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Black South Africa scholars urged to
correct distortion by white historians’

by Ndumiso Mlilo JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s National Heritage Council (NHC) has called on the country’s black historians to make an effort to correct the distortions of history in some books by white historians.

This was said on Friday night by the NHC CEO Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa at the launch of Black Sacrifice, a book about British warship SS Mendi which sank in 1917, killing 646 soldiers with the majority being black South Africans.

The book was written by Gladstone Sandi Baai who passed away in 2012 after submitting the manuscript to the NHC. Mancotywa said the book is the first one written by a black scholar about the sunken troopship.

"This book will remove some distortions and contradictions about SS Mendi by white scholars.

"We do not know a lot about ourselves.

"This is the decolonization of the African heritage narrative and participation of the Africans in the World War I," said Mancotywa.

He said South Africans were recruited as slaves and laborers and used as soldiers in some wars which were not theirs.

Mancotywa said Africans were segregated when fighting alongside the British while they also staged their own in the ship.

He said about 150 wars were fought against the British and called on that to be documented.

Jeanny Morulane, general manager of the Constitutional Hill, one of the country’s heritage sites, agreed that history needs to be corrected to tell the true story about the black participation in the World War I and local ones against the colonizers.

"The sinking of the SS Mendi remains one of the worst tragedies of World War I.

"We continue to mourn as South Africa and many generations to come will do so.

"There was no compensation by the British for the loss of the black, some who had never seen the sea," she said.

Professor Muxe Nkondo said there had been a fundamental antagonism between Africans and the Europeans, and liberation movements in the continent have failed to address it.

Nkondo said Europe failed to apologize and compensate Africans for their sacrifice in fighting their (European) wars.

He said there are still many questions about why and how the ship sank because some lies were peddled about it.

Another South African scholar Nomboniso Gasa Gasa said there is a frosty relationship between Africa and Europe.

She criticized some white historians for mysticizing the tragedy, blaming the blacks for doing death rituals before the sinking.

"These are not closed chapters, black historians should continue researching and write the correct history.

"The SS Mendi is more than a historian’s memory, it shows the border interaction of Africa and Europe and the entire colonial history and the annihilation of the African people," She said.

Gasa added that Africans should demand compensation from Europe for colonization.


South African president to appeal court ruling ordering removal of NPA head

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Xinhua) -- President Jacob Zuma will appeal a court ruling ordering the removal of Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Presidency said on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that Abrahams quit his job due to his unfitness to hold office.

The NPA is an important institution in South Africa’s constitutional democracy, and the appointment of its leader is not made lightly, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

Together with judges, who likewise are appointed by the president, the NPA head plays a vital role in the criminal justice system, Ngqulunga said.

"Minded by the principle of the separation of powers, constitutional legality and the rule of law, the judgement will be appealed," said Ngqulunga.

For the past decade, the NPA has been viewed as politically captured and accused of shielding Zuma from corruption charges.

In October this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decided to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma.

The SCA said a 2009 decision to withdraw corruption charges against Zuma was "irrational."

Also on Friday, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it will allow the parties involved to reflect on the judgment and its implications as well as decide whether to appeal or not.

Whatever decision taken shall be in the interest of the administration of justice, the NPA and the country as whole, the party said.

ANC leadership battle heats up over rape charges against Zuma

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Friday threw its weight behind President Jacob Zuma over a brawl pitting the president against his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a statement emailed to Xinhua, the ANCYL accused Ramaphosa of directly attacking Zuma by publicly voicing belief in decade-old rape accusations against the president.

This came after Ramaphosa said in an interview with Radio 702 on Thursday night that he "would believe" the rape accusations against Zuma in a case dated back to 2005.

Fezeka Kuzwayo, popularly known as Khwezi, fielded a lawsuit against Zuma in 2005 when he was deputy president, accusing him of raping her. Zuma denied the accusations.

The High Court in Johannesburg later acquitted Zuma of the rape charges, saying there was not enough evidence to suggest that the sexual act between Zuma and Khwezi was not consensual.

On Friday, Zuma hit back at Ramaphosa, saying he has not been found guilty of any crime and the rape allegations against him were properly considered by a judge of the High Court.

Ramaphosa, one of the candidates in the presidential race of the African National Congress (ANC), is hopeful to succeed Zuma when the ANC holds its elective conference later this month.

Ramaphosa’s comments about the rape accusations is believed to have added controversy to the ANC’s leadership battle.

The ANCYL described Ramaphosa’s remarks as "unfortunate" as they constitute direct attacks on a sitting president of the ANC, also the president of the country.

"This is bile because this is an act of a desperation at a full demonstration and prove that his conscience has long left him and not under any circumstance does he show that he can lead the ANC," ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said.

The ANCYL is shocked that a dead person would be used to advance a selfish personal agenda despite the fact that an independent judicial organ of the state has made a judgment on the matter, said Mkhize.

"We call upon this fellow (Ramaphosa) to publicly respond for this recklessness or face the full might of the ANC rule book," Mkhize said.

Ramaphosa, by attacking an outgoing ANC president, will never increase his chances to even come close to his self-serving ambitions, Mkhize said.

The ANCYL, a political force to be reckoned with in South Africa, has voiced support for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ANC MP and former chairwoman of the African Union Commission, to succeed Zuma, who is also believed to support Dlamini-Zuma, his former wife.

Some South Africans went to social media to voice their opinions. Some support Ramaphosa, but more accuse him of using Khwezi’s memory to win the presidential campaign.

"It’s time for Ramaphosa to walk the talk and prove himself to the nation & the world. Restore our dignity!" one tweet reads.

"Why didn’t Cyril believe Khwezi when she said she (was) raped by Zuma then? This (shows) Cyril Ramaphosa is an opportunist," reads another tweet.

South African ruling party condemns United States
decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Friday condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the decision by the U.S. Administration to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"This blatantly provocative move severely undermines the spirit of multilateralism and is a significant setback to a fragile and already stalled peace process," the ANC said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced earlier this week that his administration will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The decision has drawn worldwide condemnation and sparked a number of protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Several armed groups in the region have labelled Trump’s announcement as "a declaration of war".

The ANC concurs with the sentiment expressed by many world leaders that the U.S. position is a violation of a number of UN Security Council and UN General Assembly resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem in any final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte said in the statement.

The U.S. move is a further indication of the recklessness with which the Trump Administration has chosen to both pursue and communicate its foreign policy objectives in a highly volatile region, Duarte said.

"A very real possibility exists that this announcement could reignite the tinderbox of violence and cause the region to once again descend into bloodshed," Duarte warned.

On Thursday, the South African government also added its voice to universal condemnation of the U.S. decision, reiterating South Africa’s principled position that unilateralism threatens the global balance of power, security and stability in a relatively volatile environment.

The ANC wholly agrees with the position of the South African government that reinforces the supremacy of multilateralism as the only way to secure a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as a rules-based international order, Duarte said.

"The ANC remains committed to the two-state solution and this unilateral pronouncement by the U.S. does harm to Palestinian aspirations for an independent, peaceful state coexisting side by side with Israel, based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital," said Duarte.

She voiced concern that the United States, instead of positioning itself as a credible advocate for a just and lasting solution to the Israel/Palestine issue, "is showing itself to be wholly partisan and favoring Israel", Duarte said.

She called on both Israelis and Palestinians to take steps to urgently resume talks to restart the peace process.

The ANC further calls on the U.S. Administration to reconsider its decision in the light of the negative ramifications for the cause of a just and lasting peace, Duarte said.


The sinking of SS Mendi was a major loss of life for the South African military



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