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"Oh look, she's got red blood! I thought boesmen had a different colour." - An excerpt from Colour me yellow

‘I hated being pregnant with you. I used to cry the whole day. I hated carrying you in my stomach.’

 
Thuli Nhlapo grew up constantly hearing these words from her mother. She was seven years old when she realised that no one called her by name. Known as “Yellow”, she was bullied at home and at school. Fearing that she had a terrible disease, she withdrew into herself.

Years later, Thuli is still haunted by her childhood experiences. She confronts her mother about her real father and real surname. Getting no answers, Thuli embarks on years of searching for the truth.

In the process, she uncovers unsettling family secrets that irrevocably change all their lives.

“Whilst exposing and exploding the impact of family secrets on people’s sense of identity and well-being, it is also a celebration of one woman’s determination to live her life to the fullest.” - Mmatshilo Motsei

Thuli Nhlapo is the Managing Director of her own media company, Thuli Nhlapo Media. She has previously worked for ABC News (USA), Daily Sun and SABC News as reporter and/or producer. She has also written for The Sowetan, Mail & Guardian and The Star. Nhlapo works as a communication strategist and content producer and is based in Gauteng.

Read an excerpt from Colour Me Yellow:

A lot of changes took place in my seventh year. To this day I’m paranoid about the seventh year because I seem to expect something to change in my life, either good or bad. One day in that same seventh year one of my cousins called me. This cousin was named Saturday but the Zulu word for it. I was in my favourite spot next to the main gate and my cousins were playing with other kids next to the garage. I was puzzled when she said ‘Ja, let’s fight’ because I was not a fighter and she was older than me. Worse, I was the only skinny kid among all my meaty cousins. My big cousin, another good fighter, loaded sand in both her hands and closed them in her fists. This practice was to determine who was a coward: the first person to pound the fists was considered brave. The group began cheering, and I was hoping someone would come to my rescue, when the cousin punched my face.

‘Aye ye ye boesman!’

‘Look, she’s turned blue!’

‘No, look, she’s turning red!’

It was obvious that the crowd was excited to see a fight between a normal person and a boesman. The punches rained down on my mouth, stomach and face. I was on the point of falling over but the cousin picked me up and shoved my head under her left arm where she punched my face mercilessly. I didn’t cry, but by the time she let go of me I fell to the ground and felt the earth rotate. The group was still cheering. I felt an urgent need to wipe my nose. My hand came away with blood on it.

‘Oh look,’ shouted one girl in the group, ‘she’s got red blood! I thought boesmen had a different colour.’

‘It’s not red like ours. See, it’s weak. This thing has green veins, so what makes you think it can have the same blood as ours?’

I could not afford to mess my clothes. Mother would be hysterical. Moreover, how was I to explain what had happened? She was not going to believe it. Even with her eyes wide open Mother didn’t see a lot of the things that happened to me. Even if by chance she saw the blood, she was not going to believe me. But if she did, for a change, believe me she would report the matter to her husband, who would say I was lying. That’s what happened when I told her one of my cousins had pierced my bicycle tyre with a nail. Mother believed me but the husband was furious. He was quicker to undo his belt than to check if the bicycle tyre was actually flat. Telling tales about incidents that happened in the yard was not an option because Mother could also get mad and use her morning slippers trying to beat the truth out of me. In fact, it took very little for her to become mad. Without seeking advice, I knew I had to get my clothes out of this mess and keep quiet about it.

I was down and defeated but the crowd did not disperse. Perhaps they wanted to observe how boesmen stood up after being beaten stukkend. Stand up I did, but I had to balance myself on the nearest wall before facing my cousin.

‘One day when I’m older I’m going to be strong and rich. You’ll come to me for help but I will turn you away.’

I heard sarcastic laughter and for a second it looked as though she was going to punch the lights out of me again.

‘You won’t be rich with my uncle’s money that you and your mother are wasting,’ she said. ‘And listen, boesman, I will never ask for anything from you because there will be nothing to ask for!’

To this day if I close my eyes I can still hear the loud laughter that followed from the crowd.

