Schlagwort-Archive: politics

Ubuntu in Germany Column

Make your mark when you cast your vote

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Sunday was Africa Day and when those in Europe took to the voting stations, to cast votes in the European and communal elections. As a South African, the two recent elections have proved quite interesting. We should treasure our right to vote!

linke

© One of the parties in the communal and EU election is DIE LINKE and they promise no weapon exports to Africa – pertinent to a South African living in Europe.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Some Whites fear Genocide if Madiba Passes, so the thesis by a group of Conservatives

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

It seems like a joke – a throwback to the early 90’s where whites packed tins in anticipation of civil war as negotiations between politicians got testy. It is deadly serious – there is a sector of the white population who fear if former President Nelson Mandela dies, there will be a bloodbath and they will be the victims.

© A group of conservative whites fear that when Madiba passes and the initial mourning period in South Africa has been observed, it will be a free-for-all for angry blacks to massacre them. Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is checking this thesis.

© A group of conservative whites fear that when Madiba passes and the initial mourning period in South Africa has been observed, it will be a free-for-all for angry blacks to massacre them. Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski is checking this thesis.

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

Award-winning photographer Jodi Bieber exhibits her pictures in Germany

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany. Ubuntu in Germany visited Jodi Bieber’s photo exhibition in Goch).

© Jodi Bieber at the Goch Museum (Source: Alexandra Smit-Stachowski)

© Jodi Bieber at the Goch Museum (Source: Alexandra Smit-Stachowski)

Multiple World Press Photo winner, Jodi Bieber is not the mom of famous Justin, despite several amusing incidents at airports. The bouncy, curly-haired 40-something who hails from Johannesburg, is exhibiting her work, “Between Darkness and Light” at the Goch Museum until May 26.

Many only discovered Jodi because of her iconic image of Aisha, the Afghan woman whose face was badly scarred after she was ‘punished’ by the Taliban for fleeing her abusive in-laws. The picture is unsettling because of the scarring but also of Aisha’s quiet resolution – a sign for other abused woman that they can survive, despite it all.

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Blogger Akanyang Merementsi im Interview

Die südafrikanische Pressefreiheit findet keine Anwendung auf Blogger. Wer schützt die Netzaktivisten?

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Die Pressefreiheit muss in allen Staaten der Welt, auch in Demokratien, ständig verteidigt werden. In Südafrika steht die Presselandschaft besonders unter Druck. Mail & Guardian, das Flaggschiff des investigativen Journalismus, ist mehrfach durch den Staat und einer Reihe von Konzernen vor Gericht gezerrt worden – aktuell durch die Unternehmens- und Managementberatung Bososa. Die Aufdeckung der Quellen, der Whistleblower, ist in den meisten Fällen das Ziel von juristischen Auseinandersetzungen. Die Verfassung garantiere das Recht auf Quellenschutz, wenn ein hohes öffentliches Interesse bestehe, so der Blogger und selbsternannte „Media-Freak“ Akanyang Merementsi aus Rustenburg. Er bedauert jedoch, dass den Bloggern kein Rechtsstatus auf journalistische Privilegien zusteht – ähnlich in Deutschland. In den USA hingegen existieren bereits Organisationen wie Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), die den Bloggern umfassende Hilfe in Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Rechtsberatung- bzw. vertretung anbieten. Bezüglich der geplanten und vom ANC geplanten Presseregulierung, wonach im Rahmen des sog. Protection of Information Bill Journalisten bei der Veröffentlichung von geheimen Informationen mit bis zu 25 Jahren Haft bestraft werden können, führt Akanyang die Zunahme von Falschmeldungen an. Die südafrikanische Presse hat in den letzten drei Jahren nach Angaben des stellvertretenden Presse-Ombudsmann  für einen Anstieg der Beschwerden von 70 Prozent gesorgt. Falsche Informationen und unethische Meldungen dienen dementsprechend als Grundlage zur Presseregulierung.  Ferner bemängelt Akanyang die fortwährende Schwarz-Weiß-Einteilung der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft und vor allem die von Weißen betriebene Assoziation von Problemen wie Armut, Kriminalität, mangelnde Bildung und Korruption  mit der schwarzen Hautfarbe. Er hasst es, dass Schwarze per se  in „Verdacht“ gestellt werden.

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – a Rustenburg based blogger Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, according to your Akanyang Africa blog you are a “media freak”. Which aims are you following with your online media?

Answer: My blog addresses a range of topics and these include politics and media developments in South Africa (African and abroad). I am passionate about media and politics and this must have something to do with the fact that I almost became a journalist in my last year (2007) at North West University’s Mafikeng campus in the North West province.

