Newsletter 07/11

Kader Asmal, democratic demander

The death of Kader Asmal, former Minister of Nelson Mandela, on this last 22 June at the age of 76, is that of a prominent figure of the New South Africa.

Advocate, Professor of Law, he illustrated during his exile, in creating the anti-apartheid committee in Ireland, and by his rigorous pleadings in favour of democracy. It made him an architect of the new South African Constitution. Talented speaker and gifted with a great sense of initiative, he excelled in his functions as Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry (1994-1999) and Minister of Education (1999 – 2004). He remained involved afterwards, never hesitant to criticise initiatives which seemed to him prejudicial towards fundamental rights. In the last instance, he opposed the bill, currently under debate, on the Protection of Information.

Kader Asmal, while he was Minister of Education, introduced a conference, in Paris at the National Assembly on 27 October 1999, organised by the French Committee for South Africa.

The necessary amplification of the role of UNO

Great attention has been given to the more important International questions by the United Nations these past years.

These concepts which are largely elaborated within, such as sustainable development or the responsibility to protect threatened populations, are gradually shaping the evolution of the international community.

Furthermore, the action of the International Criminal Court, created under the guidance of UNO is great progress.

At the same time, it asserted on the one hand the presence of a diplomatic tradition particularly surrounding G8 evoking the international conferences which marked the 19th century and on the other hand the military operation conduct by major powers authorised in advance by the Security Counsel of the United Nations.

It will be preferred to amplify the role of UNO in the diplomatic domain and that of economic and social development, and to put in place, for situations of crisis and serious attack on human rights, an international policy for the exclusivity of the United Nations.

The work of CFAS in relation to the organs of UNO

In its role as NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the French Committee for South Africa contributed by means of three written declarations that were published during the course of 2010 and 2011 on the following themes :

  • - Development of services of general interest in the spheres of education, housing and health during the time of crisis (June/July 2010)
  • - International cooperation and Internet (December 2010)
  • - Objectives and engagements in educational matters (May/June 2011)

Furthermore, the C.F.A.S attended a session on 30 May 2011 of the Counsel of Human Rights based in Geneva

South Africa hosts of the 21st World Economic Forum on Africa

The 21st World Economic Forum on Africa, a major event for the economy of the African continent, was held in Cape Town from 4 till 6 May, in the presence of President Zuma and more than 900 delegates, among which were the heads of States and Governments of more than 60 countries.

The central theme at the Forum was: “Africa: From vision to action.”

It offered companies, governments and civil societies the opportunity to learn about the possibilities and risks weighing on the African continent.

At this forum, Ernst and Young published a very interesting study, identifying in particular that with 4.5 % of investments directed from overseas in 2010, the African countries attracted less than China or India, but more than Russia and Brazil.

After the restitution to South Africa of “Venus Hottentot”, France returns the tattooed head of Maori to New Zealand.

On 9 May 2011, the municipality of Rouen, after a process of many years was able to return, according to its will, a tattooed head Maori that had been detained in its Natural Historical Museum since 1875. This was in accordance with the law which was passed in 2010, at the initiative of the Senators.

A traditional ceremony conducted by some representatives of the Maori people preceded this gesture of restitution sought by New Zealand.

The French Committee for South Africa, who had supported this demand, was present.

Today a general text should apply to the restitution of all human remains.

The French Civil Code, which recognises the principle of respect of the human body after death (article 16-1-1), will be integrating a provision without ambiguity for the final lifting of obstacles which could again arise.

Universities in South Africa

Since 2004, the universities of South Africa have regrouped into three categories, namely: Traditional Universities which are the older universities, Universities of Technology and Comprehensive Universities.

There are 23 Universities in total, of which 11 are Traditional Universities.

The governance, mission and objective of the Universities have been redefined in a new law of 1997 (Higher Education Act)s.

The electronic resources offered through the Internet are largely used in the superior information and is favoured by the law of 2002, The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act.

