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iHitNews36_Winnie-Mandela_Having-a-hand-in-history

[iHitNews no.36 2/4/2018].

Most of her life dedicated to the struggle against Apartheid, a violent system, a violent struggle, more alone than together with her husband Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned from 1963 to 1990. She has been instrumental in years of mobilising campaigns for the ANC and the end of Apartheid. It made her a symbol of that struggle. That role was all fine when it was about community support (founding local medical clinics) and political attacks on the Apartheid regime, but became problematic after the mid 80s of last century when regime violence, counter-violence, spying and infiltration by the secret police, lead to distrust, suspicion, and accusation. Some suspicions of infiltration and betrayal proved to be right, others remained non proven or were simply false. Brutal reactions to state violence. Beatings, arson and murder became tools to forge ‘unity’. Most brutal the execution by burning people alive, with car tires in flames around their neck (necklacing). Winnie Mandela refrained from calling a halt to such methods, she even endorsed it.

13 April 1986 video recorded statement in Munsieville, South Africa she said:

‘We have no guns—we have only stones, boxes of matches and petrol. Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.’

Emma Gilbey, The Lady: The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela, London, Jonathan Cape, 1993, pp. 145–46.

[NB Violence was official ANC policy in those days. At its Kabwe Conference in Zambia in June 1985 Joe Slovo, chief of staff of ‘Umkhonto we Sizwe’, para-military wing of the ANC, affirmed that there was ‘No Middle Road’, and the only acceptable strategy was the revolutionary overthrow of apartheid. Quoted in “Trust in the Capacities of the People, Distrust in Elites” by Kenneth Good (2014), p.71]

This statement on necklacing, dating back to 1986, is one of the most quoted endorsements of disciplining violence against ‘traitors to the cause’ by Willie Mandela. It is not the only time – though – she said it publicly, as can be seen on this video of her speech for a crowd in Soweto which is most probably at the day of her return to Soweto in 1985, from which she was officially still banned. The image and sound quality of this video are very bad, and there is no proper source, but still it serves it’s purpose as a historical document of those times.
We seeWillie Mandela addressing a huge crowd, speaking in English, pausing after each sentence for a translation (could be Zulu or Sotho). Her discourse as show starts of with:

You are not going to fight this government with AK47s because you do not have any. We are not prepared for any reform of Apartheid. You can not reform sin. Apartheid is a criminal act against mankind. We are not able anymore to accept that criminal act by a minority…we are 30 million… Power to the People!… 

It is often difficult to hear what she says…

…we have no arms but boxes of matches…

and then when you click the video-player once again there is the sentence:

With our necklaces we will liberate our country

It is in this suppressive atmosphere that the abduction, torture and murder of a young boy – Stompie Moeketsie – took place in 1988. The boy, 14 year old, was suspected of being a police informer and his abduction and murder was the work of the strong hand gang – and personal security force of Winnie Mandela – know as the ‘Mandela United Football Club’. It lead to several court cases against Winnie Mandela. In 1991 she was acquitted for the murder, but not for the kidnapping. It was proven that she had witnessed the torture of the boy before he was found killed. This was not the only case of civil terror during the 80s linked to Winnie. It hurt her public image. It also hurt her political career in post-Aparheid society. Attempts at reconciliation during hearings in 1997 failed. She did get government positions in the first ANC governments, during which there were allegations of corruption. Still she kept a large following among the ANC electorate. In 2009 she was second on the ANC list, after Jacob Zuma.

The depiction of Winnie Mandela in several movies tend to focus on the more glorious aspects of her life. Her role in the decades of struggle – some say – has been more important then that of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela.

It must be noticed that later in her live Winnie Mandela did condemn the outburst of communal violence against black immigrant workers from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Congo in the year 2008 in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area. Violent xenophobic riots whereby necklacing, did appear again.

It is the old question of means and ends, if violent acts can be used for constructing a beter and peaceful society. It certainly is questionable if the Apartheid regime would ever have collapsed without counter-violence. Was it no the utter dangerous situation in the townships that made them into no-go-zones beyond direct Apartheid regime control?

Post Apartheid euphoria has long faded away and the question of tactics for change are posed again. The controversies about the role of Winnie Mandela in this proces of change – flaming up again at the moment of her death – will not come to any conclusion, the camps of those for and against her seem to be in balance. Still this debate may lead to reflection on the importance of finding ways of social change whereby means and ends are more closely related, some may call it a luxury to be able to do so. This I will illustrated by a citation from a review of a movie on South Africa, the ANC and the Mandela’s, “Long Walk to Freedom” by Justin Chadwick (2013), by Gugulethu oka Mseleku in the Guardian (several years ago), in which Willie Mandela’s apology of violence is noted and also explained:

The fact is that, for South African women, Winnie’s role was more fundamental than her husband’s. Though the world’s leading opinion formers have been all too keen to demonise her, Chadwick’s film is a reminder that Winnie, with the help of her daughter Zindzi, was largely responsible for perpetuating Nelson’s image as the embodiment of the liberation struggle.
More importantly, the Mother of the Nation suffered, not only because of Nelson’s incarceration, but also through her own constant arrests and torture. Despite the cowardly, misogynistic regime’s torment of a single mother and her daughters, Winnie remained strong and resilient in her defiance.”

