For Dianne Kohler Barnard … The Idiot’s Guide to PW Botha

DIANNE Kohler Barnard has been in trouble before. Five years ago, she was suspended for a working week – by her own Chief Whip – for shouting an obscenity in Parliament. But this time, the Democratic Alliance’s shadow police minister has not just been demonstrating her lack of class in an assembly of fellow parliamentarians….

The row which she has now found herself embroiled in – over a social media post praising the leadership of PW Botha – is much more serious than that.

She decided to share a Facebook entry that reeked with insensitivity towards millions of her compatriots who had lost loved ones to police death squads, army assassination units and foreign-trained torturers … who had had their homes and land seized in the name of apartheid … who had been forcibly moved and resettled in barren pieces of veld, far away from cities and towns … and who had been thrust into conditions of numbing poverty, while Botha was either the Prime Minister or the President of white South Africa, or the Minister of Community Development and Coloured Affairs.

Kohler Barnard’s brainfart was picked up by users on Twitter – and it went viral.

It is inevitable that it should have done so. Her decision to ‘share’ the post was disrespectful and insulting to ALL black South Africans and, more so, it was a demonstration of ignorance of almost unbelievable proportions from a senior office-bearer, holding an important ‘shadow cabinet’ position, in a party that has pronounced itself ‘ready to govern’ South Africa.

There should be only one consequence for her thoughtless action: dismissal.

Commenting after a storm of anger had erupted over her post (the original had been composed and posted by a journalist named Paul Kirk), Kohler Barnard, who claimed she had not read the PW Botha part of the post that had been critical of Jacob Zuma, said she had wanted to resign but had been advised by colleagues to wait for the outcome of a disciplinary hearing that had been announced by party leader Mmusi Maimane (who has also demoted her from shadow police minister to shadow minister of public works).

Her decision to stay – and wait – amounts to yet another serious error of judgment. It has served only to further emphasise her lack of respect towards fellow South Africans. Everyone knows how the DA disciplines its errant members: generally, it gently strokes them over the knuckles, issues them with a ‘stern’ warning, suspends them for a few days, makes them pay a small fine and instructs them to register for a ‘cultural awareness’ course.

Or something like that.

If Kohler Barnard is not aware of the impact that PW Botha had on the lives of millions of South Africans, then, really, she should not be involved in politics.

Nevertheless, for her, and for the many other people who continue to be afflicted by that unique South African condition known as ‘apartheid amnesia’ – here is a short version of ‘The Idiot’s Guide to PW Botha’….

The story of the NP’s most renowned thug
Pieter Willem Botha was born on 12 January 1916 on a farm in the Paul Roux district of the then Orange Free State. He attended high school in Bethlehem and later enrolled for a law degree (which he did not complete) at the University of the Orange Free State.

By the age of 20, he had become an organizer for the National Party of DF Malan. As the winds of the Second World War gathered, he joined the shadowy, pro-Nazi Ossewabrandwag organization (but this relationship ended in a spectacular fallout later).

After being appointed Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs in the cabinet of Hendrik Verwoerd in 1958, he became Minister of Community Development and Coloured Affairs in 1961.

He was in this portfolio when he oversaw the destruction of Cape Town’s mixed-race suburb of District Six.

On 11 February 1966, Botha, declared the district a white group area. In 1968, he sent in the bulldozers to start breaking down the houses. Over the next 14 years, more than 60,000 people were moved out of the area, and to the Cape Flats – to drab townships such as Manenberg, Hanover Park, Bonteheuwel and Lavender Hill.

The destruction of District Six and many other long-established coloured communities, such as Simon’s Town, Red Hill, Diep River, Steurhof and Claremont, throughout the Cape Peninsula, caused massive social upheaval in families, with many sons and daughters succumbing particularly to the lure of drugs and gangs.

But it was not only in the Western Cape that the National Party wreaked havoc. Other cabinet colleagues gave expression to the Verwoerdian vision of ‘no more black South Africans’, by forcibly driving African people off their land and into so-called ‘Bantu homelands’.

Estimates put the number of African people who were forcibly removed from their homes at more than 3.5-million.

Botha, meanwhile, continued his relentless drive to change the spatial makeup of the country’s big cities: other communities he helped to destroy included those in Cato Manor in Durban and Pageview in Johannesburg.

After a stint as Minister of Defence in the cabinet of Verwoerd’s successor, John Vorster, Botha became Prime Minister of South Africa in 1978 (after Vorster’s resignation in the wake of the so-called ‘Information Scandal’).

For reasons that have never been clear, Botha was initially seen as one of the more ‘enlightened’ (‘verligte’) members of the party, but as internal opposition to apartheid grew, his leadership, and the methods his government adopted to maintain power became decidedly more vicious in its response to, especially, black opposition to its policies.

This was particularly so after he became Executive State President in 1984.

A state of ‘executive lawlessness’
It was the era of the ‘securocrats’ – an era in which army generals, police hit squads, SA Defence Force assassination units, shady hitmen working from within shady organisations, and police torturers (operating from torture farms such as the infamous Vlakplaas) were given carte blanche to kill, maim, bomb, kidnap, torture and to make opponents of the government ‘disappear’ – and to destabilise countries that gave refuge to Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Congress.

Looking back years later, law professor Laurence Boulle described the period of National Party rule – from Malan to De Klerk – in succinct terms: he said that this rule had been marked by ‘successive rampant executives casting aside rule of law imperatives as they … made their powers more intrusive and more discretionary, and less responsible and less accountable.

He especially singled out Botha for having taken these methods of governing to new levels of ‘executive lawlessness’.

But Botha and his supporters saw their actions as a ‘Total Strategy’ – a response to a ‘Total Onslaught’ by ‘Communist-backed’ opponents of his regime.

Employing the methods of torture and of how to eliminate opponents that had been perfected by the government of Israel, and by the rightwing juntas which at the time were running Argentina and Chile, Botha’s security forces spread terror throughout South Africa’s black communities.

In this respect, the 1980s were particularly devastating for many opponents of the apartheid regime. ….

