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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Apartheid Guns and Money a meticulously researched book which lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes

The apartheid state was at war. For two decades before 1994, while internal resistance grew, mandatory sanctions prohibited the sale of strategic goods and arms to South Africa.

The last white regime was confronted with an existential threat.

A global covert network of nearly 50 countries was constructed to counter sanctions. In complete secrecy, allies in corporations, banks, governments and intelligence agencies helped move cash, illegally supply guns and create the apartheid arms money machine. Whistleblowers were assassinated and ordinary people suffered.

This is an exposé of that machinery created in defence of apartheid and the people who made this possible: heads of state, arms dealers, aristocrats, plutocrats, senators, bankers, spies, journalists and members of secret lobby groups.

They were all complicit in a crime against humanity. Motivated by ideology or kinship most sought to simply profit from the war.

Many have until now relied on lingering silence to erase the uncomfortable truth.

This meticulously researched book lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes, weaving together material collected in over two-dozen archives in eight countries with an insight into tens of thousands of pages of newly declassified documents.

Networks of state capture persist in our democratic political system because the past and present are interconnected. In forging its future a new generation needs to grapple with the persistent silence regarding apartheid-era economic crime and ask difficult questions of those who benefited from it.

This book provides the evidence and the motivation to do so.

Hennie van Vuuren is an activist, writer and Director of Open Secrets, focusing on accountability for economic crimes and human rights violations. He works from within civil society, challenging corruption and the abuse of power.

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Apartheid Guns and Money can also be purchased via Exclusive Books Online and Takealot.


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Watch: Jonathan Ancer on Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson

Jonathan Ancer recently discussed his latest book Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson on Polity.org.za.

Spy is Ancer’s account of the apartheid ‘super-spy’ Craig Williamson.

Williamson registered at Wits University and joined the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) in 1972. He was elected NUSAS’s vice president and in January 1977, when his career in student politics came to an abrupt end, he fled the country and from Europe continued his anti-apartheid ‘work’.

But Williamson was not the activist his friends and comrades thought he was. In January 1980, Captain Williamson was unmasked as a South African spy. Williamson returned to South Africa and during the turbulent 1980s worked for the foreign section of the South African Police’s notorious Security Branch and South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ transformed into a parcel-bomb assassin.

Through a series of interviews with the many people Williamson interacted with while he was undercover and after his secret identity was eventually exposed, Jonathan Ancer details Williamson’s double life, the stories of a generation of courageous activists, and the book eventually culminates with Ancer interviewing South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ face-to-face.

It deals with crucial issues of justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, betrayal and the consequences of apartheid that South Africans are still grappling with.

Watch the full interview here:

 
 

Spy

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Raymond Suttner’s Inside Apartheid’s Prison an intensely personal struggle memoir

First published by Oceanbooks, New York and Melbourne, and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, in 2001, Inside Apartheid’s Prison was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Alan Paton award in 2002.

In the public imagination the struggle that saw the end of apartheid and inauguration of a democratic South Africa is seen as one waged by black people who were often imprisoned or killed for their efforts. Raymond Suttner, an academic, is one of a small group of white South Africans who was imprisoned for his efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime.

He was first arrested in 1975 and tortured with electric shocks because he refused to supply information to the police. He then served eight years for underground activities for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP).

After his release in 1983, he returned to the struggle and was forced to go underground to evade arrest, but was re-detained in 1986 for 27 months; 18 of these being spent in solitary confinement.

In the last months of this detention Suttner was allowed to have a pet lovebird, which he tamed and used to keep inside his tracksuit. When he was eventually released from detention in September 1988 the bird was on his shoulder.

Suttner was held under stringent house arrest conditions, imposed to impede further political activities. He however defied his house arrest restrictions and attended an Organisation for African Unity meeting in Harare, where he remained for five months. Shortly after his return to SA, when he anticipated being re-arrested, the state of emergency was lifted and the ANC and other banned organisations were unbanned.

The book describes Suttner’s experience of prison in a low-key, unromantic voice, providing the texture of prison life. This ‘struggle memoir’ is also intensely personal, as Suttner is not averse to admitting his fears and anxieties.

The new edition contains an afterword where Suttner describes his break with the ANC and SACP. But he argues that the reasons for his rupturing this connection that had been so important to his life were the same ethical reasons that had led him to join in the first place. He remains convinced that what he did was right and continues to act in accordance with those convictions.

