The past few weeks have been more than arduous for President Cyril Ramaphosa, as a volley of tribulations have come flying at him in quick succession. Though his usual strategy is to fob problems off with a charismatic smile and “I am innocent” platitudes, the public, it seems, is finally waking up to the possibility that Ramaphosa may not be their ‘Mr Clean – an image that corporate media has so ardently pushed to the chattering class over the years.
Oscar Mabuyane’s Eastern Cape election victory and his self-serving support for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s second term is not a triumph for the Native South African majority that is still colonised and economically subjugated more than 28 years into a ‘so-called’ Constitutional Democracy.
The relentless legal battles waged against our current South African Public Protector, Prosecutor and Ombudsman, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, are more about the concealment of the involvement of ANC Tripartite Alliance leadership in corruption in which White corporate bosses and certain members of the inner circle of the ANC Boys Club, including President Ramaphosa, are implicated.
A copy of the Report on the ANC Integrity Commission’s (IC) engagement with Minister Lindiwe Sisulu reads like a petty and contradictory missive written by those with a vindictive agenda to excise a senior member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) for apparently ‘going rogue’ on them. In it the IC recommends that the NEC should: “publicly reprimand Cde Sisulu and instruct her to write a public apology to the judiciary. It goes on to say: “If this instruction is ignored, appropriate action should be taken and the NEC should publicly distance the ANC from her harmful utterances, and apologise to the general public.”
PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY: THE ROBBEN ISLAND EX POLITICAL PRISONERS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM.
03 FEBRUARY 2022.
We, as a collective of Ex Political Prisoners, are disturbed to note that Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was one of the first to jump into the boxing ring in response to Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulus’s long overdue article, Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice? After some reflection we are prompted to ask where Zondo fits into the scheme of things regarding the CR presidential campaign? Why would the Acting-Chief Justice risk engaging himself in a political fray when this can easily be construed as his involvement in a potential ‘conflict of interest’ on the eve of interviews and nominations for the position of the Chief Justice?
I was born in South Africa, classified ‘Indian’ by the Apartheid Government, schooled with and educated by Indians. I still maintain a family home, in what used to be and largely remains a Group Areas Act Indian settlement, in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg.
When I saw the news of Jackie Shandu’s comment, ‘one Indian, one bullet’, I was not filled with anger or moral outrage. I did not respond with shock or horror. My heart sank, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of utter helplessness in the face of what I knew was going to be a backlash of mammoth proportion against this passionate young scholar and activist. I believe Shandu was attempting to express a National and unspeakabable grief (that is being suppressed and ignored in a most inhumane way) through his use of a turn of phrase that is symbolic in South Africa’s history of protest. This is, in my opinion, the legitimate use of artistic and literary device to vocally express that struggle and the lack of actual power or, as in this case, weapons.
To truly understand and obtain a holistic grasp of South African Indian racial prejudice of the kind that led to the Phoenix Massacre, and all manner of violence against Black bodies around the Province, including my town and area, one must have lived, breathed and moved among the ‘race’ as I have. But most importantly one must be seen as ‘wanting to belong’ to this cultural group, racial category, classified community, as apart from, and even against, other so-called ‘communities’, a term that seems to have become an accepted and constitutionally sanctioned euphemism for race. To associate with Blackness beyond any perfunctory level of interaction, such as labour, business or casual social niceties, is unusual, especially for Indian women. Inter-marriage is an ultimate taboo and will have you disowned, ostracised and isolated if not declared publicly insane.
It is difficult to be intellectual about what to me felt like an attempted genocide of Blacks by so-called ‘Indian Communities’. Discourse around Asian Anti-Black racism in Africa and abroad is by no means new. That Gandhi used racist notions of cultural superiority to plead the case of Indians as deserving better treatment and greater freedoms than their Black counterparts to the British is similarly well documented. To deny now, as absurd and untrue, that cultural, economic, socio-political and linguistic prejudices and behaviours kindled and nurtured by the Apartheid state and perpetuated beyond it by the permanence of the Group Areas Act as the ultimate social and racially motivated social engineering experiment, has led to this bloody moment in South Africa’s violent history, is National mental illness and tragic delusion.
