31 October, 2020

Blog

South Africa After Mandela

By Padraig Colman

Padraig Colman

It is sad to see Nelson Mandela’s family squabbling in an unseemly fashion around his death bed and shuffling around the bodies of his offspring. Is this a symbol of today’s South Africa?

Rainbow Nation

It would take a heart of stone not to feel  emotional about Nelson Mandela. In my more sprightly days, I took part in anti-apartheid marches, singing along to Jerry Dammers’s song “Free Nelson Mandela”. Walking along the South Bank past the Festival Hall, I would nod reverently to the sculpture by Ian Walters which was commissioned by Ken Livingstone when he was leader of the Greater London Council. It was unveiled in 1985 by ANC president Oliver Tambo. Livingstone said: “The commissioning of this statue was symbolic of the wide support that existed amongst Londoners for the struggle against apartheid at a time when many in the media and the British government regarded Nelson Mandela as a terrorist”.

Like many, I experienced tears of joy when a beatifically smiling Mandela embraced Francois Pienaar, the Springbok rugby captain, with both men wearing a number six captain’s jersey. Whoever could have thought that the evil fascist apartheid regime could fade away without bloodshed and that Mandela and de Klerk could work together?

Mandela’s Legacy

Bob Dylan sang: “Don’t follow leaders/Watch the parking meters”. It is dangerous to venerate any human being. Less than perfect civilians  like to see in leaders, or even mere celebrities,  qualities they would like have themselves. Mandela and  Aung San Suu Kyi are mere humans who have to operate in the real world of politics. The Economist feels it can write about her, “the halo slips” among foreign human-rights lobbyists, disappointed at her failure to make a clear stand on behalf of the Rohingya minority.

Mandela has himself tried to discourage people viewing him as a saint or a hero. “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”FW de Klerk last year described Mandela as “brutal and unfair” as a political opponent: “I do not subscribe to the general hagiography surrounding Mandela.  He was by no means the avuncular and saint-like figure so widely depicted today”.

Ethics of Violence

Mandela was one of the founders of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) – Spear of the Nation – the ANC’s armed wing,  which launched guerrilla attacks on the racist government, only disbanding in 1990. In his statement at the Rivonia Trial, Mandela said: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Those sound like noble words but Mandela did not die then and neither did the vile racists governing the country. MK’s main aim initially  was sabotage rather than murder. Mandela did not object to later attacks on burger bars and amusement arcades and refused to repudiate the armed struggle in 1985 when he was offered his freedom. As with  Provisional IRA, Hezbollah  and LTTE attacks, most victims were not politicians or military but  women and children. MK’s violence did not speed the dismantling of apartheid.

Mandela got a difficult job done with the tools at his disposal. His great achievement was that power was handed from the minority to the majority without a bloodbath. What kind of nation will he leave behind?

Truth and Reconciliation

Although apartheid had been defeated, its minions still dominated the police, army, and civil service. Transition had to be handled cautiously if civil war was to be avoided. The majority of whites refused to acknowledge the systemic nature of government brutality. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It’s very difficult to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.”

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) captured public attention and provided a model for other countries. The  TRC mandate was to go beyond truth-finding to promote national unity and reconciliation, to facilitate the granting of amnesty to those who made full factual disclosure, to restore the human and civil dignity of victims by providing them an opportunity to tell their own stories.

Steve Biko’s family described the TRC as a “vehicle for political expediency”, which “robbed” them of their right to justice. John Pilger criticised the TRC for allowing the easy transition from white exclusive capitalism to multiracial capitalism, and for avoiding trying criminals, including murderers.

Inequality

The transition from white exclusive capitalism to multiracial capitalism means that today  there are eight million black South Africans with an adequate income, and at least 20 million poor: one in four does not get enough to eat. An (OECD)   report says: “Despite considerable success on many economic and social policy fronts over the past 19 years, South Africa faces a number of long-standing economic problems that still reflect at least in part the long-lasting and harmful legacy of apartheid” .

A report by Statistics South Africa shows two-thirds of young  people live in  households with  a per capita income of less than 650 rand a month (around £47). The first census done in a decade indicates that white South Africans still take home six times more pay than blacks. The country’s black middle class is now the same size as the white South African middle class, helped by the country’s employment laws which were drawn up to redress decades of inequality and unfairness by previous white regimes.

