DAVID BROKENSHA ~ FISH HOEK NOTES, June 2011
2011 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS
Municipal elections were held on May 18, a public holiday. After walking ½ hour to the polling station at False Bay College, I was welcomed by a smiling coloured woman Police Sergeant and a white male Constable. After a 25 minute wait (much longer in the townships) my ID was checked and stamped, as were the two voting forms, one for the Cape Town council (listing 20 individuals and their political parties), and one for the Mayor of Cape Town. There were two candidates: Patricia de Lille, a feisty and experienced (coloured) politician, who had left her party (Independent Democrats) to join the main opposition party, the DA (Democratic Alliance); Tony Ehrenreich (also coloured), the Secretary of COSATU, the Trade Union part of the ANC. (de Lille won). My left thumbnail was dotted and I popped the forms in the appropriate boxes. There was general agreement that the IEC -- the Independent Electoral Council – had ensured free and fair elections, with only a few minor complaints. There was no vote rigging and no intimidation. Having voted in the United Kingdom and also in the USA, I found this election was quite up to international standards. There was a good voting turnout, the DA increased its share , from 16% in the previous election, to nearly 25% of the national total. The ANC fell from 66% in the previous election to 62% and the minor parties, especially the Zulu leader Gatsha Buthelezi’s IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) did miserably, losing both to the ANC and to a new Zulu party. The electoral campaign had been brisk and often rancorous with much blatant racialism; some ANC politicians including, of course the firebrand Julius Malema, were dangerously provocative, suggesting that one newspaper office (which had allegedly been biased against the ANC) should be the burnt and that whites should be driven out.
The election shows us that we are better at procedural democracy than at gaining the social justice dividend required for a more equal society (Judith February).
February, and other columnists, reminded us how Nelson Mandela,Oliver Tambo, Albert Luthuli and other early ANC leaders had all stressed that South Africa was for all groups: recently, however, the ANC has become increasingly race-conscious, tending to be focussed on blacks, excluding the whites, coloureds and Indians. (Columnist R W Johnson discerned a “Zulufication” after this election, citing the number of Zulu politicians and officials in senior positions When Mandela and Mbekiwere in power, there was a “Xhosafication”). According to Max du Preez (an astringent and acute columnist): “the ANC plays the race card to divert criticism of its own corruption, greed, nepotism and ineffectiveness in government.” And Simphiwe Mzimande wrote (Cape Times June 2) ….the ANC “is a corruption ridden organisation in a sea of poverty”, hence “well-informed” Africans were leaving the party. (The DA gathered 5% of the African vote, compared to 1% previously however the total votes cast for the DA in Cape Town's "black" townships was only 6145 which is a measure of the task they face given that they administer both the City and the Province. (Cape Times).
Police and Crime
There have been two sets of disturbing incidents involving the Police. First, several police officers have been killed, usually in shoot-outs with criminals. Second, civilians have been gratuitously assaulted, even killed. One horrifying case that drew universal condemnation, concerned Andries Tatane, an African Mathematics teacher, who was peacefully protesting against poor service delivery (an explosive and widespread problem). He was beaten to death by policemen in Ficksburg, in the Eastern Free State.
Cyril Beeka apparently (I had not heard of him ) was a notorious gangster, who was recently shot dead. Enquiries showed that Radocan Krejcir, a Serbian, had hired a Czech hitman to do the job. Supposedly, there was a quarrel over illicit diamonds – growing up in Durban in the 1930s, we loved to hear lurid tales of disputes, usually between cops and robbers, over IDB – Illicit Diamond Buying (see Brokie’s Way pp79-80). Reading about this case reminded me of a detective story that I recently read: Robert Wilson’s The Ignorance of Blood, featuring Inspector Javier Falcon of Seville. In both cases, the real life Cape Town story, and the fictional Seville tale, there are improbable associations, and a wide international criminal network. I knew about the Nigerians, the Chinese and the Russians gangs who operate in South Africa, but here are some new players.
Kgalema Motlanthe (Vice President)
speaking at the rally in Masi, May 2011
Our local African township, Masiphumelele (Masi), 7 km away from Fish Hoek, suffered a disastrous fire earlier in May, when 1500 houses (shacks) were destroyed and 5000 people were made homeless. Masi is hopelessly overcrowded, many of the shacks having been built illegally and in close proximity to their neighbours, the result being that it is easy for a fire to spread rapidly. In addition it is very difficult for the fire trucks to reach the locations where the fires are blazing. On May 17 Donald invited me to accompany him to Masi to hear Kgalema Motlanthe, the Vice-President, who was due to address a rally at 4 PM; he eventually arrived at 5:30, but I found it most interesting and worth the wait. Donald and I were the only white people present, apart from a few security officers. The crowd, which eventually numbered about 700, was extremely patient and good humoured; we met with no hostility and much friendliness from the men , women and children . The Vice President arrived and was helped to the back of a lorry, from where he addressed the crowd for 10 minutes. He spoke in isiXhosa, which I could not understand, but it seemed to free of anger and rant. Mr. Motlanthe is one of the most impressive of the ANC leaders.
with some young ladies in Masi
We are much concerned about the Protection of Information Bill which would make it an offense for a journalist to uncover corruption through information which came from state documents, many of which are to be declared secret ” in the interest of national security”. A journalist found guilty could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. This is a daunting problem but a Constitutional Court challenge is certain (so far, the Constitutional Court has remained free of political interference).
Incident in the lift
Recently I was in a lift in Cavendish Square (one of our shopping malls) when a young Muslim woman entered, pushing a large shopping trolley – despite a notice telling customers with trolleys to use the store lift. The newcomer wore sunglasses, was elegantly dressed ,speaking into a mobile phone, and she was arrogant. She got out at the next floor, then three white ladies commented:
#1: Typical of those people
#2: They have no regard for rules
#3: They think that they can do what they like
Now the point of this story is that on at least half a dozen other occasions , when I have been in that same lift, a white woman with a trolley has entered, with no comment. Obviously there are still many unreconstructed whites in our lovely land. Despite my various misgivings and anxieties, I prefe
r living here to any other country, and I am very happy to be here.
To celebrate my birthday (88) on May 23 I flew to Durban to join my nephew and his family. I was able to use public transport catching a train, (Rand 10) from Sunny Cove, a few minutes from my front door, to Cape Town station; then a five minute walk to catch the new MiCiti bus (Rand 50) Both journeys were quite safe and comfortable, costing me 60 rand instead of 300 rand for a taxi. Cape Town airport and Oliver Tambo airport in Johannesburg were renovated for the 2010 World Cup,while Durban has the new King Shaka International airport( just north of Umhlanga); all three airports now meet (or better) international standards, a good legacy from the World Cup. I picked up a rental car at King Shaka, and, as I was early, I took a short detour to Umdloti, where I had a Cappuccino, watching the para-surfers speeding over the ocean, with several container ships behind them. I had last been at Umdloti about 75 years ago, when it was almost a two hour journey from Durban – now it is less than half an hour.
Para surfer, Durban
My next stop was at the Durban Country Club where Enid Bates’ niece, Diane Scott, had invited me to lunch. Di, a geographer, had recently returned from Ethiopia, where she had been supervising eight PhD graduate students in geography. Di told me that the Government of Ethiopia had a contract with UNISA to train up to 1000 PhD students in all fields. I was delighted to find another impressive example of South Africa making useful connections with the rest of the continent. Waiting for Di, I remembered coming here to have lunch with my dad and later with his older sister, Auntie Lill; Bernard and I last had lunch at DCC with Lill when she was nearly 95, as bright as ever. The Club still has a colonial atmosphere and remains popular, partly because of the first-class golf course, and bowling greens. After lunch I drove across the Umgeni River, which was in flood, and I remembered how as boys we were cautious when this happened because it was supposed to attract the sharks: even in the 1930s there were occasional shark attacks; Sonny Thomson, a school mate, was attacked and lost an arm. During my stay in KwaZulu/Natal, a fatal shark attack was reported from St.Lucia, in the north.