At the time I developed a keen interest in media and politics which played a role in my becoming a writer for the university student newspaper, The Album. The stint, however, only lasted for a couple of months until sometime August that year when the university, strangely, decided to close down the newspaper due to lack of funds. In my first issue I had only written one feature involving a student whose residence room had caught fire and burned most of her belongings. I also contributed in the news snips section of the newspaper.

But as for political interests, I hope my Aquarius star attributes of curiosity and inquisitiveness have nothing to do with it. But I suspect they do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are criticising several cases of organisation that are in confrontation with press institutions. For example in the juridical case between the enterprise BOSASA against Mail & Guardian newspaper. Is the South Africa state sufficiently protecting bloggers and journalists?

Answer: On the Mail & Guardian vs. Bosasa saga I was merely concerned that there was such great silence from other media houses in the country that previously claimed to support press-freedom but had failed to come to the defence of M&G when it was being forced through the Court to reveal sources that had leaked certain information to it. And as far as I understand newspapers like M&G are protected by the Constitution from not revealing their sources if their revelations are “in the public interest”, which the Bosasa stories were, according to my understanding. Therefore it was sad that only one organisation was behind M&G in court while others like Democratic Alliance, Cosatu, etc. were silent.

So journalists enjoy more protection than bloggers (like myself or any other for that matter). This is because, so we are told, we are not and cannot claim to be journalists who enjoy some great protection from the Constitution.

I do not think bloggers can claim to be journalists and therefore claiming their rights, but I truly believe that we bloggers do not enjoy any protection at all to date.

Not even international organisations I have interacted with can easily help me fight any legal battle for me a South African blogger. Or if they were, it would be difficult as they would first have to find their peer in my country who would be willing to represent me. In June last year I asked Rebecca Jeschke, a media relations director at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – a US-based organisation that fights for what it called the Bloggers’ Rights – about her organisation and what it does. With offices only in San Francisco, Jeschke said the organisation’s “legal guide” whose “law [is] referenced” in the US “likely doesn’t apply to South Africa”.

Asked how EFF defended bloggers in other parts of the world – South Africa as an example, she said they worked on “an activism level”. “We can and do call attention to important international cases, and work on international policy issues. But we don’t do on-the-ground legal work for cases outside of the US”. Although they would not be personally helping bloggers if they faced lawsuits, Jeschke said, however, that EFF can be contacted for assistance and they “will try to help find appropriate legal assistance”. “But we can’t provide that assistance ourselves for cases outside of the US”, she said.

If you will remember a blogger had written a story for which s/he was fined over a million Pounds/Euros/dollars. This, the Court found later, was because, unlike journalists, she was not protected from not disclosing sources. What bloggers can only exercise but with caution is our right to freedom of opinion and expression which are enshrined in the South African Constitution. So this is an indication that bloggers do not have much protection as journalists do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is your opinion with regard to the ANC’s planned Protection of Information Bill? Will the government be cutting press freedom?

Answer: I have not read the revised version of the proposed regulation, even the old one I had not finished reading. However, those that had read both versions and whose judgements I trust are of the opinion that the Protection of State Information Bill in its current form might be unconstitutional.

For example, at the time of doing writing veteran Human Rights lawyer George Bizos of the Legal Resources Centre reportedly had his submission to Parliament on the bill that: “as it stands, [it] runs contrary to and indeed threatens many of the fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution”. This is the general view in the country and of course many of us are inclined to believe that for as long as the bill is not in line with the constitution as alleged – where the media and press rights and freedom and their constitutional obligations to report without fear and or favour are not recognised, where whistleblowers are protected and that any information can be leaked and or reported in the “public interest” – then we need to be worried and concerned as a nation because many secrets (often by political parties, corruptable businesspeople, government departments and private businesses) are very much likely to be covered up with the passing of these laws.

So by introducing a law such as this and the ruling party’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal – our media would be very much limited to reporting alleged/suspected corruption where leaked evidence thereof do exist. Therefore, to a great extent, these laws would be “cutting press freedom”.

Having said this, however, the media (especially on MAT proposal) is as much to blame for many of its unethical and irresponsible reporting, some of which are way out of line with the South African Press Codes.

