Tuesday, December 30, 2003

African Links

I just added some new and important African links to my site on the 'Links Page'. The intention is that I will monitor these more closely over 2004....these are SADC, the African Union, and NEPAD. Let us hope we some constructive developments here in 2004 as these institutions are critical to the future of Africa and breaking down Afro-pessimism.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Back in Belfast

Back from 3 weeks in South Africa. It was a good trip and South Africa feels very positive at the moment. Belfast in turn is freezing and I returned to a broken down boiler and car with a dead battery. Let's hope the political situation does not match this in 2004. Soon it will be back to work, several papers and articles to finish, mainly on reparations and I will be running several workshops in Belfast in January.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Other Side of Silence by Andre Brink

I am still in South Africa, enjoying a break and being home. Just finished reading Andre Brink's "The Other Side of Silence", hardly light holiday reading! A very violent and disturbing book about the German occupation of Nambia (then South West Africa) in the early part of the 1900s. The book is interesting though mainly because the main protagonists are all women, and secondly because it deals with the subject of revenge. It is an important, albeit haunting, contribution in this regard. Now for something lighter....like Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Ethical Philosophy Selector

These questions reflect the dilemmas that have captured the attention of history’s most significant ethical philosophers. Answer the questions as best you can. When you’re finished answering the questions, press "Select Philosophy" to generate your customized match of ethical philosophers/philosophies. The list orders the philosophers/philosophies according to their compatibility with your expressed opinions on ethics. Click on a philosopher/philosophy to see a summary and links. We hope you enjoy this selector and we encourage your further philosophical explorations.Try out the Ethical Philosophy Selector

2003 Weblog Awards

2003 Weblog Awards, I'm not on it.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I am away in South Africa

Currently I am away in South Africa. Blogging will be regular again once back in Ireland. But hopefully will get to to it from time to time...

Saturday, December 6, 2003

“So What Is It Like Now That Your Country Is Run by a Terrorist?”

In 1997, I was a visiting fellow at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland on sabbatical from the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa. At the time, a group of community activists from across the political spectrum living in Derry (or Londonderry, depending on your politics) were preparing for a trip to South Africa. I was asked to give the group a brief orientation. South Africa was a place they had all heard much about with its iconic status of all that is appalling and hopeful in this world wrapped into one, but most knew little of what to expect. I cannot remember exactly what I said to the group that wintry night. I am sure I spoke about the positive changes in South Africa. I certainly mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a process I was working closely with at the time.

I opened the floor to questions. I expected the usual: “Does Northern Ireland need a De Klerk-like figure?” or “Do you think Northern Ireland needs a truth commission?” But that night was different. No sooner had I asked for questions when a man leapt to his feet and blurted: “So what is it like now that your country is run by a terrorist?” I was astounded. I could not remember when last someone even vaguely equated Mandela with terrorism, a discussion that had long since slipped from the political landscape. The only response I could muster was that I personally felt it was fine. More to the point, and at the risk of dragging up an old cliché, I commented that he needed to remember that one person’s terrorist was another person’s freedom fighter.

Over the next year, I completed my fellowship and returned to South Africa. When in 2001 I moved back to Northern Ireland, I realized that the question was a preliminary taster of the differences between the two societies. In Northern Ireland, the word ‘terrorist’ is frequently heard, even today. The word has gained new life since the events of 11 September 2001 in the US. The “war on terror” has given it global legitimacy once again. Some use it as a qualifier as to why Sinn Féin, the largest elected Republican party in Northern Ireland, with its association with the IRA, should be excluded from the power-sharing government. It is used sometimes to describe anyone from a paramilitary background regardless of his/her current politics or approach. It is rarely used to describe state atrocities.

Conversely, in South Africa “terrorism” is a term that steadily began to die out from 1990 onwards following the peace process. Prior to that, it was ubiquitous. I grew up in a South Africa where the government wanted us to believe that the “terrorist” rooi/swart gevaar (red/black danger) was pervasive. The world, including the US government, supported this view well into the 1980s. This is not to say the liberation forces in South Africa did not commit violent, terror-inducing acts; indeed, there were many. But it remained a glaring irony that, despite their rhetoric, the monopoly over acts of terror resided with the apartheid state. This somewhat obvious contradiction became increasingly evident as the peace process unfolded. This led to the eradication of the word from the South African political lexicon.

Another factor in its disappearance was the TRC. Within its framework, “terrorism” as a word largely proved meaningless. It was at best a descriptor (i.e., it described acts that caused terror). For us, it was only significant to peace-building when it was contextualized and accompanied with explanations as to why certain acts took place by combatants or the state, and if we could use it to learn from the past and prevent future violence. In Northern Ireland, things are changing. There is little doubt that it is a safer place than before. That said, the peace process lurches between moments of profound progress and hiatus. There has not been a wholesale change of political power as there was in South Africa. The political forces remain fairly evenly balanced. Northern Ireland finds itself facing more of a stalemate than South Africa ever did.

In this context, words such as “terrorism” still have currency. Unlike in South Africa, the past of certain individuals, especially former paramilitaries regardless of their political mandate or contemporary politics, continues to be used as the major reason for halting the peace process. Calling someone a “terrorist” poses as a one-word explanation as to why her/his voice should be silenced. Clearly, as a descriptive label “terrorism” and how we use it is deeply linked with debates about the legitimate use of violence by the state and combatants.The people of Northern Ireland and the British State still have to reckon with this.

When making peace, a new vocabulary is needed in which past atrocities are not only described in detail in all their abject awfulness, but at the same time the context, causes, and nature of all acts by all players need to be better understood and lessons learned. This is a tall and ambitious order, but living in two violent societies has taught me that genuine peace-building is embedded through efforts at explanation and not just descriptive words that pretend to explain.

On the personal front, from time to time, my wife (who is from Northern Ireland) and I both still catch each other glancing at an empty car on a lonely street or an unattended bag in a public place. Thousands of miles apart we both grew up with the lurking threat of bomb-blasts. But these little fragments of personal history will mean little to our children if we never find the words to articulate and fully explain the context in which our seemingly odd little paranoias were born.

Published in Hamber, B. (2005). “So what is it like now that your country is run by a terrorist?” In Y. Danieli, D. Brom & J. Sills (Eds.), The trauma of terrorism: an international handbook of shared knowledge and shared care (pp. 189-192). New York: Haworth Press 

Known Unknowns, Know Knowns

"Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."-- Donald Rumsfeld

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Apartheid Victims Press for Reparations

Today Khulumani members disrupted a ceremony held in their honor Sunday to press their demands for long-promised reparations payments. About 300 members of the Khulumani group, led by veteran anti-apartheid activist Shirley Gunn, forced their way into the VIP tent during the "healing ceremony" in Cape Town's Company Gardens.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

'Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought'

An invitation to the palace to accept an New Year honour... you must be joking. Benjamin Zephaniah won't be going. Here he explains why...more...

A Decade of Criminal Justice Transformation

An important national conference for people involved in criminal justice and crime prevention work in South Africa. The conference titled ‘A Decade of Criminal Justice Transformation – Reflecting on the past to shape the future’ will be held at Spier Estate, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, from 13 to16 July 2004.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Rugby Boot Camp

The Mail and Guardian reports on an urgent meeting involving top national rugby bosses and Minister of Sport and Recreation in South Africa Ngconde Balfour will most likely take place on Wednesday, the sports ministry said on Monday. Balfour called for an urgent meeting with the rugby bosses on Sunday after extraordinary details of a training camp the Springboks had been subjected to before the World Cup became public. Newspapers have been reporting since last week that the players attended a training camp where they were stripped naked and deprived of sleep and food. The team was further ordered into a lake to pump up rugby balls underwater while guns were pointed at them. The ignominy was compounded on Monday with newspapers running a picture of the Boks, with exposed backsides, crawling through the veld. The camp took place as part of the preparations of the Springboks for the tournament, which they crashed out of in Australia.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

100 Best Novels according to The Guardian

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.

2. Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.

3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe The first English novel.

4. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift's vision.

5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.

6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.

7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.

8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.

9. Emma Jane Austen Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.

10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.

The rest of the list....

Gacaca court system

Special report on hopes for reconciliation under Gacaca court system. A constant update on this grass-roots "courts" process in Rwanda. More...

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jim Clowes, an inspiration

A story about Jim Clowes' last lecture, a colleague and friend who I met in Northern Ireland, and I have been assisting his students in Belfast. Jim is from the University of Washington and has cancer. He is an inspiration...more...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Continuing Collateral Damage: Iraq

The war on Iraq and its aftermath exacted a heavy toll on combatants and civilians, who paid and continue to pay the price in death, injury and mental and physical ill health. Between 21,700 and 55,000 people died between March 20 and October 20, 2003 (the date on which this report went to press), while the health and environmental consequences of the conflict will be felt for many years to come. See the Continuing Collateral Damage Report.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Judge Skeptical Over Apartheid Suits

A federal judge suggested on Thursday he might dismiss litigation seeking to hold a long list of corporate defendants liable for aiding the violent South African apartheid regime. More... [but remember, for those of you following this there are two cases. One headed by Ed Fagan, who has now been fired apparently by those he is representing - to which the above headline refers. The other case is by Khulumani and went more favourably largely because of its more specific focus. This is explained in the article].

US offers two million dollar reward for Charles Taylor

Read today that United States has included a two million dollar reward for former Liberian leader Charles Taylor in its 87.5 billion dollar special budget for Iraq and Afghanistan. Tricky one when you agree with bringing someone to book but wonder about the motives of those offering the funds...is it me, or is the world becoming more and more like the Wild West? Wanted, Dead or Alive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Reparations: An Interdisciplinary Examination

The Department of Philosophy and the Forum for Philosophy and Public Policy
at Queen's University in Canada are pleased to announce a conference,
"Reparations: An Interdisciplinary Examination of Some Philosophical
Issues", to be held on the Queen's campus from February 6-8, 2004. Coming
from five continents, the well-known group of speakers will draw on their
diverse expertise and experiences as economists, lawyers, philosophers,
political theorists, psychologists, public policy specialists and
representatives of NGOs to examine a range of philosophical issues
pertaining to four different reparations cases: reparations for victims of
war, reparations for indigenous peoples, reparations for victims of
colonialism, and reparations for victims of slavery. For more information,
visit the conference website (http://www.queensu.ca/conferences/reparations)
or contact the conference organizer, Jon Miller (Department of Philosophy,
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada; phone: 613-533-2182;
fax: 613-533-6545; email: miller@post.queensu.ca).

