From ter­ror­ist to best friend

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

I have been fum­ing about the hypocrisy across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, ex­pos­ing the can­cer of ego­tism and self-im­por­tance, whether from the Tory lead­er­ship or the so-called Left.

I am es­pe­cially galled by the bleats from John Minto, who con­demned the ANC, Nel­son Man­dela and the South African trade unions as sell­outs and traitors. His sup­port for the Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment was a vi­o­la­tion of the prin­ci­ples the strug­gle against apartheid was based on.

Our me­dia has not been much bet­ter. Noth­ing I have read has dealt with New Zealand’s role in a his­tor­i­cal con­text.

Op­po­si­tion to rugby tours in New Zealand started at the time of the 1937 Spring­boks tour to New Zealand.

The 1949 All Black tour to South Africa was strongly op­posed by many trade unions in New Zealand, par­tic­u­larly the wa­ter­siders – not just be­cause Vince Be­van, a Wellington wharfie, was ex­cluded from the All Black team be­cause he was a Maori, but also be­cause of the union’s sup­port for work­ers of other coun­tries fight­ing for their ba­sic rights and free­doms.

From those ear­lier protests, the 1960 ‘‘No Maoris No Tour’’ protests be­came the most widely based op­po­si­tion move­ment in our his­tory. Ev­ery ma­jor re­li­gion and po­lit­i­cal party – ex­cept the Na­tional Party – op­posed the Rugby Union’s de­ci­sion to ex­clude Maori from the All Black team.

Those protest move­ments gave rise to the in­fa­mous 1981 ‘‘Stop the Tour’’ cam­paign.

By then, in­ter­na­tional agen­cies such as the United Na­tions and the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion had es­tab­lished com­mit­tees to ex­pose the vi­cious re­pres­sions of the Afrikaner regime and de­manded the iso­la­tion of South Africa to help bring about an end to apartheid.

The triv­i­al­is­ing of Man­dela’s death by petty squab­bles as to who should rep­re­sent New Zealand at the me­mo­rial ser­vice ex­posed much of what’s wrong in our coun­try and our pol­i­tics.

If it came down to any­one hav­ing a right to be rep­re­sented, then the present lead­er­ship of the New Zealand Com­bined Trade Unions, as the heirs of the trade unions from the 1930s and 1940s, had a more cred­i­ble claim.

I must ac­knowl­edge and credit Jim Bol­ger for own­ing up and apol­o­gis­ing to Man­dela for ‘‘be­ing wrong’’. That was sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than our cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter’s ‘‘I can’t re­mem­ber; I was busy do­ing other things’’.

Still, the pot­pourri of in­di­vid­u­als clam­our­ing to be at Man­dela’s me­mo­rial ser­vice showed some­thing of the real stand­ing of this very spe­cial leader and of his con­tri­bu­tion.

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