I am terrified of Indian racism in South Africa. I don’t remember an exact moment of any realisation of it, but the recollection of my fear of it began as a child. It was triggered by sight, sound and general sense. The tones of voice and body language reserved for Blacks. The jobs reserved for Blacks. The language reserved for Blacks. The dishes and utensils reserved for Blacks. With the privilege of an educated and politically involved family, as well as by virtue of being in the Christian minority among Hindu’s and Muslims, my inter-racial social interactions were unusual compared to my peers. We socialised to some extent with people of all races and class. There was no overt racism in our household (which is not to say that it did not exist), which made it all the more complex and difficult to comprehend when confronted with the extremities of it among peers. Apartheid was ultimately a lived reality based on difference that we wore like second skin.
The late eighties ushered in a new era of discourse in Indian High Schools. Suddenly we were discussing the potential repercussions of a New South Africa in which we would have to integrate or at the very least assimilate. The idea seemed inconceivable. My most outstanding recollections of those debates were that the boys were up in arms that their half-clothed sisters would be at the mercy of Black predators at the local Olympic Swimming Pool. Any dissention was seen as lunacy and sexual deviance. General racist slurs, the gruesome sexual dehumanisation of the Black female body in casual conversation, the construction of the Black male body as representative of physical threat and sexual violence was the everyday stuff of my teenage years.
Thirty years later, the more things have changed the more they have stayed the same. I have developed a near phobia of leaving my yard for fear of what I will see or hear beyond it. They WE us THEM decent blacks LOOTERS stupid illiterate useless K……For the duration of the period in which so-called communities felt the need to patrol the suburbs armed with artillery, knives, sporting equipment, garden and household cleaning implements as well as Bob whistles in defence of their lives and property, I lurked awake, night after night, sick with fear that the men marching up and down past my house would get what they desperately wanted – A Black to kill, preferably a Zulu, but any would do. People died here. But it wasn’t a massacre and we’ll never know. People died all over. And we’ll never know. But we do know about Phoenix.
When Jackie Shandu made his statements on the stairs of Durban City Hall last week, I had yet to have seen any public comment or media coverage that located the Phoenix Massacre, or any other racially motivated violence in the Province, within the context of deep-seated entrenched Apartheid racism among White, Coloured and Indian so-called communities. The prevailing narrative was one of stubborn defence. While the bloodletting continued unabated the SA Human Rights Commission, the DA, African Democratic Change, The South African Hindu Maha Sabha and eThekwini Municipality said and did nothing. The contrasting response of the public to so-called Hate Speech as opposed to Hate Action speaks volumes of the hypocrisy upon which this Democracy is based.
Jackie Shandu retracted his statement for obvious reasons, made as they were ‘in the heat of the moment’. Had he not, I would support him anyway. If Mr Shandu is to be held up to the Nation as an example of the consequences of ‘hate speech’ where are the warrants of arrests for the hundreds of Indians, Whites and Coloureds (including teenagers) who filmed and posted to social media their hateful, barbaric incitements to murder (and in at least one instance rape) Blacks in so-called defence of property? Until that time, when the daily humiliation, deprivation and dehumanisation of Black Africans by Indians (and other minorities) is boldly acknowledged and addressed at its root I will stand by my support of both Mr Shandu and his statement and continue to reject the racist identity of ‘Indianness’ foisted upon me by both the Apartheid and current government, as an abomination and embarrassment. Bite that bullet.
Tokyo Sexwale has long been fingered in his own corruption scandal regarding the millions in international funds raised for the benefit of ex Robben Island political prisoners and their dependants, which many of them have never received, says an ex Robben island prisoner. Instead Sexwale has enriched himself and his cronies through these funds – living the high life and even buying a R650 million island.
Ex-Robben Islanders Empowerment Forum (ERIEF) was amazed to see on JJ Tabane’s TV program, Tokyo Sexwale making such a big show about his moral outrage concerning corruption within the ranks of the new political elite. What a grand display of selective amnesia?
For years Sexwale has been at the epicentre of a corruption scandal that involved allegations of complicity, together with well known corporate companies, in BEE tender rigging, tax-evasion; secret bribes to politicians, members of the judiciary and embedded brown envelop journalists.