Since all my attempts to be accepted were unsuccessful, I gave up. It was useless to try to smile when I knew I was not wanted. And that was when I forgot what it was like to smile. A frown and a serious look became my mask. I felt safe behind that mask.

Quietly, I started reading every book I came across. Even though I was in a Tswana school, I taught myself how to read the South Sotho Bible, and when my cousins weren’t watching I stole quiet and peaceful moments to teach myself to read their Zulu books. I was hoping somewhere someone might mention the word boesman. I wanted so badly to know the meaning.

Colour Me Yellow

Book details

Do you suffer from IBS? This book is chock-a-block delicious recipes for a sensitive tummy. Yummy!

Do you suffer from winds, burping, cramps, heartburn, constipation and/or diarrhoea as well as bloating? Then this book is for you!

Having a sensitive tummy or super sensitive tummy (IBS – irritable bowel syndrome) can be one of the most debilitating health issues to deal with. In Food for Sensitive Tummies, Gabi and Cath show you how you can cut down on the ingredients and food that cause you problems and still prepare a whole range of recipes that are simple, affordable and delicious to eat.

From fresh and healthy breakfast ideas, to wholesome mains such as Butternut, Aubergine and Rocket Lasagne, cooking for sensitive tummies has never been so easy. Straightforward and authoritative advice from two of South Africa’s leading dietitians means it’s never been so easy to learn how to treat your tummy well.

Take a sneak peak here:

Fish with Broccoli Cheese Topping

Serves 4

1 broccoli head, cut into florets
100 ml ( 2 5 c) water from cooking
broccoli
100 ml ( 2 5 c) low-fat milk
30 ml (2 Tbsp) cornstarch (Maizena)
1 ml ground nutmeg
1 large egg
30 ml (2 Tbsp) finely chopped chives
3 leeks, washed and thinly sliced
15 ml (1 Tbsp) butter
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
2.5 ml (1 tsp) salt
600 g (4 portions) fresh hake or fish of your choice, filleted and skinned
2.5 ml (. tsp) fish spice mix of your choice
60 ml (. c) grated Cheddar cheese

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Steam the broccoli until just done.
3. Spoon into the bowl of a food processer. Leave to cool while making the cheese sauce.
4. In a saucepan, heat the broccoli water and milk to boiling point.
5. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch in a cup with a little cold water to make a smooth, thin paste.
6. Add a little of the hot milk to the cornstarch paste and stir vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.
7. Pour into the rest of the hot milk and stir until the sauce thickens.
8. Add the nutmeg and pour over the broccoli in the food processor.
9. Add the egg and pulse until blended, but still lightly textured.
10. Stir in the chopped chives.
11. Sauté the sliced leeks in the butter and oil mixture.
12. Lightly season with the salt and then dish the softened leeks into a 30cm x 20cm shallow ovenproof dish.
13. Season the fish lightly on both sides with fish spice and arrange on top of the leeks.
14. Spoon the broccoli mixture over the fish.
15. Sprinkle the cheese over the dish.
16. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
17. Serve with a large salad or two cooked vegetables and mashed potato.

Dietitians’ notes
Fish is a good source of lean protein. Aim to include fish at least two to three times per week.

Super sensitive tummy notes
Worried about the lactose content? For those who are sensitive, lactose has been found to aggravate IBS symptoms when more than 12g of lactose is consumed per day. However, each person has their own tolerance level for lactose. Each serving of this dish only contains 1.4g of lactose from the milk, a very small amount, but if you are sensitive to lactose you may want to use lactose-free milk.

NUTRIENTS PER SERVING (400 g)
One serving is equivalent to 1 carbohydrate, 4 proteins and 2 vegetables.
Energy 1413 kJ • Protein 35.5 g • Carbohydrates 19.2 g • Total sugar 4.2 g • Added sugar 0 g
Total fat 13.2 g, Saturated fat 4.7 g • Fibre 4.7 g • Sodium 602 mg

Gabi Steenkamp has extensive experience as a private practicing dietitian, being not only involved in patient consultations but also in nutrition consulting within the food industry. Her in-depth nutrition knowledge, practical experience and exposure to the food industry make her the ideal person to ensure that food labels in South Africa are compliant with the new food labelling regulations. She currently practises in Johannesburg, and is regarded as an extremely practical and down-to-earth dietitian. She regularly is a keynote speaker and being an excellent presenter, she has done numerous nutrition wellness seminars for many companies. She has also written various articles in the popular and professional press and has presented workshops and lectures on nutrition-related topics at nutrition congresses.

