17 March 2009

Now that opposition parties are beginning to speak of coalition, there may be some point in voting. The fact that they cling to their mainly ethnic party divisions instead of forming one opposition party demonstrates that we are still bound by apartheid thinking.  Verwoerd still smiles down benignly on us.

 16 February 2009

Yesterday Nelson Mandela made an unexpected appearance at an ANC election rally in the Eastern Cape.  Why?  To counteract the effect of Carl Niehaus's confession? 

 15 February

Carl Niehaus

Having placed Carl Niehaus firmly in the category of heroic Afrikaners like Braam Fischer and Beyers Naude, I found his revelations, as recorded in the Mail and Guardian of 13 - 19 February 2009, a sad awakening.  Afrikaners who stood up against apartheid were among the bravest of the brave. Other Afrikaners regarded them with anathema for their ‘betrayal' of the volk and they were made to suffer egregiously.

The article in M&G, which presents a weak confused man, forces one to apply the aphorism of absolute power and corruption to his actions and makes one question his motives for having joined the ANC.  Was he simply one of the previously disempowered who, after 1994, found themselves in positions of power, lost their perspective and like thieves began to divide up the spoils amongst themselves?  

Soldiers, having fought a battle, are blown up by a sense of entitlement and like Janjaweed types go on rampages of looting and rape.  How sad that heroes of the struggle descend to such a level.

Great men like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi are allocated to us once every hundred years and we spend all our time looking for them in vain among our present politicians.  


6 February 2009

The opening of parliament.  A grand spectacle. The red carpet, the march of military bands, parliamentarians in designer outfits; all to emphasise that amandla has nothing to do with awethu.  We did our colonial masters proud.  Then Kgalema Monthlanthe's State of the Nation address in which he pointed out the ANC successes of the past fifteen years and then a quote from Nelson Mandela's book which made the point that successes of the past have not yet wiped out the terrible legacy of apartheid, that there was still much to be done and that would take many more years to come. All the opposition parties found the speech lacking; all ANC members found it impressive, outstanding.

I was glad that the events of the past couple of years have made all parties aware of poor service delivery, of the need to build sustainable development and an economy which provides for the poor and unemployed.

When Jacob Zuma was interviewed, he made the point that in order to overcome skills shortages, people need on the job training. That makes sense.  I hope, however,  that people will not be burdened with SETA and SAQA requirements but will be allowed to learn freely from instructors to whom they are apprenticed, just as people used to in the old days.  I hope too that someone will see that it is not necessary to force children to matric level.  Those who are academically inclined will naturally aim at matric but those who are not should be allowed to leave once they have acquired basic literacy and numeracy skills and allowed to go into apprenticeships.  When they are ready for higher qualifications, they will do so as a result of being in the workplace and seeing the necessity for more training.  I hope too that the ruling party will make some attempt to allow mother tongue instruction in schools.  People wonder why our teachers and children struggle so with education.  It is so obvious.  It is difficult to learn through a foreign language.  A way should be found to allow children to learn through the mother tongue.  Where English is not the mother tongue or home language, it should be a second language that  emphasises  communication and the ability to negotiate the demands of major subjects.

My personal feeling is that education has been severely hampered by the creation of SETAs and SAQA.

2 February 2009

Politicians have a wonderful facility for wasting money, our money.  If it were theirs, they would be more careful. 

Think of those super submarines that we have bought for the battle -- against which super power?  We didn't just buy them as toys for our boys in blue, surely. 

Now I watch all political parties embarking on election campaigns. Sheer waste of money. The ANC does not need to campaign.  Its faithful adherents will give it the majority in government.

The opposition parties busy dancing before their tiny groups of followers, put on their shows, their TV performances, promising to cure all the ills of South Africa.  They all sing the same song but , like a bunch of pop idols, each one wants to win the big prize while none of them has a hope of doing so.  They don't seem to have noticed that they all sing the same song only the tunes are different.  

If they had any sense they would be forming an alliance now before the election and giving us, the voters, a clear choice, an opportunity to vote for a strong opposition that will end the monopoly of the ruling party.  But they are too tied to their egos and their ethnicities to become a united opposition.

All this electioneering is simply  a waste of tax payers' money.

Meanwhile the leaders of African countries are beginning to talk earnestly of a United States of Africa.  Will it be another organisation like the SADC?   Will it elect Mugabe as its first President?

