Dr Ruth Rabinowitz responds to Laura Phillips’ “Right of Response” (05/05/2019).
OUR view of history is based on the sources and stories we trust. They range from subjective personal accounts to objective analyses of multiple sources. For those whose telling of history is cemented in an ideology, any source or story that bolsters their allegiance to that particular ideology serves as valid historical evidence.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a political tribunal, unhampered by rule of law, with a clear bias towards the African National Congress (ANC). In 1996, when the TRC was established, I authored an article which explained how the structure of the TRC ensured this bias:
The design of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will result in the truth told, believed, recorded and reported being arbitrary and slanted. It will be heard by a political tribunal vastly supportive of the ANC’s liberation struggle and without a single member sympathetic to the IFP[i]
Justice Richard Goldstone has been discredited for his bias showing repeated sympathy for, and identification with, the ANC and its causes. He presided over the Goldstone Commission to determine the causes of the violence that took place preceding the 1994 elections. In an indication of his bias, Goldstone did not investigate a single one of the 400 assassinations of IFP leaders. When Daluxolo Luthuli testified to this Commission and to the TRC, his evidence was considered to be inconsistent by the adjudicators, who themselves regarded Luthuli as an unreliable witness: for example Luthuli changed his membership back and forth from the IFP to ANC several times.
Had Laura Phillips attended the farewell dinner held in Cape Town for members of parliament in honour of Pravin Gordhan, when he left parliament to become the head of SARS in 1998, she would have heard Max Sisulu (then chief whip of the ANC) talk about the manner in which a small band of communists (as it happens, mainly Jewish and Indian) had once captured the minds of Black youths, indoctrinating them, and that the time had now come for a genuinely Black renaissance in government. Joe Slovo had inordinate influence on Nelson Mandela; his approval was sought before Mandela approved the Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) joining the 1994 election. Communists were massively over-represented in parliament in the first ten years of a democratic South Africa. They were master strategists who led from behind.
People who interrogate history should first question, then probe and finally interpret the past. They should not select a singular angle on the past that only serves to justify their ideological bias. Facts reveal that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was not a Bantustan leader. Facts further reveal that the African National Congress (ANC) was a common factor in most of the “Black-on-Black” violence pre-1994.
To Ms Phillips I say, it is time to move on, as Mandela and Buthelezi did. Mandela betrayed Buthelezi’s trust by failing to hold International Mediation as promised in a signed document, which would have resolved the role of the Zulu monarchy in a democratic South Africa. Mandela further betrayed Buthelezi by allowing his cadres to render an enemy of a man who had loyally supported him. Nevertheless, Mandela and Buthelezi remained loyal friends. In my view, Buthelezi remained more true to the original ideals of the ANC than did Mandela himself. Both were good men caught up in complex times -- as is true of most of us. But the less power we wield, the greater our freedom to transmit enlightening stories. Our Jewish communities, so under the spotlight themselves and subject to facts distorted by ideological lenses deserve no less than an honest rendition of the history in which they participated, either directly or indirectly.
[i] Rabinowitz, Ruth. "TRC Goals 'the Stuff of Disney'". The Star, May 23 1996.
Ruth Rabinowitz is a medical doctor and a former Member of the South African Parliament for the Inkatha Freedom Party (1994-2009). She served three terms as Health Spokesperson, worked on the Constitutional Committee, and on the committees for Education, Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, Energy, and the Environment. Her book Working with Wonder, is a teacher's handbook on experiential education in the natural sciences. After leaving parliament Dr Rabinowitz established the MamaEarth Foundation (http://www.mamaearth.org.za).