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Mapisa-Nqakula is very much like apartheid's Dr No

By unknown | Oct 30, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula reminds me of one apartheid minister, Andries Treurnicht, who was called "Dr No" because of his obstinacy.

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula reminds me of one apartheid minister, Andries Treurnicht, who was called "Dr No" because of his obstinacy.

Mapisa-Nqakula refuses to admit that her department is in shambles and that she has to go.

During apartheid, Treurnicht was at one stage given the portfolio of "bantu education", a system designed for the exclusive denial of blacks to proper education. He never cared for blacks, that Treurnicht, and he said so in so many ways.

Somehow the current home affairs minister reminds me of him.

Lest I am harangued for comparing a struggle heroine with a dead oppressor, I will defend my reasons for feeling the way I do.

During apartheid, not only were the education laws designed to subjugate blacks, but we had the hated dompas that curtailed the movement of black people in their own land of birth.

To obtain the dompas was no easy feat.

For instance, when I applied for my reference book - as it was called - I was unable to produce a birth certificate.

So at the infamous 80 Albert Street I was told to go home and bring along my mother, which I did.

After a long wait in the snaking queue, the young white man behind the counter asked my mother where she was born.

She duly said she was born in Benoni on the East Rand.

When I fetched my reference book three months later, I had been classified as 10(1)(D).

This meant I was not born in Johannesburg but because I was Sesotho-speaking, I belonged to the QwaQwa homeland and could be "deported" at a whim.

It also meant I could remain "in the prescribed area" of Johannesburg as long as I was gainfully employed.

Apartheid is gone and now our movement in and out of our free South Africa is determined by Home Affairs.

Alas, it is this department that has declared many legitimate South Africans dead, others as twins, women have found themselves married to Pakistanis they have never met, women have been declared men and others have lost jobs because they could not produce valid IDs.

But Mapisa-Nqakula does not see any crisis.

It is said if you steal someone's identity it is as good as killing him. Yet we live in a free country, but no.

This is the reason, therefore, that I find it hard not to draw a comparison between Treurnicht and Mapisa-Nqakula.

You see, Dr No, even when Soweto was burning in 1976, refused to believe that the end of an abhorrent era was nigh.

Home Affairs is in shambles and Trevor Manuel has suggested it be taken out of Mapisa-Nqakula's hands.

Look, this is an important department. It deals with our very existence. It controls our borders, guarding against illegal entries - or at least it should.

The recent xenophobic violence could have been avoided if there was proper legislation in place.

Faultless IDs and birth certificates, instead of death certificates for people who are still alive, should be issued by efficient officials reporting to a convincing minister.

As for me, I will keep using adhesive tape to hold the pages of my worn ID book together.

What if it returns with the face of a white woman were I to apply for a new one?


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