For example, I blogged on May 7 last year, asking: “Is Sunday Times living up to this Code of Conduct?” In another blog entry published at the same time, I asked: “Has Sunday Times breached the Press Codes on its ‘Dis-Grace’ story?” Below is just a few of my articles published on my blog in which I criticise the press/media:

  • M&G newspaper fighting solo Court battle to protects its sources
  • Is Rupert Murdoch doing a Bosasa on M&G?
  • Why our media should sleep on its ‘self-regulation’ bed now more than ever
  • Does the media report or assume news?
  • Is there ’copy and past’ in SA newsrooms?
  • What editors need to do to avoid a repeat of The Star and Daily Sun (newspapers) on Malema
  • Is Avusa Media consistent with columnists?
  • Did Avusa and Sunday Times “raise controversy without thought for the consequences” with Roberts’ column?
  • When should “sources” be used?
  • Interview with SA Press Council and Press Ombudsman
  • Did Sunday Times act “ethically” in publishing “Against The Rules Too” report?
  • Public Protector vindicates me on Sunday Times’ “unethical and unlawful” publication of Against The Rules Too
  • M&G playing political games with anonymous sources?
  • Was Mbeki wrong about Press Freedom in 1996?
  • Sunday World and Sunday Times “slave for formula”?
  • Has Mail & Guardian confused you on the Maharaj saga?
  • Was Sowetan’s Mathale “dare” Zuma claim misleading?

In February this year South African Press Council released figures in which it noted the increase of complaints against newspapers. Deputy Press ombudsman said at the time that there was a 70% increase over the last three years in the number of complaints about incorrect or unethical newspaper reports. He said the complainants grew from 150 in 2009 to 213 in 2010 and 255 in 2011.

While criticising the media on 13 March, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said his office experienced “problems… with the way ([newspapers] ignored correspondences” from his office, naming The Times newspaper as one of the culprits. This, however, is not to say the press should be suppressed as it now is tempted to with these laws although the government has denied this.

© Screenshot to the blog "Akanyang Africa" by Akanyang Merementsi

© Screenshot to the blog „Akanyang Africa“ by Akanyang Merementsi

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South Africa is still challenged with many socio-political problems like crime, corruption and poverty. Is the government by President Jacob Zuma doing enough for the South African people or which policies should be changed?

Answer: I would like to believe that the government is doing its best – though not enough – to fight poverty and corruption the country. On 11 March 2012, I was called an “idiot” by someone on Twitter when I put it to him that we – especially white people in the country – have a tendency of saying crime, education and corruption is a “Black problem” or the “ANC problem”. Which are not. So for as long we have people who still 18-years into our democracy see crime, education and crime as a “black person’s problem” then we have a long way to go in overcoming these challenges.

I would also like to believe that we have good policies in fighting these but sometimes lack of community involvement (for whatever reasons) is probably one of the reasons why there is little success in sorting out our education, crime and poverty and corruption challenges.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some voices are denouncing the continuous fragmentation of the South African society in blacks and whites. Would you confirm this perception?

Answer: I have realised that we have accepted and see ourselves on racial terms: black and white people. To achieve the rainbow nation envisioned by former President Nelson Mandela will take probably longer than it took apartheid to rule South Africa. Seeing ourselves as just one human race will be hard-work and not an easy road, I must add.

One of the issues that often come up is that of white people failing to accept some of the awful things their forefathers had done to ours. And it is sad that some of these things still happen to this very day. To address this, I would suggested that we have some sort of a Race Debate because surely Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission did little job in helping both blacks and whites accept one another and our differences. But at the same time – as mentioned in my blog post published on 25 March 2012 and titled “My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment? – I think white people “… tend to treat us blacks with suspicion” and I hate it.

Associate Press Writer Jesse Washington coined The Black Man Code and he told his son to “Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people [white in particular] might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes”. So to a “black male… [to] go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are” – as Washington told his son to do – it will be difficult because this always gives us blacks The Black Man Code. Worse, it sometimes makes us experience that “Trayvon-Martin moment”.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which impressions do you have from Germany and Germans?

Answer: Unfortunately I cannot form any opinion of Germany and or its people because I have not had any interaction with them.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Akanyang Merementsi – media freak & blogger – thank you very much for this interesting interview!

Pretoria braucht Teheran (und Berlin)

Erdöl, Rüstung, Handel und eine gemeinsame iranisch-südafrikanische Vergangenheit

(Autor: Ghassan Abid)

Südafrika ist als einer der wichtigsten afrikanischen Regionalmächten in vielen außenpolitischen Fällen von der westlichen sowie deutschen Agenda abgewichen. Die Debatte um Militäreinsätze gegen Libyen verdeutlichte, dass die südafrikanische Regierung zunehmend eine Süd-Süd-Außenpolitik verfolgt, die eigenständige Züge aufzeigt. Dies bedeutet, dass Schwellenländer wie Südafrika bewusst einen anderen außenpolitischen Kurs gegenüber dem Westen einschlagen, um auf diesem Wege unabhängiger von den USA, der EU und von Deutschland aufzutreten. Die Machtachse um China, Brasilien, Indien, Russland und Südafrika – auch als BRICS-Staaten bezeichnet – wird in den nächsten fünf bis zehn Jahren für verärgerte Gemüter in Washington, Berlin, Paris oder London sorgen – dies ist schon jetzt und wie am letzten BRICS-Gipfel im indischen Neu-Delhi absehbar.

© Max Sisulu, Vorsitzender des südafrikanischen Unterhauses, bei seiner Iran-Visite mit Präsident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad am 26.01.2010. Sisulu gilt als einflussreicher Politiker im nationalen Rüstungsgeschäft. (Quelle: Presidency of The Islamic Republic of Iran)

Aktuell in der Iranpolitik wird deutlich, dass die Positionen des Auswärtigen Amtes, wonach die politischen und wirtschaftlichen Sanktionen gegen Teheran ausgeweitet werden sollen, mit der des Departments of International Relations and Cooperation – dem Außenministerium Südafrikas – nicht unbedingt im Einklang stehen. Denn Schwellenländer wie Südafrika und Iran sind aufeinander angewiesen, vor allem in handelspolitischer Hinsicht. Außerdem arbeiten beide Staaten in den Bereichen Wissenschaft, Technologie, Verteidigung, Medizin, Energie und Bergbau eng miteinander zusammen.

Als der Iran noch unter dem autoritären Schah-Regime regiert wurde, pflegte das Land äußerst gute Beziehungen zum Westen und  Apartheidsregime. Nach der islamischen Revolution von 1979, im Februar desselben Jahres, unterbrach der religiöse Revolutionsführer Ali Khamenei sämtliche Verbindungen nach Südafrika und zur rassistisch angelegten National Party (NP). Gleichzeitig unterstützten die Iraner den African National Congress (ANC) von Nelson Mandela bei der Erlangung der Freiheit bzw. beim Sturz der Apartheid. Nach dem Machtwechsel in der Presidency durch den ANC nahm der Iran sämtliche diplomatische Beziehungen mit Pretoria im Januar 1994 wieder auf.

Bedingt durch diese verbindende Historie hat sich mittlerweile ein enges Vertrauensverhältnis zwischen Südafrika und dem Iran entwickelt. Iran zählt heute zum größten Erdöl-Lieferanten Südafrikas und der südafrikanische Telekommunikationskonzern MTN Group ist mit einer Beteiligung von 49 % beim iranischen Konsortium Irancell eingestiegen, welches auch unter dem Einfluss von iranischen Rüstungsfirmen (z.B. Iran Electronics Industries) stehen soll. Das iranische Handy- und Internetnetz entspringt demnach der südafrikanischen Expertise. Bekannt geworden ist, dass MTN in mehreren Bestechungsfällen mit iranischen Partnern aus dem staatlichen Sektor verstrickt sein soll.

Auch beim Ölexport Irans ist Südafrika über das Unternehmen Sasol beteiligt. Sasol und die staatliche iranische National Petrochemical Company (NPC) gründeten 2003 in der sog. Pars Special Economic Energy Zone (PSEEZ) am Persischen Golf das Joint Venture Arya Sasol Polymer Company (A.S.P.C.) zur Produktion von Ölprodukten. Der gegenwärtige Botschafter der Islamischen Republik in Südafrika, Ebrahimi Asl Asghar, hielt zudem mehrere Positionen im iranischen Erdölsektor inne, was verdeutlicht, dass die handelspolitischen Beziehungen zwischen Pretoria und Teheran schwerpunktmäßig auf das Erdöl fokussiert werden. Die Sanktionen der USA und EU im Hinblick auf die Einfuhrrestriktionen von Erdöl sind durch Schwellenländer wie Indien, Südafrika oder Russland eindeutig abgelehnt worden.

© Petrochemie-Unternehmen Sasol hat ein Joint Venture mit dem iranischen Staatsunternehmen National Petrochemical Company (NPC) abgeschlossen (Quelle: Wikimedia)

© Telekommunikationkonzern und WM 2010-Sponsor MTN baut das iranische Handy- und Internetnetz mit auf (Quelle: Wikimedia)

Doch beide Regierungen sind genauso an einer militärischen Kooperationsausweitung interessiert, wie es beim Iran-Besuch des damaligen südafrikanischen Verteidigungsministers Patrick Mosiuoa Lekota öffentlich untermauert wurde. Genauso traf sich Max Sisulu, Harvard-Absolvent und Speaker des südafrikanischen Unterhauses, im Januar 2010 mit Irans Präsident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sisulu war von 1998 bis 2003 stellvertretender CEO des Rüstungskonzerns Denel und von 2001 bis 2003 Vorsitzender der Rüstungsvereinigung South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries (AMD) Association.  

