Talking points for a propaganda campaign – Liesbeek Action Campaign – DOCUMENTS
Talking points for a propaganda campaign – Liesbeek Action Campaign – DOCUMENTS | Policyweb
Talking points for a propaganda campaign – Liesbeek Action Campaign
Action campaign Liesbeek |
May 16, 2022
The organization asks if figures linked to the IRR and the AD are carrying out a coordinated public relations attack against indigenous groups?
Paternalism, ethnocide, epistemicide: talking points for a propaganda campaign
May 16, 2022
The Liesbeek Action Campaign condemns an apparently coordinated effort to spread misinformation about objections to the development of the River Club, Observatory, Cape Town. Several figures linked to the Democratic Alliance and the Institute for Race Relations have spoken out on the matter, repeating offensive lies and attempting to cast doubt on the authenticity of indigenous groups who oppose development on sacred lands. .
Among those who made false statements and deeply offensive remarks were Helen Zille, IRR’s Sara Gon, retired DA MP Mariann Shinn and Ivo Vegter, a columnist for IRR spokesperson the Daily Friend. Court documents show former DA chief Tony Leon’s PR firm Resolve Communications was paid R2.5 million by Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust, the property developer now banned from building on the site. Besides a few propaganda infomercials and social media ads that paint a rosy picture of the River Club’s development, we wonder what else these fees have bought the developers.
It is unclear whether these commentators really believe the outlandish lie that this land was empty or that indigenous heritage has no value. What they argue is that we should trade our values for the promise of jobs from an international juggernaut known for dodging taxes and creating dangerous and exploitative work environments.
Erase Indigenous histories and identities
During a discussion between Sara Gon of the IRR and David Ansara of the Center for Risk Analysis, Gon repeatedly tried to question the authenticity of indigenous groups opposing the development and the heritage value of the site. Instead, she supported the First Nations Collective, a small grouping that stands to benefit directly from the development. According to Gon’s version, the FNC has been around longer and the other formations “suddenly appeared”.
Facts: There are at least 23 indigenous groups who have backed the campaign to oppose the development of a sacred floodplain. These groups did not “suddenly appear”, but have been active for decades in the Khoi re-emergence movement. On the other hand, it was the FNC that only miraculously appeared in November 2019 after the developers were forced to “consult” the Khoi groups. What script is Gon reading to make such a contrary claim?
In the online chat, Ansara went on to say, “If you go back far enough in history, no one owned this land. It was all kind of a virgin land. Gon agreed and spoke of “presumed cultural heritage sites”. This “empty land theory” is historically inaccurate, totally discredited, and represents a continuation of the colonial and apartheid myths used to dispossess indigenous peoples of the land over the centuries. It is deeply racist.
Facts: There is ample evidence of Indigenous connections to this piece of land dating back centuries. It is known for its cultural and spiritual significance to past generations and continues to be a place of great significance to current generations of Indigenous peoples. It is known from European records and native oral histories as a place of cattle grazing and social interaction, and was the site of the first attempted incursion by colonizers in 1510. In colonial times Dutch, indigenous peoples were driven out of this traditional pasture and watering hole. This first border is therefore Ground Zero for the genocide of the colonial period – the site of the first resistance against the Portuguese colonizers in 1510, and of the Dutch invasion in their wake. All of this is confirmed in multiple reports in court documents.
It is truly shameful that two white commentators speak out in ignorance on the history of indigenous peoples.
Who speaks for the needs of indigenous peoples?
Zille, Shinn and Gon also seem to trot out the same arguments that we should be “humble” and invite companies to invest in order to create jobs. They remind all of us, as if talking to a class of kids who don’t know what’s good for them, that it’s a trade-off. According to Gon: “…the least dignified situation is that of unemployment and, increasingly, of long-term unemployment.” Presumably, the compromises are for the destruction of lands that are sacred to indigenous peoples (a fact even confirmed by the mayor in his judicial affidavit) and which serve as a vital floodplain (this according to Cape Town’s own appeal against the ‘Environmental Authorization).
No one should forget that this is a bench of all-white commentators speaking out on “what’s best” for Indigenous people. Instead of these paternalistic and arrogant assumptions, they might take the trouble to listen to indigenous peoples, like the 61 groups that are asking for heritage status for the area and the very many comments from indigenous peoples who signed a petition that garnered more than 73,000 signatures.
Jobs, yes. Here no.
None of these commenters, nor Amazon – the intended anchor tenant – nor the developer provided a reason why this particular site was chosen for this development. In fact, Amazon initially selected five sites as suitable, which did not include the River Club, a site on a floodplain that complicates construction and requires filling a river with 220,000 m3 of infill to support the 150 000 m2 of concrete footprint required. The decision to use the Liesbeek site and the authorizations granted by the authorities deserve a thorough investigation, in particular in view of the objections raised on heritage, urban planning and environmental grounds by multiple experts, including those of the city and the province.
Construction at any of the other five sites would still have provided construction jobs. An Amazon headquarters in one of the other five locations would still create the same cloud computing and call center jobs. Commentators are doing their best to accuse the activists of stirring up trouble and destroying jobs. In fact, it was the developer who decided on this location and took the risk to build here, despite, as Judge Goliath said, his “knowledge that the development was hotly contested”.
What the courts have said
Several of the comments from figures linked to the DA and IRR were made in response to the ban and subsequent denial of leave to appeal. Commentators choose to defend the independence of the judiciary when it suits them, but when judicial decisions do not go their way, express their indignation.
They call Justice Goliath’s conclusion “bending over backwards” to accommodate Indigenous groups, but his actual words deserve consideration: “The fact that development has substantial economic, infrastructural and public benefits can never prevail over the fundamental rights of First Nations peoples. »
Far from being the product of a left-wing conspiracy, the judge actually said, “The order of this court should not be construed as a criticism of development…The central consideration is the issue of proper consultation and meaningful with all affected First Nations peoples. .”
Justice Goliath correctly acknowledged glaring flaws in the initial consultation process, noted how certain Indigenous groups were deliberately left out, and called the heritage report commissioned by the proponent “flawed.”
The past and the future of the Liesbeek river
LAC and its Indigenous partners want to preserve the significance of this site as part of the national domain, an significance that cannot be determined by those whose comments are attempts at ethnocide (the destruction of culture) and epistemicide (the destruction of knowledge). We continue to call for an investigation into the approval processes that enabled this deep wounding at a site of immense historical, spiritual and environmental significance. And we will fight for the day when our people can commune with this land in any way they choose.
By Liesbeek Action Campaign, May 16, 2022