Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

Demands grow for South Africa’s Zuma to go

Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg, South Africa April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
April 15, 2017

It is fitting symbolism that one of the most intense of the many mass demonstrations in recent days, demanding the removal of South African President Jacob Zuma, was in the square in front of Cape Town’s City Hall.

Jacob Zuma at the 2009 World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009. Photo by Matthew Jordaan, © World Economic Forum

It was in this same square on the evening of February 11, 1990, that tens of thousands of South Africans thronged to hear the first public speech by Nelson Mandela after his release from Victor Verster Prison earlier that day.

The mood that night as Mandela spoke from the steps of City Hall was full of wonder, optimism and promise. A few days before, the white minority government of President F. W. de Klerk had formally lifted the apartheid laws of racial segregation and opened the door to negotiations towards equality and democracy.

Twenty-seven years later – ironically, the same number of years Mandela spent in prison for battling apartheid – much of that promise is unfulfilled and the rest lies in the dust. Very many South Africans are convinced that they need look no further than their president, Jacob Zuma, to identify what has gone wrong. About 30,000 people turned out for the Cape Town demonstration a week ago and on Wednesday, April 12, Zuma’s 75th birthday, some 80,000 were at a similar protest outside the Union Buildings in the country’s administrative capital, Pretoria.

Zuma is accused of massive corruption and of gross incompetence as South Africa’s government leader and ultimate economic manager. South Africa’s natural and human resources, its infrastructure and industry, mean that it should be a stellar performer in Africa. But investors and credit rating agencies give it junk status as Zuma has chewed through finance ministers for reasons which allegedly have more to do with the interests of his cronies than of the country.

Unemployment among adults is just over 27 per cent and forecast to rise in the coming years. Among young people in the 15 to 24 age range unemployment is over 50 per cent, according to the World Bank.

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A recent Stellenbosch University study says that less than half South African school children pass their high school graduation exams.

Average life expectancy among South Africans is under 50 years, near the bottom of the World Health Organization’s rankings.

A feature of apartheid South Africa was that the white regime refused to admit that most of the country’s black people actually lived there. The infamous townships of home-made shacks without electricity or water were, in the eyes of the white regime, merely places where black workers camped during the week while they worked in white-owned industries. The workers’ real homes were, in this fantasy, their villages in the black bantustans. (Because of this ideological delusion, Soweto, with over 5 million people and Africa’s second largest city after Nigeria’s Lagos, didn’t really exist. It appeared on no maps and there were no road signs.)

Since the political settlement in 1994 the government has provided more than 2.5 million proper houses and another 1.2 million serviced sites. Yet over this period, the number of homes needed has increased from 1.5 million to 2.1 million. At the same time, the number of “informal settlements” – shanty towns – has gone up from 300 to 2,225, an increase of 650%.

Meanwhile Zuma and the new wealthy aristocracy of the ANC, its friends and relations, seem to get richer and richer. Various estimates now put Zuma’s personal wealth at over $US20 million, much of which is alleged to have been acquired through his association with the mega-rich Gupta family. The Guptas moved to South Africa from India in 1993 after the end of apartheid. The family’s various businesses have prospered mightily in what others have found a very challenging market.

The Guptas’ influence has grown to the extent that, through their links with Zuma, they are accused of “capturing the state.” There are claims among opposition politicians and even senior ANC figures that Zuma has allowed the Guptas to gain so much power that they can and do hand out ministerial positions in his government — including the Minister of Finance — to people who will guard their interests.

Zuma ousted the charisma-lite President Thabo Mbeki from the ANC leadership in 2007 and won the presidency in national elections in 2009. But even before he gained power, Zuma’s life heaved with scandal and controversy. Even as he fought the 2009 elections he was facing rape and corruption charges. He was acquitted of rape in a trial that tested the bounds of judicial impartiality, but he has found corruption allegations more difficult to leave in his wake. There were questions about a 1999 $US5 billion arms deal. The National Prosecuting Authority dropped the case just weeks before the 2009 election, but courts have now been asked to review the authority’s decision.

