Angola swiftly to change tack and acknowledge Biko as a martyr. Biko’s words, and Marley’s lyrics, sum up the problem of the slave, the problem of mental slavery. As Biko argued, the precondition for any real emancipation lay in slaves emancipating themselves first from the tanks of their oppressor in their own minds, the essential precondition before they could deliver themselves from the tanks in Tienanmen Square, or Soweto, or wherever. This thought comes to mind when thinking of the slaves of Luthuli House, who will shortly stand to attention when Parliament resumes in Cape Town.

The 'deployment' of members of Parliament and civil servants
The crucial phrase is 'deploy'. The masters of the slaves of Luthuli House boast that ANC members of Parliament are ‘deployed’ into Parliament and can be 'deployed' out again at their own whim or say-so. They can be 'deployed' wherever they are told to go. They have no individual moral agency, they are not answerable to their own conscience so long as they remain ANC MPs, and they are not answerable either to any local community of electors, who can hold them to account for their conduct in and out of Parliament, and deprive them of their seat, if necessary. 'Deploy' is a military term. It means that the person who is deployed is subject to military discipline by his superior officers, which he cannot disobey except (in the military sense) at risk of court martial. For this term to apply to members of Parliament is to negate the nature of Parliament, and to confuse military order with civic responsibility. It imposes a form of order of a dictatorial kind in what should be a forum of civic debate.

Sold to the merchant ship
No doubt the Conservative Party in Britain is regarded with derision by the ANC, but Winston Churchill would not have had the moral and political freedom he did have as a Conservative MP when he opposed his own party's appeasement of Hitler, had he sat not in Westminster but as an ANC MP in accordance with the slaves' charter in Cape Town. He was not 'deployed' by any Luthuli House, and could not be removed by any Simon Legree unless the members of his own constituency party decided to dispense with him.

Old pirates, yes, they rob i;
Sold i to the merchant ship,
Minutes after they took i
From the bottomless pit.

According to the 'party list' in South Africa’s system of unfettered proportional representation, the ANC MP is as much sold to the merchant ship by his own pirates in Luthuli House as he would have been in the 'bottomless pit.' It is a degradation of the moral independence of the MP as great as any under Bantu Education, debasing Parliament to the level of a Bantustan assembly.

Failure of ANC government made plain to all
There has been no failure of government in South Africa so immediately felt on the backs of every South African – and made so plain to every foreign viewer of the television news – than the failure of South Africa's electricity power supply, ten years after ANC government failed to heed the warning of the White Paper on the need for upgraded provision. Even the failures on AIDS, on crime, on corruption, on Zimbabwe, terrible and culpable as these are, do not compare with the comprehensive, immediate and destructive effect of this single failure of ANC government. A national and regional crisis of such magnitude, coming immediately before the opening of the new session of Parliament, should mean that every sitting MP in the governing party should have stood to attention before the electors in some part of the country to explain his own negligence, and the negligence of his and their party. He or she should have been left in no doubt as to what these electors expect of their MP in this calamity in which the country has been so unnecessarily and so shamefully placed. The ANC has disgraced the record of black government, and every one of its MPs should have been held to account.

The Soviet model of Parliament
One must expect, however, that in Parliament next month the troops of Luthuli House will stand to order in the same way that paid cattle stood to order in the Congresses of the People, or by whatever other lie these were called, in the Romania of Ceaucescu, the North Korea of Kim Il-Sung, the East Germany of Erich Honecker, the Bulgaria of Todor Zhivkov, or the Albania of Enver Hozha. The ANC crafted a despotic, Soviet-type provision into the electoral law of the supposedly new and miraculous and progressive Constitution of 1994, as only RW Johnson had the courage to spell out unambiguously in his South Africa: The First Man, the Last Nation (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 2004). Three years after Johnson, the former ANC MP, Andrew Feinstein, provided a detailed exposition of the workings of this venal system, six years after his own resignation as an MP. I summarised this exposition in a review of Feinstein’s book, After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey inside the ANC (Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg, 2007), as follows:

Feinstein on the workings of the party list system
"Feinstein shows how the electoral law of 1994 establishes a slavish partiinost (Russian for 'party spirit') almost as thorough-going as under the great Vozhd (or Leader) himself. He gives the best available exposition of how this system of parliamentary unaccountability works, moving upwards from the democratic to the despotic. Selection of ANC candidates is as follows: local party branches nominate members to the regional party structure, regional conferences then finalise a regional list of candidates to go to the Provincial Legislature and national Parliament, these names are then submitted to a Provincial List Conference made up of representatives of all the branches in the province and the ANC's constituent organisations (i.e.Youth League, Women's League), with the provincial lists finally being submitted to a National List Conference. As Feinstein says, up to this point the selection process - though 'unwieldy and cumbersome' - is ‘profoundly democratic’. Everything now gets murky. After the National List Conference, 'the national leadership then deliberate[s] on the final lists for submission to the Electoral Commission. At this point the process los[es] its democratic character and [falls] hostage to the whims and internecine battles of the leadership of the ANC'. (p.81). In other words, candidates for election to Parliament or Provincial Legislature on the ANC slate are hostage and creature of the party bosses, who in terms of the electoral law can also remove and replace them by whim."
[See 'Book Review. Andrew Feinstein: The Case against Mbeki' (8 January 2008)].

The shameful spectacle of the coming session in Parliament
This is why there will be the shameful spectacle of hundreds of ANC MPs behaving like frightened children at the Diktat of the ANC Chief Whip, or - even more disgusting - of the Speaker of the House. Despite being adults, one must expect they will wheel like an army of morons 180 degrees away from the programme of former ANC president Mbeki to the programme of new ANC president Jacob Zuma, despite the fact that Mbeki remains (nominally) President of the country. One understands the crucial significance for Mbeki, as for Zuma, of the need to capture ANC party leadership at Polokwane last month, since by comparison Parliament is just a rubber stamp. (But a rubber stamp that provides a meal ticket to hundreds, while disgracing democracy under the name of democracy). The bad electoral law of 1994 is the worst instrument of mental slavery in South Africa, converting what was falsely celebrated as a citadel of freedom into a foul continuation of the old South African slaveship. The first condition of real civic freedom is an alliance for a defence of the Constitution in which reform of the electoral law, sanctioned by parliamentary and legitimate means, is an essential constituent element. The energy supply crisis provides the situation in which these issues should urgently be put before the people. As Marley wrote,

Won't you sing with me
These songs of freedom?

Monday, 28 January 2008

Activist rejects top SA award

28/01/2008 09:12 - (SA)

Wellington - A veteran New Zealand anti-apartheid campaigner has rejected a nomination for a prestigious South African award for foreigners, saying he is dismayed over conditions in the country, local media reported on Monday.

John Minto, nominated for a Companion of OR Tambo Award by a South African government official, asked for the nomination to be withdrawn, the Christchurch Press newspaper said.

"(South Africa) was the democratic country with so much hope and I think for so many people it's been the deepest of disappointments, and certainly it has been for me," Minto said.

"I'm just deeply dismayed at what's happened," he told the newspaper.

The Tambo award is the highest honour granted non-South Africans in recognition of friendship, co-operation and support.

Previous recipients include Mahatma Gandhi, Kofi Annan, Salvador Allende and Martin Luther King jnr.

A union organiser, Minto was national coordinator of the Halt All Racist Tours movement during the controversial 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand - when an all-white rugby team representing South Africa was strongly opposed by many New Zealanders.

Black South Africans worse off

In an open letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki, Minto blasted the African National Congress government which, he said, had left black South Africans "worse off than they were under (white) minority rule".

