Quote of the week

It is necessary that the integrity of the electoral process be maintained. Indeed, the acceptance of the election as being free and fair depends upon that integrity. Elections must not only be free and fair but they must be perceived as being free and fair. Even-handedness in dealing with all political parties and candidates is crucial to that integrity and its perception by voters. The Commission must not be placed in a situation where it has to make ad hoc decisions about political parties and candidates who have not complied with the Act. The requirement that documents must be submitted to the local offices of the Commission does not undermine the right to vote and to stand for election. It simply gives effect to that right and underscores the decentralised and local nature of municipal elections.

Ngcobo CJ
Electoral Commission of the Republic of South Africa v Inkatha Freedom Party
17 March 2007

Thabo Mbeki on the money

President Thabo Mbeki’s letter from the President published yesterday, hits all the right notes. In a reasoned but passionate letter on racism, Mbeki makes the link between racism and the fear of crime. Money quote:

[T]he fact of the matter is that we still have a significant proportion of people among the white minority, but by no means everybody who is white, that continues to live in fear of the black, and especially African majority. For this section of our population, that does not “find it too difficult to revert to the accustomed world of fear of the future”, every reported incident of crime communicates the frightening and expected message that – the kaffirs are coming!

Unlike past letters on racism in which President Mbeki made excellent points on racism, only to misuse the insights to attack some of his critics, this letter is mostly free of the sarcasm and tarring of all with the same brush. I was reminded of his notorious letter about the media being “the fishers of corrupt men”, in which he made very valid points about racism, only to use these to argue that when the media exposes corruption it is inevitably based on racism.

Having had the misfortune this week to listen to a few minutes of the phone in programme with Nicky van der Berg on Radio Sonder Grense (don’t ask), the words of our President seem particularly apt. Some among us (as he used to say!) really have not acc epted the humanity of their fellow South Africans.

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