Klar ist, dass der ehemalige in den USA operierende ANC-Kämpfer und gleichzeitige südafrikanische UN-Botschafter, Dumisani S. Kumalo, am 03.03.2008 die Proliferation von Atomwaffen an den Iran ablehnte, das Recht auf friedliche Nutzung von Atomtechnologie gleichzeitig einräumte.Südafrika möchte keinen Kriegsausbruch über das Atomprogramm im Iran sehen“, so der UN-Botschafter in New York. Dementsprechend steht Südafrika vollkommen hinter der Anreicherung von Uran im Iran und gegen das Exportverbot von Dual-Use-Gütern bzw. der Aufrechterhaltung von Kreditrestriktionen gegenüber Teheran. Ferner ist die Lebensgefährtin des derzeitigen Vizepräsidenten Kgalema Motlanthe, die Geschäftsfrau Gugu Sibiya, in einem Waffendeal mit dem Iran involviert.

© Das Verteidigungsministerium Südafrikas ist an einer Zusammenarbeit mit iranischen Partnern auf dem Gebiet der Marine interessiert - hier: Kriegsschiff der South African Navy (Quelle: DOD South Africa)

Sollten Deutschland und andere westliche Staaten den Kurs gegen den Iran weiter verschärfen und womöglich militarisieren, so wird sich Südafrika zunehmend vom Westen abkapseln und sich so die Süd-Süd-Beziehungen zu Lasten westlicher Regierungen umso stärker verselbstständigen. Die Beobachtung der südafrikanischen Außenpolitik belegt, dass diese Schritt für Schritt verlagert wird.

Professor Robert Kappel vom German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg kommt in seiner politikwissenschaftlichen Analyse „Verschiebung der globalen Machtverhältnisse durch den Aufstieg von Regionalen Führungsmächten: China, Indien, Brasilien und Südafrika“ – No .146 – vom September 2010 zum Ergebnis, das Südafrika als regionaler Hegemon seine wirtschaftlichen Interessen zunehmend nach Asien umverlagert: Die Regionalen Führungsmächte verfolgen eigenständige Interessen und kooperieren immer häufiger miteinander, so z.B. in der Energie‐ und Handelspolitik, in der Klima‐ und Währungspolitik und in der Entwicklungskooperation. Sie haben eine „redistributive power“, die u.a. auf einer neuen Süd‐Süd‐Kooperation beruht und als Gegengewicht zu den USA und der EU zu sehen ist.

Die Bundesregierung sollte alarmiert sein und versuchen, ihren außenpolitischen Kurs strategischer auf die Bedürfnisse ihres wichtigsten Partners auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent auszurichten. Ferner erweist sich die Einstufung der BRICS-Staaten als mögliche Bedrohung westlicher Interessen, etwa im Hinblick auf die technologischen Errungenschaften Chinas, als nicht mehr zeitgemäß. Noch ist es nicht zu spät, um die richtigen Weichen für die nächsten Jahrzehnte aufzustellen und einen nachhaltigen Schulterschluss mit den Weltmächten von morgen zu suchen.

Johannesburg -The City That Never Sleeps

„The City of Gold“ is also known as Jozi, Egoli or Joburg

(Editor: Bruce Ncube from Johannesburg)

Deutsche Zusammenfassung:

Bruce Ncube berichtet für „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ aus der Goldstadt – aus Johannesburg. Eine riesige Metropole, die viele Probleme einerseits und Chancen andererseits aufzeigt. Während ein Spaziergang im Stadtteil Hillbrow, in der Orange Farm oder in Sebokeng lebensgefährlich ist, erweisen sich Sandton und Diepkloof als gegensätzliche teure Pflaster der  Johannesburger Mittelschicht. Zudem ist diese Stadt auch die Heimat von vielen afrikanischen Flüchtlingen und dementsprechend kulturell betrachtet äußerst heterogen.

© Jozi at night (Source: Chris Kirchhoff/ MediaClubSouthAfrica.com)

I have been a keen follower of how culture has an impact on a growing nation. We are naturally ignorant when it comes to how we want a nation look like in the future. We are all about the „now“ factor.