"When we protested and marched into police batons and barbed wire here in the struggle against apartheid, we were not fighting for a small black elite to become millionaires," Minto wrote.

"We were fighting for a better South Africa for all its citizens. The faces at the top have changed from white to black but the substance of change is an illusion," he noted.

Thursday, 17 January 2008


Mbeki’s blunders dwarfed his many successes

President Thabo Mbeki left the stage a beaten man on Tuesday night. He was defeated by one of the canniest political campaigns ever waged in South Africa by a Jacob Zuma who transformed himself from a being a fired, corrupt, misogynist rape-accused into a people’s champion - all in two short years.

The story of how Mbeki lost his political mojo has the makings of an epic screenplay, perhaps along the lines of Luchino Visconti’s classic, The Leopard, in which Burt Lancaster portrayed the decline of Prince Don Fabrizio Salina as power shifted from the aristocracy to the populists. But this comparison is a sentimental exaggeration. The truth is much simpler: Mbeki is the victim of a massive failure of spin-doctoring. Consider this: here was a man who, in 1999, led the ANC to a greater margin of victory than that achieved by Nelson Mandela in 1994; who presided over the most sustained period of economic growth in the country’s recent history and who presided over South Africa winning the right to stage the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Macroeconomic successes and political failings
These achievements, large though they were, were dwarfed by Mbeki's macroeconomic successes. Under his and finance minister Trevor Manuel's watch, South Africa's economy stabilised, the deficit was reduced, inflation was reined in, the currency was brought on to an even keel and conditions were created for a stock market rally that has swelled the pensionable income of workers as much as it has made share-optioned executives wealthy.

Mbeki had his political failings. He presided over an arms deal that has spawned a thousand corruption stories. He failed to deal with the haemorrhaging of Zimbabwe and, perhaps most tellingly, he failed to respond to the Aids pandemic with conviction. All leaders have their failings. The difference with Mbeki is that these failings were allowed to fester, multiply and, ultimately, overwhelm his successes. The blame for this resides first and foremost with Mbeki himself. While in exile, he was the supreme spin-doctor, convincing white South Africans who visited the ANC in Lusaka that his party had good intentions for South Africa. This was no mean feat, given that the ANC was a banned organisation at the time. But, somewhere between exile and the long, lonely night of December 18 2007, Mbeki lost his patience with spin-doctoring.

Mandela and Mbeki with the media
On the eve of his presidency, in 1999, he made an effort to build a relationship with political journalists. He hosted a warm, informal discussion with them on matters of state in a disarmingly honest way. But the very next day a daily newspaper betrayed his confidence and the die was cast. Mbeki retreated. Nelson Mandela’s brilliant spin-doctor, the late Parks Mankahlana, was unable to stem the ooze of negativity. Mandela had allowed him to work the press with a free hand. Under Mbeki, his style was cramped. He was constantly having to defer to higher authorities. It did not help that Mankahlana was sent to the front to fight for Mbeki's questionable stance on Aids, even as the disease was ravaging him. After Mankahlana came a succession of dour yes-men, terrified to pass on information and unable to find a way of casting Mbeki’s odd utterances on Aids and Zimbabwe in a positive light.

South Africa's Lord Haw Haw
Mbeki’s new front line became the minister in his office, Essop Pahad, laughingly referred to as South Africa’s Lord Haw Haw. If it was Mbeki who wrestled his own public image to the ground, it was Pahad who put in the steel-toed boot. Angry, finger-pointing and prone to temper tantrums, Pahad cut a swathe of alienation through the press corps. In April 2001, Mbeki's minister of safety and security, the late Steve Tshwete, stunned the nation by announcing that Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa were plotting to overthrow Mbeki. Mbeki's response to the claims suggested that he was behind the bizarre move, instantly turning three powerful figures into life-long enemies. He told 'It’s a conspiratorial thing. I know you have business people who say, 'We will set up a fund to promote our particular candidate and we will then try to influence particular journalists’.

The seeds of paranoia
The seeds of paranoia had been sown and, though the public at large was bemused, there was a negative shift in perceptions of Mbeki within the ANC. Respect turned to dread. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite rolling out a massive Aids campaign, Mbeki failed to distance himself from Aids denialism. In the months leading up to the conference, Pahad launched an all-out assault on South Africa's most influential newspaper, the Sunday Times, calling for a government advertising boycott. Whatever hope Mbeki had of turning around public opinion vaporised on Pahad's hot breath. On Tuesday night it all boiled down to 412 delegates at the ANC conference. It would have taken only 412 delegates to switch their support from Zuma to Mbeki for Mbeki to survive the Zuma's onslaught. But when Mbeki rose to claim credit for his successes no one was listening. Success had long been overwhelmed by the untamed tentacles of failure.


Sam van den Berg
Jacob Zuma has done the country a service long overdue — he has finally exploded the fairy-tale of the Rainbow Nation.

Politicians came together in the nineties and 'solved' the problem of racism. Mandela and De Klerk presided as patron saints over the labours of those who drafted a democratic constitution - stumbling along the path so clearly laid out by the reviled Liberal Party more than 30 years before. They also presided over the Truth and Reconciliation process.

No-one seemed to notice that the process ignored those who had suffered most -innocent victims of decades of socio-economic brutality, and victims of a dirty war (approved by Mandela and the leaders of the National Party in their separate ways) of cowardly and indiscriminate bombs in public places, necklacings provoked by gossip and provocateurs on both sides of the struggle for power. 'Truth and Reconciliation' were reserved for those whose acts of brutality were 'politically motivated' - a principle which would have exonerated all those hanged at Nurnberg. Did this establish a new principle in law - that the ruthless pursuit of power is an excuse for murder?

Nor did anyone notice that the whole process of 'building the rainbow nation' was merely a smooth process of one nomenklatura handing over power to another. Golden handshakes in return for guaranteed positions in government and business. Also, no-one seemed unduly concerned about the small loophole in the constitution that opened the door to black racism, nepotism and general corruption - in the name of redressing the wrongs of the past.

Poor paid the price
In the end, it was not white millionaires who paid the price for this, but the poor - who can forget the pitiful accounts of pensioners dying while queuing for pensions they would never receive because the money had been pilfered by beneficiaries of Black Empowerment?

On the National Party-NG Kerk (Dutch reformed churches) side, copious crocodile tears were shed. Apologies for the sin of apartheid were made. Feet were washed. Yet, remarkably, neither PW Botha and his bloody-handed accomplices, nor Thabo Mbeki and his equally blood-spattered collaborators, were willing to come forward and reveal the truth about their involvement in the dirty war over which they presided - from far behind the trenches.

To con the masses into voting for their new tormentors, the myth of a War of Liberation was created. A war that never was. How many ordinary people realise that no MK armies ever fought real battles against the SADF in South Africa itself? The reason for this was simple — they were too busy doing the Kremlin's dirty work in Angola, Mozambique and Rhodesia. Those MK soldiers who actually wanted to fight a real war against Apartheid were brutally punished by the Tambo-Hani-Mbeki gang.

Suicide squads
The only battles in South Africa were fought by suicide squads sent in to their certain death - and useful martyrdom; and by provocateurs starting the chain of gossip that would lead to the burning alive of supposed enemies. They talked endlessly of the problem of racism - but what was the reality? Not racism - but poverty, hunger, disease and misery. They still talk endlessly about racism - and the misery increases by the day.