I managed to reach Garry without losing my way seriously – I have a poor sense of direction. My brother Paul’s four children are very close and as a matter of course we telephoned Garry's sister Robin in Florida and his sister Judy in London. Garry told me that he had recently seen Julia Painting who, as a young girl of 15, was surfing at Margate (south coast of Natal) with Paul and his family. When Julia was attacked by a shark, Paul managed to beat off the shark, saving Julia – but she too lost an arm.
I now append an itinerary of my forthcoming trip to Britain and Western Europe:
DAVID BROKENSHA - ITINERARY 2011
June 6 Depart Cape Town, British Airways “Premium Economy”.
7 Arrive London Heathrow, stay with Jean la Fontaine, also a retired social anthropologist, in Camberwell, South London.
8 Eurostar to Brussels, and train to Luxembourg, to stay with Cees Post, who was a Dutch exchange post-graduate student at UCSB in 1970s.
10 Cees and Josette, his wife, will drive me to Waldmohr (near Saarbrucken) to stay with my great-nephew, Choogs (aka Chace) Morris and his wife Cia and their baby son Noah. Choogs is the youngest son of my Florida niece Robin, and Cia is in the US Air Force. Choogs is studying accountancy, with a US university, long distance.
13 Train to Frankfurt, to stay (my third visit) with Agnes Klingshirn, whom I first met in Ghana 1962.
17 Train to Paris, then on to Toulouse, from where John Gretton (also Ghana 1962) will drive me to his home in the hamlet of Lafage, near Mirepoix in the Midi-Pyrenees. I visited John in 2009, not having seen each other for 45 years. Sandy Robertson and Francesca Bray, colleagues from UCSB, will join us for dinner on the first night, they happily happening to be in the vicinity.
21 Train to Lyon, to see Anthony Shawe, brother of Anne-Marie Shawe .
22 Train to Paris, to stay with Mary Dyson and Jean Bouton. I met Mary in Nairobi in 1980, when she was with the World Bank and I was on a consultancy.
24 Train to Brussels , Eurostar to London, one night at Jean’s in Camberwell. My Scottish step-great-nephew, Jody Sinclair (who spent a few jolly days with me a month or so ago), will take Jean and me to dinner that evening.
25 Train to Stockport, to stay at Bramhall with Paul and Pat Baxter, whom I first met at Cambridge in 1948.
27 Train to Inverness, and on to Achnasheen, where I will be met by Paul and Sue Brokensha. Paul, an email pal whom I have not yet met, is , he tells me, “a third cousin, twice removed”. We will all spend the night at a B & B at Kinlochewe, near the Torridon Mountains.
28 Train to Dingwall, and on to Thurso, to see my niece Deirdre Blackwood, my sister-in-law Margaret Thurso, and their families. Since my first visit in 1945 (after our release from POW camps) I have often visited Caithness, a special part of the world for me.
July 1 Train to Perth, to see two of Deirdre’s children and their families: my great-niece Emma and her husband Tomo, and their new baby son Jake; and my great-nephew Philip and Inez . (When Philip was 14, he and his brother Steven spent three weeks in Kenya with Bernard and me).
2 Train to Bramhall for another stay with Paul and Pat Baxter; this will give me a chance to meet my godson Adam (their son) and two grand-sons and their families.
4 Train to London, spend two nights with Jean in Camberwell.
5 Dinner with Seymour and Claire Bachmuth at Amici, our favourite Kennington restaurant. S & C own a Kennington flat, which they have kindly let me borrow (for the fourth time) for three weeks, while they are in Santa Barbara. Seymour also taught at UCSB, we met when we used to run on the beach at midday.
6 until July 27, in S & C’s flat.
During this time I will be meeting several friends in London, also a few who live not far from London: generally I prefer to go for the day (I have a First Class BritRail pass) so I can sleep in my own bed. I will also take in a few concerts ( friends have booked one Prom for me), art exhibitions, plays.
27 Flight back to Cape Town.
July 31 to August 8. In or near Durban, for the wedding of another great-nephew, Kyle (Garry’s younger son) to Michelle, in Ballito.
We will combine this with a Family Reunion; I will take some of the party for two days at Umfolozi/Hluhluwe National Park - Basta!
I have told most of you about my discursive tour of those works or art Bernard and I acquired during the past six decades, which is on a website: www.brokiesway.co.za/art