Catherine Day is a Registered Dietitian (BSc Med Hons) with an added honours degree in Medical Physiology. Her passion lies in combining her understanding of the human body and knowledge of nutrition and food by teaching clients how the nutrients we take in can affect our health.

Food for Sensitive Tummies

Book details

"Liberation is of paramount importance in the concept of Black Consciousness" - remembering Steve Biko with No Fears Expressed

First published in 1987, No Fears Expressed is a compilation of quotes taken from the words of the activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko. Sourced from the iconic I Write What I Like, including the collection of Biko’s columns published in the journal of the South Africa Student Organisation under the pseudonym of ‘Frank Talk’, as well as from The Testimony of Steve Biko (edited by Millard W. Arnold), this book contains many inspirational quotes and thoughts that are still relevant in South African society today.

Biko’s words fall under a wide range of topics including racism, blackwhite relations, remedies for apartheid, colonialism, black rage and township life. All are topics that reflect the ever-present divide that exists between black and white South Africans.

Steve Biko would have been 70 years old in 2017. His place in history is firmly cemented and the struggle that he gave his life for continues. He left a legacy of thoughts and words, and these words pay tribute to the courage and power of the young leader who was to become one of Africa’s heroes.

To commemorate Biko’s life, BooksLIVE – in collaboration with Pan Macmillan – will publish quotes to remember Biko by during the month of September; a month which also marks 40 years since he was beaten to death in police custody.

Steve Biko on Liberation:

Freedom is the ability to define oneself with one’s possibilities held back not by the power of other people over one but only by one’s relationship to God and to natural surroundings.
IWWIL (‘Black Consciousness and the Quest for a True Humanity’), p 101

Liberation therefore, is of paramount importance in the concept of Black Consciousness, for we cannot be conscious of ourselves and yet remain in bondage. We want to attain the envisioned self which is a free self.
IWWIL (‘The Definition of Black Consciousness’), p 53

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Has South Africa’s labour movement become a middle class movement? An extract from Labour Beyond Cosatu

Labour Beyond Cosatu goes well beyond the previous volumes of the Taking Democracy Seriously project in some of its sorties, and is not shy of pulling its punches in what is now a highly charged environment. Deeply sympathetic to the project of organised labour yet highly critical of its present trajectory, this collection deserves to attract wide attention internationally as well as domestically. Roger Southall, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

South Africa’s working class movement is still powerful, but pressurised and polarised due to major shifts in its structure, base and forms of struggle. This timely, rigorously researched collection draws attention to key developments within Cosatu and beyond … Highly recommended. Lucien van der Walt, Professor of Sociology, Rhodes University, South Africa

Labour Beyond Cosatu is the fifth publication in the Taking Democracy Seriously project which started in 1994 and comprises of surveys of the opinions, attitudes and lifestyles of members of trade unions affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). This survey was conducted shortly before the elections in 2014, in a context in which government economic policy had not fundamentally shifted to the left and the massacre of 34 mineworkers at Marikana by the South African Police Service had fundamentally shaken the labour landscape, with mineworkers not only striking against their employers, but also their union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Cosatu leaders had started to openly criticise levels of corruption in the State, while a ‘tectonic shift’ took place when the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) was expelled from Cosatu at the end of 2014.

In its analysis of the survey, Labour Beyond Cosatu shows that Cosatu, fragmented and weakened through fissures in its alliance with the African National Congress, is no longer the only dominant force influencing South Africa’s labour landscape. Contributors also examine aspects such as changing patterns of class; workers’ incomes and their lifestyles; workers’ relationship to civil society movements and service delivery protests; and the politics of male power and privilege in trade unions.

