/ 21 September 2018

Letters to the Editor: September 21 to 27

Line of fire: Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab after a United States-led coalition strike.
Line of fire: Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab after a United States-led coalition strike. (Aris Messinis/AFP)

Rise up against violence

I am one of those South Africans who is angry and deeply saddened by the brutal murder last week of 24-year-old teacher Gadimang Mokolobate from Mahikeng, in Dinokana village near Zeerust, the birth and resting place of one of the greatest Black Consciousness student leaders and heroes, Onkgopotse Tiro.

What makes me even angrier is the fact that little is done by authorities to guarantee the safety of those who want to be taught and learn, and those who want to teach.

It is not enough for us to justify any dastardly incident like this and only resort to endless condemnation, media statements and blaming it all on our horrible and violent past. All I know is that Mokolobate’s family and loved ones will never see him alive again — but his spirit will certainly continue to live on and inspire many teachers to carry the torch for a better society to arise.

We need to get rid of the anger and violence that we see in our schools and communities on a daily basis. I believe that it is through the promotion of an education that instils a sense of responsibility, respect for life, dignity, self-respect, patriotism and solidarity in our communities that we will make it very difficult for delinquents, druglords, criminals and thugs to thrive in our society. The only place criminals and thugs belong is prison, not in any educational and academic environment.

We are often so angry with ourselves that we loathe everything about ourselves and everyone around us and always find it so convenient to blame it all on colonialism and apartheid, when we have all the power to make a difference in our communities by becoming active citizens.

We also need to ask ourselves about the role of the parents in the education of a black child. If they are a bunch of those uncaring and useless parents, why we have not asked the question: Do they deserve the honour of being called parents?

There is certainly an urgent need for psychological liberation within black communities and for black solidarity to be intensified. The need has never been more urgent; it should be the bedrock upon which a more caring, humane and egalitarian society should be based, as eloquently espoused by Steve Biko, the founding father of the Black Consciousness Movement.

Although politically we have been in power for the past 24 years, by and large we still remain psychologically impoverished. The extent of the damage caused by many years of colonialism and apartheid to the minds of black people cannot be underestimated.

However, we have had a solid 24 years to unshackle ourselves from this horrible culture of violence and the acceptance of mediocrity to at least re-educate ourselves to be more human than we were yesterday.

For those of us who are true patriots and law-abiding citizens in our various communities, we have no other choice but to organise ourselves and rise up in memory of Mokolobate and the many other teachers out there who currently feel dejected and helpless in this abnormal society of ours. — Lesego Sechaba Mogotsi, member of the Azanian People’s Organisation committee on publicity and information, Tshwane

When it’s the US, it’s not a ‘red-line’ attack

Who decides where the red line will be drawn in Syria? Is it the “international community”, which is any group of countries siding with the United States? Why is a chemical attack promoted as a red-line incident? Is it because a chemical attack is so easy to fabricate and so easy to commit and then pass blame to another party (meaning Bashar al-Assad)?

When the “mother of all bombs” was dropped in Afghanistan and the country was being used, in the words of its former president Hamid Karzai, as a “testing ground for new and dangerous weapons”, there was no talk of a red line. A 9 525kg bomb dropped on a region of Afghanistan is no cause for concern. The white phosphorus used by Israel against citizens in Gaza is no cause for concern. White phosphorus is presumably not a chemical weapon. Waterboarding isn’t torture, according to US officials,although Japanese soldiers were executed after World War II for waterboarding US prisoners of war and chemical weapons were used extensively during the Vietnam War.

But I’m beginning to understand now that when it’s done by the US it isn’t a red-line moment. What the US does is always good and what other countries, those opposing the US, do is always bad, even though the actions of both sides differ only in severity. We all know which country is the biggest transgressor when it comes to the use of chemical weapons and torture. The media knows,but of course there is no cause for concern and no red line in sight. — Louis Shawcross, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

Don’t flinch, criticise double standards

When the South African government went along with the Zimbabwean government’s proposed removal of the Southern African Development Community Tribunal’s jurisdiction over cases brought by individuals, numerous South African media commentators condemned this.

But when the United States government goes further, threatening to sanction International Criminal Court officials, those commentators offer only a deafening silence.

The Mail &Guardian stands alone in publishing Kelly-Jo Bluen’s thought piece, “Bolton’s ICC attack is same old US stance” (September 14), criticising the US. Keep up your independence and even-handedness. — Keith Gottschalk, Cape Town

Make SA attractive to foreign business

[Regarding] “China gifts SA with R370bn”, the prospects of South Africa “growing” by itself has never really been an option. We are intimately tied to the global economy. We desperately need foreign capital to propel growth.

South Africa has failed to do much to attract foreign investment, at times appearing downright hostile to our trading and investment partners.

As for relations with China, they are to be welcomed. But beware: ever since the Greeks left a large wooden horse at the gates of Troy, a healthy measure of caution is advisable in any diplomatic exchange.

More important than positive engagements with the world is merely making the pragmatic choices and policy decisions that will make South Africa an attractive place to do business. Without doing so, there is truly no way we will ever achieve anything like the growth we need for the developmental success we crave. There is something perverse in calling for a stimulus —with foreign money —while threatening investment with expropriation without compensation.

As Dr Mark Mobius, then of Franklin Templeton Investments, once remarked: “They’ve got to make South Africa a much more attractive place for investment … I’m not only talking about foreign investment. I’m talking about local investment.” — Terence Corrigan, Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg