Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
18 August 2011

Khulumani welcomes call for a wealth tax

August 16, 2011

A STATEMENT FROM KHULUMANI SUPPORT GROUP on ARCHIBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU’S AUGUST 11 CALL FOR SOUTH AFRICANS TO MAKE A STAND FOR REDRESS FOR THOSE MOST HARMED AND DISADVANTAGED BY APARTHEID

Khulumani welcomes Archbishop Tutu’s call on the nation to consider agitating for measures that would reduce the growing gap between the rich and the poor in South Africa and to reconsider the TRC recommendation of a wealth tax to support victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses. Archbishop Tutu’s call echoes Khulumani’s own attempts to get government and the people to consider the continuing devastating social and economic impacts of apartheid on those who sustained terrible injuries during the struggle to bring to all South Africans the possibility of finding new ways of living together in a society based on profound respect and appreciation of each others’ worth and value. Khulumani proposes that South Africans return to the recommendations of the TRC that were not implemented under President Mbeki and that South Africans appeal to Cabinet to commit government to wholeheartedly embrace the TRC proposals.

Khulumani calls on government to commit to identifying all the persons who would have met the criteria for consideration for reparations by the TRC but who were not reached by the TRC. The TRC never recommended a closed list of only 17,000 individuals. It supported and tried to lobby for an open and ongoing process of healing through recognition, acknowledgement and restitution, which would include reparations for those most severely harmed.

Khululmani calls for the initiation of an ongoing registration process of victims and survivors of the worst atrocities, as has been good practice in other regions of the world recovering from mass political trauma. Khulumani has developed a database that has documented the experiences and the urgent needs of victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights abuses for over ten years now.

The database contains over 65,000 entries. Khulumani calls on the Minister of Finance and the National Treasury to set aside a budget of R2 billion per year for 5 years to provide R2000.00 per month to the estimated 120,000 individuals who suffered the greatest harm. This R2000.00 per month per harmed individual is not much different from present estimates of the minimum living wage in South Africa. The provision of this minimum level of security to those who made some of the biggest sacrifices will enable most survivors to begin to put in place their own steps towards sustainability over this five year period.

This provision should not be based on a means test. It should include “elite” and “privileged” victims who would then be asked to consider donating the amount received to those victims and survivors who remain most severely harmed and socio-economically damaged by apartheid. The TRC’s own research confirmed the value and importance of individuals being provided with the possibility of choice over which of their needs they wish to prioritise. Choice is the basis of dignity. Khulumani’s own research and experiences confirm this.

Khulumani calls on the Department of Justice to begin processes of meaningful victim and survivor consultation and participation about reparations. This is a constitutional requirement on the state that has yet to be observed in the relationship between state officials and the organised membership of survivors and victims of the atrocities of the past. The most recent example of the failure of this relationship was the gazetting of reparations regulations which were developed without victim participation.

Khulumani calls on President Zuma to engage with it on its proposals for the most effective use of The President’s Fund for providing community reparations that will bring the greatest returns in providing for living economies amongst the communities most severely harmed by apartheid. Khulumani calls on the Departments of Health and Education to provide for the health needs of survivors and for the educational needs of both survivors and their children from their line budgets. This should include all victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights abuses and not only those identified by the TRC.

Khulumani calls on fellow South Africans who benefited from the many advantages provided differentially to different populations in South Africa during apartheid, to acknowledge that benefit and where possible to contribute to the Victims’ Reparations Trust Fund that is in the process of being set up to assist all victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights abuses to deal with the economic and social challenges they face as a consequence of their victimization.

Khulumani calls on corporate South Africa to invest in the economic initiatives that victims and survivors of the atrocities of the past have been implementing in their local communities. Since the closure of the TRC in October 1998, not a single South African corporate has supported these efforts. None of the funding set aside by some 200 South African corporates for investment into the Business Trust of South Africa, has yet benefited the most seriously harmed communities associated with Khulumani. A review of the impact of this funding after five years revealed that it had not been targeted to strategic initiatives that would benefit victims and survivors of apartheid atrocities.

Khulumani supports the position of Archbishop Emeritus Tutu that redress measures should not only be symbolic, but also material. Such measures would recognise the real costs borne by many people who brought a different and better future to South Africa for all its citizens. Without special economic measures to help restore victims’ and survivors’ dignity and to facilitate their inclusion in the social and economic life of our proud nation, we can only anticipate a future characterised by ongoing social conflict and instability.

This is not a matter of providing “charity”, but a restoration and improvement of victims’ and survivors’ quality of life which would also create authentic reciprocal relationships based on an appreciation of the equal value and worth of each human being who resides in this country. Let us all work to end the infamy of being the most unequal country in the world. Let us build a nation characterised by generosity – one that makes a serious commitment to redressing the damage done in the past and to mutual care and compassion.

Contributions and investments into Khulumani’s work can be made to its NEDBANK Account. Khulumani is a registered Public Benefit Organisation. The bank details are: Name: Khulumani Support Group Bank: NEDBANK Branch: Business Central Gauteng Branch Code: 128-405 Account Number: 1284046052 For more information, please call Dr Marjorie Jobson, Khulumani National Director on 082 268 0223

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