Crime

A survey covering 1998–2000 compiled by the UN, ranked South Africa second for assault and murder per capita and first for rapes per capita in a data set of 60 countries. South Africa was tenth  out of the 60 countries in the dataset for total crime per capita.

A study commissioned by the government attributed this to a number of factors:

  • Normalisation of violence allows it  to be seen as a justifiable means of resolving conflict;
  • The criminal justice system  is seen as  inefficient and corrupt;
  • There is a thriving subculture of violence and criminality;
  • Poverty, unstable living arrangements, inconsistent and uncaring parenting, enhance the chances that children will become involved in criminality and violence;
  • High levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and marginalisation

Corruption

South Africa’s national budget is USD 167 billion. USD 103 million was lost to financial misconduct by workers in national and provincial governments in the fiscal year 2011-2012, up from USD 38.5 million in 2009-2010. Only 13 per cent of the money lost to corruption is recovered. While 88 per cent of people tried for financial misconduct are found guilty, only 19 per cent are dismissed. Forty-three per cent get final written warnings.  Many escape by resigning and getting another government job offering the opportunity to carry on stealing.

Financial forensics expert Peter Allwright,  author of a report called The Real State of the Nation, said: “Corruption is rampant. And the dedicated units that have been created to fight financial misconduct are in essence fighting a losing battle”.  An insufficient investigative capacity in the public service means nearly two-thirds of cases take more than 90 days to investigate. “You can give 30 days’ notice and leave, and the public service office then often abandons the investigation,” Allwright said.

President Zuma himself Zuma was charged with rape in 2005, but was acquitted. He  fought a long legal battle over allegations resulting from his financial advisor Schabir Shaik’s  conviction for corruption and fraud. On 6 April 2009, the National Prosecuting Authority decided to drop the charges against Zuma, citing political interference. Zuma still has allegations that he received 783 corrupt payments totalling Rand 4.1 million (nearly £300,000) hanging over his head and no-one has been prosecuted for that “political interference”. Mr Zuma’s popularity rating,  according to a recent poll , has dropped to an all-time low.

In his book, Zuma Exposed, investigative journalist Adriaan Basson forensically unpacks the charges against Zuma and “reveals a president whose first priority is to serve and protect his own, rather than the 50 million people he was elected to lead”.  Jackie Dugard, head of the Johannesburg-based Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, which lobbies for access to social and economic rights in SA, claims that Zuma’s salary itself places him ahead of most world leaders: “It reflects a huge divide between himself, workers and poor unemployed people”. Jacob Zuma is a polygamist who has been married six timesand has (at least) 20 children. Activists complained about the amount the state paid to support Zuma’s wives, especially in the context of the country’s widespread poverty. In 2009/10 Zuma received a budget of £1.2m for “spousal support”. Politicians’ families are a rich source of embarrassment. With such a large family the risk is exponentially exaggerated. One son in particular seems a liability. Nkwazi Mhango commented: “Like any prince in a corrupt Africa, Duduzane is a source of wealth for any con man that’s able to fix and use him.”

Human Rights

The number of police-related deaths last year totalled 797, more than double levels ten years ago, according to figures from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. Deaths of police personnel on active service totalled 92.

On 16 August 2012, at  Marikana platinum mine, owned by the British-based company Lonmin, police opened fire on striking miners killing 44 and wounding 78. This was the worst of a series of violent incidents in the mining industry. The massacre represented “probably the lowest moment in the short history of a democratic South Africa”, wrote Cyril Ramaphosa, a senior figure in the African National Congress and a former mining union leader. Most of the victims were shot in the back,  many victims were shot far from police lines, suggesting summary execution.

In April 2013, MPs passed widely condemned protection of state information bill, dubbed the “secrecy bill” by its opponents. Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance, argued that the proposed laws had been “tabled within the context of a revived securocrat state”, citing the secrecy surrounding the Marikana massacre and use of public funds on President Zuma’s homestead.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    Here we go again!
    This is a very thinly-veiled attempt to compare South Africa, invidiously, with the Sri Lanka run by those that Colman so assiduously defends, come hell or high water! The fact that he neglects to compare the histories of the two countries since what was, for Sri Lanka at least, the watershed year of 1948 is a dead giveaway.
    Colman, probably has the excuse that he wasn’t even born, leave alone have a knowledge of Ceylon (as it was then) in the period immediately after independence.
    However, to compare and contrast the histories of the two nations since each of them achieved independence is absurd, to say the least, and only serves Colman’s ongoing agenda – justifying the conduct of the most rotten government this country has ever had.
    Incidentally, was that meant to be a subtle racist “dig” that you opened your article with when you referred to the inappropriate conduct of Mandela’s grandson?

