19 October 2021

AIDY GRIFFIN - 1954-2021

AIDY GRIFFIN 1954-2021

by Norrie May Welby
The Passing of Aidy Griffin
VALE Aidy Griffin

Aidy Griffin, strategic driver of law reform and social inclusion of sex and gender diverse people, passed away in a hospice on Thursday 7 October 2021, at the age of 67. Aidy worked with others and then local state MP Clover Moore in the mid nineties to draft the first transgender recognition and anti-discrimination bill in the western world. That bill lapsed when parliament rose for the next election, but the cause was taken up again to the government by Aidy and other activists, and it passed the Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and Other Acts Amendment) Act of 1996 (NSW). This is the Act that made possible the later ruling in the High Court recognising non-binary sex (NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie [2014].

I first met Aidy at an early meeting of the Transgender Liberation Coalition (aka Transgender Lobby Coalition) in the early 1990s, when they gave me advice about finding a doctor who supported non-binary choices with regard to hormone therapy. Aidy was studying at UTS, which was hosting Queer Collaborations, so they invited me along to co-present some workshops on sex and gender. Aidy gave an academic dissection, and I did a little song and dance, show and tell. Everything I know about Foucault and post-modern deconstruction I learned second hand from Aidy.Aidy was fiercely intelligent, and spoke in a very quiet Irish voice. They were very street smart and politically savvy, and taught me a lot.

At Aidy’s instigation, the two of us took a proposal to the Sydney Star Observer for a regular column on gender and transgender issues, and this became Gender Agenda. We were hosted by Philip Adams on the panel of his ABC Radio National Late Show Live, along with avant-garde drag artiste Cindy Pastel and American feminist academic Jane Gallop. When Philip asked about their gender journey, Aidy replied,“ I took a taxi here”.

We took every opportunity to get in front of cameras and microphones to challenge gender norms and inspire social inclusion, and you can see and hear Aidy starring in the docudrama Sexing the Label, sitting on Gilligan's Island (corner Oxford and Flinders Street) as the 1996 Mardi Gras parade speeds by in fast motion.A nightclub in Kings Cross that was part of Abe Saffron’s network was accused of discriminating against a transgender woman. In response, Aidy negotiated with the nightclub network for a free venue to use for a fundraiser to benefit the trans community. This led to the 'Trany Pride' Ball at the old Les Girls nightclub, which raised money for the first 'Trany Pride' float in the Mardi Gras Parade. This helped build enough community support for the successful law reform achieved in 1996.

There aren’t many people as caring and intelligent as Aidy, and their passing is a devastating loss. But too, Aidy was part of many invigorating heady and sometimes terrifying adventures, memories to cherish, or to just wonder at how we survived them.

31 August 2021

SOUTH AFRICA'S SHOCKING JOBLESS FIGURES MAKE A BASIC INCOME GRANT A SOCIAL, MORAL AND HISTORICAL IMPERATIVE

Daily Maverick
Brett Herron
30 August 2021

South Africa’s shocking jobless figures make a Basic Income Grant a social, moral and historical imperative


Appropriately funded and managed, with no wiggle room for state incompetency or corruption, a Basic Income Grant could finally lay the foundation for sustainable healing and justice in post-apartheid South Africa. To those who say such a grant is unaffordable, the obvious answer is that South Africa can no longer afford not to.

A few days ago, Statistics SA announced that South Africa’s unemployment rate had reached a record high of 34.4%, or a staggering 44% if we use the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes those who have given up looking for work.

More than 46% of young people under the age of 34 – and a staggering 63% of under-24s – are unemployed.

The simple fact is that our economy is unable to generate enough jobs to reduce and eliminate unemployment, which leaves millions of South Africans without any access to an income. It is physically impossible for any adult of employable age to live day to day, month to month and year to year without income.

Prioritising the implementation of a Basic Income Grant – or Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) – is a social, moral and historical imperative crucial to the sustainability of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

Appropriately funded and managed, with no wiggle-room for state incompetency or corruption, the BIG could finally lay the foundation for sustainable healing and justice in post-apartheid South Africa.

To those who say such a grant is unaffordable, the obvious answer is that South Africa can no longer afford not to.

Inequality was the overarching policy of apartheid and its colonial predecessors. The fact that inequality has deepened in post-apartheid South Africa is a shameful slur on the state, the governing parties, the business sector and all South Africans of social conscience and integrity.

Among the funding mechanisms that the state is duty-bound to consider are redistributive measures recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 22 years ago.

Among the commission’s key recommendations were that those to whom it did not give amnesty for apartheid-era human rights violations should be prosecuted (all being equal before the law), and that the state should implement a reparations policy.

Recognising that funding reparations were expensive – but nonetheless imperative in contributing to narrowing the “intolerable” inequality gap – the commission proposed a number of redistributive measures.

None of the recommendations was implemented.

Commission chairperson Archbishop Desmond Tutu said later that the mood in the country created by its first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, was such that many businesses and individuals would have been happy to contribute to the reconstruction of the country. In a sense, it could also be a cathartic mechanism to pay something back in acknowledgement of the privilege they accrued under apartheid.

The archbishop referred to the unimplemented recommendations as the TRC’s unfinished business.

Despite government’s efforts to provide houses, security and comfort to citizens – the millions of fully subsidised homes that have been built and connections made to the water, sewerage and electricity grids – 22 years after the TRC published its recommendations, levels of poverty, joblessness and inequality have increased. Unsustainably so.

On top of deeply entrenched structural barriers to economic inclusion, the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic has been devastating. According to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, social scientists from five South African universities recently estimated Covid-related job losses at three million, of which two million jobs were lost by women.

Nearly half the South African population is living in poverty, a burden that is disproportionately carried by women, with 74% of women-headed households living below the poverty level.

Dismantling the deeply entrenched structures that created economic, social, spatial and environmental injustice will require all of our efforts. South Africa has a well-established social assistance programme – of cash transfers – but the programme makes no provision for able-bodied adults between 18 and 59 years, the assumed age of economic activity.

Their exclusion condemns many to live in intolerable conditions.

Section 27 of the South African Constitution guarantees every person the right to sufficient food and water and to “social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance”.

It is in this context that the debate about the BIG must be understood. When an economy is unable to provide enough jobs for people to earn an income and take care of themselves financially, then the state has a duty to provide relief.

It is not a gift or a handout; it is a right.

In response to the economic turmoil occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the state introduced a temporary Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant of R350 per month. Payment of this grant has been extended to March 2022. It’s far from perfect, and hardly sufficient to keep the wolf from the door, but it is helping nearly seven million beneficiaries.

The first step on the road to a BIG is to continue to provide the social relief grant of R350 per person per month and expand access to whoever applies for it.

But we must recognise this grant for what it is: A commendable state response in an economic emergency wrought by a health pandemic – a Band-Aid to stem the flow of blood from a gaping wound.

The next step must be finding the means to address legitimate concerns about universality, quantum and affordability. The benefit of the grant being universal – that is, available to every adult regardless of their personal financial circumstances – is that it reduces the barriers to access for those who need it most by reducing systemic errors. But extending the grant to all, including those who don’t need it, will add to the financial burden on the state.

The International Growth Center proposes that “transfers should be made universal or accessible on an opt-in basis (i.e. beneficiaries self-evaluate their eligibility), where feasible to try to reach as many in need as possible”

. It makes obvious sense to reduce unnecessary spend while securing ease of access. As a start, an opt-in system for all who are not registered for income tax, for example, could be a sensible balancing condition that would be relatively easy to manage.

The question of quantum is equally challenging.

The most recent data published by Stats SA shows the Food Poverty Line at R585 per person per month. This is the amount of money a South African needs to afford the minimum daily food required. The same report places the Lower Bound Poverty Line at R840 per person per month and the Upper Bound Poverty Level at R1,268 per person per month. These levels are a combination of the minimum daily food requirements plus non-food essentials.

In the ideal circumstances, we should be able to provide social security that meets, at the very least, the upper-bound poverty level of R1,268 per month. This could eliminate poverty in as little as three years. But it would cost the fiscus about R415-billion per year.

If we lower our initial expectations and set the quantum at the Food Poverty Line of R585 per month, the amount of money required drops to R197-billion. This number could be further reduced to R157-billion by restricting payments to unemployed people only. Reaching 60%-80% of this group, which is likely in the initial period, would further reduce annual costs to around R95-billion.

How does the country afford it?

If the new minister of finance follows through on the plan to introduce zero-based budgeting – a budgeting process aimed at reducing wastefulness and identifying absolute spending priorities – then this would free up significant cash. Correctly implemented, it would place the BIG into the budget as a non-negotiable expense and build the rest of the budget around it.

Secure access to sufficient food and water is the most basic of needs of every human being. It should be budgeted for before anything else.

According to the Institute for Economic Justice, eliminating government waste would save about R20-billion. This is a very conservative figure when you consider that State Capture is said to have cost the South African people about R500-billion.

If properly prioritising the budget falls short of the BIG funding need, tax mechanisms must be considered. It is here that the TRC’s recommendations come into focus. The Institute for Economic Justice estimates that a wealth tax of 1% on the top 1% of earners in South Africa would bring an additional R63-billion in revenue.

South Africa has the resources to fund this. It is a question of priorities.

Finally, it should go without saying that economic growth that creates jobs is the pathway we are all looking for. Championing and supporting a BIG does not equate to giving up on an economy that grows inclusively and gives every adult, of employment age, the opportunity to earn a decent wage and experience a life which is fulfilled by meaningful employment.

The money spent on the BIG will not be lost to the economy. It will be spent by the recipients in the economy and contribute back to our revenue through VAT and taxes. DM


20 August 2021

MARIKANA - ONE OF THE WORST POST- APARTHEID ACTIONS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT

DM168 COMMEMORATION - Daily Maverick

Marikana: The unfolding of a never-ending tragedy


By David Forbes• 14 August 2021
Mine workers gather at the Nkageng informal settlement on 15 August 2012 in North West, South Africa, to plan a way forward following violent clashes at Lonmin's Marikana Platinum Mine. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

For nine long, tortured years, the grieving families of the slain at Marikana have sought justice – in vain. Alone, they suffer a suppurating and very wicked wound, for both themselves and the entire South African nation. First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

On 16 August 2012, in a terrifying act of police revenge for the killing earlier of two of their colleagues, the SAPS vowed to “end this thing today”, then went out and cold-bloodedly shot dead 34 miners out on a wildcat strike. Many were shot in the back with military assault rifles, the culmination of 10 days of mine violence that left 47 dead.

At the time, it was the bloodiest massacre in post-apartheid South Africa, fourth to three prior apartheid-era massacres, the hardly known 1952 “Sunday Bloody Sunday” in East London, in which 80 to 200 people were killed; the infamous Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960 (69 dead); and Soweto’s 16 June 1976 Uprising (176 to 700 killed).

What came to be called the Marikana Massacre at the Lonmin platinum mine near Rustenburg in North West was a direct result of a betrayal by Lonmin mine management, police incompetence, union rivalry and the insufferable indignity of migrant labour, a highly exploitative practice that no-one post-apartheid has seen fit to end.

Those who have escaped consequences (but not blame) include President Cyril Ramaphosa, former president Jacob Zuma, then minister of safety and security Nathi Mthethwa, then police commissioner Riah Phiyega, and (at the time) North West provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, their subordinates, key union representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and Lonmin senior managers Jomo Kwadi, Barnard Mokwena (a paid State Security Agency spy), Abey Kgotle, security manager Graeme Sinclair, and the top triumvirate of Lonmin executives, Ian Farmer, Ben Magara and Simon Scott.

