DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe will address this year’s annual Ruth First memorial lecture on Wednesday, August 17.

The theme of this year’s lecture is In Search of an African Foreign Policy. The focus of the lecture will be on Libya. 2011’s Ruth First fellow, Eusebius McKaiser, will be presenting his research findings into foreign policy on Libya. 

An exhibition of photographer Anton Hammerl’s work from Libya will also be on show. Hammerl was shot and killed while covering the Libyan conflict.

Last year’s lecture – themed How policy is affecting the marginalised and its impact on poverty – was addressed by Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Vavi reflected on First’s contribution to social injustices and highlighted the struggles the country is still facing.

“Her disdain for capitalism and her striving for social justice are amongst the lessons that we as workers continue to draw from her legacy, 28 years after her brutal killing by the apartheid state.

“The overriding lesson we continue to learn from her is that capitalism and imperialism have inflicted immense misery on humanity.

“She would be shocked…that 48% of South Africans live below R322 a month and 25% of the population now survives on state grants.

“As we celebrate women’s month, she would have to face the reality that income inequality is still racialised and gendered: an average African man earns in the region of R2 400 p/m, whilst an average white man earns around R19 000. Most white women earn in the region of R9 600 p/m, whereas most African women earn R1 200 p/m.”

[Do we need to go this far back if we have space problems?]McKaiser is an associate lecturer at the Wits Philosophy Department and the Wits Centre for Ethics. He is also a political commentator who writes for local and international media on SA politics and ethical debates.