Saturday, April 29, 2017

Abused white woman in death has found her peace

Many of my friends will remember Natasha, the young girl who had her leg amputated about two years ago.  About five weeks ago Natasha became very ill, and her mother took her to the hospital.  Since being there, she deteriorated, and today, her mother told me she has died. 
I knew Natasha for many years, and all through the traumatic and happy times, she remained a young woman seeking to walk in the light. Today, I believe that she is finally in the light, and in death has found her peace.
You can read Natasha's story - 

Abused white woman urgently needs help


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

South Africa needs moral leaders, not those in pursuit of selfish gain

South Africa has seen a great deal of progress in many spheres of life since non-racial democracy in 1994, yet many of its people are still waiting for their hard-won freedom to pay dividends. Economic freedom still eludes them. The Conversation

Unemployment is stubbornly high and the redistribution of wealth and land hasn’t been successful. It seems that the country’s leaders have hijacked this freedom in pursuit of their own selfish gains.

Politically exposed people, public officials and cronies in the private sector abuse their contacts, positions and influence unashamedly. Social pathologies such as rampant corruption and state looting are the order of the day. The cult of materialism is destroying the moral fibre of the nation.

What the country needs now is moral leadership that brings deep and lifelong changes to individuals and communities. It urgently needs leadership born of sound core values and characterised by accountable management.

There are fortunately well established models that set out what the characteristics of this kind of leadership are. South Africans should draw on these so that they know what it is that makes up moral leadership traits.

The four key-drives theory

The late Harvard Business School Professor Paul Lawrence says that all animals survive guided by two innate drives, or ultimate motives: firstly to acquire essential resources and offspring; secondly to defend themselves and their property.

Humans have evolved to require two additional drives – to bond in trusting, caring, long-term relationships and the drive to comprehend – that is to learn, understand and create.

According to Lawrence, good moral leaders hold these four drives in dynamic balance, weighing and balancing conflicting demands.

He states that the four drives, when expressed as nouns rather than verbs, yield four important core values: prosperity (resources), peace/trust (bond), knowledge (comprehend), and justice (defend). Just as with the drives, the best leaders attend to all four values simultaneously.

Prosperity seeks to improve every citizen’s ability to obtain the necessary resources. Leaders honestly ask what other people are entitled to, and then promote it at all cost. This asks restraint and self-sacrifice, simplicity and contentment. Greedy and power-hungry leaders, who only focus on their own success and enrichment, are in the light of the four key-drives theory, primitive and destructive.

A deviation from this was seen when Brian Molefe, former CEO at Eskom, almost walked away with a R30.1 million “golden handshake” even though he was at the power utility for only 18 months. This, after he resigned as CEO in November 2016 under a cloud after being fingered in former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report. He is now an MP of the governing ANC.

Justice-based leadership keeps the other person safe, as well as his loved ones and property, protects their names, and preserves their integrity. This kind of leadership tracks fraudsters and criminals and punishes them unashamedly. It doesn’t put a veil over injustice.

And justice is never prioritised in a leader’s interest and or survival. One cannot defend the indefensible. But, in October 2016 South Africa started the process to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) - an institution designed to hold war criminals to account, and to deliver justice for their victims.

Protesters outside the offices of fired finance minister Pravin Gordhan in Pretoria.
Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

The move was a direct result of the government’s failure in 2015 to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as required by the ICC and the country’s laws. But justice triumphed in the end. Earlier this year the government found itself with egg on its face when the Pretoria High Court declared SA’s withdrawal from the ICC unconstitutional and invalid.

Trust that is essential to caring and social cohesion, keeps promises and doesn’t cheat. It acts with respect, honour and recognition, which in turn are important elements for peace, reliability and stability. This asks tremendous courage, because one is often on one’s own, threatened, bullied and even reviled.

Barbara Hogan, anti-apartheid activist, former minister and the widow of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada exhibited these qualities when she courageously called Zuma to go. She reiterated Kathrada’s call to Zuma to step down for the good of all South Africans.

Knowledge and expertise to understand one’s world, place and role in it is extremely important. It is to know the importance of speaking truth and acting with integrity. It doesn’t withhold, but discloses. It doesn’t mock, but respects. It doesn’t intimidate, but inspires. It doesn’t manipulate, but motivates. It doesn’t bully, but protects. The larger the island of knowledge and expertise, the longer the coastline of respect, trust and admiration.

But the abnormal has, in some respects, become normal in South Africa.

That’s why parliament continued to maintain that nothing different was done at the state of the nation address earlier this year even when armed soldiers were photographed strategically blocking off areas in the parliamentary precinct, a move criticised as unseemly militarisation of parliament. And, footage clearly showed journalists being impeded despite parliament’s official assurances over several days that this would not happen.

