• Steve Biko Foundation: Facilities Manager

    Steve Biko Foundation
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Established in 1998, the Steve Biko Foundation is a community development organisation inspired by the legacy of the late anti-apartheid activist.

    The Steve Biko Foundation seeks to appoint a Facilities Manager, based at at the Steve Biko Centre, in the Ginsberg Township of King William’s Town, Eastern Cape .

    The incumbent will have responsibility for the management of services and processes that support the physical structure of the Centre to ensure that it has the most suitable working environment for its employees and their activities. This is a wide ranging position with a diverse range of responsibilities including procurement and contract management, building and grounds maintenance, cleaning, health and safety, security, signage, and utilities and communications infrastructure.
    The Facilities Manager will be involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations in relation to buildings and premises. The position reports to the Centre Director.

    • Familiarise him or herself with the working processes of the equipment and the structure;
    • Inspection of and supervision of the condition of electrical, air conditioning, plumbing and other essential facilities and equipment, and maintenance of up to date and accurate records of the condition of the equipment and other systems in the building;
    • Respond appropriately to emergencies or urgent issues as they arise;
    • Create a schedule of regular evaluation and maintenance of the facilities as well as facilitation of the cleaning, repair and maintenance of facilities and equipment;
    • Supervising and coordinating work of contractors and checking that agreed work by staff or contractors has been completed satisfactorily and following up on any deficiencies;
    • Management of the building security systems to maintain maximum security while not impacting negatively on the activities happening within the building;
    • Participate in the development of policies and procedures affecting the use of supplies and facilities in the institution and planning for future development in line with strategic business objectives, including the development of back-up or alternative systems for common problems;
    • Ensuring the building continues to meet health and safety requirements and regulations;
    • Work towards ensuring the safety of the building and its occupants from hazards;
    • Initiate an active campaign on safety measures in the building, as well as maintenance of records and reports for the safety service so that information is readily available if needed;
    • Ensure that current best practices are researched and implemented where cost-effective in the facility;
    • Evaluate the work of staff members and other subordinates;
    • Preparation and monitoring of a budget for the facilities management division.
    • Diploma or bachelor’s degree in a relevant field or equivalent professional qualification;
    • Minimum of five years experience in a similar position with demonstrated success;
    • Possess a sound knowledge of health, safety and environmental legislation within the built environment;
    • Computer literate with experience in relevant building management systems and other software applications;
    • Reliable, self-motivated, creative and adaptable individual with the ability to lead innovation, to motivate employees and to contribute to impact while simultaneously coordinating a wide range of activities;
    • Excellent skills with people at all levels, behave professionally and fairly at all times and be able to juggle multiple and often conflicting priorities with the ability to take control of a situation and resolve it with minimal disruption to the business operations;
    • Leadership qualities with good problem-solving skills, excellent organisational skills and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships;
    • Communicator in multiple languages in both spoken and written formats to a wide variety of audiences formal and enjoy formidable presentation skills;
    • Be calm, flexible, persuasive and able to work through stressful situations;
    • Demonstrable commitment to the Foundation, its vision, values and its approach.
    Schedule and remuneration:
    • The salary and benefits offered are market related and commensurate with experience;
    • The Facilities Manager will  work standard office hours but should be prepared for 24 hour callouts, based on daily requirements;
    • Candidates should be prepared to work at evening or on weekends within the number of hours on activities associated with the Foundation’s programmes.
    To apply, submit CV and motivational letter to admin@sbf.org.za indicating the post for which they are applying.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.
    For more about Steve Biko Foundation, refer to www.sbf.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


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  • Steve Biko Foundation: Restaurant Manager

    Steve Biko Foundation
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Sunday, December 15, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Established in 1998, the Steve Biko Foundation is a community development organisation inspired by the legacy of the late anti-apartheid activist.

    The Steve Biko Foundation seeks to appoint a currently seeks a Restaurant and Catering Manager, based in Ginsberg, Eastern Cape.

