Tuesday, March 31, 2009



By Justice Malala
Mar 30, 2009

We stand on the side of the alleged murderer, not the oppressed
Dalai Lama debacle adds to the already rotten smell

THE idea that there are two ANCs — the Thabo Mbeki ANC, which was defeated at Polokwane in December 2007, and the Jacob Zuma ANC — has now become laughable tosh.

There might be new players at the top of the party and its government, but the consistently anti- progressive, anti-human rights culture established through the Mbeki regime belongs as much to this new ANC as it did to the old one.

The so-called smell of fresh air that many have spoken about with regards to the leadership of Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe is nothing of the sort.

It is the same rotten smell that emanated from the Mbeki regime. This is why nothing about the disgraceful behaviour of the SA government this past week with regards to the Dalai Lama is surprising.

The new crowd doesn’t have to learn anything new. It is Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who are showing them the ropes. Dlamini-Zuma was Mbeki’s point woman in the Zimbabwe fiasco.

Last week Dlamini-Zuma told the world: “We feel that it is important not to get the 2010 (Soccer World Cup) hijacked by other issues, whether it’s Tibet or whatever issue there may be in the world … If there is a sporting event it must remain a sporting event.”

BJ Vorster and PW Botha could not have put it better.

Manuel was an enthusiastic endorser of Mugabe too, as he showed shamelessly on these pages some time back. This week he too came to the defence of China’s shocking human rights record and against the Dalai Lama.

Quoth he: “The reason why the Dalai Lama wants to be here ... is to make a big global political statement about the secession of Tibet from China and he wants to make it on the free soil of South Africa.

“I’m sure he’s welcome to come at any other time, but we shouldn’t allow him to raise global issues that will impact on the standing of South Africa.”

Manuel conveniently forgets that the Dalai Lama cannot make these statements, or even hold a meeting, in China. He would be arrested, probably tortured and certainly thrown in jail.

Manuel also forgets that the ANC, the organisation he claims exists in every sinew of his body, used to use the platforms of the free world from London to New York to make its case for freedom.

The ANC’s leaders were arrested, tortured and banned for doing so. But one cannot expect people like Manuel to remember all this. They have proven time and time again, when Africans were arrested, tortured and murdered by the likes of Mugabe, that they do not give a toss.

Their weakness in the face of China has made us the number one defender of dictators and human rights abusers in the world. Look at our United Nations record.

Remember how we chose to block a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to human rights abuses in Myanmar? Archbishop Desmond Tutu was so dismayed that he said it was “a betrayal of our own noble past”.

Remember how we not only aided and abetted Mugabe’s regime, but actually lobbied Russia and China late last year to support us as we blocked UN sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies?

As if that is not enough, we have recently dispatched Mbeki to plead the case of Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir at the UN. The International Criminal Court wants al-Bashir to be arrested for the genocide in Darfur.

We stand on the side of the alleged murderer, not the poor and oppressed.

It is all about cash. China is Sudan’s largest economic partner. It has a 40 percent share in the country’s oil and also sells Sudan small arms. So the arms that kill in Darfur are the same arms used to suppress voices in China.

And so too, the millions of dollars supporting the arrest and torture of Movement for Democratic Change activists in Zimbabwe are funded by the Chinese.

Now the South African government has been bought. In getting China to support it in blocking sanctions against Zimbabwe last year, it agreed to ask “how high” whenever the Chinese told it to jump — and do its dirty work.

So what happens now? The truest thing said about the whole debacle came from presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe, who said that the brouhaha will “go away”.

He is right. It will. And that is our fault. We do not hold our politicians accountable; we do not show them that we are incensed at some of their actions. And so they act outrageously in the full knowledge that the scandal will “go away” and they will be re-elected to power to repeat their shameful deeds.