    • 2
      0

      Are you drunk?

      • 0
        2

        Padraig Colman:
        That stereotype (being drunks), unfortunately, belongs to people from a certain island adjacent to the U.K., not to Sri Lankans! What you keep blathering would suggest that there is a kernel of truth to it!

        • 1
          0

          Cheers. Make mine a double.

        • 1
          0

          are you referring to Ireland you left hand ass wiping 3rd world piss on.srilanka is a fukn dump.

  • 0
    0

    I knew you would be the first to comment. You are so reliable.

    “Incidentally, was that meant to be a subtle racist “dig” that you opened your article with when you referred to the inappropriate conduct of Mandela’s grandson?”

    No, it was not. It did not even cross my mind.

    Once again you are making incorrect assumptions about me.

    You are also wrong about my date of birth.

    Once again, you criticise me for what I don’t say rather than for what i do say. You say : “The fact that he neglects to compare the histories of the two countries since what was, for Sri Lanka at least, the watershed year of 1948 is a dead giveaway.” Then: “to compare and contrast the histories of the two nations since each of them achieved independence is absurd, to say the least, and only serves Colman’s ongoing agenda – justifying the conduct of the most rotten government this country has ever had.” But you say that I don’t compare them! Make your mind up.

  • 1
    0

    Check out this article which I read after mine was published:

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/05072013-obama-mandela-and-dangerous-mythology-oped/

    • 0
      0

      Apparently links are banned on CT.

      Read comment policy – CT
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/
      7. We will remove any posts that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like. Our aim is that this site should provide a space for people to interact with our content and each other, and we actively discourage commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals, in order to post advertising material or links. This may also apply to people or organisations who frequently post propaganda or external links without adding substantively to the quality of the discussion on the website.

      • 0
        0

        Be consistent.There was no commercial intent in my links. What is your policy on personal abuse which has nothing to do with the discussion and nothing to do with quality??

      • 0
        0

        You know that I am not a spammer. I am a regular contributor.

  • 1
    0

    You are a legend mate!

    I new Mandela wouldn’t have been released from jail if not for your good work. Did they ever thank you for that? bastards.

    We are happy to have you in our hill country.

    • 0
      0

      Thank you for recognising my legendary status.

    • 0
      0

      @ old friend

      I may not have dug a tunnel with my bare hands to get Mandela out of Robben Island but I did my bit. I refused to buy Cape apples. I thought I was boycotting South African wine but the sly bastards got the better of me. I was very fond of Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon and consumed bowsers-full of the stuff. It was only later that I discovered that the Boers were shipping their wine to Bulgaria to avoid sanctions.

      Dayan Jayatilleka probably knew this already but I had not thought about the role of Cuba in the fall of the Boer Nazis. Margaret Kimberly writes: “The name of the Angolan town Cuito Cuanavale means little to all but a handful of Americans but it lies at the heart of the story of apartheid’s end. At Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 Cuban troops defeated the South African army and in so doing sealed apartheid’s fate.”

      Somewhat analogous to the Soviet Union falling apart because of Afghan jihadists.

      • 0
        0

        I ‘m no fan or supporter of the Boer pigs.

        But the British always paint anyone who challenged them in the colonies (the French in canada and the WI, the Portuguese the Congo and the Dutch in SE Asia) as villains and themselves as whiter than the lilly.

        Cecil Rhodes was a closet gay racist like which the world has seen only a few since him. He looted the diomonds of SA and passed the trade to the De Beers.

        The boers at least don’t pretend!

        • 0
          0

          I am in full agreement with you about the British and their empire and their hypocrisy.

        • 0
          1

          Old friend:
          That was a great contribution to the continuing exposure of this humbug who still seems to be determined to prove that he qualifies for a 3rd Standard debating team, while also suggesting that he toppled apartheid, among other evil systems in the world.
          The man’s opinion of himself is beyond anything one sees on these pages, even the puffery of Dr. J. (and that’s really saying something!)

          • 1
            0

            There you go again, Anus. I did not ever claim to have toppled apartheid. I was reacting to Old Friend’s humorous comment in my usual modest and self-deprecating manner

            I was laughing at myself to save you the trouble of laughing at me Like many others, I tried to do the right thing and boycotted South African products. I doubt if that had any effect whatsoever. I claim no credit. Credit goes to the ANC, Mandela and possibly to Cuba.