The need for role models

What South Africa needs are ethical leaders modelling core values, in line with these innate key-drivers. Leaders who have the ability to honestly deal with their own weaknesses. This is not an option, but a national imperative.

Fortunately, there are examples South Africans can turn to. Take Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s historic judgment last year in the Nkandla case involving the illegal use of millions of public money for upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead. Justice Mogoeng said Zuma had breached his constitutional duty by ignoring the Public Protector’s remedial action. Mogoeng’s behaviour displayed high ethical value.

At the moment South Africa is paying a very high price for the lack of moral leadership. This is true in relation to its economy, politics, education, social security, service delivery, and health services because certain influential politicians got stuck in a twisted first drive of self-enrichment – and bling.

Chris Jones, Academic project leader in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Survey sheds light on who marched against President Zuma and why

South Africa has long been described as the “protest capital of the world”. But the protests have largely been confined to black townships and informal settlements. The Conversation

The student protests of 2015-2016 suggested that this was beginning to change, with students of all races marching to places such as the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) headquarters Luthuli House, Parliament and Union Buildings. But the most recent marches were the first time in post-apartheid South Africa that such a united force was seen against a president and the governing party - the ANC.

This followed growing discontent towards President Jacob Zuma and the ANC that was reflected in the loss of support in the 2016 local government elections. The outcry following Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle, widely seen as being influenced by the interests of the Gupta family, culminated in nationwide protests on 7 April 2017.

Thousands of people marched across the country, notably in Pretoria, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, demanding that Zuma resign. These were followed by a march of the combined main opposition parties on Wednesday 12 April to the seat of government in Pretoria that attracted tens of thousands of protesters, making it possibly the largest march in post-apartheid history.

What might these marches tell us about the future direction of South Africa’s political landscape?

The 7 April march was largely organised under the banner of the Save South Africa campaign, which is made up of a variety of civil society organisations and business leaders. The predominately middle class makeup of the campaign was widely debated online. But who did attend and why? Was this a rebellion of the white middle class?

A research team from the University of Johannesburg decided to find out by conducting a short survey with 185 marchers. While a small sample, the research team felt that provided a fairly accurate sample and an indicative sense of who was involved and why.

Our findings were that the majority of those who marched were middle-class and mostly black. Most said they were there to protest against Zuma.

Who marched?

Of the 185 people surveyed, 56% were black African and 30% were white. The marchers were predominately middle class. Of those surveyed, 58% held what could be considered middle class occupations – either professional or managerial, technician and associated professions or clerks. Only 10% could be regarded as holding traditionally working class occupations – either skilled manual labour or trades work, domestic work or elementary. 13% were self-employed.

The middle class nature of the protest is reinforced when looking at the marchers’ place of residence and mode of transport to the march. Most of the marchers surveyed lived in a suburb (74%) and nearly half (42%) used a private car to travel to the march. The average age of the marcher surveyed was 41, again suggesting that the marchers were likely to be people somewhat established in their careers. Just under two thirds (61%) were men.

Why did people march?

The reasons that people gave for marching can be categorised into one of five themes: anti-Zuma, change, social justice, the economy and/or corruption and other. The anti-Zuma theme was the most popular, with 41% of marchers surveyed providing this as their reason for attending.

Protesters in Cape Town call on President Zuma to step down.
Reuters/Sumaya Hisham

But identifying as anti-Zuma should not be equated with being anti-ANC. A number of respondents made clear that their opposition was to Zuma and not to the ANC. For instance, a retired 58 year old white man from Centurion said that he was at the march

to support all South Africans to get rid of the Zuptas (Zuma and the Guptas), not the ANC.

While a black African self-employed 42-year old women from Benoni said

Zuma must go! Leadership is not for the people… I’m an ANC person but we want our old ANC back.

Nearly half (48%) of black Africans responded with anti-Zuma sentiments. For white respondents, this was the second most common response, 26%. The second most common theme overall, and the most common theme for white respondents, was social justice. This encompassed a broad range of perspectives. For instance, one white 48-year-old housewife from Centurion said

tax money … is not being used to help the poor. Zuma misuses our money, the poor get poorer. Struggle people didn’t die for this!

Other respondents displayed their concern for social justice around a rights-based discourse. One 22-year-old black African student from the Pretoria suburb of Faerie Glen said he was at the march “in defence of the constitution”. While others framed their reason for being at the march around the future of their children.

The third most common theme was concerns for the economy and or corruption. For instance, a black 33-year-old operations manager from Randburg said,

My mom is a government employee – her pension fund will be looted and it’s not their money. Zero leadership in this country. State is corrupt. Junk status.

