History for the Future

Dumisa Ntsebeza says the TRC may have promised more than it could deliver

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza has a long history of political activism. Always an independent, outspoken opponent of apartheid, he has retained these qualities in the new democracy, irrespective of how politically unpopular it may have made him.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza was appointed as one of the 13 commissioners to the TRC in 1995, and elected head of it's investigative unit and it's witness protection programme.

Veteran journalist Pippa Green's podcast series History of The Future interviews all 13 commissioners of the TRC and finds out about their experience on the Commission, and lessons we can learn for South Africa today and in the future.

In the latest episode, Green interviews Advocate Ntsebenza about his work at the TRC and the impact it had for South Africa.

Pippa Green asked Ntsebeza if it would have been possible for the TRC to look at the broader violations of apartheid like economic restrictions, land deprivation and unequal education.

He says the time constraints were severe, but there were also the constraints of the legislation itself.

There was no way that it was going to be the midwife for delivery of some of the promises it made. Some of the phrases were quite unfortunate like the reconstruction of SA society. That’s what was in the preamble. I mean it could never have been the agency for reconstruction of our society.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, former TRC Commissioner

Ntsebeza says it was not possible to do everything, and it was necessary "to pick and choose areas of special investigation and also decide certain things would never be answered by the Commission, but would be dealt with legislatively elsewhere."

Listen to this episode from Pippa Green's series History For the Future and go to the entire series to hear more insights into the history of the TRC and the commissioners who played such a valuable role in this process.

Click below to hear Pippa Green's interview with Dumisa Ntsebeza:

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