Then, when he won the highest office, there arose the question of the public money spent on his family compound in his village in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The improvements were ostensibly to boost the compound’s security, but were found to include a cattle enclosure, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool (a water reservoir in case of fire was Zuma’s explanation), a “visitor centre” (read guest cottage), and a chicken run. Last year South Africa’s Supreme Court ruled that Zuma had violated the constitution and ordered him to repay most of the government money used for the upgrade.

Zuma’s gathering storm of scandals has seen his public popularity drop to 40 per cent and he faces a vote of confidence in parliament soon. If more than 50 of the 249 member of the ANC parliamentary caucus join with opposition parties to turn thumbs down on his presidency, Zuma will face removal from office well ahead of 2019, when his current term in office ends.

The vote was scheduled to be held on Tuesday, April 18, but the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has appealed to the Constitutional Court to require a secret ballot. It is unclear at this point when the court may make a ruling. The DA figures, apparently with good reason, that with a secret ballot the necessary 50 plus ANC members will vote against Zuma.

What the effect would be of a vote in parliament of no confidence in Zuma is uncertain. He is due to be replaced as ANC leader in December, after serving the two terms allowed, and would continue as South Africa’s president until the next elections in 2019.

However, there are several reports that many senior figures in the ANC are concerned that Zuma is tainting the party’s reputation and prospects. This is at a time when the aura of being the party of Nelson Mandela and “liberation” from apartheid doesn’t carry the magic or draw the instinctive loyalty from voters that it did a generation ago.

Demonstrators take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, in Pretoria, South Africa April 7, 2017. REUTERS/James Oatway

The battle against apartheid created a unity and discipline that obscured the profound cultural, ethnic, regional and political differences among South Africans. Nearly three decades after the end of apartheid and faced with an evidently corrupt and dysfunctional President, these differences are coming to the fore.

These sometimes jarring differences are no more evident than in the groups and visions arrayed for and against Zuma.

Zuma’s supporters are predominantly rural people who follow a traditional village lifestyle. They have little interest in or appreciation for their urban brethren’s fixations on housing, education and the country’s advancement as a technological and economic hub of Africa. In South Africa’s villages Zuma’s display as a traditional chieftain is a political bonus, as is his personal life. Many urban South Africans find distasteful Zuma’s enthusiastic and proud polygamy. He has four wives at the moment and did have two others. One divorced him and the other committed suicide. Zuma has also paid the lobola — bride price — to become engaged to at least one other woman. He has had several other mistresses, including the sister of the first judge at his rape trial, who had to recuse himself because of the relationship. Zuma has at least 20 children from his various liaisons and in his first year as president the amount of government money he received for “spousal support” amounted to the equivalent of $3 million.

The main opposition to Zuma in the political area is the Democratic Alliance, which has 99 seats in parliament. This party has its roots in the Progressive Party, founded in 1959 by white South Africans who objected to apartheid. The party, however, was always envisaged as a non-racial grouping and is now led by Mmusi Mainmane. The DA’s main strength is in Western Cape province, where the ANC has never been the dominant opposition party, even during apartheid.

In the last couple of weeks three ANC members have resigned from parliament in protest against Zuma’s leadership. If the ANC fractures further, both in parliament and out among its grass roots supporters, the Democratic Alliance will likely be the largest beneficiary.

But not everywhere or among all classes of South Africans. Prominent organizers and participants in the recent wave of demonstrations against Zuma have been the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by expelled ANC youth leader Julius Malema.

Malema was expelled from the ANC in 2012 after being convicted of using “hate speech.” It was his custom at ANC Youth rallies to sing an old “liberation” song “Dubula iBuni” (Shoot the Boer). His antipathy towards white Afrikaans farmers – Boers – has continued. Malema advocates the expropriation of white-owned farmland without compensation, very much like the campaign Robert Mugabe launched in neighbouring Zimbabwe in 2000, and which has led to the near-complete economic and social destruction of the country. Malema also argues for the nationalization of all mines in South Africa, a position shared by the very large National Union of Mineworkers, but rejected by the ANC government. Mining generates 60 per cent of South Africa’s exports.

The EFF has 25 seats in parliament. And Malema is the kind of populist who can take advantage of the disenchantment generated by the ANC’s limited record of success in dealing with the country’s grinding social and economic problems.

Outside the political parties, several civil society groups have called on Zuma to resign, including some veterans organizations and the South African Council of Churches.

