The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.
It is with great sadness that I have learnt about the death of Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada. My wife Elita and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife and family.
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada was a man of great integrity. He was truly a good man, who loved South Africa and all its people. His commitment to non-racialism and reconciliation not only played a role during the initial period of transition in the 90s, but until today. May it serve as an example to all South Africans at this time when racism is much too much prevalent.
May he rest in peace.
Unfortunately, I will be in Malta for an international conference and won’t be able to attend his funeral tomorrow.
Issued on behalf of Former President FW de Klerk
In a decisive and often scathing judgment on Friday, 17 March 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled that “SASSA and CPS are under a constitutional obligation to ensure payment of social grants to grant beneficiaries from 1 April 2017 until an entity other than CPS (own emphasis) can do so and that a failure to do so will infringe upon grant beneficiaries’ rights of access to social assistance under section 27(1)(c) of the Constitution”.
The judgment has been widely analysed and there appears to be consensus that under the circumstances, the Court’s decision to suspend the declaration of invalidity for 12 months was the most practical and least disruptive.
The judgment placed a marked emphasis on the fact that there was a constitutional obligation on “both SASSA and CPS as organs of state performing a constitutional function for a considerable period to not end on 31 March 2017”. The emphasis on constitutional duty and reference to both as state organs is key to an understanding of the firm order made by the Court, notwithstanding the fact that CPS is a private entity. Bolder still was the request that CPS hand over its audited statements for Court scrutiny by end April 2017. This, to ascertain the quantum CPS made since 2013 from the illegal and invalid contract, with the prospect looming of the company having to return up to R1 billion.
It is with great sadness that the FW de Klerk Foundation has learnt of the passing of Professor Placid Johannes Malesela Kunutu. Professor Kunutu joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2000, and served faithfully until he retired in 2016, playing a valuable role during his 16-year tenure as Board Member. The Foundation would like to honour him for his role in, and contribution towards, South Africa’s non-racial constitutional democracy. The Foundation would also like to extend their deepest sympathies to Mrs Kunutu and the Kunutu family during this time.
Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
The killing of 69 unarmed people in Sharpeville, South Africa, protesting apartheid pass laws on 21 March 1960, stirred the conscience of the world and saw the United Nations General Assembly adopt a Resolution to declare the day International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966. ‘Sharpeville Day’ also became the origin for the post-1994 government of South Africa’s Human Rights Day, declared a public holiday.
While definitions of racism and racial discrimination are varied, at the heart of the matter is prejudice that is embedded in race, colour, ethnicity and often the combination of these. The UN, in its International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), defines it thus, “the term ‘racial discrimination’ shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.
In his State of the Nation (SONA) appearance, President Zuma said “we had stated our intention of using the Expropriation Act, 1975 (Act 63 of 1975) to pursue land reform and land redistribution, in line with the Constitution” (my emphasis).
In debating this, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, on 14 February, said that the Government will undertake a pre-colonial audit of land ownership and “(o)nce the audit has been completed, a single law should be developed to address the issue of land restitution without compensation. The necessary constitutional amendments should be undertaken to effect this process”.
At the launch of Operation Phakisa’s agriculture, land reform and rural development leg on 24 February, Zuma asked the following rhetorical (and nonsensical) question: “How are we going to achieve all the goals mentioned in the State of the Nation Address and all the laws and policies that we are busy amending to enable faster land reform, including land expropriation without compensation as provided for in the Constitution” (my emphasis). On 3 March, in his official opening of National House of Traditional Leaders, the President repeated the Nkwinti statement almost verbatim. Land reform “in line with the Constitution” has quickly become “land restitution without compensation”.
The last few days have witnessed a SASSA fiasco on an unprecedented scale. Outright lies, half-truths, resignation of key personnel and a fumbling, rumbling and grumbling Minister trying to save herself - and not the almost 17 million grant beneficiaries - was the order.
Wide media coverage delivering blow-by-blow accounts of the unfolding crisis has elicited outrage, yet President Zuma has the temerity to ask Ministers and their spokespersons to stop talking about social grants. In an interview from Jakarta, Indonesia, he said, “I think Ministers should stop talking, including their spokespersons. I think the point has been made. The less we talk, the better”. He added in response to public outrage and a call for Minister Bathabile Dlamini to be sacked that, “there are people speaking as if the date has come and passed and that the Department has failed and the Minister has failed. But the date has not come”. President Zuma, unlike the almost 17 million grant beneficiaries, is assured of where his next meal will come from. He is assured - as is evidenced by the State Capture Report - of wealth accumulated for himself and his family, but a key voting bloc remains in limbo.
In a series of barefaced lies, misinformation and distortions, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is yet again seeking refuge behind almost 17 million poor people, to cover up its inaction and connivance in giving effect to a Constitutional Court judgment rendering its contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) invalid and illegal. In four weeks the Court’s grace period of 36 months for SASSA to get its house in order will come and go, and still we wait.
For most of the 17 million grant beneficiaries - and to the taxpayer - the elaborate but empty PowerPoint presentation made to the Portfolio Committee on Social Services in February 2017 is worthless, particularly when neither Minister Bathabile Dlamini nor the CEO of the agency, Thokozani Magwaza, bothered to show up at the meeting. The disregard for the poor is matched by the absence of accountability to the Legislature too.
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all here this evening - and especially our guests of honour and recipients of the 2017 FW de Klerk Goodwill Award, Wayde van Niekerk and Ans Botha.
The Board of Trustees of the FW de Klerk Foundation established the FW de Klerk Goodwill Award in 2010 to give recognition to individuals and organisations that have made exceptional contributions to the promotion of goodwill between South Africans. Past winners include Dr Danny Jordaan (2011), Pieter-Dirk Uys (2012), Studietrust (2013), Patrice Motsepe (2014), Afrika Tikkun (2015) and Adv Thuli Madonsela and the Office of the Public Protector (2016).
The Board of Trustees of the FW de Klerk Foundation decided at its last meeting in 2016 to award the 2017 FW de Klerk Goodwill Award to the coach and athlete team of Mrs Anna (Ans) Botha, and Mr Wayde van Niekerk.