In a move that has filled most ordinary citizens of South Africa with dismay, President Zuma in stealth in the early hours of March 31, 2017, announced a major Cabinet reshuffle that saw some of his closest allies protected from their removal despite their poor performance track records, while removing in one fell swoop, both the Minister of Finance Mr Pravin Gordhan and his Deputy Mr Mcebisi Jonas.
Khulumani echoes the despair of the Archbishop of Cape Town, The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, that the impact of their removals will have devastating impacts on the poor in South Africa. The Archbishop has called this action by the President, utterly reckless and a reflection of his apparent profound indifference about the economic health of South Africa and its most vulnerable citizens.
Amongst the poor are the over 100,000 survivors and victims of apartheid gross human rights violations organised as Khulumani members, whose denial of reparations has resulted in their continuing poverty. Theirs is not a self-induced poverty, but is the result of deliberate disempowerment and dispossession that can be traced back to the impact of settler colonialism and its sequel, apartheid on their lives.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered hope to these proud struggle veterans that its recommendations would provide for reparations, restitution and redress. These hopes have remained dashed for the past 19 years as successive governments have failed to live up to the promises made to “those who fought for justice and freedom in South Africa”. Their fears have been compounded by the continuing efforts of the TRC Unit to disburse the only funds dedicated to their rehabilitation, restitution and redress, the funds in The President’s Fund (the Victims’ Reparation Fund) without approved regulations to allow for this harmful action and without providing remedies for all the victims of apartheid gross human rights violations.
Each week, Khulumani’s National Contact Centre receives first hand reports from its members of meetings conducted by Ms Lufuno Mmbadi of the Department of Justice’s TRC Unit in communities, in which she explains her proposals to disburse the money in The President’s Fund for projects in certain communities identified by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Amongst these are promises of “project funding” made to people living in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro amounting to R35 million. These promises were first announced prior to the local government elections of August 2016 and were seen as a means of persuading citizens to keep voting for the ruling party. There are no gazetted regulations to allow the Victims’ Reparation Funding in the President’s Fund to be disbursed for so-called “community projects”. Any use of this funding in this way will result in legal action against the Department of Justice by Khulumani Support Group and its associates.
Victims of apartheid gross human rights violations have engaged the TRC Unit rigorously and continuously towards developing a programme of reparations that will meet the requirements of restoring the dignity of all victims of apartheid gross human rights violations, whether or not they were afforded the opportunity of engaging with the TRC during its mere eighteen months of operation for victims. Khulumani demands that no funds are disbursed for department-identified projects until all victims of apartheid gross human rights violations are included in the much-needed reparations regime to provide individual reparations as its first duty.
Khulumani appreciates the fact that the Honourable Minister of Justice, Advocate Masutha, agrees that the arbitrary administrative exclusion of victims who meet the TRC-specified definitions of apartheid gross human rights violations, represents a gross injustice to struggle veterans. South Africa is the only country in the world that has set up a Truth Commission, to have arbitrarily excluded victims who were unable to reach the TRC for legitimate reasons. The failure of the South African government to provide an ongoing registration process for victims represents a gross denial of justice for victims who continue to carry the costs of apartheid atrocities and their economic, social, cultural and political impacts on themselves, their children and their grandchildren.
Khulumani has repeatedly offered its services to the Department of Justice in a partnership envisaged by the National Development Plan as providing for citizens to work together with government to build the future for which Khulumani members struggled over the decades since 1960. As South Africa’s Human Rights Month comes to a close today, 31 March 2017, Khulumani calls for the Department of Justice to respect the human rights of all struggle veterans and to engage Khulumani and its members in resolving the impasses in respect of the duty of the state to make reparations for all victims of apartheid gross human rights violations so that all the people of the country may feel respected and valued for all their contributions and sacrifices in bringing the current government to power.
This action is long overdue. The debt of government has yet to be repaid. The delays are untenable in a context in which some use their access to power to flourish while turning their backs on those who have been ignored despite the recommendations of the TRC and the efforts of victims all the years since 1998 when these recommendations were first made public.
Issued by Khulumani Support Group:
- National Director: Marjorie Jobson: 082 268 0223
- National Organizer: Nomarussia Bonase: 060 878 9778