Category Archives: Crime
Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
For more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.
President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma appoints commission of inquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages
President Jacob Zuma has decided, in terms of section 84 (2) (f) of the Constitution, to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, generally known as the “arms deal”.
In 2009, legal proceedings were instituted in the Western Cape High Court asking the Court to direct the President to appoint an independent judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing or to require him to reconsider his refusal to do so. It later transpired that the Western Cape High Court was the wrong forum to hear the matter. An application was then brought in the Constitutional Court. The matter is set down for hearing on 17 November 2011.
President Zuma assumed office when the matter was already pending in the courts of law. He had previously taken a view that since the matter was the subject of litigation in a court of law, he should allow the legal process to take its course.
However, he has since taken into account the various developments around this matter and also the fact that closure on this subject will be in the public interest.
The President will soon announce the terms of reference and the composition of the commission including the time frames.
The President has requested the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to take the necessary steps to implement this decision.
Issued by: The Presidency
Address by the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki to the students of Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch.
Chairperson of the SRC,
Chairperson of SASCO,
Vice Chancellor, leaders, staff, students and workers of Stellenbosch University,
Ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to thank you for inviting me to return to this important centre of learning to reflect on what is obviously an important and relevant topic.
In its invitation letter to me the SRC said the Council had “identified as some of (its) goals to stimulate dialogue, encourage critical thinking and reach for a more transformed campus.”
I would like to commend the SRC and the student body as a whole for setting these important goals. I hope that indeed that you have given yourselves time critically to assess the historic events in North Africa to come to some conclusions about what they mean for Africa and for the African Students.
What can we say about these events, restricting ourselves, for now, to Egypt and Tunisia?
We will return later to the case of Libya.
With regard to everything we will say, please remember that the youth constitute the overwhelming majority of the population in all the countries we are discussing. In Egypt, for instance, two-thirds of the population is under 30, while youth unemployment stands at least at 25%.
Given the topic you have asked us to address, I hope you will agree that necessarily we will have to spend some time reflecting on the events in North Africa so that together we are better able to assess the potential role of the African students in this regard.
There is no doubt that what we saw in Egypt and Tunisia were genuinely popular and peaceful Uprisings aimed at the democratic transformation of these two African countries, starting with the overthrow of the ruling groups.
Accordingly, the Uprisings aimed to achieve the fundamental transformation of their societies, and not only their political systems.
It is also clear that in both instances the youth and students exercised leadership by being the first to take to the streets and by their persistence until the first objective of the Uprising, the overthrow of the ruling groups, was achieved.
It is also important to understand that this objective was achieved because the people as a whole joined the youth and students, transforming the rebellion of the youth and students into a National Uprising, which more or less guaranteed its success.
Equally we have to understand that what also facilitated this success was that the Armed Forces in both countries refused to suppress the Uprising and therefore to protect the governments of the day. On their own, the Police and other security organs could not defeat the Uprisings, regardless of the amount of force they used.
It is also clear that the Uprisings were an indigenous affair, carried out without any significant interference by foreign powers to help direct what were authentic African endeavours.
It is also significant that the governments of both Tunisia and Egypt collapsed within a very short time after the start of the Uprisings, marked in particular by the resignation of the Heads of State, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak respectively.
This could only mean that such was the degree of social rot over which these Heads of State presided, and such was the isolation of their governments from the masses of the people that it would not take too much pressure to topple them, as actually happened.
The April 6 Movement was one of the most prominent of the youth and student formations which played a critical role in the Egyptian Uprising, which incidentally named itself after a brutally suppressed workers’ strike which had started on April 6, 2008.
In a Statement this Movement issued on February 6, 2011, and reflecting the extent to which the Mubarak regime had lost the confidence of the people, it said:
“We will complete what we started on the 25th of January. We the Egyptian youth will not be deceived by Mubarak’s talk, which aimed to manipulate the emotions of the Egyptian people and under-estimated their intelligence as he has become accustomed to doing for thirty years in speeches, false promises, and mock election programs that were never meant to be implemented. Mubarak resorted to this misleading talk, thinking that Egyptian people could be deceived yet again.”
The youth and students and the people of Tunisia took exactly the same position with regard to their then President, Abidine Ben Ali.
By the time he was forced to leave office, Ben Ali had served as President of Tunisia for just over 23 years. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had served in the same position for 29 years.
Again as all of you know, both of them held onto these positions through what were described as democratic elections.
The reality, however, is that these elections were not democratic by any stretch of the imagination, and therefore that both Presidents and the groups they led clung to power depending not on the will of the people, but resort to other means which deliberately sought to frustrate the will of the people.
These were fraudulent elections and the maintenance of an extensive machinery of repression. Many in the Arab world claim that Tunisia had the most repressive state machinery of all countries in the region, making it what is correctly described as a police state.
In addition to the monopolisation of political power by a few, this meant that this tiny minority, as in Egypt, had every possibility to abuse its illegitimate power to enrich itself by corrupt means.