Friday, November 7, 2003

South Africa: Special report on widening poverty gap

South Africa has made significant gains since the advent of democracy in April 1994. However, the country still faces serious problems. The most significant one - apart from the impact of HIV/AIDS - is the lack of economic and social rights for a large sector of the population. Research undertaken by a project team in the office of President Thabo Mbeki, assisted by the Department of Social Development, has attempted to capture the essence of the problem. Their report, titled "Towards A Ten Year Review", seeks to quantify the performance of the state in its constitutional obligations to its citizens, and its progress in redressing apartheids injustices. While the government's performance in provision of health, education and other basic services has been commendable, the report notes that "two economies persist in one country". More...

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Flying flags of fear

I have just made available a copy of one of my lastest papers, entitled "Flying flags of fear: The role of fear in the process of political transition", which I presented at a conference in Jordan recently. The paper begins..."As tension mounts during the build up to the Orange Marching season in the summer each year in Northern Ireland the streets of many of its cities and towns are festooned with flags. The proliferation of Union Jacks, Irish Tricolours, Ulster flags, and paramilitary flags that adorn the streets symbolise loyalty and are sectarian markers of territory. In July 2002, however, something unusual happened. As if from nowhere, Republicans started hoisting the Palestinian flag alongside their Irish Tricolours, and in neighbouring Loyalist areas the Israeli flag fluttered happily alongside the Union Jack and paramilitaries flags. It is difficult to analyse the reasons for this..." The essay posits some reasons for this by mainly focusing on the concept of ‘fear’, more...

Sunday, November 2, 2003

Biko: 'Killers' not prosecuted

Heard today that the five policemen who were accused of killing anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in 1977 will not be prosecuted, justice ministry officials said on Tuesday. The unit found that there was insufficient evidence, in part because there were no eyewitnesses to the killing, to support a murder charge. Charges of culpable homicide and assault were also considered, but because the killing of the black consciousness movement leader occurred in 1977, the time frame for prosecution had lapsed.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Top 25 Censored Media Stories

The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2002-2003, more...

Blogger Hoodie

Thanks to Blogger for sending me a free new jumper today for being a BloggerPro user. Thought it would never arrive as I was on the end of the world...well there you go. Looking snappy now...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Risk, Uncertainty and Confusion

I have just returned to Northern Ireland from a very busy time visiting Amman in Jordan, then Italy. The first event focused on the issue of a "risk society" hosted by the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies. The report should be out soon, and I will post my paper shortly which was on fear. Thereafter, went to a workshop on the issue of reparations for gross violations of human rights in Italy, which is a fascinating and burgeoning subject. The project is part of the ICTJ's global study of reparations measures following transitions to democracy. The aim is to examine not just proposals in favor of reparations made by truth commissions and other bodies, but also reparations legislation, particularly its implementation over time. And...now after all that...I am back in Northern Ireland, where the peace process is in a whirl...not sure too laugh or cry...it really seems to be in a shambles today.

Friday, October 17, 2003

South African court rules: indigenous peoples

On 14 October 2003, in one of the most historic court judgments ever made in favour of indigenous peoples, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled that an indigenous people had both communal land ownership and mineral rights over their territory. Laws which tried to dispossess them were 'racial discrimination'. The case concerned the 3,000 Richtersveld people who live in Northern Cape Province. They are from the Nama subgroup of Khoikhoi peoples, and have always lived in the area called Richtersveld until they were evicted in the 1950s to make way for a diamond mine, now owned by the South African government. Five years ago, the people took both the government and the mining company to court, claiming ownership rights over both 85,000 hectares of land and the minerals it contains. They lost the case but then appealed, and the appeal court ruled in their favour. But then the mining company itself appealed against the decision. The 14 October judgment, from the Constitutional Court, is final.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Gold Fields to fight lawsuit

Johannesburg - Gold Fields, the second-largest gold producer in South Africa, will vigorously defend a lawsuit brought against to it by the company's former employees, said company officials on Monday.Ed Fagan, an American lawyer, and his South African counterpart, John Ngcebetsha, were expected to file the lawsuit in New York on Monday on behalf of Gold Fields' former workers. Fagan and Ngcebetsha claim that Gold Fields exposed more than 500 of its former employees to "dangerous working conditions leading to uranium contamination", and they seek compensation for that, Business Day reported on Monday. Willie Jacobsz of Gold Fields said the company received a letter from Fagan on April 22 telling them he and Ngcebetsha intended suing the gold producer. "I read that they may file; it could be today (Monday) that something could come up," Jacobsz said, adding Gold Fields had not yet received letters confirming that Fagan had filed the lawsuit. Business Day reported that Gold Fields was taking the lawsuit seriously, and would strenuously defend it. Fagan and Ngcebetsha demand compensation of up to $7bn (about R52bn). Ngcebetsha and Fagan are claiming billions of rands from Sasol, De Beers and Anglo American on behalf of victims of apartheid.

Apartheid claims widened

Salzburg - US attorney Ed Fagan is to file lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in compensation from Swiss banks on behalf of victims of the apartheid regime this week, he said on Tuesday. Fagan, who was heckled by a crowd in the heart of Zurich's financial centre as he sought to present a case against Switzerland's two leading banks on Monday, said the incident had provided new material for an additional claim. "The defendants provided the plaintiffs with new and additional information about their involvement and their possession of documents related to their business dealings with the apartheid administration," he said in a statement. The lawsuit claims reparations from UBS, Credit Suisse and US banking group Citibank, on behalf of four victims of apartheid. In the late 1990s, Fagan played a leading role in pressing compensation claims against Swiss banks by Holocaust survivors, triggering international pressure on Switzerland to account for its record during World War II. The banks are accused of "profiteering" under the apartheid regime. They have also been accused of helping to prop up white-only rule in South Africa by continuing to do business with the authorities there after 1985. - Sapa-AFP

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Edward Said dies

Malise Ruthven
Friday September 26, 2003, The Guardian
Edward Said, who has died aged 67, was one of the leading literary critics of the last quarter of the 20th century. As professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, New York, he was widely regarded as the outstanding representative of the post-structuralist left in America. Above all, he was the most articulate and visible advocate of the Palestinian cause in the United States, where it earned him many enemies. More...

Friday, September 26, 2003

Been Away in the USA

I have been travelling over the last while. Was first at a conference at Notre Dame entitled Peacebuilding after Peace Accords. Thereafter took a short road trip from Chicago to Boston through the strange country of the US, via the Finger Lakes, Adirondack mountains and Vermont. As always it was full of surprises, very beautiful and a place one cannot simply put into a pigeon-hole. Constantly one runs into some of the nicest people on earth, which is always hard to reconcile given the countries foreign policy, but here is hoping for some changes in 2004....my brief sojourn tells me this is what most people want...

Monday, September 1, 2003

Peruvian TRC report out

The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, finding that 69 280 people died at the hands of the armed forces and of the Shining Path group, has now been published. The report is available here.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Interview with Luis Moreno-Ocampo the ICC

This week's grassroots interview is with Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Elected by the ratifying countries in April of this year, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has tried criminal and human rights cases involving the extradition of a former Nazi officer from Argentina, political bribery, journalists' protection, and the military junta during Argentina's dictatorship and "dirty war." Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine lawyer, has also been a visiting professor at Stanford University and Harvard University in the United States. Read the interview.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Idi Amin, a Brutal Dictator of Uganda, Dies at 80

Idi Amin called himself ''a pure son of Africa,'' but his bizarre and murderous eight years as president of Uganda typified the worst of the continent's military dictatorships. He was 80.

Mr. Amin died today at King Faisal Specialist hospital, a hospital official said. He had been hospitalized on life-support systems since July 18. He was in a coma and suffering from high blood pressure when he was admitted to the hospital. Later, hospital staff said he suffered kidney failure.

A onetime heavyweight boxing champ and soldier in the British colonial army, Mr. Amin seized power on Jan. 25, 1971, overthrowing President Milton Obote while Mr. Obote was abroad.

What followed was a reign of terror laced with buffoonery and a flirtation with Palestinian terrorism that led to the daring 1976 Israeli raid to rescue hijacked hostages in his country.

Mr. Obote once called Mr. Amin ''the greatest brute an African mother has ever brought to life.'' President Jimmy Carter said events in Uganda during Mr. Amin's rule ''disgusted the entire civilised world.'

Published in the New York Times, 16 August, 2003. Article here.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Study of Bush's psyche touches a nerve

There's an article in the Guardian about a $1.2m study done by US psychologists on "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition" which apparently concludes that "conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity" and that George Bush is a textbook case. Now I could have told them that for much less money. Seriously though - clearly there is something about the way Bush and those around him think that seems unpleasant and odd (and even insane) to more liberal-minded people. However, I have my doubts about turning it into a psychological pathology. I think Bush et al. do bad things for selfish reasons and then use dishonest intellectual tactics to justify their actions. I think they sometimes tell deliberate lies and sometimes they just delude themselves. But I don't think they are any more 'neurotic' than the rest of us...

Monday, August 11, 2003

When will WMD be found?

Was thinking: I bet the famous Weapons of Mass Destruction will astonishingly be found the week the Hutton Inquiry is to report on its findings regarding the death of Dr David Kelly, or am I just cynical, or do I really understand the spin machine?

