Craig is writing a new “work” (or rather “works”) and as he writes chapters is sharing extracts on his WordPress blog.
Tags: South Africa, Reporter, reporter who became a politician, politician, Helen Zille, Steve Biko, Craig Lock
“THE NEWSPAPER REPORTER AUTHOR”
Well, I suppose it was perfectly natural that Peter Theron would become a reporter. His father Dennis, had worked for the Cape Argus as sports editor and after his schooling at Wynberg Boy’s High was completed (a first-class matric, by the way), Peter joined the Cape Times as a cub reporter, covering sport and court proceedings. Peter loved writing about his sport and was a hard worker, being employed by that same newspaper in his final two years of schooling. The pocket money as a junior certainly helped. Peter had always enjoyed his writing at Wynberg Boys High School, doing well in his compositions and in both official languages – English, as well as Afrikaans.
I enjoyed my work at The Cape Times, where I worked for many years. I am not one of those people, who has great ambition; so I was quite happy to remain as a mere reporter. A rather humble occupation! Well then, who wants all those responsibilities of being an editor? All the stress with those daily hassles running a newspaper. Definitely not me!
It must have been particularly hard in the ‘bad old days’ of apartheid, when all news was so strictly censored. Editors had to take major policy decisions every day about what could and what could not be committed to newsprint. The pages and pages of rules. Those ‘poor guys’, like Donald Woods of the Daily Despatch in East London!
Oh well, life as a reporter is certainly interesting…In my work since those great days at the end of April in 1994, I did a lot of travelling around the country to file my reports. There were some special projects (no, not those kind!). During the course of my work, I heard so many fascinating stories about our new country…and I met so many interesting people.
My friends always said that I should one day leave the paper and write a book about my experiences and my interviews with them. I thought about it for a long time, then decided it was a good idea…though I am rather nervous of going ahead with it. It is just too insecure and quite ‘scary’ writing a book and putting all those words into print. Also I didn’t quite know how I’d feel recalling all those memories in those tense days in our history.
Anyway, I have taken a lot of what I wrote for my paper from my personal scrapbook – of which I am so proud. But I hope my editor doesn’t get too angry at what I have done!
“Ja nee”, those were such interesting times in the years immediately after that first election: meeting all those ordinary New South Africans, nearly all filled with such hope for the future of our beautiful country. But many were not so ordinary, extra-ordinary, wonderful people, in fact. Just like our country!
I’ll tell you about some of them…so you can judge for yourself.
So now it’s time for me to start my ‘little’ story about some heroes, some well-known, but many unknown…”
THE LONG, DRY AND DUSTY ROAD UP AHEAD
This complex melting pot of people, the vibrant and colourful land that is South Africa is a melting pot of diverse population groups, a mix of European and African cultures, “a soup”, where the first and third worlds mingle – often violently. Because we are now “one nation” of many diverse peoples, yet ALL South Africans. In truth, a world in one nation; but even more so, “the true rainbow nation” of the world… that can “light a torch of reconciliation and peace for the entire world
CHAPTER ONE: THE YOUNG NEWSPAPER REPORTER WHO BECAME A POLITICIAN
Profile: Helen Zille
15th April 2009
Sourced from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7998328.stm
Helen Zille is the mayor* of Cape Town and leader of the Democratic Alliance.
* now former mayor
Her party seems poised to perform well in upcoming elections in the Western Cape, where she is a candidate for premier in provincial elections.
Long before pursuing a career in politics, Ms Zille was a journalist with the liberal Rand Daily Mail newspaper.
Her greatest scoop as a political reporter came in 1977 when she uncovered how black consciousness activist Steve Biko had been tortured to death while in police custody.
In doing so, she disproved the official version that he died of natural causes and established her credentials as an anti-apartheid critic.
The 58-year-old’s first flirtation with politics came in the 1980s, when she worked with non-governmental organisations and pro-democracy group the Black Sash, a white women’s civil rights movement.
Early political career
This interest in politics was cemented in the mid-1990s when she joined the liberal Democratic Party – later to become the Democratic Alliance, in 2000 – where she was asked to reformulate the party’s education policy and stand as a candidate for the Western Cape legislature.
After being elected to the Cape provincial parliament in 1999, she entered parliament in 2004 and became her party’s spokeswoman on education.
A fluent speaker of Xhosa, she cultivated the DA’s membership in the black townships around Cape Town and was a finalist for South African Woman of the Year in 2003.
In March 2006, Ms Zille was elected mayor of Cape Town, and resigned from parliament.
Her position as mayor was fiercely contested by the governing African National Congress (ANC) and elevated her status, making her one of the Democratic Alliance’s most high-profile figures.
In May 2007 the Johannesburg-born politician was elected party leader.
World Mayor award
The married mother-of-two is widely regarded as having managed to balance her dual role as mayor of the country’s legislative capital and as Democratic Alliance leader with aplomb.
Her tenure at city hall in Cape Town, the only major city in the country not governed by the ANC, has been seen as a success, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that the city’s image has improved.
In 2008 Ms Zille was bestowed with the World Mayor award by City Mayors, an international think-tank.
This accolade has meant that Cape Town has been seen as a testing ground for the Democratic Alliance’s policies on issues such as urban renewal, crime, drugs and corruption.
In the past, Ms Zille has said she does not believe she will ever be president of South Africa not least, she feels, because she is white.
But she has stated a belief that her job is to create a political choice for the people of South Africa who are disaffected by what she describes as the presumption, arrogance and mismanagement of the ANC.
As an opposition leader, Ms Zille has been a vocal critic of the ANC on issues such as judicial independence and its handling of crime.
After corruption charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma were dropped, Ms Zille led her party’s legal challenge against the decision.
She accused prosecutors of bowing to political pressure just two weeks before elections.
“We believe there’s been terrible abuse here. We believe none of the reasons given are justification for withdrawing the case and we are going to stop that abuse,” said Ms Zille, of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop charges.
But Ms Zille is not without her own detractors.
Her dancing and singing while on the campaign trail have prompted ridicule in some circles, forcing her to defend herself.
“Some people tell me ‘Mrs Zille you shouldn’t dance, it’s not your style’,” she revealed on the campaign trail.
“Must I stand stiff and say ‘no thanks, I don’t want to dance?’,” she said, adding that song and dance are part of South African culture.
Sourced from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7998328.stm
Another Biography for Helen Zille
Sourced from http://www.silobreaker.com/biography-for-helen-zille-5_2262263258327023616_4
Leader of the Democratic Alliance
Organisation: Democratic Alliance (South Africa)
Nationality: South Africa
Helen was born in Johannesburg and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Witwatersrand
Prior to entering politics, Helen Zille made a name for herself during the apartheid era as a political journalist, working for the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa’s leading liberal newspaper.
Working there, she emerged as a leading anti-apartheid critic, famously exposing the circumstances behind Steve Biko’s death in police custody in 1977.
Helen Zille, former reporter at the Rand Daily Mail and former mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s Demoratic alliance, was a dedicated reporter, who vigorously investigated and exposed how Biko was actually killed by security police and did not actually die of a hunger strike.
In her early career Helen Zille, former reporter at the Rand Daily Mail and current mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s Democratic alliance, vigorously investigated and exposed how Steve Biko was actually killed by security police and did not die of a hunger strike.
She became involved in various NGOs and organizations, including the Open Society Foundation, the Independent Media Diversity Trust, and the Black Sash.
She joined the former Democratic Party in the mid 1990s, where she was asked to reformulate the party’s education policy and stand as a candidate on its election list for the Western Cape legislature. She also acted as Technical Adviser to the party at CODESA in the early 1990s. Helen was elected to the provincial parliament in the 1999 general election and appointed MEC for education.
She served as MEC under the newly formed Democratic Alliance until 2001, and then as Leader of the Opposition in the Provincial Legislature until she was elected to the National Assembly in 2004.
As a Member of Parliament she served on the Portfolio Committee on Education, and was the Democratic Alliance’s National Spokesperson.
In May 2006, Helen was elected mayor of Cape Town and in 2007 she was elected Leader of the Democratic Alliance.
On 14 October 2008, Helen was awarded the 2008 World Mayor award by City Mayors, an international urban-affairs think tank.
Compilation by Silobreaker
Although Silobreaker has relied on what it regards as reliable sources while compiling the content herein, Silobreaker cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, integrity or quality of such content and no responsibility is accepted by Silobreaker in respect of such content. Readers must determine for themselves what reliance they should place on the compiled content herein
From an article by Hugh Murray in Leadership Magazine, February 2000
The daughter of half-Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, who met later in South Africa, she has always taken life very seriously – a finely-tuned sense of humour notwithstanding. Prominent South African businesswoman, Sheila Boardman recalls that Zille was a year ahead of her at St Mary’s in Johannesburg, and was head day-girl. Says Boardman: “I was certainly aware of her debating and organisational ability. She was always very clear about her goals, and was very direct and open. This was quite unusual for girls at that time. Helen has clarity, direction and – even more important – incredible courage.
“That’s what makes her different. At a time when this country was running on fear, Helen stood out for her fearlessness. As a political reporter and in her work at the University of Cape Town, she was never frightened to say and do what was right. Those things are so rare in politics. I’d love to see her leading the Democratic Party. She would be absolutely brilliant.”
Zille remains true to Boardman’s description. Hardworking to a fault, she has all the unorthodox habits of a driven person – often rising a 3am or some such hour to peruse her e-mail. At the same time she runs her family with precision and care, not forgetting the needs of two gifted sons or her brilliant academic husband. “I have a rock-solid marriage and family, and this gives me the freedom to do what I have to,” she explains.
None of her political rise was planned, it seems. “Everything I have done in my life has developed organically. I’ve never sat and said ‘this is where I want to be in five years time’, and I’ve never had a plan for my life.” Zille says she became aware of the need for planning when she “got into management”.
Her interest in politics most certainly began during her years at the now-defunct but famous Rand Daily Mail, where she had a distinguished career. Her editor at the time, the internationally renowned Allister Sparks, recalls: “She was the star cadet on the Rand Daily Mail.
I have always thought of her as a protégé, and appointed her political reporter and then political correspondent of the RDM as soon as it was appropriate. She performed very well, and was the most meticulously accurate reporter I have known. Helen is an extraordinarily able and committed person.”
Tall, elegant and handsome in a strongly feminine way, the 48-year-old education minister is surprised at the reception she has had since taking office. How did she get there? “Things have interested me. I’ve pursued those that really interested me. I’ve become passionate about issues, and when opportunities have opened up, I’ve used them.”
Education – always important to Zille – reached passion status during her term as chairperson of the governing body of Grove Primary School in Claremont, attended by her children. She took on and defeated the State in a now-famous court case. Then Zille’s 10-point plan to rescue state schools also brought her prominently into the limelight, and to the attention of the Democratic Party.
Having served with distinction as Director of Communications at UCT – a sharp-end job which brought her into close contact with one of her mentors (Mamphela Ramphele, the outgoing vice-chancellor), Zille was well equipped to handle the difficult times. Her representation of the parents of Grove, who were wrestling with the business of change and such matters as the principle of subsidising the education of children from disadvantaged homes, made her a household name, an object of admiration.
“My experiences have made me very devoted to the public schools’ systems. I wanted my children to go to public schools, and be with all kinds of children from all kinds of backgrounds. They started their education just as the schools were beginning to integrate, so it was really a wonderful opportunity. I was also aware that they would eventually be entering a knowledge-based economy, and that proper education was their only real chance. And I wanted that to happen in the public schools system”, Zille elaborates.
She was deeply concerned that the government tended to pay more attention to the needs of the trade unions than to education. It was a time when “right-sizing” was an issue, and it was apparent that many who didn’t deserve their positions were being expediently retained while those who did were given no option but to take a package and move on.
It was a difficult time for Zille – a long-time loyalist from the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), many of whom were devout Marxists and members of the ANC, to which some believe she may have been emotionally inclined at one time. “To oppose the ANC meant that we would be called racist. It was the first time this matter had come up, so I had to deal with it. It put me at the cutting edge of education. I’m committed to change and equity, but we had to find ways of achieving these things. Meanwhile, I was continually seeing the ANC propagating a race-based model of transformation, rather than one based on merit, individual effort and reward.”