29 January 2009

Amandla Awethu means power to the people.  In the manner in which President Barack Obama conducted his election campaign, he demonstrated this.  For politicians to recognise that democracy means power to the people is unusual.  Normally, politicians take amandla awethu to mean power to the politician.  What we need in South Africa are politicians like President Obama, who care about the people, who understand their responsibility to the people.  Now that over a million ordinary people who are dependent on bus transport are being left in the lurch by striking bus drivers and the government subsidised bus system is on the verge of collapse because subsidies have not been paid since November 2008, we see that power is not to the people.  The politicians are not fulfilling their responsibility to the poor. 

I look at the electioneering going on and more promises being made to the poor.  Can we believe people who do not demonstrate that power is to the people?

23 January 2009

Election manifestos are empty promises.  One cannot choose a party by what it promises it will do. In the coming election, only those who plan to vote for the ANC can have any satisfaction in going to the polls.  The rest do not have a real choice and are wasting their time.  They are in the minority and they are asked to choose from among 147 parties.  What is the point?  These tiny and minute parties have no power to achieve anything.  What we need is a ruling party with a strong opposition otherwise we do not have democracy.  Democracy depends on vigorous debate in parliament.

14 January 2009

The Bloemfontein Supreme Court judgment on Monday, 12 January 2009, overturned Judge Nicholson's judgement in Pietermaritzburg, 12 September 2008.  Nicholson did not dismiss the Zuma case on the grounds of the charges that were brought against Zuma but on points of procedure for the case that was before him in September.  He clearly left the door open for the continued prosecution of Zuma.  That is how I read his judgment.

Pre-September 12, 2008, the whole justice system was under threat. Whatever one thinks of Nicholson's judgment, it was a judgment that averted a very dangerous situation at the time.  Thousands of belligerent ANC members were camped outside the Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court buildings, waiting for the opportunity to lash out against an adverse judgment.  Had the judgment gone against Zuma, who knows what would have happened?  Pietermaritzburg could have been plunged into a bloodbath.  Personally I am grateful to Judge Nicholson for defusing a very dangerous situation.  We could have been reduced to another Somalia, Darfur, Congo, Rwanda, another banana republic. 

The threat still hangs over us even though the need to intimidate the judiciary was lessened after the Nicholson judgment. Judge Nicholson gave us the respite to pull ourselves together and reassert our respect for the law and the independence of the judiciary.  Now with the Bloemfontein ruling against Zuma, ANC spokespersons are careful to mention their respect for the rule of law.  Who knows, however, when the monster of anarchy will raise its ugly head again?  No one knows.  That is why the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein was secured against violence unlike the Supreme Court in Pietermaritzburg.

12 January 2009

Now we hear that 150 parties are registered for the 2009 elections.  And so we continue the apartheid legacy; our inability to think outside of the clan; our inability to acknowledge that people who are not of our particular persuasion can actually have the interests of all people at heart.  Democracy depends on a certain level of trust.  Apartheid was not democratic because it was based on distrust.

How can we ever be a united people when each tiny group clings to its own particular interests?  How can we ever stop being racists when the people who offer to govern us think along narrow group lines and demand that we follow them into eternal divisiveness?  We do not need an opposition split into 150 powerless groups who can achieve nothing and can only be regarded as opportunists deluding the small groups who support them into believing that they can achieve anything for anyone.  It is clear that they do not want democracy; that they only mouth democratic slogans and their only policy making ability consists in hurling brickbats at the ruling party. We will never have democracy in our country as long as there is no real debate in parliament, as long as policies cannot be really challenged and refined to ensure that all human rights are protected and that there is real development to eradicate poverty, unemployment and crime. Viva apartheid, viva.

As long as the ANC has a two-thirds majority in parliament, we have no opposition and no democracy.

14 December 2008

Having just watched the first convention of the Congress of the People (COPE) on television, I was very happy to see how well the new party is supported.  Thank goodness.  Perhaps now, one party rule will come to an end in South Africa.  Strong parties in competition for our votes is the only way to ensure accountability of government. Now perhaps our votes will have some meaning.

12 December 2008

Sewage is being dumped into the Vaal River, not by renegades or people of informal settlements, but by one of our municipalities. How long before we catch up with Zimbabwe?

'Zimbabwe' is rapidly become a catchword for corruption, tyrannical rule and gross inhumanity.

Is  'AU' also becoming a term for pusillanimous, indecisive self-preservation?

What kind of leaders do we have who do not have the courage to condemn criminal behaviour?

10 December 2008

The ANC did not meet the deadline for registering candidates for local elections in the Western Cape and its appeal was denied by the IEC.  The decision of the IEC was upheld by the courts and now the matter is going to the Constitutional Court. 

