Letters to the editor
Mandela deserved better than Obama
One cannot help but wonder about the reason the Nelson Mandela Foundation chose former US president Barack Obama to deliver Nelson Mandela's centenary birthday tribute in South Africa.
Obama's election speeches filled me with hope. His election to the White House as the first black president in the US was a momentous occasion.
I admired his eloquent speeches about positive transformation, building bridges, improving the US's tarnished image around the world and managing the US in opposition to the economic and foreign policies of George W Bush.
I shared some of his ambitious foreign-policy narratives and noble themes, but my great expectations soon diminished when I realised Obama's principled speeches and promises were just rhetoric, as he shared Bush's policies on the "war on terror" and adopted similar strategies.
Obama's failure to close down the notorious Guantanamo military prison, heading the ousting of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and thereby plunging Libya into chaos, are just some of his failures that do not make him the ideal candidate to honour Madiba, a "great unifier" who displayed a "remarkable lack of bitterness", to quote FW de Klerk.
Mandela, one of the best statesmen the world has ever known, a man of dignity, morals, values, ethics, self-sacrifice and compassion, a servant, visionary and humanitarian, definitely deserves better. — Mohamed Saeed, Pietermaritzburg
THIRD PARTY RATHER THAN RAF
With reference to the eternally bankrupt Road Accident Fund, I seem to recall that many years ago it was compulsory for all vehicle owners to have third-party insurance cover. Would it not be feasible to consider reintroducing this law, thus negating the need for the R1.93 per litre petrol levy and the need for the government to continually bankroll the fund with taxpayers' money? — Charles Tilson, Shelly Beach
MINE PROFITS COME BEFORE SAFETY
The mining sector is proving to be one of the most dangerous sectors in this country. Workers go to work without knowing if they will see their families again. Miners are dying perpetually.
It seems as if profit is the only interest of mining bosses. The safety of workers is being taken for granted and the mine bosses don't suffer any consequences for being negligent. The government must punish the companies who don't comply.
Union leaders, mining bosses, workers and the government must come together to resolve this problem. — Tom Mhlanga, Braamfontein
POOR MUST PAY UP TOO
We hear much about the impact that increases in the fuel price and VAT will have on the poor.
Most profess a concern for the plight of the poor. It's wrong, they say, that the poorest should have to suffer. And so, they suggest, the government should do something - like reduce the price of fuel, or reverse the VAT increase, or exempt more items, or increase taxes on the rich.
Such concern for the poor may be an admirable sentiment, but it does not help.
For years, the rich (and the not-so-rich) have been supporting both the poor and the government by paying very high taxes.
As long as the rich can keep on subsidising the poor, and the government that the poor have elected, the system can survive. But if the government wastes or steals money, and the demands of the poor are ever increasing, the money of the rich will eventually run out. Especially if the poor decide to demonstrate their discontent by destroying public property and disrupting economic activity.
Once you have taken all you can from the rich, you have to start borrowing. And once you have borrowed all you can afford (which we have done) then the only solution remaining is to collect the shortfall from those who have thus far not been paying their share. That is, the poor.
We have now reached that point.
I am aware that there are people who will dismiss this as the arrogant and heartless view of a rich white bastard who thinks he is superior and has no idea what it's like to be poor.
They probably think I enjoy watching the poor as they struggle in their hopelessness. But that is not so. It is true that I have relatively little sympathy for the current generation who have made these choices. But I am far more concerned for the next generation who will have to live with the consequences. Let us pray that the necessary lessons can be learned in time for them to have the future that their elders traded for a pocketful of promises. — Ron McGregor, Mowbray
WRITING ABOUT LOSS
Peter Bruce's column "For my father, who never let go" (July 15) was so insightful. Too few people talk about loss and grief. South Africa, let's start the healing process. Let's reconcile, apologise, write about these issues. Let's talk about the hurts we have been through as a country. It's hard, but it sure works. — Noxolo Fikile Jakalase, Nelspruit
HOLLOW AND ODIOUS COLUMN
The column by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane, "So whites are our people and African refugees are not?" (July 15) is provocative, odious and divisive. Tabane demonstrates a lack of respect for Mosiuoa Lekota as well as for white people. The statement: "Why don't you retire from politics while some of us still have a modicum of respect for you" rings hollow after the invective hurled at Mr Lekota. I expected more from your newspaper than Tabane's abuse of a respected political figure. — Nathan Cheiman, Northcliff