Friday, August 8, 2003

US Prison Population now 2.2m

According to the Economist the prison population in the US grew by 2.6% in 2002 and is now 2.2 million. One in ten black men aged between 25 and 29 are in jail in the US. Louisiana has the highest figure with 794 for every 100,000 residents being incarcerated. [Note to self: Seems like this is becoming an anti-American blog, this is not the plan....just seems to be a lot of what is sent to me these days, guess that says something].

Friday, August 1, 2003

SA Won't Indemnify US Troops From ICC Prosecutions

BuaNews (Pretoria), July 24, 2003
Richard Mantu (Pretoria)

Cabinet says government will not enter into a bilateral agreement with the United States to indemnify US troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Cabinet said this today during its mid-year Lekgotla, which started in Pretoria yesterday and is expected to end tomorrow. Cabinet said the South African government would communicate through appropriate channels with the US, and reiterated that Pretoria 'would not enter into such a bilateral agreement.' More...

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Brag post: Towards a Marxist community psychology

I have just read a review of Seedat, Duncan and Lazarus' book Community psychology. Theory, method and practice. This is what the reviewer (Kerry Frizelle) has to say about the chapter by Brandon Hamber, Thulani Masilela and Martin Terre Blanche:

"The most exciting chapter in this section, however, must be that of Hamber, Masilela and Terre Blanche (Towards a Marxist community psychology: radical tools for community psychological analysis and practice). It is exciting to see the resurrection of Marxist ideas despite the past and present "crisis" of Marxism. This chapter problematizes the theory and practice of psychology within a capitalist framework and encourages readers to "seek to understand the hidden mechanisms that produce individuality" (p. 54); primarily how social and economic realities construct individual and social relations, and subjectivities. The writers provide the reader with seven radical steps towards developing Marxist-oriented action within community psychology and encourage the reader to place an enlarged copy of these steps in a prominent position in one's university or workplace, in an attempt to actualise them. The issue of action is central to this entire volume and will undoubtedly be a welcomed text by those who are concerned with the passivity of conventional psychology to bring about substantial social change where and when it is most needed."

I remember when we wrote the chapter that we were determined to avoid producing yet another bland, obscure treatise on Marxism - but rather to convey something of its spirit in an exciting, polemical way that would at least make students take notice. It's nice that the reviewer responded positively to that. She also has many nice and useful things to say about the rest of the book of course.

The reference is Frizelle, K. (2002). Thinking critically about psychology in South Africa. Psychology in Society (PINS), number 28, p. 50-53. The book is Seedat, M., Duncan, N.,  Lazarus, S. (Eds.). Community psychology. Theory, method and practice. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019 571922 0

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

All bets are off on terror, rules Pentagon

The Pentagon, writes Julian Borger, has dropped its plan to allow speculators to make bets on future terrorist attacks in the hope that it would help military planners to predict future threats. The $8m scheme, which would have allowed punters to speculate on the likelihood of assassinations, coups and the full range of possible disasters in the Middle East, caused uproar in Congress, where Democratic senators dubbed it a "terrorism betting parlour"....more...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Why only fools and children use portals

Once upon a time, when Tony Blair was popular, Barry Sheen was alive and jeans didn't come with those strange yellow fake dust stains on them, there lived three kings. These kings, called AOL, Lycos and Yahoo!, shared control of the kingdom of Internetia., more...

Friday, July 25, 2003

Historical and cultural variants on the good death

by Tony Walter, reader in sociology
Dominated by religion in the past and by medicine in the present: the idea of what constitutes a good death has changed in different cultures and societies throughout history, perhaps nowhere more so than in our globalised, Western cultures. After a period of individualisation, shared experiences with fellow sufferers now seem to be increasing in popularity, more.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the Decade

Every year, the major business magazines put out their annual surveys of big business in America. You have the Fortune 500, the Forbes 400, the Forbes Platinum 100, the International 800 -- among others. These lists rank big corporations by sales, assets, profits and market share. The point of these surveys is simple -- to identify and glorify the biggest and most profitable corporations.The point of the list contained in this report, The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the Decade -- is to focus public attention on a wave of corporate criminality that has swamped prosecutors offices around the country.Find out about the Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the Decade.

Monday, July 7, 2003

Handbook on Reconciliation

The English and Spanish policy summaries of the International IDEA Reconciliation Handbook are now available electronically in pdf-format on the IDEA website.

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Friday, July 4, 2003

Are lessons transferable?

I have just added a new paper to my site entitled: Are lessons transferable? The importance of research for policy on transitional justice mechanisms. I presented this paper at the "Empirical Research Methodologies of Transitional Justice Mechanisms Conference", 18-20 November 2002, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Download paper.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

A Culture of Silence: Northern Ireland

I recently ran a range of seminars on peacebuilding for the Community Foundation in Northern Ireland, one of the guest speakers was the Deputy Editor of the Hindu (the largest English daily in India), Kalpana Sharma, she wrote a piece about her experience called "A culture of silence", an interesting read.

Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme

Here is a link to "Project Coast: Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme" by Chandré Gould and Peter Folb published in 2002. Outlines information on the Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme, free to download.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Recognition and Reckoning: The way ahead on victims issues

Democratic Dialogue Report 15
Brandon Hamber and Robin Wilson (Eds)

Now on online (pdf), a report from Democratic Dialogue, "Recognition and Reckoning: The Way Ahead on Victims Issues", based on a round table hosted by the think tank in Belfast last December. The report evaluates the "victims strategy", Reshape, Rebuild, Achieve, published in April 2002 by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Religion and Reconciliation in South Africa

New Book

Religion and Reconciliation in South Africa: Voices of Religious Leaders Edited by Audrey R. Chapman and Bernard Spong

Postapartheid South Africa's efforts to come to terms with its past, particularly its Truth and Reconciliation Commission's emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation, is of special interest to many in the world community. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was mandated to go beyond truth-finding and to "promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding which transcends the conflict and divisions of the past." In contrast with other truth commissions, the TRC was led by clerics rather than lawyers and judge, and the TRC's approach to reconciliation was shaped by and imbued with religious content. The TRC submitted its final report to the Mandela administration in October 1998.
Over the next two years, the Rev. Bernard Spong, former communications director of the South African Council of Churches, conducted a series of in-depth interviews about the TRC with thirty-three key religious figures.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Monday, June 16, 2003

EU Strengthens ICC Support

(Brussels, June 16, 2003) By adopting a revised Common Position on the International Criminal Court (ICC), the European Union (EU) reinforced its support for international justice, Human Rights Watch said today.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Submissions on Reparations in South Africa

Request for submissions by Ad Hoc Committee on Reparations. This Committee, set up to consider the President's recommendations regarding reparations as required by section 27 of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 1995, invites affected persons or bodies to make written submissions to the committee by Thursday, 19 June 2003. Submissions to Ms Ntombe Mbuqe (P O Box 15 Cape Town 8000, Email nmbuqe@parliament.gov.za, Fax: 021 - 403 2725, Telephone 021 403 3761)

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Blogging's too good for them

Walking through the streets of Blogistan this week, I couldn't help noticing a certain tension in the air. The natives were restless. The saloon bars were abuzz with nervous chatter. And it wasn't about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Something was most definitely up. But what? And who was this Eric Schmidt fellow that everyone was talking about? And why did I seem to be the only person in the world without his own weblog? Questions, questions.

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Truth in Northern Ireland

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan looks at the question of how best to close the past and give victims their place in the new Northern Ireland. Click here. I have written a short response, mainly to the frantic TV coverage of the issue this week in Northern Ireland, click here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

A truth commission for Northern Ireland?

This week the BBC has been focusing on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland. The most startling thing about this debate has been how issues have been narrowed before genuine discussion has started. Concepts like truth and justice have been bandied about as if they were mutually exclusive and as if they meant the same to everyone.

The South African model has been used as a benchmark for discussion, with little recognition of what it was about. The other twenty or so truth commissions, in societies as diverse as Ghana, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Sierra Leone, have meanwhile been ignored.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, it seems we all should have an opinion on whether there should be a truth commission for Northern Ireland. Ground work already done on these issues has been neglected, and more measured approaches circumvented.

Debate on this issue is vital, and the more the better. But some key points have been lost in the media circus.

First, dealing with decades of conflict is long-term, complex and time-consuming. It cannot be summed up in a few interviews or emails. It will not entail a single approach or model. International lessons suggest it takes decades. We should not look for any quick fixes.

We should not rush into opinions on different methods before we have agreed that remembering, acknowledgement, truth and justice are important issues for victims and society at large. We must interrogate what we mean by these terms and debate our different perspectives.

The past can only be dealt with if all concerned enter the debate in an inclusive way, aimed at entrenching peace. We should not underestimate the importance of getting this right, ensuring that the discussion is aimed at reconciliation and not point-scoring.

If we do not first agree the underlying principles, all discussion will be contorted and subject to political wrangling. This will ultimately result in mechanisms that will continue the conflict by different means, rather than finding ways constructively to resolve it.

The most extensive consultation on this issue to date has been carried out by the Healing Through Remembering Project. This sought to document possible mechanisms and realisable options for how remembering should occur, so that healing could take place for all those affected. This took two years of discussion.

Importantly, this consultation was run by a board reflecting a range of very diverse backgrounds. The project received over 100 written submissions and recorded thousands of hits on its website.

Many submissions endorsed the value of remembering and spoke of the importance of finding ways to move society forward. But others expressed concerns about the potential pitfalls. The idea of remembering also evoked an emotional response, indicative of much hurt and unresolved pain. The project’s recommendations include a focus on truth recovery, but extend well beyond it.

This is the second point: dealing with the past needs to be seen as wider than a truth-recovery process. Any such mechanism should run alongside other initiatives, such as storytelling, a living museum about the conflict, an annual day of reflection and a network of commemoration projects. Many community projects are also part of the picture.

In the same vein, although victims are central in dealing with the past, thorough engagement demands a focus on the entire society. This is vital when considering the issue of responsibility for the hurts suffered.