    The Restaurant and Catering Manager will oversee and run the daily operations of the Restaurant, Bar, Kitchens and Catering Facility.

    • Work collaboratively with relevant stakeholders to operate the Restaurant and Catering Department, including reviewing the strategic plan, all policies, operational procedures and operating systems;
    • Manage the operations of the restaurant, bar and kitchens that prepare and serve meals and beverages to on- and off-site customers and conference guests including oversight of the inventory, equipment and supplies, and maintenance of the restaurant's equipment and facilities;
    • Manage and administer the day to day operations of the unit including budget preparation, financial, administrative and human resources including recruitment, training and monitoring employee performance;
    • Coordinate activities among various departments, such as kitchen, dining room, and banquet operations, in order to ensure that all internal and external customers are satisfied with their dining experience;
    • Work collaboratively with other units within the Foundation on marketing and other initiatives to ensure sustainability of the operation.
    • Have a postsecondary degree or senior diploma in restaurant and hospitality management, or institutional food service management with a minimum of ten years of relevant experience in a senior position;
    • Reliable individual with the ability to take initiative, lead innovation, motivate employees and contribute to impact;
    • Have leadership qualities with good problem-solving skills, the ability to focus on detail and to multi-task;
    • Be calm, flexible, and able to work through stressful situations;
    • Be computer literate with excellent organisational and communication skills.
    Remuneration will be market related and commensurate with experience.

    To apply, submit CV and motivational letter to admin@sbf.org.za indicating the post for which they are applying.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.
    For more about Steve Biko Foundation, refer to www.sbf.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


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  • Phosa Urges ANC to Stop Blaming Apartheid

    Former African National Congress (ANC) treasure-general, Matthews Phosa, says it is time for government to shape the country's future decisively and stop blaming the past.
    Speaking at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation conference in Johannesburg, Phosa pointed out that, "We are... a government, and placing the blame on the past, apartheid, race, and other external factors does not wash anymore…”
    He argued that if the ANC wants to avoid being consigned to the dustbin of history, it must be demonstrably more decisive and more transparent.
    To read the article titled, “Stop blaming apartheid - Mathews Phosa,” click here.

    News 24
  • State Failed to Support Apartheid Victims

    The brother of Anton Fransch, killed by security police, will always remember the young Umkhonto we Sizwe member as a “determined fighter for human rights”, but says the government has failed to support the families of apartheid victims.

    Speaking to the Cape Times at his Bonteheuwel home, Mark Fransch said he felt ‘deeply hurt’ by the outcome of the South Africa Apartheid Lawsuit which was dismissed by a United States appeal court after a 10 year battle.

    Fransch said: “It’s been a very long struggle and I don’t feel satisfied. There has been nothing to help the families of the fallen heroes. I blame our president and ministers for not supporting the class action. They are sitting on their high horses and the reality is that the people who fought the struggle for this country got no support from this government.”

    Human rights support group Khulumani lodged the class action more than 10 years ago on behalf of 85 000 families of apartheid victims.

    The lawsuit charged companies with aiding and abetting the perpetration of extrajudicial killings, torture, prolonged and arbitrary detention, indiscriminate shooting and rape.
    The companies did business with the apartheid government by providing bullets, vehicles and technology.

    The court ruled that United States companies could no longer be held liable for human rights violations that took place outside that country’s borders.

    For the past 10 years he was confident that the victims’ families would get some reparation from the companies, but 24 years after his brother was killed in an explosion in Athlone, his family had no closure, Fransch says.

    “I thought we were on the verge of winning, and this case could’ve been so different if the government supported us,” he said.

    “(Anton) was a very gentle person and he always used to tell our mother that he was fighting the struggle for her and for a better life for all of us. I used to beat him up because he made my mother worry but he was determined to fight apartheid.”

    Anton Fransch was 20 when he was killed in a seven-hour battle with security police at a Church Street home in November 1989.

    As a teenager Anton was away from home for long periods and was often sought by security police. Mark Fransch said he had last seen his brother four years before he was killed.