Women were slightly more likely than men to raise issues of the economy and or corruption. Lastly, need for change accounted for 11% of respondents. No significant difference in the reasons for marching by class could be determined, partly because the sample of working class people was too small to draw any conclusions.

Future prospects

Most of the respondents surveyed were not part of any political grouping, with most (57%) reporting that they had attended the march with family or friends, and nearly a quarter (23%) saying they had come alone. Time will tell whether this loose network of people will be able to build and sustain a collective movement. As other commentators have highlighted, a movement that centres on removing Zuma alone is unlikely to bring the socio-economic change demanded by poor and working class protesters almost daily in the country’s mainly black townships and informal settlements. Can concerns for the pensions of government employees be united with demands for service delivery from those very same government employees? It remains to be seen.

Molefe Pilane, an independent researcher, contributed to the survey.

Carin Runciman, Senior Reseacher, Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg; Linah Nkuna, Lecturer at the Department of Communication Science, University of South Africa, and Pier Paolo Frassinelli, Associate Professor, Communication Studies, University of Johannesburg
Read the original article.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

South Africa's ANC can stay a liberation movement and govern well

The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s governing party, is weakening. It has recently committed some terrible mistakes in government. The Conversation

High on the list of errors is its decision to close ranks in defence of President Jacob Zuma during the Nkandla debacle where public money was used on upgrades to his private homestead. Then there’s the deployment of incompetent “cadres” to critical positions in government as well as Zuma’s ill-timed cabinet reshuffle.

Critics argue that these problems stem from the ANC’s insistence on being a liberation movement which they say is incompatible with a constitutional democracy.

This has raised the question about the party’s very nature: Is it not time for the ANC to stop seeing itself as a liberation movement but rather a modern, professional political party?

But that argument is hard to sustain. There’s nothing particular about political parties that makes them compatible with constitutional democracy.

Liberation movement vs political party

Those opposed to the ANC’s holding place as a liberation movement argue that a movement – liberation or social – is the old way of doing politics. This, they claim, was suitable during the struggles against colonialism and apartheid. But that struggle is now over and the post-apartheid era presents a new set of challenges.

The idea of a liberation movement keeps archaic and obsolete traditions alive. These include the leadership collective, consensus choice of leadership, revolution, comradeship, cadre deployment and patriarchal leadership patterns.

The role and character of liberation movements in power is informed by the democracy theory (coming out of liberalism ideology) and the theory of party dominance. These theories suggest that for democracy to be effective, there should be vibrant political party competition because it strengthens deliberative aspects of a liberal democracy. It also engenders internal dynamism and change of groups of elites in power.

The party dominance theory leads to the view that the ANC dominates South Africa’s politics because of its liberation movement legacy. This dominance is seen as inimical to democratic competition.

But when liberation movements become political parties they enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. They also deepen their internal democracy and their ability to connect with the wider public.

Internal democracy within the ANC is seen as particularly important given its political dominance.

ANC military veterans guard the party’s headquarters ahead of a march by the opposition DA.
Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Political parties shed the tendency towards democratic centralism, and its opaque internal political systems which insist on toeing the party line and brooks no dissent.

Political parties are assumed to operate like professional associations. They value accountability and transparency embracing modern systems of management and leadership. This enables them to become dynamic platforms for advancing refined political ends.

The conduct of Zuma and his cohort of leaders has been blamed on the ANC’s choice to remain steeped in the traditions of a liberation movement. The form determines the content: it produces tendencies that cause all manner of problems.

The ANC has made some catastrophic mistakes. It sometimes displayed arrogance in power and has allowed corrupt leaders to go unpunished.

There has also been a vacillation of policy stances on the economy, land and other crucial policy areas. Largely sound policies have been poorly implemented.

And there have been cases where the party and the state’s affairs have been conflated.

Some have argued that these problems stem from the ANC remaining essentially a liberation movement. To move with the times, they argue, it needs to assume a new, modern professional political party posture.

Lessons from elsewhere

The challenge in the ANC is, however, not unique to South Africa.
Liberal democrats in Japan, Christian democrats in Italy, the Communists (Kuomintang) in Taiwan and nationalist democrats in Kenya all experienced similar challenges.

Although they were not liberation movements, they share a number of features with the ANC. This includes arrogance of power, personalisation of power, elitism and the preponderance of sectional interests over the common good. So, it seems these are tendencies that need to be overcome.

It’s hard to sustain the argument that liberation movements are not right for democratic consolidation merely because they are movements or that political parties are by nature good for competitive politics. Political parties can dominate, distort, corrupt, abuse, and complicate democratic systems just as liberation movements deepen democracy by strengthening its social basis.

What the ANC needs to do

The ANC doesn’t need to transition into a political party, whatever that means in practice. But, it needs to develop a leadership that’s competent to use the state to change the economy fundamentally in order to serve the majority and bring about qualitatively positive changes to the people, especially the poor.

