Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Lesson the ANCYL Must Still Learn

Here is something I copied from Hazelden. When I read "demand redress from fate" I thought about the theory that Malema is selling. It sound reasonable that we can redistribute wealth. Unfortunately, as Martin Luther King said once, you end up redistributing poverty. Unfortunately too, many disadvantaged ordinary people in our land are being sucked into Malema's theory. They too have to learn the lesson that liffe gives you a chance, not a handout.

"Life guarantees a chance - not a fair shake--Bernie Y.

"Life is not fair. Most of us know that, but few of us accept it. Something in us often clings to the idea that ultimately, the gifts will all be evenly divided. Mostly we want to be paid back for the injustices of the past. Many of us expect - no, demand - redress from fate. We think life should "make it up" to us somehow. That's why it's so hard for us to go on discovering, again and again, what we already know: Life is not fair.

"The good job that should have been ours, the accident that crippled a loved one, unwanted childlessness - these things are not fair. But life is like soil, not like seed. The chance of a harvest is there, but only if we plant the seed. And even then we may not get the harvest we expected or wished for - not on our own timetable. It is an act of faith, and of great courage, to keep on sowing seeds when we don't know what we're going to get. But it's the only chance we have. We need to stop expecting the soil to provide the seed.

"Today, I will be grateful to be alive. This day offers a chance for a fuller life, and I will accept what comes of my efforts."

It seems Helen Zille has learned the lesson well. She and her party are going ahead and planting. We are seeing the harvest already. Unlike the Malema promise, the ordinary people are already benefitting; What's even more fortunate is that the ordinary people who are chanting dancing in the hope of the ANCYL idea and mistaken belief that the gifts will be evenly divided, will also benefit from the DA seed planting. That's the good news. Again it is not fair, getting the benefit having not done the work, but it's still good news.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Toothless Trevor

The following is an excerpt from a DA report,

“The DA will be advocating for these reforms during the period of public consultation that will follow the presentation made to Parliament yesterday by the political head of the National Planning Commission, Minister Trevor Manuel. Having identified the “unintended negative consequences” of existing labour legislation, the DA hopes that the NPC will now consider in earnest ways to address this state of affairs. Given the political influence wielded by COSATU, who oppose such reforms despite the negative implications for employment creation, this will be an important litmus test of the NPC’s power, and the Zuma administration’s commitment to placing the needs of our people above internal alliance politics.”

I predict that the NPC proposals will morph to nothing or near nothing. I have for a while suspected that Trevor Manuel has been purposely sidelined by putting him at the head of planning. Unfortunately the ANC is interested primarily in power and Trevor’s plan will put strain on COSATU support. His plan will get a thumbs down. Not explicitly, but in the usual ANC way, postponements, further investigations, a dragging out till it morphs into nothing, like the arms deal investigation.

My recommendation to the ordinary people in SA who want to be the best they can be: get used to what we have now, the poverty, restrictions, corruption and incompetence. It will be there for as long as the ANC has a majority. When the power is more balanced, when there is a real government with coalitions things will improve. Else we are in for a 40 year Libya-like rule till the ordinary people have had enough and go over to revolution. It is the way of Africans, e.g. Ivory Coast, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda…