For nine years, the families have slept every single night holding the pain of their loss. They filed a civil case in 2016 to compel a recalcitrant Zuma presidency to act on their promised R1-billion-plus compensation, still largely delayed.

Key breadwinners are gone. Some widows live in shacks.

Nine years later, not a single police officer has been convicted.

It took nearly five years for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to identify 72 police officers in connection with the incident on 13 August 2012, which left five dead just days before the massacre. It took another year for the first six officers to appear in court.

William Mpembe, then deputy North West provincial commissioner and now head of security at Tharisa Minerals in Marikana, was charged in 2018 with four counts of murder, five of attempted murder.

He and former air wing commander Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Johannes Vermaak face counts of defeating the ends of justice.

Vermaak allegedly instructed officers Nkosana Shepherd Mguye, Collin Masilo Mogale, Katlego Joseph Sekgwetla and Khazamola Phillip Makhubela to hunt down and shoot fleeing mineworkers. The State has 140 witnesses. That trial is ongoing.

Striking mine workers meet to discuss their wage demands outside the Nkageng informal settlement on 16 August 2012 in North West, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Mpembe earlier faced separate charges in the Mahikeng High Court, with officers Jacobus Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule, for failing to report that mineworker Modisaotsile Van Wyk Segalala had died in the back of a police truck. They were acquitted in March 2021.

For nine slow years, this litany of injustices over Marikana has lain like a ghoulish incubus on our nation’s soul, with the government failing to apologise, the police refusing to accept responsibility, and the mines putting money over life while the lives of the victims decline.

In the icy Highveld winter of 2012, the ANC-aligned NUM was being challenged for organising rights by the non-aligned Amcu at the Nkaneng platinum mine, owned by British company Lonmin plc, formerly the mining division of global miner Lonrho plc. (On 10 June 2019, Lonmin was finally sold to Sibanye-Stillwater.)

Many miners felt the NUM did not represent their interests and was “too close to management”. The rock drill operators, who work long hours at the rock face in conditions that are incredibly uncomfortable and dangerous were being paid a cost-to-company of between R8,000 to R10,000 a month, including a “live-out allowance”.

Some migrant miners support families of up to 13 members, mostly in the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, eSwatini and Mozambique.

The “migrant labour system”, instituted about 100 years ago, has contributed greatly to the enormous wealth that built South Africa’s infrastructure but returns very little to the people themselves.

“The truth is that we live like pigs while the mine smiles when we dig that platinum and make them rich,” Thobisile Jali tells journalist Thanduxolo Jika later.

On Thursday 9 August 2012, after a meeting, the rock drill operators go out on a wildcat (unprotected) strike, demanding basic pay of R12,500 a month. Tholekile Mbhele tells Jika: “We decided to do things ourselves.”

The following day, they demand to see the bosses at the Lonmin offices. Management refuses. That night, in the Wonderkop mine hostels, there are assaults and clashes.

Striking mine workers run for cover after police officers open fire outside the Nkageng informal settlement on 16 August 2012 in North West, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Men in a Lonmin bakkie shoot and wound Thando Mutengwane and Bulelani Dlomo. The strikers gather at a nearby koppie to avoid hostel intimidation.

They will spend nearly a week on the mountain, peacefully demanding that management come and talk to them. Management will consistently refuse and 34 of those miners will go home in wooden boxes.

On Saturday 11 August, about 2,000 strikers march on the NUM offices, carrying traditional weapons. Stones are thrown at the NUM men, and three shots are fired at the strikers. Bongani Ngema and Vusimuzi Mandla “Zulu” Mabuyakhulu are wounded.

The next day, about 3,000 strikers again march on the NUM. Despite earlier orders that Public Order Policing (POP) units be deployed there, no police are seen. It’s Sunday. Senior police cannot be reached.

Two Lonmin guards try to calm the angry crowd, which hacks Hassan Funi and Frans Mabelane to death, steals their phones and a pistol, and burns both them and their Lonmin vehicle.

That night, strikers march to shaft K-4, set nine vehicles alight and kill Thapelo “Eric” Mabebe and Julius Langa. The violence is escalating beyond the control of the elected strike leaders led by Mgcineni “Mambush” Noki, 30, a popular miner from Thwalikhulu in Pondoland. On Monday 13 August, police set up an interim joint operations centre at the mine management offices. The managers claim the protesters are “faceless” but they have pictures in their HR files.

Mbombo instructs Mpembe to “disperse and disarm” the (3,000) protesters and marchers, confiscate their weapons, arrest everyone involved, and “enhance strategic deployments”. After setting her deputy this Herculean task, she leaves.

Police units pour into Marikana: the Special Task Force, the Tactical Response Team, the National Intervention Unit, the POP, Air Wing, Mounted Unit, K-9, Visible Policing, Planning.

That afternoon, 25-year career cop Mpembe and 70 officers intercept 100 to 200 strikers returning to the koppie. The strikers sit down quietly when they see the police.

Police officers open fire on striking mine workers outside the Nkageng informal settlement on 16 August 2012 in North West, South Africa. Violence broke out in the area as workers downed tools during an apparent wage strike at the Lonmin Marikana Platinum Mine. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)
Mpembe tells them to surrender their weapons

With impeccable logic, Noki replies they are not fighting. Their weapons are only to defend themselves. They are returning to the koppie to report back, and may the police escort them safely? Mpembe demands they lay down their arms. Noki rises and says: “We have spoken enough now. We are leaving.”

As one, the miners begin to move. The police accompany them, but about 200m later, Warrant Officer Daniel Kuhn fires a teargas cannister (contravening Standing Order 262). In the mayhem that follows, officers Hendrick Tsietsi Monene and Sello Hendrik Lepaaku are stabbed and hacked to death, and a 9mm pistol and an R5 rifle stolen.