The party needs to put a stop to the self-inflicted damage to its image through endless scandals, public displays of arrogance, factionalism and internal conflict.

The ANC also needs to end its practice of deploying poor quality cadres to critical state structures, and start heeding the counsel of its friends and foes that it must place the country’s interests before sectional interests of whatever faction of its leadership is in power.

It can look to the Chama Cha Mapinduzi movement that’s been in power in Tanzania since the 1960s for example.

The party has ensured an open contest for leadership positions. The elected leaders are then expected to root out corruption, crime, tribalism and so forth.

There’s a constant change of national leadership and a level of dynamism that enables the movement to adapt to changing society. It has produced leaders like Julius Nyerere and John Magafuli who commands respect across party lines.

If liberation movements were formed to achieve total decolonisation and freedom, then for as a long the process is incomplete, they will have a good reason to exist. Like orthodox political parties, they constantly have to adapt to change.

Ultimately, democracy is meaningless if it doesn’t improve the material circumstances for the people. To do this, political formations must be occupied by conscientious, competent, compassionate and interested political elite.

This is what the ANC has shown it lacks as it attempts to “deal” with every scandal and crisis it causes. The problem isn’t its commitment to being a liberation movement, but rather that it wants to be a callous one.

Siphamandla Zondi, Professor of political science and head of department of Political Sciences and the Institute for Strategic and Political Affairs, University of Pretoria

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ANC's failure to do the right thing has left South Africa at an impasse

What would it take for President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) to understand that South Africa is a constitutional democracy, and provide desperately needed leadership to protect this fundamental principle? The Conversation

President Zuma’s apology and the ANC’s acceptance and defence of it are missed opportunities to reclaim credibility and the moral high ground. They follow the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Nkandla saga – the scandal over the use of public funds on the president’s private homestead.

Apology is a noble gesture. It is expression of remorse. But what’s at issue here is far more than just being remorseful. A dereliction of a constitutional duty is serious a matter.

The Constitutional Court provided judicial leadership with its ruling in protecting the state against the competition to profit from it.

It redeemed a pledge of the liberation struggle in reiterating that South Africa shall be a constitutional democracy.
But it has always been clear that the practical implications and implementation of the ruling would hit a snag.

Why Zuma won’t be removed

Constitutional democracy is not only about court pronouncements. It is also, more importantly, about their implementation, which shows respect for the rule of law. The president ignored the remedial order of the country’s public protector. He therefore violated the constitution. This issue cannot simply be reduced to an apology. This is a serious indictment. The constitution is unambiguous on what ought to happen in this instance: parliamentary processes for the removal of the president must be invoked.

Sadly, the National Assembly also failed in its constitutional duty to hold the president and the executive accountable. Its complacency is writ large in its conduct on the Nkandla matter. Herein lies the snag in implementing the ruling.

Removing a president is a parliamentary process and the country’s opposition parties are pursuing the matter. But to be successful at least two thirds of the members of the National Assembly need to vote in favour.

The ANC members in the National Assembly are not likely to support the motion to remove Zuma. The opposition parties do not have the numbers to secure the required threshold. Combined they have 151 seats against the ANC’s 249 out of the total of 400.

And the Constitutional Court ruling implicates the ANC in a big way as the majority party in parliament. It reveals a contrived confluence of the executive and legislative authorities in riding roughshod over the supremacy of the constitution. The National Assembly is therefore equally at fault as the president.

If fault can be equally apportioned, shouldn’t the parliament dissolve itself? Shouldn’t the same happen to the cabinet? But, if all this happens, what would be left of the state? This lays bare the intricacy of implementing the Nkandla ruling. Adding to this is that the power to dissolve the National Assembly before the expiry of its term is assigned to the president, whereas that of impeaching him is assigned to the National Assembly. In the game of chess, we say checkmate.

Two powers that, in the case of one’s aberration, should dissolve each other are equally at fault in the same matter. The ANC exploited the possibilities that this has created. It imposed its leadership on a matter exclusively reserved for the National Assembly from its Luthuli House head office.

Its stand and support of Zuma’s apology effectively put a stop to the possibility of his removal as the head of state and that of the national executive. One thing that came out very clearly is that the line between the state and a political party is blurred. Even more worrying is the ANC’s display of arrogance. As a governing party, it seems averse to self-correction – an opportunity the Nkandla ruling presented.

But, what could it have done differently?

Reclaiming the moral high ground

Ironically, the only feasible way of removing the president lies outside the prescribed formal structures of the constitutional processes. In other words, the answer to the challenge of realising the implications of the ruling of the Constitutional Court is not in Parliament in Cape Town, or the Union Buildings – the seat of government – in Pretoria. It is in Luthuli House in Johannesburg. Perhaps this is a context against which the ANC’s press briefing on the matter should be understood. It was a lost opportunity to reclaim the moral high ground.