In a January 28 article this year, The Washington Post reported that:
“The Ben Ali and Trabelsi families, (Leila Trabelsi being his wife), controlled a vast number of companies and real estate, sometimes taken by force. Even distant relatives seemed above the law. Tunisia was their personal treasure chest.”
It is said that the Ben Ali and Trabelsi families controlled between 30% and 40% of the Tunisian economy.
One commentator, Professor Juan Cole, said “the U.S. leaked cables from WikiLeaks suggest that 50 percent of the economic elite of (Tunisia) was related in one way or another to the president or to the first lady, Leila Ben Ali, and her Trabelsi clan.”
We must expect that in time credible information will also come out which will also demonstrate that the Mubarak family and its associates also accumulated a great deal of wealth by corrupt means.
At the same time as the ruling groups in Egypt and Tunisia were enriching themselves, millions among their people faced challenging socio-economic conditions, characterised by high rates of poverty, unemployment, and an unaffordable cost of living.
This meant that not only were millions languishing in poverty, but also that the situation was made worse by glaring disparities in standards of living between the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom of the proverbial pyramid.
But what about the students and the intelligentsia?
In an article headed, “Students Spark Tunisian Uprising”, and published on January 18, Toufik Bougaada wrote:
“After four weeks of street protests in Tunisia, triggered by angry unemployed university graduates, Tunisians have ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled for nearly a quarter of a century.
“The protests started on 18 December 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate working as a street vendor, committed self-immolation in protest after police confiscated his stock of fruits and vegetables.
“This sent ripples through society, with many academics decrying day-to-day life, which is rife with corruption, unemployment and hikes in food prices…
“Unemployment is even higher amongst university graduates, with almost 25% of graduates failing to find work…Despite having a better education system than its North African neighbours, the high rate of graduate unemployment in Tunisia means many young people shun third-level (tertiary) education.”
As you know, and as we have just mentioned, the Tunisian Uprising was sparked by the disturbing event when an unemployed graduate, who made a living by selling fruit and vegetables as a street hawker, burnt himself to death.
In this context we should also note that even in Egypt, in part the Uprising was sparked by the death of yet another university graduate, Khaled Said, who was killed by the police in Alexandria.
Early last month, in an article entitled “Brains unused”, Rania Khallaf of Al Ahram reported on a sit-in by university graduates at the Academy of Scientific Research in Cairo. These were unemployed graduates who were demanding to be taken on as lecturers in the Egyptian universities, with some of them, including PhD’s, having been unemployed for seven years after they had graduated.
So acute is the problem that Khallaf’s article concluded with the words; “What is needed is an in-depth review of the problems facing higher education in Egyptian universities and an ambitious plan to make use of Egypt’s brainpower. Again, if there are not enough job vacancies in Egyptian universities, it is high time for the government to find ways to benefit from this brilliant, highly promising manpower.”
Responding to this situation, a February 4 Communiqué of the January 25th Youth (Movement), named after the day the Uprising began, said:
“Egypt’s youth went out on the 25th of January with a strength, courage, boldness and heroism that had been unprecedented for the people of Egypt and completely unexpected;
“So that there would be no difference between the graduates of professional schools and those with lesser degrees;
“To confront the unemployment that has destroyed the lives of Egyptian youth;
“So that 472 youth no longer drown weekly in the Mediterranean Sea, their only crime (being) that they seek work and food to lessen the burden their families bear;
“We came out to protest the lines for (even) propane (gas) bottles and bread;
“We came out to demand an education that allows us to compete among the nations of the world, not an education that allows the world to mock us;
“We came out for the sake of the 52% of our people that are illiterate;
“We came out for the sake of national goals that unite all of us and would allow us to dispense with idling our time in cafes…”
I hope that what I have said so far is sufficient to indicate, among others, the principal objectives of the Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, including issues relating to the students and the intelligentsia.
As I said earlier, it is clear that these Uprisings had as their fundamental objective the victory of the democratic revolution in both countries. However, as the people who constituted the heart of the Uprisings admit every day, the democratic revolutions have not as yet emerged victorious.
It was therefore always a misnomer to describe the Uprisings as Revolutions.
To indicate the challenges facing the democratic forces in Egypt, concerning the fundamental changes for which they fought and are fighting, I will present to you observations made by some Egyptians, which comments speak for themselves.
What I will present to you henceforth will include relatively extensive quotations by various individuals and institutions. I must confess that I chose to rely on these citations to avoid the accusation that I have sought only to convey my partisan views.
In an article published at the beginning of this month, entitled “Time to get serious”,
Salama A. Salama of Egypt says:
“The brief honeymoon that followed the 25 January Revolution, when the army and the people were said to be “one hand,” has ended in mistrust and misunderstanding that the recent reshuffle of the Essam Sharaf government failed to address…
“As it turned out, Sharaf is now catching flak from all sides, with people blaming him for slowing down the revolution, failing to address security, or failing to speed up the trials of former officials…
“Turning to the revolutionaries, we have to admit that they are still a motley crew of well-intentioned but disunited groups and alliances, hard to enumerate or figure out. They have no leadership to negotiate on their behalf or a set of suggested policies to follow. But what this country needs right now is policies that take domestic as well as external considerations into account. We need a government that knows how to tend to economic and social demands while keeping at bay those powers, Arab and non-Arab, that do not wish to see democracy take root in Egypt.”
