May 19 – May 26 2006

Glaring holes in judgement

There are glaring gaps in the ruling of the learned judge in the Jacob Zuma rape case:

  • Malume is a brother to one’s sister. The relationship between malume and umshana (niece/nephew) is closer than fatherly — it is maternalistic.
  • In Zulu culture, adults parent every child in the community. And someone who is your comrade, who shared 10 years with you on Robben Island, is not an inch from your brother — you would care for his family as if they were yours. The rape complainant had a socialised responsibility to revere JZ as a father, to whom she could turn with her problems.

Zuma, given our respect for the dead, betrayed his closest of friends … a dead friend, atamfulathela amadlozi. Knowing the woman’s instability, he took advantage of her confusion. Her father must be turning in his grave. How can friends and comrades trust Zuma with one of their own in future? — Ngqu

Thank you, Pumla Dineo Gqola (”Bleeding on the streets of South Africa”, May 12), for articulating what I felt after the judgement. I could not explain why I felt so depressed. I had hoped against hope that, like the drunk victim in The Accused and the unstable victim in Nuts, an imperfect victim could be vindicated. — A Bam, Johannesburg

South Africa has lost the idiot plethora of ”rape spokespersons” who advocate that all alleged rapists are guilty until proved innocent. We have the Zuma judgement to thank for that. — Carl Werth, Pretoria

The judge found Zuma would have been concerned that the complainant might cry out and be heard. However, the state agreed that Zuma expected consensual sex, but that the complainant then said ”no”.

How often does fantasy, desire and arrogance combine to create the assumption that a woman desires sex, leading a man to override her actual wishes? — Mike Atkins, Durban

It was interesting that none of the black male commentators in last week’s Mail & Guardian strongly condemned Zuma, or doubted the validity of the verdict. — Alex Myers, Cape Town

Rudyard, paternalistic snob

might have said to our Jacob:

If only you’d controlled your lusts

If only you’d condomised your thrusts

If only you hadn’t taken that shower

You’d still have been a man of power.

Mari Wessels, Cape Town

It is deceitful and irresponsible for someone like Gqola, a university professor, to say war is being waged against black women because Zuma was found not guilty, instead of analysing whether justice took place.

If the woman was raped, people should blame the state, not the judge, who must find on what is before him. — Luther Lebelo, Midrand

I and my daughters had the same experience in court 20 years ago — the victim became the accused. It was more damaging than healing, and I do not know if I would go to court again. — H Langenberg, Wolseley

The African National Congress Youth League’s Zizi Kodwa blinkered and blustering support ignores what the court case showed us of Zuma (”A brood of fangless vipers in the mass media”, May 12). His behaviour was utterly misogynistic; it was not in the name of cultural mores he acted, but in defiance of them. — Trivern H Ramjettan, Johannesburg

President Thabo Mbeki wants the next president to be a woman. My view is that we do not need a male or female president, but someone who is competent and has been nominated and elected through the structures of the ANC. — Phillip Musekwa

How sad

it is that

today when we

sing and dance

another mourns

and is exiled

by our celebrations

Have we not (yet)

come back

from our exile?

David Kapp

Chauvinism is alive and well! — Judith Shopley, Johannesburg

It is about time that South Africans learned that if a charge is laid against someone it does not mean that person is guilty. Zuma’s apology should be fully accepted by all South Africans. — Mzukisi Ronyuza, Boipatong

The media’s prophets of doom, like Ferial Haffajee, Mondli Makhanya and Mathatha Tsedu, and many other political ”analysts”, will have to thoroughly examine their consciences to assess whether they have served our Constitution by feeding South Africa journalistic poison. They have all vilified and criminalised Zuma. — Lindani Gcwensa, Centurion

Rational? How dare you!

Sibani Mngadi, the health mini-ster’s spin doctor, calls me and Mark Heywood of the Aids Law Project the ”rational and reasonable” lot in the Treatment Action Campaign. I am offended. I have a reputation to defend and, dammit, I will. I have always prided myself on being anything but rational and reasonable.

Anyone who works with me knows that I am a foolish, hotheaded lawyer who thrives on being unreasonable, especially in court. Maybe it is my diet — too much chilli.

For Mngadi to suggest Zackie Achmat is a spoiler is rich, given the minister’s own intransigence on countless occasions — even recorded by our appeal and constitutional courts.

As for Sipho Mthathi, her youthful days are over unless Sibani has changed the definition of township youth. To suggest the TAC’s members and volunteers are drawn to the metropole by ”Proudly HIV” T-shirts is a joke that underestimates the depth of understanding of poor people.

Sorry Sibani, you’ve got it all wrong. Read the TAC constitution, join a branch, see how black women in the TAC are leading and deciding how this social movement will pursue the values in our Constitution (remember that document?), especially life and health, over profit and dangerous foolishness.

They, not Zackie, Mark or Sipho, decided to embark on civil disobedience against a murderous policy. They lined up to be willingly arrested even before TAC ”leaders” had their morning coffee or, ahem, chilli. — Fatima Hassan

Sibani, thanks for your insightful analysis of the TAC. Now I know it is divided into ”reasonable whites and Indians”, ”troublemaking coloureds” and ”unthinking blacks”.