The ANC should have persuaded Zuma to resign from the position of the president of the Republic of South Africa and leave with some decorum. A precedent for this exists. Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the ANC in 2008, although this was not because of violating the constitution, as is the case with Zuma.

Mbeki had angered Zuma’s faction by dismissing him as the deputy president of the country, following his implication in the corruption trial of his financial advisor and friend Schabir Shaik. Mbeki lost the presidency of the ANC in 2007, and that of the country in 2008. Some argue that Zuma’s chance of being recalled cannot be compared with the Mbeki situation. Perhaps they are right, but the reasoning is strange.

Arguing that recalling Mbeki was easy because his position as the head of the state was already weakened because he had lost the presidency of the ANC is tantamount to saying that being both the head of state and that of a party guarantees impunity for deviance from the constitution.

For what it’s worth, Mbeki did nothing untoward to warrant the disproportionate wrath of the ANC. This is in stark contrast to what Zuma did, as the court determined. He violated the constitution.

The ANC should have persuaded Zuma to resign, or it should have recalled him to reaffirm the virtue of public office. Thereafter, it could have invoked its ingenuity and spun his resignation or recall to recapture the moral high ground and assert its commitment to protecting democracy and the future of South Africa.

It should have then tried as much as possible to reach out to the citizens and clearly communicate the message that, in the words of English economist Alfred Marshall in 1919:

The state is the most precious of human possessions; and no care can be too great to be spent on enabling it to do its work in the best way.

Mashupye Herbert Maserumule, Professor of Public Affairs, Tshwane University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

White monopoly capital': an excuse to avoid South Africa's real problems

The call for radical economic transformation has grown louder following President Jacob Zuma’s 2017 State of the Nation Address. Accompanying these calls is a line of argument that says “white monopoly capital” is to blame for the fact that the majority of black South Africans remain marginalised from the mainstream economy 22 years after apartheid ended. The Conversation

The term ‘white monopoly capital’ is not new but increasingly it’s used to deflect attention away from the real issues facing the country’s economy. These include government incompetence, corruption, poor infrastructure, lack of skills and bad policies.

While the white monopoly capital noise rages on it’s become clear that the governing party (African National Congress) has no political will to address critical areas harming the economy such as rigid labour laws and market inefficiencies caused by state-owned enterprises.
There are also indications that the call for radical economic transformation is a political ploy to loot and enrich the black elites who are abusing their proximity to political power.

‘White monopoly capital’ illusion

The truth is; capital has no colour or political affiliation. Thus no race or person can ever monopolise it. As such this ‘white monopoly capital’ talk is a fabrication.

Ownership figures based on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s shareholder-weighted index proves this point. Approximately 50% of total market capitalisation of the stock exchange (R14 trillion) is held by international investors. Next are the Black Economic Empowerment groups who control 23% (10% directly and 13% indirectly through mandated investments).

Then there is 14% belonging mainly to South African pension funds, investment funds, which also comes with some black representation, and other unmeasured fund managers. Lastly is the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the state owned asset management company, which holds approximately 13% of the JSE’s total value, of which the Government Employee Pension Fund controls the biggest chunk.

These numbers show that the white monopoly capital domination factor is both overstated and illusive. Instead of harping on about this mythical deception the governing party should focus on saving the country’s economy from the
tail spinning mode.

State of the economy

South Africa’s economy almost ground to a halt in 2016 – coming in at 0.3% down from 1.3% in 2015. Projections suggest that growth will remain depressed – under 2% – in the next two years.

There’s consensus that South Africa’s economy needs to grow by at least 6% to reduce stubbornly high levels of unemployment – most recently quoted at 27%. Mixed with rising political and social unrest and a weakening fiscal position this has become cause for major concern among credit rating agencies whose threat of a downgrade still hovers over South Africa.

It’s therefore imperative that the government acknowledges the current state of affairs and confronts the real causes of the country’s predicament. The major sectors of mining and manufacturing have been perennially shrinking in recent years as global trade and output patterns change. Yet the government still hankers after a previous era of mass low-skilled employment rather than designing education and labour market policies that will produce a more relevant skills base.

In addition, the current economic downturn is eroding both government revenue collection and it’s spending. This pressure was evident in the recent budget where the R30 billion revenue shortfall was largely filled by raising taxes on high-income earners.

A continuation of this pattern makes South Africa’s redistributive tax system unsustainable. The latest tax data shows that taxes the top 10% of earners pay 72% of the income taxes received. These taxpayers only make use of 6% of social services. In contrast, the bottom 50% of earners pay just 4% of taxes but receive 59% of social services.