Towards the end of May this year, Khalil El-Anani published an article entitled “Egyptian Revolution Reconsidered”. He said:
“Although the Egyptian revolution succeeded in ousting the Mubarak regime, it has not yet managed to uproot the ills of its culture, value system and prevailing modes of behaviour. In this sense, therefore, it remains “half a revolution”, or more precisely, a “revolutionary act” that still needs follow-through towards completion…The “heart”, or foundation, of (the Egyptian) state remains unchanged…Change at both levels – the political system and society – is a prerequisite for the completion of any revolution.
“Of course, there is no denying that the Egyptian revolutionary act was sudden and very powerful. However, its major thrust emanated from and remained largely restricted to a particular stratum of society, namely the middle to upper- middle class. It has yet to spread to other strata of society, which remain essentially the same as they were before the revolution. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Egypt. Other countries have experienced similar popular uprisings that succeeded in overturning regimes but did not go as far as to engender radical change in the prevailing values, culture and structures of society…
“The Egyptian revolution can, therefore, be described so far as a minimal revolution – it achieved the minimal level of the dream of the majority of Egyptians, which was the overthrow of the old regime and the prosecution of its leaders and most prominent figures. However, it remains a considerable way off from the upper level, which involves the transformation of social and institutional structures and value and behavioural systems so as to enable society to regain its health and proceed towards the realisation of human development and prosperity…
“Not every outburst of collective anger and frustration is a revolution. Not every defiance and overthrow of an old regime and its legal edifice is proof of a successful revolutionary act. The sole guarantor of the success of a revolution is society itself. Herein lies the crux of the dilemma: the performer of the revolutionary act (the agent) needs a revolution so that the act and the agent can be brought into harmony, and so that the results are consistent with the beginnings.”
Let me conclude these quotations with one from Fatma Khafagy, a women’s rights activist and a board member of the Alliance for Arab Women, extracted from a February article headed “Now for the Gender Revolution”.
She wrote: “I want to see the opposite of what has always happened after revolutions take place, now in Egypt. History tells us that women stand side by side with men, fight with men, get killed defending themselves and others along with men, and then nurse the wounded, lament the dead, chant and dance when the struggle is victorious and help to manage the aftermath when it is not. However, history also indicates that after the success of a political struggle, women are too often forced to go back to their traditional gender roles and do not benefit from the harvest of revolution.
“I am sure the Egyptian revolution will not allow this to happen…
“The Egyptian revolution, as I witnessed every day and night in Tahrir Square, was not only about getting rid of a political system. It was also about creating another more beautiful and just Egypt that would guarantee human rights to all its citizens. I saw young women discussing with young men what kind of life they wanted to achieve for Egypt. I feel sure that the gender equality that was witnessed in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt will now prevail because we need it to create a better Egypt.”
I am certain that the observations made by the three Egyptian commentators I have just quoted would apply in similar manner to Tunisia.
Libya was and is of course a completely different kettle of fish.
In this case, it is obvious that the major Western powers decide to intervene to advance their selfish interests, using the instrumentality of the UN Security Council.
I am certain that many of us here will at least have heard of the independent non-governmental organisation, headquartered in Brussels, the International Crisis Group, the ICG, which focuses on conflict resolution.
Its current President and CEO is the Canadian Judge Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former UN Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
I mention all this to make the point that neither the ICG nor its President and CEO were, or are, or can justly be accused of being in any way sympathetic to the Libyan Gaddafi regime.
But yet, in a Report on Libya issued on June 6 this year, the ICG said:
“Much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the (Libyan) regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no real security challenge. This version would appear to ignore evidence that the protest movement exhibited a violent aspect from very early on…
“Likewise, there are grounds for questioning the more sensational reports that the regime was using its air force to slaughter demonstrators, let alone engaging in anything remotely warranting use of the term “genocide”. That said, the repression was real enough, – and I would, as an aside, add, as was the case in Tunisia and Egypt – and its brutality shocked even Libyans. It may also have backfired, prompting a growing number of people to take to the streets.”
Similar observations had been made earlier by Alan K. Kuperman on April 14, writing in the US newspaper, The Boston Globe. In an article headed “False pretense for war in Libya”, he wrote:
“Evidence is now in that President Barack Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat to justify military action in Libya. The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath’’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold…
“Obama insisted that prospects were grim without intervention… Thus, the president concluded, “preventing genocide’’ justified US military action.
