Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It is time to change a losing game

I’ve included here an old article by Moeletsi Mbeki. It was written two years ago and what he said then is relevant still today, and in some instances even more relevant. What I find particularly interesting is a comment made 10 months ago by Thuso Ramaloko: “The house start with foundation, but BBBEE is like starting a house with Roofing(This is impossible). cause before 1994 an African was living a dignified life in rural areas where most African were turning soil into living and creating wealth. But now everybody abandoned the God given talent due to false prophecy by ANC. THIS IS BAD.”

The ANC is stuck in an ideology that is unworkable. The ordinary people can see the truth. The thinking people can see the truth. But those in power, probably because they have created wealth for themselves and live comfortably, cannot see the results of their efforts as a failure, a failure that is deepening as the leaders try to evade and silence their critics.

It is time to change a losing game.

Moeletsi Mbeki: Black empowerment has failed
South Africa should scrap its drive to give black people a slice of the white-dominated economy because it stifles growth and spurs corruption, the brother of the country's former president said on Friday.

Political commentator, entrepreneur, journalist and critic of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Moeletsi Mbeki believes the affirmative action policies championed by his brother Thabo have entrenched the rich-poor divide in Africa's biggest economy and could lead to an explosion of violence.

"If you made me president of South Africa, the first thing I would do would be to scrap everything to do with black economic empowerment [BEE]," Mbeki told Reuters in an interview following the publication of his book on economic policy in Africa, Architects of Poverty.

"If we keep going with these policies, the question is what will collapse first, BEE or the economy, or the country?"

As part of a push to right the wrongs of apartheid and give blacks a stake of the economy, South Africa requires firms to meet quotas on black ownership, employment and procurement.

The government argues its policy offsets the racism of the past and stimulates the economy by creating a black middle class hungry for its own homes, cars and designer clothes.

But the cracks are beginning to show. Several black empowerment deals have collapsed as the global crisis has caused the value of shares used as collateral to fall, and critics argue the drive has enriched a small black elite while doing nothing to boost South Africa's economy.

Mbeki (63) goes further. He says the policy entrenches the country's shocking economic inequalities by creating a culture of cronyism and entitlement that discourages black entrepreneurship and education, keeping millions in poverty.

"BEE tells blacks -- 'you don't have to build your own business, you don't have to take risk, the whites will give you a job and shares in their company'," he said.

"I blame the ANC for buying into this story that instead of blacks working hard ... they should be given a free ride."

Mbeki, who worked as a journalist and trade unionist before starting his own construction, media and agriculture firms, also argues that black empowerment has encouraged corruption, with lawmakers reportedly rigging tenders to benefit associates.

He says white "business oligarchs" are complicit because they use the policy to keep a few members of the black elite happy while still dominating the economy 15 years after the fall of apartheid.

South Africa's new president, Jacob Zuma, himself the target of a corruption case until it was dropped on a technicality just before the election that brought him to power in April, has vowed to tackle graft but has no plans to ditch empowerment.

Mbeki argues that unless South Africa axes the policy in favour of a broader skills development drive, South Africa's underclass, crammed into vast settlements of rickety shacks with no water or electricity, will balloon and eventually turn on the elite.

Rampant levels of crime and last year's attacks on foreigners in the townships are warning signs, he said.

Asked if he discussed black empowerment with Thabo before he was ousted as president by the ANC last year, Mbeki laughed: "No, he was the driver of these policies," he said. "My brother knows I have been opposing this for some time, but this is what he decided to do." -- Reuters

Monday, July 25, 2011

The ANC Carpet gets Lumpier with each Non-investigation.

I note with interest the News24 article below. Despite calls for an investigation into Malema’s affairs from just about every quarter except Malema himself and some conspicuously silent elements of the executive, I predict that this will be yet another investigation that will somehow morph into a non-investigation with the person in question walking, yet again, with unresolved matters joining the growing heap under the carpet. It will join the hundreds of corruption charges against the president, the travel claims fraud saga, the SAPS leases fiasco and accompanying intimidation, the weapons deal, the numerous officials who did not declare business interests, the child deaths in hospitals …
I want to suggest that South Africa’s problem is no longer crime and corruption but cover up of buddy-crime and cadre-corruption/incompetence—cover ups perpetrated by the very officials and bodies who are paid to protect us.

Net tightens round Malema
2011-07-24 22:35
Johannesburg - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Sunday called for an investigation into the financial affairs of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

"We call for an investigation by the ANC's committee on ethics and members' interests, the SA Revenue Service [Sars] and the special investigations unit into the allegations," spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.

This came after AfriForum opened a corruption case against Malema on Sunday, after it was reported that he had a trust fund for deposits from business people.

SARS should investigate possible tax evasion and do a lifestyle audit to "discover the truth" about Malema's financial affairs, Craven said.

A complaint was laid against Malema in accordance with the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004, AfriForum's CEO Kallie Kriel told reporters outside the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria on Sunday.

The act deals with corrupt activities relating to receiving or offering of unauthorised gratification.

"If a person's lifestyle is disappropriate to a known income, then it warrants an investigation. We want police to have a look at it," he said.

"We can't have people that use political contacts to enrich themselves at the cost of the poor."

He denied that the organisation had a grudge against him.