Will  the judiciary bow once more to political considerations?   Do we or do we not believe in the independence of the judiciary? 

Why is the AU unable to take firm action with regard to Zimbabwe?  Does it not regard genocide as a crime against humanity?  Is a megalomaniac more worthy of saving than the whole population of the country?

09 December 2008

A few days ago, Gwede Mantashe of the ANC blamed the split in the ANC on imperialists.

Robert Mugabe has been blaming the genocide in Zimbabwe on the UK and the US.

Yesterday, Kgalima Montlanthe fired Vusi Pikole of the National Prosecuting Authority and completed the ANC's programme of eliminating opposition from judicial and prosecutorial authorities. 

03 December 2008

The cancer that arises from the oncogenes of greed, corruption and megalomania, has metastasized  to all parts of Zimbabwe and we are watching a country in its dying throes.  And the oncogenes are busy at work in our own country.

27 November 2008

Today we hear that 70% of civil servants are under skilled for the positions that they occupy.  They lack managerial, financial and accounting skills and what we have is a situation of mediocrity. We are told that the government's skills development programme is a failure and the skills shortage will lead to importation of labour.    It is easier to get away with a lack of skills in the public sector where it takes much longer to deal with poor service.  It takes at least a year to get rid of underperforming employees. With our lack of skills, there should be on the job training but bureaucratic requirements have turned this into paper pushing exercises.

Part of the blame for skills shortages must be placed on education which unfortunately is bedevilled by the same bureaucratic demand for paper pushing rather than real learning.  In good faith, the government adopted practices, imported from other countries, and imposed them on our people.  This meant the development of the huge bureaucracy that controls education, a bureaucracy that benefits policy makers and disseminators of policies and places an inordinate amount of oversight on education and training that is as debilitating as apartheid education.

27 November 2008

Today we hear that money laundering and theft charges against Ngoako Ramathlodi have been dropped.

The cholera epidemic which has spread round Zimbabwe and has become a matter of major concern in South Africa with thousands of refugeees fleeing across the border.  But the Zimbabwe government says that the there is no crisis and the situation is under control.  In South Africa our medical services are under high alert and we are doing all we can to contain the spread of cholera.  It seems that the crisis is only on our side of the border.  How terrible it is when governments refuse to take responsibility for the chaos into which they plunge their countries.

23 November 2008

Corruption/Poverty, like Governors/Governed, are two sides of a coin.  Fraud, bribery and misappropriation of funds keep the impoverished, impoverished.  Now, the government needs the support of the impoverished to make successes of the FIFA Confederation Cup and the FIFA World Cup, and is appealing to the impoverished, who do not have the funds, to support such events.  It is always the poor who have to support the rich.

There is little to choose between governments.  Under apartheid, the Indian and Coloured communities, being tiny minorities and not a great threat, were given limited ‘privileges' so that they would be a buffer between the white community and the black community.  Then the apartheid government tried to build a Black middle class but, hampered by its doctrine of discrimination, was only able to begin the process.  After 1994, however, with BEE that initiative was brought to proper fruition. Now the Black middle class provides the buffer between the government and the impoverished.  And racism continues to flourish in multi-party government which keeps ethnicity, racism and religious discrimination alive.


21 November 2008

Today Simon Grindrod is showing the way.  He has left the Independent Democrats to join COPE.  As I am totally against multi-party government where one party has a two-thirds majority and the last third is divided up into 146 minority parties whose own individual existences are more important than the creation of a civilized society in which people live together in a fair amount of security, I applaud Grindrod's decision.  The split in the ANC has unexpectedly and happily opened the way for more open government and Grindrod acknowledges that.

We can only become like Zimbabwe if we continue to be ruled by a party that is so powerful that it is not accountable to the people.   If we have one other party as powerful, then we the ordinary citizens will have real choice and our votes will mean something.  Corruption and fraud go out of hand where there are no real checks and balances.  With a government party and a strong opposition party, we will have politicians who keep a policing eye on one another.  That is good because we can't control them but they can control each other if they are powerful enough.  Then perhaps not so many of our tax rands will be diverted to private pockets.  Yesterday we heard that the National Prosecuting Authority is about to descend on Ngoako Ramathlodi in connection with a 785,000 rand allocation and today's newspaper headlines read, Gautrain millions missing.