Murdered freedom fighters, among whom were some of the country’s most talented individuals, were reduced to tabloid-type headlines in the national media. Among these were the so-called Pebco 3 (Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela and Quqawuli Godolozi), who were murdered in the killing fields of the Eastern Cape, in May 1985. Within six weeks, the ‘Cradock 4’ (Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlawuli) were also assassinated and their bodies burnt and dumped.

Other well-known activists who were also murdered included Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, and Fabian and Florence Ribeiro. And there were hundreds of others, less known, but as committed to the fight for a free South Africa, who were eliminated by the state’s roving bands of killers.

Moreover, in two states of emergency declared by Botha, thousands of people were detained without trial; many of them were brutally tortured.

This was the reality of living under the government of PW Botha.

So, when the DA top officials meet to consider Kohler Barnard’s fate, they would be well advised to remember that a Missing Person’s Task team continues to locate and identify bodies of activists murdered in the 1980s by PW Botha’s security apparatuses – and, in fact, this task team discovered more bodies as recently as this past week.

But even with all the information on the Botha presidency that the DA will have at its disposal, most people will not be holding their breath that the party will take strong action against Kohler Barnard.

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Here’s why SARU’s entire leadership should resign

A significant number of South African citizens – good, principled men and women – have never believed that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) could ever be a credible agent for the promotion of non-racial sport, and particularly non-racial rugby, in this country.

South African rugby in the era of democracy has a sad history of promises made … and quickly and casually broken. And so, no one should be surprised that, despite the by-now tiresomely regular hands-on-heart commitment to transformation and the promise of new opportunities for black players, next month, when the Springboks participate in their 6th World Cup, the run-on team will have a familiar look about it. They will, in all likelihood, start their campaign with a side containing just two black players – a long-serving wing (in Bryan Habana) and a loosehead prop who wasn’t even born in South Africa (in Tendai Mtawarira).

This is hardly better than their first foray into the World Cup in 1995, when Chester Williams was the only black member of the team that started the final against the All Blacks.

It is a disgrace – of which the consequences should be mass sackings in SARU. In this regard, I am convinced that the weight of public opinion will result in heads rolling – even if South Africa wins the World Cup.

But this column is not about team selection, or even about transformation. Rather, it revolves around another issue, an issue centering on a lack of respect. It is about pissing on other peoples’ history. It is about SARU’s stock reaction to criticism of their failure in so many different areas both inside and outside the game: a silent, but unmistakably clear and arrogant … ‘Fuck you!’

South Africans who fought apartheid in sport are proud of their achievements – and do not take kindly to those whom they see as untransformed and always advantaged spitting on the sacrifices they made during some of this country’s darkest days.

On Saturday, the Springboks will play the Pumas in a friendly in Buenos Aires, which will have no meaning on the field, but will lead to at least one serious question being posed off it.

And it is this….

What the hell possessed SARU to agree to participate in a match celebrating the apartheid history of Argentine and white Springbok rugby?

Saturday’s game will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the tour to South Africa and the then Rhodesia by an Argentine team in 1965, during the high-noon of apartheid.

For those who have forgotten – or who want to forget – let me tell you what the 1960s meant to black people like me … to my parents … to my grandparents … to my family … and to my friends.

It was an era in which mixed marriages were forbidden, in which mixed-race couples were hounded, harassed, driven apart and often exiled. It was an era in which sexual relationships across colour lines were banned. It was an era in which the Population Registration Act ‘defined who was of which race’. And it was time in which countless thousands of black South Africans were driven from their homes as a result of the National Party’s Group Areas Act.

And that’s not all….

In 1963, the promulgation of the General Law Amendment Act gave police the right to detain people and, as some would point out, to torture them for 90 days without trial, and without access to a lawyer. By 1970, 22 people had died in detention after ‘falling out of windows’, ‘hanging themselves’ and ‘slipping on bars of soap’.

This, dear readers, was the Sixties.

Also in 1963, the ANC’s top leadership was detained at Liliesleaf Farm outside Johannesburg, after a raid by security police. In the so-called Rivonia Trial that followed in 1964, eight ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela were sentenced to life imprisonment.

And yes, SARU, this is just another snippet of the true meaning of the 1960s.

And still this is not all.

In the 1960s, black sportspersons also felt the full weight of the jackboot of apartheid.

Of Maoris and Dollys
For many years, England, Australia and New Zealand and France, white South Africa’s traditional sporting opponents in rugby and cricket, knew what they needed to do if they wanted to undertake tours to the southern tip of Africa: they had to pick all-white teams.

And they were more than happy to comply. In one instance, the England cricket selectors were even prepared to drop a player of Indian origin in a series in the UK, so as not to upset the South African government.

But there is always an inevitability about change – even slow change. And so, as opposition to apartheid began growing, overseas administrators were forced to make polite ‘what if’ enquiries – such as ‘what if we were to choose our teams on merit?’

The question was first seriously raised during discussions about a New Zealand tour scheduled for South Africa in 1967. Word from New Zealand was that All Black selectors were becoming increasingly reluctant to collaborate with South African rugby authorities and their government in excluding Maoris from their touring teams.

Leaks from various sources suggested that the South African authorities would relent, and allow the All Blacks selectors to choose their teams on merit.

This confidence, however, proved to be misplaced….

On 4 September 1965, in a speech to hundreds of cheering supporters at Loskop Dam, near Groblersdal in present-day Mpumalanga, Verwoerd said: ‘No!’ His reasoning was that ‘once [different races] have integrated on the sports field, then the road to other forms of social integration has been opened.’

Verwoerd’s decision was later ratified by his cabinet.

But bad though this decision was, the biggest scandal of all during the 1960s was what became known as the ‘D’Oliveira Affair’. It revolved around Basil D’Oliveira, a cricketer from the Bo-Kaap, who was forced by apartheid to leave South Africa, to establish a career in England, for England … and JB Vorster, Verwoerd’s successor as Prime Minister of South Africa.

D’Oliveira’s dream was to return to the land of his birth as a member of an MCC (England) side. A run of bad form during an England tour to the West Indies saw him lose his place in the test side against the touring Australians. But then he was recalled for the final match of the Ashes series at the Oval.