The trenchant analysis in Labour Beyond Cosatu exhibits fiercely independent and critically engaged labour scholarship, in the face of shifting alliances currently shaping the contestation between authoritarianism and democracy.

This article, written for The Conversation, is based on an extract from a chapter by Andries Bezuidenhout, Christine Bischoff and Ntsehiseng Nthejane:

Do South African trade unions still represent the working class?

The South African labour landscape has undergone massive changes in the past few years that have left the country’s trade union movement almost unrecognisable from yesteryear.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, still the country’s largest trade union federation, has been bleeding members for a while and has been shaken to the core by the exit of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa. This exit has led to a new formation, the South African Federation of Trade Unions. Both labour federations still claim to represent the interests of the working class.

Something else, perhaps more fundamental has been changing within South Africa’s trade union movement. The membership base has shifted significantly from one dominated by unskilled and semiskilled workers to one that shows bias towards skilled and professional workers. This is captured in a series of surveys undertaken between 1994 and 2014, before the National Union of Metal Workers’s exit.

The data shows that less than 1% of members within the trade union movement classified themselves as professional in early years of democracy. The picture had changed radically by 2008 with 20% of the respondents classifying themselves as professional. It would therefore seem that South Africa’s trade union federation had become a home for middle class civil servants, rather than a working class federation.

The evolution

A group of labour scholars has been conducting surveys of Congress of South African Trade Unions members before every parliamentary election since 1994. The intention of the survey, titled Taking Democracy Seriously, was to study the impact of union democracy on parliamentary democracy.

The data set (drawn from five surveys, with the last conducted in 2014 just before National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa was expelled) tell us much more than just what union members’ attitudes towards democracy is. It paints a complex picture of who trade unions actually represent.

At its high point, the federation had a membership of 2.2 million. This was the result of three waves of unionisation.

The first wave of members comprised of workers who were organised into the initial manufacturing unions that resulted from the militancy of the 1973 strikes.

The second wave started in 1985 with the National Union of Mineworkers – the first to organise black miners and what was to become the largest union in the country – joining the Federation of South African Trade Unions in 1985.

The third wave came with the public sector unions that emerged after 1990. This wave benefited from the Labour Relations Act of 1995 which brought public sector employees under the same dispensation as the private sector in terms of collective bargaining and organisational rights.

In the early years of democracy public sector unions were so marginal to the federation and debates in labour studies that the researchers did not even include any unions from the public sector.

The professional factor

From 1994 union members were asked to classify themselves as being professional, clerical, supervisors, skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled. Less than 1% classified themselves as professional in 1994, 1998 and 2004.

The data reflects a major shift in the last two surveys conducted after the inclusion of public sector unions in the sample. 20% of respondents classified themselves as professional in 2008, and 19% in 2014. This constituted a fifth of federation membership base, certainly a massive shift from the early 1990s.

Those members who classified themselves as clerical remained more or less constant, with those classifying themselves as supervisors increasing slightly from 4% in 1994 to 6% in 2014.

What is interesting though, is an increase of those who classify themselves as skilled increasing from 21% in 1994 to 37% in 2014.

Continue reading here.

Book details

  • Labour Beyond Cosatu: Mapping the Rupture in South Africa’s Labour Landscape edited by Andries Bezuidenhout, Malehoko Tshoaedi
    EAN: 978-1-77614-053-4
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

"Marikana changed everything, but nothing has changed" - an excerpt from Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh's Democracy and Delusion

Democracy and Delusion
A fresh, different perspective on South African politics.

Many common political arguments come pre-packaged in a very old and dusty box – and in this book, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh sets out to dismantle that box. The self-evident truths are not, in fact, so indisputable. He argues that free education is far from impossible, the ANC did not liberate South Africa, land reform is not the first step to chaos, and the media is not free…

In this incisive, informed book we find not only challenges to commonly held opinions, but optimism about South Africa’s future and new solutions to old problems.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh is an outspoken political commentator, scholar and musician. He is a co-founder of the InkuluFreeHeid Organisation and was prominent in the Rhodes Must Fall movement at Oxford University, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in international relations. He has made popular videos about South African politics, available on his site www.sizwempofuwalsh.co.za and his social media accounts. Visit the site for the companion rap album to this book, also titled Democracy and Delusion.