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

There is also major opposition to Zuma from within the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions. COSATU was a crucial body in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s and 1980s. The largest member of COSATU – the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union – has publicly called on Zuma to resign. Other affiliates are expected to follow that lead, and if the removal of Zuma becomes official COSATU policy it would be a deadly blow to his presidency.

When COSATU was formed in 1985, its first general secretary was the mine workers’ union organizer, Cyril Ramaphosa. In 1991 Ramaphosa made a significant career shift when he took on the post of general secretary of the ANC and became a key figure in the negotiations with the de Klerk government of a post-apartheid constitution. Many politically centrist South Africans of all skin colours hoped at the time that Ramaphosa was on his way to ANC leadership, and thus the country’s presidency. But it was not to be. At the time the ANC was convulsed by triumphalism, and honouring the dedication and sacrifices of its own senior members, as well as bowing to the party’s internal factions. Thus the “internal” leader Mandela was followed by the representatives of the “external” ANC exiles Thabo Mbeki. Mandela was a Xhosa of the East Cape region. Mbeki is also Xhosa from the Western Cape, but Zuma is a Zulu, South Africa’s largest ethnic group and perhaps its most culturally traditional.

Ramaphosa was born and brought up in Soweto, where his father was a policeman, and thus does not carry the same kind of ethnic identity as other ANC leaders. Ramaphosa became a member of parliament in the 1994 elections, but left politics in 1997 when he was bested by Mbeki for the ANC leadership. He went into business and has become one of South Africa’s richest men, with personal wealth of more than $US600 million, according to “Forbes” magazine. Among Ramaphosa’s holdings is a 20-year franchise on McDonald’s 145 fast-food outlets in the country.

In 2012 Ramaphosa again became active in the ANC as the party’s deputy president and in May, 2014, Zuma appointed him South Africa’s Deputy President and Chairman of the National Planning Commission. Ramaphosa is thus poised to make good on the prize that eluded him in 1997 and succeed Zuma as ANC leader and South Africa’s president.

But Ramaphosa is not a shoo in. His main opponent at the moment is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the departing chairwoman of the African Union, which is the association of all 54 countries of the continent. As well as her record in this demanding post, she has been South Africa’s Minister of Health, Foreign Minister, and Minister of Home Affairs.

She is also one of Jacob Zuma’s ex-wives and all the indications are he favours her to succeed him as ANC leader in December, which could put her on the path to the national presidency. The speculation is that he will give her a cabinet post when she gets back from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2017

Contact Jonathan Manthorpe, including for queries about syndication/republishing: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

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Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. He is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,” and has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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South African politics see tectonic shift

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
August 6, 2016

South African voters have delivered the most stinging rebuke to the party of Nelson Mandela since it led the country out of apartheid a quarter century ago.

The messianic reputation of the African National Congress (ANC) as the party that for decades battled institutionalised racial segregation and then led the country to democracy in the early 1990s is crumbling under the weight of administrative incompetence and endless corruption scandals.

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

The extent of the slide was evident in municipal elections this week when the ANC lost control of the country’s administrative capital, Pretoria, and the south coast industrial city of Port Elizabeth to the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). With about 98 per cent of the votes counted the parties both had 42 per cent support in the country’s economic heartland and most populous city, Johannesburg. In Cape Town the DA’s share of the vote rose to 67 per cent from the 61 per cent it won in 2011.

Nationwide, support for the ANC slipped to 54 per cent from 62 per cent in the last municipal elections.

The rise of the DA under its new, first black leader, 34-year-old evangelical pastor Mmusi Maimane, is dramatic and is a warning to the ANC for the upcoming national elections in 2019. South African President and ANC leader Jacob Zuma is deeply unpopular after a spate of corruption scandals and economic mismanagement that has seen unemployment stuck at around 25 per cent.

Zuma unnerved investors in December when he changed finance ministers twice in one week. The value of the currency, the rand, dropped like a stone. The President has survived several other scandals that would have toppled less determined – or thick-skinned – politicians. In 2005, while a minister in the ANC government with responsibility for confronting the HIV-AIDs epidemic, Zuma was charged with rape. The judge eventually decided the sex was consensual. But Zuma’s confession in court that he did not use a condom even though he knew his partner was HIV positive brought public scorn and derision.