    He describes the scene at the Church Street home as ‘horrific’, with his brother’s blood and some body parts splattered over the walls.

    Meanwhile, the Khulumani group describes the dismissal of their case as a ‘major blow’ to victims of oppression all over the world and says it highlights the weaknesses in international law that did not hold transnational corporations accountable for their role in human rights violations.

    - This article first appeared in the Cape Times.  
  • South African History Archive: Intern

    South African History Archive (SAHA)
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, September 13, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    The South African History Archive (SAHA) is an independent human rights archive committed to documenting and raising awareness of past struggles against apartheid, as well as ongoing struggles in the making of democracy in South Africa. In-line with this central mission, the Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP) at SAHA is dedicated to using South Africa's Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) to extend the boundaries of access to information in South Africa.

    SAHA seeks to appoint an Intern, for its Freedom of Information Programme, based in Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

    The FOIP Interns report to the FOIP Advocacy and Training Outreach Officer.

    This is a six-month internships starting from October 2013.

    • Support the work of the FOIP team through:
      • Submit and tracking requests made of public and private bodies under PAIA;
      • Assist in the delivery of SAHA's PAIA training to NGOs and CBOs;
      • Track legislative development and jurisprudence that have implications for the constitutional right of access to information;
      • Conduct research, as directed, into national and regional use of access to information legislation, as directed.
    • Degree in law, political science, public administration, journalism or other relevant field;
    • Demonstrable commitment to social justice;
    • Ability to plan, prioritise work, and meet deadlines;
    • Ability to show initiative within a collaborative working environment;
    • Attention to detail;
    • Written communication skills;
    • Competency with Microsoft Office software.

    Internships are on a full-time basis and interns will receive a monthly stipend for the duration of the internship.

    To apply,submit a CV, contact details for at least two professional referees and a one-page motivational letter (no more than 500 words) that addresses the following three questions:

    • What is the purpose of Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA)?
    • What were the motivating factors behind the development of PAIA?
    • Provide an example of how you think PAIA could be used to support struggles for justice in South Africa?
    to Kathryn@saha.org.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

    For more about the South African History Archive, refer to www.saha.org.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


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  • Mogoeng Mogoeng's Comments a Matter of Deep Concern

    The Centre for Constitutional Rights is deeply concerned about some of the comments made by Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, at the Advocates for Transformation's Annual General Meeting on 6 July 2013.

    The Chief Justice has taken an oath ‘To administer justice to all persons alike, without fear, favour or prejudice in accordance with the Constitution and the law.’ 

    This means, firstly, that the Chief Justice must at all times conduct himself in such a manner that all South Africans, regardless of their race, will have confidence that they will be treated equally, impartially and without prejudice by the judicial system. The Chief Justice must accordingly take great care in his public statements to avoid any perception of racial bias or ethnic animosity.  

    Unfortunately, in his speech of 6 July 2013, Mogoeng manifests barely disguised hostility to everyone who is critical of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). He begins, in stark contrast with his later references to unity and nation-building, by reminding his audience that those South Africans who were the major cause of the suffering caused by apartheid are still, according to him, the main beneficiaries of the system. He then asserts - without producing the slightest shred of evidence - that, "A grouping of its [apartheid's] key operators" are masquerading as "Agents for the enforcement of constitutional compliance when they are in fact a change resistance force."  

    He blatantly misrepresents the well-founded concerns of respected members of the legal profession and of civil society regarding the appointment of judges on merit, as an attempt to protect ‘white male dominance of the profession and of the bench’. Whether the Chief Justice's comments were intended to inflame certain sentiments in his primarily black audience or merely an expression of his personal opinion, they are unacceptable. What assurance can all South Africans have that such sentiments will not colour any judgment that the Chief Justice might make in cases where their respective interests are involved?