We forget that the foundation we lay is ours and for those to follow. Today’s society is that of a mixture of different races, mixed traditions and beliefs. Johannesburg, popularly known as Joburg or Egoli, The City of Gold is a pure of example of this. The world has become one big oyster. Johannesburg has been and continues to be, without doubt, a leader in this regard.

I’m not one to dwell on the past a lot. Yes, Egoli has seen its fair share of problems but it has also seen a great amount of change especially in terms of culture and the society in general. It has become a multicultural haven. From the dusty streets of Orange Farm and Sebokeng, the new middle class development of Diepkloof aka DK, the corner joints of Hillbrow, which has seen a great deal of development, the ever so cultural streets of Yeoville to the Poshy suburbs of Sandton.

Egoli, also known as Jozi Maboneng, which Joburg City Lights, has become a diverse nation on its own, multilingual and a bee-hive of activity. I will take you through the streets of Jozi, the culture it possess, the love it so longs to spread to the whole world, the food, the places, the music, the landmarks, the politics, the celebrated individuals and that ordinary man on the ground who has a better view of his surroundings.

Jozi has evolved. You will get to see the inside of the city that is widely regarded as the Diversity Capital of the World. On a regular basis, I will take you through an amazing journey of exploring and learning. We will go to different places and events and give a profile of each. Pictorial illustrations will also be included.
You will see what makes this city tick. The ever so rich history will get you thinking.
Egoli, Place of Gold, Jozi Maboneng, KwaNyama Kayipheli, kphela amazinyo endoda (meaning a culturally superior place). Are you ready?

Follow me on Twitter @brucencube and www.beedestiny.wordpress.com.

Exklusive Interview with Zapiro

4000 Cartoons and 15 books. Johnathan Shapiro about his life, freedom of opinion and politics

(Editor: Annalisa Wellhäuser)

Open any South African newspaper today and you will most probably find a cartoon that comments South African politics drawn by the artist Zapiro. Who doesn‘t know the famous sketch picturing the current South African president Jacob Zuma with a shower above his head alluding to his statement that he took a shower after having had sex with an HIV-positive woman. Zapiro, born 1958 as Jonathan Shapiro in Cape Town, is the most famous cartoonist of these days in South Africa. His drawings appear in the Mail and the Guardian,Sunday Times and The Times. Moreover his art has been published in exhibitions all over the world and he has won numerous awards.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: President Jacob Zuma is taking a shower after having sex with a HIV infected woman.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: Lady Justice in danger.

© Cartoon by Zapiro: Whites have benefited from Apartheid.

„SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“, the German Gateway to South Africa, met Zapiro in his office in Cape Town to find out more about this artist who is not afraid to say what he thinks with if it comes to politics.

Zapiro already discovered his passion for art as a child. Back then he used to have nightmares about frightening monsters and in order to deal with those scary dreams, he started drawing about them. Indeed that kind of self-therapy did help him to overcome his nightmares. And not only that; He enjoyed the drawing a lot. It was his dream to become an artist. He entered drawing competitions and also was active for the school newspaper. He invented the little character “Prepi“, who commented on what‘s going on in preparatory school.

Soon ,he was also confronted with the politics happening in his country. His mum made him aware already at a very young age that they were living in a society “that was wrong“; his very first “kind of political experience“ was when Verwoerd 1 was assassinated in 1966. In school they were asked to pray for the “architect of apartheid“ and Zapiro remembers being confused and thinking“ Hey, this was not a good guy!“. Throughout his school time he was “at odds” with the general trend of supporting Apartheid amongst even English speaking white people, but he was not yet involved in any political actions at that time. After school he started studying architecture; not because he was passionate about it, but in order for him to stay out of the army. When he decided to change to graphic design and try to become a cartoonist, they „got him„, he had to enter the army. In the army Zapiro refused to carry a gun, so they made him carry a heavy wooden dummy and made fun of him. Once a colleague made him stand guard with it, „which was ridiculous, I became a bit of a laughing stock but in a funny way, like a clown thing„, Zapiro says.

However, the joke actually backfired, because he showed the other conscripts that he could handle this heavy arm very well as by doing exactly everything that they were doing with it. This was his way of rebelling against this and spreading his political message. He was regarded as a political consciousness non-commitant, as a communist, as dangerous. At that time he was not yet involved in any political organization, the UDF (United Democratic Front) formed just over a year after he was conscripted. But when it was formed in 1983, it was absolutely clear for him that he would join. Same appealed to his mum, his sister and a lot of his friends. Suddenly there was this non-racial grouping that felt right for them: much more elegentarian, much more open and much more connected to national politics. It was also connected to the ANC-but he didn’t want to be involved into nor speak about it, because that was dangerous when they found out they were linked. Him and some of his family members even got detained at some point.

