Letters to the editor: January 3 to 9 2014

Hitching a ride on Juju's train

Andile Mngxitama's world view is that of a racist ("Basson just part of apartheid food chain", November 29 2013). It doesn't matter if you are PW, FW or ET. It doesn't matter if you are Dr Death or Samantha Vice, Patrick Craven or Jeremy Cronin. If you are white and born after 1652, you "share the burden with all white society", you are guilty of making blacks suffer.

Of course "Dr Death" Wouter Basson and countless others, foot soldiers and top leaders – the lot – should have been severely dealt with a long time ago. After all, there has been a "black" government in power for 20 years.

We read in the same edition of the Mail & Guardian that apartheid torture cop Stephan "Steven" Whitehead has been doing business with the government for 20 years. White people are now trying to bring him to book for causing the death of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett, because the government hasn't.

Why have the "historical injustices" of which Mngxitama speaks not been addressed? Might it be that our ruling politicians spend all their time and energy covering themselves with gravy on the train? With an average of R600-billion in their coffers each year for 20 years, did they grow the economy and repair apartheid's economic and psychological damage? Deliver some services? – as Japan did, as Germany did, as Brazil is now able to do, as India and even as Mozambique did?

No, they did not. They gave some welfare grants to shut up "their" people and organised the rest for the black-empowerment bigwigs to snack on.

Now Mngxitama is at home with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which is headed by Julius Malema, who lost his mansion in Sandton – and a whole lot more – when he was kicked off the gravy train. So is he any different from the others who are corrupt and rip off the people?

Mngxitama presents the pillars of the EFF programme: return stolen land without compensation, nationalise mineral wealth and democratically "redistribute it to end squalid black life".

Heard that before? It has been given practical expression in the black diamonds' rape of Aurora, the ending of "squalid black life" in Zimbabwe through land redistribution and in South Africa by the Goldfields share distribution to figures such as Baleka Mbete. No, Malema is no different from these "diamonds", and is probably even worse.

Will Mngxitama's black apartheid take us somewhere better than white apartheid did? It won't, and he knows it won't. He is just bitter and twisted because he missed the gravy train the first time around; he's hoping to get on it when Juju's new train pulls into the station. His ticket for the first-class lounge will read: "Proven racist". – Senyah

Obama honours one great political fighter but ignores another

I write from the Bronx, New York. As a Puerto Rican who lived in South Africa for a while and visited several times, I embrace you as you mourn and celebrate the life of Tata Nelson Mandela.

We have our own political prisoner, "Tata" Oscar López Rivera. He is 70 years old and has served 32 years in a United States prison for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico, a colony of the US since 1898. He was charged with "seditious conspiracy", a similar crime to that with which the apartheid government charged Mandela. Rivera is one of the longest-held political prisoners in the world. 

What makes me angry is that thousands of letters and protests have been sent to US President Barack Obama, begging him to pardon Riviera and let him finally go home – but to no avail.

I saw the contradictions so clearly when Obama was in South Africa to honour Mandela. According to Obama, his political awakening began when he protested against South Africa's apartheid.

So how can he seriously honour Madiba when he refuses to release Rivera? – Mili Bonilla

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