For those following the Ashwin Desai struggle, some more news, this time from the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa.After writing this , and having received a message in return to which I do not have access, they have responded by writing this.
More news on Ashwin Desai’s campaign. Turns out that the Sunday Times in 2003 printed an article celebrating Ashwin’s reinstatement at the University of Durban-Westville (text-only version available here). And the then-deputy chair of council, now-attorney general of KwaZulu-Natal went on air last week saying that Ashwin had “most definitely” been “rehabilitated” in 2003. Which leaves our Vice-Chancellor in an awkward position. Always one to share, the Vice-Chancellor has left the country, putting on of his deputies in an awkward position too. But not without, yesterday, announcing in the Sunday Times that Noam Chomsky is possibly senile. The Chomskians in our linguistics department are very upset. As are the people he maligns and betrays at the beginning of the Sunday Times interview.
It’s A-1 Grand Prix time here in Durban. They’ve just finished building this track around large bits of public land on the beachfront, officially recognising what we knew all along – that public highways double rather nicely as racing circuits. Thing is, the A-1 is right outside peoples’ homes. They can’t get in because the entrances to their apartment buildings lie within the race perimeter. The police have helpfully suggested that they should buy tickets to the races, which will allow them unimpeded access to their bedrooms. Of course, all this private inconvenience is being justified in the name of the public good – mirroring a recent supreme court ruling in the US, to which activists have cleverly responded by petitioning for the demolition of the house of a supreme court judge, so that a leisure complex might be built there. I’m not sure what the response should be in South Africa. Building a racetrack around Tokyo Sexwale’s house is likely futile – I suspect he’s already got one.
I know I’m stealing the title from this article in the Mail and Guardian, but it’s hard to resist describing this weekend’s confrontation between the ANC and the Kennedy Road shackdwellers in any other terms. ANC vs ANC captures it nicely. As does this quote from Mnikelo Ndabankulu of the Abahlali Base Mjondolo in the Foreman Road settlement: “The thing I want to clarify is that we are the ANC. We reject the current ANC nominee for our ward and we therefore have a policy of no vote for this election. We will vote in 2009 when we are happy with the nominee.”
Goodness. The National Executive Committee of the African National Congress has a lot of free time. Their Statement on the Occasion of the 94th Anniversary of the ANC is a fine example of the sort of bureaucratese that aims to convince through stamina, rather than force of argument. The best bits are at the end where, among the salutes for the Royal dead, and an outline for women’s transformation (scheduled between July and September) the ANC Salutes its best cadres, and declares 2006 The Year of Mobilisation for People’s Power through Democratic Local Government. Luckily there’s an election this year, and the ANC has arranged ballot boxes for everyone’s convience. Otherwise, the masses would have to think of creative ways of mobilising for accountable government.