    Secondly, the Chief Justice's oath requires him to take the greatest care in his public statements not to become embroiled in disputes that might come before the courts. Once again, his speech is full of partisan comments that fatally compromise any claim that he might have to impartiality with regard to current and future cases relating to the JSC - and particularly to its role in the appointment of judges. He claims that those who have challenged the JSC in the courts are "Clutching at straws to discredit the JSC" and that they "Want the JSC they can dictate to." He says that this is part of "A deliberate attempt...to delegitimise the JSC" and to "Intimidate or mock the JSC into recommending without proper reflection, certain white men and at times certain women" for appointment to the bench.

    The Chief Justice made these comments despite recent court judgments which found that criticism of the JSC is not without foundation. On 30 September 2011, in Cape Bar Council v Judicial Service Commission and Others, the Cape High Court declared, with regard to the JSC's failure to fill judicial vacancies on 26 April 2011, that that the proceedings "Were inconsistent with the Constitution, unlawful and consequently invalid." On 14 September 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the JSC's appeal and, in essence, upheld the High Court's judgment.

    On 7 June 2013, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) launched legal action against the JSC to clarify the procedure and decision-making process relating to the nomination of persons for judicial office.

    The Chief Justice has already made it patently clear where he stands on this issue and will accordingly have to recuse himself if, as is quite possible, the case ever comes before the Constitutional Court.

    Finally, the Chief Justice's oath of office requires him to administer justice "in accordance with the Constitution and the law." However, factors other than the Constitution and the law may influence the Chief Justice's judgments. It would appear that, for him, the need for his version of transformation might transcend the prescripts of the Constitution and of the law. In a recent public address he emphasised that, "We need to transform the judiciary so that the demographics are representative. That is the bottom line."   

    The Chief Justice evidently wants to impose demographic representivity on the judiciary in the same manner that the government has imposed mathematical demographic representivity in the public sector - and now wishes to do in the private sector. However, the drive for demographic representivity has its roots not in the Constitution, but in the ideology of the ruling alliance.

    The Constitution does not endorse the notion of demographic representivity. Section 195(1)(i) indeed, quite rightly calls for public administration that is broadly representative of the South African people - but also stipulates that, "Employment and personnel management practices must be based on ability, objectivity and fairness." Section 174(2) similarly states that, "The need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa must be considered when judicial officers are appointed." However, such consideration cannot overrule the requirement in section 174(1) that, "Any appropriately qualified woman or man who is a fit and proper person may be appointed as a judicial officer."

    The legal profession and, in particular, the judiciary have already been substantially transformed since 1994. All reasonable people - including the vast majority of the members of the legal profession, irrespective of their race - accept the need for a legal profession and a judiciary that is broadly representative of the South African population. They would support the Chief Justice's call for the dismantling of any artificial hurdles that might still stand in the way of black, brown or Indian lawyers.

    They would endorse the need to produce more experienced black, brown and Indian advocates and to ensure that they are given important briefs, regardless of gender. However, all of this should take place within the framework of the Constitution with its carefully balanced requirements and prescriptions.

    - Centre for Constitutional Rights at the FW de Klerk Foundation.
  • St. George’s Cathedral: Media Liaison and Public Relations Officer Intern

    St. George's Cathedral
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Tuesday, March 4, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    St. George’s Cathedral known as 'the people's Cathedral' for its role in the resistance against apartheid, is the oldest cathedral in Southern Africa and the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town.

    St. George’s Cathedral seeks to recruit a confident and media-savvy Media Liaison and Public Relations Officer (PRO) to assist the Cathedral in various media-related tasks. This position is based at St. George’s Cathedral in the Central Business district in Cape Town.