D’Oliveira knew that his recall had brought him within sight of realising his incredible dream. Just one good performance would see him packing his bags for South Africa – and a test series against the Springboks. Or so he thought. He plundered 158 runs off the Aussie attack, but when the team was announced, his name was missing. He would never forget that day: it was Wednesday, 28 August 1968 – and he just broke down and cried.

But in the furore that followed, he was thrown another lifeline: the England allrounder, Tom Cartwright, withdrew through injury, and D’Oliveira was named to replace him. But this is where Vorster stepped in. Addressing a National Party congress in Bloemfontein, Vorster said, amid a cacophony of cheers from the party faithful: ‘The MCC team as constituted now is not the team of the MCC. It is the team of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, the team of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee and the team of Bishop [Ambrose] Reeves (an outspoken English cleric].’

The tour was cancelled.

So, again, dear readers this was more of the 1960s. Do you want SARU to celebrate and commemorate these events – in YOUR name?

SARU had no right to have accepted to play a game under these circumstances – and to be part of the celebrations of such a dubious occasion.

Whoever was responsible to agreeing to the request for this friendly match should resign – with immediate effect. Or be fired.

And the players, especially the black players need to be respected too. After being briefed by people who understand these issues, they should be given the option to withdraw from the squad.

This is the very least that SARU can do.

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The coach, SARU and the government … they’re all up to crap

THERE’S one thing that every rugby fan can look forward to when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer names the squad that he will be taking with him to the World Cup in September: a long, angry debate about the lack of ‘transformation’ in the side.

In fact, a barrage of words in this regard has already been fired by fans on Facebook.

A few months ago, the brains-trust of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) reiterated a past promise that every Bok squad of 23 would include at least seven black players, of which two would (in uniquely South African parlance) be ‘black African’. And, in terms of yet another strategic transformation plan, courtesy of the game’s well-ensconced officialdom, SARU also stated that half of the 30-man squad that will play in the 2019 World Cup would be black, of which 9 would be ‘black African’.

Every few years, SARU dishes out smelly parcels of transformation bullshit – and this, predictably, shaped up as yet another such occasion.

As the 2015 tournament draws closer, the naïve among South Africa’s rugby fans will no doubt be entranced by some impressive demonstrations of numbers manipulation. With the small matter of a now insignificant Four Nations tournament to be played before the World Cup, I fully expect the target of seven blacks in the Bok team for matches against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to be met – and even surpassed.

And I am certain that more than the usual number of black faces will be included in one or more of the run-on teams for these matches. Over the years, our country’s black sportsmen and women have become used to having a few breadcrumbs dropped under the table for them to nibble on. Mark my words, though: meaningless Four Nations matches will be the sop for rugby players from black communities, for not making it into the squad that every top player dreams of being a part of.

Of course, the World Cup will be for the real manne – the white manne, even if some of them are halfway into their thirties, and even if others have been begged by Meyer to arrange for thoughts of sedate, but lucrative, careers in rugby-retirement countries such as Japan to be put on hold for a month or so, for the chance of another push for World Cup glory….

Let’s be quite clear about this: the Springbok team that runs out for its first World Cup match on 18 September, or a few days later, will have a familiar look about it: black representation will be confined to two wings and a prop.

This will be rugby’s sorry contribution over more than 20 years, to developing the game in all South Africa’s communities.

Sowing seeds of failure
It’s easy to compile reasons for SARU falling short of its commitments to the black rugby-playing communities of this country – simply because they’ve all been heard before. Many of these have been recorded, memorized, agonized over, and lied about since the early 1990s.

Some of us can rattle these promises off by heart….

Raced-based thinking at age-group, provincial and Super Rugby level is one reason that has been trotted out from time to time. The fact that the majority of white coaches, especially in a country such as South Africa, will always be more comfortable choosing white players (because white players, in their opinion, are better) is another.

Nor has the embarrassing shortage of black coaches at the highest levels of the game been satisfactorily explained by SARU, although it would not be difficult for most people to guess why. And how about this newer one? The conviction, (enthusiastically) supported and promoted by pockets of coaches, ex-players and white rugby journalists, that ‘big’ among backline players is always better.

This has never been proved, certainly not in South Africa. But it is, of course, well known, that the big backline players in this country are almost always white.

I’ve never been a Meyer fan. I love to see a little adventure in the rugby I watch – and I know I’ll never get it from any of the teams that he coaches. There’s no way in hell that he’ll devise a selection policy to win the coming World Cup, while looking even further ahead to the 2019 tournament, by identifying and choosing at least some of the black players who could become stalwarts of a run-on team that will comprise 50 percent black players.

His determination to persuade tired old white bones to play for him in this year’s World Cup is a clear indication of what he thinks of that idea. And yet, having said this, if I were to take aim with my cultured left foot at anyone’s backside, it wouldn’t be at his….

To steal, and then to adapt a line from an old Elton John song, Meyer is only the piano player of national rugby. So, no, I wouldn’t kick him. Or, if I did, it wouldn’t be too hard.

If I were to do any kicking of a serious kind, my targets would be SARU and the South African government.

We can argue until we’re blue in the face about the credentials of this or that black player to be included in the World Cup squad, but there is one thing that should never be forgotten and, perhaps, forgiven: SARU and the government have failed players from predominantly black and under-privileged and under-resourced communities….

Too little – always
What has SARU done over the years to create structures, real structures, that will provide every black boy in South Africa who loves rugby, who wants to play the game, and who has potential, with the opportunity to reach the highest level he is capable of?

The answer, sadly, is … far, far too little.

SARU’s best-known intervention has been its support of various rugby bursary schemes aimed at identifying and then enrolling our most talented schoolboys at the country’s top rugby-playing schools.

At first glance, this might seem like a good idea….

But it has been an intervention, which like so many other SARU interventions, is really a sop. It just doesn’t go far enough. All it has done is create a far-too-narrow funnel of opportunity for a small percentage of talented players.

I see it as a form of Influx Control for black schoolboy rugby players….

Whether inadvertently or not, it has turned rugby into an elitist sport for far too many black rugby-playing schoolboys. Only a small percentage will ever make it to SACS, Paarl Boys High or Wynberg Boys High. What about the late bloomers? What about rugby development in township schools, at both primary and high school level? In fact, there are too many ‘what-abouts’ to mention.

