climate justice

climate justice

  • Green Ultra Right Bombers

    So if you are wondering why the long silence since the post last week, well…I am in Durban after all, where things tend to move a little slower than Joburg and about as fast as Cape Town. And it has been busy: the ‘People’s Space’ at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), mostly at the initiative of Patrick Bond, has taken off and is always buzzing with energy, people and a whole herd of news crews from local and international media. There are activists, socialists, NGO people, more activists and a whole bunch of artists as well, mostly thanks to the Climate Train initiative and the great crew that was on board that long trip around South Africa to Durban.

    The ‘occupy space’ has also been buzzing and you should take a look at the video post from the Ambush Collective who descended upon it and built a wonderful garden for the future. Which brings us neatly to another aspect of the ‘occupy space’ in Durban. It is not your classic people-driven occupy, but rather a city approved space for people to occupy during COP17, which was negotiated with the city by the civil society representatives on the C17. It is in that sense a new kind of occupy, a government approved and temporary allowance for people to express and engage.  While there are so many ideological issues with such a concept, I am trying to be brave and creative enough to let go off those issues and ideas of occupy as we know it from OWS and focus on what has been happening there and maybe, some thinking about what may come of it post COP17. So far, nothing has come of the ‘occupy space’ since the march on Saturday, 3 December 2011 and in the words of my colleague, John Treat, it is now de-funked, which may go some way towards debunking the myth that international NGOs (INGOs) are capable of hijacking the occupy idea. That is something we should all be very grateful for.

    And that is pretty much where I feel we can leave this blog as it seems that my assertion that NGOs and other movements in civil society will try to co-opt and cannibalise the ideals and methods of occupy for their current agendas was in fact prescient – but, I feel that maybe I am being too harsh on the people and processes in SA. And there is good reason to be kinder to our levels of (dis)organisation and the nuances of our political history which make engagements with the SA government a challenge fraught with tensions and high-drama instead of a simple critical intellectual engagement and consensus building on moving forward.

    The how and why we are here mired in this stalemate is the subject of not just another blog but of several issuances from academics to cartoonists, locally and across the know universe. Yet, we as people of this nation and across all sectors seem unwilling to be brave enough to change or are too content with this divided society we are building. Or maybe it is simply that we do not care enough about how we work or fail to. Almost all conversations with locals and visitors alike tend to lead back to the question of leadership and lack thereof among civil society organisations as the key weakness in our ability to engage critically and effectively with government. And I tend to agree, though I still hold that the concept of an apex representative structure for civil society that is recognised by government is not just outmoded but also potentially harmful to the growth of ideas that manifest as ideals and changes to the stark poverty and inequality in SA. But going back to agreeing with the notion that there is a lack of leadership in the sector and what some sober and principled leadership can achieve: for a start it may help with my desire to see a better engagement process than the current hobbled together rigmarole of government doing things, civil society organisations responding negatively to it and inevitably a court process to find a better solution. I find it baffling that, in a country with a globally lauded Constitution and a rich pool of intellectual talent, we are seemingly constantly finding ourselves at loggerheads with each other over things that, at first glance at least, seem pretty obvious or common sense. A good example is the demands around climate secrets by Right2Know and while the demands themselves make for interesting reading, the fact that we must demand these things, seems to me that the ideals of the Freedom Charter are somehow being lost in this transition to a form of capitalist sanctioned democracy we are building… but maybe that is a blog for another day.
    The march on 3 December was a great show of both strength and courage from a range of people and organisations not willing to be boxed into corners by a government that is increasingly moving further right in the way it treats its people. The use of what Rehad Desai calls the “Green Bombers” to intimidate other allegedly anti-government civil society groups was an appalling act of machismo and it is worth reading Rehad’s post about the incident on Facebook.

    I am reminded of the outburst from former President Thabo Mbeki about the ‘ultra-leftists’ and how perceptions of political allegiance and positioning are really just perspectives. Maybe Mbeki did not realise how far right he had moved and thus some people did seem to him to be ultra left. Which is pretty much where we seem to be going with the COP17 process. The current deal period is about to expire in 2012 and with no deal here in Durban, it just means that we will have to deal with what is left, instead of doing what is right.

    - Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.

  • Response of the NPA to the Acquittal of the Police Officers in the Andries Tatane Murder Case

    The response of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to the acquittal of the police officers in the Andries Tatane murder case does little to restore confidence in the National Prosecuting Authority. Adv Thoko Majokweni, a Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions announced that the State will not appeal against the acquittal of the accused in the Tatane case.

    The weak response from the NPA seeks to shift the blame for the acquittal of the police officers to the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID). The response does little to suggest that the NPA did everything possible to ensure a successful prosecution. The NPA did not, for example, reveal why they did not pursue the unedited film footage from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC); they merely state that the edited footage was not admitted as evidence.

    The NPA attribute the failure of the prosecution to the unreliability of witnesses and the strength of the investigation conducted by the IPID; they also suggest that IPID intimidated the witnesses to ‘co-operate with the IPID investigation. One would have thought that police officers are under a duty to be truthful and to ensure that the law is respected, even by fellow police officers.

    In a scene that epitomises the confusion reigning in the NPA, two versions of the NPA media statement were circulating at the media briefing; the earlier version suggested that those police officers who ‘recanted’ their initial statements to IPID when giving testimony would not be charged with perjury because they had not deliberately lied under oath. However just before addressing the media the NPA had a change of heart and announced that they will be launching an investigation into whether perjury charges should be preferred against the two police officers who changed their stories.

    CASAC chairperson, Sipho Pityana said:

    “This last minute about-turn was obviously intended to provide a fig-leaf behind which the NPA could hide its gaping embarrassment at having failed to successfully prosecute the case against the police officers who killed Andries Tatane, and which the whole world witnessed on its TV screens. This is too little too late and will not placate the nation and the family of Andries Tatane.”

    The suspicion is ripe among many South Africans that there has been collusion between the SAPS, IPID and the NPA to frustrate the prosecution of the police officers in this case.There is little to suggest that the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the NPA did all they could in this case. As is becoming evident from the testimony of National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, the SAPS will do everything to protect their own, and to avoid any political, managerial or criminal liability for transgressions by members of SAPS.

    Will anyone be held accountable for the murder of Andries Tatane?

    This case also brings into focus once again the effectiveness of the National Prosecuting Authority, a key institution in the criminal justice system. It is five and a half years since the NPA had a properly appointed permanent National Director of Public Prosecutions when Adv Vusi Pikoli was at the helm. Since then we have seen Acting NDPP Adv Mokotedi Mpshe, the invalid appointment of Menzi Simelane and now another Acting NDPP in the form of Adv Nongcobo Ziba.

    It is time that President Jacob Zuma appoints a properly qualified, fit and proper person to lead the NPA and restore the faith of the public in this institution to bring criminal cases competently, and without fear, favour or prejudice. Failure to do so will lead to further erosion of the rule of law in South Africa.


    Lawson Naidoo
    Tel: 021 685 2364 / 8809

    For more about the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, refer to

    To view other NGO press releases, refer to

    Date published: 
    Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
  • Occupy Movement for COP17

    Inspired by the Occupy Wall St movement, protesters calling for ‘climate justice’ are set to gather at the opening of UN climate talks in Durban, according to organisers.

    Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, points out that, "A meeting at the 'Speaker's Corner' will be called, an assembly," referring to a spot near the venue of the COP17.

    Bond, who is associated with the largely youth-driven initiative, states that, "Negotiations have begun with the city on an authorised protest space."

    To read the article titled, “Occupy movement comes to COP17,” click here.

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