Zuma went on to win the ANC leadership and the Presidency. However, he was then charged with abuse of power for using the equivalent of about $20 million in public money to renovate and expand his family home and compound in KwaZulu-Natal. He survived an impeachment vote in April after ignoring a Constitutional Court order to repay some of the money. He now says he will give some of the money back.

Zuma cannot run again after his second term is up, but his leadership of the ANC must be reviewed next year, and it is possible the party will replace him with a more appealing figure in an effort to stall the evident momentum of Maimane and the DA.

That will not be easy. This week’s municipal elections show a growing divide between the towns and cities, where the DA is on the march, and the rural areas where the ANC still commands voter loyalty.

The temptation for ANC strategists will be to shore up their support in rural areas with patronage outlays and exploiting the authority of local chieftains and community leaders. This may arrest or slow the party’s slide, but it will reinforce the ANC’s image as the party of hidebound yesterday’s men clinging to office.

Of the country’s 54 million people, 60 per cent are under 30 years old and have no direct memory of apartheid or the struggle that went into its defeat. What young South Africans know of the ANC is a party that has fallen far short of its promises to provide housing, jobs and social services. Meanwhile the ANC leaders live the lives of princes and their relatives and cronies have benefited from “black empowerment” policies.

One of the encouraging results in this week’s municipal votes is the failure of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by ANC renegade and anti-white racist Julius Malema. The EFF had never contested municipal elections before, and despite its high profile nationwide, it won only single-digit support in most of the contests. This suggests that Malema, who has been found guilty of “hate speech” for his incitement of his followers to kill whites, is more of a media darling than a serious political player. However, in towns and cities where neither the ANC nor the DA has a majority, Malema and the EFF may find themselves kingmakers with a valuable commodity to barter away.

The poor showing of the EFF gives added shine to the success of Maimane and the DA.

The DA has its roots in opposition to apartheid by liberal whites in the 1950s, when they founded the Progressive Party. It was the party of white anti-segregation activists such as Helen Suzman, Frederik van Syl Slabbert and Harry Swartz. In 1989 the name was changed to the Democratic Party, and in 2000 changed again to the Democratic Alliance when it merged with two smaller parties.

The DA and its forerunners have always been successful in South Africa’s Western, Northern and Southern Cape regions, where “coloured” people predominate and there is a relatively small population of black Africans, who are the backbone of ANC support.

The DA won control of Western Cape, one of South Africa’s nine provinces, in the 2009 general election and increased its majority in 2014.

Much of the successful growth of the DA is credited to Helen Zille, who served as both national party leader and Premier of Western Cape until she resigned the national leadership in April – two years earlier than expected — and was replaced by Maimane.

Maimane’s leadership has already done much to scotch the prejudice that the DA is the party of liberal whites. In the past, the DA got only about six per cent of its support from black voters. He has the added advantage of coming from the industrial heartland around Johannesburg, the old Transvaal province now known as Gauteng. It is here and in neighbouring KwaZulu-Natal that the DC must break through if it is to become a credible alternative government to the ANC on the national stage.

Maimane ran for mayor of Johannesburg in 2009 and for premier of Gauteng in 2014. He was defeated in both contests, but gained a national profile and joined the DA parliamentary caucus last year.

Despite its legitimate claim to being the founding political organisation of modern South Africa, the ANC is clearly vulnerable. As well as its failure to deliver the promised betterment in people’s daily lives and the stench of corruption that hangs around its leaders, the party has fallen out with some of the country’s very important trade unions. The ANC’s alliance with the unions was an essential part of the organised opposition to the National Party apartheid regime. The crumbling of that alliance is a sign of the changing political landscape since the first non-racial, democratic elections in 1994.

Widening voter support for the DA comes from the party’s ability to point to its largely corruption-free and successful administration of the Western Cape, Cape Town, and most of the smaller urban centres within the province. But the party is likely to go through some wrenching policy contortions if it is to mount a credible alternative to the ANC government.

At the DA’s May convention that elected Maimane leader, it also adopted a “Values Charter,” that is intended to be a national election manifesto. This document is full of fine platitudes and is strong on family values, which appears to reflect Maimane’s position as an evangelical Christian. But it is at odds with traditional, non-denominational DA liberal values, and it may therefore be difficult for Maimane to carry the party’s veterans with him.