Read the chapter ‘Option 2: Lonmin’s Housing Failures’:

Marikana continues to haunt South Africa. The tragedy is that Marikana changed everything, but nothing has changed. If anything, those responsible have struck a double blow to the victims, stripping them of their dignity and refusing to acknowledge wrongdoing through appropriate acts of atonement.

One of the major factors at play in Marikana was the mining sector’s appalling record on providing adequate housing for workers. Even Judge Farlam admitted that inadequate housing contributed to the events at Marikana.

In 2006, Lonmin talked a good game. It enlisted the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre to facilitate dialogues between its stakeholders. Following this, it committed R56m per year to education, health, and housing programmes in the Marikana community over five years. Brad Mills, then-CEO, announced the steps alongside Bishop Tutu himself. Tutu was similarly optimistic about the initiative, saying ‘this is not about altruism, but is rather the best form of self-interest, because once your workforce is happy, efficiencies are sure to rise’. The announcement was a public relations boon. Mills spent a night in one of the worker hostels, and cashed in on his own narrative as a former drill-rig operator in the United States. Lonmin looked set to implement an ambitious socio-economic plan.

The plan is important to scrutinise, because it secured Lonmin’s mining rights. The plan’s signature was a pledge to build 5 500 houses by 2011. By 2012, Lonmin had built just three. And those three were only ‘show houses’ to exhibit what the final ones would look like. In 2011, it abandoned the 2006 housing plan altogether, while never obtaining written consent from the state to change its targets. It’s difficult to imagine a failure more spectacular. What went wrong? When events at Marikana eventually illuminated this failure, Lonmin could only give a litany of flimsy excuses.

Its first defence was that it ‘lacked the necessary financial resources’ due to the 2008 financial crisis. But this argument was crushed by Adv. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi when he cross-examined Cyril Ramaphosa at the Marikana Commission. Even if the financial crisis was to blame, why had nothing been done in 2007 and 2008 to reach the goals of the plan? Surely, more than three houses could have been built in two years? In fact, at least 700 should have been built by then, per Lonmin’s own reports. Ramaphosa fumbled, citing the ‘broader context’.

Asked if he had ever queried the actual number of houses built, Ramaphosa then shockingly admitted he ‘never had sight of a report to that effect’. These figures were presented in the Lonmin Annual Report of 2009, released a year before he became Chair of the Transformation Committee. How could he not have interrogated that report before assuming such an important role? Either he was extremely ignorant, profiting from a board positon without paying regard to working conditions; or, he was satisfied with the progress of three houses out of 5 500. Either way, his conduct was a serious dereliction of duty, and a sad indictment on his commitment to transformation.

So, Ramaphosa didn’t have a clue about the housing situation, despite his senior role at Lonmin. He blindly accepted the management reports. If we can forgive this, we can’t forgive his ignorance of Lonmin’s financial position. Surely, he knew whether the 2008 financial crisis did necessitate scrapping the entire housing plan? Let’s look at Lonmin’s financials in the years between 2006 and 2011 to see if their excuses stack up. First, Lonmin’s revenues were high in 2006 and 2007, at $1.9 and $2.2bn respectively, as Figure 2 shows. Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) in these years were $842m and $796m. The 2008 financial year was Lonmin’s best: EBIT was $963m. This changed in 2009: EBIT fell to -$93m. But profits rebounded immediately. In 2010, EBIT was $228m, and in 2011 Lonmin made a profit of $311m (equivalent to approximately R4bn). How could Lonmin possibly have claimed financial hardship for a plan that cost R56m per year when it was consistently earning an average of R3bn per year? Lonmin’s poverty excuse is absolute hogwash; nonsense that makes Jacob Zuma look like a paragon of virtuous truth-telling. And, sadly, it’s hogwash that Cyril Ramaphosa accepted unquestioningly.

