Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Award: Open Letter to President of South Africa


Open Letter to the President of South Africa

From John Minto

Tena koe Thabo Mbeki,

I understand a nomination has been put forward for me to receive a South African honour later this year, the Companions of O R Tambo Award, on behalf of HART and the anti-apartheid movement of New Zealand for our work campaigning to end apartheid in South Africa.

I note the particular honour is conferred by the President of South Africa and awarded to "foreign citizens who have promoted South African interests and aspirations through co-operation, solidarity and support".

We are proud of the role played by the movement here to assist the struggle against apartheid and I appreciate the sentiment behind the nomination. However after the most careful consideration I respectfully request the nomination proceed no further. Were an award to be made I would decline to accept it either personally or on behalf of the movement.

New Zealanders who campaigned against apartheid did so to bring real and meaningful change in the lives of South Africa's impoverished and disenfranchised black communities. We were appalled and angered at the callous brutality of a system based on racism and exploitation of black South Africans for the benefit of South African corporations.

However while political rights have been won and celebrated, social and economic rights have been sidelined. It is now 14 years since the first African National Congress government was elected to power but for most the situation is no better, and frequently worse, than it was under white minority rule.

The number of South Africans living on less than $1 a day more than doubled to 2.4 million in the first 10 years of ANC government. Despite strong economic growth overall poverty levels have not improved and the gap between rich and poor has increased with many black families being driven more deeply into poverty. Unemployment remains high at around 26%.

It seems the entire economic structure which underpinned apartheid is essentially unchanged. Oppression based on race has morphed seamlessly into oppression based on economic circumstance. The faces at the top have changed from white to black but the substance of change is an illusion.

None of us expected things to change overnight but we did expect the hope for change to always burn brightly as people looked ahead for their children and grandchildren. This is now a pale gleam, dimmed by the destructive power of free-market economics.

My own country New Zealand preceded the ANC in adopting free-market economic reforms. Since 1984 we have experienced a particularly virulent dose of these vicious policies which have brought wealth to the few at the expense of the many.

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand families have been driven out of decent employment into poverty where they struggle to raise families on part-time, poorly paid work. They are worse off now than they were 20 years ago. The same policies have brought the same outcomes to South Africa. For the majority life is tougher now than at any time since the ANC came to power.

The promises made by those who drove through the reforms in New Zealand were a lie just as they are in South Africa. Wherever these policies have been put in place anywhere in the world they have resulted in a reverse Robin Hood � a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

When we protested and marched into police batons and barbed wire here in the struggle against apartheid we were not fighting for a small black elite to become millionaires. We were fighting for a better South Africa for all its citizens.

I take heart from the many community groups in South Africa fighting against privatisation of community assets; supporting settlements against forced removals; opposing police harassment and brutality; struggling for decent healthcare, water supplies and education; campaigning for decent pay, reasonable working conditions and affordable houses. These people, such as the Durban Shackdwellers, are looking for respect and dignity as human beings. Many carry the ideals of the Freedom Charter, once the bedrock document for ANC policy, close to their hearts.

Apartheid was accurately described as a 'crime against humanity' by the United Nations and the ANC. I could not in all conscience attend a ceremony to receive an award conferred by your office while a similar crime is in progress.

Receiving an award would inevitably associate myself and the movement here with ANC government policies. At one time this may have been a source of pride but it would now be a source of personal embarrassment which I am not prepared to endure.

Yours sincerely,

John Minto


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

To date, the Opposition has continued to occupy itself with the marginalia of the issue. E.g. whether Key did or didn’t know whether Barack Obama would be present at the US briefing last week on IS, or whether New Zealand’s military involvement is or isn’t already a fait accompli.

It might be better to tackle the issue, head on. Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn.
More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Tea Breaks 'Gone By Lunch Time'

“How cynical that on the eve of Labour weekend, the National government is pushing through legislation that takes away the statutory right to tea and meal breaks along with collective bargaining protections, and makes vulnerable workers jobs even less secure." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Tertiary Education: Students Doing It Tough As Fees Rise Again

The Government is making it increasingly difficult for Kiwis to gain tertiary education as fees continue to rise and access to student support becomes even more restricted, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. More>>

ALSO:

Housing, Iraq: PM Press Conference – 20 October 2014

Prime Minister John Key met with press today to discuss:
• Housing prices and redevelopment in Auckland
• Discussions with Tony Abbott on the governmental response to ISIS, and New Zealand’s election to the UN Security Council More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news