Right-wing demagogy the greatest threat - SACP

Here are some excerpts from an SACP article

Right-wing demagogy the greatest threat - SACP
Malesela Maleka
12 June 2011

Central Committee warns against dangerous tendency within ANC alliance

Right-wing demagogy within the ranks of the broader movement - the greatest threat to the national democratic revolution
There are many lessons that need to be derived from the May 18th election campaign - but the greatest of all is that factionalism led by a dangerous right-wing demagogy within our broader movement is costing us dearly. This demagogy constitutes the greatest threat, not just to our electoral performance, but also to our hard-won democratic achievements as a country in general.
We are dealing with an anti-worker, anti-left, anti-communist, pseudo-militant demagogy that betrays all of our long-held ANC-alliance traditions of internal organizational democracy, mutual respect for comrades, non-racialism, and service to our people. It has created substantial space for an anti-majoritarian, conservative reactive groundswell that seeks to tarnish the whole movement, portraying us all as anti-constitutionalist and as narrow nationalist chauvinists.
The SACP calls on our Alliance partners to unite, to close ranks and to deal decisively with this grave threat. Closing ranks does not mean that various other debates and differences amongst us should be suppressed - but it does mean that within and across our Alliance we must not open up a dozen fronts of fractious public dispute, as if all differences and debates were of equal significance.
So how do we unite to confront the demagogic challenge? There is one fundamental response - across the Alliance we need to take up with renewed vigour the programme of action that we have agreed upon at the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference and in subsequent Alliance summits. The programme of action embraces five key pillars - jobs, education and training, health, rural development and the fight against crime and corruption. It is a programme of action that must combine the determined exercise of state power and active mobilization of popular forces.
In the midst of media-supported diversions we often lose sight of very important gains made in these key areas of transformation. Popular mobilization and a change in government policy have seen, for instance, a very significant reduction of mother-to-child HIV/Aids transmission - saving an estimated 67,000 children. There have been important gains in funding students through a reinvigorated mandate for NSFAS. National Treasury has announced very important corruption-busting measures that name and shame fronting and other tenderpreneuring activities and prevent those involved in doing business with government. All of these measures have been won as a result of popular struggles and a more determined and strategic use of state power.
But these advances must be replicated across the board, and particularly in areas of burning concern - notably the crisis of unemployment (especially youth unemployment) and rural development - including the critical questions of accelerated land reform and sustainable rural livelihoods. The CC supports the Department of Land Affairs and Rural Development's intention to bring to cabinet the proposal of reopening the land restitution program. The SACP has resolved to pursue our cooperatives campaign linking this much more actively to prescribed state procurement policies. The SACP will also be closely studying the important Indian rural work-guarantee programme, we believe it has important potential application to SA when addressing rural development and youth unemployment.
Statement issued by the SACP, June 12 2011

I agree with some of what the SACP say, e.g. “…take up with renewed vigour the programme of action that we have agreed upon at the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference and in subsequent Alliance summits. The programme of action embraces five key pillars - jobs, education and training, health, rural development and the fight against crime and corruption.” And especially the statement: “We are dealing with an anti-worker, anti-left, anti-communist, pseudo-militant demagogy that betrays all of our long-held ANC-alliance traditions of internal organizational democracy, mutual respect for comrades, non-racialism, and service to our people. It has created substantial space for an anti-majoritarian, conservative reactive groundswell that seeks to tarnish the whole movement, portraying us all as anti-constitutionalist and as narrow nationalist chauvinists.”

However, I get the feeling that the SACP want these changes in order to regain the lost support and power. They seem to view loss of power as the problem, not corruption, incompetence, demagogy. One gets the feeling that if it had not been for the swing indicated by the election results, there would be no problem. The fact that our democracy is threatened by the demagogic approach of the ANC does not seem to be of major importance. That the ordinary people in our land are suffering due to the fact that education, infrastructure in general, health, judiciary, energy, financial management of municipalities, just about every aspect of public service except finance could have been much advanced had it not been for corruption and incompetence. Cadre deployment is not mentioned, although in my opinion, it is the fundamental error underlying all these shortcomings. It is the loss of power that seems at the heart of SACP concern.

I would be more concerned about the obsession with power at any cost. Let us remember “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And judging by the level of corruption, it seems the ANC is very powerful indeed.
In a true democracy based on values, not demagogy, challenge, balances, criticism and a balance of power is welcomed, not resisted. It still seems to me that the underlying idea in the SACP article is the need to retain power, not the values that would support a real democracy. I suppose in our patchwork democracy it is a necessary phase. But I’m happy that the process of moving towards serving the people and evolving to a democracy based on shared values has at least begun. We have a long way to go.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Warning About the Ticking SA Bomb

In the last while several Black leaders/commentators have used the "time bomb" analogy in the context of where SA is headed under ANC leadership. Zwelenzima Vavi referred to a "ticking bomb" Moeletsi Mbeki says the ANC is like kids playing with a grenade--sooner or later one of them will figure a way of pulling out the pin and then there will be loss of life. Now Rhoda Kadalie has also used the bomb analogy: "we are sitting on a time bomb," she wrote.

Moderate Blacks are realizing where we will end up under the current leadership, or lack of it rather. This is hugely encouraging. We need to spread the word. I don't think the current power mongers in the ANC will heed the call--it is hard to change your ways when you perceive it as successful and the ANC believe they are successful. So this, like their process of getting rid of apartheid, is going to be a bottom up struggle by the youth and by those who value progress rather than power.

We are tired of the excesses of those in power at the cost of the poor and those who want to be the best they can be.

Here is her article. Thank you Rhoda for speaking out and waking us up to the possibilities that the ANC has completely lost sight of.

The dumbing down of our youth
Rhoda Kadalie
08 June 2011

Rhoda Kadalie says the ANC's gravest error was to mistake change for progress

The ANC has failed South Africa's youth.

Its Youth League is more concerned about the conspicuous consumption and instant wealth of its leader, Julius Malema, than pressurising government to address the needs of the youth. A month ago I spoke at a university graduation. The comment that received the most applause was my advice to students not to let "Julius Malema derail them from achieving their dreams."

The fear that he will become president one day is deep, and thousands of young people are tired of having him thrust down their throats. The sooner the ANC refrains from using its youth leaders as pawns in their political games, the better for all of us.

It should, instead, invest energy and resources in the holistic development of young people to prepare them for a better future. In the meantime, our white counterparts are continuing on an upward trajectory, getting on with life, educating their children, creating platforms for them to excel in sports and the arts, and sending them abroad when there is no work for them here.

I see how they excel in the orchestras, the eisteddfods, at public speaking, classical music and maths and science competitions.

Black SA, on the other hand, is on the decline. And Parliament, as the body that represents us, is itself a display of mental vacuity. The inanity of public discourse seems almost deliberate and the youth has become a casualty of the national "dumbing down" process.

The South African Institute of Race Relations' Fast Facts (May 2011) reveals a picture that is grim and bears repeating. Teenage pregnancies are rife and resulted in some 50 000 of school girls dropping out of school in 2007 - a 151% increase since 2005.

Equally alarming is the result of a survey conducted in KwaZulu Natal of 14 - 22 year-olds which revealed that 54% of young men left school because of fathering a child. "Girls aged 17 - 19 account for 93% of pregnancies among 15 - 19 year olds and research cited by LoveLife has suggested that teen pregnancy is much more likely to occur after school drop out." "... Abortions among under-18 year olds rose by 124% from 4 432 in 2001 to 9 895 in 2006."

Poor education results add fuel to the fire. Of the one million students who enrolled in grade 10 in 2007, 51% wrote the matriculation exams. Of those 31% passed grade 12 in 2009, and only 10% shockingly gained matriculation exemptions.

On average 17% of 16-18 year olds were not in school in 2006. University throughput rates are no better. Of 138 000 students who enrolled at university in 2002, 52% gave up while 15% were still studying after five years.

SA's dysfunctional school system and poor university throughput rates explain the high unemployment rates amongst the youth. In 2009 48% of SA's of 15 - 24 year olds were unemployed; by 2010 unemployment in that group increased to 51%. Some 3.3 million are not in employment, education, or training.

This bleak scenario coexists with high rates of HIV, sexual assault, rape and crime, and dysfunctional families, where fathers are mostly absent and mothers and grandmothers bear the brunt of child rearing. With 36% of the entire prison population aged 25 and under, the future looks bleak indeed.

The ANC's magnificent victory over apartheid paved the way for it to undo the carnage that the group areas act, forced removals, relocation and resettlement wreaked on black families. Dominated by an educated black male leadership, the Party was uniquely placed to create role models for young black men by adopting policies and programmes to heal family dysfunction caused by the past.

Had they roped in religious and civil society organisations to help them rebuild families, nurture parental responsibility and build social capital amongst communities, at the inception of our democracy, SA today would have been a better place. Safe sex campaigns should have accompanied campaigns about safe relationships, mutual respect, love and compassion.

Instead, the ANC's gravest error was to mistake change for progress. It has reneged on one of its most important functions - nation-building. We are sitting on a time bomb and unless we act fast, society will unravel. To quote John Kerry: " is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families."

This article first appeared in Die Burger.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Black Moderate Speaks Out Against ANC Racism

We know that Zille was against racism and against apartheid long before 1994 and she was not quiet. But I agree with Mike Mathabela, she can speak out more. I know she has recently condemned the ANC for their racist campaign and she has called for a democracy based on values rather than division. I'm glad that there are more and more moderate blacks speaking out too.