SARU should be committed to promoting rugby in every township school and in every township club – in every part of the country. In many instances, rugby structures (if there are any) in townships are just about hanging on (if that).

SARU officials will probably argue that the number of black players who are selected for age-group sides, is proof that its development programmes are working. But then this question arises: Why do the bulk of these black players ‘disappear’ between, say, Under-21 and Currie Cup and Super Rugby level? Has SARU ever commissioned research on this matter – and if so, what were the conclusions?

Challenging the government
And yet, I can see what SARU’s problem is. It is finding out – in the most painful way possible – that it is, as the old South African Council on Sport used to argue, impossible to play normal sport in an abnormal society, Many black youngsters who attend top rugby-playing schools on bursaries, will acknowledge how difficult (if not impossible) it is to compete, train or play with their white counterparts as equals.

There are big differences between living in Lavender Hill and Llandudno – and grassy verges and sea air are the smallest of these. Youngsters from poor areas have to contend with issues, ranging from physiological and psychological development, to diet, to racism, and to crime (among others). This MUST impact on their ability to play sport on an equal basis with youngsters from rich areas. And it DOES.

Obviously, SARU cannot resolve most of the sociological challenges it faces, on its own. In fact, it shouldn’t even be expected to. And yet, virtually every year its officials set off on a pilgrimage to Parliament to report to the Sports Portfolio Committee about what it has been doing to promote transformation.

Surely, they, and the parliamentarians they report to, must know these meetings are a sham – a complete waste of time … and a study in hypocrisy. There are some things that SARU will never be able to do – and they know it. And they know who should be taking responsibility for these issues….

That’s right … the very people they regularly report to: the government.

In a society less perplexing than ours, it should be a SARU summoning national ministers in key portfolios to one of ITS meetings – and demanding action to be taken about the lack of housing for people in the country’s poorest communities … about rampant crime in the townships … about the lack of proper recreational facilities … about unemployment … about the lack of decent education facilities.

These are some of the issues that slow down the pace of transformation in sport.

But this SARU, our SARU, doesn’t have the guts to tell the government where to get off, and about what the majority of its members need. And that is why it has been prepared to collaborate in this ongoing game of report-back meetings that achieve nothing – and in PR dross, such as calls to wear Springbok jerseys on Fridays during the World Cup.

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Okay, all you moral crusaders, how many of you called for Ali Bacher to be jailed for organizing rebel cricket tours?

There aren’t all that many sports ministers in the world as far as I’m aware. So South Africa’s Fikile Mbalula is one of a few.
And thank goodness for that….
I don’t believe I’m being vindictive when I say that the performance of ‘Minister Razzmatazz’, or ‘Mbaks’, as those who love him, call him, would, by most standards, be considered pretty rubbishy.
Frankly, he knows more about blocking people on Twitter than he knows about sport.
One thing I would grant him credit for though – a C+, perhaps – is that he’s enthusiastic. He loves shouting, ‘World-class’, whether it’s after a South African wins a ‘Miss World’ competition – or whether it’s after the country’s Under-17 football team qualifies for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup finals.
This, of course, is charming and good for the national psyche – but also, sadly, full of lukewarm, stale air. Yeah, I know I sound far too patronizing for my own good when I say things like this – even if I were to claim mitigating factors (my big head, for example).
But dammit – we have a problem with Minister Razzmatazz. Ministers of state need to have a bit of expertise too, to complement all the clichés we have become so accustomed to hearing and reading in the various types of sports media.
To be blunt, Mbalula does not have this expertise – even in a low-key portfolio such as sport.
He’s handling of the FIFA bribery scandal – specifically with regard to South Africa’s 2010 bid – has been, well, west of inept. Doesn’t he have at least one communications expert to help him with crisis management? And, when the story broke, did he not consult with other interested parties (in this instance, the South African Football Association) before facing a hostile media?
From what I’ve seen and heard, the answers seem obvious: No – and No again.
And yet, strange as it may seem, my gripe is NOT with the minister. I’ve mentioned him simply because I think he’s been piss poor in this world football saga.
I am much more interested in wanting to administer a collective, written snotklap to the noses of all those responsible for the vomit-scented trail of hypocrisy that is crisscrossing South Africa in the aftermath of the FIFA revelations….

A Gentle reminder
Like most law-abiding citizens, I hate crime and criminals –and I hate corruption.
And like many of my compatriots, I was deeply angered when I discovered that MY taxes were helping to pay for a chicken-run costing more than my house, in the grounds of the living quarters of the South African president, deep in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal.
I know … I know, it has become increasingly apparent that when certain members of South African communities shout out about corruption, it can take just seconds for Jacob Zuma’s name to crop up. But that is a hole he has dug for himself – and he knows what he has to do to get out of it.
So, in the aftermath of the storm over FIFA and South Africa’s successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup finals, the anger over the bribe (or whatever people want to call it), has become interchangeable with the anger over Zuma and Nkandla.
Thus, the line taken by those lambasting football officials and the government has been: ‘What else would you expect? Just look at how the country is being run – and who is running it.’’
For me, this is an attitude based on lazy analysis, political opportunism and arrogant hypocrisy.
Let’s make one thing clear: contrary to what many people naively believe – and which others, who should know better, suggest – post-apartheid governments and sports administrations did NOT invent corruption in South Africa.
The National Party government – and many of those who ran apartheid sport – knew more than a thing or two about the dark arts of graft and bribery….