The rainbow nation, the process of 'reconciliation', the smooth handover of power from one gang of fat-cats to another, none of these changed the lives of the poor by one jot. Indeed, their misery has increased. The rich partially changed their colour, but they have grown wealthier. The poor partially changed their colour - and got poorer. It is ironical that it took another morally tainted fat cat to blow this myth to pieces.

Unfortunately, history has taught those of us who still bother about such things as history in the postmodernist world, that populism may well plunge the masses into worse misery than before. Mbeki’s arrogance, his sense of imperial entitlement (which exceeded even that of the monstrous PW Botha), his hubris, have brought the country to the brink of disaster.

Blame for their sins
Those most deeply involved in the evil, tried to set up one of their own, Zuma, to take the blame for their sins. The scapegoat is now turning on his former comrades. It is a brawl that may still plunge the country into the worst crisis in recent history. If we allow the ANC to interfere with the constitution, with the judiciary and with the freedom of the media — as they are aching to do — South Africa may soon join Zimbabwe and others in darkest Africa. We can only hope that the ANC will now shatter into its irreconcilable parts so that a viable multiparty system can emerge from the mess that Mbeki, Zuma and their comrades have made.

(Ed.-If Pretoria (now renamed Tshwane) was the citadel of the apartheid system, the brothers Sam, Maritz and Johann van den Berg - from an Afrikaans-speaking family - stood up against the rule of apartheid in the centre of the citadel from 1958 as members of the Pretoria University Students' Branch of the Liberal Party, and continued as active members of the party until its dissolution in 1968. That required moral courage of a very high order. The Van den Bergs were among a group of young Afrikaners and others in Pretoria who joined the Liberal Party in the late fifties. They chose the Liberal Party as what they saw as the only nonracial party, and the only one which articulated the principles of liberal democracy based on universal suffrage and nonviolence. They distrusted the Congress Movement for several reasons - because of its division along apartheid lines, and because of what they saw as its infiltration by Stalinists and by people 'who talked too easily of violence'.


Stanley Uys

Not content with having just unseated Thabo Mbeki as President of the ruling African National Congress (while not questioning his position as South Africa's national President), a joyous, polygamous Jacob Zuma, 63, yesterday took unto himself his fourth bride in the traditional setting of his northern KwaZulu-Natal homestead, Nkandla. He delivered the traditional lobola (bride price) of 11 cattle for Nompumelelo, 33, and slaughtered another four cattle for the 500 guests, some of whom carried familiar Zulu weapons of shield and knobkerries (clubs). The bride and her party had arrived late on Friday night, which they spent under a tree in a meeting spot called an isigcawu.

Zuma has many children by his polygamous wives, and by others. He is cagey about how many there are, but they are said to number 18. Two are with his new bride - they live in a mansion in Durban 'given' to Zuma by a benefactor. Zuma has several benefactors who allegedly used his political influence to secure tenders for clients in a huge South African arms procurement deal - Zuma's financial adviser was convicted of this practice last year and is spending 15 years in prison. Zuma himself was charged with corruption, but the trial was struck from the rolls for lack of evidence. (However, the state intends to reopen it in August).

War song
The self-educated Zulu, who became head of ANC Military Intelligence, wore designer clothes from an exclusive Durban boutique. After an exchange of gifts with his bride, Zuma emerged, dressed in a leopard skin, and leading a group of warriors singing a Zulu war song (Wawuyaphi ungapethete isibhamu – Where are you going without a gun? – a militaristic note struck repeatedly by Zuma during his campaign for the ANC presidency).

The wives
Zuma married Sizakele Khumalo in 1959. She has a good relationship with the new bride and helped prepared the feast. Next in 1976 he married Kate Mantsho, who committed suicide in 2000, leaving behind a note in which she complained of 'hell' with Zuma. The third wife was Thobeka Stacy Mabhija (and Zuma had a long-term relationship with Minah Shongwe, mother of Zuma's son Edward, who is regarded as Zuma's heir). In the 1980s, he married the present Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but divorced her in 1997. Last June, Zuma was rumoured to be expecting his 18th baby (this time with Thobeka Stacy Mabhija, a woman from Durban).

Meanwhile, the niece of the king of neighbouring Swaziland, Mswati 111, Sebentile Dlamini, has been waiting patiently for more than five years to marry Zuma. When Zuma took his fourth wife yesterday, Sebentile and the Swazi royal family reportedly were left 'clueless' about what would become of Zuma's romance with their daughter. They had not even been informed that he was taking on another wife. Qethuka Dlamini, spokesperson for the Swazi royal family, was shocked when informed by a newspaper of the wedding: 'Hawu, we don't know about that,' he said, adding that it would have been a sign of courtesy 'just to inform us'. However, 'When Zuma asked for Sebentile's hand in marriage, I think our daughter was prepared for a possibility of him taking other wives after her'. It appears that Zuma paid 10 cattle as lobolo for Sebentile.


Paul Trewhela
After the party, the hangover

If there is a single book to read to get an understanding of contemporary South Africa, it must be Andrew Feinstein's After the Party. A Personal and Political Journey inside the ANC (Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg, 2007). The African National Congress - party and government, under President Thabo Mbeki - has never been written about before with such intimacy, such candour, such extensive first-hand personal and professional experience. Still in his mid-forties, Feinstein was an ANC MP for seven years and head of the ANC group in the Special Committee on Public Accounts in 2000-2001 when Scopa acted to carry out its parliamentary mandate to examine government finances, and found itself confronted with corruption at top of government over the grotesque arms deal of 1998/99. He was forced out of his position on Scopa by his enemies in government and their stooges in January 2001 and resigned as an MP the following August, though he remains a member of the ANC while resident with his family in Britain. He presents unchallengeable evidence that President Mbeki, Deputy President Jacob Zuma, relatives of the late Defence Minister Joe Modise, Shamin 'Chippy' Shaik - the Director of Procurement in the Department of Defence at the time of the arms deal and brother of Schabir Shaik, convicted recipient and broker of bribes relating to the arms deal – and others have a case to answer in court, whether relating to corruption for their own material benefit or in the interest of funding of the ANC. His research indicates that the ANC won the general elections in 1999 and 2004 on the basis of secret illegal funding, the first directly as beneficiary of the arms deal. He presents telling clues to the view that Mbeki’s government corruptly and illegally funded the ANC at taxpayers' expense, a bill to be paid for years to come.

How government became an autocratic monster
Feinstein shows how along with arms deal corruption, Mbeki's government became an autocratic monster. With general atrophy of public and private morality from the top down, Mbeki and his inner cabal headed by his colleague from exile and Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad - reported as 'the only person [Mbeki] trusts' (p.175) - removed every shred of personal integrity from ANC MPs by demanding cow-like obedience. Even mildly independent MPs such as the Arts and Culture Minister, Dr Z. Pallo Jordan, and the Communist Party leader, Jeremy Cronin - both re-elected to the party’s National Executive Committee last month - buckled under pressure and proved themselves 'weak-kneed' when required to be compliant. As Feinstein says, 'when push came to shove they were found wanting and Parliament and South Africa’s democracy have been the poorer for it.' (p.216) It was not the first time these luminaries were proved made of clay, and it will not be the last.

No scrutiny of the Executive
Under Mbeki, the legislative assembly crumbled away before the executive, and parliamentary accountability evaporated like sea mist. The Auditor-General censored and revised his report to parliament when ordered by the Boss to do so, the Speaker tyrannised the legislature instead of championing its rights, one Chief Whip was imprisoned (briefly) for corruption and returned a hero to parliament while his successor was removed from office on the grounds of proven sexual harassment. No scrutiny of the executive was permitted. (Tony Yengeni, the jailed former Chief Whip, who entered prison and returned to Parliament a hero to his colleagues, was elected to the NEC last month, along with his wife – a tribute possibly to his four months within four walls, in place of the four years to which he had been sentenced. Yengeni was one of the worst abusers of Feinstein and his few brave, honest colleagues).