However, Zapiro has never wanted to be a politician. He sees a big difference between being enormously involved as an activist and becoming a politician. ,,Professional politics are very different from being a political activist.” In his opinion only a few people managed to retain this integrity and those principles that guided them and made them passionate. Other people do things now out of personal gain or party political aims; they have become corrupt, comfortable and a bit apathetic compared to what they used to be. Also there are those who are within a party and are against those who are outside the party and maybe doing good things. „All those things I would hate„, he states. He has seen people he knew who have made this trancession- only a few managed it successfully. According to him the country needs people who become politicians and remain focussed, altruistic and incorruptible. But the country also needs civil society and media-so in his opinion his best role is to be a visual columnist- and still to a little extend an activist. To produce his drawings, he obviously needs to do a lot of research on politics. For that Zapiro listens to the radio a lot, reads many different newspapers and consults the internet in order to look at the same sort of issue dealt with in different ways. Also he records some things broadcasted on television.

© Johnathan Shaprio alias Zapiro, South Africa´s most influential and provocative cartoonist. He has been in conflict several times with the government.

Zapiro explains that cartoons are primarily about thinking and communication; about finding a device to say something that one believes in. „They are 80% idea and 20% drawing.„ According to him there are cartoonists out there, who are good, but not necessarily the best cartoonist in the world -however they are really able to communicate by their art. On the other hand it would not be possible to carry weak ideas with good drawings. „It`s about thoughts. „ To give an example, Zapiro speaks about one cartoon that he did, which displayed a little line of text on top saying „Whites who never benefited from Apartheid„ and a blank page underneath he states that at the time of the release of the cartoon, there were people denying to have known about Apartheid. There were white people avoiding responsibility for the benefits that they were given while living under Apartheid.

Zapiro was irritated by that attitude and got inspired to create this „cartoon„. This cartoon did not even have a picture, but still, so Zapiro, „ This cartoon was conceptually really good and really powerful, one of the best cartoons I have ever done.„ It is Zapiro`s intention to trigger strong reactions with his drawings amongst the people. He wants to make people think. Maybe some people say „That’s exactly how I feel, I didn’t know how to express it.„ But he is not only addressing the people who think exactly like him- which, in his opinion, would not make any sense. He knows that there are people, who might agree and as well disagree on his thoughts on certain issues. However it is not his intention to convince the people, who think completely different. According to him it is all those people in the middle-he can make them see something in a new way by being a little bit persuasive to them.

When asking him what subject he would like to draw a sketch on, that he is not allowed to draw one on, he replies that there is nobody who can tell him not to do a cartoon on a certain topic. It is rather him who holds himself back. When he started as a political activist he used to be quite constrained by political correctness, whereas these days he is ready to accept those rules. „ I don’t like to gratuisly insult people in a hurtful way, who are in a way vulnerable.„ Still, even then his feeling of what is acceptable to draw a cartoon on would be way further down the line than that of others. If he felt that people are the aggressors, he wouldn`t care about them. For instance, if it comes to religion. In his view religion has done a huge amount of harm with regard to gay people and women and it has even promoted spread of HIV. Concerning this topic he would go really hard for the people in power.

Zapiro says he has done things that people would consider totally insulting. He states that some things around traditional culture are quite difficult to deal with in cartoons, because people treat them in a way religion is treated. According to him there exists some kind of communality. And at the moment there would be plenty of times when cartoons can be misinterpreted on purpose to make people out as racists even though they are not.

After the feedback that Zapiro is receiving is not always positive; president Jacob Zuma has pressed charges against him already for doing certain drawings on him. Zapiro says that he believes in the South African institutions, in the constitution , and he feels that these are strong enough to keep up freedom of speech -which he supports and which is part of what gives him resolve. Zapiro explains that his politics haven`t changed a lot, but politics of some people in power have changed and he considers himself lucky to not have as much constraints as people in power. If he believes in something he will go for it.

Further I ask him about his opinion concerning voices in this country saying that some kind of reversed apartheid is arising, where it is now black South African people against the other cultures. Zapiro responds that this is one of the topics, where he will get either into one form of discourse or another depending on who he is speaking to. On the one hand, if he would be speaking to his old political comrades he would be mouthing off at the death of non racialism and at the rise of a certain form of nationalism and elitism. On the other hand, if those amongst the white South Africans, who have never had “political bone„ in their body during apartheid era come and complain in an uninformed way to him about how bad things are and so called „reversed racism„, he gets into a whole different conversation. He would try to explain how much better things are now than they were then. And after all it is still white people who are at the top of the power in many important fields. He says that there is a certain kind of racism that still exists very strongly in the white community of South Africa. He continues saying that there are some absurdities in the way that affirmative action has been taking place; not the way it should be. And that he is the last person to say that all is ok. But to claim that things are the same way as they used to be in Apartheid, simply reversed, was not true, but absolute rubbish.