Rebel cricket tours
A couple of days ago, I watched a 2013 CNN documentary entitled ‘Branded a Rebel – Cricket’s Forgotten Men’. It was the story of how white South African cricket administrators led by Ali Bacher and Joe Pamensky bribed 18 West Indian cricketers to break a worldwide ban on apartheid cricket and to tour South Africa.
The West Indians, led by an enormously popular Jamaican named Lawrence Rowe, were paid between $100,000 and $120,000 each to follow in the footsteps of English and Sri Lankan rebel cricketers in touring South Africa.
The players, who included fringe internationals such as Collis King, Colin Croft and Sylvester Clarke were bitterly criticized for falling prey to the temptation of what the star Windies batsman, Viv Richards, described as ‘blood money’.
All of them were banned for life.
The interesting thing for me was that Joe Pamensky, the head of the South African Cricket Union (SACU) showed no remorse for his union’s shameful attempts to destroy world cricket. He was adamant, even 30 years later, that SACU did what it had to do to give its white cricketers the opportunity to play international cricket.
He also made the strange claim that the West Indian rebel tour helped to break down racial barriers in South Africa. What he didn’t say though was that the West Indies were granted special ‘honorary white status’ while in the Republic (although this status didn’t help one of the tourists, Colin Croft, who found himself being thrown out of a ‘white’ compartment during a train journey. South Africans had heard of a Middle East wanderer who, almost 2,000 years earlier had turned water into wine – but, apparently, it proved too much of a leap of faith for a train conductor to imagine how a piece of paper could turn a black skin into white.
In the documentary too, that sad, sorry man, Clive Rice, cut an inglorious figure as he wallowed in self-pity. He was more interested in lamenting the fact that isolation had prevented him from playing international cricket, rather than acknowledging that apartheid had blighted the lives of millions of black South Africans. The only person who accepted that sporting isolation was necessary to bring about change was Graeme Pollock.
The matches between the West Indies rebels and the white South African team were sell-out events, with the country’s segregated stadiums packed to capacity.
And it is at this point that I’d like to pose a couple of questions to those expressing such acute embarrassment and anger over South African involvement in the FIFA debacle – and advocating jail time for those who allegedly resorted to bribery and corruption to ensure that South Africa won the right to host the 2010 football World Cup….
Did you, or if you were too young at the time, your parents question the fact that that the West Indies rebel cricketers were bribed to come to South Africa in 1983? If you did, what was the response of the authorities to your concerns?
Did you call for Ali Bacher and Joe Pamensky to be charged, tried and, if found guilty, jailed for bribery – because, let’s face it, that’s what they did: they bribed cricketers from other countries to play in South Africa?
I await answers with great anticipation.

The Hypocrisy Party
The story that I found highly amusing simply because of background, past history and the pathetic nature of some of the people involved centered on the actions of those arch-opportunists of South African politics – the tiny Freedom Front Plus. They decided to submit a complaint to the police, asking for an investigation to be launched ‘into the possible involvement of South African government members and sport officials in fraud committed in the bid process for the previous soccer World Cup which South Africa hosted.’
I laughed – loudly – because I remember so well the past history of the Mulders, Corné and Pieter – and, especially, their father, Connie, the Minister of Information in John Vorster’s apartheid cabinet of the early 1970s, who blew millions of Rands of taxpayers’ money in setting up clandestine organizations to sell apartheid all over the world. Included in Mulder’s crazy schemes was the formation of a Committee for Fairness in Sport whose aim was to counter the actions of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee, Sanroc, which had been set up to work for the isolation of apartheid sport.
My highlighting of South Africa’s less than sparkling record on corruption during the apartheid years does not mean that I believe we should turn a blind eye to maladministration in sport. South Africans must be ever vigilant to ensure that their sporting codes are well run, and free of even the slightest suggestion of corruption.
But what we don’t need is the opportunistic interference of people whose record – whether in sport or politics – does not, and will never, stand up to scrutiny.

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Hypocrites, more hypocrites and damn hypocrites

THIS is a column about cricket and politics in South Africa – and about the products associated with a bull’s bum, which spew out with irritating monotony from the mouths of former cricketers with shameful records of acquiescence during the apartheid era.
What I’ve written here has been motivated by the ridiculous spat that began to-ing and fro-ing within hours of the Proteas being dumped out of the cricket World Cup at the semi-final stage by a very good New Zealand side.
In writing this, I’ve dragged in Vernon Philander – but just briefly. I’ve given transformation a mention too. And I couldn’t resist planting a slobbering, full-on man-kiss on AB de Villiers for his batting … as well as an air-kick under his jack for his shitty captaincy.
Listen, I won’t even whisper this: as a leader of men, AB is pretty rubbish. With the other heads that have rolled – bowling coach Allan Donald and chief of selectors Andrew Hudson – in the aftermath of the Proteas’ World Cup heartbreak, De Villiers would be well advised to hand over the reins to Faf du Plessis or Hashim Amla.
Let me make another quick declaration: I’m a Philander fan – a big one. And, if you love the Proteas, here’s why you ought to be one too….
It took Philander just seven tests to claim 50 wickets, the second fastest bowler in test history to achieve this feat. (An Australian named Charles Turner, who took 50 wickets in six tests in the 1880s, holds the record.)
Philander claimed his 100th scalp in his 19th test, the joint sixth-fastest ever.
You don’t have to be a cricketing genius to know that these statistics are top drawer stuff.
In a game that has produced bowling greats such as Wesley Hall, Gary Sobers, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Dennis Lillee, Geoff Thompson, Freddie Truman, Kapil Dev, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, among a host of others, Philander’s achievements would be regarded as world-class – anywhere.
He’d be one of the first people to be khokied onto the starting XI list of most international teams.
If he was available for the match against New Zealand – and he was – he should have been picked (as indeed he was).
But here’s the darnedest thing: if you’d asked Ali Bacher, Fanie de Villiers, Craig Matthews, and Pat Symcox to pick the South African team (and assuming they had their way), Philander would probably not have been included in the side that played New Zealand in their World Cup semi-final, because another bowler, Kyle Abbott, had been bowling rather well while Philander was recovering from an injury.
By their (in my opinion) convoluted logic, Philander is still a quota player.
So here’s the million-dollar question: ‘Why do they think this way?