The venality of the party list
Feinstein gives also a detailed exposition of the party list system, by which ANC candidates climb the greasy pole to Parliament and are then appointed like imperial pro-consuls to this or that constituency. The electoral law in the Constitution of 1994 enshrines a system of coercion through a system of proportional representation which gives unfettered power to the party bosses in Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, and guarantees the sycophancy of MPs. [See 'The ANC and the ‘Kenya option', 5 January 2008]. Though elevated into national public life under the PR system, Feinstein honestly becomes its critic and recommends towards the end of his book a revision in the constitution that will set in place a new electoral law.

Parliamentary unacccountability
Despite lapses - an 'admirable constitution' (p.86), 'arguably the world's most progressive' (p.239), he says, in unfortunate reversion to the illusions of his younger self - Feinstein shows how the electoral law of 1994 establishes a slavish partiinost (Russian for 'party spirit') almost as thorough-going as under the great Vozhd (or Leader) himself. He gives the best available exposition of how this system of parliamentary unaccountability works, moving upwards from the democratic to the despotic. Selection of ANC candidates is as follows: local party branches nominate members to the regional party structure, regional conferences then finalise a regional list of candidates to go to the Provincial Legislature and national Parliament, these names are then submitted to a Provincial List Conference made up of representatives of all the branches in the province and the ANC’s constituent organisations (i.e.Youth League, Women’s League), with the provincial lists finally being submitted to a National List Conference. As Feinstein says, up to this point the selection process - though 'unwieldy and cumbersome' - is ‘profoundly democratic'. Everything now gets murky. After the National List Conference, 'the national leadership then deliberates on the final lists for submission to the Electoral Commission. At this point the process loses its democratic character and falls hostage to the whims and internecine battles of the leadership of the ANC'. (p.81). In other words, candidates for election to Parliament or Provincial Legislatures on the ANC slate are the hostage of the party bosses, who in terms of the electoral law can also remove and replace them by whim.

The undermining of Parliament
Only the na├»ve will consider it a surprise, then, that Feinstein finds 'the party leadership undermining the parliamentary system'. While in theory ‘the Legislature is intended to hold the Executive to account’, the reality is that under 'South Africa’s proportional representation system, a dissenting voice is easily removed from the party lists', leading to what he delicately terms a 'weakness in the accountability cycle' (p.86) and the 'subservience of the ANC backbench' (p.90). This, and the accusation by the Mbeki grouping that political rivals were plotting against the President, had an obvious result. 'People were too frightened to lobby or promote anti-Mbeki nominees'. (p.122) With the assistance especially of the 'rude, 'abrasive' and 'fearsome' Essop Pahad, an 'uncouth enforcer of limited principle' (pp.175, 241, 15, 116), Mbeki for several years 'silenced dissent within the party.' (p.138) Known in the media as the ANC’s 'Mr Clean' before his own removal, Feinstein is engagingly open about his own fears, doubts and shaming silences in this scary bear pit, before finding the courage to act according to his conscience. The PR system gave him no protection. He had no constituents to endorse his bravery and integrity. He either jumped or was pushed, and chose to jump.

The need for constituency MPs
Among measures which are 'desperately needed' given 'the ANC’s moral decline' (p.249), he argues that South Africa should change to a 'mixed constituency/PR system, so that MPs are able to have an independent voice either as non-party constituency MPs or as representatives of a party directly elected by people from a specific geographical area, so that they are not beholden exclusively to their party leaders.' Feinstein argues that a mixed electoral system is essential for two reasons. 'An element of proportional representation allows minorities to be represented in Parliament', while constituencies would provide the 'direct link between representatives and the voters…as well as diluting the power of the party leadership to get rid of independent MPs.' This would create an environment in which MPs would be more likely to be 'driven by principle and the needs of their constituents rather than the narrow loyalty required to remain in favour with the party leadership' (pp. 260-61). This proposal preceded by several weeks a similar call by the mother of President Mbeki, the widow of Nelson Mandela's Robben Island colleague, Govan Mbeki. (See 'Mbeki’s mother calls for ANC HQ to be disbanded', 5 January 2008). The involuntary coming together of Epainette Mbeki and Andrew Feinstein - two people with such opposite experiences of the ANC - shows that reform of the electoral law is an idea whose time has come.

Subservience and patronage
Feinstein is right to link corruption to Parliament's lack of internal democracy. The proportional representation system, he writes, 'ceded power to the party at the expense of Parliament' and 'removed the backbone of the ANC backbench', leading to its 'wimpishness in the face of Executive authority.' PR created a party leadership that 'demands loyalty and is quick to dispense patronage'. (p.89) He is right to find an earlier source in the nature of the ANC’s exile apparatus. As he says, the 'paranoid style of organisation in exile' of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (to which Feinstein never belonged), and in which 'Mbeki was steeped' (p.150), created the basic conditions for parliamentary sclerosis and corruption in government. He discovered at first hand that 'the exiles were organised in a very hierarchical manner, with information tightly guarded and decision making centralised. Open debate was constrained….The vanguardist, democratic centralist aspects of the organisation in exile betrayed Leninist roots, while an additional Stalinist dimension saw the party as paramount and loyalty as the crucial currency'. (p.21). Its outcome was the 'autocratic, insulated and deaf-to-criticism-or-dissent style of leadership that has marked the Mbeki era'. To protect power, the 'ANC leadership of both the executive and legislative arms of government was prepared to sacrifice the integrity and rigour of Parliament', leaving Parliament today 'an empty vessel.' The ANC had 'lost its moral compass' (p.240).

A lethal bullet aimed at government
Feinstein's book is well-written, easy to read and develops the momentum of a thriller. He emerges as engaging, well-intentioned and trustworthy, recording a journey from innocence to experience in which he has become ultimately more dangerous to his previous masters when outside Parliament than in it. His book is a lethal bullet aimed at the heads of the government and their cronies, all the more because only a few weeks after its publication they lost all power in the ANC. Feinstein is listed as a witness in the forthcoming trial of the Deputy President, Jacob Zuma. A summary of some of the evidence he presents in his book runs as follows:

Thabo Mbeki (President): Discussing 'Thabo Mbeki's involvement in the arms deal', he notes that Mbeki - then Deputy President - met with the three most senior executives of the French arms company, Thomson-CSF, in Paris on 17 December 1998. 'It appears both from court documents and from a source close to South Africa's ambassador to France at the time that this was Mbeki’s third meeting with Thomsons. At the December meeting Mbeki was asked about the bona fides of Schabir Shaik, with whom Thomsons were about to go into partnership. Mbeki supposedly gave Shaik the thumbs down, but the deal went ahead.' Shaik is serving a 15 year sentence arising from his relationship with Thomsons, a matter that forms the basis of the case against Zuma. Mbeki himself has questions to answer in court. Feinstein notes that a South African firm, Futuristic Business Solutions (FBS), was the 'alternative to Shaik that was, at least implicitly, approved by Mbeki'. Directors of FBS included 'two members of Joe Modise’s extended family'. Feinstein notes that Zuma’s defence counsel have announced that they will, in all likelihood, call Mbeki as a witness, as - in their words – 'he is the only one who would know whether the arms deal was corrupt or not'. Feinstein takes this as a 'veiled threat that if Zuma was tried, he would spill the beans on far broader and more substantial ANC benefit from the arms deal'. (p.223)