Zille owes us a courageous speech on race
Mike Mathabela

07 June 2011 Article rating:-->
Mike Mathabela says the DA leader needs to chide white racists to mend their wicked ways
Zille Owes Nation Race Speech
A day before the recent Local Government Elections, a racial incident occurred which almost derailed my resolve to, for the first time, vote for the DA. I was almost run down by a burly White male who proceeded to hurl demeaning expletives including the K-word at me after I had run to safety.
I was crossing the road at a marked pedestrian crossing in Sasolburg when he charged down at me in his Land Rover vehicle.
During that emotional moment, I resolved to resort to my old ways of voting for the ANC the next day. How could I, a middle-aged Black man, betray my conscience and painful experience to vote for a party like the DA as embodied by this reprehensible low life who almost ran me over?
Later I sobered up and reasoned that I must be sufficiently matured to still vote for the DA. My objective to help dislodge the ANC's firm grip and monopoly of the South African political space was far more overwhelming than the racist attitude of this burly low life.
The ANC's corruption streak as well as its stifling of the democratic space had to be weakened through empowering the Opposition politics; whether one was persuaded by its logic or not. The ANC's stranglehold had to be slackened. We need change!
That said and done, Helen Zille owes this country a courageous speech on race. She must atone for the painful, continuing racist attitudes of a significant number of Whites towards their fellow Black citizens.
If she must be taken seriously by the Black voters, she has to chide these racists to mend their crooked ways else they have no room in the DA, indeed in the New South Africa. She must tell the farmer to stop underpaying and ill-treating his farm workers, as if they were sub-human. She must tell the Madams to treat their helpers with respect and dignity. She must tell her White supporters to fully embrace a South African identity.
She must ask them to come out in droves to attend National events and celebrations. She must tell them to come out to her township rallies, to sing, to toyi-toyi together with their Black counterparts.
She has to cajole the business community to open up the economic space to Blacks and vigorously advance employment equity, BEE, etc. Helen Zille must lead the effort to align the national confidence levels: down scale the unrealistically high, arrogant confidence levels of many Whites riding the wave of economic success and upscale the low confidence levels of the many Blacks disadvantaged in the economic space.
The superiority complex and hoarding of resources by many Whites, must give way to a new order of mutual respect, treating others with dignity and a shared South African nationhood.
Barack Obama mustered this courage to deliver a speech on race during his previous campaign. Does Helen Zille have the courage to do the same? That will define her greatness or otherwise as a leader.
Mike Mathabela is the Chairperson of the Sasolburg Black Professionals Advancement Forum (SBPAF). He writes in his personal capacity.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vavi Speaks Out Against Where the ANC is Heading

Another black leader speaks out against the ruling party and the dangers created by impractical strategies and extreme attitudes held by some. There is hope. But like Mbeki, he is warning about a "ticking" bomb. Moderate South Africans need to take action now. Here's a SAPA article on Vavi's views:

"Unless drastic action is taken to reduce unemployment, South Africa risks facing another 1976 uprising, Cosatu general secretary" Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.

"I have already over and over again pointed out the danger of a ticking bomb, that unless we can do something drastic about the crisis of unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, we risk another 1976 uprising," he said in a speech delivered in Johannesburg.He was speaking at a discussion themed "Critical conversations on prospects for a non-racial future in SA".There could be no "genuine reconciliation" if the status quo was maintained."Our argument is that we need a new growth path that can address all the structural fault lines of the colonial economy."Such a path meant breaking up the concentration of power and production."Shouting neoliberal slogans such as saying that there must be economic growth and everything will then fall into place is not only reckless but narrow and irresponsible."Vavi said affirmative action was still essential to achieve reconciliation."But it will not work if it simply means condemning more people from the minorities to unemployment and poverty, while enriching a tiny number of people from the majority.
"True reconciliation and true reconstruction will happen when whites accept that the current inequities are not sustainable, politically, in the long run."Equally, reconstruction and reconciliation will happen the day the black majority accept that equity is of critical importance, but that precisely because of our past the white minority has better education."He said it was up to the black majority to extend the hand of reconciliation."After all the only ones with a better chance to achieve national reconciliation are the victims of the past racial segregation." -- Sapa

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When you're in a hole, stop digging

I'm posting here an article by Moeletsi Mbeki. It is this kind of thinking and comment that I hope will find resonance amongst our ordinary people and hopefully move us to real leadership, real freedom and real democracy before, as he puts it, "the bomb explodes" In fact, I'm not hoping, it's already happening. The ANC leadership has a choice, continue digging the hole they find themselves in--in which case they will go down, or heed the words of Mbeki. Either choice is fine with me, because it relieves the ordinary people of what's going on presently.

South Africa: Only a matter of time before the bomb explodes

by Moeletsi Mbeki: Author, political commentator and entrepreneur.

I can predict when SA’s "Tunisia Day" will arrive. Tunisia Day is when the masses rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia. The year will be 2020, give or take a couple of years. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialisation phase will be concluded. For SA, this will mean the African National Congress (ANC) government will have to cut back on social grants, which it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes. China’s current industrialisation phase has forced up the prices of SA’s minerals, which has enabled the government to finance social welfare programmes. The ANC inherited a flawed, complex society it barely understood; its tinkerings with it are turning it into an explosive cocktail. The ANC leaders are like a group of children playing with a hand grenade. One day one of them will figure out how to pull out the pin and everyone will be killed. A famous African liberation movement, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, after tinkering for 30 years, pulled the grenade pin by cancelling an election in 1991 that was won by the opposition Islamic Salvation Front. In the civil war that ensued, 200 000 people were killed. The former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once commented that whoever thought that the ANC could rule SA was living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Why was Thatcher right? In the 16 years of ANC rule, all the symptoms of a government out of its depth have grown worse.