It was pointed out in several of the submissions that the need to revisit the past was not confined to those who saw themselves as primarily involved in the conflict: politicians, victims and those who carried out violent acts. For any collective remembering to be helpful it needs to engage the entire society and particularly those who saw themselves as ‘uninvolved'. The whole society has a responsibility to deal with the past.

Thirdly, the Healing Through Remembering Project does recommend that a formal truth-recovery process should be given careful consideration, though only as one part of dealing with the past. But it stipulates that an important first step is a process of acknowledgement, by all, of acts of commission and/or omission.

Political parties, the British and Irish states, republican and loyalist paramilitaries and other institutions would all need fully to acknowledge the extent of their particular culpability. In fact, we should all consider what we have done and have not done to prevent loss of life. Sincere acknowledgment is the key foundation for exploring truth recovery in an even-tempered, self-effacing and responsible manner.

Copyright Brandon Hamber 11 June 2003

Brandon Hamber works as an independent consultant to the Healing Through Remembering Project and is a research associate of Democratic Dialogue in Belfast.

Mbeki speaks out on apartheid suits

The government does not support compensation lawsuits by apartheid victims against businesses, President Thabo Mbeki reiterated on Tuesday.

Many of the companies named in such lawsuits are today helping with South Africa's development, Mbeki said at the end of a meeting with his Swiss counterpart Pascal Couchepin.

In May, a group called the Apartheid Claims Task Force announced plans to file a lawsuit worth billions of dollars in New York against South African gold mining company Gold Fields for making blacks work under "sub-human" conditions during the apartheid regime.

One of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit is US attorney Ed Fagan, who already spearheaded a successful claim against Swiss banks on behalf of Holocaust victims.

Fagan has also filed or announced plans to file other suits against Swiss and US banks, pharmaceutical conglomerates, car manufacturers, food giant Nestle, and mining companies De Beers and Anglo American, among others, on the grounds that they benefited under the apartheid regime.

Mbeki has said on previous occassions that the South African government found the suits unacceptable.

"We consider it completely unacceptable that matters that are central to the future of our country should be adjudicated in foreign courts which bear no responsibility for the well-being of our country and the observance of the perspective contained in our constitution of the promotion of national reconciliation," he said in Cape Town on April 15.

AFP, 11 Jun 2003

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

A review of David Rieff, A Bed for the Night

A review of David Rieff, A Bed for the Night. Humanitarianism in Crisis New York, Simon and Schuster; London, Vintage, 2002. 367 pp. by David Becker, click here for the article.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Transcript of US District Court 19 May 2003

Click here to download (text file) the transcript of US District Court 19 May 2003, Litigation against international companies supporting apartheid by Fagan and Associates.

Litigation against international companies supporting apartheid

Click here to download (text file) the transcript of US District Court 19 May 2003, Litigation against international companies supporting apartheid by Fagan & Associates.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

British troops lose war trauma case

British veterans from conflicts in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the Gulf who claim they were left traumatised by the horrors of war lost a legal battle for compensation. A High Court judge in London ruled against the veterans, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and who had accused the defence ministry of failing to adequately care for them, for more information click here.

Mugabe 23 years in power

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, in power for 23 years, has called for an open debate on his succession within the ruling ZANU-PF party. Addressing a rally on Thursday in Mount Darwin, 150 km northeast of the capital, Harare, Mugabe said debate should be encouraged instead of party leaders campaigning clandestinely, click for more details.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Mental Health in Situations of Political Violence and Disaster

Currently, I am in Madrid teaching at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid for the GAC-Grupo de Acción Comunitaria which is part of the Centro de Recursos en Salud Mental y Derechos Humanos . I thought it may be useful to highlight the course offered by the group, which, to my knowledge, is very unique. It is entitled "Salud Mental en Situaciones de Violencia Política y Catástrofe" (Mental Health in Situations of Political Violence and Disaster), which is very impressive in its reach and courses offered.

Victims, Perpetrators and Healers at the TRC

by Trevor Lubbe (Cape Town)

The focal point of this paper will be to describe a piece of work I undertook for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa during April 1996. This involved facilitating a group of TRC staff during the very first week of the public hearings. I would like to use this group experience to highlight some of the difficulties that arise in a specialised truth-seeking process of this kind, and in order to understand some of these difficulties I have drawn upon some ideas from psychoanalytic practice – which is also a truth-seeking enterprise of sorts, and which also brings in the past as part of its healing objective. Of course while analytic concepts can be used to illuminate other areas of inquiry it also the case that terms like truth-seeking, forgiveness, reconciliation are not commonplace in psychoanalytic discourse, though the term reparation has some currency when discussing the aims of psychoanalysis.

Read more,click here.

Recognition and Reckoning- The way ahead on victims issues

Book Launch
Recognition and Reckoning- The way ahead on victims issues
Democratic Dialogue, Report 15

How to address the needs of the victims of the conflict in and about Northern Ireland remains a question as salient today as when the ‘peace process’ began in the early 1990s. In April 2002, the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister launched a victim strategy, Reshape Rebuild Achieve. This aims to ‘deliver practical help and services’ to victims. Democratic Dialogue convened a round table in December 2002 to evaluate the progress of the strategy. A range of victim groups, statutory and voluntary agencies and experts in the field participated. Recognition and Reckoning consists of contributions from influential policy-makers, practioners and academics made at the round table. It is essential reading for anyone trying to fully understand the complexities of Northern Ireland’s past and dealing with the perplexing long-term issues at its core.At the press launch of Recognition and Reckoning contributors to the report will share their perspectives. Inputs from: Prof Roy McClelland, Chair Healing Through Remembering Project, and Alan McBride and Patricia MacBride, Victim Representatives on the Civic Forum.

Download Report

Date: 3 June 2003 Time: 12 noon Venue:Europa Hotel, Belfast
R.S.V.P Ellen Finlay Tel: 02890220050 Fax: 02890220051 Email: ellen@democracticdialogue.org

Thursday, May 22, 2003

McCarthy hearings online

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has published all of the transcripts of executive sessions held while Senator Joseph R. McCarthy chaired the subcommittee from 1953 to 1954. Publication of the transcripts, which marks the 50th anniversary of the hearings, constitutes the opening of the largest collection of documents related to McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations.

With the subcommittee’s authorization, the Senate Historical Office edited the 160 transcripts—which contain testimony from over 500 witnesses—into a five-volume series published by the Government Printing Office (GPO). The Historical Office reviewed the transcripts, deleting nothing; prepared editorial notes; and created an index. The original records are available at the Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration. The entire text of these transcripts (S.Prt. 107-84) is available online, or may be borrowed from your local depository library.

View Here

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Visa Holders Face Extra Scrutiny

"Foreign visitors arriving with visas at U.S. airports or seaports next year will have their travel documents scanned, their fingerprints and photos taken and their identification checked against terrorist watch lists... The system will be enhanced later, possibly to include iris scans or facial recognition technology" - from a report in Wired News.

Monday, May 19, 2003

South African New Economics Network

SANE - The South African New Economics Network: "An independent network for the creation of a humane, just, sustainable and culturally appropriate economic system in South Africa"

Scholars Feel Helpless as They See Their Campus Destroyed

Scary article in New York Times today about the destruction of Basra University.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Job growth in the US under all Presidents

Below is a scorecard of job growth in the US under all Presidents since H. Truman.

Clinton First Term: 242,000 jobs gained per month
Clinton Second Term: 235,000 jobs gained per month
Reagan Second Term: 224,000 jobs gained per month
Carter: 218,000 jobs gained per month
Johnson: 206,000 jobs gained per month
Nixon First Term: 129,000 jobs gained per month
Kennedy: 122,000 jobs gained per month
Truman Second Term: 113,000 jobs gained per month
Reagan First Term: 109,000 jobs gained per month
Nixon/Ford : 105,000 jobs gained per month
Truman First Term: 60,000 jobs gained per month
Eisenhower First Term: 58,000 jobs gained per month
G. Bush: 52,000 jobs gained per month
Eisenhower Second Term: 15,000 jobs gained per month
G.W. Bush : 69,000 jobs LOST per month

Posted on Radioleft (www.radioleft.com), 13 May 2003

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Orgnet analysis of politics debate

After a recent on-line discussion about politics and political books in America, this analysis tells is what our book buying patterns reveal about us? Interesting, see Orgnet.Com. Thanks to Andie for making me aware of this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Miracle or Model?

See a review for H-SAfrica of Lyn S. Graybill, Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Miracle or Model? Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002, ISBN 1-58826-057-7 by Verne Harris.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Clarion call on debt and reparations now

Clarion call to the people of South Africa on debt and reparations now, 16 April 2003

Today on the occasion of the final statement made by the President of South Africa on the matter of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Reparations, Jubilee South Africa and Khulumani Support Group wish to make the following call to the people of our country:

1. Our organisations comprise the mass movement of the people of our land who continue to bare brunt of the on going assault on our lives engineered and orchestrated by the system of racial capitalism, sometimes called apartheid. Our people live not with a mere legacy from the past; rather the past lives on in their daily lives in a multitude of ways. In this regard the question of the economic system set up by apartheid and the part played by debt in it is a fundamental problem contained in the process of the ongoing redistribution of wealth in our country from the poor to the rich.

2. We note with concern the gigantic retreat taken by our President today in his conclusion of the work of the TRC. We have no doubt hat the corporations in this country will find these provisions totally in ine with the economic system whose practice continues in the present. Our organisations will continue in the coming period to look for ways of reconstructing the given provisions in the interest of the poor. This applies to the 22 000 victims of crime who appeared before the TRC; many more others who are members of Khulumani; and millions of others who continue to bare the social chains set off by racial capitalism.

