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AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue Number 25

 

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MORE THAN AN APOLOGY, BLACK WORKERS DESERVE JUSTICE

As the country commemorates the 6th anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, some community leaders have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to go to the mining town and give a public apology for the massacre that claimed 34 lives six years ago.

Picture1When the 34 mine workers were mowed down by the police, Ramaphosa was a director of LonMin, the company that had employed the workers who had gone on strike demanding a minimum wage of R12 500 for the least paid mine worker.

Community leaders and some political commentators have tended to focus on the need for Ramaphosa to apologise.  Typical.  South Africans are big on symbolic gestures.  One of the most dominant narratives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was its focus on forgiveness.  Victims were conditioned to expect pleas of forgiveness from the perpetrators who had brutally murdered and maimed freedom fighters.  There was no emphasis on justice and reparations.  In fact, the TRC was founded on a major compromise that once the perpetrators made full disclosures, and tendered their apologies to the victims and families of those who were on the receiving end of state sponsored violence, they would get their amnesty and would not be prosecuted.  As a result, operatives of the still-intact Apartheid era spy apparatus, known and unknown, are still roaming throughout the length and breadth of our country with impunity ready to wreak havoc while countless families remain in bereavement for their kith and kin.

Again in Marikana, the script is the same.  Our people are being conditioned to focus on an apology by Ramaphosa, who was just but one of the directors of the mining company.  AZAPO believes that instead of focusing on verbal apologies, which anybody can make with ease, what we should urge the state and LonMin to do is to ensure that they collectively work to end the conditions that made the Marikana Massacre possible.  No doubt, there are many concrete things the Black workers can demand, but an apology from Ramaphosa is not one of them.  He should be directed by his conscience, if he has any.

Mine workers still live in deplorable conditions on mines that make billions of Rands that are shipped to shareholders abroad.  The creators of the wealth, who literally risk their lives each day, are not the beneficiaries of their sweat and blood.  The mainly poor towns and villages where the mining activities occur are under-developed and lack basic services.

Instead of pushing for apologies, we should collectively be campaigning to ensure that the wealth from our mines are more equitably distributed.  The popular chorus of “expropriation of land without compensation” should have a remix that says: “the mines should be nationalised to ensure that the wealth is shared to ensure that Black people have access to the wealth of their country”.

It is AZAPO’s wish that the memory of the Marikana martyrs, serves as a source of strength and healing to the families who lost their loved ones and the workers who lost their colleagues on that fateful day.


ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THE ABUSE OF POWER

When members of the ruling party went to their Polokwane conference in 2007, many of them had two prime objectives – to remove then President Thabo Mbeki from office and to squash the corruption bursting unit, the Scorpions. They succeeded in both missions.

Picture2It is now generally accepted that Mbeki was doing a good job insofar as crime was concerned; and that the Scorpions were also effective in their work of fighting organised crime, especially corruption that involved politicians.  In fact, some even go to the extent of saying that the real reason for the Scorpions to be disbanded was because they were too effective, and did not turn a blind eye on corrupt politicians, including those that were members of the ruling party.

Mbeki was replaced by a gravely flawed Jacob Zuma, who was mired in allegations of corruption.  The Scorpions were replaced by the timid Hawks, which saw their main reason for existence as the protection of the senior leaders of the ruling party than the pursuit of justice.

In a properly functioning democracy, the outcome of the Polokwane conference should have resulted in the defeat of the ruling party at the polls in 2009.  But this did not happen.  The seriously compromised Zuma took over the reins of the party and of the State.  He wasted no time in starting a systematic destruction of the rule of law and converting State security apparatus into his private militia.  And because of this, corruption thrived.  State entities that used to be run professionally, such as SARS, ESKOM, Transnet and Denel, became the cesspit of corruption and maladministration.

So, when the Constitutional Court this week ruled against the removal of Advocate Mxolisi Nxasana as head of the National Prosecuting Authority and found invalid the appointment of his successor, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, the judgment was an attempt to correct the rot that has been festering at the NPA for many years.

Some might praise the judiciary for coming to the defence of the rule of law.  But the people who should take the real blame is us, the voters.  People get a government that they deserve.  Why is it that despite clear evidence of corruption and maladministration, our people voted for Zuma twice?

There is this popular myth, peddled by apologists of the ruling party, that the majority of the population vote for the ruling party because there is no viable alternative.  What a lie!  In order to sustain this lie, propaganda tools such as the media project the ruling party as the only one capable of governing the country.

The best way of ensuring that we prevent the abuse of power, as the Constitutional Court has found, from happening again is to move away from a de facto one party state, where one party dominates.  Democracy thrives when the incumbents have insecurity of tenure.