Even so, South African politics have breasted a watershed moment of change with the results of this week’s municipal elections. For the ANC, the right to rule under the Mandela aura is over and South African politics are becoming a real contest over real issues of people’s wellbeing.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2016

Contact: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com. Please address queries about syndication/republishing this column to jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

 

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Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. He is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,” and has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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South Africa’s solidarity unravelling

South Africa’s unlikely alliance, of forces drawn together by opposition to apartheid, was always expected to unravel, notes international affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe. That is now happening because, with public disgust at corruption and incompetence within the African National Congress (ANC) government — and not least a scorching new report by the nation’s Public Protector, the balance has shifted. Excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column:

Public Protector Adv.Thuli Madonsela

South African Public Protector Thulisile Madonsela. Photo credit Public Protector office

… while Mandela remained alive it seemed almost sacrilegious to seriously argue that the ANC has betrayed its cause. Even the rise to the leadership of the ANC and South Africa’s presidency of Jacob Zuma, a man whose rise to power is littered with sexual and corruption scandals, was not enough to outweigh the blessings of the Mandela legacy.

However, the shift in the balance between past and present seems to have arrived this week, and even as campaigning has begun for the May 7 general election.

The highly respected Public Prosecutor Thuli Madosela on Wednesday released her damning report into the $23 million in public money spent on building Zuma a rural family compound displaying “opulence on a grand scale” at Nkandla in the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest of South Africa’s provinces.

Log in to read the column Mandela’s heritage tainted by President Zuma’s graft.   ($1 site day pass or subscription required*)

 

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Nelson Mandela, R.I.P.

F&O has updated our listing of our original writing, and selected videos and readings, following Nelson Mandela’s death on December 5.

Behind Houghton Walls, a poem reflecting on Mandela’s last days by Iain T. Benson, a professor in South Africa, is published in Commentary.

Facts and Opinions is pleased to publish Learning from Mandela, an essay about Mandela’s role as “a truly global icon,” by professor and author Heribert Adam.

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe analyzes Nelson Mandela’s impact on South Africa.

READ AND WATCH ELSEWHERE: Mandela’s own words, Barack Obama’s eulogy, Nadine Gordimer on the loss of her friend, and the perspectives of Slavoj Žižek and Musa Okowonga.

Excerpts of Mandela’s acceptance speech for the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize:

“Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates.

“Let the strivings of us all, prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct, when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war.

“Let the efforts of us all, prove that he was not a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace being more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

“Let a new age dawn!”

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. A statement from Nelson Mandela’s charities said, “No words can adequately describe this enormous loss to our nation and to the world.”

Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself, with a foreward by Barack Obama, was published in 2010.

Mandela’s comments on being freed from prison:

 

Below is Mandela’s retirement address, on behalf of his charitable foundations:

 No Easy Walk to Freedom was composed by South African writer and musician Roger Lucey, in 1984:

 
United States President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Nelson Mandela:

 Post updated December 12, 2013

Recommended readings:

My Countryman, by Nadine Gordimer in The New Yorker
A Nelson Mandela tribute site, in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper
Al Jazeera: Mandela remembered in the rain and mud South Africa’s urban poor reflect on Mandela’s death, political exclusion and the burden of a failing economy.
New York Times report: The Great and the Humble Pay Tribute to Mandela
Der Spiegel photo gallery: “Africa mourns its “Greatest Son.”
Nelson Mandela’s charitable foundations
Bill Keller’s long feature and obituary in The New York Times
Reuters obituary
BBC report:
Stephanie Nolen’s piece about Mandela in Canada’s Globe and Mail
Musa Okowonga: Mandela will never, ever, be your ministrel
Mandela’s gut-check for the political right: an analysis of Conservative statements by Neil Macdonald, CBC
Slavoj Žižek in The Guardian: If Nelson Mandela really had won, he wouldn’t be seen as a universal hero

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Nelson Mandela: curated readings and videos

By F&O contributors
Published December 12, 2014

Original writing by Facts and Opinions contributors and a curated selection of videos and readings elsewhere, following Nelson Mandela’s death on December 5, 2013:

ON FACTS AND OPINIONS:

Behind Houghton Walls, a poem reflecting on Mandela’s last days by Iain T. Benson, a professor in South Africa, is published in Commentary.