3. Our organisations note the position expressed by our President in relation to the civil suits currently before the courts in the USA. We will continue to debate these issues in a democratic spirit at all levels of social engagement in this country, certainly among ourselves, our labour unions, our youth formations, our women's organisations, our faith bodies, our social movements as well as the structures of national governance. We have no doubt that the justice of our belief in ensuring the advancement of corrective, political, social and judicial measures in reply to apartheid crimes will ultimately triumph.

4. Our current civil suits target foreign corporations. To the local corporations within the borders of our country we say; we would not prefer to deal with you in a court of law whether it be a foreign or a local court. Our preferences is to call on you to use this moment so the purpose of opening up a meaningful dialogue with our organisations in achieving the following outcomes:

  • Acknowledgement of guilt
  • Devising public processes of redress
  • Searching for a human rights driven process of investment
  • Reconstructing economic alternatives in South Africa whose aim is to invert the process of redistribution to make it flow from the rich to the poor
  • Constructing models of bringing immediate relief to the pressure of poverty on our people as the basis of ensuring a process of eradicating poverty

5. To this end Khulumani Support Group and Jubilee South Africa are convening a national conference at a date and venue to be announced soon in order to allow the ordinary citizens of our land concretely to prepare an alternative position on reparations based on the stand we have taken in relation to foreign corporations. That specifically applies to South African corporations. This conference will designate a national process driven by the hand of ordinary citizens that will deal with the members of the business world in South Africa. Further it will serve to construct a process for reconciliation that denies the power of the past in our present.

Finally, the conference will designate a process of social mobilisation and political intervention that will not exclude the taking of South African companies to court if they are unwilling to address our platform.

Citizens of South Africa! The entire debt of racial capitalism consists in the extra judicial crimes of the apartheid system.

It also consists in these crimes which carved up our labour life; their mining, industrial and commercial system; their ghettos called locations, townships, homelands; their farm labour policies; their banking and financial systems; their internal debt as of 1993; their crimes against the ecology; their collarboration with the apartheid regime in illegal actions! This is the internal component of odius debt!

To the extent that these matters remain outstanding in the real work done by the TRC, and as concluded today, these continue to constitute the living social deficits caused by racial capitalism. The hour has now struck for the voice and hand of the people to guide our thoughts and actions on the question of reparations!

Issued by the National Executive Committee of Jubilee South Africa
Issued by the National Executive Committee of Khulumani Support Group
MP Giyose - National Chairperson of Jubilee South Africa
Ike Tlholwe - National Director of Khulumani Support Group

Monday, May 12, 2003

Evaluation of conflict resolution interventions

The evaluation of conflict resolution interventions – Part II: Emerging Practice and Theory. The evaluation of conflict resolution and peacebuilding projects has arisen as a source of interest and concern throughout our field. To follow up on INCORE's previous work on this topic, an international meeting was held in Northern Ireland in July 2002. Practitioners, funders and evaluators who have been actively engaged in this work have raised a number of practical and theoretical challenges based on their own experiences. 'The Evaluation of Conflict Resolution Interventions, Part II: Emerging Practice and Theory' explores not only the challenges that have been encountered by those undertaking conflict resolution evaluation (CRE), but also some emerging considerations for improving our practice and our theoretical approaches. This report is available on-line. For hard copies of the report, please contact incore@incore.ulst.ac.uk or phone Roisin O'Hagan 028 7137 5500.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Statement by Archbishop Ndungane on Reparations

Statement issued by Archbishop Ndungane on May 10th 2003

This morning I had the first informal meeting with representatives of Jubilee 2000, the Khulumani Group, the Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign, the Apartheid Claims Task Force, Mokoena attorneys and the SACC. The principle of dialogue rather than litigation was discussed and all groups are agreed that dialogue is the preferred course of action. The courts should be a last resort. Let us bear in mind that the case is being brought to the international courts by South Africans.

My intention is to pursue that course through dialogue and a way forward acceptable to all parties. What I do not want is the adverse publicity for our country that will result if we hang our dirty linen out in international forums. It is an absolute necessity for all the parties to come to the table. From what I heard from the claimants today it is imperative for me to seek a meeting with the business community and government to share what the claimants are saying. I believe they too will agree on the importance of dialogue.

The principle of restorative justice is a characteristic of our transition from apartheid to democracy. What these groupings are saying is that there can be no closure of our past without addressing the outstanding issues. It is my view that they need to be heard and certain issues need to be addressed so we can have a dignified ending to the whole matter and that all South African can work, with hope and shoulder to shoulder to build a
sustainable future for all.

Friday, May 9, 2003

Mines minister rejects use of US courts for reparations

Minerals and energy minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Friday she "rejected" the use of United States courts in settling issues of reparations and justice in South Africa.

Mlambo-Ngcuka's rejection echoed President Thabo Mbeki's rejection of the same in Parliament last month when he stated that "the South African government is not, and will not, be party to such litigation".

In a statement issued by her office Mlambi-Ngcuka said she found it unacceptable that matters that are central to the future of the country should be adjudicated in foreign courts, which bore no responsibility for the well being of South Africans.

While the government recognised citizens' right to take civil action, the government was informed by the desire to involve all South Africans, including corporate citizens, in a co-operative and voluntary partnership to reconstruct and develop the South African society.

"Accordingly, the government does not believe that it would be correct to impose the once-off wealth tax."

The Minister added that nobody had "a right to impose a crisis on the people of South Africa, and to undermine the initiative to forge a process of reconciliation that caters for all the people of South Africa".

Although the statement did not say what litigation Mlambo-Ngcuka had in mind, her comments followed in the wake of the latest law suit against a South African company, this time Gold Fields.

The US7,4-million (approximately R53-million) lawsuit was filed by South African attorney John Ngecebetsha and US lawyer Ed Fagan.

Fagan came to prominence after securing compensation from Swiss banks for Holocaust victims.

According to media reports the suit was filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court on behalf of Zalumzi Singleton Mtwesi and more than 500 former employees of Gold Fields.

The suit claimed New York jurisdiction because the company does business in that country.

In it workers claimed they were "tortured, enslaved and poisoned with uranium."

Gold Fields has rejected the charges and disputes the jurisdiction of the US courts.

Fagan filed a similar suit against Anglo American in early April and against a slew of foreign banks and companies active in South Africa in the 1980s earlier in the year - Sapa

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Arms Dealing Northern Ireland and South Africa

As an organisation that works on peacebuilding in different countries, I thought it is worth noting that sometimes it is disturbing things that link worlds. I heard today that a Northern Ireland firm won the missile contract for South African arms spending. An air defence company in Belfast has won a multi-million pound contract to supply missiles to South Africa. It is the first export order won by the French owned Thales Air Defence for its short-range Starstreak missile system. The British army currently uses the system. The contract, with the South African defence forces is believed to be worth about £12m. See the BBC article.

Just received this from a concerned Northern Ireland citizen....

A satisfied Thabo Mbeki stated:

"We are delighted that Northern Ireland is so desperate for jobs that the government is prepared to provide generous grants to attract companies who make military arsenal to invest there. Some Northern Ireland residents are said to be dismayed to learn of this boost for a company they see as feeding the international war machine in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. However, as President of the United States of Southern Africa - whoops I mean president of South Africa, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure Northern Ireland people that this company in fact produces only weapons of moderate destruction, and not weapons of mass destruction at all. Weapons of moderate destruction only kill and maim hundreds of people at a time, not thousands, and injuries are always much more benign than those caused by weapons of mass destruction, so there is really no need to worry. Victims might lose an arm or a leg, or their whole family, but at least their skin won't turn purple and fall off (at least I don't think so). You can also be reassured by the fact that we have no intention of using the weapons we're buying anyway - but we would like to pull them out every now and then and polish them in front of the big guys we so desperately want to emulate and impress - you can understand that can't you? Surely? You know it makes sense.

Thabo Mbeki President USSA

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Response to my Anti-Iraq War Posts

Below is a message I received via the comments page on my site. Thought I would post it in the interests of free speech and all that. Interesting, to see how people react and how being anti the war in Iraq gets you painted as being pro-Saddam Hussein. Dare I say, it also seems that nuance, along with the truth, is the first casualty of war. Alas.

From Steve Smith to Brandon Hamber (27/4/2003)

You do NOT speak on behalf of MOST of this country, as you claim to do. In 1939 there were sweet, idealistic, naievettes, such as yourselves who said Adolf Hitler should be left alone to merrily exterminate whoever he chose. How lucky you are to be able to run a website like this, because there WERE people who were brave enough to stop that particular despot. YES some civilians have been killed in the Iraq war, Somewhere in the very low thousands. Now I do not want to trivialise this number of innocent people killed, indeed I have watched daily news reports , and have felt like crying, after seeing some of the images, especially of children, maimed or killed and having their lives torn apart.However, how many HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of innocent people have had their lives wrecked, or died through Saddam Hussein, who if he hadn't been stopped, had the capacity AND the appetite to continue doing this, and much worse, and then even when he had passed, there would be his sons to continue his line, and what do you think THEIR sons would be like? ANd so it would doubtlessly continue.And the motive for this war?- Some sceptics would say a war on Islam.-Then why are hundreds of thousands of Muslims allowed to live and practise their religion, and build their own mosques in the the U.K and the U.S.A? What was the involvement of our 2 countries in the former Yugoslavia?-To protect MUSLIMS from ethnic persecution. Someones argument to not hold water somewhere. Are there any oil reserves in this area? I think not. So, onto the subject of oil. Others would say thats the true motive for this war. Oil for food yes, as was the case in the past what does any oil, or any other resorce producing counry do, in effect? Would it be so wrong anyway? -When the civilised world is so dependant on the black stuff?- Thats YOUR, I repeat YOUR way of life!

Response to Steve Smith by Andie Miller

"In 1939 there were sweet, idealistic, naievettes, such as yourselves who said Adolf Hitler should be left alone to merrily exterminate whoever he chose.How lucky you are to be able to run a website like this, because there WERE people who were brave enough to stop that particular despot."

And what about George Bush? Who's to stop that particular despot?

