On the far northern shores of our continent, in Tunisia, a remarkable process of dealing with transition is unfolding. The processes connected to the Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia are contributing new ways of thinking about transitional justice and how to directly address the economic crimes that characterise authoritarian regimes.
Marchant in his article, "No Fear in Following the Money - A Tunisian Lesson for South Africa" explains how the Tunisian transitional justice process is attempting to disrupt the corrupt practices and networks that benefited the economic elites in Tunisia prior to the uprisings of the Arab Spring in that country. In Tunisia, state institutions had been captured by a few well-connected people at the expense of the majority.
The case study of Tunisia provides valuable insights for our own country given the way in which the possibilities of our own political transition have been undermined by our failure to secure accountability for the economic crimes of the elite in apartheid South Africa. In post-transition South Africa the pre-existing networks of patronage have been further expanded post-transition with patrimonialism characterising the practices of the ruling party. This has severely truncated possibilities for achieving an authentic transformation that might progressively deliver social and economic justice to the majority of the people in South Africa today.
Discord, dissatisfaction and disillusionment are deepening amongst those marginalised by their deliberate disempowerment, first at the hands of apartheid elites and now at the hands of post-apartheid elites. This is because the relationships that perpetuate cronyism and corruption amongst the economic elite were not disrupted in South Africa in the transition. Our own President perpetuates systems of patronage when he asserts that corruption hurts no-one and that it is a crime without victims.
Today, the President's Fund, the only fund established to provide for the needs of those severely harmed in the struggle against apartheid, is under threat of plunder by the politically-connected elite who have designed processes to divert the funds into economic opportunities for themselves to implement infrastructure projects in damaged townships in the name of the victims of apartheid atrocities. In pursuing this plan, those individuals who made the important stands within the country for truth and justice are excluded from the possibilities and opportunities that a comprehensive and inclusive programme of reparations would provide.
Khulumani Support Group stands against the perpetuation of practices of plunder by economic elites in the name of victims of apartheid crimes and calls for widespread support for its campaign of ASIKAQEDI! to return to the commitments that were made to restore the lives of those most damaged in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
The plunder of The President's Fund by government would forcefully demonstrate how the dominant practice of our current political elite has become one of servicing networks of the politically-connected rather than of working for the social and economic inclusion of those most left out in our post-apartheid dispensation. In this context, the lessons from Tunisia are deeply instructive.
For comment, please contact:
Dr Marjorie Jobson, Khulumani National Director, 082 268 0223
Ms Nomarussia Bonase, Khulumani National Organiser, 060 878 9778