ALL APARTHEID AND COLONIAL SYMBOLS MUST GO
The ruling by Gauteng High Court Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo declaring the gratuitous display of the apartheid-era flag as hate speech should be welcome by all who are committed to rid our country of apartheid symbols.
However, this is just the beginning of the bigger struggle to remove all apartheid and colonial symbols. Now that we have effectively dealt with the matter of the apartheid flag, our next struggle must be the removal of Die Stem from our national anthem. If the court has ruled that the old flag is hate speech, why should we continue to sing Die Stem, which was the national anthem of the apartheid era?
The unification of Die Stem and Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was a compromise deal aimed at assuring the Afrikaners and supporters of the National Party that the new political dispensation was inclusive. It was part of the national reconciliation project to disarm the right-wingers. Twenty five years later, we can afford to remove all symbols of apartheid without fearing that some may argue that the democratic government is against white people.
As a country, we need to move forward, united by the values of democracy and social justice. We should honour heroes who fought for democracy and freedom. Symbols of colonialists and apartheid leaders such as Cecil John Rhodes and Paul Kruger should belong to the apartheid museum.
The view of AZAPO Voice is that the anti-colonial struggle should be accelerated. Other post-colonial Afrikan countries shed their colonial names. South West Africa became Namibia. Northern Rhodesia became Zambia. Southern Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. But South Africa remains South Africa. It is time that our country should regain its name, Azania, land of the Black people.
But the biggest hurdle is that the current political aristocracy is mainly inspired by European values. They cannot imagine anything that does not have European endorsement. That is why Afrikan languages have taken a back seat and are on a decline, even at our universities. We just have to continue to educate the ruling elite to love themselves first before embracing European values. For if their minds can be free, they will do the right thing and accelerate the anti-colonial struggle.
UNDER THE GRIP OF ANC CORRUPTION
In a normal democracy, people would hide information relating to their corrupt activities. They would know that once you come out to declare that you were bribed, the law enforcement agencies would bring you to justice. But not in Zuid Afrika. In this country, people openly complain that they were not given their full bribe amount and that they want the rest of their bribe. They do this with impunity.
Over the past few weeks, stories have been circulating in the media about the so-called CR17 campaign. Depending on who you listen to, the campaign – whose primary mission was to ensure that Cyril Ramaphosa becomes ANC president – raised between R800 million to R1 billion.
Those who were in the forefront of the campaign say the money was to lobby branches and ANC delegates to vote for Ramaphosa. However, the crude truth is that the money was raised to buy votes. The buying of votes has become an entrenched tradition in the ruling party. Some say this tradition was perfected in the Polokwane conference, which saw Jacob Zuma ousting Thabo Mbeki as president of the ANC.
With revelations in the media that hundreds of millions were raised to secure Ramaphosa’s victory, some of the people who were paid to vote correctly, have decided to openly complain that they were not paid “enough bribes”. They are now threatening to withdraw their support in future campaigns that are geared at supporting Ramaphosa.
Some defenders of the CR17 campaign have questioned the media for failing to put a similar spotlight on the NDZ campaign which allegedly raised even more money in the unsuccessful bid for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to become ANC president.
The public outcry by ANC members that they were not given their full “bribes” is testimony to the depth of corruption in our country. There are a number of shocking developments around this story. Firstly, why did the journalist who was interviewing the people accusing the CR17 campaign managers of not paying them in full, not ask those complaining what was the money for? Does that mean that the journalist accepts as fair that it is okay for ANC delegates to be bribed and be paid in full? Secondly, does the journalist not have an obligation to expose corruption? If yes, why did he think that the corruption relating to the buying of votes should not be exposed? Why are people complaining that they were not paid their full bribes protected as credible sources?
The sad truth is that we have reached a new low in our corruption levels. It is impossible to imagine how the ruling party would succeed in its stated crusade against corruption if its own conference delegates accept as a given that they would vote for whoever gives them the biggest bribe.
Like we stated in past editions of AZAPO Voice, the period of the abuse and oppression by tyrants is prescribed by those whom they oppress, to paraphrase our founding father Bantu Steve Biko. In other words, people get the leaders they deserve. If we want to stop the abuse by the ruling party, the power is in our hands as a people. It is up to us to use it or to continue wallow in self-pity, complaining but without doing anything to stop the misrule and corruption.
WRITING OFF OF UNSECURED LOANS
On the face of it, the signing into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa of a bill that gives the National Credit Regulator (NCR) powers to write off unsecured loans of up to R50 000 for critically indebted consumers earning less than R7 500.00 a month looks like a good gesture.
It is possible that many people who are indebted may celebrate this development in the short term. But what about the long-term implications of this law? This law has serious unintended consequences in the long term. Currently, many poor people struggle to access loan from financial institutions. With the passing of this bill, the granting of loans to many poor people would actually become impossible as the banks would be concerned that they may not be able to get their money back. The banks would either charge the poor extremely high interest rates or would simply reject loan applications in the category of people earning less than R7 500. The effect of this is that these people would be forced to go and borrow from the loan-sharks or mashonisas who charge extremely high interest rates of up to 30% a month.
If the government really cares about the poor, they should not adopt populist policies but should rather sort out the economy by creating a conducive environment that will allow jobs to be created. The government can also walk the talk on combating corruption that is costing the State hundreds of billions of rands. If the government can use its resources efficiently and invest in the development of infrastructure, thousands of jobs would be created, and university graduates would be employed. They would not have to compete in the job market of semi-skilled people earning less than R7 500.00 a month. There would be no need to create artificial solutions whose net effect is to punish the poor even further.