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“I had to trust that I was able to hear his voice clearly” – Alison Lowry on posthumously completing Gerald Kraak’s Shadow Play

In the early evening I pulled up outside The Eyrie. The gate was open. I stepped through the space in the creeper-covered fence, expecting to find everything as usual, the kitchen door open, the scent of curry coming from inside and a strain of Coltrane drifting down to the pear orchard. Except that the house was gutted. The smoke I had smelled on the road, that I had put down to sundown cooking in the township, was suddenly and pungent. This was a different kind of smoke. I stood and stared. My feet would not move, forward or back.

When confronted with his call-up papers for the apartheid army, with his fellow student activists either scattered or in jail, Matthew chooses exile in Europe.

In Amsterdam, he reconnects with his friend Oliver, who is studying music there. As he falls into a different rhythm of life, as contended as he is in a loving relationship and a job in a music store, the pull of his homeland never leaves him.

When he receives an unexpected call from a former activist comrade, he makes a decision that will put at risk everything he has built in his new life. And when he meets Mandla for the first time, he knows there will be no going back.

Mandla went into exile long before ’76. After undergoing military training for the movement in Russia, and working as an operative in different African countries, he is infiltrated back into SA through Swaziland in order to fulfil and important mission.

His comrade and cover is a white graduate student, Rachel, who is simultaneously conducting research for her studies in a rural area where local communities are being systematically removed from their ancestral land and forced into poverty and degradation.

Theirs becomes a rare and precious friendship, tender and intimate. An unwelcome visitor disrupts their lives, however, and threatens their mission, causing damage and uncertainty in an already fragile relationship.

Editor’s note:

Gerald Kraak’s intention was that Shadow Play would be the middle volume in a trilogy, but his untimely death while he was writing the book meant that this would not be realised. As I understood it from those who were close to him, especially friends in an informal writing group where their various works in progress would be discussed and chapters shared, his intention was to bring the stories of Matthew, Oliver, Mandla and Pru to conclusion in present-day South Africa. It was also his intention that each novel would be a free-standing work.

The acclaimed first book, Ice in the Lungs, for which Kraak was joint winner of the European Union Literary Award, led the way. At the time of its publication in 2006 it was hailed as an important contribution to South African literature and the book flagged Kraak as a strong, new, reflective and challenging voice.

The themes he explored and would continue to explore in Shadow Play are universal ones – identity, belonging, difference, sexuality, acceptance, betrayal – ordinary in the naming but extraordinary from the pen of a writer as subtle and as sensitive as Kraak.

The political environment in South Africa during the period covered in Shadow Play – late 70s and early 80s – for anyone opposing the regime’s apartheid laws was one of repression, punishment, torture and death. The liberation struggle was largely fought underground and directed from countries abroad. If you were a young white male, conscription into the apartheid army was not a choice.

Many activists, like Kraak himself, chose exile rather than be called up to serve an illegitimate regime. His own years of exile were spent in Amsterdam and it is to this city that Matthew travels when he makes the same choice. It is where Shadow Play begins and where the book is largely set.

When Kraak’s literary executor approached me with the unusual request to complete his unfinished novel and to see it through to publication, I was intrigued, but I was hesitant.

As an editor, I spend much of my working day inside the heads and behind the words of writers. It is a sacred place, one in which I always try to tread lightly and with respect. Trust between writer and editor is key to a relationship that is perhaps more intimate than any other. The primary task of a fiction editor, in my view, is to listen. To listen to the words, to the voices who might speak them, to the author who has something to say but might not yet be saying it as effectively as he could. Then, preferably, to discuss in person, listen some more, read many drafts, make careful suggestions, and offer hopefully useful feedback throughout the process. It is a process that is animated by a continual two-way conversation between writer and editor.

It is not the editor’s footprints one wants to see on a novel in the end. The editor’s personal satisfaction lies elsewhere.

With Shadow Play, instead of those conversations, and the drafts that would usually take shape as a result of them, I had silence. This meant that I would have to listen extra carefully and pay a different kind of attention to my author.

Shadow Play was unfinished in many ways. I took from the executor a couple of hard copy volumes, a flashdrive, and early and later notes, some typed, some scribbled in pen, often not very legibly, and by different hands. It wasn’t easy to discern which of the hard copies was the latest version, and the versions on the flashdrive were different too. In addition, the hard copy had coloured stickers, notes to self, notes from other readers, admonitions, reminders, instructions to return to a sectionanother time, sections scored through with frustrated pencil lines, and much else.

