South Africa marks Freedom Day, apartheid ended 25 years ago

“A quarter-century ago South Africa’s blacks finally were able to vote, bringing democracy to the country. But long after the brutal apartheid system of racial discrimination, speakers said many still struggle to find a decent life.“What is the meaning of freedom if many people in a township are unemployed?” asked David Makhura, premier of Gauteng province, which includes South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria.“What is the meaning of freedom if you don’t have a job? Or if you don’t have a house or land?” Makhura said the government of the African National Congress party is working to get title deeds for black South Africans: “The land must belong to our people!”All South Africans must respect the rights of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex citizens, the premier added, saying many in the LGBTI community still suffer violence and discrimination in their workplaces, in church and elsewhere.”

Source: South Africa marks Freedom Day, apartheid ended 25 years ago

State Funeral for our Beloved President Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela State Funeral Update: Statement By Minister Chabane On Behalf Of The Inter-Ministerial Committee For The State Funeral

8 December 2013

nelson-tribute-bg
 

Fellow South Africans,

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Welcome to this latest update on the preparations for the State Funeral for our beloved President.

We are pleased to have with us:

  • The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane;
  • The Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters;
  • The Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg, Mr Parks Tau,
  • and representatives of the City of Tshwane.

These leaders are here to provide closer details of some of the logistics in and around the two cities, as well as South Africa’s hosting of the large number of international dignitaries who have begun to arrive.

We will in this briefing provide more information on some of the arrangements on which we reported yesterday.

But we do again want to start by thanking people around the country and the world for their warm and generous responses in the wake of the passing of our beloved President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

These demonstrations of love and affection will go a long way to entrenching our memories of Madiba and in shaping the way we live and work with one another as human beings in this country and beyond.

What we have seen over the past few days reflects the true spirit of South Africa as a place where people of all backgrounds are working together to create a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous society. These efforts are creating the hope that we will achieve even greater things than we have during the first 20 Years of Freedom.

I now want to turn to the update on the programme over the next few hours and days.

1. DAY OF PRAYER AND REFLECTION: TODAY, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 2013

Government has been heartened by the positive response of various communities of faith and other civil society formations to President Jacob Zuma’s call for today to be observed as a day of prayer and reflection.

We are aware that a large number of events are being held in South Africa and abroad today, giving people an opportunity to come together in fellowship and reflection.

We hope these events will bring comfort and healing to congregants and participants, and that it will inspire all of humanity to ensure that Madiba’s values live on in our hearts and in our actions.

As these events take place, government agencies will be hard at work making preparations for the rest of the week’s official programme.

2. INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

From today we will see the arrival of a large contingent of Heads of State and Government and a broad range of eminent persons, including royalty.

The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice, reflects the special place President Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe.

We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures.

We appreciate the willingness showed by a broad range of eminent persons to come to South Africa to join us personally at this time of mourning, reflection and celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.

To date, 13 African states have confirmed attendance, in addition to 15 from outside the continent.

International and regional organisations from the United Nations and European Commission to the African Union, for example, have also confirmed attendance.

Eleven (11) Eminent Persons will also be in South Africa during this period.
From the United States, President and Mrs Obama will be accompanied by three former Presidents – Carter, Bush (George W), Clinton and their spouses, and 26 Congressmen.

The Brazilian President, Ms Dilma Rousseff, will be accompanied by four former Heads of State: Presidents Sarney, Melo, Cardoso and Lula da Silva.

We expect more confirmations, and we wish to reiterate that our international guests are most welcome as they join us at this difficult time.

3. OFFICIAL MEMORIAL SERVICE: FNB STADIUM, JOHANNESBURG

The Official Memorial Service at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, December 10. The event will begin formally at 11am. Gates will open at 6am.

This is an international event that will be attended by members of the public alongside national and international leaders.

The President of the Republic of South Africa will address the official memorial service.

The programme will also include tributes by Heads of State from the various regions of the globe, the continent and representatives of international and regional organisations. Eminent persons will also address the gathering.

As we invite people to participate in this event, we must make the additional point that the body of President Mandela will not be in position at the Official Memorial Service. President Mandela will lie in state at the Union Buildings only from Wednesday, December 11 to 13 December 2013.

Our advice is that people outside Gauteng come together in their own provinces to ensure that this is a truly nationwide event, and that people take advantage of the fact that all key events are being broadcast live.

Provincial and local authorities have been requested to arrange transport for mourners from various parts of the country to FNB Stadium and the overflow venues at Ellis Park Stadium, Orlando Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium.

Big screens will be installed at the overflow venues to allow members of the public to follow proceedings at FNB Stadium in the company of compatriots.

While these venues offer extensive seating, people must accept that at some stage this capacity will be filled and police and other authorities will turn people away.