The article also mentions the case of the murder of Stompie and reacts on it like this:

Our hearts bled for Stompie and his mother, and recognised the brutality of his killing. But we understood that the system she was fighting against was brutal and brutalising. Where was the reconciliation that had been so freely offered to Europeans, for Mama Winnie? After all she had been through, could Nelson and the ANC really not be reconciled to the fact that she had been fighting a war “by any means necessary”?

There are 428 comments on this article which you can read for yourself. I just cite this one (number 110):

Habakuk 3 Jan 2014 15:26
“Her reputation was damaged by such rhetoric as that displayed in a speech she gave in Munsieville on 13 April 1986, where she endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tyres and petrol) by saying: “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.”
No thank you Winnie. Shove off.

And this one more moderate (Number 11):

Keo2008 3 Jan 2014 17:57 11 12 The writer is pointing out that Winnie hasn’t received the same clemency that has been enjoyed by other perpetrators of brutal violence during Apartheid. Personally I’m not so sure about this peace and reconciliation business and seeing thugs on both sides getting away with the most atrocious acts is sickening (and not just in South Africa…remember the Good Friday Agreement…?) but in the name of fairness I think the writer does have a point…

The full article can be found at:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/03/long-walk-to-freedom-winnie-mandela-nelson

ref. image elements:
(1) Photograph at top, Winnie during her seven year banishment and house arrest in Brandfort (free State) starting in 1977 (the house had no floor or ceiling, no running water and no electricity, no visitors allowed as well).
(2) The painting left under us by the artist Noel Hodnett (born in what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1949, later moving to South Africa).
http://www.noelhodnett.com/Stompie_info.htm
(3) Winnie Mandela is a 2011 drama film adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob’s biography Winnie Mandela: A Life. The film is directed by Darrell Roodt, and stars Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Wendy Crewson, Elias Koteas, and Justin Strydom. Image Entertainment released the film in theaters on September 6, 2013
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnie_Mandela_(film)
Film citic of the Guardian Ed Gibbs had this comment: “This syrupy biography of the former wife of Nelson Mandela seeks to sugar-coat South Africa’s complex history.”

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EntenteElyseeSarkozyGaddafiAssad

The backdrop of the policy for Libya and Syria by European Union and associated NATO countries is always painted with oil. (1) British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Total,  CNPC from China and ONGC of India are main investors in Syrian crude oil and gas. (2)

 

His Excellency President Al-Assad described his talks with President Sarkozy as ‘very successful”, ‘constructive” ”transparent” and as ”bolstering the confidence built between Syria and France”, ”dealing with many international as well as regional issues, bilateral relations, the Iranian nuclear file, the recent positive developments in Lebanon, particularly following the formation of the Lebanese Government, which we expect to be an important step for the stability in Lebanon.” (…) ”The talks, further, dealt with the situation in Gaza from a human perspective; I asked President Sarkozy to interfere as to stop the daily killing of the Palestinians by the Israel Army,” said H.E. President Al-Assad citing today’s killing of a Palestinian citizen.

 “… discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil.”

SYRIAN OIL AND GAS NEWS: Announcement for International Offshore Bid Round 2011 Category: Oil Ministry Decisions & Declarations | Posted on: 30-03-2011 The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) invite international petroleum companies for an International Bid Round to explore, develop and produce petroleum from three offshore blocks in some areas of the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of the Syrian Arab Republic in the Mediterranean Sea according to the production sharing contract.The announcment contains three marine areas ( block I, block II, blockIII) with covarage area estemated by 3000 cubic kilometers per one block. the annoncement date starts in 24/3/2011 for six monthes and closed on 5/10/2011.The modern American studies recently confirmed the discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil. (4)

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(1) oilprice.com 14/4/2011: “Oil Production Figures in Areas of Unrest (Middle East & North Africa)”

(2) royaldutrchshellplc.com 3/12/2011: “E.U. sanctions force Shell to leave Syria.”

