Letters to the Editor: November 30 to December 6

Equal Education's co-founder Doron Isaacs (David Harrison/M&G)

Equal Education's co-founder Doron Isaacs (David Harrison/M&G)

Little parties like the PAC do matter

In “Is it rational to vote for one of the big three?”, Eusebius McKaiser made a case for why voters should not vote for the ANC, the Democratic Alliance or the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and suggested that voters consider other political parties.

People may disagree with the reasons McKaiser gave — I certainly don’t agree with his politics — but his suggestion on considering voting for political parties other than the big three makes sense.

My problem with McKaiser is that he didn’t factor in the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) because these organisations don’t exist in his vocabulary.

In his response to McKaiser’s article, Mathew Blatchford (“Eusebius has an agenDA”), also didn’t factor in the PAC and Azapo because he writes: “In effect, McKaiser is asking us to waste our votes, because the tiny parties have no policies worthy of mention and can only cling to the DA under the special circumstances prevailing in some big municipalities. The forthcoming election is provincial and national, where the tiny parties have no effect at all.”

A vote for the PAC or Azapo is not a wasted vote. The PAC and Azapo have cogent policies.
They are not tiny organisations because their strengths can’t be measured by an electoral system presided over by an ANC government, which was installed in government by the West by a rigged 1994 election.

The PAC and Azapo have not formed alliances and coalitions with the DA. In this regard, McKaiser and Blatchford are wrong.

Both McKaiser’s article and Blatchford’s letter have glaring shortcomings and are contradictory. For example, McKaiser wrote about not being nostalgic about the historical roots of our main parties on the one hand and the DA being silent and shockingly tone-deaf about the experiences of the black majority and the connections between our colonial past and present on the other.

A survey conducted earlier this year indicated that most South Africans didn’t know anything about the Constitution and didn’t even know South Africa has a Constitution. Did McKaiser and Blatchford take this into consideration? McKaiser hinted that this line of thinking is condescending. This doesn’t explain why voters vote for mediocre political parties. The jury is still out on the level of political consciousness among South Africans.

McKaiser suggested that voters should not vote for the ANC, the DA or the EFF, yet Blatchford says McKaiser is a DA supporter. That might be the case. McKaiser clearly said, however, that voters should consider political parties other than the ANC, the DA and the EFF.

Blatchford says the EFF is a threat to the oligarchy, yet he ignored its hobnobbing with the Royal Institute for International Affairs and Robin Renwick. Does he understand what the institute stands for and who Renwick represents? — Sam Ditshego, Kagiso


Two sides to equality

When the Mail & Guardian published a completely fictitious front-page story about Mmusi Maimane and FW de Klerk, without even sending the subject of the story questions about it, I thought the M&G had reached its nadir.

Shortly after that, following other gaffes, the then editor did the right and honourable thing and left the paper. That restored some respect, albeit temporarily.

The M&G’s “gutter” stories about anonymous allegations at Equal Education really were rock bottom, the end point of a lamentable decline for what once was surely one of the world’s most respected newspapers.

An independent panel of distinguished South Africans has found “no evidence” for any of these claims, and has described the M&G’s journalism as reminiscent of National Party “gutter journalism” designed to discredit anti-apartheid activists.

The paper should apologise for ignoring every basic rule of journalistic ethics and a complete failure of editorial oversight, and retract the stories. But an apology and retraction are not nearly good enough. The editor and the journalist should do the honourable thing and resign. I don’t expect they will have the integrity to do so.

What an irony that the person with real integrity is falsely accused and put on trial, while those who have really acted deeply unethically and shamefully don’t have the integrity to take responsibility. — Geordin Hill-Lewis

■ We are some of the 19 women who submitted our confidential testimonies to the Equal Education enquiry on sexual harassment. We read Judge [Kathleen] Satchwell’s report with densely felt disappointment. We had hoped that, based on the promises of the new leadership of Equal Education and the moment we live in today, this time around our stories would be heard. Our stories are all different, but together they paint a coherent and strongly corroborated picture of a pattern of behaviour at Equal Education: sexual harassment, intimidation, bullying, cover-ups and threats.

Although we draw strength from the #MeToo movement, we are acutely aware of the failures of formal legal processes and inquiries to side with women against powerful, protected men.

Here are some facts about the process. We were all guaranteed that our identities would be protected, that although our lawyers would know who we were, the panel would not reveal our identities to Doron Isaacs, Zackie Achmat or the other implicated parties who oversaw the first 2011 “hearing”. Because we chose to remain anonymous, our testimonies were not considered to be of evidentiary value. This is despite the terms of reference, in fact, guaranteeing our anonymity.

This is how we understand the essential “finding” of the report: that women who are too afraid to be identified should be dismissed. Every story, every piece of painfully recounted evidence, every trauma retold for the benefit of justice, was dismissed and ignored. The result? Full exoneration for the accused.

[...] The panel had ample opportunity to review our stories, and at least two of them chose not to. The panel — constituted of Satchwell and [Malose] Langa — also went ahead with releasing their report pre-emptively, instead of waiting for a second, critical report, by the third panelist (who chose to distance herself from the devastating findings against women in the first). This was a failure of justice.— This is an excerpt from a letter received by the Mail & Guardian from a group of women who made submissions to the Satchwell inquiry

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