This is a delicate situation which requires due care. Policies that limit the wealth generation capabilities of the wealthy via market interference and higher taxes will stimulate capital flight and tax avoidance. And this will negatively affect tax collection and service delivery to the poor.

The solutions

To solve the current situation a number of measures need to be taken that will stimulate economic growth. First, the government needs to go back to basics. It clears the contradictory regulatory frameworks and infuse certainty around how economic transformation policies will proceed. Government must also entrench good governance and fight corruption. Most importantly South Africa needs to overhaul its education frameworks so as to develop skilled and semi-skilled labour appropriate for a globalised world.

Politicians should also stop misleading South Africans by projecting their failure on to “white monopoly capital” and creating false hopes. They should rather concentrate their efforts on fundamental areas that will strengthen business and investor confidence to help the country move out of its low growth cycle.

Lastly, the government should introduce the much advocated structural reforms in critical economic sectors. These include a sustainable supply of energy, efficiency in state owned enterprises (including partial and full privatisation), and labour market reforms.

Without political will beyond cheap rhetoric, South Africa will remain mired in a rising tide of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. As Professor Brian Kantor recently noted

To realise the vision of the Constitution, South Africa needs transformation that opens a path to inclusive economic growth and development. Growth without transformation would only reinforce the inequitable patterns of wealth inherited from the past. Transformation without economic growth would be narrow and unsustainable.

Misheck Mutize, Lecturer of Finance and Doctor of Philosophy Candidate, specializing in Finance, University of Cape Town and Sean Gossel, Senior Lecturer, UCT Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Dear President Trump: let me share some home truths about Africa with you

Africa has occupied a more or less constantly insignificant position in both Republican and Democratic administrations in the US since the 1960s. The Conversation

Studies of US-Africa policies have tended to depict Republican administrations as “globalist” – more likely to look at Africa as part of a bigger picture than as its own unique geopolitical space. Democrats, meanwhile, are perceived “Africanists” who have close sympathies to African interests.

But these distinctions are deceptive. Some Republican administrations, such as that of George W. Bush, paid more attention to African issues such as HIV/AIDS than, for instance, Bill Clinton’s Democratic administration did. There were great expectations that Africa would feature prominently during Barack Obama’s presidency. Instead, his administration built on some of the initiatives of the previous Republican governments rather than breaking new or distinctive ground in Africa.

Donald J. Trump is the new man in charge of the US, and Africa seems to have little cause for celebration. During his presidential campaign Trump gave no indication of how his administration would relate to Africa, a continent with a large diaspora in America. Worries about his stance on Africa were compounded by Trump’s deliberate articulation of divisive policies regarding migration, foreigners, Muslims and race.

In the week before Trump’s inauguration it was reported that the president-elect’s advisers had posed pertinent questions to the State Department about Africa.

I’d like to offer unsolicited responses to four of Trump’s questions. I will direct these to the man himself. In doing so, I hope to address the question that’s top of mind for the continent right now: what does a Trump presidency mean for Africa?

US aid to Africa

With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the US?

President Trump, your administration will not be the first to discover that foreign aid is a double-edged sword. It rewards autocratic regimes while also strengthening institutions in more democratic ones. So it’s important to understand the institutional conditions under which aid is disbursed.

Your administration should continue the correct policy of selective discrimination of aid recipients. The United States Agency of International Development (USAID) has garnered significant experience in managing aid over the years. You should let it continue the work of putting American dollars where they make a difference. Of course, it is your sovereign responsibility to guarantee that US taxpayers’ money isn’t stolen by venal regimes.
Al-Shabaab’s constant attacks on Somalia are among concerns Donald Trump’s advisers have about Africa. Reuters/Feisal Omar/The Conversation

Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram

We have been fighting Al-Shabaab [in Somalia] for decades. Why haven’t we won?

This is an unwinnable war. The fight against Al-Shabaab is part of the war on terror that your predecessors prioritised in Africa. The US has made some difference in how Al-Shabaab is managed in Africa, but your administration should seriously rethink its approach if it wants to see genuine change.

Rebuilding the state in Somalia is the antidote to violent extremism. This rebuilding won’t happen when American administrations indiscriminately drop bombs in Somalia or support weak regional governments that may never marshal the resources to defeat the Islamic insurgents.

What is required are renewed efforts to negotiate a political settlement between the Somali government and Al-Shabaab through international mediation. Al-Shabaab may be amenable to negotiations once the relentless drone attacks from America stop and once regional players can be weaned away from unsustainable militarised approaches.

Why is the United States bothering to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria? Why have all the [Chibok] school girls kidnapped by the group not been rescued?

