[Marxism] STOP PRESS, there is, after all, Dignity for Walter Rodney: sign petition against Forbes Burnham's SA honour on Saturday

Henning Melber henning.melber at dhf.uu.se
Mon Apr 29 03:55:03 MDT 2013


When it comes to the Avaaz petition, it became known actually only during the course of Saturday afternoon (with some 80 signatories then). I am proud to let you know that a wider circulation among individually addressed persons has in the meantime increased the signatures to almost 120 with more signing - including old (and new) activists from Germany, some of them among those who established the leftist internationalist "Peripherie", which in its no. 2 of September 1980 published three out of six articles (!) in memory and recognition of Walter Rodney:
- Walter Rodney, Kampf um die Volksmacht gegen die Diktatur (ending with a poem by Shaka Rodney as 'A Tribute to my Father')
- Ursula Semin-Panzer, Walter Rodney als Wissenschaftler
- Michaela von Freyhold, Walter Rodney und die Afrika-Spezialisten.
For those interested and able to read German, I could make a scan of the articles.
A luta continua,
Henning

On Apr 29, 2013, at 11:35 AM, Patrick Bond wrote:

> Comrades,
> 
> I was wrong, on Saturday, when writing that Burnham was about to be honoured.
> 
> In a small victory for decency, most of us following the situation here found out at 8:10am today that because of the pressure from a small group of critics who take Walter Rodney's memory seriously, the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo award to Lindon Forbes Burnham was "deferred" (in a decision made last Wednesday that was only officially revealed today - although unbeknownst to me [a social-media luddite], there was lots of FB debate about it on Saturday especially by angry pro-Burnham Guyanese). 
> 
> To move from formal deferral to a full-fledged revoking of the announced award, presumably the National Advisory Council that grants the award will contemplate the evidence in coming weeks, and do the right thing.
> 
> To recap:
> 
> On 22 April the Presidency - http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=15283 - announced:
> The award [Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo] will be bestowed in Gold on Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham (Posthumous): For his dedication to the liberation of his country, Guyana, as well as the African continent. He established diplomatic relations with many African countries and expressed solidarity with the liberation movement and freedom fighters in South Africa. This solidarity with the leaders of the ANC strengthened relations between Guyana and South Africa.
> 
> There followed a great deal of emailing, social media and behind-the-scenes advocacy, a few op-eds, and an Avaaz petition (with fewer than 100 signatories, apparently). Big thanks to all of you concerned enough to raise your voice! (even on the keyboard)
> 
> On 24 April, the decision to defer the Tambo Award to Burnham was made, hush-hush.
> 
> On 25 April the Presidency issued a press statement about the Honours but did not mention the Burnham controversy.
> 
> On 27 April the President's speech at the Awards Ceremony did not mention Burnham: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=15304 (but none of the other recipients were mentioned by name either)
> 
> Today, on 29 April, the Presidency's Director-General, Dr Cassius Lubisi, appeared on Xolani Gwala's popular SAfm show Forum at 8. His main debating partner was Prof Wazir Mohamed from Indiana University, a Guyanese progressive. I was called by Gwala's producer at 8:15am to offer some comments, I guess because of email traffic with my name. In the subsequent 45 minutes:
> * Lubisi made very reasoned points about these awards, and mentioned that next year's are up for nominations from anyone in the public (with a deadline of end July);
> * SACP GS and Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande emailed to Xolani to chide him for 'not doing research' and not knowing that the Tambo Award was deferred (hmmm, I simply cannot find any evidence of an announcement prior to this morning); 
> * Mohamed raised a great deal of questions about Burnham's dictatorial rule and his role as an ally of imperialism;
> * I noted that according to his legacy website (below), Burnham had arranged financial contributions to the liberation movement during the 1980s, as a reason motivating the award (this is implicit in the words 'expressed solidarity' above); 
> * and I made the link to the dictator Suharto's contribution to the ANC and the obvious payoff insofar as Suharto was given the then highest-possible honour in 1997, the Cape of Good Hope award (these awards have been renamed since then), just a few weeks before a democratic revolution forced him from power;
> * Lubisi, a listener who SMSed and one caller (from the Caribbean) were most perturbed by my accusation that SA honours and public policy was up for sale - but really there are just too many obvious examples, including the recent deployment of what were labeled 'mercenaries' from the SANDF to the Central African Republic on behalf of SA mining houses, some of which have revealing connections to the ruling party's Chancellor House; 
> * so I continued to press this point, and indeed asked Lubisi if his committee would consider revoking the award to Suharto; and
> * Lubisi agreed that a case could be formally submitted - and would be considered - to revoke the Suharto award, from anyone in the public... so that'll be one of my research side-lines before the end of July; who would like to help?
> 
> And all further information you would want the SA Presidency to have about Linden Forbes Burnham can be emailed to ... actually, I have no idea. (But send to me and I can at least broadcast to a few obscure list-serves.)
> 
