October 20 to 26 2006

Motsepe can buy success

I found Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya’s article (”Motsepe is bad for soccer”, October 13) damaging and ignorant.

Before Patrice Motsepe entered the game, South Africa’s professional players were earning as little as R2 000. Today the standard of local football has improved and players are earning better salaries.

Yes, Motsepe has changed coaches often, but this is because he is an intelligent businessman who does not want Sundowns to be second best.

He has also pumped millions into the development of football through the Kay Motsepe Cup.

Moya was one of the journalists who wrote off Sundowns when Motsepe bought players. They said money can’t buy success, but the team went on to win the league.

Moya talks about Peter Ndlovu without mentioning good buys such as José Torrealba and Dillon Sheppard. He goes further to say that Gordon Igesund’s hat-trick of league titles was not pretty. What an insult! If anyone is ignorant about football, it is Moya. — Sky is the limit

Moya’s article is brilliant, brave and constructive. If there was anything to tap South Africa’s corporate interest in the game, it was the well-argued mathematics of soccer that Moya gave us.

Motsepe’s money is indeed good for soccer, but his hands-on approach is bad for the game.

One good point about the article is that it brings about a paradigm shift in soccer writing. It balances the negative trend of highlighting flops.

I take off my hat to Moya; his contribution is most likely giving the darling of affluence free food for thought. — Khaba Mkhize, Pietermaritzburg

Leave marriage to the church

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya, a Christian, should know better (”Render unto Caesar”, October 13). The church’s first submission and loyalty is to the Bible, not to the Constitution.

Where the Constitution deviates from the Bible, the Bible takes prece­dence. The obvious reason being that the Bible is God-breathed and its truth never-changing, whereas the Constitution is the product of fallible humans. No Christian church can therefore, without losing all credibility, bless a union between two homosexuals as a marriage.

”Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” should indeed be the approach to same-sex unions, although probably not the way Moya suggests.

Give the same-sex unions to the government, but leave the real marriages to the church. God would not want it any other way. — Robert de Neef, Howick

Moya argues that marriage, in the eyes of the state, is a legalistic tool, albeit an act of worship for the church. Therefore, he says, Christianity should ”give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”. The state must ignore the Bible and uphold the constitutional right of gay people to marry.

Regrettably, we live in a state that places the judiciary above religion, above God and above democracy. The institution of marriage between a man and a woman pre-dates the Bible, the church and the state — but our judiciary believes it must redefine it. The Human Sciences Research Council tell us that 79% of the population has expressed the view that same-sex marriage is wrong. The church has a duty to speak out against (the increasingly legalised) moral decay within our society. While we will continue to pay our taxes, we cannot do so silently, and we will continue to place God above state — regardless. — Mike Ward, Waverley


I was disappointed with the manner in which I was treated by your publication last Friday. The prominent use of my picture in relation to a story (”Armscor chief linked to R400m fraud”) that was essentially not about me defies logic. I would have thought the use of the pictures of the main characters in the story — Ernest Khosa, Kedibone Mashamaite and Sipho Thomo — would have been the obvious choice.

I was not contacted by your journalist prior to the publication of the story, presumably because it was apparent to her that I am not the main subject of the story. But whoever saw it fit to use my picture so notably obviously thought otherwise. The use of my picture next to a headline that talks about an alleged R400-million fraud and the Armscor chief executive is not the kind of journalism I would expect from the M&G. I feel aggrieved by such treatment.

I have silently suffered such treatment by the M&G in the past. In the two or three stories the paper has carried about me, not once was I contacted by your journalists. I know I might have offended some of my erstwhile colleagues in journalism when I took certain positions in the past and that to some I remain a pariah of sorts. But even former apartheid murderers and spies are given an opportunity to explain themselves. Surely I deserve better? — Vusi Mona

M&G shows SABC how it’s done

Congratulations to the Mail & Guardian on doing what every credible news medium should be doing on a matter of public interest (”Inside the SABC blacklist report”, October 13).

The fact that the SABC released only an abridged version of the report does not inspire confidence in the organisation.

The correct thing to do — in terms of the SABC’s own editorial code — would be to provide an objective report on the entire process and outcomes of the inquiry into the blacklist.

This matter shows that the M&G continues the brave tradition of fearless investigative journalism, something that is only evident occasionally at the SABC.