The Chibok girls may never be found, thanks to the incompetence of the Nigerian military. In the past the Nigerian military was the leading professional army in West Africa. But corruption and political interference have weakened it significantly. A more capable Nigerian military should be able to defeat Boko Haram without American assistance. Probably the US might channel some aid towards supporting a strengthened Nigerian military so it can take care of its own local problems.

In addition, the best policy toward Boko Haram should be to encourage Nigeria to find negotiated solutions to a problem that stems from political and economic marginalisation.

The Chinese conundrum

Are we losing out to the Chinese?

Yes. The US has gradually lost out to the Chinese, which has large investments and is trading robustly with Africa. But instead of complaining about the Chinese, your administration should try to figure out why and where they are succeeding in Africa.

If, as you claim, one of your major policies will be to promote business interests abroad, then Africa will need more attention. This, by the way, will not be inconsistent with broad African opinion that clamours for enhanced international investment in Africa.

Negotiation will be key

So what does all this tell us about Trump’s stance on and approach to Africa?

First, there is understandable cynicism about Africa from the incoming administration. This is born from the negative images that inhere in a large segment of the American psyche. Gradually, however, this scepticism will be tempered by the realities of dealing with a continent that cannot be written off. Second, all new administrations need to have the space and latitude to question the logic of previous policies, as a starting point for new and innovative policies.

But in foreign policy, clean slates are the exceptions rather than the rule. Thus, there will be both change and continuity in Trump’s African policies. The doomsayers may perhaps be surprised at what comes out of the Trump White House.

Trump will not run the US alone. As has always been the case, American presidents must negotiate policies with Congress. African governments and citizens will hope that these negotiations yield compromises across a wide range of issues that benefit the continent into the future.

Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Jan Smuts Professor of International Relations and Head of Department, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

No need to despair even as the dream of South Africa feels like a nightmare

Like many, this Easter I feel that the dream of South Africa feels more like a nightmare. Personal interests, corruption, private gain, entitlement, a vicious contempt for the poor and the common good, a culture of blatant lies and cronyism — and possibly worse — dominate our public landscape. The Conversation

This past week, the nightmare got worse as the full impact of President Jacob Zuma’s recent actions the cabinet reshuffle unfolded, leading to the country’s credit downgrade. They have devastated our hopes for the kind of foreign investment which we desperately need to grow our economy and create new jobs.

The impact of the president’s actions on consumer confidence and trust is immeasurable. Tens of thousands of jobs are directly affected by just a 10 percent drop in consumer confidence. If we cannot turn the situation around, we face the prospect of employees being fired; shops shuttering; malls closing; the poor unable to afford bread, paraffin, electricity and the cost of burials; possible hyperinflation — it’s as if we are entering the Zimbabwe moment.
A protester waves the South African flag during a mass protest demanding President Jacob Zuma step down. EPA/Kim Ludbrook/The Conversation

Hope amid gloom

In this hour we grieve because the words of writer and philosopher GK Chesterton, used to such effect by the anti-apartheid cleric Trevor Huddleston as apartheid’s grip intensified in the 1950s, are again apt now:

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Our nightmare is similar to that under which the ancient Hebrews once lived. In our case, while we aren’t being disadvantaged by colonial slavery any longer and apartheid is over; some of our institutions, part of our economy and some among our leaders have become slaves to a new form of oppression.

It’s a moral and economic oppression that manifests itself in the form of one family’s capture of our country, and a president whose integrity, soul and heart have been compromised.

The promise of Easter, which Christians around the world and here in South Africa celebrate, can be likened to what I call the new struggle in South Africa. In that struggle, the realisation of the promise of Easter is measured not only by how soon we replace the current administration, but by how well we ready ourselves for what comes next.

How do we prepare ourselves for the future after the end of a deeply corrupt regime? After Zuma has fallen, will those who benefit from his patronage fall too? Because if we change leaders but the patronage system that the current leadership has produced doesn’t change; if state-owned enterprises, the prosecution and law enforcement agencies remain captured by corrupt interests, we are no better off.

Over the past days, hundreds of thousands of South Africans have issued a call to the country’s political leaders. They have called on them to come out from the places that hold them in bondage to the death of greed, in bondage to the lust for and the seduction of power, in bondage to the shadow of moral corruption that has enveloped South Africa.

Time for selfless leadership

Ordinary South Africans have called to their leaders, to those who are economically, socially and morally deaf; to those who ignore the crisis of distrust that has cast the longest and darkest shadow the country has ever seen in the democratic era, ordinary South Africans have said:

Don’t stay in places that will pull us all into a culture that wounds or kills us. Don’t be overtaken by the culture into which our president and some of our elected officials have descended. Don’t ignore the pleas, cries and profound sense of pain and suffering that plague our wonderful and beautiful nation.