(3) www.presidentassad.net: Presidents Al-Assad/ Frnace visit statements (13/11/2009)

(4)  Syrian Oil and Gas News; 8/2/2010:International announcement for developing 7 oil field in Arraqah

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WORLD NEWS ON THE CHEAP like yesterday a Dutch crew of the television news (NOS/NTR Nieuwsuur) in Egypt doing ‘street interviews’ and proving that the support for the Egypt Revolution is faltering with two third of those interviewed speaking some form of English and only one or two questions posed in Arabic, whereby it remains unclear who is posing the question.

Gone are the days of a correspondent in Cairo for the Arab world, gone are the days of at least having a journalist speaking Arabic being part of a crew, gone is any historical knowledge on the part of the journalists, at best a quick check of Wikipedia before leaving or in the hotel room…. as a multi-cultural nation it is a shame that the Netherlands have not been able to train and recruit a group of say Moroccan young students to become journalists for events in the Arabic world….

“Who speaks English here?” asks the camera crew on Tahrir Square in Cairo untill they bump into a man that does not like the way they are filming… and when people on the street might return the question to them  (hal tatakallam al-lughah al-‘arabīyah?) هل تتكلم اللغة العربية؟, the Dutch journalists of the crew fail to understand.

There seems to have been a translator with the crew, but  the position of the translator remains unclear. The tiny bit of Arabic we hear spoken from the side of the crew seems clumsy, was it a Dutch Arabic speaker or a locally rented service. If the last thing is the case, how much embedded is this translator in the Egyptian state media, how does the translator relates to the political spectrum of Egypt, how were the choices of who to speak to made?

The clumsiness of the reportage is at times embarrassing, but fully in line with the cheap glamour of the Nieuwsuur television studio in the Netherlands and the anchor woman waving her hairs while posing question to the crew in Cairo to enlighten the Dutch audience.

Nieuwsuur (NOS/NTR) reporter Jan Eikelboom explains how he found out that the Egyptian revolution is faltering on the basis of "hear say" from the streets, speaking with shopkeepers in the bazars, tourist entrepreneurs and a man at the Cairo stock exchange, they outcome of these talks are of course fully predictable, as all these people see their business frustrated by the social unrest. Shopkeepers, tourist workers and a broker can of course not stand as a representative group for Egyptian society as a whole... but the Dutch crew clearly had no access to other social layers.

(19':50'') Dutch captions for a tourist entrepreneur in Giza interviewed in English: "I do not know what those people want. It is not good for us, we are working with tourists"

(20':38'') Dutch captions for an interview in English. "On the square they say: We want peace." Actually the reporter says not 'peace' but 'freedom'... sloppy translator there, at the NOS/NTR... The over-generalized question may have been posed in English by Jan Eikelboom and the answer is as general as the question: "...freedom will come, but slowly."

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Source = http://beta.uitzendinggemist.nl/afleveringen/1116886

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Grotesque and hypocrite the new Libyan Government statement on the persecution of the alleged killers of Gaddafi. Stating that these could not have been regular opposition groups and that the new government knows the rules of war… and taking prisoners.

“With regards to Qaddafi, we do not wait for anybody to tell us,” NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga.

 “We had already launched an investigation. We have issued a code of ethics in handling of prisoners of war. I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army,” the top interim official said.

 “Whoever is responsible for that (Qaddafi’s killing) will be judged and given a fair trial.”

What a lie, as both NATO and the insurgents – that became the army of the new Libyan government – have thrown tons of munition on any spot they thought Gaddafi would be at a certain moment. A fair trial of Gaddafi has never been on the agenda of neither NATO nor the insurgents, who became the new government. Only the International Criminal Court in The Hague lent itself to suggest that such a trial was a viable option, never protesting in public against the repeated attempted killing of their indicted trial candidates, Gaddafi and his close circle.

Photograph published in The Independent 2011/07/24 with this caption: "Nato planes bomb a Gaddafi compound in Tripoli last month. Air strikes by allied forces have become increasingly ineffective"

NATO and insurgents were out to kill all those months, but failed in spite of all the high tech devices put to the task. Now a few hot heads – which are necessarily part of any insurrectionist forces – finished Gaddafi’s life by hand, and they will be made into culprits, to wash the virtual bloody hands of NATO and the new  government.

Photograph published on the web site of the Daily Mail 2011/10/21 with the following caption: "Celebration: Rebel fighters carry a young man holding what they claim to be the gold-plated gun of Colonel Gaddafi which was taken from him."

It is sad that such distortions of reality  are published in the international press without any direct rebuttal.

Gaddafi should have been put on trial. His murder will hamper any attempt to cleanse Libya of decades of dictatorship.

It is most disturbing to notice that – apparently – distant killing by regular armies using state of the art guided missiles airplanes with remote sensing, and the like, is not conceived as murder and somehow a civil way of getting rid of an adversary, whereas traditional lynching on the spot or firing a gun at a victim at close range is perceived as a barbaric act that can be classified as a crime of war or murder.