It gets worse. Ramaphosa’s company, Shanduka, was receiving R3m per year to advise Lonmin on ‘black empowerment’ while Lonmin was crying poverty. Somehow it could afford these payments, but not wage increases. To put this number in perspective, the money paid to Shanduka could have funded the R12 500 wage demand for 500 workers. Lonmin also claims the plans failed because other ‘stakeholders’ like local government failed to avail land. But Lonmin’s original plan never mentioned a lack of access to land. And Lonmin’s own reports say that by 2008, they had secured enough land for at least 800 stands. In 2009, an additional 1 500 stands were approved by the local council. So, 2 300 stands were available by the time Ramaphosa became Chairperson of the Transformation Committee. Why then did Lonmin only build three ‘show houses’?

Lonmin tries to mitigate these failures by saying it’s still managed to convert several hostels. Hostel-conversion means turning rooms that used to house eight people at once into single-person accommodation. In 2014, it completed its hostel conversion programme. But this was no cause for celebration. The goal was to convert 124 hostels by 2011. They only began conversion in 2008 (the year of purported financial difficulty), and by 2011 less than half of hostels had been converted into anything that approximated an adequate standard. But hostel conversions mask a larger problem. As Judge Farlam pointed out, conversion meant that there was a resultant housing shortage, since old hostels slept eight to a room. That’s why new houses were so important, because converting hostels meant that many people would be without housing given the size of the new units. According to Amnesty international, this affected 13 500 workers. Their only option was to seek housing in Marikana, one of the most shack-dense places in South Africa and an ode to our country’s grotesque inequality.

Most miners ended up in Nkaneng, an informal settlement adjacent to the mine on Lonmin’s land. Nkaneng is one of the saddest sights in South Africa. Rickety shacks along beige dirt roads sit cheek-by-jowl with towering mineshafts, like tall mirrors reflecting South Africa’s ugliness back at itself. If Lonmin could just focus on improving the lives of the Nkaneng community, it could dent inequality, and ease the national wound caused by Marikana. Instead, it has reneged on its housing promises, and rubbed salt in the wound. When it was put to Ramaphosa that Lonmin’s housing performance was a ‘compete failure’ he said, ‘he wouldn’t put it like that’. Rather, he said, Lonmin ‘underachieved’. Quite.

Lonmin’s arguments just don’t add up. They tricked the Department of Mineral Resources into giving them a license, then pocketed the profits and back-peddled on their commitments. In my view, their license should be revoked. At the very least, they should be heavily fined for breaching their own legally binding plan. Instead, government has stayed eerily silent. That’s the real farce: even the killings could not provoke Lonmin to budge an inch.

In many ways, Marikana is the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with South Africa today. It’s what happens when we let the ten myths I’ve discussed in this book fester. It touches on land rights and illuminates the failures of land reform. It implicates President Zuma, and spotlights his lack of accountability. It shows the persistence of racial oppression. It reveals the deep biases in South Africa’s so-called ‘free’ media. It shows how living conditions have worsened for many since 1994, exposes the flaws of the ANC’s ‘we liberated you’ narrative, and highlights the importance of reworking our education system. Marikana is South Africa today, and we hide from it like we hide from the horror of our reality. Justice delayed is justice denied, but justice delayed and denied is justice destroyed. It’s time we wiped away the miracle narrative, and faced our twisted, beautiful country anew, with the only weapon that can help us navigate the future: the truth.

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"How we emerge from this terrible tragedy will depend on how seriously we take the challenges it has placed before us." In line with the anniversary of the Marikana massacre, read an extract from Z Pallo Jordan's Letters to my Comrades

In line with the anniversary of the Marikana massacre, read the following extract from Z Pallo Jordan’s Letters to my Comrades: Interventions & Excursions. Here Jordan wrote about the massacre and his views on the role of the ANC.

The book is scheduled to be in stores next week.
 
 

Remembering Bisho – and Marikana

September 2012

This (untitled) lecture was an address to the Eastern Cape legislature in September 2012, the tenth anniversary of the Bisho shootings, but also just weeks after the Marikana massacre.

The credibility of the ANC is probably the lowest it has been since 1990! The leadership has been stripped of its dignity! The best advice one can offer our movement caught in a hole is: ‘stop digging!’

