Thursday, 6 March 2014
New Party In Bid To Unseat ANC; Pistorius Was Big Gun Collector; White Bikini Models Frolick In 'Primitive' Namibia; Obama Picks SA Envoy
BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS ROOTS IN NEW PARTY SEEKINGTO OUST ANC
Feb. 19 (GIN) – On the heels of a State of the Union address by ANC President Jacob Zuma that critics felt was devoid of new ideas and uninspiring, a longtime anti-apartheid activist has come from the wings determined to unseat the ANC establishment, presenting fresh ideas and a new party.
Mamphela Ramphele, informal wife of the late Black consciousness leader Steve Biko, lost no time in criticizing the incumbants. “Our society’s greatness is being fundamentally undermined by a massive failure of governance,” she said at a launch event at the historic women’s jail at Constitutional Hill. “Our country has lost the moral authority and international respect it enjoyed when it became a democracy.”
There was no shortage of failed policies to criticize – the wide gap between rich and poor, attacks on striking miners and farmers, corruption, and a broken education system.
The 65-year-old said her new organization would be called Agang – "Let us build" in the Sesotho language – and would take part in national elections next year.
In a manifesto released at the launch event, she warned that “the great society to which we committed ourselves...is rapidly unraveling before our eyes… The impressive achievements of the past eighteen years are being undermined by poor governance… Corruption, nepotism and patronage have become the hallmarks of the conduct of many in public service. “
“It is not surprising that despair and hopelessness are driving many decent people to violence in both the domestic and public spaces. The majority of citizens feel excluded and disrespected at all levels of their daily lives...”
ANC supporters predictably attacked her manifesto. Patrick Craven of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called it “political demagoguery”. "What we can expect from someone who was a managing director of the World Bank from 2000 to 2004 and the chairperson of Gold Fields from 2010, until she suddenly resigned just days before her Agang announcement?" Craven said accusatorily.
Ramphele has worn many hats: medical doctor, social anthropologist, World Bank managing director and university executive. She recently stepped down as chair of Gold Fields, a mining company. But she denied being a member of the out-of-touch elite.
Her platform has drawn support from the opposition. "South Africa is a great country being let down by a weak president,” said Lindiwe Mazibuko of the Democratic Alliance (DA). “Dr Ramphele shares the DA's core values of non-racialism and constitutionalism,” added Mmusi Maimane, a spokesperson for the DA. “Her move is another step in the long process of realigning South African politics around these values." w/pix of M. Ramphele
BLADE RUNNER SHOOTING MAY HEAT UP ANTI-GUN DEBATE
Feb. 19 (GIN) – With all eyes on the tragedy of a woman’s life lost and an Olympic hero hauled into court on murder one, a poignant fact remains hidden in the drama: South Africa put strict gun control laws on the books in 2004 and cut gun crime by more than 20 percent.
Unlike in the U.S., owning a gun is conditional on a competency test and several other factors, including background checking of the applicant, inspection of an owner's premises, and licensing of the weapon by the police. Minimum waiting period frequently exceeds 2 years from date of application.
Approximately 6 million civilians own guns in South Africa – about 12% of the population - but estimates of sales on the black market could make the real number twice that.
The strict laws were unable, however, to prevent Oscar Pistorius, Olympic and Paralympic sprinter and double amputee, from amassing a deadly collection of guns and for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, as she hid in the bathroom.
Pistorius was a known gun enthusiast. In January, he applied for six separate firearm licenses, according to the online paper IOL, namely a Maverick shotgun, a Winchester shotgun, a Mossberg Shotgun, a Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver, a .38 Special revolver and a Vector .223 rifle.
The range of weaponry shocked defense analyst Helmoed Heitman. He said he could not understand what the need for these firearms would be. A Vector .223 rifle, for example, is so powerful that its bullet carries on for a thousand metres, he said, adding, “If you shoot a burglar and you miss, you can hit somebody else 300 meters away.”
South African gun lobbies, with such unlikely names as The Justice Alliance of South Africa, have been seeking to weaken the gun law. "The only effective way to protect yourself against intruders is by using a gun. Either directly, or indirectly by summoning armed response or the police," said Wouter de Waal of Gun Owners of South Africa.
Meanwhile, Pistorius has been charged with premeditated murder and at press time had not been released on bail which would raise concerns that the white and wealthy Blade Runner was being treated more favorably than the 160,000 inmates incarcerated in Africa's most overcrowded prison system. w/pix of anti-gun rally
NAMIBIANS FIND RACISM IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE
Feb. 19 (GIN) – The much-awaited swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated magazine has waded into a public relations nightmare with its display of bikini-clad white models prancing alongside Africans carrying spears or Chinese paddling rafts in cone shaped hats.
A panorama of the “seven continents” was promised in this year’s issue, but what readers actually got was an odd juxtaposition of scantily-clad women vamping it up next to some local inhabitants of the various continents as if they were ‘exotic props,’ according to an article in The Namibian.
Columbia University professor Mark Lamont Hill observed: “For me the African picture was probably the most offensive because it played on some of the most old and stereotypical images. It showed the African as primitive almost uncivilized.”
On the feminist website Jezebel, deputy editor Dodi Stuart weighed in: "Using people of color as background or extra is as a popular fashion trope but although it's prevalent it's very distasteful. People are not props.
"These photos depict people of color as exotic backdrops," said David Leonard of the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University in an interview with Yahoo! Shine… Beyond functioning as props, as scenery to authenticate their third world adventures, people of color are imagined as servants, as the loyal helpers, as existing for white western pleasure, amusement, and enjoyment."
According to HipHopWired.com, a black model was planned for the Africa shoot, but a white model was chosen instead, allegedly to provide ‘better contrast.’
The issue was hotly defended by Mark Ford, president of the Time Inc. Sports Group. "The journey to all seven continents was a bold undertaking to deliver, once again, a spectacular Swimsuit production for our millions of loyal fans. We are delighted that the Travel Channel will present the vibrant behind-the-scenes narrative and visuals of this epic and rigorous production. It will show a completely new and captivating perspective of the Swimsuit franchise.”
The magazine also issued a statement:“We apologize if anyone was hurt by our representation of their culture.” w/pix of SI in Namibia
OBAMA TAPS DEMOCRAT PARTY ACTIVIST AS ENVOY TO SOUTH AFRICA
Feb. 19 (GIN) - Patrick Gaspard, a campaign operative for Pres. Obama, former union chief with the Service Employees International Union and campaign aide to NYC Mayor David Dinkins, is President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to South Africa, it was announced this week.
Gaspard, with long Democratic party credentials, including executive director of the Democratic National Committee, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haitian parents. He worked on the campaigns of Howard Dean and the Rev. Jesse Jackson and was field director for a national voter registration group.
The New Republic outlined his achievements and some disappointments. He organized successful ground operations for Obama in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. However campaign finance laws were broken under his watch at America Coming Together, a voter registration body. The group was fined $775,000, the third largest penalty of the Federal Election Commission in its three decade history.
“Irrespective of what your calling is in life, there is some intersection with government, and therefore with politics, and it behooves all of us to have a toe in the pool of political action,” Gaspard told theGrio. “But more than most, I think because of the unique history that African Americans have in this country, we can ill afford to be in a position where others are determining the fate of our community, whilst we’re on the outside looking in.” w/pix of P. Gaspard