“But intervention did not prevent genocide, because no such bloodbath was in the offing. To the contrary, by emboldening rebellion, US interference has prolonged Libya’s civil war and the resultant suffering of innocents…”
Later in its Report, the ICG said:
“The prospect for Libya, but also North Africa as a whole, is increasingly ominous, unless some way can be found to induce the two sides in the armed conflict to negotiate a compromise allowing for an orderly transition to a post-Qaddafi, post-Jamahiriya state that has legitimacy in the eyes of the Libyan people. A political breakthrough is by far the best way out of the costly situation created by the military impasse…
“Instead of stubbornly maintaining the present policy and running the risk that its consequence will be dangerous chaos, (the international community) should act now to facilitate a negotiated end to the civil war and a new beginning for Libya’s political life…
“To insist that, ultimately, (Qaddafi) can have no role in the post-Jamahiriya political order is one thing, and almost certainly reflects the opinion of a majority of Libyans as well as of the outside world.
“But to insist that he must go now, as the precondition for any negotiation, including that of a ceasefire, is to render a ceasefire all but impossible and so to maximise the prospect of continued armed conflict.
“To insist that he both leave the country and face trial in the International Criminal Court is virtually to ensure that he will stay in Libya to the bitter end and go down fighting.”
Bitter facts on the ground, showing the loss of African lives and the destruction of property in Libya, demonstrate that the ICG was absolutely correct.
The naked reality is not that the Western powers did not hear what the ICG said. Rather, they heard but did not want to listen to anything informed by the objective to address the real interests of the African people of Libya.
They were and are bent on regime-change in Libya, regardless of the cost to this African country, intent to produce a political outcome which would serve their interests.
Earlier this year, on March 2, a senior journalist on the London Guardian newspaper, Seumas Milne, said:
“The “responsibility to protect” invoked by those demanding intervention in Libya is applied so selectively that the word hypocrisy doesn’t do it justice. And the idea that states which are themselves responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in illegal wars, occupations and interventions in the last decade, along with mass imprisonment without trial, torture and kidnapping, should be authorised by international institutions to prevent killings in other countries is simply preposterous…
“The reality is that the Western powers which have backed authoritarian kleptocrats across the Middle East for decades now face a loss of power in the most strategically sensitive region of the world as a result of the Arab uprisings and the prospect of representative governments. They are evidently determined to appropriate the revolutionary process wherever possible, limiting it to cosmetic change that allows continued control of the region…
“(Foreign) military intervention wouldn’t just be a threat to Libya and its people, but to the ownership of what has been until now an entirely organic, homegrown democratic movement across the region…
“The Arab revolution will be made by Arabs, or it won’t be a revolution at all.”
Later, on March 23, he wrote: “As in Iraq and Afghanistan, (with regard to Libya, the Western powers) insist humanitarian motives are crucial. And as in both previous interventions, the media are baying for the blood of a pantomime villain leader, while regime change is quickly starting to displace the stated mission. Only a Western solipsism that regards it as normal to be routinely invading other people’s countries in the name of human rights protects NATO governments from serious challenge…
“For the Western powers, knocked off balance by the revolutionary Arab tide, intervention in the Libyan conflict offers both the chance to put themselves on the “right side of history” and to secure their oil interests in a deeply uncertain environment.”
Seumas Milne’s colleague in the same newspaper, Simon Jenkins, wrote only three days ago, on August 23:
“If (British Prime Minister) Cameron wants to take credit for the removal of Gaddafi, then he cannot avoid responsibility for the aftermath. Yet that responsibility strips a new regime of homegrown legitimacy and strength. This is the classic paradox of liberal interventionism…
“Britain remains enmeshed in the Muslim world. It made a mess of Iraq and is trapped in Afghanistan. It hardly needs another costly and embarrassing client state to look after in this surge of neo-imperial do-goodery. We may applaud the chance of freedom about to be granted to a lucky group of oppressed people, but that doesn’t justify the means by which it is achieved, in another fury of great-power aggression. The truth is that Gaddafi’s downfall, like his earlier propping up, will have been Britain’s doing. A new Libyan regime will be less legitimate and less secure as a result.”
In this regard, four days ago, on August 22, the veteran Guardian correspondent, Jonathan Steele, had said: “Thanks to its crucial role in tipping the military scales in Libya, Nato and the rebels are inextricably linked. Gaddafi had few supporters in the Arab world but there is a justified perception on the Arab street that the rebels are over-reliant on Western support and that the overriding Western motive is access to Libya’s oil…
“The best revolutions are homegrown as they were in Tunisia and Egypt. Those who took to the streets in Tunis and Cairo’s Tahrir Square wanted to regain their country’s national dignity after decades of seeing their rulers doing the bidding of France and the United States…
“The new rulers in Libya face a long road ahead in establishing their legitimacy on the Arab and African stage.”
And indeed they do!
At the end of everything I have said, relating to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, what should the African students do, including you, students at Stellenbosch University!
I am certain that the totality of my comments will have confirmed the reality of which you are aware, that the recent and contemporary processes in North Africa are indeed truly complex.
The first suggestion I would therefore like to convey to you is that in order for you to play a meaningful role in this regard, and indeed in the context of all other significant developments in Africa, you must make the effort to study and understand these developments.