Officer Shitumo Baloyi is stabbed and hacked, but survives

Looted weapons are fired at police, who return fire. Phumzile Sokanyile and Semi Jokanisi are killed. Four strikers are wounded. Thembelakhe Mati is found dead later.

The police regroup and agree they have “insufficient resources” to disarm the miners. They draw up a plan to “negotiate a peaceful solution”.

At 6pm, National Commissioner Phiyega arrives. She instructs Mbombo to “continue to try and bring the unions to negotiate” and urges management to “do everything in their power to ensure that the situation is normalised”. She then returns to Pretoria.

On Tuesday 14 August, Noki tells journalists they are not fighting, they just want an audience with their employer. The miners behind him on the koppie are extremely disciplined and peaceful.

The police arrive to negotiate in an armoured Nyala. Lieutenant Colonel McIntosh, a police negotiator, is too afraid to get out. Noki and four others come forward and kneel down. Noki then goes to the front window of the Nyala to talk to McIntosh.

McIntosh says the police cannot force management to negotiate. It’s late, so Noki says management must come the next day. That evening, Mpembe asks NUM president Senzeni Zokwana and Amcu boss Joseph Mathunjwa to try to resolve the impasse.

The body of Lonmin mine worker Mafolisi Mabiya is carried up a mountain to his village before his funeral on 2 September 2012 outside Dutywa, Eastern Cape, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

The next morning, Wednesday 15 August, Nyala-style negotiations resume. The police say calling management “is not part of their duties”. Noki asks them to go. It’s hard to negotiate with an armoured vehicle.

Meanwhile, Mpembe has called Zokwana, Mathunjwa and mine management to a meeting. He says the situation is “explosive”.

The two union leaders, no love lost between them, agree to talk to the strikers. They are taken down separately, Zokwana first. They are not allowed out of the Nyala and use a loudhailer.

It’s now late afternoon. The strikers refuse Zokwana’s urgings to return to work, singing and stamping. McIntosh nervously pulls the Nyala back. Then Mathunjwa. He is also not allowed out, but is received warmly.

Mohammed must come to the Mountain. The strikers are implacable. Noki suggests management come the next morning. The union bosses return to the meeting, and debrief separately. Mpembe is impressed. Mathunjwa says: “Everyone is positive.”

Unknown to Mathunjwa, four police mortuary vans are ordered that same night at Phiyega’s executive meeting, where, ominously, the term “D-Day” is used.

Mathunjwa asks Lonmin’s Kwadi and Kgotle to meet him at 8am the next day. They agree. But at the 6.30am joint operations meeting the next morning, informer intelligence says there will be “no laying down of arms”. Things get tense. At 8.20am, Mathunjwa arrives but management reneges and refuse to negotiate. It is a betrayal of tragic magnitude.

Mathunjwa then discovers the police and Lonmin are holding a press conference. At 10am, Provincial Commissioner Mbombo tells journalists in the Lonmin boardroom: “We are ending this today; don’t ask me how, but today we are ending this.”

SSA spy Mokwena allegedly has turned the police against Amcu. Mbombo insults Mathunjwa. Management’s turnaround is “not her problem”. Then she leaves to attend a ceremony with North West Premier Thandi Modise.

Mpembe tells Mathunjwa that Mbombo (who has now gone) has replaced him as police commander. No one will engage with Mathunjwa. At 1.40pm, under a cold, steel-blue sky, Noki tells the police he can see they are “preparing for war”.

Noki tells McIntosh: “We must sign a paper so the world can see how we kill one another today”

The cops refuse to take Mathunjwa to the strikers. He uses his own car, and begs the strikers to avoid violence. He falls to his knees. “You are going to be killed here,” he pleads. Noki thanks him. The strikers will stay, he says calmly, and if police or management want to kill them, so be it.

A memorial service at the koppie in Nkaneng behind the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Then Noki warmly welcomes SA Council of Churches president Bishop Jo Seoka and requests him to ask management to come. Noki says they will return to work as soon as their demand is met. The bishop says Lonmin’s Kgotle had told him earlier they would not negotiate with “those criminals”.

As the sun sinks lower, the Special Task Force uncoil long rolls of shiny new razor wire. Police tell journalists to leave. A chill falls as the light begins to fade.

Then the shooting begins

Noki leads a group of miners cautiously towards an escape route but is cut off by police. A striker fires a pistol in retaliation to police stun grenades and teargas.

In 12 seconds, 284 bullets rip bone and sinew to shards and shreds. This bloodbath is later called “Scene 1”. A commander calls: “Cease fire.” There is a stunned, very loud silence.

Bodies lie motionless in the dirt and thorny scrub. Blood soaks the thirsty earth.

Dust swirls, as if moved by spirits of the dead. It’s all in slow motion. Death has descended.

Then the police begin shouting, regrouping, moving towards the 17 dead strikers. A helicopter clatters overhead.

Other police formations pursue strikers running, literally for their lives, towards another little koppie several hundred metres away. Out of sight, a lengthy bout of shooting echoes sporadically for 11 minutes.

This is “Scene 2”, where 57 police fire 295 bullets, killing a further 17 miners.

These sinister details are revealed in a report by independent researcher David Bruce, based on photographs, statements from police and surviving miners, and ballistic and forensic evidence.

Multiple miner statements accuse the police of shooting defenceless strikers. A police witness later tells how a cop shot a miner with his hands up. Police put weapons into the hands of dead miners. Some bodies have their hands tied.

Bruce concluded that most of the murders were motivated by a desire to punish the strikers for killing two police officers earlier in the week.

One miner was shot 12 times. Four others die later. Police arrest 270 and charge the strikers with murder under the apartheid-era “common purpose” doctrine. Years later these murder charges will be dropped.

Meanwhile, in faraway villages, hearts crack and the wailing begins as news comes of the death of breadwinners, husbands, sons, brothers, and colleagues. The nation goes into rigid shock. Headlines shudder around the world. Marikana is a new pin on the map, for all the wrong reasons.