? Life expectancy has declined from 65 years to 53 years since the ANC came to power;
? In 2007, SA became a net food importer for the first time in its history;
? The elimination of agricultural subsidies by the government led to the loss of 600 000 farm workers’ jobs and the eviction from the commercial farming sector of about 2,4-million people between 1997 and 2007; and
? The ANC stopped controlling the borders, leading to a flood of poor people into SA, which has led to conflicts between SA’s poor and foreign African migrants.

What should the ANC have done, or be doing?The answer is quite straightforward. When they took control of the government in 1994, ANC leaders should have: identified what SA’s strengths were; identified what SA’s weaknesses were; and decided how to use the strengths to minimise and/or rectify the weaknesses. A wise government would have persuaded the skilled white and Indian population to devote some of their time — even an hour a week — to train the black and coloured population to raise their skill levels. What the ANC did instead when it came to power was to identify what its leaders and supporters wanted. It then used SA’s strengths to satisfy the short-term consumption demands of its supporters. In essence, this is what is called black economic empowerment (BEE). BEE promotes a number of extremely negative socioeconomic trends in our country. It promotes a class of politicians dependent on big business and therefore promotes big business’s interests in the upper echelons of government. Second, BEE promotes an anti-entrepreneurial culture among the black middle class by legitimising an environment of entitlement. Third, affirmative action, a subset of BEE, promotes incompetence and corruption in the public sector by using ruling party allegiance and connections as the criteria for entry and promotion in the public service, instead of having tough public service entry examinations. Let’s see where BEE, as we know it today, actually comes from. I first came across the concept of BEE from a company, which no longer exists, called Sankor. Sankor was the industrial division of Sanlam and it invented the concept of BEE. The first purpose of BEE was to create a buffer group among the black political class that would become an ally of big business in SA. This buffer group would use its newfound power as controllers of the government to protect the assets of big business. The buffer group would also protect the modus operandi of big business and thereby maintain the status quo in which South African business operates. That was the design of the big conglomerates. Sanlam was soon followed by Anglo American. Sanlam established BEE vehicle Nail; Anglo established Real Africa, Johnnic and so forth. The conglomerates took their marginal assets, and gave them to politically influential black people, with the purpose, in my view, not to transform the economy but to create a black political class that is in alliance with the conglomerates and therefore wants to maintain the status quo of our economy and the way in which it operates. But what is wrong with protecting SA’s conglomerates?Well, there are many things wrong with how conglomerates operate and how they have structured our economy.

? The economy has a strong built-in dependence on cheap labour;
? It has a strong built-in dependence on the exploitation of primary resources;
? It is strongly unfavourable to the development of skills in our general population;
? It has a strong bias towards importing technology and economic solutions; and
? It promotes inequality between citizens by creating a large, marginalised underclass.

Conglomerates are a vehicle, not for creating development in SA but for exploiting natural resources without creating in-depth, inclusive social and economic development, which is what SA needs. That is what is wrong with protecting conglomerates. The second problem with the formula of BEE is that it does not create entrepreneurs. You are taking political leaders and politically connected people and giving them assets which, in the first instance, they don’t know how to manage. So you are not adding value. You are faced with the threat of undermining value by taking assets from people who were managing them and giving them to people who cannot manage them. BEE thus creates a class of idle rich ANC politicos. My quarrel with BEE is that what the conglomerates are doing is developing a new culture in SA — not a culture of entrepreneurship, but an entitlement culture, whereby black people who want to go into business think that they should acquire assets free, and that somebody is there to make them rich, rather than that they should build enterprises from the ground. But we cannot build black companies if what black entrepreneurs look forward to is the distribution of already existing assets from the conglomerates in return for becoming lobbyists for the conglomerates. The third worrying trend is that the ANC-controlled state has now internalised the BEE model. We are now seeing the state trying to implement the same model that the conglomerates developed. What is the state distributing? It is distributing jobs to party faithful and social welfare to the poor. This is a recipe for incompetence and corruption, both of which are endemic in SA. This is what explains the service delivery upheavals that are becoming a normal part of our environment. So what is the correct road SA should be travelling?We all accept that a socialist model, along the lines of the Soviet Union, is not workable for SA today. The creation of a state-owned economy is not a formula that is an option for SA or for many parts of the world. Therefore, if we want to develop SA instead of shuffling pre-existing wealth, we have to create new entrepreneurs, and we need to support existing entrepreneurs to diversify into new economic sectors. Mbeki is the author of Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing. This article forms part of a series on transformation supplied by the Centre for Development and Enterprise