Letters to the editor: January 31 to February 6 2014

African migrants protesting against Israel's immigration policies in Tel Aviv. (Reuters)

African migrants protesting against Israel's immigration policies in Tel Aviv. (Reuters)

Tell us the real Middle East story

The problem with ­commentators such as Joseph Dana is their ­obsessive focus on minutiae to the exclusion of contextual events on the periphery and in the wider world.

Dana does not ask the obvious questions, such as why these unfortunate migrants walk the equivalent distance of Cape Town to the Angolan border, through burning, waterless deserts, dodging a civil war in the Sudan and Egyptian soldiers who use them for target practice, in order to seek succour in Israel, whose soldiers, far from killing them, provide food, water and medical care?

Dana parrots the view of other leaders in the West, who believe that Israel should adopt policies on immigration or continue to make concessions on matters that would never be tolerated in their own countries.

Dana's report is so obviously slanted, one would think that there is a paucity of stories coming out of the Middle East.

Take, for instance, United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who the other day insisted, disingenuously, that if President Bashar al-Assad would only leave power, everything would go well – especially for all of Syria's minorities: Druze, Christian, Ismailis and Alawites.

The problem with all this is that we have a precedent. We've seen this paradigm before and know precisely what happens once strongman ­dictators are deposed.

In all Middle East nations where the United States has intervened to help to topple dictators and bring democracy, it is precisely the minorities who suffer first. And neither the US nor "the world" does much about it.

After the US toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered and terrorised to near extinction, and dozens of their churches were bombed.

Ever since US-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, torture and killing have ruled. The world stands by and watches. Once the Muslim Brotherhood replaced Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the persecution of Copts ­practically became legalised, as unprecedented numbers of Christians – men, women, and children – were arrested.

If Dana really wants to write about the Middle East, why not highlight the plight of Christians, Copts and other minorities. Now that is a real story. ­– Rodney Mazinter, Cape Town

DA eerily quiet on important issues

The ANC election manifesto talks to some of the most critical issues affecting South Africa and offers practical proposals, the most critical of which is land reform, rural ­development and food security.

We are yet to see or hear the Democratic Alliance (DA) manifesto and one is tempted to believe that it is nonexistent. The party's intention to march to Luthuli House is a lame attempt at diversion.

No matter what gimmicks opposition parties like the DA produce, they will have to face up to the reality of the triple problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

They need to present solutions, but South Africans should not get excited, because after the embarrassing episode of the "black economic empowerment flip-flop saga", not much can be expected from the DA.

The DA should tell us what its manifesto says about the policy of willing buyer, willing seller with regard to land acquisition, which has clearly failed the country.

What will the DA/Mmusi Maimane manifesto say about the vulnerability of rural women to evictions, about rural development and land policies to tackle the underlying structure of the rural economy.

The DA should tell us its response to the trade and industry department's draft policy on intellectual property that attempts to roll back privatisation of knowledge and technology in critical areas for social development. It has been eerily quiet about most issues that affect most South Africans.

During the recent service delivery protests, Maimane went to black townships only to rebuke the ANC publicly, but offered no solutions.

The DA should know that it ­cannot fool all the people all the time. – Mothusi Mongale, Soweto

Make party funding transparent 

I wish to respond to your editorial "Stop the rot of secret party funding". We can only guess how rotten the situation really is. When political parties are secretly funded, the benefactors of the party can influence policy, corrupt procurement and even nominate who should serve in the Cabinet, as we suspect is happening at the moment.

If the secret funding situation was not so mutually rewarding for the political elite and private interests – acting in cahoots – leaders of all political parties would have been very amenable to [what the editorial calls] "visible formal lobbying [that] can be regulated, controlled, organised and by its success … banish the backroom influencing that is currently the norm".

That South Africa needs party-political funding regulation fast is incontestable. ANC, are you prepared to make party funding transparent? – Mosiuoa Lekota, president, Congress of the People

Calling an isiZulu spade a Zulu spade

As one who respects advocate Paul Hoffmann SC for his incisive opinions, I was surprised at his use of "isiZulu" in his letter on "Voters should be aware of Mbeki's fears about Zuma".

Surely ethnicity – if that is the correct term in this instance – has no place in English journalism. The Mail & Guardian seems to make a habit of this in its reporting.

M&G presumably would always write "German" and "Spanish" when referring to those languages. Therefore, writing "isiZulu" in an English-language newspaper makes no sense, unless the M&G has a peculiar editorial policy in this regard. – Sam J Basch, Pretoria

It's certainly a controversial policy. We invite further discussion. – Ed



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