Phiyega congratulates her officers, saying they “did nothing wrong”. Zuma appoints the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, but it becomes a whitewash. Political principals are exonerated, the police shootings justified, the miners blamed for “violent behaviour”, and Lonmin partially blamed for “reckless actions”. The charge of “toxic collusion” between Lonmin and the SAPS is dismissed.

Phiyega later faces the Claassen Inquiry into her fitness to hold office. It leads to her suspension on full pay, until the end of her term. During her suspension she earns R3.2-million. She also takes the Farlam Commission report on review, but on 18 June 2021 the High Court dismisses her bid to overturn the report, with costs.

Violence continues sporadically until 18 September 2012, when the strikers, assisted by the unions and the SACC, finally win a 22% increase. Strikers had not slept at home. Police were kicking in doors and beating people. The miners remain haunted, traumatised.

Farlam clears Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president, a Lonmin shareholder and board member at the time, of possible culpable homicide, despite a chain of emails showing he had pressured the police minister to send reinforcements, and leaned on then mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu, saying the strikers were engaged in “a dastardly criminal act” and her silence was “bad for her and the government”.

Despite being a skilled negotiator and former NUM general secretary, Ramaphosa had refused to talk to the strikers. He has never been to Marikana. He didn’t visit the widows. He has not apologised. He calls his words “unfortunate”.

Striking mine workers meet to discuss their wage demands outside the Nkageng informal settlement on 16 August 2012 in North West, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Police Minister Mthethwa was cleared of accusations of murder

Farlam said the police at Scene 1 had “reasonable grounds” to believe they were under threat. But Phiyega’s claim that miners attacked police was shown on video to be false. Despite evidence of multiple failures in SAPS record-keeping, withholding of documents, fabrications, deceiving the commission and altering evidence, Farlam inexplicably clears the police

. Human rights lawyer George Bizos says senior police made a “deliberate attempt to defeat the ends of justice”. There are no findings about the 17 deaths at Scene 2 because there is “no clarity”, despite clear witness statements. Farlam’s recommendations are ignored to this day.

Greg Marinovich, author of Murder at Small Koppie, an investigative book on Marikana, concluded that “heavily armed police hunted down and killed the miners in cold blood”.

Turning to the culpability of Lonmin and its managers, the commission called the living conditions for 13,500 miners “truly appalling” and found Lonmin had reneged on its legal obligation to phase out the single-sex hostel blocks by September 2011 and replace them with 5,500 houses.

Lonmin built three houses. They could not explain why. Farlam said Lonmin “created an environment that created tension, labour unrest, disunity” and “harmful conduct” among its 28,000 employees. Lonmin’s failures were “inexcusable”.

Lonmin’s 2012/13 annual report recorded an after-tax profit of $198-million, calling the massacre a “production disruption”. The two top executives, Ian Farmer and Simon Scott, earned R13.6-million and R6.2-million, respectively, in 2011. Lonmin had 3,000 rock drill operators demanding R12,500 a month. It would only have cost 14% of Lonmin’s after-tax profits to pay their demand.

The widows filed a civil claim in 2016 to compel the government to pay compensation. In December 2017, the government announced it would pay R1-billion. In 2018, at least 320 claimants who sued the state were paid R69-million for loss of support.

The families have yet to settle for emotional damages. DM168

Remembering those murdered at Marikana: This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

19 August 2021

RELIGION IS NOT RACE AND RACE IS NOT RELIGION - THE BOTTOM LINE IS NATIONALISM

What is going on in this country is race hatred propogated by governments, reactionary groups, people who are unable to accept for all sorts of reasons, that all of us are part of one system - we are all part of the human race, that is the species we are, neither fish, nor flesh, nor fowl. Of course flesh can be human, but all anlimats have flesh and we humans have flesh.

The trouble is, we also have brains which register thoughts and actions and these can propagate hate - hate of people who are different from us, who don't look like us, who don't speak like us, who don't worship the same deity or don't worship any deity - and are therefore DIFFERENT!!

But as Shakespeare said so many years ago: "..........and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses,affections,passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufference be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."

This may have been written by Shakespeare a few hundred years ago, but it is still apposite.

However, religion is not race, and what we have been taught by governments and those who like to practice extremism all use the precept of religion and race interchangeably.

The bottom line is that there is only one race, and that is the human race, and those whom it suita denigrate those who look different, who speak differently, whose homes have different practices which suit their requrementw and whose whole way of life is different in certain respects from the "common" perception.

Racism is, in effect nationalism and those who practise it do so because they are unable to handle difference and they have been taught that certain people's practices are abhorrent to the mass of the population and need to be stopped.

Pause for a moment, and look around the world and see how ugly are these actions and activities and end up murderously and viciously and end up to the detriment of so many.

The systems of goverment around the world under which we live preach hate to enable those government systems to operate successfully for those who have gained positions of power, and of course the majority of people in the world suffer.

This racism in nationalism, not racism, not religion.

11 August 2021

ATHEISTS CREATED BY HOMOPHOBIA AND RELIGIOUS FANATICISM

Andrews government fails to curb legal right to fire gay staff By Royce Millar and Ben Schneiders August 11, 2021 — 5.00am

The Andrews government has so far failed to honour an election pledge to stop religious schools discriminating against LGBTQ+ staff and students, who can still legally be sacked and expelled due to their sexuality.

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and unions are pressing the state government for action after an investigation by The Age found gay and lesbian teachers were being dismissed or pressured to leave their jobs. The discrimination is particularly prevalent in evangelical schools.

John Pendergast, who formerly worked as a teacher at a conservative Christian School. John Pendergast, who formerly worked as a teacher at a conservative Christian School.CREDIT:PENNY STEPHENS

The state Labor government has championed LGBTQ+ rights, banning gay conversion practices and allowing couples to adopt children regardless of their sexuality. But as an election looms next year, the government has been much slower on giving rights to LGBTQ+ people at religious schools.

