Tuesday, June 23, 2015


By Subry Govender Is the introduction of security guards in South Africa's national parliament to control unruly members, the answer? This is the question that has been bogging the minds of most South Africans following calls by the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Baleka Mbeta, and her ruling ANC colleagues that security has to be beefed up in order to tackle the chaotic behaviour of some members. The ANC has ordered that the sub-committee of the Rules Committee in Parliament should investigate measures to control those who want bring down the dignity of Parliament. The latest move follows unpleasant scenes on Thursday last week (June 18) when the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, and his members were involved in ugly spats with members of the ANC and Ms Mbete. The EFF members heightened the temperatures when they once again erupted into shouting: "pay back the money, pay back the money". This was in reference to President Jacob Zuma's reluctance to pay back some of the R246-million of taxpayers' money that was used for upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla homestead. The action of the EFF members forced Mbete to adjourn the session, not for the first time this year. In February, Mbete called in armed police to remove Julius Malema and members of his Economic Freedom Fighters after they prevented Zuma from delivering his State of the Nation address. This time round she could not call in the police because the High Court ruled that it was illegal to eject members from parliament. The ruling ANC's chief spokesperson in parliament, Moloto Mothapo, emphasised the need for greater security to control members. He said: "We need very good security guards of parliament that will be able to be called in and instantly deal with whatever chaos that plays itself out in the house." But constitutional law experts and political analysts view the latest moves by the ruling ANC as contrary to free speech and debate guaranteed in the country's democratic constitution.
(Professor Karthy Govender) Professor Karthy Govender is a constitutional law expert at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and a former acting judge. "Clearly the events in parliament should not have occurred," he said. "Parliament is meant to be a place where you have virtual, absolute freedom of expression because you want people to debate issues of concern to the nation. You can't remove parliamentarians for things they say." He added: "If you remove opposition members from parliament it increases the majority of the ruling party and it interrupts and disrupts the voters' will. So what we have been seeing is exactly what should not be happening where people are disrupting the State of the Nation address, where we are getting rulings from the Speaker which members are not respecting. So on all sides there has been behaviour that has been unbecoming of an institution like parliament."
(Dr Zakhele Ndlovu) Dr Zakhele Ndlovu, a senior Political Science lecturer and analyst based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, is of the view that robust debate is necessary for the government and its leaders to be held accountable. He said beefing up the security would not bring about any solution. "For me I think," he said, "both sides have to take responsibility". "The EFF has been behaving this way over one particular issue and that is Nkandla. So I think there needs to be a political solution over the Nkandla issue because it's not going away." Ordinary South Africans are divided on the ruling ANC's desire to introduce security guards in parliament. Some believe that those members of parliament who are unruly should be thrown out, while others believe opposition members have the right to hold the president and his government accountable for their actions or non-actions.
(Ms Njabule Thabethe) Ms Njabule Thabethe, a strong-willed law student, said parliament should not be allowed to degenerate by unruly members. "If the measures for security are going to be necessary to create a sort of order in parliament, then there is no other way to restore order."
(Ms Zothando Mdletshe) Another young student, Ms Zothando Mdletshe, 19, said Parliament was not a circus. "There has to be order so that constructive debates could take place. I think with this whole chaos nothing has been done. There are no issues that we hear about. We just hear about fighting. That is why people just don't care." An Durban engineer, Mr Jody Marx, said he was happy that the EFF was not allowing the Government and the ANC to get away with corruption. "The government and the ANC are not doing their side, so why should people below them or those against them, should have any respect for them?", he asked.