Joe Modise (Defence Minister: resigned 1999, died 2001): A number of leads point to Modise's corruption, one of them a German investigation into the role of the arms supplier, Thyssen-Krupp, recipient of a contract for frigates for the South African navy. Feinstein reports a 'source close to the German investigation' as telling him the prosecutors were 'confident of linking additional millions directly to Joe Modise and a portion of the balance to the ANC for party purposes…The German authorities have submitted requests for assistance to their South African counterparts, as well as UK and Swiss investigators.' (p.227) According to Feinstein, there is evidence of Modise's role in the deal with the British arms company, BAe. He reports that a 'very senior Defence Force leader at the time' has claimed to have 'flight records showing Chippy Shaik and Joe Modise flying to London to meet with the Chairman of BAe clandestinely.' (p.231) BAe Systems plc has 'admitted to funding the MK Veterans Association of which Joe Modise was Life President…' (p.235) A representative of a tendering company told Feinstein following the Scopa hearings that Chippy Shaik had told him that 'to stand a chance of winning the contract we get in touch with one Tsepo Molai….We didn’t know that Molai was linked to Joe Modise. When we met him Molai proposed that the bidding company hire him as a consultant, suggesting a $ 250,000 start-up fee and $ 25,000 a month retainer. We declined the offer. Clearly this was the death knell for our bid.' (p.168) The French firm Thomson-CSF owned a South African company, African Defence Systems (ADS), which had a major role in the deal. South African directors of ADS included Schabir Shaik as well as Joe Modise's brother-in-law, Lt General (Retired) Lambert Moloi, and General Moloi's son-in-law, Tshepo Maloi. Chippy Shaik’s wife worked for the marketing department of ADS at the time. There is other incriminating material relating to Modise.

Shamin 'Chippy' Shaik (Director of Procurement at the time of the arms deal, currently in Australia): Feinstein is blunt: Chippy Shaik 'lied to Parliament', an indictable offence for which he remains untouched. (p.210) 'Chippy Shaik had a massive conflict of interest and didn’t recuse himself from relevant meetings.' Shaik told Scopa he had recused himself from meetings in which the company of his brother, Schabir Shaik, was discussed; Feinstein shows this was false. He presents information that an Italian arms company, Fincantiere, had a meeting with Chippy Shaik at which he 'suggested his brother Schabir as an appropriate empowerment partner, implying that failure to follow his advice would hinder their efforts to secure a contract.' (p.168) (Fincantiere did not get the contract). Feinstein shows that Alec Erwin (Minister for Trade and Industry) inaccurately and misleadingly told Scopa that during arms deal negotiations involving a 'company that his [Chippy Shaik's] brother was involved in, we took specific steps to ensure that the person [Chippy Shaik] recused himself….We were satisfied that we had taken sufficient precautions to deal with that.' (quoted, p.199) Feinstein notes that Erwin was 'particularly aggressive and enthusiastic in defence of Chippy Shaik', and that he, the current Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and the Finance Minister Trevor Manuel had been 'belligerent and arrogant in their responses'. (p.199) He cites information reported in the South African press that the Auditor-General, Shauket Fakie, had 'shown a copy of his final draft report to Chippy Shaik before submitting it to Parliament, and that Shaik had meaningfully changed a part of the report that referred directly to his brother’s interests'.

Capitulation of the Auditor-General
Feinstein's courageous colleague and chairman of Scopa, Dr Gavin Woods, had sight of a 'letter from Chippy to the AG insisting on the removal of a paragraph on conflicts of interest that referred to him. This was yet another indication of the power and authority that Chippy wielded over the process and its cover-up'. Feinstein notes that the AG had 'kowtowed to the Executive' and had been 'found by the High Court to be in contempt of court and threatened with a jail term before he would make the original draft reports available. It was soon clear why: the original draft report contained handwritten instructions indicating what was to be removed, amended or added.…Without fail these instructions were followed in the final report, starting with the first sentence, which completely exonerates the Executive from any wrongdoing. The most significant change concerned Joe Modise….' (p.213)

After Polokwane
There is a good deal more in this valuable book, but this is enough for a review. Mbeki, Pahad, Erwin and Lekota were removed from any position of power in the ANC at its national conference at Polokwane last month. Their efforts to perpetuate a cover-up by deflection of prosecution towards Zuma, who was not a member of the national government at the time of the arms deal but was later involved in the cover-up after being appointed Deputy President in 1999, has brought about their downfall by vote of ordinary members of the ANC, who have held the Executive to account when Parliament failed. Feinstein has added honest witness. The new NEC at its first formal meeting on 7 January has gone some distance to endorsing his stand by establishing a committee to investigate the arms deal. His book is an essential guide to the immediate past, the present and the future of South Africa. It records a history, and will play its part in the making of it.


Call on ANC members to 'jump ship'

The election of convicted fraudster Tony Yengeni to the ANC’s powerful National Working Committee (NWC) is proof that the ruling party has been taken over by criminals, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has said. 'The outcome of the ANC;s NEC meeting confirms that it has been irreversibly captured by populists, careerists and convicted criminals. This is a party willing to sacrifice principle at the altar of power as Tony Yengeni's election to the NWC amply demonstrates.' The outcome of the recent ANC meeting, Zille said, was evidence that Jacob Zuma was now fully in control of the ruling party. 'The Zuma camp's clean sweep of the NWC and his reaffirmation as the ANC's presidential candidate means that Zuma has won the battle for the soul of the ANC,' she said. She made a call to those ANC members who found it difficult to serve under a Zuma leadership to 'jump ship.' Ms Zille said: 'The DA will now accelerate its mission to build the moderate centre (and) if necessary, we will form strategic alliances with other opposition parties as well as members of the ruling party who cannot countenance the future South Africa faces under Zuma’s ANC.'

ANC 'must reassure SA' it will not follow Kenya
Ms Zille said the ANC needed to assure South Africans it will not follow the path that has led to chaos in Kenya. 'Events in Kenya have shown us how quickly a combination of cronyism, populism and ethnic mobilisation can destroy a country’s democratic prospects,' she said in a statement issued ahead of the ruling party’s annual 'January 8' policy statement. 'The ANC needs to assure South Africans that it will not lead us down the same road.' The policy statement, which marks the anniversary of the 1912 founding of the party, is expected to be delivered by newly elected ANC president Jacob Zuma at a rally on January 12.

Fears about undermining the rule of law
Zille said that as it prepared the statement, the ANC had to be conscious of the damage that last month's Polokwane conference had done to South Africa's morale and reputation abroad. The statement should seek to allay fears that a South Africa under Zuma would not be hostage to populists in the party who appeared to have little respect for the Constitution. 'In particular, the party must distance itself from those that seek to undermine the rule of law and it must undertake to respect the outcome of Zuma's trial,' she said. 'Talk of a 'political solution' to the trial has no place in a constitutional democracy in which everyone is equal before the law and nobody is above the law.' The party should pledge to stop manipulating state institutions for the advancement of partisan political interests, and clarify the form that the media tribunal mooted at Polokwane would take. The ANC should also give an assurance that it would not reverse the economic gains the country had made since 1994. 'Interfering with the setting of interest rates and reneging on the Treasury's commitment to run a budget surplus are sure fire ways to undermine confidence in South Africa's economy,' she said


Paul Trewhela
The ANC as prime suspect in arms deal corruption

It is clear that South Africa has now fallen into a constitutional crisis of first magnitude, the most dangerous since the re-constitution of the state in 1994. The new National Working Committee of the African National Congress, which was appointed last week by the National Executive Committee elected at Polokwane in December, last week also appointed a committee of its own members to investigate arms deal corruption. This will not wash. From information that has come to light so far, the prime suspect in arms deal corruption is the ANC itself. It seems most likely that the ANC itself, as the party of government under President Nelson Mandela in the late 1990s – but effectively under the control of then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki – arranged the arms deal as the means of funding its campaign in the general election of June 1999. The ANC won that election with an increased majority, Mbeki replacing Mandela as State President. The means by which it won that election appears to have been a criminal fraud on the nation.