You have the unique advantage that you are students. As a former university student, I know that your principal task is to study. If you do not do this, it would be incorrect to describe, respect and honour you as students!
Further, as my second suggestion, I would like to believe that you will seek to understand African reality not for the pleasure merely of knowing, but because you would want to do what you can to help change our Continent for the better.
In this regard you would, of course, be inspired by what your peers have done in Tunisia and Egypt, who took the lead in the popular Uprisings in their countries, which have served to advance the African democratic revolution.
At the same time you will have been motivated to follow the heroic example set by your South Africans predecessors, such as those who participated in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and others of our students, before and since.
Quite correctly, you see yourselves as part of the greater family of the millions of students in Africa, determined to act together with your colleagues to reshape our Continent into the kind of homeland you wish to inherit.
In this context, and as my third suggestion, I would like to propose that you make a determined effort to study various documents which constitute all-Africa policy by virtue of having been adopted by the OAU, the Organisation of African Unity, and its successor, the African Union, the AU.
In the context of the topic the SRC asked me to address this afternoon, I would suggest that you give yourselves time to study and debate, among others:
• the Constitutive Act of the African Union;
• the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
• the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa;
• the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption;
• the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union;
• the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;
• the African Youth Charter;
• the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance;
• the various documents on Human Resources, Science and Technology;
• the NEPAD Founding Document (2001); and,
• the African Peer Review Mechanism.
I mention these particular documents, all of which have been adopted by all the African governments, because they address directly the many political, economic, security and social issues which have arisen in the context of the North African struggles we have convened to discuss, and which, if implemented, would have addressed the concerns of our North African brothers and sisters.
As you study and debate these documents, as my fourth proposal, I would suggest that you ask yourselves and strive to answer two important questions:
• what should be done to position the African Union so that it has the ability to help ensure that all our Member States actually respect the objectives defined in these documents; and,
• what should the African student movement do to help achieve this outcome?
The fifth suggestion I would like to make relates to what has happened in Côte d’Ivoire and what is happening in Libya.
Specifically, in this regard, you should debate what Africa should do, and what Africa’s students should contribute in this regard, to defend and advance our right as Africans truly to determine our destiny, as a sovereign people.
I have been told that some of the intellectuals at our Universities reject the claim we make regularly – to find African solutions to African problems!
The only way I can explain this very strange posture is that these are Africans who have lost respect for and confidence in themselves, as Africans, and who therefore feel obliged to adopt positions which question ours and their right and capacity to solve our problems.
Certainly I have never come across any Europeans or Americans or Asians who would even so much as find it odd that they should assert that they have every right to find solutions to their problems!
I am also convinced, and as I said earlier, that the Stellenbosch University SRC was correct to set as one of its tasks the achievement of what it called “a more transformed campus”.
As a member of the Convocation of this University, I know that certainly under the leadership of our Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Russell Botman, you have been discussing what this means.
Placed within the larger African context, this must surely mean that we strive to ensure that this University does its best not to produce the “Unused brains” to which an Egyptian commentator referred, and that our country, as well, “finds ways to benefit from (the) brilliant (and) highly promising human power” of those who graduate from Stellenbosch University.
Thus should you, the students, together with the rest of the University community, which is my sixth suggestion, continue to engage the critically important issue of how the University should persist in the effort to transform itself so that as an African centre of learning, teaching and research, it also serves as a vital intellectual centre for the progressive fundamental transformation of our Continent, and therefore its renaissance.
I am also very pleased that as students here at Stellenbosch you see yourselves as having shared obligations towards our Continent with the larger collective of other African students.
As my seventh suggestion, I would therefore like to suggest that through formations such as SASCO and other societies, and indeed through the SRC, you should do everything you can to strengthen your links with your African peers, including through a strengthened and more active and correctly focused All-Africa Students Union.
The recent and current events in North Africa have confirmed that Africa’s students remain one of the most vital and courageous forces for the progressive transformation of our Continent, which entirely healthy reality we also know from our own history.
To conclude, and as my eighth proposal, I would like to appeal to you always to remember that you have an obligation to take advantage of the opportunity you have as university students, and therefore Africa’s nascent intelligentsia:
• to empower yourselves to become the quality intelligentsia our Continent needs, by diligently applying yourselves to the exciting task of studying;
• to act to ensure that as you inherit the future as leaders of the peoples of Africa, you will have done your best to help build a better Continent;
• always to honour the truth, to respect ‘the great unwashed’ who are our mothers and fathers, and to have the courage fearlessly to stand up for what is right and just, ready to present reasoned arguments in this regard;
• always to question and challenge even what is conveyed to you by all and sundry as established truths, including what I have said today, acting both as young people and as students who have the opportunity to re-discover anew all truths about the human and material worlds we inhabit;
• never to abuse the fact of your greater access to knowledge to position yourselves as a corrupt and parasitic segment of African society; and,
• never to be tempted to use your learning to sugar-coat a deadly virus of false knowledge you can impart to the Africans, in what our Nigerian fellow Africans would describe as giving poisoned kola nuts you offer to friends, pretending that these were but the traditional African gifts of friendship.