(Ms Zola Chonco) A social activist, Ms Zola Chonco, said she was concerned some people were not respecting the instruments of democracy. But at the same she was not too happy about the introduction of stricter security measures in parliament. "I think increasing security measures will create more disorder," she said. It's clear that the scenes of chaotic disruptions that has characterised South Africa's Parliament several times since June last year is not what the people of South Africa appreciate. But at the same time introducing security guards to control unruly members is also not what they had sacrificed their lives for to bring about their freedom and a constitutional democracy. It's clear that the ruling ANC has no alternative but to find a political solution by urging Zuma to resolve the Nkandla scandal. ends - Subry Govender

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


F W DE KLERK SCRAPPED APARTHEID LAWS 25 YEARS AGO BUT THE PRIVILEGES OF THE PAST ARE A DISTANT DREAM FOR MOST BLACK SOUTH AFRICANS) This week is not only the 39th anniversary of the period in June 1976 when the school children of Soweto and other black townships in South Africa sacrificed their lives for better and equal education, but it's also the 25th anniversary of the removal of all apartheid laws. These apartheid laws downgraded and kept the majority black people in perpetual servitude for more than 300 years. Subry Govender looks back in time when the memorable steps were taken to end racial discrimination and domination in South Africa. (BY SUBRY GOVENDER)
(Mr F W de Klerk, last white president of South Africa) The last white President of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, scrapped the notorious apartheid laws 25 years ago, soon after he took measures to release Nelson Mandela from prison on February 11 1990. (GROUP AREAS ACT) Several laws were part of South Africa's system of racial segregation: the Natives Land Act of 1913 - which restricted black ownership of land to only the 13 percent of the land that could be described as the most arid and devastated areas of the country; the Group Areas Act of 1950 - which regulated residential segregation of the people according to race and preserved the most valuable and serviced areas for the white minority; the Population Registration Act - which classified people according to race; and the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act - which enforced the segregation of all public facilities and preserved the best municipal facilities such as swimming pools, beaches and sporting areas for the white minority. "WHITES ONLY" It was a common sight at that time to see the best beaches marked for "whites only" and the worst facilities for people of color. (PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT) All these laws ensured that the minority whites were given preferential treatment in the provision of education, health, sporting, and other municipal and national services. When introducing measures to scrap these laws, De Klerk told the apartheid parliament that he and his government were serious in changing the political situation so that there could peaceful negotiations for a new constitutional and democratic order. "With the steps the Government has taken, it has proven its good faith and the table is laid for sensible leaders to begin talking about a new dispensation," he had said. "These decisions by the Cabinet are in accordance with the Government's declared intention to normalize the political process in South Africa, a new democratic constitution, equality before an independent judiciary, a sound economy based on proven economic principles and private enterprise, dynamic programs directed at better education, health services, housing and social conditions for all".
(RIGHT-WING UP IN ARMS CALLS DE KLKER A TRAITOR) The new moves to scrap South Africa's apartheid laws earned him the wrath of right-wing white opposition parties and extremists. The leader of then Conservative Partty, Dr Andries Treunicht, said the scrapping of the apartheid laws struck at the roots of white community life. "It is surprising," he had said, "that South Africa has the only leader in the Western world who is negotiating himself, his party and his people out of power". (DE KLERK UNSHAKEN) But De Klerk was unshaken by the venomous attacks and instead appealed to the white parliament and the international community. He said: "I ask of Parliament to assist me on the road ahead, there is much to be done. I call on the international community to re-evaluate its position and to adopt a positive attitude towards the dynamic evolution which is taking place in South Africa."
(Mr Nelson Mandela) (MANDELA PRAISES DE KLERK) Leaders of the black majority, including Nelson Mandela, congratulated De Klerk for his courage and bravery. Here's what Mandela said at that time: "Mr De Klerk has gone further than any other nationalist president in taking real steps to normalize the situation. It must be added that Mr De Klerk himself is a man of integrity who is acutely aware of the dangers of a public figure not honoring his undertaking."
(ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU) One of the leading anti-apartheid leaders at that time was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He also praised De Klerk while addressing a rally in Cape Town at the same time that De Klerk announced the scrapping the apartheid laws. He said: "When you hear people like Mr De Klerk speaking that white domination must go, they acknowledge that they have been perpetrating a system of domination, racial domination." (WHAT HAS CHANGED 25 YEARS LATER?) Today, however, 25 years later, while the apartheid laws are no longer in force, not much has changed in the privileges and advantages that the white minority enjoyed in education, health, security and other facilities that they had preserved for themselves during the apartheid era. There has also not been much change in so far land ownership is concerned.