    The post would be ideal for a graduate or postgraduate student interested in a career in media.
    Media liaison
    • Replying to, or sourcing replies from within the Cathedral when necessary, queries left on websites, social media and email;
    • Monitoring query channels and supply responses;
    • Engaging media by occasionally being assigned press releases to assemble, or shorter press blurbs about important events for print and radio event diaries.
    Public relations officer
    • Assembling a publicity contact base;
    • Promoting the Cathedral's activities and facilities on the website and social media;
    • Producing a newsletter every two months;
    • Attending Cathedral events and initiatives to document them for web, social media and newsletter consumption.
    • Matric;
    • Qualifications, experience or study in the fields of journalism, media/communications or public relations or-related subjects;
    • Interest and commitment to working in the media/communications field;
    • Knowledge of South African media landscape, including community media;
    • Owns a laptop and competent in the use of Microsoft Word and Excel;
    • Knowledge and experience of online media databases is desirable;
    • Photographic skills;
    • Professional telephone manner and the ability to confidently deal with media on the phone;
    • Ability to work within a team;
    • Creative, fun and flexible approach to work.
    Benefits to the Intern:
    • Work experience as part of a historical and dynamic Cathedral
    • Opportunity to develop skills as Media Liaison and PRO Communications Officer
    • Direct experience of working with media
    Remuneration and support:
    • Work space will be made available at St. George’s Cathedral
    • The Intern will be supported by a Communications Committee consisting of Cathedral staff and members of St. George’s Cathedral
    • A stipend to cover transport costs can be organised, as necessary
    • Upon completion of the internship, a letter of recommendation will be provided if the candidate performed tasks well
    To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter to recruitment.stgeorgescathedral@gmail.com.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about St. George’s Cathedral, please visit www.sgcathedral.co.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.


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  • Celebrating Helen Suzman: A Bright Star in a Dark Chamber

    It is not for me to comment on the recent spat between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African National Congress (ANC) regarding the use of the photograph of Nelson Mandela and Helen Suzman. The Foundation holds no copyright over this photograph. However, as the director of the foundation that bears her name, I wish to respond to aspects of the recent, ill-judged statements by the ANC’s parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, that were published by the Mail & Guardian on 26 April to 2 May 2013.

    Mothapo seeks to undermine the important role Suzman played in the struggle against Apartheid. In this response, I cannot correct all of his inaccuracies, half-truths and misrepresentations. However, I must respond to the claim that, by her participation in Parliament, Suzman somehow served to ‘legitimise an unjust order’, and even ‘made her complicit in the horrors unleashed against the majority, and made her role morally indefensible’.  These charges are a grotesque distortion of the truth.

    It is striking that Mothapo’s recent statement is in sharp contrast to the previous acknowledgment by the ANC, after her death on 1 January 2009, that, it "Remembers and respects the contribution of Suzman towards the demise of apartheid." The President himself attended her funeral. Mothapo seeks to dismiss the ANC acknowledgment by putting it down to his interpretation of Ubuntu which, he suggests, teaches us never to talk ill of the departed. However, the tradition not to speak ill of the dead cannot, by its nature, explain comments made about a person in their own lifetime. I wish to recall a few of the acknowledgments made by eminent leaders of the anti-Apartheid struggle regarding Suzman’s role. These were made long before she passed away in 2009.  

    In 1963, Albert Luthuli, then President of the ANC, wrote to Suzman and expressed his “Deep appreciation and admiration for your heroic and lone stand against a most reactionary Parliament...I most heartily congratulate you for your untiring efforts in a situation that would frustrate and benumb many... For ever remember, you are a bright star in a dark chamber...Not only ourselves - your contemporaries, but also posterity, will hold you in high esteem”. 

    In 1964, Ruth First wrote to Suzman stating,“I admire tremendously your sledge-hammer attack on [the 90-day detention law] and so many other vital issues. In the House at least you have to fight almost single-handed and, apart from the scandal that the real anti-Nationalist fight has been whittled down to the efforts of one intrepid member, you seem to get in as many blows as any team could manage.”

    In 1965, Veronica Sobukwe (wife of Robert Sobukwe) wrote describing Suzman as a “Parliamentarian of outstanding competence, whose integrity is unimpeachable and one who has made a name for herself as an untiring champion of liberty for all men, irrespective of race, colour or creed.”

    In 1986, Winnie Mandela wrote (in a manuscript inscription on a book she gave her) to her ‘dearest friend Helen’ and predicted, “One day the nation will honour your tremendous work – your fight for our human rights. You’ve always truly been one of us.” In 2007, Winnie Madikizela–Mandela again wrote calling her a “wonderful faithful loyal friend...not only for me but every black South African whose life you have touched.”