In its 2018 platform Labor promised to ensure that LGBTQ+ staff enjoyed an “inclusive workplace in their employment”, and in an answer to a 2018 election survey the party vowed to fix gaps in protections for LGBTQ+ students and teachers through amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act.

But a recent survey by the Independent Education Union’s Victoria and Tasmania branch detailed numerous complaints of discrimination against teachers and students – including fear of being sacked – because of their sexuality in Victorian religious schools.

Leading LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Australia has pushed state Labor for change but chief executive Anna Brown said she was disappointed with the lack of progress.

Equality Australia’s Anna Brown says she is disappointed with the Victorian government’s lack of progress Equality Australia’s Anna Brown says she is disappointed with the Victorian government’s lack of progressCREDIT:EDDIE JIM

“Victoria’s been a leader in equality but the continued delay on this reform means teachers have suffered needlessly without the protection of the law,” Ms Brown said. “Every month they wait, LGBTQ+ students, teachers and people accessing services will be at risk of discrimination and harm.”

Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes did not respond directly to questions, saying there would be a response shortly to a parliamentary inquiry into the state’s anti-vilification protections.

Ms Symes said equality was “non-negotiable” including in the workplace and that the Andrews government “will always do what it takes to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination”.

She said Victoria was monitoring the Morrison government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill and would “carefully review any gaps in protections for Victorians”.

Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes. Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes.CREDIT:

The Morrison government is planning to table a third draft of its contentious bill. Earlier versions extended the right of religious organisations to discriminate.

Mr Morrison also promised in 2018 urgent new laws to prevent religious schools expelling students because of their sexuality or gender identity. No legislation has since been forthcoming. Instead, the matter was referred to the Law Reform Commission where it remains.

John Pendergast was a teacher at the large Flinders Christian Community College in Melbourne’s south-east. He had more than a decade of service at the school, then faced questioning when he came out as gay in 2016.

His former colleague Sam Cairns was sacked from Flinders College in 2012 for being gay.

Teacher Sam Cairns was sacked from Flinders Christian Community College for being gay Teacher Sam Cairns was sacked from Flinders Christian Community College for being gay CREDIT:PENNY STEPHENS

Mr Pendergast said he had come to terms with his sexuality over time and decided he would no longer hide, or lie about it. The 2016 massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Florida fortified him further, and he decided to tell the campus principal about his sexuality.

A two-hour meeting with school leaders followed. “They asked all these questions. There was still this assumption that this was a choice I had made about my sexuality, that it wasn’t who I was.”

Mr Pendergast later found out that after the meeting the school had been to lawyers for advice on how to deal with his disclosure.

“I decided that if they’re going to treat me like that, I don’t want to work there.”

College executive principal Cameron Pearce said he was bound by privacy restrictions but said Mr Pendergast was “a loved and valued member of our community both before and after disclosing his same-sex attraction”.

Independent education union general secretary Debra James said there was still too much discrimination allowed under Victorian law and “too many schools where both staff and students are forced to hide aspects of their identity or are made to feel unwelcome”.

Ms James said the union accepted there might be cases where particular attributes were required for a particular educational role. “However, we simply reject the argument that the personal life of a law-abiding maths teacher, learning support officer, deputy principal or administrative assistant, has any bearing on their ability to do their job.”

Legislative progress in Victoria had been “very slow” after the Baillieu government’s “shameful overturning” of Brumby-era laws intended to provide protections, she said.

“Other states, such as Tasmania, have shown us that protecting workers from discrimination does not undermine the right to religious expression and does not cause a crisis in faith-based schools.”

Tasmania and the ACT have the country’s strongest anti-vilification laws.

Human rights activist Rodney Croome, a founder of Australian Marriage Equality, said the sackings of LGBTQ+ staff had been unlawful for more than 20 years in Tasmania and also in the ACT. “This matters because it shows that the sky doesn’t fall in when LGBTQ+ teachers in faith-based schools are protected from unfair treatment,” he said.

Many respondents to the union survey on discrimination said they were Christians and had come out during their time at the school. One said they had to keep their sexuality a secret as they feared losing their job. ″⁣I understand they have a right to their faith, but it feels awful having to hide who I am.”

A Christian teacher from a regional Victorian evangelical school said students were told that being gay would send them to hell. A gay teacher from the same school lived in fear of being exposed.

RELATED ARTICLE Lentz at home in Sydney. Investigation LGBT Steph Lentz was sacked this year for being gay. It was perfectly legal Another respondent said being gay in a Catholic school was “inherently conflicted” with a “don’t ask/don’t tell approach” the norm. Another Catholic school teacher said as a queer person they had to keep their private life secret “for threat of termination”. A teacher at a Melbourne evangelical school said school assembly included a speech from a student about the evils of being gay and “praying the gay away”. “It was like stepping back in time or in a different country,” the teacher said. Do you know more? Send a confidential message to benschneiders@protonmail.com Save Share License this article LGBT Daniel Andrews Victorian Parliament Royce Millar Royce Millar Email Royce Millar is an investigative journalist at The Age with a special interest in public policy and government decision-making. Ben Schneiders Ben Schneiders Facebook Twitter Email Ben Schneiders is a multi-award winning investigative journalist at The Age with a focus on workplace issues, politics, business and corruption.

14 July 2021

SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT DRAGS ITS FEET ON LEGALISING ASSISTED SUICIDE

MAVERICK CITIZEN OP-ED South African Government drags its feet on legalising assisted suicide By Drew Forrest• 11 July 2021
(Photo: lboro.ac.uk / Wikipedia)

Twenty-two years ago the Law Commission called for Parliament to investigate euthanasia and assisted suicide. Nothing has happened since — in fact, the government seems intent on blocking progress. Drew Forrest reports on South Africa’s continued denial of ‘the last right’.

