Sunday, 25 February 2007

TRIBUTES TO WOMEN OF SUBSTANCE: MAMPHELA RAMPHELE

Extracts from “The 6th Annual Biko Memorial Lecture” at UCT (SEP 05) and interview to The Guardian (MAR 05) by Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Co- Chair of the Global Commission on International Migration and former Managing Director of the World Bank and UCT Vice-Chancellor.

“(…) The question facing us today is the extent to which we can demonstrate that we have indeed gone beyond the symbols of our citizenship, be they the flag, the national anthem or the values enshrined in our Constitution. Have we gone beyond singing about our beloved country to defending its values by living them out in our daily lives in the classrooms, the board rooms, the office complex, factory floor, the hospital ward, the police station, or any other space where we are active as citizens?

(…) The idea of civil service as an opportunity to serve seems to have become overshadowed by the notion of civil service as a job opportunity for the individual involved. The wisdom embedded in the idea that “In serving each other, we become free” as William Nicholson put it, is lost on the many civil servants who fail to pass the test of common courtesy to citizens who are entitled to public services. Some of the officials behave no different from their apartheid predecessors in treating their fellow citizens with disrespect. Could it be that some of our civil servants have yet to take delivery of the freedom that would have made them recognize the sacred duty of serving their fellow citizens with dignity? Could it also be that the linkage of service with subservience for the majority of poor black people in the bad apartheid years has damaged the capacity for service in some people in the civil service of the new democracy? Whatever the reason, it is not acceptable for civil servants to expect taxpayers to continue to pay them for the privilege to be insulted.

The government for its part, needs to set and enforce the parameters for accountability. Party loyalty is not a sufficient basis for appointment to public service. The appalling skills gaps in the civil service as well as the unsustainable vacancy rates reflect not only lack of skills, but the corroding impact of politicization of appointments at many levels of our civil service. There are too many skilled professionals being denied job opportunities at the various levels of government because they are outside of the party political networks that have captured civil service jobs for patronage. Comparative analyses worldwide point to the importance of limiting political appointments based on loyalty only to the top layer. Strict professional competency criteria need to be applied for the rest of the system to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. We need to strengthen professional recruitment, promotion, training and retaining of public officials at all levels of government. Mediocrity has to be rooted out and meritocracy promoted. We run a serious risk of losing even more of our brightest skilled people for greener pastures where their value is more appreciated. We stand to lose the competition for skills in today’s global knowledge economy if we do not rise to the challenge of retaining those we train at great cost.

Ramphele, who was in London recently to deliver the annual lecture for the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (Compas), talks of how much more complex migration has become. Never before, she says, has the world seen such large numbers of people living outside their country of origin - up to 200 million - with every expectation the numbers will continue to grow. Almost all countries, she says, are now touched by the phenomenon. Even Albania, which used to refuse to let anyone out, or Japan, which refused to let anyone in, have significant movements. The old distinction between countries of origin, transit and destination has become redundant. Many countries now fall into all three categories, and even the basic distinction between citizen and foreigner can no longer be applied to those with dual nationality. Still more confusing are the motives for migration, with single families having complex mixtures of economic, social, political and personal reasons for moving that could be difficult to disentangle. Just as West Africans and the people of the Sahel states and North Africa headed towards Europe, a wide band of states south of the Sahara now head towards South Africa.

For educated and ambitious young people in these sub-Saharan states, South Africa has become the most attractive nation. But the country is finding it difficult, she says, to absorb the flows, which have increased faster than the South African economy. (Although official figures show only 120,000 people applying for asylum in South Africa in the last decade, at least another million Africans - and some estimates say two million - have moved there.) "We are like a little Europe, without her resources," she says. Ramphele expresses concern at the way western governments have allowed themselves to be pushed into hardline asylum and immigration policies by the media and opposition parties. She is opposed to European proposals to set up refugee vetting camps in North Africa "in countries that are not even democratic", but she praises former home secretary David Blunkett for recognising the benefits that migrants can bring and the needs they fill, expressing hopes that other politicians will follow suit.

"We must recognise that the world's poorest countries have little real incentive to obstruct the departure of their citizens, even if they are leaving in an illegal or irregular manner," she says. "From the perspective of developing countries, migration reduces the need to create jobs for large numbers of unemployed people, especially those young people who are entering the labour market for the first time." There are, however, two important caveats to this last statement: remittance payments and the brain drain. Remittances are now providing developing states with almost twice as much as international aid - more than £75bn a year. They have played an important role in supporting families, improving lifestyles and business opportunities. The brain drain has to be tackled, Ramphele says. She rules out a ban on skilled people leaving - not least because it would be "inconsistent with my belief that migration is motivated by the very noble desire to gain a better quality of life."