How we emerge from this terrible tragedy will depend on how seriously we take the challenges it has placed before us.

It demonstrates the determination of the government to get at the truth that the President appointed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry within days of the shootings. Commendable as the appointment of the commission is, its primary concern will be to establish legal matters of fact relating to the specific events of that fateful day, August 16th. We are confident that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry will conduct its investigations with the appropriate rigour and uncover all the relevant facts.

But Marikana is symptomatic of a much deeper malaise. The all too easy recourse to lethal violence on the part of the Police tells its own terrifying tale. Besieged by new forms of violent crime perpetrated by criminals armed with military hardware, the South African Police Service has been exhorted to meet fire with fire by more than one minister and National Police Commissioner. This might have had the unfortunate consequence of encouraging the use of lethal force.

The sources of the tensions that led to bloodshed on August 16th go far deeper than the specific events that unfolded that day. I want to use this platform to call upon the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to organise a Workers’ Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana tragedy. COSATU should invite the other two union federations to participate in such a Workers’ Commission that should investigate, amongst other things, the return to South Africa’s mining industry of the ‘native labour touts’, who pitted workers against each other for their own profit in yesteryear, in the shape of labour brokers. The ‘outsourcing’ of recruitment was through labour brokers prevalent in Marikana played a notorious role in piling up the dry tinder of conflict. It should also shed light on the manner in which the mining industry is evading its responsibilities to its work force who live in shanty-towns around the mines.

A Workers’ Commission should also be tasked with investigating the shockingly high levels of violence in our society. An aspect of this violence is the alarmingly high incidence of private gun ownership in this country. The close correlation between high levels of gun ownership and gun-related crime is now well established. The best way to curb gun related crimes is to move towards a gun-free society. The police service in a gun-free society will have no need to carry firearms.

Madam Premier,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

Does it sit easily with the membership of the ANC? Does it sit easily with the millions of ANC supporters here at home, and in the world at large that during its centennial year, the government, led by the ANC presided over the first post-democracy state massacre?

How do we explain to the shade of Uncle J.B. Marks that today it is bullets fired from the automatic weapons of our democratic police service that are creating widows and orphans in the villages of the eastern Cape, of Lesotho, of the North-West province?

Who will explain to the martyrs of Bisho that the Police service they laid down their lives to create, also fires live ammunition at demonstrators?

The tensions that erupted in the continuing strike that led to the events of August 16th are in many respects the result of the compromises the movement made to attain the beach-head of democracy in 1994. We substituted BEE for wealth redistribution; we persuaded ourselves to be content with less than what we had fought for, because it was much more than what we had had.

In another context I once raised the question: Will our Black captains of industry behave like the Randlords who incited the Anglo-Boer war and the atrocities of the Concentration Camps? Or will they behave like the latter-day White monopolists who mouthed liberal sentiments, voted for the UP while they profited handsomely from collaborating with apartheid? or would pioneer a new path of corporate responsibility by promoting better working conditions and wages for workers?

Regrettably, it would appear the emergent Black capitalist class have bought into and are being incorporated into the culture of White capital. It might be unpleasant, but the current ANC leadership and the government it leads must accept that it has probably presided over the years of the ANC’s most profound crisis. Which poses the matter of the quality of the movement’s leadership at this moment.

Every movement for political transformation has arrived at this moment of truth sooner or later. During the French Revolution it came on the 18th Brumaire; during the Russian Revolution it was Kronstadt.

Has that moment also arrived for South Africa in the shape of Marikana?

Let Marikana be the moment when to once again take hold of the movement of our people and steer it again towards the sound and sober strategies of the past.

The elective conference that the ANC holds at the end of this year must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that has the will, the moral courage and moral standing to take on task of cleaning the Augean stables of corruption!

The elective conference of the ANC must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that will restore the credibility of the movement amongst its friends and opponents.

The elective conference of the ANC must rise to the challenge of producing a leadership corps that will restore the movement’s reputation and record of compassion.

Only by correcting itself in that manner will the ANC regain the confidence of the democratic forces of this country and take us all on a higher trajectory to a better life for all our people!

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