A sad legacy
The answer, contrary to what Bob Dylan sang in the 1960s, is NOT blowing in the wind. Rather, it is to the past that we must look to find answers to some of the biting sports-political questions of our present and, probably, our future.
This is not necessarily a bad thing for a country where hundreds of thousands of my compatriots have been struck down by collective amnesia, of which the symptoms are a curious inability to remember what this country was like pre-1994, and the role they played in making it that way.
Here’s a gentle reminder for those who have forgotten: South Africa used to be the polecat of the world.
And here’s something else to ponder – and those who want to cringe with embarrassment, please feel welcome. Perhaps real remorse will begin if you do….
In the last all-white elections in 1989, slightly more than 1-million people voted for the party of apartheid, the National Party; and about 600,000 voters put their faith in the even more right-wing Conservative Party.
What happened to these voters? Here’s a clue: the vast majority didn’t fly to Perth, Auckland, Vancouver or London, to set up little all-white enclaves, complete with their biltong, Marmite and Jungle Oats.
Yup, you’ve guessed right. They’re still comfortably, if not entirely happily, ensconced in South Africa.
Many who stayed reinvented themselves, with most of them swopping the kruithoring of the National Party for the blue and yellow of the Democratic Alliance; a miniscule number threw in their lot with the green, white and orange of the Freedom Front Plus.
Not surprisingly, a great many have remained glued – mentally, anyway – and, perhaps, even voluntarily, to one of the spinoffs of apartheid: the propensity to be patronizing.
Which brings me to Bacher, De Villiers, Matthews and Symcox….

Hypocrites all
This week Bacher stepped into the fray. Yes, he … the same man who was prepared to captain an all-white team to Australia in 1971, whose national president had tried to bribe two black players, Owen Williams and Dik Abed (both of whom rejected this despicable offer with contempt) to accompany the team in a futile bid to save that tour, and who disrupted world cricket by paying rebel cricketers astronomical sums of money between 1982 and 1989 to play all-white teams in South Africa – instead of directing his energies at fighting apartheid.
Bacher had the smug temerity to suggest that the allegations against the Cricket SA CEO Haroon Lorgat had become serious and that he needed to give answers.
If I were Lorgat, I’d have told him in good Cape Flats language where to go. But Lorgat is a gentleman, and so a media release reminding everyone of Bacher’s hypocrisy – and about what Frank Keating, a journalist with the British Guardian newspaper said about Mike Gatting’s rebels when they returned to England after a curtailed tour in 1990, would have had to be my alternative suggestion: ‘No more inglorious, downright disgraced and discredited team of sportsmen wearing the badge of “England” can ever have returned through customs with such nothingness to declare.’
Perhaps Lorgat could remind Bacher too that he had every right to insist that Philander, one of the team’s top bowlers, be included in the Proteas’ semi-final side.
And then, there’s Vinnige Fanie de Villiers….
Let me give you some background on this expert on morality in cricket. De Villiers was also a happy participant in a rebel tour. ‘ [I] played against the Mike Gatting rebels,’ he said proudly in an interview a few years ago. ‘We played to full houses. Our provincial games, full house. Rebel games, full house. They love sport in this country.’
In an interview this week with Gareth Cliff on CliffCentral, De Villiers smugly said that the Proteas team that went to the World Cup was not the strongest that could have been selected. In fact, he said the national side had not been picked on merit for 17 years. He also said that the Titans, the provincial franchise with which he is connected, could send out a team of ’12 internationals’ for their matches. But because of quotas, only five (presumably white) internationals could play at any given time. His inference was obvious: the Proteas, as well as provincial teams have been condemned never be at their best – because they have to pick black players.
What De Villiers claimed is a load of bollocks. But bollocks is what the community he represents wants to hear. He should be challenged to say who were not merit selections in the national side that played at the World Cup – and who should have been selected ahead of them.
Frankly, I’m surprised at Matthews and Symcox. Both served as national selectors – and they should therefore be well aware of the policies of CSA. Both punted a line that they would have more respect for CSA if they openly admitted to supporting quotas for the national side. Matthews, who was also selected to play against Gatting’s rebels, once said: ‘I had dreamed as a boy of playing against a foreign touring team – and that dream was … destroyed by demonstrators. Little did I realise that those demonstrations would ultimately offer me the opportunity to play Test cricket, for that I am eternally grateful.’
Quite clearly, his interests centred solely on cricket – and highlighted what many black cricketers suggested when the country’s cricketing bodies united: ‘All that white cricketers are interested in is riding into international sport on our backs.’

Seeing yesterday today
I know that some critics of this column will tell me to stop living in the past. ‘Get that chip off your shoulder,’ they’ll hiss. So, surprise … surprise, let me tell you about something that happened just a few months ago, to demonstrate how little attitudes have changed.
In October last year, cricketers who, in pre-unity days, had played in the predominantly white Western Province Cricket Union held an ‘open day’ (for want of a better term).
There were a few interesting things about this event….
Firstly, they selected four teams to play two matches at Newlands: there was a 20-over game involving ‘younger’ players; while the other match was a fun, hit-around kind of affair, in which each bowler bowled an over, and each batsman faced six balls.
Secondly, and here’s what I found flabbergasting: Not a single black player was invited to play in these games – even though during the ‘normal’ cricket era, quite a few players of colour, Omar Henry, for example, had joined teams in the Union.
Thirdly, and even more shocking was what they called their day: ‘Cricket as we knew it.’
I believe that this was an insult to every black player who played in that union – and even those who didn’t. To me, it was a ‘When we’ wake … a ‘when we were a white union get-together.
I’m shocked that the authorities at Newlands gave these people permission to use the grounds for such an occasion.
But, in another way, I was also glad that the match was arranged. It emphasized the lack of commitment, mainly by white people, to true unity in cricket. And now, the furore over Philander’s selection in the World Cup semi-final has provided further proof of this.

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Death of a dancer – and the way we treat our artists

