2010-02-06 00:00

NOW who could have forgotten the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? I myself remember it quite vividly, for two things. First, a lady name of Eulabia “Sweetlips” Stampova from the Russian upper intelligentsia bet me R1 000 straight that the ANC was going to use the TRC as Stalin had used the courts to eliminate his political opponents (I suppose the cheque is in the post) and the other was something pretty fundamental which hadn’t occurred to me: if any personal evidence whatsoever was going to be given then the process of cross-examination must be available. Tough. But the stakes were high, see; if you told the entire truth about your nasties in every detail, even multiple murders, you were guaranteed amnesty from all prosecution. Take a chance on that score, matey, the guarantee would fall away and you could be charged by the police in terms of common law and you might very well spend the rest of your puff in prison if the crime you concealed was nasty enough.

See? says Sweetlips, a political trial! Well, no. There is no judge, no magistrate, there is no charge, no accused, no verdict and no sentence, just a Yes or a No at the end of a hearing. This is not a court of law, it is a commission. Aha! cries Sweetlips, the commissioners will tell the police and the courts what to do. Like Stalin.

And what brings this bit of bullshit to mind is watching the Iraq War Inquiry on BBC telly, Slimebag #2 Alistair Campbell and Slimebag #1 Anthony Blair confidently reciting the same old sanctimonious lies about the war as they did in 2003, Campbell with his arrogant scowl, Blair with his arrogant 64-tooth smile, because this is not a trial, declares Lord Kushmirimtochis on behalf of the Commission of Inquiry, nobody is accused, let’s all be well-mannered gentlemen together (oops, a lady too), and bimeby we’ll all go and have a nice cup of tea. No cross-examination, it is ill-mannered to doubt the word of an Englishman (oops, or woman). Dear God, think I, where is Kessie Naidoo, scourge of Mo and Shabir, where Vernon Berrange, scourge of the apartheid police? Where indeed George Bizos? Surely they have such in Billy Blake’s Albion, where the countenance divine looks down upon those clouded hills? Bring them their spears, O clouds unfold? Their chariots of fire? Sorry, my china, my china plate, my mate, no clouded hills, no countenance divine, no spear, no chariot.

Top New Labour Party and top government lawyers declare any invasion of Iraq to be plain straight internationally unlawful. The Attorney General, highest lawyer in the land, declares it to be unlawful; however horrible Saddam Hussein may be, Iraq is a sovereign state posing no threat to Britain. Dubya Bush in Texas sets a date for invasion, his imperialist lickspittle running-dog in England bares his teeth once more and grins ominously about him and less than a week before Dubya’s date the Attorney General declares that on further thought he thinks the proposed war will be quite okay and a jolly good thing. Had anybody put pressure on him? asks Lord Kushmirimtochis. Prime Minister Blair does his biggest best smile, the one with gums and all and the sparkly eyes. What? In Britain? says PM. All smile. I my humble self wish I could cross-examine the no-good sonofabitch for just five minutes.

And so it goes. The whole smutty thing. So gaan dit mos in die ou wêreld. I am taken back to the age of five, in Pretoria, just one generation after another war. Middle-aged uncles talk of commando days, how it took the concentration camps to break the commando spirit, they talk of the machinations of Alfred Lord Milner in his drive for war until Oom Paul Kruger had the pleasure of declaring war on the whole British Empire. That made him the aggressor, of course. And it cynically occurs to me as I watch this BBC programme that the only difference between all that dirt and the Bush/Blair war on Iraq is that P. Kruger was standing on gold and S. Hussein was standing on oil.

And blow me down, as I watch all this Iraq stuff, coincidentally a second programme comes up, and it’s about the concentration camps, and the people doing this programme are not a bunch of dilly dissidents, they are tiptop university history men, plus Thomas Pakenham himself, leading authority on the Anglo-Boer conflict.

And these august academics conclude by declaring straight straight that if Lord Kitchener, gauleiter of the camps, were alive today he’d be tried as a war criminal. Sorry they ran out of programme time for Milner and Roberts, but it was a good start. It took only 110 years to come clean. Maybe in 2113 another Pakenham and other top academics will declare Anthony Blair a posthumous war criminal.

PS Lord Milner came back to enjoy his acclaim, but as he toured the Eastern Transvaal a tsetse fly bit him and he died. So Africa got him eventually, the bastard.

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