Present and Past

Struggling for a Future: The Second Revolution
November 19, 2017

By Njabulo Ndebele

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this important gathering this morning. In the midst of so many other commitments, I decided to prioritise an unexpected invitation to do what I was asked. I was asked to express my understandings of the current state of our country in my capacity as an independent observer. I am neither a Stalwart nor a Veteran of the ANC. Speaking on my own behalf, and carrying no mandate, I can speak with some freedom, albeit with no small measure of trepidation.

I would like to begin from the following premise. The scourge read more

Conservative Saudi clergy lose their grip
October 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative forces have for long succeeded in maintaining a tight hold on women’s freedom of movement in the Kingdom.

When King Salman lifted the ban on women driving recently, it sent a clear signal that those forces were no longer holding sway.

Their conduct over the years earned Saudi Arabia the shameful title of being the only country in the world where women could not be licensed to drive. This is certainly one for the Guinness Book of Records.

Saudi women activists put up a brave fight and campaigned relentlessly against this. They were arrested and lost their jobs and passports read more

Ashley Forbes on Ebrahim Ebrahim’s 80th birthday
July 10, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer

Ashley Forbes was 24 years old when he was imprisoned on Robben Island. He stayed in a single cell in B Section with Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim who was then serving a second period of imprisonment. He had served 15 years from 1964 and then kidnapped from Swaziland in 1986 and sentenced to a further 20 years.

The two men were both ANC operatives. Ashley was part of the newer groups that had launched military offenses against the apartheid state. Ebrahim was a senior Umkhonto we Sizwe leader based in Swaziland.

On the evening of 1 July, 2017 in Johannesburg, Ashley read more

No single ideology provides easy answers to the crisis
June 23, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer

What is happening in our country and in the world? Daily we are bombarded with shocking new revelations of misconduct of some politicians, civil servants and some business people.

Human civility, integrity and right action are flying out of the window. At the very moment when our natural resources are under threat, we read that the US President Donald Trump has withdrawn his country from the Paris Agreement that commits countries to work together to manage climate change.

Poor management of climate change internationally has contributed to us experiencing one of the worst droughts in the Western Cape in a read more

Hold your head up high and make the right choice
May 4, 2017

Speech delivered at UCT graduation on 3 May 2017

Thank you very much programme director. Deputy Vice-Chancellor, SRC President, President of Convocation, academic staff, pass staff, graduating students, parents, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be with you this afternoon. Thank you for allowing me to share this very special moment with you. Today is a celebration. It is a celebration of time well spent: A celebration of the cooperation between you, your parents and family, your teachers and other staff at this university. Never forget all those who have given a helping hand or provided a stepping-stone to ease your read more

April 1, 2017

Dear Helen,

I would like to thank you very much for the thoughtless tweets that you sent out recently. It has helped me draw a line in the sand.

I have always reached out to others across racial and political lines in the belief that we all have to learn to live together. I have tried to find ways to understand those who have oppressed us for so long. When your recent tweets screeched into the public domain, my daughter stopped me in my tracks. “You must not try to understand her,” she said. “It is time that she makes an effort read more

Healing a divided city
March 9, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer*

Healing the historical divisions in Cape Town requires careful thought and sensitive intervention. Apartheid has divided this city into separate racial pockets that remain intact ten years after democracy. Enclaves of non-racialism are emerging but essentially the Group Areas Act which brought havoc to so many has successfully entrenched racially-divided communities.

The city mayor, NomaIndia Mfeketho, is about to launch an initiative that will help bring communities together to grapple with weaving their stories and history into this city’s public spaces.

In partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, the city will this year drive a read more

A personal reflection on the passing of Judge Essa Moosa
March 6, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer

I write this message to comrades and friends who gathered in Athlone today to mourn and celebrate the life of Judge Essa Moosa. I could not attend the memorial service because I am in Bloemfontein but feel the need tonight to share in this moment.

I am so sad to have lost someone with whom I have journeyed for more than 30 years. Since that day in February 1980 when I first met Essa, he has been a constant in my life. I was a volunteer at Grassroots, the community newspaper and he served as a trustee then. I read more

Paying tribute to Essa Moosa, the quiet revolutionary
March 5, 2017

“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”

Chinese Proverb

Judge Essa with Nelson Mandela upon his release

“Our Tree is shedding its beautiful and glossy branches. We need to ensure that it grows beautiful and fresh shoots.” Linda Zama on hearing of the death of Judge Essa Moosa on Sunday 26 February 2017.

By Linda Zama*

Essa was no ordinary lawyer. He was an activist, a jurist and a people’s lawyer. Our roads converged in 1986 after Oliver Reginald Tambo, OR, had challenged all read more

When Julius Malema sets the tone
February 15, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer

The hatred of two men threatens to tear South Africa apart.

The standoff at parliament last week saw too former friends slug it out as enemies bringing one of the country’s most important institutions to a standstill.

President Zuma encouraged Julius Malema to behave in an atrocious way when he was a member of the ANC.  The rude and biting behaviour has turned against him as his former comrade leads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Millions of South Africans settled in front of their television screens on Thursday night to listen to President Zuma’s State of the Nation address. Before they read more

Meeting Mandela In His 90th Year
January 30, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer,

March 20, 2008 – The Weekender

He sat upright, his face glowing in his large high-backed chair like an emperor waiting for his subjects to be brought into his presence. Dressed in a pale-blue traditional silk Madiba shirt and a dark pants, Nelson Mandela stretched out his hand to former Treason Trialist, Ayesha Bibi Dawood asking her to sit next to him. For just a moment it appeared that curtseying or kissing the floor in front of him would have been more appropriate to the occasion were it a century gone by. Remove the context of a modern day read more

Why the fuss about DAVOS?
January 15, 2017

By Zubeida Jaffer

Why is there such a fuss about the importance of the World Economic Forum? The annual meeting at Davos will only ever make a difference to our lives if the rules of economic engagement are changed. And there was no substantial talk of that in 2017.

Allow me to explain. Those who gathered at Davos represent one percent of the world’s business leaders who essentially determine the rules of doing business. Government delegations attend to provide assurances that these rules apply to their legal systems and in the hope that some benefits will come their way.

These first world business read more

Hungry Students: A Public Health Crisis
November 27, 2016

Only 15% of our students make it all the way to graduation day. Part of the reason is that most of them are just too hungry to learn.

By Linda Fekisi & Zubeida Jaffer

When Samantha gets up at dawn to start the journey from her home in the shadow of the Lesotho mountains she is hungry. By the time she sits down to her first lecture the emptiness inside her is growling for attention. In the afternoon when a Professor rambles on about environmental management, her mind wanders to ways of avoiding the student centre where everyone’s eating.

She dreads the 60 read more

Stop the Palestinian Occupation
October 31, 2016

By Zubeida Jaffer

The crisis in the Gaza has its roots in the events of the two world wars. At the end of the First World War, Lord Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary, drafted a declaration that recognized the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. At the time, ninety percent of the people of Palestine were non-Jews. British liberal public opinion believed that Jews had suffered historical injustices, that the West was to blame, and that therefore, the West had a responsibility to enable a Jewish homeland. Zionist activists helped him draft the declaration that was put before the read more

It’s all about food sovereignity, not food security, stupid
September 7, 2016

By Zubeida Jaffer

Activists from around the country are gearing up for a national dialogue on the right to food in November. They plan to kick start a movement for food sovereignty in South Africa.

The African Centre for BioSafety in collaboration with the Foundation for Human Rights will host the dialogue on 29 and 30 November in Johannesburg.

If close to sixty percent of UFS students are hungry (see survey and story on this site), what will this gathering mean for the university’s efforts to design a programme to deal with this challenge?

Sustainability activist Nirmala Nair has urged the university to help read more

Things can fall apart
September 7, 2016

by Zubeida Jaffer*

A plan in the making has finally come together. When President Zuma addressed the nation, he brought together the different elements of work of his economic ministers. Last year's SONA spoke about the government's commitment to job creation. This year's SONA has put flesh on the goal,spelling out a detailed vision of how that goal will be acheived.

Having recently spent some time as a communication specialist with the Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, I have been privy to developments within the economic cluster and  have listened to SONA with a far greater insight read more

Rudyard Kipling, in Just So Stories (1902)
September 7, 2016

My first encounter with 5 W’s and an H was when I was a student at Rhodes University in 1978. By then some of my classmates were familiar with the problem solving method because they were taught this in High School English.

I don’t think there can be any journalist today who is not familiar with the “six honest serving-men.”

In the seventies we were encouraged to answer as many of these six questions in our introductory paragraph. Today, journalists are given more latitude when writing the hard news story and are allowed to answer the questions in the body of the read more

MK Commissars stand similar to one taken 47 years ago led by Hani
September 7, 2016

By Shepi Mati and Zubeida Jaffer

The last time MK  Commissars took a strong stand in pointing out the enormous discontent in the ranks of the ANC was in the late sixties. This initiative led to the now famous Morogoro Conference in 1969 which redefined the way forward for the organisation. A new NEC was elected geared to do a clearly defined job and ANC President Oliver Tambo offered to resign which the organisation declined. Leading this initiative at the time was a young Chris Hani.

Perhaps it is the memory of this that has triggered former Senior MK commanders and commissars read more

Mbeki says Biko is a Xhosa prophet
September 7, 2016

By Zubeida Jaffer*

Steve Biko is a Xhosa prophet. Author and commentator, Moeletsi Mbeki made this extraordinary statement at the Franschoek Literary Festival this past weekend. His presentation was peppered with little quips and at first I thought this was just another. Nothing however confirmed this interpretation.

Mbeki shared a platform with well-known Economics Professor Francis Wilson. The title of their discussion was “Thinkers: Fanon, Biko and Beyond.”

Steve Biko must be turning in his grave. Perhaps Mbeki must be forgiven since he was in exile during the years when we lived through the tumultuous events shaped by the Black Consciousness Movement. However, any astute observer of history as read more

April 16, 2015

By Zubeida Jaffer

Jan Van Riebeeck arrived in South Africa in 1652. Who of my generation does not know this? It was drilled into all our minds at primary school. And even if we were not lucky enough to go to school, the mythology certainly did not pass us by. The version of history taught to us started with him. In fact if the old history books were to be believed, this was when the history of our country started. Who did he find at the Cape? The great leader Autshumato and his people today referred to as the KhoiSan. According to read more

In Judgement of Ebrahim Ebrahim
November 23, 2014

By Zubeida Jaffer

Rudolf Mastenbroek seeks to discredit the tortured and not write about the torturers and askaris that journalist and author, Jacob Dlamini writes about so sensitively in his latest book Askari.

In a Sunday Times article (Nov 16) entitled “How do you tell a man that his courage has run out?” he denigrates the guest speaker at the launch, Ebrahim Ebrahim. It’s indeed very strange that a writer who says his grandfather emigrated from Holland in 1952 after being ostracized as a suspected Nazi sympathizer stands in judgement of a man who has fearlessly fought for the freedom of all read more

The Funeral of Ayesha Dawood
October 24, 2014

Ayesha Dawood rose to prominence as a struggle activist in Worcester, Western Cape, and was one of the leaders charged in the 1956 Treason Trial. She passed away on the 28 May 2014.

These are the photos of the funeral that took place at Aesha Dawood's residence in Worcester. Find out more information about Aesha Dawood, click here

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The president holds the key
October 7, 2014

By Zubeida Jaffer*

Lets not defend the indefensible. President Zuma has led his party and the country into a quagmire. Last weekend’s story in the Sunday Times has further added to the drift, leaving many of us hanging our heads in confusion and disappointment.

