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Historynotes More on reconSILLYation.....

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    Nelson, What s Going On.. ~RE ... Subject: More on reconSILLYation..... Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 08:36:58 -0500 From: Rodney Cash
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 1999
      Nelson, "What's Going On.."


      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: More on reconSILLYation.....
      Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 08:36:58 -0500
      From: "Rodney Cash" <Rodney_Cash@...>
      To: historynotes@egroups.com

      In S. Africa, Truth Panel Data Upset Parliament
      Apartheid Battles Live On as Legislators Assail Each Other

      By Lynne Duke
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Monday, March 1, 1999; Page A14

      CAPE TOWN, South Africa?In full-throated battle, South Africa's black
      and white lawmakers waged psychological war. They heckled and harangued.
      They shouted each other down. They hurled moral denunciations. Blacks
      accused whites of having the blood of the past on their hands. Whites
      accused blacks of using guilt as a blunt instrument.

      When the 490 members of South Africa's Parliament gathered in joint
      session last week for a debate on the nation's Truth and Reconciliation
      Commission, it was clear that the effort to lay bare the nation's
      apartheid past had become perhaps the most polarizing issue in
      post-apartheid politics.

      South Africa's political terrain may have undergone a sea change five
      years ago with the end of repressive white-minority rule, but the
      battles of the past live on -- over right and wrong; over guilt and
      innocence; over national
      reconciliation and whether it can ever be achieved.

      Reconciliation has been a central goal of President Nelson Mandela's
      government since it was elected in 1994 in South Africa's first
      nonracial election. And although Parliament, on the surface, represents
      the successful post-apartheid blending of all political and racial
      elements, it is a fractious and inherently unbalanced body. It is
      dominated by a black majority representing groups that fought the battle
      against apartheid. It is led by the ruling African National Congress,
      Mandela's party, which holds a 63 percent of its seats.

      But black power is resented and feared by the white minority, which
      politicians who were part of the apartheid system of racial separation.
      Parliament is riven by racial friction, just like the society at large,
      as a new national identity is being forged.

      The bitter seven-hour debate in the packed chamber of the National
      Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, was another official step in
      the long process of national healing, intended to chart the way forward
      now that the truth
      commission has largely concluded its work. The truth-telling process was
      intended to foster reconciliation by uncovering past abuses, offering
      amnesties to perpetrators who confess their crimes and making
      reparations to their victims.

      But the process has been marked by the refusal of politicians from the
      apartheid era to acknowledge what the ANC as well as the truth body say
      is crystal clear: That murder, torture, abduction and other such crimes
      were the approved policy instruments of the white-minority regime.
      Although some apartheid-era officials have offered apologies for past
      suffering, none has admitted authorizing or even knowing about the
      widespread abuses.

      Justice Minister Dullah Omar, an ANC member, criticized his white
      colleagues as people who "arrogantly refuse to acknowledge that they
      need to
      cleanse their hands, which for decades have been dripping with the blood
      tears of millions of victims." They have refused, he said, despite the
      fact that they "have been so generously permitted to participate in the
      new democracy without recrimination."

      Still, Tony Leon, the sharp-tongued leader of the predominantly white
      Democratic Party, seized upon Omar's words as symbolic of the deepest
      fear of the white political minority -- being subject to the whims of
      the black majority.

      "When the minister of justice says that certain parties are graciously
      permitted to be here today, I say it is an infamous day because the
      minister who is gracious enough to permit you to be here today will be
      ungracious enough to take you away tomorrow," Leon declared.

      Further to the right on the white political spectrum -- among the
      Afrikaners who descended from 17th-century Dutch settlers -- members of
      the Freedom Front and other hard-right parties are hard pressed even to
      concede the extent to which apartheid was wrong.

      "Mistakes were made," said Freedom Front leader Constand Viljoen, whose
      still pines quixotically for a volkstaat, or territory for the Afrikaner

      "Apartheid was an immoral and unjust system," said Marthinus van
      leader of the New National Party, which -- before it started calling
      "new" -- was the party that created apartheid a half-century ago.

      Van Schalkwyk also touched on a raw ANC nerve. He said that torture by
      apartheid government soldiers was no different from torture by
      liberation guerrillas -- a kind of moral equivalence that the truth
      commission itself made in accusing the ANC, like the apartheid regime,
      of committing human rights abuses during the anti-apartheid struggle.

      Peter Mokaba, a fiery and popular deputy cabinet minister from the ANC,
      had had enough.

      "Apartheid was not a mistake; it was a criminal system against
      humanity," Mokaba said, to applause in the chamber. "Honorable
      Marthinus, you have not accepted this."

      Then, addressing Mandela, who sat through the entire exchange, Mokaba
      "Comrade President, we are ready to forgive, and also not to forget --
      but only when they accept the basis of our pain. They should not argue
      with us about our pain. They must listen and understand what we suffered
      at their hands."

      © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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