ON A chilly Sunday evening in July 2014, more than 500 people watched, transfixed. as an old, beta-format compilation of video clips whirred, crackled and brought to life snippets of past performances of a South African dancing great – on a screen set up on the stage of the Auditorium at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre.
The clips were in black and white, and the images, because they had been blown up to many times their original size, were grainy and mostly out of focus. But even so, in a mere 30 minutes, the audience was given an intriguing glimpse of the ballet, the modern-dance and the choreographic talents of Simon’s Town-born Christopher ‘Kippie’ Kindo.
This week, Kindo, the arts trailblazer, the innovator, the dancer who gave so much pleasure, died after a long battle against cancer.
Kindo’s death has rekindled a question that has been raised whenever an artist from one of our bleak townships takes ill or dies: Why does South Africa take our artists so much for granted? Why do we (and we’re all complicit in this) bask so much in their glory when they achieve and when they win international recognition and honours – and yet, when they take ill or die penniless, we join government ministers in saying, ‘Tsk, tsk,’ until it’s time for the next jazz festival, or until something else comes along that will get us wringing our hands in faux angst?
This is what I think (and to me, it’s sad, but true): most musicians and dancers and entertainers from the townships never really escape the legacy of poverty. It is there, like a curse, waiting to strike … waiting to get the last, mocking laugh….
Especially during times of sickness and death.
In the apartheid years, many artists railed against the system. Many enjoyed brief periods of fame and even briefer periods of fortune. But then their past – and all the legacies associated with it – caught up with them.
Born and raised during the apartheid years, Kindo refused to abandon a dream to get to the top of his craft. Bristling with determination to continue learning after receiving Royal Academy of Dance training at the University of Cape Town, he packed his bags for the United States – for a stint with the Boston Ballet Academy.
It was after the collapse of apartheid that he came into his own in South Africa – as a dancer and as a choreographer – winning, among others, numerous FNB Vita awards, a Standard Bank Young Artist award and a National Choreography award.
These memories made it a bittersweet night for the Artscape audience.
While it was true that we were there to share in Kindo’s finest works, there was also another, sad reason, for our attendance. We had turned out in numbers to offer Kindo both emotional and monetary support – in one of his biggest battles.
For weeks, news had been circulating that he was gravely ill (and that, in fact, he was too ill to attend the concert).
Kindo’s offstage story had a tragic, but all-too-familiar ring about it. Quite simply, time had flown by too quickly for him. Like so many township artists who had given so much of themselves to so many people, for so little reward, he did not have the time to build even a tiny nest-egg for himself.
And then illness struck….
Far too often, in South Africa, the word ‘artist’ has become synonymous with poverty.
This has become a well-recognized fact – in the entertainment industry, and even at national government level. Last year, Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, promised to seek ways to break the vicious cycle which continues to condemn so many of South Africa’s iconic figures in the arts and entertainment industry to pauper-like existences in the later years of their lives.
In his Budget Vote speech in Parliament, Davies said: ‘The dti will propose amendments to the Copyright Act – to bring to an end this plight of our artists, many of whom have become our national treasures.’
‘But the wheels of government turn slowly, if at all, and nothing has been heard since the announcement of these proposed amendments.
Over the years, steady numbers of township artists, the majority of them musicians, have faced illness and, sometimes, death without a cent to their names, leaving fans, friends and industry insiders scrambling to arrange benefit concerts to help pay for medical costs, funerals, outstanding debts – and small donations for next of kin to live on for a few weeks.
One of those who died in poverty was Basil ‘Manenberg’ Coetzee.
Not even being part of the group that brought the world a song that became an international jazz standard, the Abdullah Ibrahim-composition, ‘Mannenberg’, could (when it mattered most) put money for a rainy day into Coetzee’s pockets. The Mitchells Plain saxophonist, a frequent top-liner at the ubiquitous ‘struggle’ concerts, the gumbas of the 1980s, died in poverty – as did Coetzee’s fellow struggle jazz artist, the multi-instrumentalist and singer, Robbie Jansen.
Tony Schilder, South Africa’s ‘Gentleman of Jazz’, and the composer of the Cape evergreen, ‘Montreal’, was another who passed on with nothing to show for a lifetime’s contribution to music – beyond leaving behind fond memories of beautifully composed tunes.
Yet another musician who experienced hard financial times in periods throughout her career was the ‘Weekend Special’ pop diva Brenda Fassie who, at the height of her popularity was dubbed the ‘Madonna of the Townships’ and the ‘Queen of African Pop’ by music writers – and ‘Ma-Brr’ by her legions of fans.
From time to time, efforts have been made to tackle the problem. For instance, in September 2008, Garth Strachan, the then MEC for Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape, launched the Cape Music Industry Commission, of which a key feature was a plan to train (in this instance) musicians to think and act like business people – in addition to singing and playing instruments.
At Cape MIC’s launch, Lynne Brown, the then Premier of the Western Cape (and current Minister of Public Enterprises) said: ‘For many years, through some of our darkest days, these artists brought joy into our lives. Through their Kaapse-flavoured langarm tunes, their Cape Jazz compositions, their goema liedjies, their blikkitaar Karoo blues, their Zayne Adams-Give-a-Little-Love-type ballads, their Afrikaanse Hip Hop, their musicals, their gospel and their kwaito, they got us to smile when, on countless occasions, we wanted to cry.
‘These very special people were (and, in many instances, continue to be) exceedingly generous in sharing their talents with us – for our enjoyment,’ Brown said.
But the promise of Cape MIC did not materialize – mainly because the Democratic Alliance, which became the governing party in the Western Cape just a few months later, in 2009, did not share Strachan’s and Brown’s vision for Cape MIC.
Billy Domingo, a director of espafrika, the organizers of the Cape Town Jazz Festival, told me: ‘Poverty is a problem that is particularly prevalent among the older generation of entertainers. Far too many of them have had alarmingly loose arrangements with agents. Often, they agreed to perform on the basis of a word-of-mouth arrangement. And there were many times that agents or organizers reneged on these agreements.’
‘There have also been cases where artists composed songs, for which they sold off the rights for next to nothing,’ he said.
Domingo suggested that structures be set up to teach business skills to participants in the industry. ‘Entertainment is a business,’ he said, Those in the industry need to look beyond singing, or playing an instrument, or dancing – because if they don’t, South Africans are going to continue reading tragic stories of once-great artists struggling – and failing – to make ends meet.’
Domingo also suggested that agents should be compelled by law to pay a certain percentage of performing fees into a central fund, which artists (or their families, in cases of death) could draw on during difficult times.
At a time when forward-looking South Africans have been prepared to throw their weight behind the removal of colonialist- and apartheid-era statues, perhaps it’s time also to start insisting that government put in place programmes and legislation to ensure that living heroes of community struggles – and, in my opinion, artists and entertainers are our real heroes – can live the senior years of their lives in comfort and security.

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From once a South African to always an Australian – the long journey of Keith Majoos

Keith Majoos

The Long Journey of Keith Majoos

KEITH Majoos is sitting in an apartment less than 100 metres from Surfer’s Corner’ in Muizenberg, near Cape Town, doing what Australians refer to as ‘lounging’ and South Africans as ‘catching up on the old days’.

Majoos, a self-employed IT and Management Consultant, who is in the process of registering as a Counselling Psychologist while he awaits his doctorate from the University of New England, smiles easily – and speaks slowly and clearly in an accent that can best be described as halfway between South African and Australian (which is not surprising, given that he’s spent almost 30 years in each of these countries).

The subject of our conversation is, inevitably, about the ‘new South Africa’. Majoos, like most people who have been touched by events on Africa’s southern tip over the past 18 years, has his own special story to tell.

And he can’t suppress a chuckle as he tells it: ‘It was the year 2000 and I was in South Africa on a visit. We were driving through Delft, a suburb of tiny houses and residents who were definitely not white, when the driver of the car said to me: “You are now in a National Party stronghold.”’

‘I had been told – and had read – about major changes in South Africa. But Delft … a National Party stronghold? Who would have imagined it?’

It’s easy to understand why Majoos, would have been surprised. It was a particularly nasty experience of National Party policy that persuaded him to leave South Africa in 1984.

‘I was working in information technology for a company called Unisys – and I had been sent to KwaZulu-Natal with two fellow (white) workers to do a job at the Natal Mercury newspaper,’ he explains. ‘When we’d completed the work, we decided to have a meal at a nearby hotel. As soon as I set foot in the establishment, a white bloke came up to me and said in Afrikaans: “What are you doing here? You know we don’t serve kaffirs. To the back with you!’

‘I was shocked – and so were my colleagues,’ he says.

‘I was so furious that the next day I went to the Australian embassy to apply to emigrate. They told me they didn’t know how long the process would take – or whether my application would be successful. So I bought a house in Boksburg – and a new car – and went on with my life.’

Three months later Majoos, a B.Sc graduate, who had majored in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, was told that his application had been approved. He immediately gave his house and car to his father, and packed for Perth. He and his wife were 28; his first-born child was three and his youngest at that time, nine months.

Majoos says he was determined to establish himself and his family. ‘I wanted my children to have a better chance in life’.

But it wasn’t easy – not initially, anyway.

‘South Africans who left for Australia in the 1970s and 1980s found the new society a lot freer than in South Africa. For example, we came to a country where young couples lived together initially’

‘In the first few years, when I saw all this, I used to say to my friends: ‘If I had done what young couples are doing here, dan slaan my pa my dood. Dan maak hy my weer lewendig. Dan slaan hy my weer dood.

‘Many children – especially those who were older – found it difficult to adapt,’ he says. ‘Those who were teenagers, or who were on the cusp of being teenagers, struggled to make friends. Australian children were set in their ways – and had their cliques at school.’

‘The journey from being a South African to an Australian proved as difficult in many cases for their parents. A friend once told me: “Keith, I used to walk in the rain so that my wife could not see that I had been crying. I was holding down three jobs. And I had to get a house and work through all the hardships. Everything threatened to overwhelm me.

Would Majoos ever consider coming back to South Africa to stay?

‘I get asked this question quite often,’ he says. And, generally, I say “No”. I have struggled very hard to establish my family in Australia. Why should I go back to South Africa? I’ll come back on holiday, for sure, but not to stay.’

He explains that for a lot of South Africans who left, there is what he calls ‘a transition’.

‘I see that with the new migrants,’ he says. ‘They will say: “Ah, Keith, so you’re going home?” And they say it because at this point in their lives, home is still South Africa.

‘All of us have travelled this road. For many of us who returned to South Africa for visits in those early years, who worked so hard to establish ourselves, home was still South Africa.

‘But then came what can best be described as a mental shift, a shift that usually happened when we were back in South Africa. We would suddenly find ourselves saying things like: “I’m really looking forward to going home to my kids.”

‘Suddenly, home had become Australia.’

And the children, how do they view South Africa? Majoos answers quickly and confidently. ‘The children have moved on. My children are not really interested in what is happening here. Even if I offered to buy them a ticket to South Africa, they would say: “No. What must I do there?”’

‘My eldest daughter doesn’t want anything to do with this country. She left when she was three – and returned in 1996 and 2000. The last time my second eldest was here was as a tourist. She and her boyfriend visited the Kruger Park, and did bungee jumping and whitewater rafting in Zambia.

‘When they arrived here, someone said, ‘Welcome home’, and she responded: “No, home isn’t here. It’s in Australia.”

‘And that’s the perspective. Home is in Australia.’

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Promoting SA music … in Australia

Beryl Crosher-Segers: Promoting South African music, in Australia.

Beryl Crosher-Segers: Promoting South African music, in Australia.

ABOUT 40 years ago a teenager from one of Cape Town’s southern suburbs sat mesmerized in a local theatre as a teenybopper idol named Jonathan Butler belted out his first great hit, a wistful ballad called ‘Please Stay’

This week, Beryl Crosher-Segers reflected on that show – and that time so many years ago – as she began putting the final touches to one of the biggest tests of a burgeoning career as a showbiz promoter in Australia: a tour Down Under (and to New Zealand) by … the very same Jonathan Butler. Continue reading

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Beware of Governments seeking too much protection in Protection of Information Bills

When governments in free countries lose the capacity to govern effectively, they look for scapegoats – and, invariably, one of the first things they will then do is chip away at the rights that underpin the democracy they once promised to grow and protect.

This has happened all over the world, including in so-called ‘developed’ countries such as the USA, the UK, France and Italy.

In South Africa, the ANC government, battered almost daily at national, provincial and local level by allegations (and sometimes more than that) of corruption and maladministration, has taken aim at the media. Continue reading

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All Black Inside The Rainbow Nation

In the early 1980s, I faced the most powerful man in South African rugby across the biggest boardroom table I’d ever seen, and listened respectfully as he pointed (PW Botha-style) at me and barked: ‘You … are anti-South African.’

I’ll never forget Dr Daniel Hartman Craven.

I interviewed him during the era of sports boycotts … anti-apartheid demonstrations … Cheeky Watson … Hassan Howa … and Sacos – and he didn’t mince his words as he outlined his views. Continue reading

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