(MR YUNUS CARRIM) Mr Yunus Carrim, a former political activist who is a member of parliament and a former government minister, told me in an interview that the Zuma Government understood THAT a lot still needed to be done to overcome the inequalities of the apartheid era. "The new non-racial government has taken various measures to create a better life for all but we fully understand there's a great deal more to be done to bring about equality," he said. (BETTER LIFE A DISTANT DREAM FOR MANY) There's no doubt that while the black majority have political power and control, access to a better life is still a distant dream for a large percentage of the people.


TRADITIONS, CULTURES, LANGUAGES, CUSTOMS AND MUSIC ARE VITAL IN THIS MODERN AND IMMORAL WORLD The age-old historical beauty and significance of south-Indian traditions, culture, customs, and music shone brightly for all at a wedding I attended at the Umhlatuzana Temple Hall, near Chatsworth in Durban, on Saturday, June 13 2015. The young couple, Dheevan Reddy and Miss Kinosha Pillay, looked splendid and magnificent in their traditional attire. They took part in the traditional rituals and ceremony with all the enthusiasm and zeal that goes with the occasion. Their parents went the extra mile to ensure that all the traditions and customs of the south Indian (Tamil) culture were fully observed without any inhibitions. The priest, who conducted the wedding, briefed the young couple about the importance of marriage in this modern world and even got them to take the marriage vows in the Tamil language. It was a real eye-opener to see the bride and bridegroom taking the marriage vows in the Tamil language. The traditions, customs, languages and music are the rich heritage that our forefathers and mothers brought with them to South Africa when they were recruited to work as indentured (slave) labourers on the sugar cane fields of the then Natal Colony nearly 155 years ago. Although we have over the decades become influenced by Western values, we still cherish the rich cultures, traditions, languages and music that our ancestors brought along with them. Another important feature of our rich heritage is that our parents, grand-parents, and great-great-grand-parents had sacrificed a great deal in order to build a better future for the generations that followed. In this regard, we must always remember the emphasis that was placed on education wherever indentured labourers and their descendants had settled. It's because of the sacrifices made to promote education that the young people today are making strides in all fields. Don't ever forget this rich legacy. It's said that we have to know our roots because those who neglect their roots or choose to become dominated by western values, tend to forget where they come from, don't understand their current situation and generally don't know where they are going to or what their future will be. This leads to all kinds of social problems - drugs, casinos, alcohol and other anti-social activities that are wreaking havoc in our communities. In our new non-racial and democratic South Africa, we must not only be full and productive citizens, but we must also be proud of our heritage and promote it without any inhibitions. We must not feel subservient to any one. We must always remember what our roots are. This will help us a great deal in this vicious and immoral modern world we are living in.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Pix of the village (Some pupils in the earlier days who attended the historical Blackburn school)
(The school that will close down next month)
(A view of the estate where sugar workers lived and worked) By Subry Govender A historical school built by first and second generation descendants of indentured labourers at the Blackburn sugar estate, near Mount Edgecombe, will officially close its doors next month after serving the sugar workers and their children for 60 years. The principal, five staff members and 201 children of the M L Sultan Blackburn Primary School will move to a brand new 24 class-room school in nearby Cornubia as from July 18.
(This is the old temple where the children of the Blackburn sugar estate first attained schooling in English) The school, which produced some prominent religious, social, sporting, business and political leaders, had its early beginnings in April 1955 when members of the local temple decided to establish an English school to cater for children who had to walk to Umdloti Drift and Temple Valley in Verulam and Ottawa to attain some schooling. At this time only boys from the sugar estate went to schools in the neighbouring villages because parents were reluctant to allow girls to walk the long and treacherous distances to the schools.
(Mr Amber Ramdass, the first teacher)
A school was initially started at the local temple yard by the community and the estate's manager, Mr R Cheves.
(Mr R Cheves, the estate's manager who helped with the establishment of the school at the temple) They obtained the support of the principal of the Jhugroo Government-Aidied Indian School in Ottawa, Mr A.L. Narayadu, who provided some record books, a few pieces of blackboard and pieces of chalk. The school catered for about 80 children between the ages of five-and-half and 13. They were under the sole supervision of a teacher from Verulam, Mr Amber Ramdass. The parents contributed about two shillings a month from their meagre earnings in order to pay Mr Ramdass.