As a white, aspirant marathon runner who works for the Aids Law Project, am I in Heywood’s camp? Or as an openly gay man who enjoys a good fight, let alone an opportunity to ”destabilise our democracy”, am I part of Achmat’s gang? Or as an African (are we not all Africans?), driven by my passion to deal with HIV/Aids, am I one of Mthathi’s ”useful idiots”?

Perhaps I am too stupid to care. In which case, kindly advise me on how to deal with a pressing matter — Matthias Rath. Should I:

  • As part of the ” rational” faction, allow the honourable doctor to conduct his experiments only on ”lesser humans”, such as prisoners and asylum seekers with HIV? They’re not getting access to ARVs anyway, so why not high doses of vitamin supplements?
  • As part of the ”T-shirt wearing, rent-a-crowd faction”, be concerned that the promotion of scientifically proven medicines undermines the dignity of Africans, offer to recruit further trial participants outside the Cape Town townships?
  • Or, as part of the TAC’s ”extremist rejectionist faction”, take all legal means necessary to ensure that the Health Department’s law enforcement unit, under the minister and director general’s guidance, use the laws passed by Parliament to stop Rath and his merry band from exacerbating a public health crisis? — Jonathan Berger, Interim Chairperson ‒ Gay Jewish Men’s Faction, TAC

A fat cat revolutionary

Given that Sandile Memela is the Ministry of Arts and Culture spokesperson, one must conclude that his childish smear of Xolela Mangcu, Sipho Seepe, Rhoda Kadalie, Tim Modise, Vuyo Mbuli, Console Tleane, Aubrey Matshiqi and myself as ”coconut intellectuals, black outside, white inside” (”Black brainpower”, May 5) is the ministry’s view.

Or is it? He seems to suffer from a profound identity crisis. He claims to be a ”revolutionary intellectual”; does his ”revolution” supersede the Constitution he has sworn to uphold?

He further illustrates his confusion by describing himself as an ”independent government intellectual”. He doesn’t know whether he is a public servant or a free agent. He is not certain whether he is a government propagandist, a revolutionary ideologue — or just a bored bureaucrat unsure of what to do with his tax-funded time.

Thirty years ago Wilfred McClay characterised his mentality: he is one of those functionaries who ”willingly serve as apologists for the powers that be, surrendering their independence of mind for the thrill of an executive suite, a government title, and the promise of power”.

He chides me for not supporting the ”democratic government to carry out and fulfil its mandate”. He wants me to support it not because its policies, programmes, and delivery are sound, but because of skin colour.

He laments that I am reinforcing, rather than dismantling, racist and capitalist assumptions. How? Which ”assumptions”? I must dismantle capitalism — yet the government he serves has no intention of dismantling it! And what does he think should replace it?

Does he also want me to ”dismantle” the (capitalist) BEE-geoisie? But would I not be dismantling the dreams of some of his bureaucratic colleagues, who are wannabe BEE-llionaires?

Memela complains that people like me are only concerned about corruption, Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma. But President Thabo Mbeki is constantly warning against corruption in government — does Memela condemn him also?

Sadly, Memela is ignorant even in areas where he ought to know something. He does not know, for instance, that it was not Steve Biko who made the clarion call ”Black man you are on your own”. When he is so ill-informed, how can one take him seriously? — Themba Sono, MPL, Gauteng legislature

Ghana mine article misleads

In his article on the social responsibility work of Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti in Ghana (April 7), Thebe Mabanga creates confusion by failing to point out that the towns and mines he writes about are a good 100km from each other.

The Gold Fields mines are in the Tarkwa area, mined by several mining companies, including AngloGold Ashanti. Iduapriem is directly affected by an AngloGold Ashanti mine in the Tarkwa area. Obuasi is located in an area where Gold Fields does not mine.

The description of Gold Fields’s infrastructure projects is also misleading. Although the company has built the maternity ward in Tarkwa town, most of its infrastructure projects (at least 24 last year) are directed at villages adjacent to, and most affected by, Gold Fields-operated mines. These are not part of Tarkwa town itself. Indeed, ”the brick buildings stand out like sore thumbs among the mud and wood of this shanty town” could not refer to Tarkwa, which is anything but a ”mud and wood shanty town”.

Apart from the palm oil project, Gold Fields has implemented other agricultural alternative livelihood projects, and last year launched a $35-million Sustainable Community Empowerment and Economic Development Programme, which focuses on economic growth, wealth creation, quality-of-life improvement and empowerment through education, capacity building and infrastructure development. This will directly benefit communities affected by the Tarkwa and Damang mines. — Gwendolyn Wellmann


Richard Calland alleges Tony Leon does not care about the Constitution’s socio- economic rights, citing one speech on the Constitution where he did not discuss them (May 12).

Leon has addressed such rights in countless speeches and statements. They are the subject of his newsletter this week.

In 2003, when Leon tried to address the issue in a parliamentary debate called by the DA, he was shouted down by ANC hecklers. Calland apparently endorses the twisted ANC perspective that the DA is not entitled to speak about such issues.

I believe Calland’s obvious anti-pathy towards the DA compromises Idasa’s independence. — Joel Pollak, Office of the Leader of the Opposition

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