We call on people to cooperate and demonstrate patience and dignity if they were to be turned away.

Government is doing all it can to allow as many people as possible to be part of these official events, but there are limits to how many people we can reasonably accommodate.

Members of the public who want to attend the National Memorial Service at FNB or other stadiums must plan their trips carefully, leave early and use public transport. No cars will be allowed in the vicinity of FNB Stadium.

ROAD CLOSURES, PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND PARK AND RIDE

  • There will be road closures around FNB Stadium and no cars will be allowed at the stadium. Some of the road closures have already been listed on various government websites, including http://www.mandela.gov.za.
  • There will also be road closures on Tuesday morning around Orlando, Ellis Park and Dobsonville stadiums.
  • Mourners to FNB Stadium can travel by Metrorail from all major stations in Gauteng.
  • They will also be able to travel by Gautrain to Park Station and transfer to Metrorail to FNB Stadium.
  • People will also be able to walk from the surrounding areas to the stadium, and
  • A special Rea Vaya service will also be in operation.
  • The City of Joburg has a number of Park and Ride sites for FNB Stadium, Ellis Park and Orlando Stadium. Members of the public must watch the media, visit websites and follow broadcast media for details.

The City of Joburg has also established Mourning Sites at various locations but the City will provide more details in its own briefing here shortly.

4. PUBLIC VIEWING AREAS FOR REGIONAL MEMORIAL EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY

We must emphasise that also on Tuesday, provincial authorities will be hosting various events around the country where people are invited to come together to view the national event at FNB Stadium on big screens.

These public viewing areas, which are normally activated during national events such as the State of the Nation Address, will be similar to the “fan parks” that were in place during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Around 90 big screens will be set up by Government Communications (GCIS) and partners in all provinces.

We expect this number will increase as provincial plans are consolidated later this afternoon.

Some of the big screens will be live from Tuesday 10 December to Monday 16 December, which is Day of Reconciliation.

On the Day of Reconciliation, we will unveil a statue of President Mandela at the Union Buildings and observe the 100th anniversary of the Union Buildings as the seat of government.

Throughout this period, people will also be able to express their emotions and reflections in books of condolence that have been posted at various government offices around the country and our diplomatic missions abroad.

Details of the sites where books of condolence have been opened have been posted on the government memorial website, http://www.mandela.gov.za.

Details of the public viewing areas for Tuesday’s provincial events will be posted on government websites and social media later today, Sunday.

5. LYING IN STATE: WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11 TO 13, 2013

The procession will leave 1 Military Hospital at 7am daily and President Mandela’s body will be on view from 8am.

On Wednesday December 11, the Mandela family and VVIPs will view the body from 10am.

Members of the public will file past the body from 12h00 to 17h30.

On Thursday and Friday December 12 and 13, the public will have access to casket from 8am to 5.30pm.

We also appeal to people to work with the various agencies of government who will manage this route so that this daily event will be dignified and secure.

Two sites in Pretoria will be used as points from which mourners will be shuttled to the Union Buildings and back. No other access will be possible. Mourners are also advised that cellphones will need to be off and out of sight as mourners file past the body.

Government reiterates its appeal for members of the public to line the memorial route each morning to form a public guard of honour. The public guard of honour will not apply in the evening.

STATE FUNERAL, QUNU

More information will be released in the coming days about arrangements for the laying to rest of President Mandela at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

However, it is worth noting that South African Airways will operate a special air transport service to ferry mourners who will attend the funeral of world icon and former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape.

This special service – for which travellers will pay – will cater for mourners who will attend the funeral and the service will also be available on the return leg of their travel.

The special service does not replace and will not disrupt SAA’s existing daily operations to the Eastern Cape – except that airspace will be restricted around Mthatha.

Information about the readiness of the Airports Company of South Africa to manage passengers and aircraft during this period has been compiled into a factsheet. This factsheet is available on the official government memorial website, http://www.mandela.gov.za.

 

Nelson Mandela dies; former President of South Africa was 95

Nelson Mandela dies; former president of South Africa was 95

 

By  and Lynne Duke, Published: December 5 

Nelson Mandela, the former political prisoner who became the first president of a post-apartheid South Africa and whose heroic life and towering moral stature made him one of history’s most influential statesmen, died Thursday, the government announced. He was 95.

The death was announced in a televised address by South African President Jacob Zuma, who noted, “We’ve lost our greatest son.” No cause was provided.

Timeline: The life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, led the struggle to replace South Africa’s apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy. See key moments in his life.

Mandela’s 1964 Rivonia Trial speech

Listen to an excerpt of Mandela’s famous speech.

Video

The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan talks about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan talks about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

To a country torn apart by racial divisions, Mr. Mandela became its most potent symbol of national unity, using the power of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal deep-rooted wounds and usher in an era of peace after decades of conflict between blacks and whites. To a continent rife with leaders who cling to power for life, Mr. Mandela became a role model for democracy, stepping down from the presidency after one term and holding out the promise of a new Africa.

