By Michael Petrou - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 1 Comment
James Myburgh investigates the 1977 murders of Afrikaner politician Robert Smit and his wife, Jeanne-Cora, including suspicions that fell on Canadian Marc Benza.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:32 PM - 7 Comments
This book will make a splash.
Glenn Frankel, former Southern Africa and Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post, discusses it here.
By Nancy Macdonald - Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 4:29 PM - 2 Comments
South Africa’s new president is proving his critics wrong
By now, Jacob Zuma’s South Africa should be careening toward the ranks of failed African states. Eight months ago, after an election anointed him president of the continent’s proudest democracy, editorialists everywhere drew thinly veiled comparisons to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, who turned Africa’s shining light into a country that rivals only Somalia for sheer dysfunction. Even the most generous assessments had Zuma—once described as an “embarrassment” by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu—shackled by “suspicion” and “doubt” about his shambolic past, and ﬁtness to lead Africa’s biggest economy. Yet under Zuma, South Africa has made pragmatic, positive strides in many areas, including health and the economy.
Early indicators were not good. Zuma, a former goatherd with no formal schooling and a stable of wives, has also twice stood trial. In April, the fraud, corruption and racketeering charges he’d been ﬁghting for almost a decade were dropped, and in 2006, he was acquitted of rape (despite the acquittal, the case revealed “shocking” judgment, according to noted South African journalist Mark Gevisser: “He had unprotected sex with an unstable HIV-positive woman who regarded him as a ‘father.’ ”) To the chattering classes, Zuma seemed to embody the “rottenness” that famed novelist André Brink described as having befallen the country in A Fork in the Road, a memoir published in the weeks running up to the election.
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 5:20 PM - 6 Comments
Terre’Blanche, a South African white supremacist, is back
One of South Africa’s most notorious white supremacists has resurfaced—and he has ambitious plans. On Oct. 10, Eugene Terre’Blanche, who founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) in the ’70s, held a rally with 300 supporters in a hall outside of Johannesburg. His goal: to ﬁght for an independent Afrikaner republic. Against the backdrop of the AWB’s swastika-style ﬂag, Terre’Blanche told the crowd, which reportedly included representatives from some 23 far-right groups, “Our land is being run by criminals who murder and rob. This land was the best, and they ruined it all.”
Terre’Blanche’s return has caught many by surprise. During the ’80s and ’90s, he was well known for his ﬁery oratory and violent demonstrations against the end of apartheid. But after he was jailed for two 1996 incidents—the assault of a black gas station attendant and attempted murder of a black security guard—he fell off the political map. Since his release from prison in 2004, he had been maintaining a low proﬁle, and is now taking a less militant approach. “There are other options we have to exercise ﬁrst,” he said recently. “We have a strong case to take to the United Nations.” Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 11:40 AM - 6 Comments
And the family who had ‘Harper’ for dinner
Intern love story
Each year several interns from Ukraine arrive on Parliament Hill to help out MPs and learn how the Canadian government works. This year, NDP MP Peter Stoffer was begged by the new arrivals to retell the story of a previous intern, about whom Stoffer wrote a poem entitled The Corruption of Yuriy. Stoffer, three-time winner of Maclean’s Most Congenial Parliamentarian of the Year award, is one of the most likeable MPs on the Hill. The famous intern, Yuriy Obriza, would arrive in the office at 7 every morning, stiffly do his work and leave at 4 p.m. Stoffer could never get him to loosen up or go to any social functions until the interns’ final night when he took the group out for a goodbye party. He could see Obriza was interested in another intern, Oleksandra Khaybullina, but wasn’t doing anything about it. When Stoffer asked why, Obriza said he liked the girl, but that she lived on the other side of Ukraine and he was afraid to talk to her. “Yuriy, if you don’t go over there now and kiss her,” Stoffer said, “I will.” Obriza froze. So Stoffer went over and asked permission to kiss her. She agreed and he proceeded with a passionate Gone With the Wind style embrace. “That’s how it’s done,” the MP told Obriza. The young intern ﬁnally got up the courage to approach Khaybullina. Within minutes they were having a great time. The next day Obriza rolled into the office late (at noon!) for his last day. Today, Stoffer has a photograph of Obriza and Khaybullina in his office. It’s from their wedding. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, October 2, 2009 at 1:58 PM - 0 Comments
The best pictures from the last seven days
By Lianne George - Friday, September 11, 2009 at 12:40 PM - 2 Comments
Newsmakers of the week
Second chance, same impression
The good news for Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien is that Crown prosecutors won’t be appealing the recent verdict that acquitted him of influence-peddling charges. But O’Brien has confounded many of his colleagues with a risky new PR strategy at a moment when strong reputation rebuilding is essential. O’Brien has hired Jasmine MacDonnell—the young former aide to Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt who resigned in June following the “Chalk River scandal”—to serve as his new communications director. MacDonnell stepped down last summer after a recording device she accidentally left in a House of Commons washroom was revealed to contain a private conversation with Raitt in which the minister described the medical isotope crisis as a “sexy” issue. Mayor O’Brien told the Edmonton Sun that he had interviewed three candidates for the position, but that MacDonnell was simply the most qualified. “Jasmine comes with excellent credentials and will be able to work closely with the media in both official languages,” he said. But some city councillors were less convinced. “It’s making eyes roll over at city hall,” said Bay councillor Alex Cullen. West Carleton-March councillor Eli El-Chantiry agreed, adding, “I will remind Jasmine we have many washrooms in city hall, so she should be careful.”