Hindsight is an exact science.

"Someones argument to not hold water somewhere. Are there any oil reserves in this area? I think not. So, onto the subject of oil. Others would say thats the true motive for this war. Oil for food yes, as was the case in the past what does any oil, or any other resorce producing counry do, in effect? Would it be so wrong anyway? -When the civilised world is so dependant on the black stuff?- Thats YOUR, I repeat YOUR way of life!"

It seems curious (and a little scary), Steve, that you start off your argument by justifying bringing down Saddam, and end up by admitting that the war may just be about oil anyway.

I think native New Yorker, Douglas Rushkoff would agree with you on that, though he frames it differently:

Regards, Andie
South Africa

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Rich against Poor

Douglas Rushkoff

I've been mulling the various polarities offered by our statesmen and corporate cronies as they prepare us for war and a general realignment of powers. The rising conflicts have been presented as Judeo-Christian vs. Muslim, Democratic vs. tryant, US vs. Iran, Bushes vs. Husseins, etc.

But I think what the US current regime exposes through its policies and actions is a much less complex and more typical struggle: rich against poor. The Bush regime's economic, environmental, and military adventures can all be understood quite easily as the maintenance of the short-term interests of the wealthy over the long-term interests of the poor.

The Bush regime is not simply 'in bed' with the oil industry. This is not a question of undue influence or corporate donations. The Bush regime is the oil industry. VP Cheney's own oil industry dealings have yet to be surrendered to independent investigators, and will likely be kept secret unless the Supreme Court demands they be released - something Cheney, no doubt, thinks will be delayed until after he is dead.

Likewise, Kissinger's first act as independent investigator of the 9/11 incident has been to bury his own client list.

Bush's first real action after 9/11, meanwhile, was to work with the Saudis to fly his partners, the Bin Laden family, safely and secretly out of America.

These are not indications of some abstract "conflict of interest" that require our analysis. They are the very simply understood actions of a single, coordinated group. Not a "conspiracy," but a collaboration. The only real question unanswered about the invasion of Iraq, for example, is who will get which piece of the spoils.

Bush and his regime are businesspeople, who are doing business with fellow, powerful businesspeople in other parts of the world. They trade mostly in oil, which is why they need to maintain global dependence on oil (rather than helping to develop alternative energy resources). They monopolize these transactions through the exploitation of the poor, which is why they need to implement economic policies (in the US) and dictatorial policies (in the Arab world) in order to maintain power.

The main difference between the tactics of the Bush regime and those of their partners in the Arab world is the particular methodology through which they keep their people stupid enough not to fight back. In the United States, citizens are led to believe that Bush and his team are part of an anti-elitist, populist backlash against the over-intellectualized and effeminate liberalization of government by homosexuals, feminists, anti-Christians, and other democratic party members. Bush will also be 'strong,' and defend us against dark peoples, everywhere.

(Even the wealthy in the United States - the people who advise me at my own bank, in fact - use self-imposed stupidity and denial in order to bring themselves to the point where they can support Bush. It is in their short-term economic interests to do so. So they use whatever mythology they can to convince themselves that Bush's leadership actually makes sense on some Judeo-Christian, ethical, or democratic level.)

In Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, the people are kept stupid mostly through anti-Semitism. "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is published not by an undeground Nazi press, but by the government. Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s minister of the interior, still tells his people that the 9/11 attacks were part of a Zionist plot. (Of course, the Saudi government also supports Al Qaeda, but this is only to keep the attacks pointing at regimes other than their own. If Israel were to disappear, the Saudis would be attacked next. That's why they need to keep the Jews in everyone's mind as the #1 enemy.)

Whichever method of maintaining public ignorance is utilized, the result is the same. Nationalism, xenophobia, and a surrender of power and influence to the wealthy.

The way this system may ultimately break down - and the reason why global networks and genuine communication between people is so important - is through the comparison of means of oppression. Americans are good at seeing the way that the Saudi people are being duped, and Saudis are probably pretty good at seeing how Americans are being duped. This is because the stories being told us are incompatible.

As soon as people can understand this very simple equation:

Bush says Arabs bad.
Arabs says Bush bad.
Bush and Arabs make business deals together at the expense of their people.

...things could get interesting.

Then again, this is why genuine international communications networks - like this one - are in big danger. It's also why the people we fear most stand very little chance of being allowed to get online.

South Africa Will Pay $3,900 to Apartheid Victims' Families

South Africa Will Pay $3,900 to Apartheid Victims' Families by Ginger Thompson

JOHANNESBURG, April 15 2003. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said today that his government would pay reparations totaling $85 million to more than 19,000 victims of apartheid crimes who testified about their suffering before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In a speech before Parliament, President Mbeki said the family of each victim would receive a one-time payment of about $3,900. That compares with the average annual salary here of about $3,000. "We hope that these disbursements will help acknowledge the suffering that these individuals experienced, and offer some relief," he said.

His announcement followed years of intense political pressure on the government to fulfill its promise to the thousands of victims whose harrowing testimony of mutilation, rape and murder illuminated the dark history of apartheid. That pressure mounted last month when Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate and chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, delivered its final report and expressed concern that the government had let victims down.

The reparations payments fall far short of the $360 million requested by the commission. But Mr. Mbeki cautioned that no amount of money could make up for the suffering. He also said the government had begun broader reforms, including programs to give blacks a greater stake in mining and other industries.

Graeme Simpson, executive director of the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, called the payments insulting. "There is no magnanimity in this gesture," he said. Apartheid victims like Ntombi Mosikare said Mr. Mbeki's words stung like salt in a wound. Ms. Mosikare, who leads a support group for victims, said they expected more money from the government as an acknowledgment of their suffering. They had also hoped President Mbeki would extend reparations to people afraid to share their stories with the commission.

"We are not putting a price tag on our pain," said Ms. Mosikare, whose 19-year-old brother was killed in a grenade attack against student leaders in 1985. "We only want the country to acknowledge us. What they are giving us is too little." In his speech today, President Mbeki also announced that his government would not issue a general amnesty for the perpetrators of past abuses, saying that would undermine the seven years of work by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In its struggle to usher South Africa through a peaceful transition from white minority rule, this country's first black government empowered the commission to grant amnesty to those who came forward with true accounts of politically motivated crimes. But most of apartheid's architects and enforcers stayed away from the inquiry.

President Mbeki also addressed pressure from South Africa's corporate community by rejecting the commission's call for a wealth tax on businesses to raise reparations funds. He said the government would pay reparations from a special "presidential fund." He invited individual South Africans, both black and white, to make contributions.

In another nod to business interests, Mr. Mbeki criticized lawsuits filed in United States courts demanding apartheid damages from corporations. He said the government would not take part in the lawsuits. Alec Erwin, the minister of trade and industry, said the government would not enforce judgments made in foreign courts.

New York Times, 16 April 2003

South African government agrees to reparations

So, finally, the South African government has given in and has agreed to grant some reparations to those who appeared before the TRC. According to SAPA, South African President Thabo Mbeki announced, on April 15, that victims of apartheid abuses would receive a once-off final reparations grant of R30,000 (about US $3,842). Mbeki made the announcement during a special debate in parliament on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) final report. Mbeki said the commission had reported that about 22,000 individuals or surviving family members appeared before it, and 19,000 of these required urgent reparations. They would be eligible for the grant.

Needless to say, the grant will be less that what the TRC suggested, i.e. a grant for 6 years. This means SA government will pay out about $85 mil rather than the $365 suggested by the TRC. Of course, money is not the issue, it cannot bring back the dead. However, I doubt the victim groups will feel satisfied. The government burnt some bridges by delaying for so long (they received the recommendations in October 1998). This has left many feeling angry, and their anger will feed into their views of the current plan. I regret the issue has become about money, rather than acknowledgement - but many still feel they have not been heard. That said, a new chapter in the reparations debate has begun.

Apartheid victims to receive reparations from govt

JOHANNESBURG, 15 April (IRIN) - South African President Thabo Mbeki has announced that victims of apartheid abuses would receive a once-off final reparations grant of R30,000 (about US $3,842), news reports said on Tuesday. The South African Press Association (SAPA) reported that Mbeki made the announcement during a special debate in parliament on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) final report.

Mbeki said the commission had reported that about 22,000 individuals or surviving family members appeared before it, and 19,000 of these required urgent reparations, SAPA reported. Victims included those who lost loved ones or were subjected to abuses such as torture. "With regard to final reparations, government will provide a once-off grant of R30,000 to those individuals or survivors designated by the TRC," Mbeki was quoted as saying.

"We do so with some apprehension, for as the TRC itself has underlined, no one can attach monetary value to life and suffering," Mbeki added.

For more on the TRC final report go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=32988
IRIN-SA Tel: +27 11 880-4633 Fax: +27 11 447-5472 Email:

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Statement by President Mbeki on Tabling of TRC Report


Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker; Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Provinces; Deputy President; Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary; Former Members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Ministers and Deputy Ministers; Distinguished Premiers; Honoured Traditional Leaders; Leaders of the Chapter Nine Institutions; Honourable Leaders of our Political Parties; Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners; Honourable Members; Distinguished Guests; Fellow South Africans:

We have convened today as the elected representatives of the people of South Africa to reflect on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to examine its Recommendations and to find answers, in practical terms, to the question - where to from here!

We wish to acknowledge the presence of Commissioners of the erstwhile TRC, who took time off their busy schedules to join us in commending the Report to our national parliament.

I am confident that I speak on behalf of all Honourable Members when I say to these Commissioners, and through them, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the other Commissioners not present here today, that South Africa sincerely appreciates the work that they have done. Our thanks also go to the staff of the Commission and all who contributed to the success of the work of the TRC, which we are justified to celebrate today.

They did everything humanly possible to realise the objectives of a process novel in its conception, harrowing in its execution and, in many respects, thankless in balancing expectation and reality.