And to a world roiled by war, poverty and oppression, Mr. Mandela became its conscience, fighting to overcome some of its most vexing problems. He was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent 27 years in prison as part of his lifelong struggle against racial oppression.

Throughout this moral and political fight, Mr. Mandela evoked a steely resolve, discipline and quiet dignity, coupled with a trademark big, charismatic smile. He ultimately carried them into office as South Africa’s first black president.

His victory capped decades of epic struggle by the African National Congress and other liberation groups against South Africa’s brutal white rulers, first under British colonialism and then under a white-run system called “apartheid,” or racial separation.

On the day of his inauguration — May 10, 1994 — Mr. Mandela stood at the podium near South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, F.W. de Klerk. A year earlier, they had shared the Nobel Prize for what the Nobel committee called “their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new, democratic South Africa.”

“We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation,” Mr. Mandela, then 75, declared. “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. . . the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.”

Only a few years before, the 20th century’s most celebrated political prisoner had been dubbed a terrorist by the conservative governments in the United States and Britain under Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, respectively.

In the decades after Mr. Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, many South Africans of all races referred to him reverentially as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name. Countless others called him Tata, which means father in the Xhosa language.

For all his achievements, Mr. Mandela will also be remembered as slow to react to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that began sweeping South Africa on his watch. It was not until 1998, four years into his presidency, that he directly addressed the South African public about the disease. Later, he would acknowledge that he had not initially recognized the severity of the epidemic.

After he left office in 1999, Mr. Mandela devoted substantial energy and resources, both personally and through his Nelson Mandela Foundation, to raising awareness of the epidemic. In 2002, he publicly criticized his successor, Thabo Mbeki, for delays in implementing a plan to fight HIV/AIDS.

In 2005, the epidemic hit home. A somber Mr. Mandela announced the death of his son, Makatho Mandela, 54, who had AIDS.

Timeline: The life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, led the struggle to replace South Africa’s apartheid regime with a multi-racial democracy. See key moments in his life.

Mandela’s 1964 Rivonia Trial speech

Video

The Washington Post’s Sudarsan Raghavan talks about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Mr. Mandela’s years as president also were characterized by the public and political drama of his estrangement from his wife, Winnie. Separated in 1992, the pair divorced in 1996 after legal proceedings in which the usually private Mr. Mandela described himself in open court as “the loneliest man.”

At the same time, he had to address the insecurities and animosities of the white minority that had lost political power but still controlled South Africa’s economy, military and bureaucracy.

The Afrikaners, descendants of 17th-century Dutch and French settlers, were especially traumatized by the transition to black rule, and their control of the military posed a potential threat to the young democracy in the early years of Mr. Mandela’s presidency.

Although institutional policies were put in place to deal with white fears — such as a sunset clause allowing white civil servants and soldiers to stay in their jobs as long as they wanted — Mr. Mandela also used his powers of persuasion to disarm opponents, defuse threats and charm detractors.

Dismantling apartheid

Under Mr. Mandela’s leadership, South Africa slowly began expunging racism from its legal canon, governmental institutions and school textbooks. A Constitutional Court was inaugurated in 1995 as the highest court in the land. Among its early rulings was the abolition of the death penalty.

In 1996, Parliament approved a new national constitution, including a bill of rights guaranteeing protections that most South Africans had never imagined. For instance, South Africa was the first nation in the world to enshrine the protection of the rights of gay people in its constitution.

That same year, Mr. Mandela launched the country’s Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, led by Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Rather than Nuremberg-style trials, Mr. Mandela’s government fostered truth-telling and amnesty. On one hand, that meant killers who confessed would not be prosecuted. But it helped ensure that the seeds of more racial hatred would not be planted.

Mr. Mandela sought to bridge the lingering divides between blacks and whites in other ways, too. When South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup, he encouraged blacks to support the Springboks, the widely hated national rugby team that was seen by many blacks as a totem of white rule.

When the Springboks won a riveting final over New Zealand, Mr. Mandela wore a Springbok shirt and presented the trophy to team captain Francois Pienaar. The gesture was widely viewed as a major step toward racial reconciliation.

For all his strengths and bottomless energy, Mr. Mandela faced a seemingly impossible task as president: In a nation where millions of people lived in shacks, where nonwhites had been purposefully impoverished and undereducated, he had to meet the expectations and hopes of the teeming masses who had propelled him to high office.

Continued 

Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America

Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America

by Jon Jeter

Por Ahora

 

Tue, 10/29/2013

 

The U.S. Black-white wealth gap is larger than in South Africa at the height of apartheid. The statistic is all the more remarkable when considering that South Africa virtually mandated gross inequality by law, while in the U.S. the great chasm exists “within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic” and packed with Black elected officials, including “the sitting head of state.”