Drew Forrest has been working as a journalist for 40 years, with stints at Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Times of Swaziland and the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism. He has been a deputy editor, political editor, business editor and labour editor, among other positions. Author of a book on cricket, The Pacemen (Pan Macmillan 2013), he has also edited several non-fiction books. He is the managing partner (editorial) of IJ Hub, a regional training offshoot of amaBhungane.

A university professor cleaning toilets in government offices? Sounds like Mao’s Cultural Revolution! It couldn’t happen here, with our world-class judiciary and democratic constitution…

Oh, yes it could. It is precisely the situation of Sean Davison, who works at the University of the Western Cape.

Right to die activist Sean Davison during his 2019 murder trial in Cape Town. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais)

According to his friend and colleague Lee Last, Davison travels every Monday morning to the correctional services department building in Cape Town, where for four hours he cleans toilets, empties rubbish bins and mops floors.

Davison has served 400 hours of a community service sentence imposed in a plea bargain in 2019. As he is under three-year house arrest, he can leave home only to scrub toilets and go to work.

His crime? Out of pity, he assisted in the suicide of three friends desperate to head off intolerably painful or humiliating deaths. They begged him to apply his expertise as a biotechnologist; their families pleaded for him not to be jailed.

“He’s taken the sentence in his stride, he’s got no complaints,” said Last. “He’d much rather clean toilets than rot in jail.” Indeed, the judge could have given him three life sentences for murder.

For decades, suicide has not been a crime in South Africa. But paradoxically, helping someone do it, even with the best of motives, is murder under the common law.

Davison refused to be interviewed, saying his sentence bars contact with the media. But it certainly looks as if he is being vindictively demeaned. Why is this highly qualified scientist not teaching maths and science to schoolchildren in Khayelitsha?

The criminalisation of the morally upright was one of the most objectionable features of apartheid, and an unambiguous call for the law to change.

There are other signs that the government is waging an undeclared war on assisted dying.

As soon as a citizen asks the courts to sanction physician-assisted suicide (where the doctor supplies the means but the patient does the deed) or physician-administered euthanasia, it springs into action, splashing out scarce public resources on a legal counter-attack.

This is in marked contrast with the rest of the democratic world, which is moving in the opposite direction (see sidebar).

In a case currently before the North Gauteng High Court, Dieter Harck and Sue Walter are seeking the legal right to choose assisted dying when their illnesses become unendurable. Harck has motor neuron disease, which could eventually suffocate him and Walters has terminal cancer.

In response, the justice minister, Ronald Lamola, has briefed expensive advocates to oppose their plea (Harck and Walters’ lawyers are acting pro deo).

In 2015 his predecessor, Michael Masutha, opposed a similar application by advocate Robert Stransham-Ford, who was dying, excruciatingly, from prostate cancer. Masutha lost in the high court, but instantly went on appeal. This time he got his way, principally because Stransham-Ford died just before the ruling (see a report on the ruling here and the judgment here).

A member of lobby group Dignity SA, Professor Willem Landman, took aim at the appeal court’s “technical” judgment, saying there had been insufficient activist engagement with the vital human rights and constitutional implications of the case.

Constitutional rights at stake

Harck and Walter’s plea is about far more than personal suffering; they argue that the constitutional rights to dignity and self-determination mean they should be able to choose when and how to die.

The Constitution requires the law to be reshaped in questions such as same-sex unions and abortion. But from assisted dying the government seems to shrink in atavistic horror.

In 1997, President Nelson Mandela asked the SA Law Reform Commission to explore a range of end-of-life issues, including euthanasia and assisted suicide. The commission recommended three options: keep the status quo; legalise and let hospital ethics committees decide; or make the decision a private matter between patient and doctor.

It also wrote draft legislation, which it handed to former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

The commission’s report and draft law were never tabled in Parliament. There have been no public hearings, as there were on abortion. Nothing has happened on what some call “the last right” for 20 years.

Why?

Tshabalala-Msimang may have dropped a hint when she allegedly branded assisted dying “medicine for the rich”. Given that an overdose of barbiturates is far cheaper than protracted end-of-life care, this makes no sense. Was she saying, in code, that this is a concern only for white South Africans? There was a further pointer in a televised debate between Landman and former health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, when the latter insisted euthanasia “is against our [presumably African] culture”. “Culture” is a slippery term: South Africa accepts same-sex unions; Uganda punishes gay sex with a 14-year jail sentence. Which is the authentic champion of “the African way”? Everyone, regardless of colour, dies — often miserably. And not all Africans agree that their culture prohibits medical curtailment of life in all cases. One of Davison’s most steadfast supporters has been that global standard-bearer for compassionate faith, Desmond Tutu, who is known to support assisted dying both personally and theologically, as the will of a merciful God. Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) Another influential black voice, SA Human Rights Commission head Tseliso Thipanyane, has publicly proclaimed that the constitutional rights of dignity and “of every individual to control of his or her own body” are a clear basis for euthanasia or assisted suicide. Landman believes there is far more support among black South Africans than the government realises, and that a referendum along New Zealand lines might show this. But the crisp point is that South Africa is a Rechtsstaat: it is the Constitution, not this or that culture, that must decide. For some, the termination of pregnancy, civil unions and the abolition of capital punishment are anathema. But by creating “an overarching legal community”, the Constitution makes it possible to press ahead with such reforms. Landman said he put this to Motsoaledi, who did not reply. Daily Maverick also put questions to justice ministry spokesperson Crispin Phiri, who acknowledged receipt, but provided no answers.