Let’s see if SABC news is now brave enough to air this matter in full, including debate with SABC representatives and informed commentators, so that the public can fully understand what is happening at the broadcaster.

What happens at the SABC affects all of us. Given the organisation’s history as a medium of propaganda prior to 1994, the public should be vigilant to ensure we are never hoodwinked again.

Well done, M&G, for leading by example. — Dimitri Martinis, Johannesburg

The same SABC that recently asked the courts to broadcast the trial of Schabir Shaik does not want us to see the report on the blacklist. It is an irony.

We would have hoped that the SABC would realise that gagging opinion-makers is of public concern.

It is typical behaviour by our media institutions. They all think the laws of plurality are okay as long as the views concerned do not contradict their own. — Phillip Musekwa, Germiston

Who is morally blind?

Why would a sophisticated academic like Mike Berger regurgitate the usual spin under the slanderous heading ”Adam encourages extremists” (Letters, October 13)? Our book, Seeking Mandela, focuses on how Middle Eastern extremists could be drawn into a peace process à la South Africa. Such peaceful coexistence remains a pipe-dream as long as the Jewish state occupies Arab areas and Israel’s adversaries call for its annihilation. Such threats merely reinforce hardline attitudes in Israel. Yet, a contextual moral judgement ought not exculpate one side, as Berger does.

Berger blatantly asserts: ”Israel did not attack Lebanon” while most impartial observers considered the response to the reckless provocation by Hizbullah ”disproportionate”. During the past six years many mutual skirmishes and kidnappings took place along the volatile Israeli-Lebanese border. They were solved diplomatically or through bartering of prisoners. Israel could also have retaliated on a small scale. Instead, the massive Israeli devastation of Lebanon was a war of choice. The Bush administration encouraged Israel to eliminate an Iranian proxy. Even patriotic Israeli papers editorialise about ”a war whose necessity remains uncertain” (Ha’aretz, October 13).

While Hizbullah’s firing of rockets against Israeli civilians constitutes a war crime, Berger denies Israel’s equally reprehensible actions, because it had dropped leaflets warning civilians to leave. What does Berger call a cluster bomb — a large percentage of whose 660 bomblets remain unexploded after the civilians return? The New York Times (October 6) reports that as of September 28 more than 200 people, mostly children, had already been maimed or killed by these devices, which even the US restricts to be used only against armies in non-populated areas.

Berger laments the sin of ”moral blindness” by equating the ”extraordinary Zionist enterprise” with those who seek its destruction. However, the currently dominant expansionist Zionism destroys itself morally by relying on militarism rather than negotiations. Strong, emotive solidarity notwithstanding, Israel’s uncritical supporters in the diaspora do the Jewish state a disservice by blindly reinforcing disastrous policies. Israel needs more friends to convey some uncomfortable truths. With sycophants among both Jews and Muslims, the extremists on both sides do not need encouragement to engage in permanent warfare. — Heribert Adam

State must not play God

Pumla Dineo Gqola (”Welcome to the slippery slope”, September 29) misunderstands Azapo president Mosibudi Mangena’s views in his congress address some weeks ago. She says his sentiments amount to hate speech and jar with the Constitution.

There can be no doubt of Mangena’s commitment to democracy, which includes the right to question developments and to have a counter- view. This is not hate speech.

Across the political spectrum I have heard some say that the struggle was not about the ”social deviancy” we are witnessing today.

That is why issues such as the death penalty and corporal punishment will remain contentious as we grapple with understanding and interpreting our liberties. Public discourse on these matters must not be used to launch assaults on the integrity of those who express their views.

The question Mangena posed was whether the Constitution or the judiciary define and serve the people and their culture or whether it is the other way round. Ultimately, is it proper for us to have this world-acclaimed document if it does not find expression in the people themselves?

Azapo has previously challenged some of the fundamental principles and interpretations of the Constitution — it has not limited itself to same-sex marriages.

The Constitutional Court has erred in not considering the right of what seems to be a majority on this matter. It is dictating to society on matters such as morality, values and culture.

Azapo’s president was correct to suggest the matter must be left to the country to decide. Neither the state and its courts nor the church must play God on this matter. — Mpumelelo Toyise, secretary for political education, Azapo Gauteng

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