Our assessment of the TRC’s success cannot therefore be based on whether it has brought contrition and forgiveness, or whether at the end of its work, it handed us a united and reconciled society. For this was not its mandate. What the TRC set out to do, and has undoubtedly achieved, is to offer us the signposts in the Long March to these ideals.

What it was required to do and has accomplished, was to flag the dangers that can beset a state not premised on popular legitimacy and the confidence of its citizens, and the ills that would befall any society founded on prejudice and a belief in a "master race".

The extent to which the TRC could identify and pursue priority cases; its ability to bring to its hearings all relevant actors; the attention that it could pay to civil society’s role in buttressing an illegitimate and illegal state; and the TRC’s investigative capacity to pursue difficult issues with regard to which the actors had decided to spurn its call for co-operation – all these weaknesses were those of society and not the TRC as such.

And, we make bold to say that all these complexities make the product of the work of the TRC that much more outstanding and impressive.

The pain and the agony that characterised the conflict among South Africans over the decades, so vividly relived in many hearings of the Commission, planted the seed of hope – of a future bright in its humanity and its sense of caring.

It is a future whose realisation gave life to the passion for the liberation of our people, of Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani, the tenth anniversary of whose passing away we mark this month. This includes others such as Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe and Steve Bantu Biko, who passed away 25 years ago this year and last year respectively. They joined and have since been joined by many other patriots to whom freedom meant life itself.

We are indebted to all of them; and we shall work to ensure that their memory lives on in the minds of generations to come, inspired by our common determination that never again should one South African oppress another!

At a critical moment in our history, as a people, we came to the conclusion that we must, together, end the killing. We took a deliberate decision that a violent conflict was neither in the interest of our country nor would it solve our problems.

Together, we decided that in the search for a solution to our problems, nobody should be demonised or excluded. We agreed that everybody should become part of the solution, whatever they might have done and represented in the past. This related both to negotiating the future of our country and working to build the new South Africa we had all negotiated.

We agreed that we would not have any war crimes tribunals or take to the road of revenge and retribution.

When Chris Hani, a great hero of our people was murdered, even as our country was still governed by a white minority regime, we who represented the oppressed majority, said let those who remained in positions of authority in our country carry out their responsibility to bring those who had murdered him to book. We called on our people neither to take the law into their hands nor to mete out blind vengeance against those they knew as the beneficiaries of apartheid oppression.

We imposed a heavy burden particularly on the millions who had been the victims of this oppression to let bygones be bygones. We said to them – do not covet the material wealth of those who benefited from your oppression and exploitation, even as you remain poor.

We walked among their ranks saying that none among them should predicate a better future for themselves on the basis of the impoverishment of those who had prospered at their expense. We said to them that on the day of liberation, there would be no looting. There would be celebrations and no chaos. We said that as the majority, we had a responsibility to make our day of liberation an unforgettable moment of joy, with none condemned to remember it forever as a day of bitter tears.

We said to our people that they should honour the traditions they had built and entrenched over centuries, never to hate people because of their colour or race, always to value all human beings, and never to turn their backs on the deeply-entrenched sentiment informed by the spirit of ubuntu, to forgive, understanding that the harm done yesterday cannot be undone today by a resolve to harm another.

We reminded the masses of our people of the values their movement for national liberation had upheld throughout a turbulent century, of everything they had done to defend both this movement and its values, of their obligation never to betray this noble heritage. Our people heeded all these calls.

By reason of the generosity and the big hearts of the masses of our people, all of us have been able to sleep in peace, knowing that there will be no riots in our streets. Because these conscious masses know what they are about, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was able to do its work enjoying the cooperation of those who for ages had upheld the vision of a united humanity, in which each would be one’s brother and sister. These are an heroic people whose greatest reward is the liberation of their country.

Of them, the TRC says: "Others did not wish to be portrayed as a ‘victim’. Indeed, many said expressly that they regarded themselves instead as soldiers who had voluntarily paid the price of their struggle…Many have expressed reservations about the very notion of a ‘victim’, a term which is felt to denote a certain passivity and helplessness…Military operatives of the liberation movements generally did not report violations they experienced to the Commission, although many who were arrested experienced severe torture. This is in all likelihood a result of their reluctance to be seen as ‘victims’, as opposed to combatants fighting for a moral cause for which they were prepared to suffer such violations. The same can be said for most prominent political activists and leadership figures…The Commission did not, for example, receive a single Human Rights Violation statement from any of the Rivonia trialists."

Some of these, who had to go through the torture chambers of the apartheid regime to bring us our liberty, are with us in this chamber today. There are others who sit on the balcony as visitors, who lost their loved ones whom they pride as liberators, and others who also suffered from repression.

Surely, all of us must feel a sense of humility in the face of such selfless heroism and attachment to principle and morality, the assertion of the nobility of the human spirit that would be demeaned, denied and degraded by any suggestion that these heroes and heroines are but mere ‘victims’, who must receive a cash reward for being simply and deeply human.

I know there are some in this House who do not understand the meaning of what I have just said. They think I have said what I have said to avoid the payment of reparations to those whom the TRC has identified as ‘victims’, within the meaning of the law.

Indeed, the TRC itself makes the gratuitous comment (para 16, p 163, Vol 6) that: "Today, when the government is spending so substantial a portion of its budget on submarines and other military equipment, it is unconvincing to argue that it is too financially strapped to meet this minimal (reparations) commitment."

Apart from anything else, the government has never presented such an argument. It is difficult to understand why the Commission decided to make such a statement.

Elsewhere in Vol 6, the Rev Frank Chikane, Director General in the Presidency and former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, is falsely reported as having made a presentation to the Amnesty Committee, which he never did.

He is then said to have told this Committee that he had participated in killing people. We do not understand how this grave and insulting falsification found its way into the Report of the TRC. We are pleased to report that Archbishop Tutu has written to Rev Chikane to apologise for this inexplicable account.

The poet, Mongane Wally Serote teaches us: ‘to every birth its blood’. And so, today we acknowledge the pain that attended the struggle to give birth to the new life that South Africa has started to enjoy. In this era of increased geopolitical tension, we dare celebrate as South Africans that we found home-grown solutions that set us on a course of reconstruction and development, nation-building, reconciliation and peace among ourselves.

At this time, when great uncertainty about the future of our common world envelops the globe, we dare stand on mountain-tops to proclaim our humble contribution to the efforts of humanity to build a stable, humane and safer South Africa, and by extension, a more stable, more humane and safer world. Honourable Members;

If we should find correct answers to the question, where to from here, we will need to remind ourselves of the objectives of the TRC from its very inception, so aptly captured in the preamble to the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act:

"…the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1993 provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race , class, belief or sex; "…the Constitution states that the pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all South African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society; "…it is deemed necessary to establish the truth in relation to past events as well as the motives for and circumstances in which gross violations of human rights have occurred, and to make the findings known in order to prevent a repetition of such acts in future; "…the Constitution states that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation".

I am certain that we are all at one that the pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all South African citizens and peace, require reconciliation among the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of our society.

These are the larger and fundamental objectives that should inform all of us as we work to give birth to the new South Africa. The occasion of the receipt of the Report of the TRC should give us an opportunity to reflect on these matters.

Both singly and collectively, we should answer the question how far we have progressed in the last nine years towards the achievement of the goals of national unity, national reconciliation and national reconstruction. Both singly and collectively, we have to answer the question, what have we contributed to the realisation of these goals.

These larger questions, which stand at the heart of what our country will be, did not fall within the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC was therefore but an important contributor to the achievement of the larger whole, occupying an important sector within the larger process of the building of a new South Africa.

As stated in the Act, the TRC had to help us to establish the truth in relation to past events as well as the motives for and circumstances in which gross violations of human rights occurred, and to make the findings known in order to prevent a repetition of such acts in future.

It had to help us to promote understanding and avoid vengeance, to extend reparation to those who had been harmed and discourage retaliation, to rely on the spirit of ubuntu as a deterrent against victimisation. The TRC has done its work as was required. As stipulated in the TRC Act, we are here to make various recommendations to our national parliament, arising out of the work of the TRC.

As the Honourable Members are aware, there is a specific requirement in the law that parliament should consider and take decisions on matters relating particularly to reparations. It would then be the task of the Executive to implement these decisions.

The law also provides that the national legislature may also make recommendations to the Executive on other matters arising out of the TRC process, as it may deem fit.

Let us now turn to some of the major specific details that the TRC enjoins us to address.

The first of these is the matter of reparations. First of all, an integrated and comprehensive response to the TRC Report should be about the continuing challenge of reconstruction and development: deepening democracy and the culture of human rights, ensuring good governance and transparency, intensifying economic growth and social programmes, improving citizens’ safety and security and contributing to the building of a humane and just world order.

The TRC also argues for systematic programmes to project the symbolism of struggle and the ideal of freedom. This relates to such matters as academic and informal records of history, remaking of cultural and art forms, erecting symbols and monuments that exalt the freedom struggle, including new geographic and place names. The government accepts these recommendations.

Special emphasis will continue to be paid to rehabilitation of communities that were subjected to intense acts of violence and destruction. Experience gained with the projects in Katorus in Gauteng and Mpumalanga in KwaZulu/Natal demonstrates that great progress can be made in partnership between communities and government.

Further, with regard to specific cases of individual victims identified by the TRC Act, government has put in place and will intensify programmes pertaining to medical benefits, educational assistance and provision of housing and so on. From time to time, Ministers have elaborated and will continue to expatiate on the implementation of these and other related programmes.

The TRC has reported that about 22 000 individuals or surviving families appeared before the Commission. Of these, about 19 000 required urgent reparations, and virtually all of them, where the necessary information was available, were attended to as proposed by the TRC with regard to interim reparations.

With regard to final reparations, government will provide a once-off grant of R30 000 to those individuals or survivors designated by the TRC. This is over and above other material commitments that we have already mentioned.