Biko (Peter Gabriel/Ladysmith Black Mambazo/Geoffrey Oryema/Alex Brown/Manu Dibango)

Steve Biko, the leader of the South African Black Consciousness Movement and life partner of Mamphela Rampele, died on September 12, 1977, aged 31, after security police in Port Elizabeth beat and tortured him to death. The inquest recorded the cause of death only as brain damage. Police at the time claimed he slipped on a piece of soap while in the shower and then justice minister Jimmy Kruger famously said the death left him “cold”. About his brutal murder, former president Nelson Mandela said: “His life was extinguished with more callousness and casualness than a person snuffing out a candle flame between callused thumb and forefinger.”

While a medical student at Fort Hare University in 1967, Biko broke away from the largely white National Union of SA Students, which he said was not representative of his culture. He then formed the SA Students Organisation to lobby for black causes. In 1969 he was banned for (peaceful) political activities, including founding the Black People’s Convention which brought together various black consciousness movements to uplift areas around Durban, and founding the Black Community Programme. He was arrested on August 21, 1977 and three weeks later was dead. Biko’s concern with issues of culture, identity and the human rights of black people are expressed in his book “I Write What I Like”.

Biko's son, Nkosinathi Biko, was involved in setting up the Steve Biko Foundation and has helped establish a library and archives that collect writings by and about his father. Biko’s killers were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in February 1999.

"Nkosinathi Biko: False Medical Certificate, Dr. Benjamin Tucker" (Truth Game Series, by Sue Williamson)


(READ MORE HERE)

Extracts from “The 6th Annual Biko Memorial Lecture” at UCT (SEP 05) and interview to The Guardian (MAR 05) by Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Co- Chair of the Global Commission on International Migration and former Managing Director of the World Bank and UCT Vice-Chancellor.

“(…) The question facing us today is the extent to which we can demonstrate that we have indeed gone beyond the symbols of our citizenship, be they the flag, the national anthem or the values enshrined in our Constitution. Have we gone beyond singing about our beloved country to defending its values by living them out in our daily lives in the classrooms, the board rooms, the office complex, factory floor, the hospital ward, the police station, or any other space where we are active as citizens?

(…) The idea of civil service as an opportunity to serve seems to have become overshadowed by the notion of civil service as a job opportunity for the individual involved. The wisdom embedded in the idea that “In serving each other, we become free” as William Nicholson put it, is lost on the many civil servants who fail to pass the test of common courtesy to citizens who are entitled to public services. Some of the officials behave no different from their apartheid predecessors in treating their fellow citizens with disrespect. Could it be that some of our civil servants have yet to take delivery of the freedom that would have made them recognize the sacred duty of serving their fellow citizens with dignity? Could it also be that the linkage of service with subservience for the majority of poor black people in the bad apartheid years has damaged the capacity for service in some people in the civil service of the new democracy? Whatever the reason, it is not acceptable for civil servants to expect taxpayers to continue to pay them for the privilege to be insulted.

The government for its part, needs to set and enforce the parameters for accountability. Party loyalty is not a sufficient basis for appointment to public service. The appalling skills gaps in the civil service as well as the unsustainable vacancy rates reflect not only lack of skills, but the corroding impact of politicization of appointments at many levels of our civil service. There are too many skilled professionals being denied job opportunities at the various levels of government because they are outside of the party political networks that have captured civil service jobs for patronage. Comparative analyses worldwide point to the importance of limiting political appointments based on loyalty only to the top layer. Strict professional competency criteria need to be applied for the rest of the system to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. We need to strengthen professional recruitment, promotion, training and retaining of public officials at all levels of government. Mediocrity has to be rooted out and meritocracy promoted. We run a serious risk of losing even more of our brightest skilled people for greener pastures where their value is more appreciated. We stand to lose the competition for skills in today’s global knowledge economy if we do not rise to the challenge of retaining those we train at great cost.

Ramphele, who was in London recently to deliver the annual lecture for the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (Compas), talks of how much more complex migration has become. Never before, she says, has the world seen such large numbers of people living outside their country of origin - up to 200 million - with every expectation the numbers will continue to grow. Almost all countries, she says, are now touched by the phenomenon. Even Albania, which used to refuse to let anyone out, or Japan, which refused to let anyone in, have significant movements. The old distinction between countries of origin, transit and destination has become redundant. Many countries now fall into all three categories, and even the basic distinction between citizen and foreigner can no longer be applied to those with dual nationality. Still more confusing are the motives for migration, with single families having complex mixtures of economic, social, political and personal reasons for moving that could be difficult to disentangle. Just as West Africans and the people of the Sahel states and North Africa headed towards Europe, a wide band of states south of the Sahara now head towards South Africa.

For educated and ambitious young people in these sub-Saharan states, South Africa has become the most attractive nation. But the country is finding it difficult, she says, to absorb the flows, which have increased faster than the South African economy. (Although official figures show only 120,000 people applying for asylum in South Africa in the last decade, at least another million Africans - and some estimates say two million - have moved there.) "We are like a little Europe, without her resources," she says. Ramphele expresses concern at the way western governments have allowed themselves to be pushed into hardline asylum and immigration policies by the media and opposition parties. She is opposed to European proposals to set up refugee vetting camps in North Africa "in countries that are not even democratic", but she praises former home secretary David Blunkett for recognising the benefits that migrants can bring and the needs they fill, expressing hopes that other politicians will follow suit.

"We must recognise that the world's poorest countries have little real incentive to obstruct the departure of their citizens, even if they are leaving in an illegal or irregular manner," she says. "From the perspective of developing countries, migration reduces the need to create jobs for large numbers of unemployed people, especially those young people who are entering the labour market for the first time." There are, however, two important caveats to this last statement: remittance payments and the brain drain. Remittances are now providing developing states with almost twice as much as international aid - more than £75bn a year. They have played an important role in supporting families, improving lifestyles and business opportunities. The brain drain has to be tackled, Ramphele says. She rules out a ban on skilled people leaving - not least because it would be "inconsistent with my belief that migration is motivated by the very noble desire to gain a better quality of life."



Biko (Peter Gabriel/Ladysmith Black Mambazo/Geoffrey Oryema/Alex Brown/Manu Dibango)

Steve Biko, the leader of the South African Black Consciousness Movement and life partner of Mamphela Rampele, died on September 12, 1977, aged 31, after security police in Port Elizabeth beat and tortured him to death. The inquest recorded the cause of death only as brain damage. Police at the time claimed he slipped on a piece of soap while in the shower and then justice minister Jimmy Kruger famously said the death left him “cold”. About his brutal murder, former president Nelson Mandela said: “His life was extinguished with more callousness and casualness than a person snuffing out a candle flame between callused thumb and forefinger.”

While a medical student at Fort Hare University in 1967, Biko broke away from the largely white National Union of SA Students, which he said was not representative of his culture. He then formed the SA Students Organisation to lobby for black causes. In 1969 he was banned for (peaceful) political activities, including founding the Black People’s Convention which brought together various black consciousness movements to uplift areas around Durban, and founding the Black Community Programme. He was arrested on August 21, 1977 and three weeks later was dead. Biko’s concern with issues of culture, identity and the human rights of black people are expressed in his book “I Write What I Like”.

Biko's son, Nkosinathi Biko, was involved in setting up the Steve Biko Foundation and has helped establish a library and archives that collect writings by and about his father. Biko’s killers were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in February 1999.

"Nkosinathi Biko: False Medical Certificate, Dr. Benjamin Tucker" (Truth Game Series, by Sue Williamson)


(READ MORE HERE)

4 comments:

claud83 said...

I'm very proud for my site but yours is very top on the Web!
Very goog News
Thanks
Bonjour du sud de France!

Koluki said...

Salut et merci beaucoup!

Actually, some of these statements by Ramphele, in spite of dating from 2005, are very relevant today when Le Pen just announced his re-candidature for the French Presidency and his desired policies on immigration and EU integration... Any views on that?

By the way, I'd like to see your site... or is it the one your address links to? If so, I'm terribly sorry but I do not intend to let this blog become an "advertising portal"...

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to point out some errors. Nkosinathi Biko is not Ramphele's son. His mother, Ntsiki Biko, was the wife of Steve Biko. Ramphele was Biko's lover, not his wife (although she did have a son with him too).

I'm not trying to diminish Ramphele's accomplishments, but I think its important to keep the history accurate....Great post.

Koluki said...

Thanks for the information, Anonymous. I made the correction regarding Nkosinathi and present my apologies to him, his mother and their family for the mistake. It was just that the sources I consulted for this post at the time mentioned him and Ramphele as mother and son, but a double-check confirms what you say.
As for Ramphele and Biko, he is referred to as her "life partner" and the story is further clarified in Mamphela's biography presented in this page - so it has always been clear that she was not his wife.
I take this opportunity to also mention that the child with Biko in one of the pictures is not Mamphela's son but another of Biko's children who, according to the source were I took it from, is called Samora. I was just moved by the idea of presenting Biko also as a caring father, which is an image we rarely get of black men.

Thanks again!

Saturday, March 17, 2007