Facts and Opinions is pleased to publish Learning from Mandela, an essay about Mandela’s role as “a truly global icon,” by professor and author Heribert Adam.

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe analyzes Nelson Mandela’s impact on South Africa.

READ AND WATCH ELSEWHERE:
Including Mandela’s own words, Barack Obama’s eulogy, Nadine Gordimer on the loss of her friend, and the perspectives of Slavoj Žižek and Musa Okowonga:

Excerpts of Mandela’s acceptance speech for the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize:

“Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates.

“Let the strivings of us all, prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct, when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war.

“Let the efforts of us all, prove that he was not a mere dreamer when he spoke of the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace being more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

“Let a new age dawn!”

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. A statement from Nelson Mandela’s charities said, “No words can adequately describe this enormous loss to our nation and to the world.”

Mandela’s book Conversations with Myself, with a forward by Barack Obama, was published in 2010.

Mandela’s comments on being freed from prison:

 

Below is Mandela’s retirement address, on behalf of his charitable foundations:

 No Easy Walk to Freedom was composed by South African writer and musician Roger Lucey, in 1984:

 
United States President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Nelson Mandela:

 

Further Recommended readings:

My Countryman, by Nadine Gordimer in The New Yorker
A Nelson Mandela tribute site, in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper
Al Jazeera: Mandela remembered in the rain and mud South Africa’s urban poor reflect on Mandela’s death, political exclusion and the burden of a failing economy.
New York Times report: The Great and the Humble Pay Tribute to Mandela
Der Spiegel photo gallery: “Africa mourns its “Greatest Son.”
Nelson Mandela’s charitable foundations
Bill Keller’s long feature and obituary in The New York Times
Reuters obituary
BBC report: South Africa’s Nelson Mandela dies in Johannesburg
Stephanie Nolen’s feature in Canada’s Globe and Mail
Musa Okowonga: Mandela will never, ever, be your ministrel
Mandela’s gut-check for the political right: an analysis of Conservative statements by Neil Macdonald, CBC
Slavoj Žižek in The Guardian: If Nelson Mandela really had won, he wouldn’t be seen as a universal hero and, The ‘fake’ Mandela memorial interpreter said it all

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Analysis: South Africa’s nightmare

By Jonathan Manthorpe

Nelson Mandela has been praised to the rafters for promoting peace and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa, but there is precious little evidence on the ground that his message was heard or understood.

Read the column, The Nightmare of Mandela’s Dream in South Africa, here.*

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Nelson Mandela too good for government leadership

Nelson Mandela was too good for his or South Africa’s own good, writes international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. Excerpt:

Mandela

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

Those qualities of tolerance, forgiveness, respect for the others’ views, and uncritical loyalty to friends, comrades and family that made him one of the most saintly public figures of the last century, also framed his less than stellar performance as a government leader.

Mandela has bequeathed an almost unique culture of reconciliation that diverted South Africa from the real prospect in the early and mid-1990s of a blood bath either between whites and blacks, or between rival black ethnic groups or both.

But his humanitarian qualities also caused him to fail to exert the kind of leadership and sense of purpose in government to address the myriad of social problems borne of apartheid and that still, 20 years later, blight the lives of the vast majority of South Africa’s 52 million people …. read Manthorpe’s column here.*

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Learning from Mandela

By HERIBERT ADAM
Published December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela is inextricably linked to the emergence of post-apartheid South Africa. Although he long withdrew from active politics after a one-term presidency (1994-99), he remained his country’s moral conscience in terms of domestic issues, and a principled defender of human rights internationally.

But despite the numerous biographies published so far – and with many more likely to appear – as well as his own 15-million-copies-sold autobiography, with a movie version soon due for release, we are still lacking a full understanding of why Mandela has emerged as a truly global icon. Bitterly opposed ideological foes all praise Mandela. From the Iranian regime to the Israeli prime minister, from Cuba’s Castro to the Bush administration, Mandela has been unequivocally endorsed. When the savvy former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer was asked by Der Spiegel in 2006 to name the international personalities who had most impressed him most during his time in office, the interviewer expected him to mention Bill Clinton. Not so: Fischer insisted on Mandela and Pope Paul II.