HIGH COURT SETS ASIDE THE SERITI COMMISSION FINDINGS
As we welcome the North Gauteng High Court judgment that set aside the findings of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal this past Wednesday, we remember that AZAPO Voice dealt with the question of the commissions of inquiry in its previous issues.
We made the observation that a Commission of Inquiry is ordinarily a useful instrument in the hands of the State, or the Executive to be exact, in helping it “for the purpose of investigating matters of public concern, and to provide for matters incidental thereto”. In that regard, Commissions were designed within the context of the Commissions Act 8 of 1947 (as amended) to be investigatory than accusatorial.
We added that Commissions are merely interested in finding out more about “matters of public concern”. That is not the same as wanting to see justice through a criminal or judicial process within the ambit of the courts of law. A Commission of Inquiry is not about justice. While a Court of Law may either find an accused guilty or not guilty, rule in favour of the plaintiff or defendant in terms of awarding damages; a Commission of Inquiry may be limited to Findings and Recommendations, which are subject to how the Executive decides to act on them.
We further concluded that Commissions of Inquiry are mere instruments to help the Executive to investigate “matters of public concern” to inform it in the space of policy making. It is in this space that Commissions sometimes find themselves abused by the Executive to:
- Buy time and mislead the public by making it believe that something is being done about a situation or event that has become a hot potato.
- Take a matter about which there is public outcry away from the criminal justice with the objective of evading justice.
In a scathing judgement against the Seriti Commission, the High Court said:
“It is clear that the Commission failed to enquire fully and comprehensively into the issues which it was required to investigate on the basis of its terms of reference. This is evident from the failure to examine the DP report or the evidence which emerged from the Schabir Schaik trial which it refused to admit and thus consider evidence which was highly material to its enquiry. All this evidence was in its possession. The manner in which the evidence leaders and members of the Commission approached critical witnesses, particularly Mr Chippy Schaik and Advocate Hlongwane exhibited a complete failure to rigorously test the versions of these witnesses by putting questions to them with the required open and enquiring mind.”
The High Court found that due to “so manifest a set of errors of law, a clear failure to test evidence of key witnesses, a refusal to take account of documentary evidence which contained the most serious allegations which were relevant to its inquiry, the principle of legality dictates only one conclusion, that the findings of such a commission must be set aside”.
This was a ground-breaking judgement because it was the first to review the findings of a Commission of Inquiry in the body of South African Law, which was why it found no legal precedent but had to rely on foreign comparative law in dealing with Judge Willie Seriti’s findings into the Arms Deal.
The High Court judgement is now a precedent that will have an impact on future commissions of inquiry. For the first time a court of law has ruled that commissions of inquiry are reviewable; and that they must be conducted on a firm basis of the principle of fairness and legality with an “open and enquiring mind”.
Because this judicial review deals with facts that are more than 20 years old, it is not unlikely that the public has forgotten how it all began. The procurement process to implement the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SOPP) started in 1997. The process was finalised in 1999. The government got a number of weapons systems through the SOPP. From the onset, the whole process was marred by controversies and suspicions of corruption which played themselves out in parliamentary debates and the media.
There was public pressure that former President Thabo Mbeki establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal. Chaired by Judge Seriti, the Commission was ultimately set up in 2011 to investigate the allegations of Fraud, Corruption, Impropriety or Irregularity in the SOPP.
In its bizarre findings, the Seriti Commission was impressed by the officials of the Department of Defence (DOD), ARMSCOR and DTI that it found them to have “acted with a high level of professionalism, dedication and integrity”. With regards to these officials, politicians and bidders, the Seriti Commission concluded that “no evidence was found or presented before the Commission to substantiate the allegations”; “no evidence of corruption on the part of any person was found”.
The Commission was ruthless when it came to some of the whistle-blowers that included Mrs De Lille, Mr Crawford-Browne, Dr Woods, Mrs Taljaard and Dr Young. It found that “they have been disseminating baseless hearsay, which they could not substantiate during the Commission’s hearing”. But we now know that the Seriti Commission “did not enquire fully and comprehensively into the issues”.
The stage is now set for thorough investigations and the prosecutions of all implicated parties including former President Jacob Zuma and the French arms company Thales. The setting aside of the Seriti Commission’s findings stands to call newly appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Adv Shamila Batohi’ s bluff.
That is not where things should end. Judge Seriti and all the lawyers involved cashed in millions of rands out of a Commission that was never interested to investigate or find any truth whatsoever. The Judicial Service Council and the various Bar Councils should call the evidence leaders and their researchers to account. There must be consequences for taking the country and the citizens for a ride.
In a country that has the highest inequality in the world; and a country that has more than 10 million unemployed people; and upward of 35 million poor people; it is unacceptable that State resources could be extravagantly splashed on commissions which turn out to be of no effective use to the nation in a space of two decades. R157 million was wasted in a Marikana Commission that yielded no police arrests. 7 years since the Marikana Massacre, the police who murdered the Black workers have yet to be brought to book. The families of the workers have received no compensation to date. Here are others: Fees Commission R56.2 million; Arms Deal Commission R137.2 million; Claassen Board of Inquiry R14.4 million. Just these 4 Commissions have cost the fiscus a staggering total of R364,8 million!
This is not to say anything about the current Zondo Commission into State Capture. As a matter of fact, all these Commissions have everything to do with State Capture under the rule of the ANC. The conclusion is inescapable that the restoration of the humanity and dignity of Black people stands no chance under the captured rule of the ANC.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 31
ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION !