KADER Asmal did not die a bitter man, but who would have blamed him if he had? His political career in South Africa after his return from exile followed two distinct trajectories. The first encompassed his participation in the drafting of the constitution and his service in the cabinet of Nelson Mandela.
During that time, Asmal helped construct one of the world’s foremost progressive societies, one in which the rule of law held sway, but within a framework of compassionate, humanitarian values aimed at advancing the position of the poorest in society.
During that phase, he enjoyed the unqualified support — and frequent public admiration — of Mandela, who saw in him a fearless proponent of reconciliation.
It helped that Asmal had a wicked sense of humour, for the society that was being constructed was one in which the humanity of the people stood in the foreground, with the machinery of state at their service.
Among his contributions beyond the constitution were the formulation of guidelines prohibiting the sale of arms to countries where they would be used to suppress democracy or wage unjust wars.
And he drove the drafting of rules on the declaration of private assets and the acceptance of gifts by public figures.
The second trajectory began when he found himself sidelined under former president Thabo Mbeki.
He resigned as an MP to avoid having to vote in favour of the disbanding of the Scorpions.
He was to witness growing challenges to his life’s work from within ANC ranks.
The constitution he had helped craft became an object of derision by a rising cohort of populist leaders.
Transparency and openness gave way to opacity as some public officials amassed vast fortunes while still in office.
The sale of arms to whomever became strategically significant swept away the high standard he had set in this terrain, and now South African arms and vehicles can be seen suppressing democratic protests all over the world.
Asmal found himself increasingly on the outside, one of only a handful of voices speaking out against the erosion of the country’s founding democratic values.
Finally he found himself outside the parliament he had helped to bring to life, addressing those protesting against the Protection of Information Bill about the need to fight against this pernicious legislation.
He occupied high office within the government, but that was a means, not an end. When the time came for him to stand with the protestors outside parliament, he did not hesitate to do so.
His was a life of service to the idea of a great South African society. Long may his legacy live.
*This is a draft leader for the Sunday Times
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OUTCOME OF THE ANC NATIONAL DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE ON THE HEARING OF COMRADE JULIUS MALEMA
On the 3 and 11 May 2010 the National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) of the ANC convened to consider charges against comrade Julius Malema (the Respondent). The charges had been brought by the National Officials of the African National Congress (the Complainant).
On 3 May 2010, the NDC heard and ruled on procedural matters presented on behalf of the Respondent.
The final NDC panel that heard the case consisted of cdes Derek Hanekom (chairperson), Ayanda Dlodlo and FÈbÈ Potgieter-Gqubule. Read More…
TODAY the Sunday Times reports that the ANC’s youth league leader, Julius Malema, is expected to plead guilty at a disciplinary hearing on Monday.
Malema is being hauled over the coals for a series of outrageous statements, including his public support for Robert Mugabe and comments that former president Thabo Mbeki was more tolerant of blustering rhetoric than president Jacob Zuma.
Malema is staring down the barrel because he faces a really tough committee which includes Collins Chabane, a minister in Zuma’s office, who is a political rival from Limpopo as well as Susan Shabangu and Zola Skweyiya who have already publicly rebuked Malema for earlier comments.
The strategy of a guilty plea appears to have been devised by ANC treasurer general, Mathews Phosa, who is set to represent Malema at the hearing and it is a wise one because it may result in leniency.
The league has a second strategy up its sleeve: It will claim that it has already apologised for the statements before the ANC leadership and that the hearing is not necessary.
The ANC believes the hearing is an internal matter, but there is immense public interest in the outcome because it will indicate just how much weight Malema’s aggressive policy platform carries in the ruling party.
THE ANC has set the 5th of May as the date on which it will begin disciplinary proceedings against its errant youth leader, Julius Malema.
The charges revolve around Malema’s deliberate breech of an ANC instruction not to incite race tensions following the murder of Eugene Terre Blanche and his open support for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
What is not immediately clear is just how committed the ANC is to imposing discipline on Malema.
A statement issued after the ANC’s top leadership met with the leadership of its youth league read: “The ANC has preferred charges against the ANC Youth League President, Cde Julius Malema. In this regard, we would like to restate that issues of discipline in the ANC belongs to the structures of the ANC and are therefore not matters of the public or the media.”
This request for privacy is wishful thinking by the ANC. The fact is that this matter is of great interest to all who wish to ascertain which path the ruling party intends leading the country down.
If it were to be phrased crudely, the question on the lips of the nation is this: Does our future belong to those who would like to nationalise the economy, support Robert Mugabe and stir up racial tensions or not?
The meeting between the leaders gave some insight into the answer to this question.