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Two additional sources that give details on other summary executions of pro-Gaddafi forces  in the same town of Sirte, less in the picture than the person of Gaddafi:
– Media Lens: “Killing Gaddafi” 2011/10/27
– Human Right Watch report on Libya: “Apparent Execution of 53 Gaddafi Supporters” 2011/10/24

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Some side images of the killing of Gaddafi near Sirte, of the alleged bombing by NATO of a retreating/escaping convoy of Gaddafi (*), reminded me of the Highway Of Death in Kuwait in 1991, the bombarding of retreating Iraqi troops… a massacre not only of soldiers and their equipment but also of civilians related to the Iraqis that tried to make their way out of Kuwait City. Kicking your adversary in the ass… there is a ‘virtual black book of military history’ to which a page seems to have been added by NATO. Do you let your enemy escape or will you destroy him? What are the long lasting effects of such non glorious  military acts of revenge on an enemy that has lost or is about to loose. Is there art in ‘the bombing of retreating troops’?

The pictures I choose are not the most gruesome that exist. The Kuwait highway bombing photographs include charcoaled faces of  people burnt alive by the aerial strike, images that have burnt themselves in my memory as a reminder that ‘the art of surrender’ is a much more noble art that should be exercised by the troops of our European nations. We need a civilian campaign on how war is conducted.

There is not enough public scrutiny on NATO military strategies. The critical level of reporting in the news of war events remains often 19th century imperial, rejoicing in what is thought to be ‘a victory for the good of the human race’. The NATO involvement in this last phase of the Libyan war seems to be completely out of line with their mandate based on the UN resolution that asks to bring to court the Libyan head of state Gaddafi, not to kill him or have him killed without a trial.


Let me give one example of historical back firing: the massacre of the retreating Croatian troops of the fascist regime of Ante Pavelic in May 1945, near the town of Bleiburg at the Slovenian/Austrian border by partisan troops (40/50.000 killed). This negative event has remained a rallying point for Croatian nationalist ever since and played its nasty role in the much later enfolding new Balkan War at the end of the 20th century..

*) Mail on-line gruesome photographs, scroll down the page for the vehicles bombed out by NATO photograph

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A dictator is never alone. A dictator is a system whereby one man or woman is the figurehead with whole strata  of society deriving their social position and wealth from their participation in a system of rule both headed and symbolised by a specific ruler. Removing just the figurehead and his or her direct entourage does not cleanse a nation of its dictatorial past. With a figurehead removed in a spectacular way, entrenched deeper layers of a system of dictatorship tend to remain largely intact. Summary execution – which may have happened today to Gaddafi by unruly troops of the new power – bypasses any attempt at reestablishing a just society.

Trying a dictator in court may help to lay bare the social strata that have been keeping a dictatorship in place. The dictator and his entourage may defend themselves and point to others who were part of their rule and may now pose as liberators. The defence of a dictator in court  may also expose all forms of international support for a regime by countries, parties and other leaders who may only recently have turned against a dictator whereas before they were supporting a totalitarian system in economic, military and diplomatic ways.

The killing of Gaddafi without any form of justice serves many interests: many members of the new Libyan government involved in Gaddafi’s regime; Libyan businessmen that derive their wealth from dealing with the Gaddafi rule; political leaders both retired and active who have received Libyan support or did make economic deals; academics, intellectuals, artists, architects and so on  that did get Gaddafi’s financial support or who performed for him. The killing has been tried by NATO many times in the last months, throwing tons of bombs on Gaddafi’s premises and saying that they were not targeting the leader as such. Now we will have to wait to see if sufficient details of the circumstances of the violent death of Gaddafi will come out to establish at least some form of truth of what has happened today.

Those who dance in the streets  to rejoice the violent death of a dictator may well be the recruiting force for the next totalitarian regime in the making.

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written Thursday October 20th 2011

See also these related articles from previous months on Libya, Gaddafi and international law:

– 2011/05/02 NATO’s Collateral Tyrannicide: will it bring Justice and Peace?
– 2022/05/16 Yet another telephone call from Libya to The Hague…
– 2011/05/26 2006 Saddam ~ 2008 Karadzic ~ 2011 Mladic captured alive: what about Gaddafi?
– 2011/05/28 G20 2011 dinner: dessert from the desert: a Libyan Oil Cocktail
– 2011/07/23 The disembodied Leviathan of Libya
– 2011/08/02 Emblem for the International Criminal Court: Iustitiae Languor
– 2011/08/21  What will be the last view of Gaddafi of this world?

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I never knew there were so many Libyan specialists with all the international news networks…
still I keep wondering why they did not speak out
a decade or so before about this “African Hitler dictator and his unbearable reign of terror…”

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