    In 1989, upon her retirement and while he was still incarcerated in Victor Verster Prison, Nelson Mandela paid tribute to Suzman in the following terms,“None can do more than her duty on earth. The countless tributes you received on your retirement from Parliament show that you acquitted yourself beyond words.”

    Mandela went on to recognise her important role in the demise of Apartheid and the emergence of a democratic South Africa.  In 1995, in a further manuscript inscription, he described her as a ‘redoubtable veteran of many campaigns’ and one ‘who has contributed impressively to the victory of the democratic forces of our country’.   In 1998, he wrote again, calling her “A world famous veteran freedom fighter who has earned enormous respect far beyond the borders of our country.”  In 2002, in a message for her 85th birthday, he paid tribute to her and noted that her “Courage, integrity and principled commitment to justice have marked you as one of the outstanding figures in the history of public life in South Africa” and to let her know “how fortunate our country feels for having had you as part of its public life and politics.” 

    These statements were made when Suzman was very much alive. They cannot be explained away by the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead.

    What did Suzman do to deserve this acknowledgement and praise? Were all of these freedom fighters mistaken? They were not.

    She stood up in Parliament and opposed Apartheid unequivocally.  For 13 years, she was the only MP to do so. She took on every Apartheid bill and subjected it to criticism of the most penetrating, detailed and coruscating kind. Utterly fearless and devastatingly articulate, she confronted the scores of Nationalist MPs and bullying ministers. She took them on, time after time, in speech after speech. Mothapo speaks nonsense when he seeks to imply that she supported bills that ‘limited the rights of black South Africans’.

    Contrary to Mothapo’s suggestion, she consistently opposed racial discrimination of any kind. She opposed the Tricameral Parliament in 1983 because it sought to permanently disenfranchise black South Africans. And, to avoid any doubt, her non-racial approach always extended to the franchise.  It is correct that, in the early days, her party was in favour of a franchise based on certain basic educational or property qualification. It was never one qualified by race, and from 1978, the party supported an entirely unqualified and universal adult franchise. Suzman was unwavering in her support for a Bill of Rights and the principle of the rule of law - defining features of our current liberal constitutional democracy.

    It is a matter of public record that she not merely vociferously opposed the use of violence by the Apartheid regime, but repeatedly exposed in Parliament many of its worst instances. 

    Indeed, one of Suzman’s most important contributions was to use her Parliamentary position to highlight the injustices and violence of Apartheid and bringing to light facts that would otherwise have been covered up. She did this by posing question after question in the House, thereby evading the censorship that then existed and bringing numerous iniquities to light. When told by a minister that her questions were an embarrassment to South Africa, she famously retorted that it was not her questions but his answers that were the cause of the embarrassment. She also famously and repeatedly called for Mandela’s release - as for so many other political prisoners. This is all recorded in Hansard.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, she used her Parliamentary position to assist the many victims of Apartheid. With her famous expression ‘go and see for yourself’, she purposefully went to see what was happening, and she acted on what she saw - often with crucial implications for people’s lives. In particular, she played an unparalleled role in visiting prisons and improving conditions for political prisoners. 

    Mr Mothapo refers to Anthony Sampson’s mention in his Authorized Biography of her disagreements with Nelson Mandela over the use of violence. But he omits to quote Mr Sampson’s other text: “Mandela was convinced that Suzman was basically on the prisoner’s side.  ‘It was an odd and wonderful sight’ he wrote, ‘to see this courageous woman peering into our cells and strolling around our courtyard’. Suzman reported back on the inhuman conditions...Soon afterwards...conditions began to improve.  The prisoner’s saw Suzman’s visit as a turning point: had she not come, wrote Neville Alexander, ‘there is no saying what might have happened’”.

