Saturday, August 18, 2012

SA's brutal Marikana mine massacre: Reminder of darkest days of apartheid

A clip of the tragic shooting at the Lonmin Marikana mine in north-eastern South Africa on Thursday. Video: eNCA - South Africa's leading independent news channel

Open letter to SA President Jacob Zuma – By John Minto

Kia ora President Zuma,

Many New Zealanders who demonstrated so strongly against the apartheid system in the 1970s and 1980s have watched with growing alarm at the direction the African National Congress (ANC) leadership has taken South Africa since the first democratic election in 1994.

The events of the last week culminating in the Marikana massacre of 34 striking mineworkers with dozens injured is the inevitable outcome of the ANC choice to follow free-market economic policies which, wherever and whenever they have been employed in human history, have always transferred wealth from the poor to the rich and stripped hope from the majority.

Under the ANC we have seen South Africa change seemlessly from race-based apartheid to economic apartheid.

We didn’t protest here just to see a few black faces at the top table in South Africa. We didn’t turn out in our tens of thousands to face batons and barbed wire so the likes of former anti-apartheid leaders such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Julius Malema could become obscenely rich off the backs of South Africa’s workers – 34 of whom were riddled with police bullets two days ago.

The appalling scenes played out on our TV screens are reminiscent of the darkest days of apartheid such as the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the murder of black school children in Soweto in June 1976.

Just as we held the apartheid regime responsible for those massacres, we now hold the ANC government responsible for the massacre of striking mineworkers.

You and your government have blood on their hands.

Leadership betrayal
This year is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the ANC – it should be a time of pride and celebration for all the people of South Africa but the betrayal of the struggle by the ANC leadership leaves most of us cold.

As a spokesperson for Abahlahli baseMjondolo, which is struggling for decent housing against violence and intimidation said last month:

“All is slowly sinking as the new government is making sure that we remember the heroes of the struggle but not what the struggle was for”.

At this time of deep sadness for those and injured and their families, and anger at the ineptitude, self-service and corruption running to the core of your government, we stand once more with the poor and oppressed people of South Africa and their struggle for freedom, hope and dignity.

John Minto is a Global Justice and Peace Auckland (GPJA) spokesperson and a tireless campaigner for social justice in South Africa. He is a previous contributor to Café Pacific.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cheap shot Fiji website takes another beating

How the Fiji Sun reported the SDL submission on Friday, August 10.
COUP 4.5 has hardly been the website to go when seeking informed and dispassionate background as the country goes through momentous and controversial changes leading into the 2014 elections. But this week it took another beating at the hands of Fiji-born and award-winning journalist Graham Davis. And a few news organisations took a credibility drubbing as well. This was part of the summing up on the Davis blog Grubsheet:

DYING OF SHAME By Graham Davis

It’s taken five days for the main anti-regime news website, Coup Four and a Half, to report that the SDL – the party of the deposed government of Laisenia Qarase – is advocating that Fiji become a Christian state. News that a delegation led by the SDL president, Solomoni Naivalu, had made a submission to this effect to the Constitutional Commission broke last Monday.

But while Coup 4.5 has been quick to post other items – including an Amnesty International report critical of Fiji – it greeted the disclosure of the SDL submission with total silence. Finally on Saturday morning, it posted this brief item:
SDL to front regarding the Naivalu submission.
Nothing like the whiff of racism and homophobia to get people stirring the pot again but given Fiji’s complicated history, it is not surprising.
A submission was made to the Constitution Commission this week on behalf of the SDL Party, by Solomon Naivalu and others.
That submission calls for:
1) Fiji to be declared a Christian state
2) Fiji be the official language of the country
3) i-taukei to be known only as Fijian
4) References to sexual orientation removed from human rights laws.
Coupfourpointfive understands despite this presentation to the Yash Ghai team, the SDL Party has not yet made an official submission.
Apart from the extraordinary first sentence that tries to spin the story back on its critics, the anonymous so-called journalists behind Coup 4.5 also aren’t telling the full story. They know – because Naivalu has confirmed it – that this submission and others like it are being presented by SDL constituency committees as a prelude to the main SDL submission due next month.

Naivalu has described it as a summary of the main submission. In other words, all these provisions will be included in a more detailed document. But you won’t be reading this on Coup 4.5, a website with only a passing acquaintance with the truth if that truth doesn’t suit its own agenda.
It’s definitely a case of selective reporting. Which proves that the so called “pro-democracy”, anti-regime elements of the international diaspora are having huge trouble coming to terms with the revelation. It’s clearly such a major embarrassment – a sudden woopsy of elephantine proportions – that they’re just hoping it will go away. Coup 4.5 is clearly struggling with what to say to its multiracial audience, which is routinely treated to contributions from Indo-Fijian anti-regime agitators like Wadan Narsey and Victor Lal.

After all, the party it supports wants to make Hindus and Muslims in Fiji bow to an exclusively Christian form of government. Presumably a Methodist theocracy – given the grassroots membership of the SDL – and the equivalent of an Islamic state elsewhere.