Yet Mandela is not a Churchill, Martin Luther King or Obama-style charismatic leader or populist ideologue in the Castro mold who mesmerized masses. His model was Gandhi, although with less philosophical depth and austerity in fashionable clothes .Mandela resisted the personality cult some wanted to develop around him in South Africa, because that would “reduce followers to blind sheep” instead of critically engaged citizens. Mandela himself always rejected the idea of hierarchical leadership and had subjected himself consciously to the ‘organizational discipline’ and collective decision-making of the African National Congress, sometimes to the point of personal humiliation when he inveighed against his successor’s HIV/Aids denialism.

Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mandela’s glowing reputation is much greater abroad than among his own ranks at home. In the United States, Hollywood celebrities, rockstars and corporate executives paid heavily to have their pictures taken with the obliging visitor, although the US conceded to official contacts with the “terrorist” ANC only in 1988. Thus Mandela became indispensable as the unabashed fundraiser for the ANC during the 1990s. Since few would dare to turn down Mandela’s often vaguely worded requests for contributions, he could act as the generous benefactor to many worthy – but also unworthy – causes, including a problematic contribution of SAR 1m ($ 100.000) to a financially troubled Jacob Zuma , a few days after he was sacked as ANC deputy-president in 2005. At the same time the many hangers-on exploited the Mandela name, including his trusted personal lawyer who sold forged ‘Mandela’ paintings.

Internationally, Mandela’s iconic status impacted beyond South Africa’s borders. He pressed the warring factions into a power-sharing constitution in Burundi, although the civil war did not cease. Before his retirement, he continued to lead by example, whether on AIDS education or as the lone critic of a Nigerian military dictatorship when nobody dared to follow him. In contrast, his successor, Thabo Mbeki, supported the Nigerian military strongman Sani Abacha after the execution of the Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Mandela also intervened successfully in the long simmering Lockerbie bombing crisis, by sending his chief of staff to work out a deal with Ghaddhafi in Libya.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mandela considered it the “great moral problem of our times” and pronounced that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. However, unlike Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who together with many ANC activists, advocates boycotts and sanctions of Israel, Mandela shied away from the apartheid analogy. In 1999, he made a low-key stopover in Israel after his presidency, and once remarked that many countries had invited him for an official visit, but not Israel after his release in 1990. In light of Mandela’s basic solidarity with Palestinian self-determination, that caused no surprise. While he resented the military and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and the apartheid regime, Mandela also paid tribute to the involvement of many South African Jews in the anti-apartheid struggle. On his only Middle East excursion as “a private person” Mandela visited Iran, Syria and Gaza and was received everywhere as if he were a serving president. However, he was mistaken in hoping that he could act as a peace broker in similar ways as he had demonstrated in South Africa.

Why a leader appeals to followers is a useful route for assessment. Followers often project subconscious desires onto romanticized leaders. Mandela has been mythologized and made into a magician, from triggering rugby victories (as portrayed in the Hollywood film Invictus) to preventing racial wars. When The Economist (in October 2012) editorializes about a Mandela “whose extraordinary magnanimity helped avert a racial bloodbath”, it implies that without him blacks would have slaughtered whites. However, all things considered, there was relatively little racially motivated violence against whites by the black majority. It was the potentially dangerous white right-wing that was appeased by Mandela’s conciliatory gestures. Former racists could absolve themselves by praising Mandela as the savior and reconciler of the country. Above all, Mandela calmed the deadly interparty animosities between the ANC and Inkatha by practicing inclusiveness and preaching forgiveness. He appointed controversial Inkatha Chief Buthelezi as his minister of Home Affairs.