(Mr M L Sultan, the Muslim of Tamil origin who made a huge contribution to the development of the school at Blackburn and other estates in the early days) After a few years, the Temple Committee and Mr Ramdass embarked on a project to build a proper school because of the increasing number of children and the need for the pupils to study in required standards and proper conditions. The sugar estate workers contributed five shillings per family towards the project and with the help of the sugar estate management and the M L Sultan Educational Trust, a new eight class-room school was officially opened on November 21 1963.
(The Blackburn school which is to close down in July)
(Mr Kishore Sevlall, current principal) "Every brick and block at this school was laid solely by the people of this village," said Mr Kishore Sevlall, the current principal who has been at the school for the past 32 years. "The sugar workers sacrificed their money, time and labour to build this school because they realised the importance of education for their children. "They also wanted their girls to be educated because in those days the parents were not too happy about the girls walking to Ottawa, Umdloti and Temple Valley."
(The late prominent educationist and former principal of Verulam High School addressing parents at Blackburn) Over the past six decades, a number of well-known principals and teachers taught at the historical school. In addition to Mr Ramdass, they included Mr G Chinniah and Mr Suria Munien of Mount Edgecombe; Mr M Dookran, Mr D S Moodley of Verulam, Mr S Mangaree, Mr K R Singh of Ottawa, Mr K Naidoo of Reservoir Hills, Mr Amar Singh, Mr Kenny Naidoo, Mr Sparrow Rajcoomar, and Mr C L Naidoo of Sea Tides. Some of the prominent pupils who emerged from the school were the late Dr M J Naidoo, who was a prominent member of the Natal Indian Congress and the United Democratic Front(UDF) in Verulam; the late Mr C P Naidoo, a prominent businessman in Verulam; Mr Laz Bageloo, a prominent Verulam businessman, Mrs A Chettiar, who is a Deputy Principal at the Temple Valley Secondary School in Verulam; and the late Steve Sagadevan, who was a former captain of Young Springboks Football Club and Southern Natal Football Association.
(Historical documents and photograps on the walls of the principal's office) When Mr Sevlall arrived at the school as a teacher in 1983, there were about 400 families living on the sugar estate and all the children attended the primary school. The teachers had a very close relationship with the community in those days. "The people were very poor but yet they and their children had a thirst for education. The bond that we built in the community was so good that whenever any function or event took place they would look for the teachers. Even if there was a wedding they would invite us to talk. That kind of relationship is difficult to find any more.
(Some school pupils in the earlier days) "The children in those days were also much more disciplined. Today's kids lack discipline. Those who are interested, do their school work but others don't care." Since 1997 the sugar estate families began to dwindle down after workers reached pensionable age and they were told to find alternative accommodation outside the estate. Today, there are only three families of indentured heritage and eight black families on the estate. But they too have been given notices to vacate their homes after the estate was officially shut down on April 1 this year. Mr Sevlall said it was his view that the workers should have been given legal rights to the plots of land and houses that they and their forefathers had occupied for nearly 155 years.
(Some pupils in the earlier days) "That was our fight for people to be given their homes but they were given noticed to leave. In one case, two families were resisting to move but they moved them by force. "They wanted to set an example to other workers that they should not resist when asked to move after they retire," he said. "Most of these people worked for 30 to 40 years but yet they were still moved out without any accommodation. They had to buy their new homes. They are battling but they have been forced to use their pensions to buy new houses. What are they going to live on? "I know of one person who worked for 43 years but he only got R18 000. The company used their labour but did not take care of them. "They now have to rely on state pensions. The company should have provided alternative accommodation by building separate houses for them. "They were given a raw deal. The descendants of indentured labourers who worked here have not been treated properly. "I brought former Natal Indian Congress leader, Mewa Ramgobin, to help them but the estate management did not care."
(Some pupils in the earlier days) Mr Sevlall said the history of Blackburn Sugar Estate would now be lost with the closure of the estate and the school. "It's very very sad to see this estate and school close down because Blackburn has been of historical heritage to a lot of people whose forefathers and mothers were brought here to work as indentured labourers. "This place was part of our lives. We will miss the school and the community. The lifestyle here was completely different to what we find elsewhere. "The closure of the school and the shut down of the sugar estate will see yet another chapter in the rich lives of our indentured forefathers and mothers being lost to future generations," said Mr Sevlall. - ends ms/dbn