South Africa needs real leaders who must be ready to sacrifice all to ensure dignity, equality, opportunity and freedom for all of our people. We cannot and should not ever be afraid to raise our voices for honesty, truth and compassion, and against injustice and lying and greed.

It’s time to take sides. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. As Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has said,

If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. We need to rise up, to stand up and speak up for our rights, our children’s rights and our grandchildren’s rights.

Let us acknowledge that the old order, the economic system which makes us one of the most unequal societies on earth, must go. Let us challenge the narrative of the corrupt, who use that old order as a fig leaf behind which they hide their greed. As I have said before, we need to overcome the skewed racial ordering of our economy and the obscene inequality which it produces. Not by indulging the rapacious greed of a few politically connected individuals, but by building a new, fairer society which distributes wealth more equitably for all.

Let the different interest groups and elements of our society which are committed to these ideals — whether rich or poor, whether black, white, coloured or Indian, whether Christian, Communist, Muslim, Hindu or Jew — let us all find one another in a powerful, united coalition which puts first the interests of the poor and thereby the interests of all of us.

Working for a just South Africa

While former presidents Nelson Mandela’s and Thabo Mbeki’s administrations made mistakes, their record shows that if government pulls together representatives of different interest groups, we can find rational, workable solutions to our most difficult problems. In that spirit, let us turn this moment of crisis into a moment of opportunity and convene a convention on the emotive land issue, along the lines of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) to negotiate a solution. And, in the light of the downgrades of our credit ratings, an economic Codesa too.

In this new struggle, let us reject the participation of white racists who don’t believe that black people are capable of running a country or an economy. They are not welcome on marches and protests. Let us also not be distracted by hurtful and anachronistic comments on colonialism.

Let us also reject those who want an unequal, tribal, sexist and racialised South Africa, and who exploit the views of a minority of racists to portray their opponents as stooges and to threaten white compatriots for exercising their civic rights.

To all politicians, we appeal to all of you to rise above your petty everyday squabbles and obsessions and to recognise this as a turning point in our history. I want to issue a special challenge to our Members of Parliament: when you are called upon to decide on whether you have confidence in our president, vote for the country’s future, and not for your own pockets. You should know that:

South Africa will be watching.
The world will be watching.
Vote your conscience.

This is an edited version of the sermon by the Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, prepared for delivery at the Easter Vigil at St George’s Cathedral on April 16, 2017.

Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and chancellor, University of the Western Cape

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Zuma, Zilla and the crazy South African situation

A South African sent the following Letter sent to Farmer’s Weekly - expressing his views on the recent political situation.

Madam lets put the record straight.
Jacob Zuma had no choice, accept to recall Pravin Gordhan.

Go to Google <What actually happened in London: Zuma vs. Gordhan. Mr. Chenkov.> It seems Jacob Zuma had signed and agreed with a Nuclear Power Plant Deal with Russia.

RSA could be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in either a criminal case or civil case if Mr. President Zuma is in breach of contract.

So even if all Jacob Zuma's opposition oust him, the country is still liable for costs, losses and more.

This was decided in the Netherlands, and US President Trump would benefit as South Africa is reduced to chaos status.

Big Oil wants all they get hold of to do oil and gas drilling. Big Oil is Donald's Trump's primary benefactor.

Mrs. Helen Zille has made way for all this to happen with her Tweet that Colonialism is wrong. She did not recall the words.

She has admitted that Colonial is wrong, therefore others, strangers to boot, can claim on that.
Claim big they will.

Carlos the Jackal was in a European Court a few days ago. The Judge ordered that he tell what he did before his arrest for terrorism.
"I will never tell. All freedom fighters have one rule. Never admit what we did (wrong). . . I will rather stay in prison then tell what we did do. . ." Strong words like that.

All Freedom Fighters, even Robert McBride, IPID head, will never admit what he did. He was found guilty of murder on some counts, and due to be hanged. He got a reprieve.

Jacob Zuma will never admit that he did wrong. That is how he will break the system, and even break all his opposition.

South Africa White Farmers who are still wet behind the ears will say things like, "We are wrong. We must give in to the majority vote. He got to sell to BBBEE. We have no other option" ad infinitum.

It is what each farmer decides that is what will decide what happens to their farms. Not what the High Courts and Constitution Courts rule. Farmers in their own right can say. "I never agreed to that. It is theft. It is criminal. . . To take my farm(s) away." Actually, any Judge in his right mind will have to rule in favor, not of majority rule, but what is right.

Feeding the masses is a 'no-no' in the eyes of the UN. That is what they lectured my (school) class back in 1971 in my final year at high school. They don't want a  large population to feed.

"Kiddies go to war . . . or be vaccinated. . ." All vaccines have things in them you have no idea what is inside.