Party benefit at the expense of the nation
The ANC as government bought goods from foreign suppliers that the armed forces did not want and now cannot afford to use properly. The means by which it did so was at taxpayers’ expense and to the loss of other funding priorities, for years past and for years to come. As charged in hearings of the parliamentary Select Committee on Public Accounts on 11 October 2000 by Laloo Chiba MP, a member of the High Command of the ANC military wing during the trial of Mandela and Mbeki’s father and others in 1963-64, and then their fellow-prisoner on Robben Island for 18 years: ‘The South African nation is being defrauded!’ [See "‘South Africa is being defrauded!' – ANC MP" (3 January 2008)] and ‘Things fall apart’ (10 January)]. Debts were incurred to the account of the South African people as a whole, with a rake-off going to the ANC as a party: that appears to be the bottom line. Huge corruption costs to the benefit of the ANC as a party and to individual politicians and state officials were structured into the inflated cost of these weapons purchases, while the arms suppliers were paid through massive loans to the South African state from foreign banks, to be repaid (principal and interest) over years to come.

The nation’s future mortgaged for a party election
The future of South Africa was mortgaged for an election funding scam. Foreign weapons firms, banks and governments were the beneficiaries. South Africa ’s people – above all, the poor, who have lost the services they might have had – were the losers. This was not a ‘victimless’ crime. At the same time, the whole political process was corrupted. Words and deeds became separated from each other, much more than tends normally to happen in politics. Boorish, thuggish, autocratic behaviour increasingly replaced ordinary parliamentary norms. Tony Yengeni, the ANC politician and parliamentary official who brazenly broke up the Scopa investigation was sent to prison six years later because of arms deal corruption, having earlier been the chairman of the parliamentary Joint Standing Committee for Defence that had helped fix the deal in the first place. Yengeni was then elected to the NEC in December and appointed to the NWC in January, along with another recipient of arms deal bribes who has been appointed to the party committee which is supposed to investigate the whole scam! This scandal degenerates to farce. [See ‘Yengeni, Schreiner and the ethics of the ANC’ (14 January 2008 )]. The farce corrupts the democratic process. All that the ANC claims to stand for as it approaches the centenary of its founding is rendered risible, worthy only of a sneer. It is very dangerous.

The ANC is not above the Constitution
The new ANC president Jacob Zuma has been charged in court with corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud in connection with the arms deal. Mbeki, the outgoing party president, and continuing President of the country, should be investigated as to his leadership of the ANC at the time of the arms deal and his chairing of the Cabinet committee which approved it. His grouping in the ANC was responsible for the increasingly boorish, thuggish and autocratic behaviour which led the great majority of ordinary ANC members throughout the country to throw them out of office from the party last month. The clean sweep of almost the entire Mbeki cabal at Polokwane was a necessary but very far from a sufficient step for disinfecting the corruption poison. Whatever might have been thought at Polokwane, the ANC cannot investigate itself on this matter. South Africa has a constitution, set in place in 1994, which the ANC helped to fashion. The ANC cannot now justify a claim to override the Constitution, in its own self-interest, as if the law of South Africa was of no account and did not apply to it.

Judicial process or an ANC putsch
There is now an important constituency in the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions that is arguing that they should override the Constitution. [See ‘J’Accuse! Cosatu considering a putsch?’ (3 January 2008)]. ANC policies which were decided by majority vote at Polokwane would require, if implemented, that South Africa’s judicial process be set aside, in the interest of negating Zuma’s prosecution. This is a recipe for mayhem, violence, potential civil war and the collapse of South Africa into yet another African basket case and failed state, the most terrible failure of all. That is clearly the warning by two of the country’s most eminent jurists who defended Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the Rivonia Trial, retired Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson and Advocate George Bizos. [See ‘Chaskalson and Bizos alarm at tone of Zuma debate’ (5 January 2008)].

Members of the NWC arms deal committee
The NWC and its arms deal committee now have central responsibility for preventing this outcome. With the exception of one of its eight members (retired General Siphiwe Nyanda, head of the South African National Defence Force at the time of the arms deal), none of the arms deal committee appears to have been contaminated by the deal. Kgalema Motlanthe, the new deputy president of the ANC, a former trade unionist and a Sotho-speaker, distanced himself from the actions of the Mbeki government on several occasions in the years before the conference at Polokwane. As ANC secretary general he was very civil and collegial when Chiba’s colleague in the Scopa hearings, Andrew Feinstein, resigned as an ANC MP in August 2001, following the bruising Feinstein had received from Mbeki’s then rottweiler (and now Zuma supporter and NWC member), the jailed fraudster, former ANC Chief Whip and previous chairman of the Defence Committee, Yengeni. Two other leading members of the arms deal committee, Cyril Ramaphosa and Mathews Phosa, were run out of politics in April 2001 by Mbeki’s Safety and Security Minister, the late Steve Tshwete, with trumped-up charges of ‘conspiracy’ and a police probe, in order to bolster Mbeki's grip on government . (The third accused ‘conspirator’, Tokyo Sexwale – Feinstein’s former boss and confidante when he was premier of Gauteng province – emerged as the principal kingmaker of the Zuma victory and is a member of the NWC, though not the arms deal committee). There are enough clear heads and clean hands on the arms deal committee for it to make vital decisions, which will have significant bearing on how the ANC carries itself into the country’s general elections in 2009, or sooner; and how well or ill it serves the country.

Legacy of Skweyiya and Motsuenyane Commissions
The arms deal committee must first become clear in what ways it does and does not have continuity with two previous commissions of inquiry appointed by the ANC to investigate its own past misdemeanours, the Skweyiya (1992) and Motsuenyane (1993) commissions. In the years immediately following the unbanning of the ANC and the return of the exiles, these two commissions took evidence from ANC members and former members about human rights abuses committed in exile, principally by the ANC Security Department, the secret police division of the ANC’s Department of Intelligence and Security. (Zuma was head of Military Intelligence, with a separate area of authority). Put together, the investigations of these two commissions were relatively thorough and complemented the findings of Amnesty International (‘South Africa: Torture, ill-treatment and executions in African National Congress camps’, London , December 1992. AI Index: AFR 53/27/92). Victims were able to give evidence and perpetrators were named. The ventilation of these abuses by the ANC itself went some way to meeting the demands of victims who had called for an international commission of inquiry, and provided one of the immediate preconditions for the convening of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when the ANC became the government in 1994.

Rationale of the ANC commissions of inquiry
Several criticisms have been made before and after the work of the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane commissions, and of the TRC. A significant number of victims of human rights abuses by the ANC in exile refused to give evidence to all three commissions because they did not have confidence that they would receive justice and that their persecutors would be punished. It is true that no punishments were or could be inflicted by any of these commissions. In the case of the TRC, it had the statutory authority to issue amnesty from prosecution in court, if it concluded that a perpetrator had made full disclosure for a ‘politically motivated’ crime (an elastic concept). A very wide range of murderers and torturers from both the apartheid state and the ANC Security apparatus emerged unscathed from these commissions, to enjoy further careers of one kind or another, and/or pension entitlement. There is some bitterness and recrimination about this, partly justified but partly missing the point.