The eminent Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said – Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children!
By their actions, your peers, comrades and friends, the youth and students of North Africa, have challenged this provocative observation.
Through your own bold and principled actions, please continue to challenge it!
“Do what you can with what you have where you are”.
We have a website, we have passion and we have a voice. We have set up a petition calling those who have political and civic clout to do what they can to prevent further human suffering and financial loss through accidents on Kommetjie Road and we ask you to add your voices to ours. Please sign the petition, the link of which is below, and, if you have been involved in an accident or a near-miss/hit on Kommetjie Rd, please note down the details as we wish to give as much evidence to the authorities as we can of the severity of the problem. The signing will take less than a minute of your time, but in the long run could add years to the life of someone else.
Please send it on to all in your network of friends and contacts. Twitter it, Facebook it – get it out there! For those not on the internet, letters of support or petition, of constructive ideas re resolving the problem and of information regarding accidents can be dropped into the postboxes at Fish Hoek Veterinary Clinic on Kommetjie Rd or at 93 Kommetjie Rd.
For more see our forum http://www.scenicsouth.co.za/forum-2/#/news/
“Though the way is full of perils, and the goal far out of sight, there is no road to which there is no end: do not despair.” (Author unknown)
Civil society organisations want to see government taking a firmer stand to stop antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) from being smuggled into the black market.
Government needs to take the theft of anti-retroviral drugs or ARVs seriously as people’s lives are at risk. This is according to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the National Association of People Living with AIDS (NAPWA). They say reports in the media of ARVs found on the black market are quite disturbing. As a result, many HIV-positive people are now afraid to go fetch their treatment from public health facilities for fear of being victims of people stealing their medicine.
“There are a number of people right now coming to us who have told us that they are scared to go to public healthcare facilities to get ARVs because they might be hijacked or robbed. Just last week in Hillbrow, a woman was mugged by a gang and they took her ARVs. This means it will have a huge impact on people living with HIV. In the long run they will default on treatment and develop drug resistance. Now, that is lethal. But, the main major impact is that the government’s treatment programme will fall flat”, says NAPWA’s Secretary-General, Nkululeko Nxesi.
In a recent incident three men were arrested for allegedly being in possession of ARVs to the value of R200 000. It is still unclear as to where the drugs were being taken to and what were they going to be used for. However, police have not ruled out the possibility that the drugs were going to be used and sold for whoonga.
Whoonga is a drug that has become a growing concern in the country. It is a detergent powder mixed with rat poison and crushed-up ARVs, then smoked. Nxesi says Napwa’s concern is that people are getting away with stealing crucial treatment of AIDS patients to make a quick buck.
“Government will respond very late. That is our worry. At that time how many people would have died? And how many people would have become millionaires by selling ARVs? Our call to government is that they should not use the lab experts who investigate the ingredients of whoonga.
They must go where people are. Since they believe it is not true that ARVs are used for whoonga, then why was that woman in Hillbrow mugged? What about those policemen who stole ARVs… why did they do that? Who is their supplier and who is their market?” asks Nxesi
The Treatment Action Campaign has also added its voice to the matter. Last week, the TAC held a picket outside the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court where the three men accused of stealing ARVs appeared.
“We are very worried because we know our history and how far we’ve come for people to access ARVs. People who are HIV-positive are very angry and scared because this treatment is our life. Once you start it, you take it till death. It is like you are married to it because you take it with you everywhere you go. We are worried because if people
are stealing our treatment, how can we live without them as it is a life time commitment?” said Portia Serote, deputy chairperson of the TAC in Ekhuruleni.
Meanwhile, the Gauteng Health Department says it has strict security measures in place at all of their public health pharmacies to ensure that theft of medicines is minimal. Policy Specialist at the department, Rose Mashile, says when the stock arrives at their hospitals it is thoroughly checked. Mashile says access inside the pharmacies is also
“Only pharmacy personnel are allowed into the pharmacy. You can’t go in. Even if you are working in the hospital, you will not be allowed. There are electronic controlled systems in most of our pharmacies, like swiping cards and using the finger print system. This is to protect the staff in the pharmacy. Even at dispatch, only one person is served at
a time for confidentiality and security”.
But what confidentiality and security do patients really have when they are easy prey for criminals who want their antiretroviral medicines once they leave the health facilities? Meanwhile, the TAC and NAPWA say they have begun encouraging people to collect treatment in groups for safety, and to get family members to accompany them where possible.
The Musings of a Decrepit
Last Thursday, I visited the pre school belonging to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. When I entered the room, one of these precocious kids piped up’ You are old!’ As they say, from the mouths of babes.Well, there you have it; a decrepit old man stands in front of you. We oldies are notorious for repeating ourselves, telling the same stories even to the person who first told us that particular story. I lay no claim to to academic ability. So be nice to me, even if you have heard me tell any story again, please laugh so as not to hurt my feelings.