Colbert gets truthy
In a rare not-in-character interview, Stephen Colbert, star of the Comedy Network’s The Colbert Report, told Rolling Stone about the important role the Catholic faith and traditions play in his life. At Christmastime, he says, his extended family of 50 people processes through the house singing Christmas carols. “We process from the youngest to the oldest,” he says. “The youngest puts the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve and we sing Silent Night.” Colbert, who is notoriously private, teaches Sunday school to seven-year-olds. “I saw how my mother’s faith was very valuable to her and valuable to my brothers and sisters, and I’m moved by the words of Christ, and I’ll leave it at that.” Continue…
By Tom Henheffer - Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 1:00 PM - 13 Comments
South Africa is losing too many doctors, but ‘it’s their problem’
South Africa needs doctors. The country is home to the world’s worst HIV epidemic, a growing tuberculosis problem, and high infant mortality rates. But rather than helping the struggling nation, South Africa’s high commissioner says Canada is doing the opposite: through intense recruiting campaigns, we’re poaching as many South African doctors as we can to help ease our own doctor shortage at home.
In a report, Dr. Abraham Sokaya Nkomo, South Africa’s high commissioner to Canada, complains that the doctors “migrate at a very high cost” to South Africa, causing “a huge loss of investment in education and training.” The report adds that Canada’s doctor poaching “makes it difficult to deliver good quality, easily accessible and equitable services” in South Africa. Continue…
By Rachel Mendleson - Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:20 AM - 3 Comments
Ford, GM allegedly sold vehicles used by the apartheid regime
A New York judge has given the green light to sue multinationals such as Ford and General Motors for their alleged role in the segregation, torture and killing of blacks in South Africa.
Class action suits have been cleared to proceed against Ford, GM and Daimler for allegedly “aiding and abetting” torture and extrajudicial killing by supplying military vehicles used in the persecution of blacks during South Africa’s apartheid regime. IBM faces similar charges for allegedly providing computers for the surveillance of rebels, and Germany-based defence giant Rheinmetall may face a suit for its alleged role in arms dealing. “One who substantially assists a violator of the law of nations is equally liable if he desires the crime to occur or if he knows it will occur and simply does not care,” wrote Judge Shira Scheindlin in her April 8 ruling.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 0 Comments
Mbeki’s rapid departure caused several resignations from the ANC
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is denying reports that it will split into rival factions following president Thabo Mbeki’s ouster. But speculation mounted that a splinter group could form in the wake of a week of high-profile party resignations. Those included 11 members of the ANC cabinet, plus Mbhazima Shilowa, premier of Gauteng, the country’s wealthiest province. Several ministers have since returned to the table, but Shilowa says that he cannot support the way the party forced out Mbeki mere months before the end of his term. In Mbeki’s place, newly minted party president Jacob Zuma has installed Kgalema Motlanthe, an ANC politician friendly to both camps. As interim president, Motlanthe will lead South Africa until the next election, when Zuma himself will likely stand for the presidency.
On the surface the political crisis appears to be a straightforward power struggle between Mbeki and Zuma. Not so, says Elke Zuern, an area specialist with Sarah Lawrence College in New York state. “It is about competing visions for South Africa’s future,” she says, noting that influential left-leaning elements, such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the country’s Communist party, back Zuma.
Below the surface, the venerable 96-year-old party—an uncomfortable mix of centrists, Communists and trade unionists—is riven by deep divisions over economic and social policy, which Mbeki’s sacking has opened up. Still, for now, a split “is simply not in the cards,” says Anthony Holmes of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations. “The group surrounding Mbeki is too small.” But the ANC is no longer a revolutionary liberation movement. As South Africa’s democracy matures, the once-common goal of independence no longer serves to bind.
By kadyomalley - Friday, August 22, 2008 at 4:46 PM - 0 Comments
From an email received this afternoon:
Someone said to us that we are likely the very last Canadian artists to take our work outside the country on the Promart fund.
I also read that the Conservatives consider Promart a “boondoggle” which doesn’t achieve its aims of promoting Canada, Canadian foreign policy and Canadian artists. I would just like to tell you what Promart’s $2,000 will achieve for Canada and us. It will allow my husband and I to travel to South Africa where our film, THE GREAT GRANNY REVOLUTION has been used to change South African health policy. A change that all the power of governments and the UN could not achieve.
By Marilyn Lazar, Takeoffeh.com - Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 2:25 PM - 0 Comments
A glimpse inside the real Soweto
Our South African itinerary is replete with classic tourist encounters (“Stop the jeep – I want a shot of that lion!”), but my companion and I are determined to experience the other side of the tourist track.
How can we travel this distance without delving into the tragic history of this beautiful country? Mindful of the risk, we use a bonded agency to book a tour into the heart of where young South African revolutionaries lost their lives: Soweto.
Soweto is an acronym for south west townships. The story goes, however, that when the black residents were rounded up and taken from their homes to be forcibly relocated, they asked in bewilderment, “So, where to?”
A brand new, freshly washed car pulls up on schedule. Our driver, who doubles as our guide, wears starched chinos, a pastel-coloured polo shirt and a deferential smile. Samuel’s commentary begins immediately but it takes a few minutes for me to adjust to the accent specific to his tribe’s dialect. He tells us there are approximately three million people, mostly black, living in 89 townships which make up greater Soweto.