As a “liberal democrat” firmly rooted in the principles of just law and due process, and who had expressed her commitment to these values as vice-chair of the End Conscription Campaign and member of the national executive of the Black Sash, amongst many other tasks, Zille’s political credentials were impeccable. Moreover, she had in the early nineties been involved in the investigations into the Third Force and police efforts to “exacerbate and foment violence” in the black townships. It was a “very trying and stressful period.”
“Most of my friends were socialists and committed to the ANC. It always puzzled me that people whose values I shared so deeply could have such a different understanding of what would make a society develop and grow, and what would give us the best chance of creating greater equity.” So convinced was Zille that she had missed something about Marxism that she went back to UCT to study revisionist literature on economics and politics.
“After that, I was completely satisfied that the emperor had no clothes! I also came to understand that being a liberal democrat was not foreign to the needs of oppressed and poor people, but central to [solving these problems]. I believe there was no inconsistency in associating myself with the MDM as a liberal democrat.”
She is, nonetheless, conscious that white liberalism has a somewhat tarnished reputation, for all the wrong reasons. “I think this is because many whites have lived their lives at too much of a distance from the issues they talk about and analyse. I think that for people [who interact with issues] that arise out of their daily interaction with township residents, this problem doesn’t arise. Working together enables one to develop the confidence and trust of people one is working with. Liberalism tends to divorce itself from the real problems of real people. I think there are many people who call themselves liberal who’ve never been into a township, and would probably be scared to.
“There’s a disjuncture between how people live and how they engage with society.”
“The ANC certainly don’t have a monopoly on morality.”
– the words of Helen Zille (in 2000)
Steve Biko’s Legacy Remains Alive After 30 Years
“Although I never met Steve Biko, he profoundly influenced my life, personally and professionally. As a student at Wits, I still recall my confusion when the young and dynamic Biko led black students out of the National Union of South African Students, and announced: “Black man, you are on your own”.
It took a while for me, an activist for non-racialism, to understand his analysis of the need for black solidarity in the psychological struggle against racial oppression. I understood it better when he said: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” That made sense to me. I understood Black Consciousness in that context.”
– Helen Zille
8 September 2007
The African va lue of ‘UBUNTU’, means “I am because we all are.”
We live in a very complex country of great disparities and extremes, especially in wealth and in living standards. A land of great contradictions: a land of sunshine, a world in one country, a land of laughter in this strange and beautiful place. Much of the laughter from the very people, who have suffered the most and felt the most pain in this strange tormented place of ours. Yes, there is that sadness in the eyes of them too. So to put it simply, South Africa is just one happy, sad land.
… and I hope that the lives of ALL citizens of the world will become better in the days ahead.
In that wonderfully moving book, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton (I hear that the new movie is being released in a few months with a gala premiere in New York with Nelson Mandela and Hilary Clinton attending),
the young black priest, Msimango says the following words to the older black priest, Stephen Khumalo, the main character in this “heart-tugging” tale:
“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they turn to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.”
From CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY (1946)
Thank goodness that the fear and hatred of the the old South Africa between the races has not come to pass. Hopefully, it is now ‘finished and klaar’ – in the spirit of reaching out and reconciliation of the New South Africa. But in the midst of the many doomsdayers, who predicted the eruption of the Republic of South Africa in those dark days, the beginning of the end of apartheid, there were some voices of hope. Many of them did not believe that the country would disintegrate into the world’s worst civil war – a terrible racial massacre taking millions of lives. As the great South African industrialist, Sir Harry Oppenheimer optomistically said a number of years ago in those dark old days of repression: “All South Africans have quite exceptional qualities of courage, magniminity and faith for the solutions to the problems of the country”…and as we have seen, he was quite right.
* * *
To get back to that incredibly moving and powerful book, Cry the Beloved Country, I never fail to be moved by the following stirring words from that great Natal writer and “visionary”, Alan Paton. This book, which first brought home to the world the reality of racism in South Africa was very prophetic…and this is the reason why I have repeated the beautiful ending.
“Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihya wakes from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with light the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of the Umzimkulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is a dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.”
From ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton (1948).
We have awoken.
HAMBA KAHLE (GO WELL)