Dear friends, I have been Chancellor of this splendid University for longer than you can care to remember. Just look at what is happening in North Africa, to Mubarak and Ben Ali and the ructions in Libya, Algeria, Yemen etc. So I thought to myself, ‘Hey, get out whilst the going is good, before they start toyi toying to get you out!’ Yu, do you want to be a Chancellor for life? Not on your life. Dear friends, it has been a great privilege to be associated with this outstanding institution, this former bush college that has seen.
The amazing transformation started tentatively under Dr van der Ross and coming to fruition under Jakes Gerwel. Yu, things used to happen in those extraordinary days of the 1980’s. Jakes called UWC the intellectual home of the left, that required a lot of courage when the apartheid Government saw nothing funny in banning a Christian leader under their Suppression of Communism Act, when they saw reds under every bed… I would sit in my office at Bishopscourt when I would get a call: the police are on the campus and are firing teargas canisters into the student residences. I would usually drive to find our campus under siege. Staff and students were quite amazing in their courage, facing riot police with vicious dogs.
What you are enjoying now a considerable peace and calm, were bought at great price. Please cherish it. When you are demonstrating for whatever reason, do not infringe the rights of others who may differ from you. Don’t disrupt their classes if they don’t want to join your demonstrations. My father used to say, ‘don’t raise your voice; improve your argument!’
The freedom we are enjoying today was bought through the blood and sweat of many, many amazing people of all races, those who were given long sentences, those who were hanged, those who languished in solitary confinement for long periods, those who were tortured, those who went into exile, those who were detained and died mysteriously falling off chairs, slipping on soap while showering, and students and staff at places such as here who put their lives on the line.
Hey, a heavy price has been paid for you to study in peaceful circumstances. Hey friends, please don’t forget it, the price was exorbitant. Cherish this thing, hold it in high regard. Let us not spit in the faces of those stalwarts, of those who sacrificed so much. The greatest memorial to them is for you their successors we will reach for the stars because the sky is indeed the limit. Nothing can stop you becoming whatever you desire to be but yourself. Be the very best you can be – that is the most appropriate thank you to your brave predecessors.
It has been exhilarating; it has been a great privilege to be associated with this vibrant institution. Jakes said it would a site of our struggle and that it turned out to be with a vengeance. It would invest resources to assist the most deserving but often the most handicapped through lack of money but especially through inadequate preparation for University. Programs were developed that would seek to make up such deficits. UWC provided some of the most outstanding personnel of our first democratic government under our inimitable global icon, Nelson Mandela. Jakes became his chief of staff as DG in the President’s office, and took with him gentle Dullah Omar our first Minister of Justice responsible for the legislation that brought into being the TRC. Kader Small went from here to be Minister of Water Affairs. No one knew that Water Affairs could be so exciting until Kader took charge. Bulela Ngcuka also went from here to our first Director of the National Prosecuting Authority. Dr Skweyiya came from here as well. We could go and on. That is the measure of the greatness of our Institution’s contribution to the post liberation dispensation.
When Jakes left some of the oomph left UWC.I was scared then of reading the newspapers because we so frequently there for the wrong reasons, yet another student protest, oh no. When do they study? Then Brian came and has taken this place to a new orbit. Just look at the new buildings that have been erected, the new programs that have been inaugurated and the links with international institutions that clamour to be linked to UWC. He has helped to raise the profile of our university significantly. We now even have a Desmond Tutu Chair in theology largely through the initiative and efforts of Prof Hans Engdahl.
Then there have been the outstanding contributions of our academic staff, our administrative staff, our domestic and security as well as our ground staff who make it a joy to come a tidy campus. Ah and then there are the students the raison d’être of any institution of learning. What would we be without you? May I as Chancellor on my last legs request you to join me in paying a most richly deserved tribute to all those I have mentioned here with a rousing standing ovation.
Thus saith the Lord: no, I have not finished. That was only the preamble. You do remember that delicious old story? When the missionaries first came to us, we had the land and they had the Bible. Then they said, ‘Let us pray! ‘and dutifully we closed our eyes. When they said ‘Amen ‘and we opened our eyes, well they had the land and we had the Bible. No, we didn’t strike a bad bargain as some have sometimes averred. If you wanted to oppress to subjugate people, the last thing you should then place in their hands is the bible. For this is the most revolutionary thing, so utterly subversive of all injustice and oppression.
Racism asserts that what endows persons with worth is a biological irrelevance such as skin colour. I used to say imagine instead of saying that that University is reserved for whites as used to be the case, we said it is reserved for large noses only, since I have a large nose. Just look at Zapiro’s cartoons! So if you had a small nose, then you had to apply to the Minister of Small Nose Affairs for permission to attend the University for Large Noses. Preposterous. Exactly what does size of nose or indeed skin colour tell you of any significance about anyone? It does not tell you whether he is kind or clever or wherever.
The bible says that every single one of us is of infinite worth because each one of us created in the image of God, whatever we are, tall, short, beautiful, ugly, clever, stupid, we are God’s carriers. Now that is a truth that is subversive of all injustice and oppression.