The necessity, limitations and value of the TRC
The main point is that the ANC did admit publicly through these commissions to its own previous guilt. This did not take place with Swapo of Namibia or Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, a huge advantage for South Africa in terms of decency, openness and respect for the moral law. The TRC was a necessity because the alternative was mutual slaughter. The apartheid state was intact and undefeated at the time of the unbanning of the ANC in February 1990, while the ANC’s troops in Umkhonto weSizwe had been withdrawn from Angola to Zambia and Tanzania under the Crocker Accords of 1988 – far from any border with South Africa, and in a mood of great dissatisfaction in both countries. The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War (including the Cold War in Africa) permitted a relatively peaceful resolution of the ending of apartheid in South Africa, in which a deal was struck between the two sides. The basis of the deal was that there would be no settling of accounts with the other side. The TRC gave expression to this basic deal between the ANC and the former ruling National Party. It permitted truth to come to light, victims to be heard, perpetrators to be named and shamed, but it excluded a punishing of the guilty (provided they conformed to the conditions for amnesty). No more than that could have been achieved, without precipitating future violence.

Electoral logic of ANC commissions of inquiry
The Skweyiya and the Motsuenyane Commissions, preceding the TRC, had a further logic. The bulk of the abuses they investigated had taken place in the ANC in exile, in Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and some other African countries. The ‘inziles’ – the internal leaders of the ANC, who had fought the battles of the United Democratic Front, the trade unions and the civic associations within South Africa, or had been in prison – knew nothing of the details of what their exile comrades had done in exile. Yet the security forces of the apartheid state, whether its security police or its Directorate of Military Intelligence, did have very extensive and detailed knowledge, since they had penetrated the ANC in exile right up to the top, the Security Department in particular. Once the ANC was legalised, the inziles demanded the setting up of the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane Commissions by the ANC itself, as a means of finding out for themselves what had really happened in exile. They argued in the NEC that without this knowledge the ANC could not realistically confront the NP, as the former party of government in the apartheid era, in a general election. ANC candidates guilty of human rights abuses in exile would be liable to exposure, compromising the party. There was a crucial difference between both these commissions and the NWC arms deal committee, however: though appointed by the ANC, no ANC politician sat on either of the former, an essential condition of their integrity.

Roles of Mandela and Mbeki contrasted
In each debate on this issue, Mandela sided with the inziles, who carried the day. Characteristically, Anthony Sampson gave no attention to this subject in his hagiographic Mandela: The Authorised Biography (HarperCollins, London, 1999), even though Mandela's role was hugely to his credit. In October 1998, when Mbeki and his exile comrades tried to get the final report of the TRC suppressed, since they regarded it as too critical, Mandela once again sided with the revelation of abuses. The report appeared. (On this conflict of approaches between Mandela and Mbeki, see Mark Gevisser, Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred, Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg, 2007. p.710-712. For a step-by-step account, see also Alex Boraine, A Country Unmasked: Inside South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, OUP, 2000).

Alternatives facing the arms deal committee
These are the precedents immediately available to the arms deal committee. It can with courage proceed without fear or favour to disclosure of the ANC’s own corruption abuses, as a prelude to the entire affair being placed before the courts. Or it can wreck South Africa ’s Constitution, the judicial system, civil peace, the economy and trust between the races by placing the interests of party above the state, and the interests of a small number of guilty men and women above the interests of the whole. The committee must choose. It can follow Mandela’s precedent, or Mbeki’s. Ramaphosa, one of the leading ‘inziles’, who is on the arms deal committee, played a major role within the NEC alongside Mandela in support for the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane commissions, and for the TRC (including publication of its report). So did one of the leading exiles, Pallo Jordan, a member of the NWC though not a member of the arms deal committee. Jordan lacked any power base in exile, but felt on his own flesh the sharp claws of the ANC Security Department (Imbokodo, the boulder that crushes) when he was held its prisoner for six weeks in Lusaka in 1982, for arbitrary ideological reasons.

Pallo Jordan’s ironic comparison
Judge Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court, an ANC activist of many decades, has vividly described the ‘seminal’ meeting of the NEC in August 1993 – a ‘passionate meeting, sharp, uncomfortable’ – which accepted the proposal to set up the TRC. At this critical moment for South Africa and the ANC, there were forceful arguments against the proposal. Jordan’s words at that meeting had tremendous moral importance for the future of the country. He should use them again in the NWC over the coming weeks, substituting only the words ‘corruption’ and ‘arms deal’ in place of the issue facing the NEC at that time, ‘torture’. As Jordan sharply and ironically reminded his colleagues at that NEC meeting in 1993: ‘Comrades, I’ve learnt something very interesting today. There is such a thing as regime torture [read: corruption], and there is ANC torture [read: corruption], and regime torture is bad and ANC torture is good; thank you for enlightening me!’ (Sachs’s account is cited in Boraine, A Country Unmasked, pp.258-259).

Schizophrenic stance on criminal justice system
Today the omens are not good. The NWC made a major attack on the judiciary in a statement issued today, following its first meeting yesterday at Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, in Johannesburg. Its stance is schizophrenic. On the one hand, the NWC stated that that it had ‘discussed transformation and the need to restore the integrity of law enforcement units and the entire criminal justice system’. Contrary to affirming and strengthening the criminal justice system, as Chaskalson and Bizos have urged, it expressed itself ‘shocked’ that Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke on the occasion of his 60th birthday had shown ‘disdain’ for the delegates to the conference at Polokwane, a matter that the NEC said ‘highlights the difficulty that many within the judiciary appear to have in shedding their historical leanings and political orientation.’ This is the language of the goons of the ANC Security Department in Lusaka, when they imprisoned Pallo Jordan on the grounds that ‘Leli intellectual lase Merika liijwayela kabi’ - ‘This American intellectual is not showing respect’. (See ‘Jacob Zuma, the ANC and the administration of justice', 30 December 2007). It is the wide open highway to dictatorship and chaos.

Heading for the abyss
Even worse is the subsequent paragraph, in which the NWC states: ‘The sudden withdrawal of charges against Scorpions Gauteng head Gerrie Nel raises a number of questions. The manner in which this case has been handled suggests that South Africa has a long way to go to achieve equality before the law. It strengthens suspicions that those who occupied positions in agencies of the former apartheid government can act with impunity while the offensive against cadres of the democratic movement is intensified. This brings into sharp relief the transformation of state agencies.’ Equality before the law! This verbiage avoids any comment about the NWC fraudster, Yengeni, or the NWC recipient of foreign arms deal largesse, General Nyanda, both present at the meeting which issued these disgraceful, pro-corruption threats. No comment either about the National Police Commissioner and (resigned) president of Interpol, ANC comrade Jackie Selebi, submerged up to the crown of his head in charges of corruption. No mention either of the foul secret at the centre of this ship of fools: the corrupt funding of the ANC itself. With leaders like these, South Africa is heading for the abyss

Power cuts enrage South Africans

Jan 16 2008 09:18 PM

Johannesburg - Power cuts are endangering motorists at traffic
intersections, inflicting heavy losses on businesses and infuriating
South Africans already disillusioned by leaders embroiled in
corruption cases.