In other words, a somewhat typical stage in a writer’s journey. There was a present-day storyline, which was clearly thought out, but also a back story, which needed to intersect with the present day but missed it on several marks – a timeline that was complicated and a trajectory that was in danger of disappearing or turning back on itself and getting tangled in unpickable knots.

I sensed that this back story had been the more troubling challenge for Kraak, because it had not been fully reconciled or imagined; it was the story that elicited most of the ‘notes to self’. It began but it did not end. It meandered in the middle. The voice was tentative but it was potentially the underlying strength and the pivotal protest song in the novel. It was the parallel stories of exile, subterfuge, ideology and shared by separate lives of Matthew and Mandla that were the key, I believed, to unlocking and presenting a powerful and compelling narrative.

In the absence of Kraak himself to guide or admonish me, in the end I had to trust that I was able to hear his voice clearly, to interpret his intentions, and that in crafting it to the best of my ability I have been true to the spirit of the novel and have done the author justice.

I have done my best to inhabit his world and to reflect it back to his readers in the way he wanted it to be seen. If there are footprints to be discerned, I hope they are not mine. I hope they are Mandla’s, making his way home by starlight through the treacherous elephant grass across the Swaziland border, and Matthew finding his own way back to his homeland via the cobbled streets of Amsterdam in the chill of an early spring. – Alison Lowry, Johannesburg, January 2017

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Ice in the Lungs


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Book launch – Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson by Jonathan Ancer


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Join author Jonathan Ancer in conversation with author, journalist and tweet writer, Gus Silber discussing Craig Williamson, the apartheid ‘super-spy’ turned killer.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 26 April 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg. | Map
  • RSVP: Savannah Lucas, Jacana Media, rsvp@jacana.co.za, 011 628 3200

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Win a copy of Lindiwe Hani’s Being Chris Hani’s Daughter


 
 
Twenty-four years have passed since the assassination of the leader of the South African Communist Party, Chris Hani.

In honour of his memory, we’re giving away three copies of Lindiwe Hani’s Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, co-written by Melinda Ferguson.

When Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party and heir apparent to Nelson Mandela, was brutally slain in his driveway in April 1993, he left a shocked and grieving South Africa on the precipice of civil war.

But to 12-year-old Lindiwe, it was the love of her life, her daddy, who had been shockingly ripped from her life.

In this intimate and brutally honest memoir, 36-year-old Lindiwe remembers the years she shared with her loving father, and the toll that his untimely death took on the Hani family.
She lays family skeletons bare and brings to the fore her own downward spiral into cocaine and alcohol addiction, a desperate attempt to avoid the pain of his brutal parting.

While the nation continued to revere and honour her father’s legacy, for Lindiwe, being Chris Hani’s daughter became an increasingly heavy burden to bear.

“For as long as I can remember, I’d grown up feeling that I was the daughter of Chris Hani and that I was useless. My father was such a huge figure, such an icon to so many people, it felt like I could never be anything close to what he achieved – so why even try? Of course my addiction to booze and cocaine just made me feel my worthlessness even more.”

In a stunning turnaround, she faces her demons, not just those that haunted her through her addiction, but, with the courage that comes with sobriety, she comes face to face with
her father’s two killers – Janus Walus, still incarcerated, and Clive Derby Lewis, released in 2015 on medical parole. In a breathtaking twist of humanity, while searching for the truth behind her father’s assassination, Lindiwe Hani ultimately makes peace with herself and honours her father’s gigantic spirit.

Enter on our Facebook page by telling us – in no more more than two sentences – why you should receive a copy of this singular memoir. Entries close Monday 17 April.

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Listen to Lindiwe Hani discuss her father and the aftermath of his death at the launch of Being Chris Hani’s Daughter

This was a different launch. It was live on air – on Kaya FM. John Perlman interviewed Lindiwe Hani at the launch of her book Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, written with Melinda Ferguson. The crowd came to hear her talk about her life – dealing with the loss of her father, bearing the burden of his legacy, her addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and eventually coming face to face with the two men that murdered her father – Janusz Waluś and Clive Derby-Lewis.

Listen to the podcast:

 
 
Being Chris Hani's Daughter Book details

 
 
 
 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 


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Two books to remember Ahmed Kathrada by

Ahmed Kathrada, former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist, sadly passed away this week on Tuesday 28 March after a brief illness. Kathrada dedicated himself to the struggle and remained politically active until his death. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which he founded, continues to work towards promoting ‘the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa’. He will be greatly missed.