            Your obsession with me was initially rather sweet but now it has become tiresome and a little scary.You are like a stalker. Please do try to get over me and get yourself a life (and a sense of humour).

            • 0
              1

              Colman:
              Taken a look in a mirror recently?
              Perhaps you should apply some suntan lotion so that your skin might build up some “body” and you’d be a little less “tetchy.” I must admit though that I’d never thought I’d enjoy getting under the skins of those with monumental opinions of themselves (inclusive of aspiring to the leadership of Third Standard – or is it Third Grade? – debating teams!

            • 0
              0

              Anus is getting very silly.Get a life dear boy. Stop obsessing about me.

        • 0
          0

          a gay closet racist huh?then you two have much in common.

  • 0
    0

    This is an article about South Africa but Aney is determined to talk about Sri Lanka.

    He says: ” justifying the conduct of the most rotten government this country has ever had.”

    What about the Senanayake government that disenfranchised and deported the plantation Tamils?

    What about the SRWD Bandaranaike government that introduced discriminatory legislation against Tamils?

    What about the JR Jayawardena government that allowed the 1983 pogrom which caused so many Tamils to leave the country and brought about 30 years of terror and brought in the executive presidency and the faulty constitution?

    What about the Mrs Bandaranaike government that wrecked the economy and undermined basic freedoms?

    What about the UNP government that unleashed death squads against the JVP?

    What about the Prabhakaran government in Kilinochchi?

    • 0
      1

      Colman:
      Perhaps you will be good enough to let us have your considered opinion of the Rajapassa regime, even at this very late stage, specifically indicating why you have not directed ONE WORD of criticism of its conduct while claiming that you DO NOT support it.
      I must admit I don’t have any great knowledge of “Anuses” as you obviously have, particularly applying the tasteful rhetoric that you choose. Perhaps, you will give of your expertise in that area and its uses, as well, while you seek to dazzle us with your brilliance and your contribution to the solution of most of the world’s social problems?

      • 1
        0

        I have been advised to ignore you.

      • 0
        0

        More about anuses hers as requested:

        [Edited out]

        Could you please write instead of posting links – CT

        • 0
          0

          CT Take out the entire comment.Since when have links been banned?

          Also take out this comment as it does not contribute to the discussion:

          “Colman:
          Taken a look in a mirror recently?
          Perhaps you should apply some suntan lotion so that your skin might build up some “body” and you’d be a little less “tetchy.” I must admit though that I’d never thought I’d enjoy getting under the skins of those with monumental opinions of themselves (inclusive of aspiring to the leadership of Third Standard – or is it Third Grade? – debating teams!”

          • 0
            0

            [Edited out] you are taking a hell of a long time to respond to this!

            Let the readers decide – CT

            • 0
              0

              That’s a cop out. Which readers?

      • 0
        0

        Could CT provide an adjudication on how this comment conforms to their policy? It has nothing to do with the subject under discussion.

  • 0
    0

    Very sad – practically speaking Nelson Mandela is NOT leaving a legacy in his country.

    International Human Rights organisations expected South Africa to help Sri Lanka deal with its ethncic conflict !

    • 0
      0

      Ironic, no?

  • 0
    0

    How would it be – SRILANKA AFTER MR AND HIS ADMINTRATION ?

    A) We will have the chance to implement long awaited re enforcement of law and order which is the sine quo non to build up a righteous society.

    B) We the nation under a proper administration that would support finding all the grave problems such as war crime investigations and finding data related to missing people in the war end in 2009 and similar issues going back to late 80ties in the country. Latter also took the lives of over 50000 youth in the country.

    C) Permanent peace can be achieved if we the nation would be led by a leader that respects law and the order above everything. So, all these will be seen in reality when the current idiots are removed from the lanken administration

    D) All ministers that are proved records to be abusive by all means can be brought before the courts – people will finally be able to breath in properly

    E) There will be no hindrance to achieve permanent piece among the folks in the country if the administration would be a fair and non-corrupted one. That we can only achieve by electing a leader who has such affinities to them.

  • 0
    0

    I would like to ask the CT moderators what value they think this comment adds to the discussion?