What is known is that the ANC’s secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, missed the bulk of the meeting with the league because he had to attend the graduation ceremony of one of his children.
The absence of Mantashe, both because of his official duties and his low tolerance for the likes of Malema, does not bode well for the disciplinary process.
Some accounts of the meeting suggest that the league mounted a defence of sorts — to the effect that Malema was speaking on behalf the the organisation and not off his own bat.
This would be an extraordinary step in any organisation as such discussion usually only takes place within the confines of the official proceedings.
Such a contribution ought to have been ruled out of order and reserved for the proceedings themselves.
When May 5 comes around, the country would like to see the ruling party re-establish order.
The ANC needs to decide on and vigorously pursue a value system that the majority of South Africans can buy into, one which is unequivocally against racism and intolerant of rabble-rousing populism.
This applies to the disciplinary hearing, but it also applies beyond the doors of Luthuli House.
The country expects government and the President to provide strong and clear leadership in an environment where there are challenges to the stability of the country.
For nearly a year now, the Presidency has played host to a Planning Minister, but no plan has yet emerged as Trevor Manuel appears caught in an endless cycle of consultations with parties who contest his authority.
Zuma must bring all of this uncertainty about the direction we are taking to an end by providing clear leadership and spelling out a vision for this country that we can all help achieve.
JACOB Zuma has finally said what his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki ought to have said a long time ago: You can’t blame the lack of services and facilities on apartheid some 16 years into democracy.
In an under-reported statement to his director generals on Friday, Zuma said: “After two decades we will not be able to make an excuse if we do not deliver faster change in the lives of our people.”
He went on to say: “We will not be able to blame apartheid if villages still have no water, no electricity, no roads. We will not be able to blame anyone else if children still study under trees, if houses and schools are falling apart.”
I happen to believe that apartheid must still shoulder the blame for creating a society so vastly unequal that even the proper use of resources over the last 16 years would not have levelled the playing field.
But that is not the point. The point is to take responsibility and that is what Zuma has done. Government must stand up and account for failures in delivery. And, he also said, strong action must be taken against those who undermine the state’s ability to deliver with inefficiency and corruption.
NEWS – yet to be confirmed but solidly reported in The Times - that Julius Malema is be let off the hook by the ANC following a meeting of the two organisations yesterday shows just how weak a presidency Jacob Zuma is running.
The only way to properly understand this is to see him as the equivalent of a coalition ruler who must appease the parties that placed him in power or lose it all. The ANC’s coalition was not forged at last year’s election, it was forged at Polokwane where Zuma united all those against Mbeki to take power.
But the coalition partners – the ANC’s Youth League, Cosatu, the SACP – have made it plain that they owe Zuma no loyalty and are quite willing to openly and publicly contradict him.
And Zuma has shown that he is simply in no position to impose discipline for fear of losing support.
This plays right into Zuma’s leadership style of pandering to all and never making his own views known. His response to criticism appear to be to call for “a national debate” instead of spelling out how he sees it.
The message to the ANC leadership is simple: It’s a free for all. Say what you want, do what you want and Zuma will pretend that its all just part of the ANC way.
GWEDE Mantashe, the ANC’s secretary general, has just made an extraordinary statement on corruption in a speech in Johannesburg.
The gist of it appears to be summarised in this sentence: “…What we inherited actually corrupted us and therefore we are actually managing a corrupt system and a wrong value system.
“…The new order [after 1994]… inherited a well entrenched value system that placed individual acquisition of wealth at the very centre of the value system of our society as a whole.”
Of course none of us should forget that the Apartheid government was corrupt – perhaps even massively corrupt – as there were no checks and balances or independent watchdog institutions to catch them out.
But to claim that 16 years after that pernicious system was thrown out, you are still held in its mesmerising thrall is a little rum, to put it mildly.
What is more correct is that there was a similiar culture of self-enrichment already in place within the new elite. It didn’t take long for it to expand its reach from the party to the state. Read More…
The Times reports today that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has publicly challenged Jacob Zuma who publicly rebuked him this weekend.
Malema said at the end of the league’s Limpopo conference: ”…I was shocked by what happened . . . even president [Thabo] Mbeki, having differed with the youth league and the youth league taking such firm radical positions against him, I have never seen him doing that before.”
So the gauntlet has been thrown down and there will now be a confrontation. The Times reports that Malema faces four disciplinary charges related to:
•Defying a High Court ruling banning the singing of the struggle song Dubul’ ibhunu;
•Defying the national executive committee ruling on the public comments and behaviour of ANC members and leaders;
•Interfering in and undermining the Zimbabwe peace process by siding with Zanu-PF and verbally attacking the MDC; and
•Launching verbal attacks on journalists.