Here are two books to remember him by:

A Free MindA Free Mind: Ahmed Kathrada’s Notebook from Robben Island

During his 26 years in jail, Ahmed Kathrada refused to allow the apartheid regime to confine his mind. Despite draconian prison censorship practices and heavily restricted access to the written word, Kathrada discovered a wealth of inspiring writings. A Free Mind presents extracts from poetry, novels, songs, sayings and letters that Kathrada transcribed and treasured as he served his life sentence in South Africa’s notorious Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. It includes quotes from Bertold Brecht, Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Brontë, Karl Marx, Olive Schreiner, Shabbir Banoobhai, Voltaire and many others.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn
Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn: The letters of Zuleikha Mayat and Ahhmed Kathrada 1979–1989

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn is the compilation of the beautiful letters sent between Rivonia trialist and political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada and Zuleikha Mayat, a self-described housewife, during apartheid’s last decade. These letters tell the story – all the more powerful for its ephemeral character – of a developing epistolary friendship between two people to whom history has brought different gains and losses. The collection is rich, not merely in historical content and stylistic interest, but in the experience it offers to the reader of an unfolding conversation, reflecting both the immediate worlds of its authors and a tumultuous period of South African history.
 
 

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Jan Theron argues that to understand Marikana you need to examine trade union history in Solidarity Road

Solidarity RoadJacana Media is proud to present Solidarity Road: The Story of a Trade Union in the Ending of Apartheid by Jan Theron:

The events leading to the Marikana massacre not only shattered South Africa’s image of itself as a democracy in which workers had a respected place, but also the image of Cosatu and its largest affiliate at the time. Subsequent events confirm that South Africa’s pre-eminent trade union federation has lost its way. To understand why this has happened, Theron argues, it is necessary to understand the choices made by the trade unions that formed it in the 1980s.

The Food and Canning Workers’ Union (FCWU) was perhaps the most famous of these, and had produced some of the country’s most prominent labour leaders – Ray Alexander, Oscar Mpetha and Liz Abrahams, among others. But by 1976, when Theron became its general secretary, it was on its last legs and riddled with corruption. Solidarity Road is an uncompromising account of a struggle to overcome corruption, as well as to revive a tradition of non-racial solidarity. A demonstration of non-racial solidarity by the workforce of Fatti’s and Moni’s in Cape Town catapulted the union into national prominence, in the same week as government tabled its race-based labour “reforms” in Parliament.

FCWU’s unprecedented victory in this strike meant it was well-placed to initiate the talks that eventually led to the formation of Cosatu. This was to be an independent federation, allied to political organisations fighting to end apartheid. However, for FCWU the basis of independence was always financial self-sufficiency coupled with zero tolerance of corruption. In this regard it was unlike the other trade unions involved in these talks. When the formation of a federation became imperative in the wake of the death in detention of Neil Aggett, FCWU’s Transvaal Secretary, FCWU merged with other trade unions to become Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU). Compromises were made in this process that its members came to regret, and that were to facilitate the capture of a federation with so much promise. This is a story about the values that shaped the trade union struggle and the decisions and practices which undermined them.

About the author

Jan Theron was born and educated in Cape Town. At the age of 26 he became general secretary of FCWU, a position he occupied until 1986, when he became general secretary of FAWU. At the end of 1988 he took long leave to write a book, but did not return to the trade union. In 1990 he embarked on qualifying as an attorney, and has since combined legal practice with a part-time post at the University of Cape Town, where he has coordinated a research project on labour market policy and the changing nature of work. He has published in local and international journals and books.

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Don’t miss the launch of Promise and Despair by Martin Plaut at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa by Martin Plaut

 

Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South AfricaJoin Jacana Media and The Book Lounge for the launch of Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa by Martin Plaut to find out about the lobbyists who fought for the vote in 1909.

The struggle for freedom in South Africa goes back a long way, to the very founding of the country in 1910. Spearheading that struggle was a multi-ethnic delegation of South Africans who travelled in 1909 to London to lobby for a non-racial constitution. Drawing on fresh research, Promise and Despair is the extraordinary story of the founding of the first South Africa.

The event will take place on Thursday, 9 June, at The Book Lounge in Cape Town, with Plaut in conversation with Xolela Mangcu.

Don’t miss it!
Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 9 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest: Xolela Mangcu
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge, booklounge@gmail.com, 021 462 2425

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