To this extent, the University of South Africa (UNISA), a Comprehensive University, the largest university in the country with its more than 200 000 students, delivers almost all information by distance and has an incomparable virtual library.

All the Universities have international exchange programmes. UNISA in particular has exchanges organised with 24 countries including 5 Universities in France.

Today the number of students in South Africa has risen to more than 735 000.

Among the Traditional Universities the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest, created in 1829. There are 25 000 registered there.

The University of Stellenbosch, founded in 1866, the second oldest University in South Africa, comprises of more than 27 000 students.

Finally, note that the University of Witwatersrand, situated in Johannesburg, 28 500 students strong has produced four Nobel Prize Winners: Aaron Klug, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982; Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991; Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and Sydney Brenner Nobel Prize in Medecin in 2002.

Apartheid Museum: filing of a work of archives by the Committee

On 20 May 2011, the French Committee for South Africa filed at the Apartheid Museum of Johannesburg a copy of a book published in 1978 (L'Harmattan Editions and Droits et Liberté Editions) bringing together the texts of the Commission of enquiries on apartheid in South Africa that were held in 1976 and 1977 in Paris.

‘Cinq ans avec Mandela' of Joëlle Bourgois, Laffont Edition, April 2011

Madame Joëlle Bourgeois, as Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize winner for Literature, recalls was more than an Ambassador from France to South Africa during the transition period (1991-1995). An engaging and appreciating witness, bringing her support to the action of Nelson Mandela and contributing to the changes conducted in South Africa.

Controversy caused by the Information Bill

The criticism making application includes the impact that the law can have on the entire economy in challenging investigative journalism.

The Helen Suzman Foundation has again voiced its seen fears about this bill.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation created mediation between the South African authorities and the organisations opposing the bill.

Furthermore, the NEPAD Business Foundation called a public debate.

The company “Vice versa” honours Dulcie September

At Dulcie September College of Arcueil, France, on 10 June 2010, the annual Dulcie September price was given to a group of students for their human values by the South African Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Madame Dolan Msimang. The company “Vice Versa” opened this ceremony with a dance spectacular of which each gesture carried a part of the emotion and hope, while in the background through the intermittence of archival projected images, depicting messages of non-violence.



Apartheid museum (Gold Reef Road, Ormonde) - exposition "Mandela"

Among the photos, videos, manuscripts and objects exhibited illustrated the way Nelson Madela arises from the Mercedes, manufactured graciously by the employees of this famous company and offered to Nelson Mandela during his liberation.

A symbol of the solidarity between the people and the continent, perhaps also of damage.

Alliance française (17 Lower Park Drive/Kerry rd, Parkview)

The Alliance Française, the organisation teaching French courses at all levels, presented the art works of the artist Ali van Jaarsveld, which were executed during recent visits to Morocco, for the duration of the month of May.

Cape Town

National Gallery : "The Indian in Drum magazine in the 1950s"

The representation of the daily life and commitment of the Indian Community of South Afirca through the photographs published in the magazine Drum in the 1950s.

An essential contribution to the history of a rainbow nation.


Musée du Jeu de Paume, (place de la Concorde, until 25 September 2011)

The photographic work in black and white of artist Santu Mofakeng declines the ambiguity of the world. Soothing and disturbing. Santu Mafokeng is an uncontested master of South African photography.

Discovering the World Heritage of South Africa

South Africa has eight cultural or natural sites classified to its World Heritage by UNESCO :

  • - iSimangaliso Wetlands Park in KwaZulu-Natal
  • - Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was detained
  • - The Cradle of Humankind, provinces of Gauteng and the North West
  • - The Ukhahlamba Drakensburg Park in KwaZulu – Natal
  • - The cultural landscape of Mpungubwe, the most important former royal domain of the sub-continent
  • - The Cape Floral Region
  • - The Vredefort Crater, place of impact where a gigantic meteorite fell two 2000 million years ago
  • - Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, the region of the Nama people