It all started in 1995 at the reunion of Robben Island ex-political prisoners on the former maximum security prison island where the desperate plight and poverty of many former political prisoners of the apartheid regime was widely debated. After lengthy discussions, the ex-political prisoners adopted a resolution to form an organisation to address the welfare and re-integration of the liberation struggle veterans into the South African society. Soon after the adoption of this resolution, several ex-political prisoners were nominated and elected to serve as the founding executive committee, namely Ex-Political Prisoners National Executive Committee (EPPC) on 12 February 1995. But due to anticipated legal technicality the name was later changed to Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA).
However, the ex-political prisoners were also sharply aware that the organisation could not realistically rely on donations alone to address the plight of the destitute ex-political prisoners. For this reason, the Robben Island ex-political prisoners decided that the organisation needs to also identify commercial investment opportunities that would also assist to create employment opportunities for the ex-political prisoners and their dependents.
Consequently, a trust and business vehicle, namely MAKANA TRUST and Makana Investment Corporation respectively, were established to raise the necessary funding and identify the said commercial investment opportunities with the sole objective to address the welfare of the liberation struggle veterans. It was agreed that some of the funding raised would be invested in BEE related business entities and in the private sector for this purpose. Sexwale became a Chairperson of the Makana Trust.
However, when the invested funds and investments started yielding results in millions Tokyo Sexwale and some of his comrade accomplices became greedy and hijacked the Trust for their own personal gain at the expense of the association of Robben Island ex-political prisoners. They did this by exploiting legal loopholes to manipulate and amend the Trust Deed in their favour by bestowing upon themselves unfettered discretional powers to do as they please with the funds and the accrued investment dividends.
In the post-1994 South African political environment and scramble for BEE tender contracts; political connectivity and the associated resources, became very crucial to corporate bosses who wanted, by any means possible, a stake in all major state business contracts.The economic status and lifestyle aspirations of some of the Robben Island ex-political prisoners and ANC leaders at that time did not go unnoticed to the corporate bosses. These aspirations, integrated to political connectivity, were explored, taken advantage of, exploited and abused to access state resources and major business deals to benefit individuals; family members; their multi-million Family Trusts; cronies; and to buy and influence internal election processes and outcomes.
Robben Island ex-political prisoners, especially those who at the time were considered to have a close approximity to Nelson Mandela and the general ANC leadership, but also mostly economically challenged, were targeted, wined and dined as well as groomed to follow predetermined business and procurement policy directions.
The name of the former Robben Island political prisoner and State President, Nelson Mandela, was exploited and abused, as well as used as a platform to underhandedly fast track and sweeten BBBEE arrangements, State tenders and deals. This was done with the help of well known law firms.
Driven by self-serving aspirations that finally led to the endemic corrupt tendencies and practice, some of the ex-political prisoners started using their connectivity to the corporate giants to influence internal election (ANC) and state policy decision processes, including the ANC deployment policy, in order to advance their narrow and selfish objectives that ultimately have negatively impacted the public service delivery in South Africa.
Not surprising, some of the said ex-political prisoners, flushed with unexplained, but suddenly acquired wealth, later became Ministers, DGs and heads of SOEs or executives of many corporate entities involved in State related business tenders and tender rigging. This also explains the years of chronic nepotism; neglect; mismanagement and corruption endemic to the State owned former Political Security Prison island and internationally UN recognised Heritage site, Robben Island.
To this day, while Sexwale lives it up in multiple multi-million palatial homes, wine farms and holiday homes that dot the South Africa landscape, wining and dining in the most expensive restaurants, a lifestyle that includes a number of overseas holidays and a multi-million hideout island off the Mozambique coast, the majority of ex-political prisoners who are the founders of the Trust continue to live a life of misery and homelessness in dire poverty. For years they have been asking for those responsible to account but all in vain because the corrupt comrades use their political connectivity to close rank and protect each other.
Perhaps Sexwale can indulge the public by also explaining what happened to the millions that were supposedly invested to benefit the general community of Robben Island ex-political prisoners and their dependents?
MEDIA DESKSipho: 071 870 3303Mojalefa: 064 630 7233Ex-Robben Island Political Prisoners Forum (ERIEF)
ERIEF is a non-partisan organisation made up of members from all former liberation struggle formations.
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As an indigenous Black South African I write to express my dismay and disgust at the recent appointment of outgoing WITS Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib, as Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) by the University of London. Board Member Marie Staunton, the Chair of the SOAS Board of Trustees has this to say in her pleasure at his appointment: