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An Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma on the Eve of Elections 2014: 6 May 2014

President Jacob Zuma President Jacob Zuma

Dear Mr President,

Introduction
We write this open letter to you, Honourable Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, on the eve of the 2014 Elections at a point in our history where we share widespread concern with others at the direction in which our country is moving. We anticipate that you will be returned as the President of South Africa and we write now to highlight issues that have not been addressed during your campaign for your re-election or during the last five years of your administration. We expect these concerns to feature as urgent business on the agenda of the administration that will be put into place once the results of the election are announced...

We therefore call on you and your office to follow through on the reasonable recommendations made at our meeting with Dr Cassius Lubisi, Director General in The Presidency on 27 March 2014, as soon as possible after the elections...

Dear Mr President,

Introduction
We write this open letter to you, Honourable Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, on the eve of the 2014 Elections at a point in our history where we share widespread concern with others at the direction in which our country is moving. We anticipate that you will be returned as the President of South Africa and we write now to highlight issues that have not been addressed during your campaign for your re-election or during the last five years of your administration. We expect these concerns to feature as urgent business on the agenda of the administration that will be put into place once the results of the election are announced.

Who we are
We are Khulumani Support Group, a national membership organization of victims and survivors of gross human rights violations perpetrated under apartheid. The 90,000 members of Khulumani Support Group, are people who resisted the violent suppression of the apartheid military and security agencies within our country from the 1950s until the holding of the first elections based on a universal franchise in 1994. We are people who stood up for justice in the small and everyday spaces of our society and suffered egregious harms in the course of making these stands. While thousands of our members are family members of those who were disappeared and were killed, we write this as still living active citizens who are able to speak out on behalf of ourselves and the 'voiceless silent' who were disappeared and killed.

Despite our courageous actions in bringing down the apartheid regime through our mass action and in spite of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which made valiant efforts to open a process for redress and rehabilitation of those most harmed by apartheid atrocities, our situation has not changed. Archbishop Tutu recently stated, "By failing to adopt a common and shared system of remedies for all struggle veterans, the ANC government has tragically compromised the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself. This failure has resulted in the failure to develop 'a fundamentally new, compassionate, fair, just and moral society.'" We are some of those to whom Archbishop Tutu refers. We are asking you to demonstrate a fundamentally fair, just and moral approach in dealing with all struggle veterans who suffered gross human rights violations under apartheid.

We are among the people recognized in the Preamble to the 1996 Constitution which invokes all South Africans to 'honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land'. We are those for whom remedies were promised in return for giving up the right to prosecute perpetrators of apartheid crimes. But since the closure of the TRC for victims of these violations in December 1997, government has made put no policies in place to fulfill the duty and obligation of reparations to ourselves. We are dying in shameful neglect and without dignity.

We are those who have given the 'South African model of truth and reconciliation' a good name, while the model itself has not delivered remedies for ourselves. We know in our own lives how incomplete and how inadequate the process has actually been because we have lived with its limitations every day. We worry about your promotion of a seemingly distorted impression of the TRC to countries moving away from political conflict in other parts of the world.
We, the members of Khulumani Support Group, and our families and members of our communities, are worried about the continuing deafening silence about the matters we have worked so hard to bring to your attention over the past five years.

What we have done
As members of Khulumani Support Group, we have never stopped SPEAKING OUT in spite of the fact that for the past fifteen years, the state and its public officials and the representatives of the people who sit in Parliament have ignored our calls for our needs to be repaired.

As Khulumani members, we have exhausted every avenue available to us during your term of office since 2009 to secure your and your government's attention to the reality that this government has abandoned those who made huge sacrifices to bring it to power. We have taken the following measures to call government back to honouring its duty, obligations and commitments to redress the harms suffered by all liberation activists:

i. We have submitted thousands of appeals to the Presidential Hotline with no outcome or response over the past 5 years of your leadership;

ii. We have delivered countless memorandums to representatives of the Department of Justice at local, provincial and national level to no effect to date;

iii. We have marched to the Office of the President, to the National Office of the Department of Justice, to Parliament and to local authorities countless times to no avail;

iv. We have engaged every structure that was put in place to plan remedies to resolve the continuing trauma of liberation activists who suffer from harms associated with our apartheid past with no solution or outcome;

v. We have travelled to Parliament to make submissions on legislation critical to reversing the situations of the deteriorating life conditions of those who made sacrifices to bring your government to power;

vi. We have prepared and delivered carefully constructed proposals to redress these still unaddressed harms;

vii. We have secured meetings with the responsible authorities at every level of the state including with the Office of the President, the Office of the Chief Justice, the specific Portfolio Committees in Parliament, and the Chapter Nine institutions responsible for protecting and consolidating our democracy to ensure it meets the needs of those rendered most vulnerable; and

viii. We have prepared and delivered documents to the office of the Secretary-General and other officials within the Headquarters of the ruling party, Luthuli House.

We therefore call on you and your office to follow through on the reasonable recommendations made at our meeting with Dr Cassius Lubisi, Director General in The Presidency on 27 March 2014, as soon as possible after the elections.

We are calling on you to:

  • set up a representative Advisory Committee to develop policy which will address the continuing gaps in dealing with the past;
  • ring-fence the President's Fund established in terms of the National Unity and Reconciliation Act, so that it is not used in any way until the necessary policies are constructed and adopted to deliver on the 'Unfinished Business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa'

We know that your government is capable of dealing with this matter given its history of finally turning the tide on the HIV pandemic in South Africa through making anti-retroviral medication available free to everyone who needs it and given your announcement that the processes of land claims is being re-opened to address continuing exclusion from the remedies related to the 1913 Land Act.

We hope that this the coming five years will become years in which our confidence as citizens in our democratic government is finally restored; through evidence that you are listening to the people and working to realize their best interests.

Our struggle continues! A luta continua!

Khulumani Support Group, 6 May 2014

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