State-owned utility Eskom is planning to spend R300bn to boost
power capacity in the continent's biggest economy over the next
five years but South Africans plagued by rolling blackouts are losing

The country's electricity reserves have been eroded by several
years of strong economic growth, a doubling of users and delayed
construction of power plants. Power cuts rippled across South Africa
a year ago, blacking out parts of major cities.

South Africa's power woes have raised political temperatures in the
past, with critics accusing the government of failing to address the
energy crunch plaguing Africa's biggest economy as it gears up to
host the soccer World Cup in 2010.

Economist Mike Schussler says South Africa has paid a heavy price
because of the outages. "We already think it's in the hundreds of
millions of rand," he said.

Eskom has now imposed new cuts, which have also affected the
crucial mining industry.

Eskom's spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
But the outages were a hot topic on a radio talk show which asked
callers if South Africa had become a banana republic.

Bianca Uys, 33, is troubled in many ways. The manager of a pizza
restaurant has watched profits drop by about 50%. Driving home
alone at night can be dangerous for women during the best of times
- South Africa suffers from one of the world's worst rates of violent
crime, including rape.

Traffic intersections, known as robots, are pitch dark at night, with
no signals to guide helpless motorists. "It's not safe for a woman. I
get stuck at the robot," she said.

Frustrations were already widespread before the lights went off.

South Africans have just learned that prosecutors will charge their
national police chief, Jackie Selebi, with corruption, fraud, money
laundering and racketeering. Selebi has been given an extended
leave of absence.

Jacob Zuma, newly elected leader of the ruling African National
Congress, will go on trial in August on charges of corruption, fraud,
money laundering and racketeering.

"The general feeling is very negative. It's a cocktail of coverups
among leaders," Zaid Surtee, who owns an ice cream shop at the
posh Sandton City mall, told Reuters.

Every time his staff opens up the glass case covering fancy flavours
on offer, the ice cream goes soft and there is no chance of recovery
because of the cuts. "This is ridiculous. Nobody has any idea if
Eskom is doing anything about this."

Markets have factored in the allegations hovering around Zuma and
Selebi, as well as the power problems, said Esther Law, emerging
market strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland in London. "They are
adding to negative sentiment," she told Reuters.

The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton - South Africa's single largest
power consumer - said the cuts have hit its three massive
aluminium smelters.

"It does affect our production, but we normally don't disclose the
impact," BHP spokesperson Bronwyn Wilkinson said.

"All three of our smelters have been affected this week on a daily
basis, and they have been affected frequently since load shedding
began late last year."

Jewellry store owner Mohammed Ravat was more forthcoming
about his losses as his employees strained to work through
receipts under poor lighting.

"We can't go on like this. You need to look into the diamond clearly,
to show the customers," he said.

Saturday, 05 January 2008

Sure we believe you, Mr President

Primarashni Gower

As I lay face down next to my husband, David, with our hands and feet tied up, I thanked him for six years of marriage and three children. My knees felt like jelly and I had the urge to lose my dinner.

Despite pleading with Thabang* not to harm my family, I feared he would still shoot my three-year-old son, who was sleeping on the bed, and my mother and my five-year-old twins, whom I could see.

Thabang, still wielding his silver gun, told his friend Jabu* where to find our bank cards while he dialled a number on his cellphone. "Where is your plasma TV? Where is your laptop? Where are your fucking firearms?" he barked. "Give me the correct PIN numbers or my friend who is staying behind will kill you!"

On repeating for the third time that we did not have firearms and that we had an LCD TV, he demanded to know the size of it. While Jabu went to locate it, Thabang conveyed to his contact on the phone that the LCD TV was 37 inches, not 40, and that there was a desktop computer.

He enquired whether his contact was interested in our black Peugeot 206 convertible and blue Toyota Verso, and provided the registration details.

Stamping on David's back and kicking at him, he demanded that David say hello to his contact as he bashed the phone against his ear.

They had stripped my fingers of my wedding rings earlier on, and at gunpoint I had led Thabang to the cupboard containing valuable jewellery, cameras and cash. As compensation for not having firearms, I had pointed out my cellphone and digital camera, as well as the valuable jewellery.

I was terrified that they would rape my daughters, my mother and even me. While Thabang raided my cupboard, I figured that if he raped me, I would not scream or put up a big struggle; I did not want David to try to rescue me -- we could all be killed. I prepared myself psychologically to be raped and knew that I could access the AZT anti-HIV cocktail at one of the private hospitals nearby. Many women survive rape in this country. Luckily, Thabang did not touch me.

The robbers had struck as David drove into our property on his return from the gym. After punching him and beating him up with the gun, they had demanded that he unlock the garage door and lead them into the house. Faced with the choice of being shot dead or complying, David grudgingly went for the latter choice, detesting the fact that, either way, his family was at risk.

"Do your vehicles have trackers and have you pressed the panic button?" asked Thabang as he continued to talk to his friend on the cellphone. He howled with laughter when we said no. This young-looking robber was on a tight deadline -- he had Jabu collect most of the items on his list, leaving behind three old TVs but taking our computer hard drive with my memory stick in it.

These career criminals in their latex gloves and red takkies then drove off to Soweto in our cars, leaving behind messed-up lives, no fingerprints and our burning desire to kill them.

However, you see, we have a government that believes that crime is a mere fallacy and that the foolish citizenry complains for nothing. So, technically, Thabang and Jabu do not physically exist in the eyes of President Thabo Mbeki and his honorable Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula. They exist merely in my imagination and that of other victims, while the country theoretically celebrates having the most liberal Constitution in the world. A Constitution that, in reality, favours criminals.

How do you bring a spiralling crime problem under control if, in your head, it does not exist and things are just dandy in this sunny country? You just continue living in your high-security residence with several bodyguards, wishing the media would just shut the hell up and that the whiners would leave the country. And if you bullshit the people on the ground about the difference your government has made, maybe you will get to be president of the ruling party again -- or even serve a third term as president of the country.

Can Mbeki see that things have fallen apart, as criminals run riot? Is he not concerned about the shameful legacy he will leave behind for allowing this country to plunge into anarchy? Does he have any self-respect?

I used to be scornful towards people who fled the country due to crime. I saw them as traitors. Now I understand their desire for safe, peaceful lives. I want my children to have the safety and security to make mud cakes in the garden without any fear of being harmed by robbers.

I want to continue with my dream job and not pack off to some strange country and start a job on the bottom of the corporate ladder. I don't want to learn to use a gun, but if I had one, I would kill to protect my family.

Our miracle nation is dying because of crime, and there is no doubt that race relations are being damaged. Our rainbow nation is under threat.

Mbeki could save the last shred of his dignity by turning around the situation: he could introduce capital punishment for criminals involved in armed robbery, rape and murder. He could make the tackling of crime a priority. He could declare a state of emergency and call the army in to help him regain control of the country from the criminals to whom he has lost it.

And he could plough resources into the existing national DNA criminal intelligence database and relax restrictions to allow for all South Africans' information to be processed and entered on to the database. This will make it easy for criminals to be traced.

If only he would.

All of these actions would take the fear out of the hearts of crime victims who, like me, would like to continue living in this country. Instead, we're now considering selling our spacious property and could move into a poky little townhouse complex that supposedly has more security.

And, like many other crime victims, we're considering whether it is worthwhile to buy another property when this country is already in the stinky sewers when one considers how crime is handled. Maybe we should keep money in the kitty for when things get really bad and we need to flee for our lives.

Maybe, like many others, we should wait to see who becomes the next president -- and what the consequences are -- before we reinvest our hard-earned money in this country.

Maybe I deserve the government I've got. I voted for it.

* The names of the criminals are real