Then we speak about Julius Malema singing the old song „Kill the boers„. Zapiro calls Malema`s behaviour „crass and wrong„, he could not sing that song in the context of the new South Africa. He explains that the song was an apartheid era song, which had a metaphorical reason. It was about killing the system of apartheid, to fight those police men and farmers, who really were brutally assaulting and killed people .„And that was all understood then.„ Zapiro states that it is wrong to sing that song today, because its purpose is essentially to try „to mobilize disaffected youth, because the ANC is not delivering properly to them and try to make them focus some of their anger on people, who these days are not necessarily aggressing, at least not the same extent as before.”However, he thinks that one cannot ban a song and that the high court`s decision to try to prevent him from singing the song was wrong. As a supporter of freedom of express he does not agree on it. „You can call somebody a political opportunist without saying you are not allowed to sing that song. It is a lot more nuanced and complicated than saying: Julius Malema is the equivilant of what Terre Blanche2 was…it doesn’t work like that.„ Zapiro has done cartoons criticizing that decision of the court. I support the human rights commission and the UN`s determination on the definition of hate speech and that it should be prevented. He explains that that would be hate speech where you could make a connection between something that was said, such as a speech, a song or a piece of writing, and the active going out and killing somebody. However, he doesn`t think that “ people went out killing people because of what Julius said…. “3 “If you can make that connection, that because of that song that person was killed..that`s where you can draw the line. But that’s very far down the line of speech before you can make that decision.”

Zapiro says that there was a complaint about his cartoon „Lady justice„ and that the human rights commission exonerated him for doing the drawing and its publication, because of their determination that it is not inciting anyone to do anything to anybody else. „It was a metaphor about what Zuma was doing to the judiciary.„ „Freedom of express is very important to me.„ So if he started saying ,they should ban that song, then he could as well allow somebody to say to ban his cartoon, because both of them could be interpreted in a way that they could be objectionable.„There has to be consistency.„

Zapiro is producing with his cartoons political messages

Before the interview comes to an end I would like to find out from Zapiro what are his wishes for the new South Africa, what kind of development he thinks is necessary for it to become the peaceful rainbow nation everybody is longing for. Zapiro answers, „I remember when Tutu came up with the rainbow nation idea during the meeting of the inconscription campaign in 1985.It was always a bit idealistic. „ According to Zapiro, Tutu wished for rainbow coalition of different groupings in the political movement fighting for the same aim: freedom, non racialism, democracy. However, Zapiro believes that South Africa has only had a few rainbow-moments since democracy. As an example he names the rugby world cup in 1995. “I`m afraid to say now, that unlike before, where I thought the white community was hugely responsible for not apologizing and not taking responsibility, I still say that ,I think now a lot more could have been done if the ANC had not become fat, comfortable and corrupt, and if say the people at the top were not promoting this narrow elite and not just paying lip service to delivery, but really were delivering and trying to bridge the wealth gap. That is where is should go.„ Zapiro believes that only then people can have some real reconciliation, because so far there are a lot of unresolved matters after truth reconciliation commission hearings. According to Zapiro, it is most important to close the inaquity in this society.„ South Africa has become the most inequal society in the world , we are even behind Brazil. And for that to be the state almost after 17 years of democracy is outrageous.„

Finally I would like to find out what Zapiro`s personal plans and dreams are for the future. „For the medium term I want to continue what I`m doing, but want to make sure I`m still feeling like I`m relevant and got something to say, because if I do not- I want to pull out and go for something in the long term.„ He has managed to produce over 4000 cartoons and 15 books , but he doesn`t want to do the same thing for ever, he also wants to do other things. In the long term Zapiro would like to move into some other genres of cartooning and storytelling, which he loves. He would like to become a bit more balanced person, because the intensity he has with the cartooning does tend to overwhelm a great part of his life. He wants to spend more time with his family.

HIER FINDEST DU DAS INTERVIEW IN DEUTSCH.

1   He was the 3rd national party prime minister after DF Malan and Jacob Strijdom
2   Formed the Afrikaaner Resistence Movement during Apartheid< was seen as white supremacist
3   Discussion in South Africa about a possible connection between Malema singing the song,,Kill the boers“ and the murder of Terre Blanche