The best way of ensuring that we prevent the abuse of power, as the Constitutional Court has found, from happening again is to move away from a de facto one party state, where one party dominates.  Democracy thrives when the incumbents have insecurity of tenure.


THE QUEST FOR JOBS

As expected, the government has dismissed reports that it plans to dismiss 30 000 public servants to reduce its growing wage bill.  It is really a matter of semantics.  The government does not have any plans to fire or to retrench 30 000 employees.  But the reality is that their global funders have raised concern about the rising wage bill and that it should be reduced.  Obviously, the government can never make a bold announcement about massive job cuts on the eve of an Election.

Picture3The real plan will be to rely on natural attrition.  In other words, when a public servant goes on retirement, or dies while still employed, no replacement would be made.

The government will also entice those who are close to retirement with incentives to go on early retirement by offering them better packages to push them out of the civil service.  So, publicly, the government can say that there are no plans of retrenchments and kill the story.  But that is just managing a crisis.

The real issue is that the country has a king-size headache of unemployment.  This problem is particularly acute among young people, some of whom are university graduates.  As many as 4 out of 10 people in South Africa are unemployed.  What makes this figure even more depressing is that many of those who are employed are under-employed in that they actually spend more than 80% of their earnings on transport and food.

It is not enough for the government to be creative in dismissing the fear of job losses.  The truth is that the health sector is under severe strain, partly because many posts, including those of doctors, nurses and other health workers, remain vacant.  The situation is the same in education.

Picture4Unemployment retards economic growth.  If the country is to achieve higher rates of growth, the government should stimulate demand through job creation.  Hundreds of jobs could be created by the state if they were to get rid of tenders.  For instance, in the past, the Department of Public Works would build and maintain roads, and construct bridges and other major infrastructure.  That practice has been discontinued, and those jobs have been given to the private sector as part of the tenders that are enriching a few politically connected individuals and companies.

Why is it that the state cannot build RDP houses itself?  Why should this work be given to private contractors who offer only temporary employment without any benefits such as medical aid and pension?

We keep on hearing that we need a strong developmental state, but all that we see is the weakening of the capacity of the state in order to create more room for the untransformed private sector to make super profits.  Of course, for the state to deliver quality service and goods, it must first be free of corruption and poor administration.


AZAPO PAYS TRIBUTE TO MME SOBUKWE

On the passing on of Mme Zondeki Veronica Sobukwe (91), AZAPO takes this opportunity to salute this Black Woman warrior of the Azanian Revolution.  She died yesterday morning 40 years after the death of her iconic husband Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe.  The couple was married for 28 years before death did them part.

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Mme Sobukwe was a struggle veteran in her own right.  She met Mangaliso Sobukwe in the struggle.  While Mangaliso Sobukwe was the leader of the University of Fort Hare SRC, Mme Sobukwe was leading the struggle of black nurses at the Victoria Hospital in Lovedale.  The nurses were protesting against low wages and poor working conditions.  Mme Sobukwe’s leadership skills and courage had placed her at the forefront of that struggle for justice.  It is owing to her fearless leadership of the Black workers that she was expelled from the Lovedale College.

Even when her career was ruined, Mme Sobukwe was deemed by the Fort Hare ANCYL to be the right person to be part of a delegation to deliver a letter about the plight of Black nurses to Walter Sisulu in Johannesburg.

She became one of many Black women whose marriages and families were weakened or destroyed by the long imprisonment of their spouses by the white settler-minority regime.  They became husbandless at a tender age, and were left to raise the children and take care of their families all by themselves.  The apartheid regime denied these Black women love.  It plunged the children into a single-parent home, thereby denying them the balance and compounded love of two parents.

When the white minority regime jailed Mangaliso Sobukwe with the objective of denying the masses leadership, Mme Sobukwe remained behind to be the voice of her husband in the liberation struggle.  She was there to make sure that her husband was not silenced even in death.  In 1997 she approached the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and shared the plight of her husband while he was in jail.  She revealed how the prison guards would put broken glass into the food of her husband.

Mme Sobukwe told the TRC that “In February 1966, they transferred him to Karl Bremer (Hospital in Bellville). They did not tell me.  I heard about this when he came back from Karl Bremer.  He was admitted under a false name.  They did not consult with me.  He was taken back to Robben Island and when I visited him he complained that his food was served with broken glasses”.

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AZAPO has never beaten about the bush about Mangaliso Sobukwe’s death.  AZAPO holds the view that he was poisoned by the white racist regime and released to die outside their custody.

AZAPO extends heartfelt condolences to the Sobukwe and Mathe families and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue 25.

For all comments and inputs, please click here, we thank you in advance.

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