    Her all-important visits to Robben Island, and the improvements in the prisoner’s lives that derived from them, were just the tip of the iceberg. She visited the banned and the banished.  She fought to obtain amnesties and passports and exit visas for countless political (and non political) prisoners. She pleaded for scores and scores of individuals who were victims of the pass laws and group areas and racial classification. She took up the causes of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. She used her powers of persuasion and threats of exposure with ministers and officials to obtain redress.  Her desk was a veritable harvest of the seeds of Apartheid and she worked tirelessly to try to help every one of those that sought her assistance, black, white or coloured, rich or poor, famous or unknown.  

    Mothapo suggests that she enjoyed the “comfort and privileges of the apartheid parliament.” This is a travesty of the truth. For her work in opposing Apartheid she was vilified and abused, in Parliament and out. Her phone was tapped, her letters opened; she received abusive phone calls and death threats. Hers was a difficult and immensely courageous stand.

    Suzman disagreed with the ANC about the use of violence and about the advisability of sanctions against South Africa. Like many other eminent liberals, she believed that economic development combined with peaceful mass action and union activity would be the more appropriate and effective means to hasten the demise of Apartheid. Whether they were right or wrong, is for historians to debate.  But these were differences about tactics, not about the desired objective.

    Mothapo cites a statement by Joe Slovo in 1983 that,"Mrs Suzman and I may both be against apartheid but we are certainly not both for liberation." It is not entirely clear what Slovo, a fearless fighter against Apartheid but also a supporter, then, of Soviet-style Communism meant by ‘liberation’. But, at least when it came to Mandela’s position, it is clear that, while differing on the methods of achieving it, they shared essentially the same objective. That objective was the creation of a non-racial and genuine democracy for South Africa, with basic freedoms and the Rule of Law. In July 1989, Mandela wrote to Suzman making this very point. He wrote: “The consistency with which you have defended the basic values of freedom of the rule of law over the last three decades has earned you the admiration of many South Africans. A wide gap still exists between the mass democratic movement and your party with regard to the method of attaining those values. But your commitment to a non-racial democracy in a united South Africa has won you many friends in the extra-parliamentary movement”.

    In the forward to her autobiography, Mandela records Suzman’s ‘magnificent battle against apartheid’ and, as recently as 2007, in a letter on her 90th birthday, he reiterated that her “role in the struggle against apartheid and in the building of democracy was an extraordinary one – one not easy to forget, and one that should never be forgotten.”  I therefore trust I am not alone in believing that Mothapo has misrepresented Suzman’s contribution. We should never forget her extraordinary public role, a role which should be celebrated by everyone in our democracy, including Mothapo.

    - Francis Antonie is director at the Helen Suzman Foundation.
    Francis Antonie
  • Manuel Criticised Over ‘Apartheid’ Comment

    The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) has placed some of the blame for service delivery problems on Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, after he raised concerns about the civil service.
    NEHAWU spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, points out that, "What he forgot to mention was that the current government has spent the last couple of years trying to reverse some of the disastrous policy positions that he championed as the Minister of Finance."
    Pamla is of the view that Manuel supported neo-liberal macro-economic policies, and privatisation, outsourcing and public-private partnerships that had proven ‘disastrous for the public sector’.
    To read the article titled, “Manuel lying about Apartheid,” click here.

  • ANC Slams NGOs for ‘Apartheid Denialism’

    The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal has dismissed claims by former president, FW De Klerk, that the party is responsible for the widening inequality gap in the country.

    The party’s provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, points out that, "The ANC...views De Klerk's comments as nothing more than a red herring to deflect attention from the shocking figures which were released by Stats SA [Statistics South Africa] as part of Census 2011 and which showed that white South Africans are still way better off economically than their fellow black compatriots."

    Zikalala, argues that the De Klerk Foundation is a proof that the discourse of apartheid denialism in South Africa is ‘in the ascendancy’, adding that apartheid did not end in 1994 when the democratic government took over.

    To read the article titled, “ANC: De Klerk foundation proof apartheid denialism 'in ascendency',” click here.

    Mail & Guardian
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