From where Grubsheet sits at week’s end, even some of the SDL’s strongest supporters seem to be dying of shame. They’re being asked to support not only a Christian state, but Fijian as the official language, an end to dual citizenship, only the i’Taukei to be identified as Fijians and an end to the constitutional protection of the gay and lesbian community. No wonder they want to pass by pretending that the stinking parcel of ordure that the SDL has suddenly dumped on the pavement has nothing to do with them. But they can’t ignore it for much longer. Next month, Coup 4.5 will have to report the main SDL submission whether it likes it or not or lose what remaining credibility it has. Which isn’t much.

Strange too, that having run two separate reports that there was “confusion” over whether the SDL had made a submission calling for a Christian state, that Radio Australia has chosen not to report Naivalu’s confirmation. Another case of selective reporting from the Australian public broadcaster? 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stade Français surprise Pumas in rugby upset

Stade Français scrumhalf Julian Dupuy fires off a pass during the win over the Pumas. Image: Rugby365
CAFÉ PACIFIC departs from its usual socio-political media fare for another rugby interlude. This time to mark the shock victory by the French club side Stade Français over the national Argentinian rugby side Pumas preparing for the new-look four nations Rugby Championship against the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies. As nothing has appeared on the English language wires on the weekend game in Buenos Aires – but hundreds of items in French and Spanish - here is a translated brief update from the Rugby365.fr website:
What a victory! To prepare for the forthcoming Four Nations championship, Argentina chose Stade Français as its sparring partner. And favourites Argentina have been trumped! In front of about 25,000 people in a magnificent atmosphere at the Vélèz Sarsfield Stadium, the Parisian club won 25-21. The result reflected a strong comeback by Stade Français in the last quarter of the game. “It’s an incredible victory,” Stade Français captain Sergio Parisse told ESPN. “We knew that these two matches against the Pumas were going to be difficult, but we have seen a great rugby match in this first game.”
The Pumas led 16-12 at halftime and scored two tries to one. The game marked the return of Juan Martin Hernandez as the Pumas flyhalf, who kicked three penalties and converted a try by Horacio Agulla in the first half. Stade scrumhalf Julian Dupuy, who played in a French victory over the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2009, replied with four penalties. Juan Imhoff added another try for the Pumas in the second half. But a converted Stade try by Laurent Sempere signalled a brilliant fightback 10 minutes from the end of the game. Two penalties by Jérémy Sinzelle sealed the win. Veteran Pumas pivot Felipe Contepomi played at flyhalf for Stade Francais.

The Pumas play Stade Français again next weekend before playing South Africa at Newlands in Capetown on August 18. Stade finished seventh in the French Top 14 last season. In June, France beat the Pumas 49-10 in the second test in Les Bleus' first victory in Argentina for more than a decade.

POSTSCRIPT: The Pumas followed up with a 31-17 (14-7) victory over Stade Français the following weekend and now face the Springboks in their first championship match at Newlands next Saturday.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sex, Spooks and Wikileaks: Assange and Swedish justice

Photo: Ali Bell
A colleague and Broadsword columnist on the Pacific Media Centre Online now lives in Stockholm. She has been taking a keen interest in the Wikileaks and Julian Assange extradition case.  She has some interesting insights. Check out her introductory thoughts here and then read the rest of the article at PMC Online.

By Ali Bell

I have been asked so many times by folk in New Zealand what Swedes make of the Assange case, I thought it would be clarifying to put it together in an article, but crystal clear it isn't. “The truth” might be out there but nowhere I can swear by.

So much of what is reported is speculation, rumour and online leaks, following it is like following a plot more convoluted than an episode of TV's Spooks, with just as many possible inside governmental plots and backstage international alliances, with attractive “stock characters” as sexy Swedish female patsies or (least likely) honeytrapping spies, and with secrecy in every phonecall nook and governmental-memo cranny.

Thrown in to boot – a momentous hot potato like Wikileaks but with a hard-to-warm-to protagonist, and on top of all this a sexual-crimes case that has us all gobsmacked (including at least one of the victims) and set it in one of the most socio-politically idealistic but judicially flawed countries in the Western world – it would be an enthralling TV show indeed.  24  (or in this case 23 months and counting) eat your heart out.

But it hasn't been 24 hours, and we are getting media fatigue – I know I am – from the case. How long can Assange hang out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after all?

No Swede I have talked to believes this rape/sex crimes charge comes from a genuine wish to clean up the world for women's sexual safety. (Rapes in Sweden can be as difficult as other Western countries to get a conviction for.)

Everyone mentions the timing of the charges as being far too convenient (in order to get Assange into custody here), and no-one doubts, erroneously or not, that the Swedes intend to hand him over to the Americans and that Assange has every reason to fear this.

It must be noted that the public prosecutor in charge of this case vehemently denies that this is Sweden's intention.

What we do know is there were leaks everywhere – and not just from Assange's condoms.

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