Phylicia Oppelt’s team has sifted through 3369 pages of court documents and added further detail to the way in which the arms company Thale and Jacob Zuma and his team conducted their business relationship. The transcripts are of testimony given under oath at confidential arbitration hearings held earlier this year in a fee dispute between Sooklal and Thales. Confirming earlier read more

November 8, 2013

By Zubeida Jaffer

Let anyone who is without sin, throw the first stone (The Bible, 8: 7)

The Mandela family has been at the receiving end of publicity as the head of their family lies desperately ill in hospital.

It could be said they have brought all this controversy onto themselves. Their undignified behaviour has been painful to observe. Many of us know that all families have dramas to a lesser or greater extent. All families do not endure having their dramas splashed on the front pages of our newspapers.

In this world of media hype, we could argue that this goes with the read more

June 7, 2013

By Zubeida Jaffer

Star editor, Makhudu Sefara opportunely broke a dignified silence today.

This was a tense two weeks for journalism. His voice articulates the levels of annoyance circulating amongst media professionals. If he had not spoken today, many were at risk of remaining “sitting ducks.”

I first became aware of the unfolding drama when a letter from SANEF signed by Nic Dawes dropped into my inbox last week. The SANEF letter was an appeal to the Competitions Commission to ensure that the new owners of Independent Newspaper disclose information about their business operations so that employers could get a better grip on read more

Some thoughts before budget day
April 21, 2012

Zubeida Jaffer

European debt woes risk evolving into a full-blown financial and economic crisis. When the United States sneezed in 2008, we were not fully inoculated and lost over a million jobs..

Europe is coughing but so far they have contained their sneezing. If they do start sneezing, will we catch a light cold or full blown flu that will knock us out and find us with having to face a hard road to recovery? We cannot afford a lengthy period in hospital, where we use our resources on recovery and not growth.

It is against this international backdrop - we are intimately read more

January 15, 2011

Today is the 15th of January 2011. I am sitting at the door of my room facing the magic tree. The garden in front of me is my inspiration. My mother planted this tree many years ago easily more than 30 years ago. Its a space in which I feel very safe and comfortable. It is as if I am in a little cocoon connected to God and ready to do his bidding. I have decided that this year I must let go of major goals and doing what pushes me and drives me. I must instead give over read more

What was the recipe of the election’s success?
April 27, 2009

By Zubeida Jaffer

Life is a series of special moments. Last week’s election was one of those prolonged special moments strengthening our belief in the possibility of creating a country and citizenry at peace with itself.  It is through these moments that we garner the determination to persevere and reach our goal of a non-racial, non-sexist society where people work and live with dignity.

We have a long way to go to achieve this but nothing is impossible. What was the recipe of last week’s success? What were the basic ingredients that propelled us to new heights?

Over 15 years, the IEC has developed read more

Zille does ANC a favour
March 9, 2009

By Zubeida Jaffer

9 March 2009

DA party leader, Ms Helen Zille, made an extraordinary statement at UCT this week that has bruised hearts here in Cape Town.

She told students that people erroneously believe that the ANC paid them social grants. She went on to explain that it was not the ANC that paid these grants but taxpayers and a significant number of taxpayers were DA supporters. It therefore could be said that more than half the grants are paid by DA supporters.

Upon enquiry, she explained her statements to me as follows in summary: There are almost 12-million social grants, and read more

Will COPE help bring real change?
January 23, 2009

In the Cape Times, Star and

23 January 2009

By Zubeida Jaffer*

Outside the city of Cape Town, in a northern suburbs home, COPE party leader, Mosiuoa Lekota, sips a glass of cold apple juice. A small boy, with large innocent eyes, toddles into the lounge and he takes him onto his knee as he speaks. There is no sign of the anger, agitation and frustration he displayed a few weeks ago when he left the ANC. The child too is still and quiet sensing the calm.

The past weeks of contact with South Africans of all walks of life have energised Lekota. "We read more

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