The wealth gap narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago.”

For every dollar in assets owned by whites in the United States, blacks own less than a nickel, a racial divide that is wider than South Africa’s at any point during the apartheid era.

The median net worth for black households is $4,955, or about 4.5 percent of whites’ median household wealth, which was $110, 729 in 2010, according to Census data. Racial inequality in apartheid South Africa reached its zenith in 1970 when black households’ median net worth represented 6.8 percent of whites’, according to an analysis of government data by Sampie Terreblanche, professor emeritus of economics at Stellenbosch University.

Widely recognized as an expert on inequality, Terreblanche described the racial wealth gap in the U.S. as “shocking,” in an email, and noted that it would exceed apartheid’s by an even larger margin had the white-minority not categorized mixed-race South Africans as “coloured” during the white-minority’s 46-year rule.

Household wealth is the accumulated sum of assets – houses, cars, bank, investment, and retirement accounts – minus the aggregate value of debt, including mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances. It’s more comprehensive than income, which measures the year-to-year earnings from wages, dividends, and profits. Since the US Census began publishing the figures nearly a quarter century ago, the chasm in wealth between whites and blacks has always yawned far wider than disparities in income, but narrowed to a ratio of 7 to 1 in 1995 before ballooning to 22 to 1 following a housing market collapse five years ago. African-descended people account for about 14 percent of the population in the US but only 1.4 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent.

Inflated largely by speculators’ frenzied investments in usurious mortgage loans, the real-estate bubble’s inevitable implosion triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and, the most profound dispossession of African Americans’ material wealth since the slave trade.

Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers.”

To be sure, virtually no American who works for a living has emerged from the financial crisis unscathed. But for blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm: persistent unemployment, low wages, and a growing dependency on household debt have conspired with a restructured postwar economy to weaken every rung on the ladder – labor unions, the manufacturing sector, education, public sector employment, homeownership and marriage – that blacks have historically relied on to climb out of the muck of poverty.

What’s most astonishing about America’s yawning racial chasm is that the U.S. has eclipsed apartheid-like levels of inequality within a political economy that is at least nominally democratic, and a generation of black post-civil rights elected officials that includes the sitting head of state. Conversely, apartheid brought the hammer; until voters of all races went to the polls for the first time in 1994, the law of the land prohibited blacks from voting, holding public office, owning property, joining progressive political movements, and miscegenation.

But on a molecular level, apartheid shares with monopoly capital the same genetic markers, cultural narratives, and immutable identity. To annex land coveted by whites, the apartheid state simply razed entire black neighborhoods to the ground, and rebuilt them as sprawling gated communities. Here in the US, redlining, gentrification and foreclosure have been just as potent as South African bulldozers. Fifty-three percent of all black homebuyers in 2006 were saddled with subprime mortgages, compared to 49 percent of Latinos and 26 percent of whites.

Treating black South Africans as essentially guest workers, apartheid “pass laws” required blacks to produce employment documents for any white person – gendarme and 11-year-old white girls alike – who demanded it. You need not be a Marxist to see the clear parallels between that Draconian measure and the stop-and-frisk policies employed by the New York City Police Department, or the wide berth afforded white vigilantes such as George Zimmerman. Similarly, payday loan stores began to materialize in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and New York at roughly the same time they began to open for business in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The result is that South Africa’s blacks, wanting the good life that was denied to them by apartheid, are today sinking in consumer debt just as are blacks are in this country.

For blacks, today’s political and economic climate is tantamount to a perfect storm.”

Much like the ubiquitous payday loan shops, racial inequality in the US is so profound that it has become unremarkable, almost banal.

There is seldom a single white passenger on the weekday 295 bus that leaves the Menlo Park train station at 7:32 am, dropping off mostly Latinas who clean million dollar homes in the Silicon Valley neighborhood. At the New Orleans airport, the jazz trio that greets passengers appears phenotypically all white men, while all the employees at the Copeland’s Gourmet Kitchen are African American, save one, the shift manager. Similarly, if you ride the uptown 5 train and get off at 51st and Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the afternoon rush hour, you will see a study in contrasts: the mostly black and brown homeless people in tattered clothing huddled, still and silent, in the soup line at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church, while across the street, the chatty white employees pour from the Bank of America office tower, dressed to the nines.

“Our nation is moving toward two societies,” the Kerner Commission concluded in its 1968 report on the causes of the nationwide civil disturbances that had begun three years earlier in Los Angeles, “one black, one white— separate and unequal.”

Forty-five years later, it’s a wrap.

Jon Jeter was the Washington Post bureau chief for southern Africa from 1999 to 2003, and is the author of Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People.  He can be reached atjeterjon@gmail.com.