Tutu’s stance underlines the point that religious opposition is not automatic: it is the shibboleth mainly of hardline Catholics and evangelical Protestants, who also shudder at abortion. Of eight US states that allow assisted suicide, not one is in the “Rapture-ready” Deep South. In fact, most objections seem to start with amorphous religious-cultural emotion, which then casts about for rational support. And to spare tender consciences, we move into a realm of contorted hair-splitting and casuistry where moral distinctions are gossamer-thin. It is legal in South Africa to withdraw or withhold life support where the patient has given an advance directive or further treatment is futile. This is known as a living will. “Palliative sedation”, through increasing doses of pain-killing drugs that may hasten death, is also allowed. So is “terminal sedation”, where a pain-stricken patient is knocked out and, if life support is withdrawn, may starve to death. What, in reality, is the difference between euthanasia and death via an incremental morphine overdose? Or by pulling the plug? Either way, the doctor precipitates the end of life. Some question why the terminally ill don’t take their own lives, rather than asking a doctor to do it for them. What if the patient is physically incapable, fearful or lacks the know-how? More to the point: why should the terminally ill not exercise their constitutional right to a peaceful and dignified death, with a doctor at hand and their family members around them? The mainstay of the opposition case is the “slippery slope” argument, which holds that voluntary euthanasia can weaken judicial restraints, paving the way for involuntary killings à la Third Reich. The Netherlands as a model Wherever it is legal, assisted dying is highly regulated. The Netherlands sets five statutory conditions: hopeless and unbearable suffering; a fully voluntary patient request (mandatory parental consent for children); the patient understands his/her illness and options; consultation with a second physician; and a suitable medical procedure administered or overseen by a doctor. Classed as unnatural, the death then passes to a review committee, which refers errant doctors to the prosecuting authorities. There is a clear dividing line between Dutch and Nazi euthanasia — the patient’s informed and explicit consent. Why, logically, does that have to slide towards coercion? Facilitated dying has been lawful in the Netherlands for 37 years and entrenched in statute since 2002. In 2017 the five review committees reported that nine doctors (0.3%) were referred to the authorities after 3,136 assisted deaths that year, mainly because a second physician was not consulted. A 2009 study found there had been no rise in involuntary deaths over two decades and no increase among the aged, poor, handicapped or ethnic minorities. Critics claim the Netherlands showcases the “slippery slope” in practice, as euthanasia numbers have climbed annually and the initial facility for terminal cases has expanded to include the mentally ill, demented and old people who feel their lives are “complete”. But these all require the same consent — in fact, researchers say Dutch doctors are increasingly guided by their patients. The real explanation is that the suicide taboo has faded over time, while more and more people are demanding self-determination in the supremely personal matter of their own death. Assisted dying in any form is banned throughout Africa, but South Africa does not have to march in lockstep. Why not blaze a constitutional trail, as on gay rights and other contentious issues? The state’s obstructive rearguard action is both inhumane and pointless. “Sooner or later they’ll have to confront the tension between the common law and the Constitution,” said a source familiar with the Harck case. “They can chop off the dragon’s head, but there’ll be another… and another…” International trends From a tiny spring in Switzerland during World War 2, assisted dying has grown into a broadening international current. For two decades a destination for “suicide tourism” by foreigners, Switzerland was joined by the Netherlands in the mid-80s. The trend is clear: in the United States physician-assisted suicide (PAS) was legalised first in Oregon (1994), then in Washington state (2008), de facto in Montana (2009), in Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado (2016), District of Colombia (2016), Hawaii (2018) and New Jersey (2018). Social democracies lead the way: euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Canada. PAS is allowed in Austria and is under active discussion in Germany, Portugal and Italy. Like Switzerland, Croatia permits it for “unselfish motives”. Euthanasia is permitted in Colombia and has been debated in parliaments across South America. PAS was recently approved by New Zealand and the Australian states of Victoria, South Australia, West Australia and Tasmania. DM/MC

12 July 2021

'I CAN BE MY WHOLE SELF': AUSTRALIA'S ONLY LGBTIQ PRIDE CENTRE OPENS


Sumeyya Ilanbey
By Sumeyya Ilanbey
11 July 2021







Hang was seven years old when she arrived in Australia with her family in 1978, part of the first wave of Vietnamese boat people seeking asylum.

For much of her life, she said, she worked hard to fit in. She perfected her English, lest her accent gave her away as a refugee.

Premier Daniel Andrews with Hang Vo at St Kilda at the Victorian Pride Centre raising the flag on Sunday. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

She spun yarns of family summer camping trips, even though her parents and the three eldest children had in fact been working seven days a week to make ends meets.

She concocted elaborate stories about her Christmas celebrations, despite being Buddhi,n a board in an executive team,” Ms Vo said.

Melbourne's LGBTIQ community will take part in the annual Midsumma pride march on Sunday

“I became really good at fitting in ... [but] I also learnt fitting in eroded the sense of who I am. Here, at the Pride Centre, I can be my whole self: all the parts of me are valued, celebrated, embraced.

“The whole of me is needed here.”

Ms Vo is chair of the Victorian Pride Centre on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, which was officially opened on Sunday afternoon, making Victoria the home of Australia’s first purpose-built community hub for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer communities.

Premier Daniel Andrews marked the event by announcing $1.9 million to deliver Melbourne Pride 2021 – a one-day street party in the city’s inner north, to be held annually thereafter.

This year’s celebration will take place on December 5 to mark the 40-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of sex between men in Victoria.

Equality Minister Martin Foley and Mr Andrews at an event to officially open the Victorian Pride Centre. Credit:Luis Ascui

“We can’t have enough of these events in our state – somewhat cheeky to announce a northern-suburbs event in the south, but we built the place and we can get away with it,” Mr Andrews said, tongue in cheek.

“To everyone who has had to hide, to everyone who has had to fear, to everyone who’s had to be not quite themselves, this is your space. Every space in Victoria is your space, because equality is not negotiable in this, the most progressive part of our nation.”

A range of LGBTIQ organisations, including Transgender Victoria, bookshop Hares and Hyenas and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, as well as the Australian Queer Archives, will be based at the Victorian Pride Centre.

Port Philip City Council donated the land on which the centre is built, while the Victorian government spent more than $25 million on the facility.


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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm

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