And that is what has informed my own witness, as one who has based my involvement in public affairs on the bible, as one who has jaded my involvement in public affairs on the Bible which speaks of a God who is not even handed. No, the God of the Bible so notoriously biased, biased in favour of the poor, the downtrodden, the despised and the voiceless. I used to say to white South Africans,’ You brought us the bible and we are taking it seriously. Yes, of course, we have free choice, but once the God of the Bible catches you by the scruff of the neck, you have had it. The prophet Jeremiah said if he declared that he would not speak again in the name of God, then God’s word was like a fire in his breast. It is a like fire in the breast that we have felt. And so we have spoken into situations of injustice and oppression, etc.
Most white South Africans before the demise of apartheid believed I was really a politician trying very hard to be an Archbishop. They were surprised when I criticized our new democratic government led by Madiba. For instance when they voted themselves a salary increase. I was quoting I think Cheryl Carousel a former student of UWC when she said ‘they stopped the gravy train only long enough for them to board it’. Sometimes, many times, I have wanted to be circumspect, even to be silent, but it has not been possible and most of my utterances, no all my utterances are inspired, driven by my love for God, and a passionate love for my country and for my compatriots. And so I condemned the pernicious Aids policies of a previous administration.
I love my country passionately. I believe we have the capacity to be one of the most wonderful countries in the world. We could be a truly compassionate country, where everyone was cared for, where no one went to bed hungry, where everyone mattered and knew they mattered whether they were poor and uneducated, they would matter because they are created in the omega of God and to treat them as less than this is evil and blasphemous. It is spitting in the face of God. We have shown our capacity in hosting one of the most successful Soccer World Cups and confounded the sceptics and surprised even ourselves. Ke nako! Feel it, it is here! Why are we not building decent homes for our people when we have shown we can build state of the art stadiums? Why are we letting our towns and cities deteriorate with poor maintenance and services especially for the poor who are beginning to show their impatience and anger in nasty demonstrations?
I am fond of our President Zuma. He is affable and warm. But I do believe it would have been better for him to have been pronounced innocent by a court of law weighing the evidence rather through a dubious administrative act and if indeed there is nothing to hide, the Government surely has nothing to fear from a judicial commission of inquiry into the arms deal. It is an unnecessary albatross to carry the huge doubts. Our country with such tremendous potential is going to be dragged backwards and downwards by corruption which in some instances is quite blatant. It maybe that there is really nothing to worry about with the parole of a Shakes but it
must raise eyebrows when someone who was said to be at death’s door is shown playing golf. It is worrying when his close relationship to the President is put in juxtaposition. Perhaps the Gupta family would make all those lucrative deals and it is merely coincidental that the President’s son is a beneficiary. It may all be above board but it is worrisome.
I am sure it is all in order but it is disturbing that there are these seeming coincidences.
As we know people are in fact not fools. They notices things and one day they will explode. We have many a d very competent people in this country, people of all races, people who would be snapped up in other countries, people who love this country passionately, people who were involved in the struggle, people who are today being sidelined encase the first qualification is not ability, not calibre, but political affiliation. In a way this is as wrong as judging people by the colour of their skin. Let us remember that many of our heroes belonged to very different political formations. No single political group can lay claim to a monopoly of our struggle. Ours is a kaleidoscope. Just think of the Robert Sobukwe‘s, the Steve Biko‘s etc. We must not make some of our people say ‘Under apartheid we were not white enough. Now we are not black enough’. That way lies perdition. South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
Ours is meant to be a system of accountable government, where the Executive branch is held accountable by the legislative branch and a vigilant media. I. Think the party lists for selecting our representatives have served their very important purpose of ensuring representation for every conceivable grouping in the transition years. But we really do not want kowtowing sycophantic voting figures who are always ready to change their principles in prodder to stay on the lists. We must revert to the well tried constituency system. And we need a vigil Ant and fearless media who have by and large served us well. There are enough laws to deal with miscreants. I am totally opposed to the proposed law. Ours is an accountable dispensation. I must say I would need a lot of convincing to show that an expense of R100 million Rand for a youth rally of very questionable taste and intellectual worth was money well spent in the face of so much poverty, unemployment, homelessness. What is happening in North Africa is to remind governments everywhere that people are not fools. One day they will call rulers to account.
We have a fantastic country with amazing people of all races, think of such stalwarts as Neil Aggett, Sheila Duncan, Helen Joseph, Helen Suzman, Lilian Ngoyi, Ray Alexander, Margaret Ballinger, Nadine Gordimer, Albertina Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Beyers Naude, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, Johnny Issel, Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Dullah Omar, Joe Slovo, Albie Sachs,etc,etc,etc. We showed during the struggle just how altruistic, how self-sacrificing we could be, how ready we were to do things for the benefit of others, not for self aggrandizement, for self enrichment… We can’t have lost those attributes. Hey, we can become a caring,
a compassionate society where everyone would know we mattered. That is the South Africa for which many sacrificed. Let it happen somebody famously said we can. Yes we can.