Mandela’s historic contribution lies in his willingness to risk starting negotiations with his adversary, when such initiatives were unpopular among his own comrades. Alleviating simultaneously white fears about black revenge, and black suspicion of collaboration, was no easy task. Mandela grasped the historical moment as a true leader. Even without a Mandela, the transition from racial minority rule to a universal franchise would have happened sooner or later. Mandela hugely facilitated this process by his realistic assessment of the political forces at play. While the “insurrectionists” in his ANC exhorted the slogan that “you cannot win at the negotiating table what you have not won at the battlefield,” Mandela persuaded the movement that neither side could win at the battlefield, unless you risk destroying the country in a drawn out civil war. In this stalemate only negotiations with the opponents promised a solution. One can learn from this insight that demonizing a hated enemy as evil is counterproductive to peaceful coexistence. Evil begs to be eliminated. However, if you have to live with a collective enemy in the same country elimination or retribution is no option for reconciliation. The enemy has to be redefined as a political adversary. Only a freely negotiated political compromise guarantees peace.

In these negotiations during these difficult four years after his release from 27 years of incarceration, Mandela proved no sellout, as his divorced wife Winnie has falsely suggested. His relationship with his white counterpart of the initial power-sharing arrangement, F.W.de Klerk, was always tense. Yet in crucial moments Mandela also assisted de Klerk when peace was at stake. When the popular leader of the ANC military wing (MK) and Communist Party chair, Chris Hani, was assassinated by a right-wing fanatic on Easter 1993, the country teetered at the brink of mass violence. At the request of de Klerk, Mandela went on TV and calmed the country down by pointing out that it was an Afrikaner woman who gave the police the decisive tip for arresting the assassins.

It was common knowledge that Thabo Mbeki was not Mandela’s first choice as his successor in 1998. Mandela’s choice would have been Cyril Ramaphosa, the popular leader of the National Union of Mine Workers and ANC chief negotiator with the Afrikaner nationalists, later turned billionaire businessman, and finally elected ANC vice-president by an overwhelming margin in December 2012. Mandela subsequently praised Mbeki as “the best president South Africa ever had.” In turn, Mbeki basked in Mandela’s glory, but simultaneously resented operating in his shadow. Insiders knew about their policy differences and private spats to the extent that an annoyed President Mbeki at one stage would not even take phone calls from his predecessor for several weeks. It was also reported that a retired Mandela conducted sensitive conversations in his garden, because he suspected his residence had been bugged.

Mandela’s example of engaging in open-ended negotiations without preconditions should inspire political leaders of other intractable ethnic conflicts around the world. A Mandela on both sides of the Syrian civil war or the Israeli-Palestinian strife would not guarantee a solution, because historical conditions differ. Yet at least both sides could truly claim to have exhausted all avenues of pragmatic compromise instead of letting a conflict simmer without hope. Are millions of lives lost in intractable wars worth the insistence on a socialist revolution or the capitulation of an ethnic adversary in a stalemate?

Copyright © Heribert Adam 2013

Nelson Mandela died the evening of December 5, 2013, age 95, after an extended illness.

Heribert Adam is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and a Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS). His new book, with Kogila Moodley, is Imagined Liberation. E-mail: adam@sfu.ca

 Further reading:
Heribert Adam’s site at Simon Fraser University: http://www.socanth.sfu.ca/people/heribert_adam
Behind Houghton Walls: a poem published by F&O about Nelson Mandela’s last days. By Iain T. Benson.
Facts and Opinions’ Frontlines roundup about Nelson Mandela’s death December 5.

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Behind Houghton Walls

By IAIN T. BENSON
Published December 5, 2013
 

Madiba has been a long time a-dying.

I’ve driven, we all have,

past his Houghton home;

cream security walls

even him.

 

Behind power and wire

cameras watch for mayhem

coming in

even legends need protection here

despite all that he gave

on that dusty isle

so many years and stones.

 

How very different is it now

behind high electric fences;

the food is better

doctors, journalists hang

on every pulse and breath

and now there is universal adulation.

 

when homes and hospitals resemble prisons

what does freedom mean?

 

– Iain T. Benson, Loudas, St. Pe de Bigorre, France  11.vi.2013

COPYRIGHT © Iain T. Benson 2013

Poet, professor and lawyer Iain T. Benson is Professor Extraordinary, University of the Free State – Faculty of Law, Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at Bloemfontein, South Africa, and former Senior Associate Counsel at Miller Thomson LLP, Canada. F&O publishes Behind Houghton Walls with Dr. Benson’s generous permission.

Nelson Mandela died the evening of December 5, 2013, age 95, after an extended illness.

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