Media: ‘No land, no home, no vote’

19 04 2009
April 19 2009 at 09:26AM
By Susan Comrie
Source: Weekend Argus, page 8

The new bank-bonded houses on Symphony Way in Delft are standing empty – bright signs invite people to “come in and have a look” – but around the perimeter the razor-wire fence sends a different message.

Just metres away, the Symphony Way pavement dwellers look on angrily.

They have spent the past 14 months living in makeshift homes along this small section of road in Delft after they were evicted from houses they illegally occupied in the N2 Gateway Project in February last year.

Earlier last week veteran New Zealand anti-apartheid activist John Minto, the man who helped spearhead protests against the Springbok tour there in 1981, flew out to stand in solidarity with the remaining 127 families who, 15 years after apartheid ended, say life is no better for them.

“Symphony Way is a microcosm of the bigger problem in South Africa,” says Minto. “We didn’t expect things to change overnight – we didn’t expect miracles.

“But when we were protesting during apartheid we didn’t do it to make a few black people rich. It’s a huge disappointment.”

The New Zealand activist has been a thorn in the side of several governments, leading protests against human rights abuses by the US and Israel, and attracting international attention with the 1981 anti- Springbok protest under the banner Halt All Racist Tours.

Standing outside the Symphony Way creche, where earlier last week Minto spent the night, he explains that rugby was never the issue – instead he and others saw a chance for New Zealand to “punch well above its weight” to ensure there was nowhere safe for the apartheid government to hide.

Now in his 50s, Minto is turning his ire on South Africa’s democratically elected government, claiming the poorest citizens are still living under a form of apartheid.

“In South Africa the links between politicians and business are very strong, but the links between politicians and people are very weak. Read the rest of this entry »


Media: Poor are worse off now, says activist

19 04 2009
April 15, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

Just before bedding down for the night on a pavement in Delft, a veteran New Zealand anti-apartheid activist said that despite democracy in South Africa, there was greater economic inequality now than under white minority rule.

John Minto, in the country for the first time, made headlines last year when he rejected then-president Thabo Mbeki’s nomination for the Companions of Oliver Tambo Award.

In rejecting it, he wrote to Mbeki that “it seems the entire economic structure which underpinned apartheid is essentially unchanged. Oppression based on race has morphed seamlessly into oppression based on economic circumstances”.

Commenting on the timing of his first visit to South Africa, Minto said it was a mere coincidence that it co-incided with the coming elec-tions on April 22.

He said the purpose of his visit was to see “what has happened 15 years on and what has changed for the most vulnerable”. He said he wanted to take a message home for those who had fought against apartheid.

Asked whether his anti-ANC stance regarding the party’s social and economic policies had changed, he said: “The faces at the top have changed from white to black but the substance of change is an illusion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Excerpt: Langebaan resident vows not to vote

19 04 2009
Excerpt from Cape Argus April 18, 2009 Edition 1
by Lynette Johns

Clifton Blaauw, who lives close to Smith in the largely coloured area of Langebaan, is angry. He says he is angry because he is no longer allowed to fish and because white people are still privileged. Expletives and racial jibes pour from his mouth as he laments the plight of the coloured community.

Blaauw vacillates between voting and not voting, eventually settling on: “I don’t want to vote, I no longer believe in all these promises. I’m a fisherman, I love to fish, all I want to do is fish.”