We intend to process these payments as a matter of urgency, during the current financial year. Combined with community reparations, and assistance through opportunities and services we have referred to earlier, we hope that these disbursements will help acknowledge the suffering that these individuals experienced, and offer some relief.

We do so with some apprehension, for as the TRC itself has underlined, no one can attach monetary value to life and suffering. Nor can an argument be sustained that the efforts of millions of South Africans to liberate themselves, were for monetary gain. We are convinced that, to the millions who spared neither life nor limb in struggle, there is no bigger prize than freedom itself, and a continuing struggle to build a better life for all.

The second of the specific details in the TRC recommendations pertains to the issue of amnesty.

A critical trade-off contained in the TRC process was between "normal" judicial processes on the one hand, and establishment of the truth, reparations and amnesty on the other.

Besides the imperatives of managing the transition, an important consideration that had to be addressed when the TRC was set up, was the extent to which the new democratic state could pursue legal cases against perpetrators of human rights violations, given the resources that would have to be allocated to this, the complexities of establishing the facts beyond reasonable doubt, the time it would take to deal with all the cases, as well as the bitterness and instability that such a process would wreak on society.

The balance that the TRC Act struck among these competing demands was reflected in the national consensus around provision of amnesty – in instances where perpetrators had provided the true facts about particular incidents – and restorative justice which would be effected in the form of reparations. Given that a significant number of people did not apply for amnesty, what approach does government place before the national legislature and the nation on this matter?

Let us start off by reiterating that there shall be no general amnesty. Any such approach, whether applied to specific categories of people or regions of the country, would fly in the face of the TRC process and subtract from the principle of accountability which is vital not only in dealing with the past, but also in the creation of a new ethos within our society.

Yet we also have to deal with the reality that many of the participants in the conflict of the past did not take part in the TRC process. Among these are individuals who were misled by their leadership to treat the process with disdain. Others themselves calculated that they would not be found out, either due to poor TRC investigations or what they believed and still believe is too complex a web of concealment for anyone to unravel. Yet other operatives expected the political leadership of the state institutions to which they belonged to provide the overall context against which they could present their cases: and this was not to be.

This reality cannot be avoided.

Government is of the firm conviction that we cannot resolve this matter by setting up yet another amnesty process, which in effect would mean suspending constitutional rights of those who were at the receiving end of gross human right violations.

We have therefore left this matter in the hands of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, for it to pursue any cases that, as is normal practice, it believes deserve prosecution and can be prosecuted. This work is continuing.

However, as part of this process and in the national interest, the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, working with our intelligence agencies, will leave its doors open for those who are prepared to divulge information at their disposal and to co-operate in unearthing the truth, for them to enter into arrangements that are standard in the normal execution of justice, and which are accommodated in our legislation.

This is not a desire for vengeance; nor would it compromise the rights of citizens who may wish to seek justice in our courts.

It is critically important that, as a government, we should continue to establish the truth about networks that operated against the people. This is an obligation that attaches to the nation’s security today; for, some of these networks still pose a real or latent danger against our democracy. In some instances, caches of arms have been retained which lend themselves to employment in criminal activity.

This approach leaves open the possibility for individual citizens to take up any grievance related to human rights violations with the courts.

Thirdly, in each instance where any legal arrangements are entered into between the NDPP and particular perpetrators as proposed above, the involvement of the victims will be crucial in determining the appropriate course of action.

Relevant Departments are examining the practical modalities of dealing with this matter; and they will also establish whether specific legislation is required in this regard.

We shall also endeavour to explain South Africa’s approach on these matters to sister-governments across the world. Our response to any judicial matters from these countries will be handled in this spirit and through the legal system. In this regard, we wish to reiterate our call to governments that continue to do so, that the maltreatment of former anti-apartheid fighters, based on the legal definitions of an illegal regime characterised by the United Nations as a crime against humanity, should cease.

In the recent past, the issue of litigation and civil suits against corporations that benefited from the apartheid system has sharply arisen. In this regard, we wish to reiterate that the South African Government is not and will not be party to such litigation.

In addition, we consider it completely unacceptable that matters that are central to the future of our country should be adjudicated in foreign courts which bear no responsibility for the well-being of our country and the observance of the perspective contained in our constitution of the promotion of national reconciliation.

While Government recognises the right of citizens to institute legal action, its own approach is informed by the desire to involve all South Africans, including corporate citizens, in a co-operative and voluntary partnership to reconstruct and develop South African society. Accordingly, we do not believe that it would be correct for us to impose the once-off wealth tax on corporations proposed by the TRC.

Consultations are continuing with the business community to examine additional ways in which they can contribute to the task of the reconstruction and development of our society, proceeding from the premise that this is in their own self-interest. In addition to intensifying work with regard to such tasks as poverty eradication, and programmes such as Black Economic Empowerment, encouraging better individual corporate social responsibility projects, implementation of equity legislation and the Skills Training Levy, we intend to improve the work of the Business Trust.

In this context, we must emphasise that our response to the TRC has to be integrated within the totality of the enormous effort in which we are engaged, to ensure the fundamental social transformation of our country. This requires that at all times, we attain the necessary balance among the various goals we have to pursue.

The TRC also recommends that what it describes as the beneficiaries of apartheid should also make contributions to a reparation fund. The government believes that all South Africans should make such contributions. In the pursuit of the goal of a non-racial society, in which all South Africans would be inspired by a common patriotism, we believe that we should begin to learn to work together, uniting to address the common national challenges, such as responding to the consequences of the gross violations of human rights of which the TRC was seized.

In this regard, I am certain that members of our government will be among the first to make their contributions to the reparation fund, despite the fact that they stood on one side of the barricades as we engaged in struggle to end the apartheid system.

Many in our country have called for a National Day of Prayer and Traditional Sacrifice to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives and suffered during the difficult period of oppression and repression whose legacy remains with us. The government accepts this suggestion and will consult as widely as possible to determine the date and form of such prayer and traditional sacrifice. This is consistent with and would be an appropriate response to the proposals made by the TRC for conferences to heal the memory and honour those who were executed.

We shall also continue to work in partnership with countries of the sub-continent, jointly to take part in the massive reconstruction and development effort that SADC has identified as critical to building a better life for all. The peoples of Southern Africa, including the majority in South Africa endured untold privations and were subjected to destabilisation and destruction of property and infrastructure. They all deserve the speeding up of programmes of integration, reconstruction and development that governments of the region have agreed upon.

Madame Speaker; The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has made many detailed observations and recommendations on structures and systems, which will be dealt with by relevant Ministers and Departments.

For the purpose of reparations, the government has already established the President’s Fund, which is now operational, and has, as we earlier indicated, successfully dealt with the matter of urgent reparations. Like the TRC, we do hope that citizens from all sectors will find it within themselves to make a contribution to this Fund. Most of the resources that have been allocated for individual and community reparations that we referred to above will be sourced from this Fund, over and above the normal work of the relevant Departments.

We concur with the TRC that intensive work should be undertaken on the matter of monuments as well as geographic and place names. A Trust with the requisite infrastructure, headed by Mongane Wally Serote has been set up to implement the main project in this regard, which is the construction of the Freedom Park whose constituent parts are the Memorial, the Garden of Remembrance and the Museum. This should start by the tenth anniversary of freedom in 2004.

The National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and relevant Departments will be requested to deal with matters relating to people who were unaccounted for, post mortem records and policy with regard to burials of unidentified persons. We would like to encourage all persons who might have any knowledge of people still unaccounted for to approach the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the South African Police Service and other relevant departments.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will monitor the implementation of all these programmes, and it will report to Cabinet on an on-going basis.

What we have identified today, arising out of the report of the TRC, forms part of the panoply of programmes that define the first steps in a journey that has truly begun. South African society is changing for the better. The tide has turned and the people’s contract for a better tomorrow is taking shape. The goals we defined for ourselves a decade ago, as we adopted the Interim Constitution, to pursue national unity, to secure peace and the well-being of all South African citizens, to achieve national reconciliation and the reconstruction of our society, have not fully been realised, despite the progress we have made.

The situation we face demands that none of us should succumb to the false comfort that now we live in a normal society that has overcome the legacy of the past, and which permits us to consider our social tasks as mere business as usual.

Rather, it demands that we continue to be inspired by the determination and vision that enabled us to achieve the transition from apartheid rule to a democratic order in the manner that we did. It demands that we act together as one people to address what are truly national tasks.

We have to ask ourselves and honestly answer simple questions. Have we succeeded to create a non-racial society! The answer to this question is no! Have we succeeded to build a non-sexist society! The answer to that question is no! Have we succeeded to eradicate poverty! Once more the answer to that question is no! Have we succeeded fully to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, the children, the youth, people with disabilities and the elderly! Once again the answer to this question is no!

Without all this, it is impossible for us to claim that we have met our goals of national reconciliation and reconstruction and development. It is not possible for us to make the assertion that we have secured the well-being of all South African citizens.

The road we have travelled and the advances we have made convey the firm message that we are moving towards the accomplishment of the objectives we set ourselves. They tell us that, in the end, however long the road we still have to travel, we will win.

In the larger sense, we were all victims of the system of apartheid, both black and white. Some among us suffered because of oppression, exploitation, repression and exclusion. Others among us suffered because we were imprisoned behind prison walls of fear, paralysed by inhuman beliefs in our racial superiority, and called upon to despise and abuse other human beings. Those who do such things cannot but diminish their own humanity.

To be true to ourselves as human beings demands that we act together to overcome the legacy of this common and terrible past. It demands that we do indeed enter into a people’s contract for a better tomorrow.

Together we must confront the challenge of steering through a complex transition that demands that we manage the historical fault-lines, without papering over the cracks, moved by a new and common patriotism.

It says to all of us that we must honour those who shed their blood so that we can sit together in this Chamber by doing all the things that will make it possible for us to say, this South Africa that we have rebuilt together, truly belongs to all who live in it.

I am honoured to commend the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to our National Houses of Parliament and the nation.

Thank you.

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