> One weird reflection of the deeply-held sentiments regarding this boo-boo, is that a few minutes ago SABC issued a formal news report, and it goes like this: http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/fb3eab804f6f923db4bcbf1e5d06aea0/-Dr-Lubisi-pleased-with-the-National-Orders-ceremony--20130429  In the written report (below), though it describes Lubisi's input in some detail, there is no mention of deferring the Burnham Award. 
> 
> But if you click the link at the bottom of this URL page, you can hear Lubisi's announcement of Burnham's award-deferral followed by Mohamed's eloquent first input; the first 6 minutes of the hour are there. Indeed, the very existence of this high-profile debate is a very gratifying reflection of SA society's openness when it comes to matters of such symbolism. 
> 
> What an amazing country we live in!
> 
> Struggle on, comrades, here's a small victory to open the door up wide to others...
> Patrick
> 
> ***
> Dr Lubisi pleased with the National Orders ceremony
> 
> Monday 29 April 2013 09:40
> 
> SABC
> 
> 
> Director-General in The Presidency and Chancellor of the National Orders, Dr Cassius Lubisi says the National Orders over the weekend on Freedom Day at the Union Buildings went well. 
> 
> Speaking on SAfm's Forum@ 8, Lubisi  thanked all South Africans and all those who are abroad that nominated the people who eventually were honoured over the weekend.  He says anyone in the public can nominate any person or any organisation for National Orders.
> 
> Lubisi says: “Once the nominations have been received, the National Advisory Council for National Orders sits down and see through the nominations, at the merits and demerits of each candidate. They do their own further research and on the basis of that, they make recommendations to the president. Then the president on the basis of the recommendations of the advisory council then decides who should be honoured.”
> 
> Lubisi says the nominations for 2014 National Orders are now open. 
> 
> “As we are speaking now, we already opened the process for nominations and the nominations will be closed on the 31 of July. We call on South Africans to make their nominations so that their nominations can be considered.”
> 
> President Jacob Zuma on Saturday 27 April 2013, bestow National Orders to outstanding South African citizens and foreign nationals in a ceremony in Pretoria.
> 
> National Orders are the highest awards that a country, through its Head of State, bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals who have made a positive and meaningful contribution to the country's social, economic and         political advancement.
> 
> National Orders are conferred yearly on Freedom Day, April 27. On the day, the following National Orders were bestowed: The Order of Mendi for Bravery, Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Mapungubwe and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.-Edited by Sthembiso Sithole. 
> Click below to listen to the discussion about National Orders.
> 
> 
> On 4/27/2013 12:49 PM, Patrick Bond wrote:
>> ...
>> This sort of act will indeed continue, because it signifies how SA foreign policy is up for sale; the Dalai Lama's inability to get a visa to visit Archbishop Tutu for his 80th birthday party in 2011 was just one high-profile example of s Pretoria rulers being under the donor's thumb, rubbishing the ANC's proud solidaristic history. 
>> 
>> We were first sickened by this realisation when in 1997, the Indonesian dictator Suharto was repaid by Nelson Mandela for funding the ANC: 'Suharto was greeted by Mandela and 16 members of the cabinet. Following an hour-long meeting, Mandela emerged to describe the discussions with his "close friend" as "very fruitful". He thanked Suharto for his financial assistance to the ANC prior to the 1994 elections. Suharto was also awarded South Africa's highest award, the Order of Good Hope.' http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/15847 (The local trade union movement, Cosatu, held an exemplary protest outside at the time, leading the SA police to arrest 38 workers who were non-violently demanding, "end Suharto's genocide" and "end union bashing now".)
>> 
>> How much taxpayer funding did Burnham give away to the ANC? According to his website, it wasn't even all that much: "In his bold, characteristic way, he secured parliamentary approval to commit funds from Guyana’s Treasury to aid the African freedom fighters: an initial, annual disbursement of US$50,000 and, subsequently, US$100,000 was given to the African National Congress at a time when Guyana could hardly afford it. In 1981, when Guyana hosted a Forum on the Liberation of Southern Africa, President Burnham increased financial assistance to the African Liberation Movement to the amount of US$250,000." (http://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/burnham-to-be-honoured-with-oliver-tambo-award/)
>> 
>> But we've also been educated in new ways through this fiasco, including getting a better understanding of how 'talk left (to) walk right' works in places like Guyana, given that Burnham called himself a socialist while generating a brutal crony-capitalist political economy. 
>> 
>> And in terms of resistance, I've been surprised that not only within the beleaguered independent left here, but more generally - e.g. in two mainstream websites below, SABroadcastingCorporation and the centre-right politicswebs.co.za - you'll find revulsion, with no official defense of Burnham that I can see so far... so there's no debate, as such; there's just a sense that yet again, SA's ruling party is committing a reactionary act with no justification.
>> 
>> Struggle on,
>> Patrick
>> 
> 
> SEE ALSO:
> 
>> http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/cf7bff004f5d288985238f1e5d06aea0/Decision-to-confer-OT-Award-to-Forbes-Burnham-sparks-controversy-20132304
>> 
>> 
>> http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71619?oid=372693&sn=Detail&pid=71619
> 




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