    “Colman:
    Taken a look in a mirror recently?
    Perhaps you should apply some suntan lotion so that your skin might build up some “body” and you’d be a little less “tetchy.” I must admit though that I’d never thought I’d enjoy getting under the skins of those with monumental opinions of themselves (inclusive of aspiring to the leadership of Third Standard – or is it Third Grade? – debating teams!”

    • 0
      0

      Is that the level that CT aspires to?

    • 0
      0

      What is CT policy on this? Your answer is a long time coming!

  • 2
    0

    Padraig,
    Thank you for such an incisive blog that illuminates the shortcomings of South Africa as a post apartheid nation. Even though Nelson Mandela avoided the impending bloodbath that was predicted by the West in support of the white apartheid regime the underlying violence in a society that went through nearly a century of institutional violent racism is still very prevalent among its people today. It is left to the present generation of South Africans to resolve and mitigate the effect of those apartheid years – unfortunately the current leaders of South Africa are unable to confront this challenge

    I too was a young idealist in the late sixties/early seventies during my University days and took part in the ‘stop the seventies tour’ of South Africa by an English cricket team. I too boycotted South African products.

    I cannot for the ‘life of me’ understand how some of the detractors who inhabit these comment columns equate your blog on South Africa with Sri Lanka – the parallels are entirely different as in South Africa it is the majority who were attempting to wrest political power from a racist minority.

    These detractors have a vendetta against you and the paucity of their arguments makes them attack you personally. Most of their arguments if present are not factual but emotive and as such I would give them short shrift.

    • 0
      0

      Thank you Merlin.

    • 0
      0

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Merlin.

      It is refreshing, after Aney, to get a comment from someone who has actually read the article.

      Aney is minor irritant. His main problem is that he knows what he wants to say before he even thinks or reads. It does not matter to Aney what subject is under discussion, he is ready to launch into his pre-programmed riffs.

      He comments on what is not there rather than what is there.

      You will note here that although the article is clearly about South Africa he wants it to be about Sri Lanka. When I addressed the points he made about Sri Lanka, he studiously avoided responding, preferring his usual default position of personal abuse.

      He makes the ludicrous suggestion that I claimed to have overthrown apartheid, when all I tried to do was balance my criticism of Mandela by indicating that I had myself opposed, in a small way, apartheid.
      He implies that I have introduced a stereotype of drunken Sri Lankans. I asked him personally if he was, as an individual, drunk because he was seeing things that were not here.

      On another thread he said I equated Michael Collins to Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison. I did no such thing.

      A constant refrain is that I am “a journalistic lackey to our current regime”. Despite countless challenges from me, and others, has not provided a single link to substantiate his claim.

  • 1
    0

    It seems odd that the writer is so perturbed about those unconnected and irrelevant responses to his rare reference to ‘Mandala’s’
    South Africa. The Western media that represent the vested interests rarely mentions the polygamist Suma, once accused of rape. As for Nelson Mandela there aught to be a lot of skepticism as to his role in the so called reconciliation though it is almost taboo to question him, given his almost Ghandian stance towards the enemy who incarcerated him for 27 Years. Is it also taboo to assert that the ANC high ups including priests (we know of only one who was jailed) have been able to end up amassing wealth. The recent uprisings in North Africa and the middle east have been given various names by the Western press. What name they will use to describe the impending uprising in South Africa is difficult to say.

    • 0
      0

      Chandra, I don’t quite understand what you are getting at. For most of your comment you seem to be agreeing with what I say in my article. I don’t understand the references to “Mandala” and “Suma”.

      • 0
        0

        Colman
        You are right! I am very much in agreement with your views. My only quest was your undue attention to irrelevant comments. That is all!

        • 0
          0

          Thanks Chandra. I will do my best to ignore Aney in future.

  • 2
    0

    Padraig, it was very late reading by me, of this article. My appologies! I think you write much faster than I could read.

    The article is interesting, and I learned a lot about Mandela and S.Africa from this. Thanks Padraig. I have cleared many confusing impressions about Mandela after reading this.

    As Chandra said, you should not get too distracted from every dog on the road who don’t know what they read about and what they talk about. Anus is one hell of a stinky rear it seems, it gives out nothing but sheer stinky waste!

    It is interesting to read about S.Africa’s current political situation, deaths in police custody, corruption etc, while one of its most inferior products, Navi Pillay is busy overlooking all of that !

  • 1
    0

    A very good article Padraig, insightful and erudite. What a pity that the intention behind of some of the responses seems only to be personal abuse, rather than adding to the discussion or debate!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.