20 November 2008

Today we look at the possibility of an early election date.  Carl Niehaus, spokesperson for Z-ANC appears on Morning Live and states categorically that the ANC cannot make the decision to bring the election forward.  This is the function of the President of South Africa, Kgalima Montlanthe (also Deputy President of Z-ANC) in consultation with the IEC. 

Reading between the lines, he is assuring us that Z-ANC is not pushing for early elections to catch COPE and other opposition groups off-guard and the President will not be influenced by the ANC NEC meeting which is to take place this weekend at which the election date is simply one of many items on the agenda.  The President of the country will be attending the NEC meeting in his capacity as Deputy President of the ANC and a member of the ANC NEC. 

Ngoako Ramathlodi, former Premier of Limpopo, who faces prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority in connection with an allocation of 700 million rand during his term of office, will also be attending the NEC meeting.  He was elected to the NEC at the ANC's Polokwane conference.

In the TV interview, Niehaus also responds to questions about Z-ANC's intention to take legal action against COPE for its use of ANC symbols and for its name. He explains that the name COPE was taken from the National Convention of the People in 1955.  He explains that this was an ANC convention: the Congress of Democrats, the South African Indian Congress, The Coloured People's Congress and SACTU were all in some way affiliated to the ANC and came together in the National Convention under the banner of the ANC.  This argument is open to debate.

With regard to COPE's logo, he explains that it has been adapted from the ANC logo which shows a circle under the flag.  He expresses the wish that the Shikota Party  will find its own identity and name and set itself up clearly as a separate party.  COPE's inability to cut itself off from the ANC will cause confusion especially among African people in whose languages Congress of the People is synonymous with ANC.

In my opinion, the parasitism of COPE makes L-ANC no better that Z-ANC.  In any case, they don't have much credibility for me because they were part of the ruling party that allowed corruption to grow among its ranks.

So we continue fighting over which is the real ANC while cholera is beginning to seep into the country from our generous neighbours in Zimbabwe where maladministration and corruption over decades is now manifesting itself very concretely in the form of cholera.  Perhaps we may never have the opportunity to destroy ourselves in a similar manner; our close proximity to Zimbabwe will do it for us.

In the programme View from the House, which took us into parliament, it was plain to see how ineffective debate is when you have a ruling party with a two-thirds majority. Despite objections from nine opposition parties, parliament passed the Amendment to the SABC Board and the legislation that finally brought an end to the Scorpions.  We are in effect a one-party state.  The split in the ANC has raised the hope that we will not continue to be so in the future.

19 November 2008

L-ANC which is called Shikota in the media, announced its acronym as COPE, I obviously missed that.  Today its name Congress of the People is being challenged by Z-ANC, which claims Congress of the People as part of ANC history, as it refers to the National Convention of 1955 held at Kliptown.  To see the two-headed ruling party squabbling over names and not explaining to a voter like me how they plan to deal with corruption which leads to poverty, unemployment and crime, makes me understand why Archbishop Tutu has declared why he will not vote in  next year's election.  As Hamilton Wende puts it, ‘Where are the leaders who offer us a decent alternative?  Why are you silent?  There are millions of us who are waiting for you?'

But I am not waiting.  I don't believe there is such a thing as decent leadership; that is an ideal.  If only politicians could commit themselves to attaining it but we all know the old saying: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The absolute is at the top but we have gradations of it all along the line from the lowest civil servant to leaders of parties.  All we need do is look at the Auditor General's report on the Department of Home Affairs.

Politicians have a myopic view of needs, only their own; how can they be trusted?  And the two-headed ANC is busy fighting for the populist vote so they can stay in power and continue to fill their pockets as their revered comrades are doing in many other countries in Africa.  Quoting Wende again, ‘In South Africa, as we approach our next elections, all the gains we have fought for are being threatened by the same hostile, greedy populism that has damaged so much of this continent.'

When I look at the structure of parliament, I see it, not as a reflection of the new, but rather as an extension of the old: it is the establishment of the Group Areas Act at the highest level of government.  It has kept intact racial and ethnic interests.  It has succeeded where the Tri-Cameral Parliament of the early 1980s failed.  No wonder people are beginning to revert to racial understandings of developments in our country.   Even now, when it is so clear that an opposition consisting of a myriad splinter groups is ineffective, each little splinter group still clings to its parochial ethnicity or race and cannot forfeit it in order to form a cohesive opposition.  Each imagines it has the only real understanding of true democracy.  They still don't demonstrate that they understand that democracy is a process and that it is not resident in ideology or religion.  But being politicians motivated by greed, they equate democracy with party power.