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SANDF members on protest
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
12 September 2019, 5:27 PM

On 9 September 1994, members of the South African army protested for the first time in history.

Most of them were disgruntled former ANC guerrillas.

They walked from the Walmansthal military base to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The move came just five months after the official integration process of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK),  Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) as well as the former homeland armed forces of the former Transkei, Boputhatswana, Venda and the Ciskei began.

The armies were all absorbed into the South African Defence Force (SADF) to create the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

While the soldiers didn’t reveal their reason for this, it was initially suspected that the protest had to do with services rendered outside the country during the armed struggle against apartheid.

Issues of equal rights and pay also cropped up.

Then President Nelson Mandela nonetheless managed to diffuse the situation.

He addressed the soldiers, assuring them that their concerns would be addressed.

Two other protests in Durban and Cape Town followed in 1995.

The majority of the protesters also returned to their bases after an address by Mandela. Those who didn’t were either discharged or taken to the military court, known as the court martial.

Watch report on the soldiers’ long walk to the Union Buildings:

Teething problems

The 9 September 1994 protest had come amid simmering tensions on camp.

In August, APLA cadres had expressed dissatisfaction with the SADF’s dominance in the country’s new army.

The soldiers also complained about the integration system being slow and the demotion of some of their leaders.

Former MK and APLA soldiers received lower salaries and ranks compared to their white counterparts from the former SADF due to their training and competence.

Qualifications were needed for them to qualify for leadership ranks and most of the liberation movement soldiers didn’t have matric as some had skipped the country in their youth escaping the brutality of the apartheid government, which constantly hunted down, harassed, tortured and brutally killed activists.

In addition, former non-statutory soldiers initially didn’t have uniforms and were not provided with pensions as had previously been promised.

Watch APLA soldiers expressing their concerns:

SANDF leaders felt the soldiers had had high expectations and needed time to adjust to their new life.

“The troops are at the moment receiving daily allowance not salaries. They are also comparing two different forces and they don’t understand the process,” said former SANDF Commander Major-General Wiliam Nkonyeni.

In April 1995, the military began a demobilisation process, allowing former MK and APLA fighters who did not want to be in the army or couldn’t serve due to physical challenges to stand down voluntarily.

Parliament also passed the Demobilisation Act the following year, which extended the demobilisation to older SANDF members who either couldn’t continue serving due to age or health reasons.



Mam'Eldah Radebe
Call for South Africans to be the change they want to see
10 September 2019, 7:18 PM


The ability to influence people’s thinking and behaviour has the power to change history.

Revolutionaries and freedom fighters around the world are proof to this.

71-year-old Mam’Eldah Radebe is also living that truth. She has embraced democracy and all the opportunities it’s brought for her.

In addition to her nursing qualifications, the go-getter boasts an Administration degree and an MBA, which she obtained a year after South Africa’s 1994 landmark elections.

Raised by her grandmother in rural Eastern Cape, Radebe didn’t allow her background nor the fear of the unknown limit her. The 71-year-old was among the first South African nurses to work abroad.

She’s now based in Johannesburg but has work experience in Saudi Arabia and the UK.

Mam’Radebe influenced labour laws in Saudi Arabia, which led to the process known as Saudirization.

And she continues inspiring young people in her life and society to be the change they want to see.


Watch her story below:

This week in 1994: Democracy 25
4 September 2019, 6:09 PM


We focus on the lifting of the State of Emergency in KwaZulu-Natal. The martial law was imposed on the province on 31 March 1994 following heightened political violence, and was only lifted on 7 September 1994.

The move had been precedented by the killing of five ANC members who had gone to a peace meeting in a hostel in KwaMashu. They were kidnapped at the hostel with two of their comrades who survived the attack.

Four IFP leaders were convicted for the crime.

Watch SAP member Nelson Malinga’s response to the onslaught:

Bloody road to democracy

Then South African President FW De Klerk invoked the State of Emergency at the behest of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC), a multiparty body that was established to facilitate the transition to democracy.

The months of March and April 1994 are recorded to have been the most violent in the history of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, which began in the 1980s.

According to the Human Rights Committee of South Africa in Natal, 429 people died in the province during the last two weeks of March and first two weeks of April.

One incident was the ambush of 15 ANC youth members, 12 of them under the age of 18, in February.

Watch Mandela addressing the media on the KZN violence:

Jostle for control

The violence was a failed bid by the IFP to retain control of the KwaZulu-Natal government and resist efforts by the ANC and its allies to establish support within the homeland.

It is said to have been exacerbated by the South African Police’s (SAP) bias.

The apartheid government also supplied IFP members with weapons.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, probing the unrest in KZN, the police force responded promptly to calls for help in Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) strongholds, while it would cite poor roads and a lack of streetlights for not pitching up whenever African National Congress (ANC) or United Democratic Front (UDF) communities called for assistance.

Police are also reported to have turned a blind eye to IFP members who violated the martial law by publicly brandishing traditional weapons and firearms.

Soldiers also did not conduct weapon searches at locations known to be used as attack bases nor did they conduct preventative arrests of people known to be inclined to kill or organise political hits.

The intent is said to have been to destabilise black communities at national level.

While that didn’t materialise – the conflict did spill over to Ekurhuleni townships of Katlehong and Thokoza, where at least 3 000 people are believed to have been killed between 1990 and 1994.

Many others remain unaccounted for.

Watch the IFP’s Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s reaction to the State of Emergency:

Volatile region 

Between 1987 and 1990 alone, more than 3 000 people were allegedly killed in the KwaZulu-Natal killing fields.

The conflict intensified during the four years of negotiations for a transition to democratic rule.

It almost descended into an all-out civil war in the last months before South Africa’s historic elections in April 1994, significantly disrupting the process.

However, the IFP’s decision to take part in the poll after last-minute negotiations reduced the violence dramatically. The polls proceeded without incident and the party won the provincial leadership contest.

The State of Emergency was lifted on 7 September 1994.

More than 10 000 people in total were killed in the bloodshed and thousands others displaced.

While the violence continued at a reduced level since April 1994, the province remains a highly contested region and quite volatile.

financial inclusivity
Calls for more effort to ensure sustainable financial inclusion
3 September 2019, 7:56 PM


Being a minimum wage earner often means that after feeding one’s family and deducting travel money, there isn’t much left for other needs. Let alone saving for ones’ future…

Every day – every cent is accounted for.

During apartheid, there was no access to skills development, which would have meant a better earning opportunity. This resulted in people often staying in mundane, low-paying jobs without a vision to grow. This continued over generations and it’s resulted in an ongoing debate about financial inclusivity and exclusivity.

The initial concept of financial inclusion referred to the delivery of financial services to low income sectors of society at an affordable cost. The concept seems to be broadened to include the use and access to a full suite of quality financial services, at affordable prices, in a convenient manner.

The World Bank estimates there are approximately two billion adults excluded from the financial sector worldwide.

South Africa is doing well on that front.

At least 90% of South Africans have access to financial products, whether through a bank account or insurance and funeral policies.

Electronic grant payments and the usage of pre-paid cards are cited as some factors that have led to the financial inclusion gains.

Despite this, however, global management company, the Boston Consulting Group, believes policy-makers need to come up with ways to ensure sustainable financial inclusion in the country.

“Many South Africans devote a large and unsustainable share of their disposable income to these life, funeral, and burial polices. In interviews, we discovered that many of these policies would make economic sense only if there were a death in the household every 2.5 years. Other policies were better deals, but rarely were consumers better off having funeral and burial coverage instead of saving their money,” reads the company’s 2017 report on the matter.

The firm says the tools used, currently, to measure inclusion are either too simple or too academic.

“Family prosperity, GDP growth, and reduction of poverty rates are closely linked to financial inclusion, which should feature prominently in building a more promising future for South Africa.”

Watch insert below on other factors perpetuating financial exclusion in SA:

Rwandans fleeing the genocide in 1994
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
29 August 2019, 1:00 PM

This week we focus on the apartheid government’s weapons scandal.

On August 21, 1994, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu expressed disgust over apartheid South Africa’s selling of arms to Rwanda and the Sudan.

Information on the regime’s sale of arms to countries with serious human rights problems, where an influx of weaponry could significantly worsen ongoing abuses, emerged in 1994 in a Human Rights Watch report.

“It is appalling that it is South Africa’s arms which had been used in Rwanda and the Sudan,” said Tutu.

The human rights activist’s remarks came amid gross human rights violations in Sudan, which were still underway five years after a military coup overthrew an elected civilian government.

Rwanda was on the other hand still reeling from a genocide, which killed almost a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in just 100 days.

Weeks after the attacks began, Tutu appealed to the world during a speech at the United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva, Switzerland, for the world not to turn a blind eye to the harrowing developments in Kigali.

Listen to his plea below:

The Rwandan tragedy happened at the same time with South Africa’s transition into democracy.

The apartheid government, through its arms company Armscor, had sold infantry weapons worth millions of rand to the Rwandan government between 1980 and March 1992.

This was despite the knowledge that the weapons were to be used in a genocide that claimed over 800 000 lives between April 7 and July 1994.

Thousands others were raped and tortured. Most of the victims were Tutsis, but Hutus opposed to the genocide also came under attack.

While the ethnic cleansing had long been planned, the shooting down of a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, who was a Hutu, sparked the violence.

Those behind the rocket attack were never found.

Watch special report on Rwanda below:

It later transpired that the arms industry continued selling weapons and re-arming the defeated Hutu forces in June 1994.

The move was in violation of a May 1994 United Nations embargo and was done behind democratic government’s back.

A leaked unpublished United Nations report fingered former President PW Botha’s last private secretary Willem Ehlers as having been a broker in the deal.

Ehlers however claimed to have been duped into believing the consignment was for the Zairean armed forces.

A Human Rights Watch report also revealed that several planes with arms had flown from South Africa to Zaire in 1995.

While government arms wing, Armscor, denied any involvement – it has hinted to a possibility of the country’s arms ending up in Rwanda. According to the company, the last officially-sanctioned South African arms shipments were in February 1993 while the Hutu government was still in power.

In a bid to breakaway from the apartheid regime’s dark military past, the democratic government in 1997 announced an open weapons trading policy, which would be in line with the country’s foreign policy steeped in respect for human rights, internationalism and adherence to international conventions on nuclear and conventional weapons.

Watch government’s announcement of a new weapons trading policy:

The scandal didn’t dent relations between Mandela’s government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) government.

However, relations over the years have been shaky with Kigali expressing concern over South Africa’s welcoming of dissidents accused of terrorist attacks in Rwanda.

The spat escalated in 2014 when Pretoria expelled three Rwandan diplomats.

Rwanda hit back and expelled six South African diplomats.

Pretoria had been upset over the killing of former Rwandan head of intelligence in a Sandton hotel, Patrick Karegeya, in December 2013.

He was living in exile in Johannesburg at the time of the incident.

Karegeya’s death had been preceded by a 2010 assassination bid on Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Nyamwasa is a former army general and Kagame’s former top aide.

There have been three attempts on his life so far.

Four men were sentenced to eight years in jail for the 2010 attempt on him. Magistrate Stanley Mkhari found three Tanzanians and one Rwandan guilty of a “politically motivated” plot to take out General Nyamwasa. They will be repatriated back to their home countries after serving their sentence.

Diplomatic headache

Nyamwasa and Karegeya were sentenced in absentia in 2011 for threatening state security, among other charges.

They are founder members of the Rwandan National Congress, a political party said to be the biggest threat to Kagame’s rule.

Rwanda wants South Africa to bring the former general home to serve his 24-year-jail term.

Pretoria has, however, rejected the request.

It has largely ignored an appeal from Spain for the same, saying it is considering the motion.

Spain wants Nyamwasa prosecuted for alleged war crimes linked to the 1994 genocide.

Spain is one of a few countries that claim universal jurisdiction.

That’s the right to try the worst crimes, no matter where in the world they occur and even if they don’t involve their own nationals in any way.

While some of Nyamwasa’s alleged victims were Spanish, most were either Rwandan or Congolose.

.Watch discussion on why he fled Rwanda:

Attack on Sisulu

Cracks again appeared in 2018 after Rwandan Deputy Foreign Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe called then International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu a prostitute.

Nduhungirehe was seeing red after Sisulu met with Nyamwasa and revealed he’d expressed willingness hold talks with the Rwandan government.

While no apology or sanction was meted against the Deputy Minister, both countries resolved to normalise relations.

A task team was set up in December 2018 to help achieve this feat.

Watch related video:

The former army general fell out with Kagame after he accused the President of having ordered the attack on Habyarimana’s plane, which ignited the 1994 genocide.

Kagame denies the claim.

Watch related video below:








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