Justice should prevail

"If this is seen to be a grudge, so be it...This is in the public interest. Justice should prevail," he said.

The City Press reported on Sunday that Malema was the sole trustee of a secret family trust, registered in the name of his five-year-old son, which he allegedly uses to finance his lavish lifestyle.

According to the newspaper, the Ratanang Family Trust was registered at the Office of the Master of the High Court in Pretoria in 2008, just weeks after Malema was first elected president of the youth league.

Citing two “independent, well-placed sources with knowledge of Malema's financial dealings”, City Press says the trust is being used “by the youth leader and his benefactors” to fund his lifestyle.

“Thousands of rands” are deposited into the account on a regular basis, says the report, quoting the sources.

“Frequent deposits are being made from different banks, especially in Limpopo.”

City Press said Malema had denied that the trust was being used to launder illicit funds, but “declined to divulge its purpose or bank balance”.

The youth league's spokesperson Floyd Shivambu was not immediately available to comment.

Damage reputation

The ANC's Brian Sokutu reiterated that Malema's "private life remains private".

"If he had broken the law, we would certainly be concerned. He is neither a member of parliament nor a government official and it is therefore not unethical for him to be involved in any form of business."

"He must be held criminally accountable in a court of law if these allegations are true," said Kriel.

"It would be scandalous if someone like Malema - who boasts that he represents the poor people - is found guilty of looting the treasury to enrich himself at the expense of service delivery to poor people."

The allegation that a businessman made a vehicle valued at R1, 2m available to Malema and did him a number of other favours, also forms part of AfriForum's complaint.

On Saturday, Malema sought an urgent court interdict to stop City Press publishing a report on the trust, but this was dismissed by Judge Colin Lamont in the Johannesburg High Court.

Lamont ruled that Malema was a public figure and that publishing the story was in the public interest. Further, he had found the evidence contained in the City Press story to be “credible”.

Malema's legal team reportedly argued that his public image could be seriously damaged if details of the trust fund were published.

The City Press had opposed the application.

Nobody’s business

Earlier this week, Malema said that it was "nobody's business" where he got his money from.

He called the media briefing at the time to respond to a Sunday Independent report last weekend that he was building himself a R16m house in Johannesburg's posh Sandown suburb.

Opposition political parties have called on the SA Revenue Services to investigate his wealth, claiming it is not compatible with his reported R25 000 a month salary.

On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance said it would write to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, requesting her to investigate the latest allegations levelled against Malema.

"It most certainly is in the public interest to know whether political leaders are involved in corrupt, self-serving practices that promote the interests of a privileged few while the greater majority of South Africans continue to live in poverty, said the party's Dianne Kohler Barnard.

Meanwhile, AfriForum said it will monitor the police investigation to ensure that nothing is "swept under the carpet".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The ANC Magicians

The ANC continues to define change as “progress, but much remains to be done.” There has been change, but the numbers show that many things have gotten worse and if we continue there will be much "more that remains to be done" next year. The ANC is a party borne out of revolution and have not adapted to a party of good governance. It is still in revolution mode even though the revolution has been won. It is now waging a revolution against the catastrophic consequences of its own actions of the last 15 odd years, but continues to blame colonialism and apartheid.

There are thousands of competent non-cadres sitting unemployed, watching the deepening mess as SA follows Zimbabwe into poverty and misery.

The following article by R W Johnson says it all, but the ANC will not read it, or they will read it and put it aside as colonial/apartheid/white/capitalist rubbish—let’s rather create jobs, stomp out corruption and poverty, give everyone houses—this will be a chieved by magic and by making promises from the podium and repeating the same incompetent and corrupt actions we have been doing ever since we won the revolution.

The denialism of the NDR
RW Johnson
19 July 2011

RW Johnson on why ANC alliance members remain so attached to an outmoded Soviet concept

In the mid-1990s the SACP, with Joe Slovo much to the fore, became enamoured of the Human Development Index (HDI) pioneered by the UN Development Programme because instead of ranking countries by GDP per capita the UNDP was interested in a broader measure of welfare which would include the quality of life in that country, life expectancy, child and maternal mortality rates, social equality, achievements in education and health, gender equality and so on.
The UNDP measure had two immensely appealing features for the SACP. First, it promised to rank countries like Cuba a lot higher than usual because they enjoyed equal poverty, a goodish health system and more gender equality. So this would be a better measure for what the SACP was planning to achieve in South Africa. Accordingly, the SACP paid enormous and positive attention to each successive Human Development Report (HDR) of the UNDP and emphasized that what the government was most keenly interested in was human development.
Thus in 1997 Jay Naidoo, then heading the RDP secretariat, declared that "The challenge is to meet the basic needs of our people and at the same time strengthen economic growth. These challenges are vital but the real issue that needs attention most is human development." (Emphasis added.)
Secondly, the UNDP was a very weak agency, highly dependent on local buy-in from the client's end - which meant, in practise, that it would be easy for the SACP to take over the local operation in South Africa. This duly occurred. I remember attending one UNDP report presentation in Pretoria where those thanked included a long list of SACP figures and where the speech given was a standard Party rant. It was somewhat weird to imagine that these fiery declarations denouncing Gear and "the 1996 class project" were somehow meant to emanate from the UNDP.
The intention was clearly that the SACP, leading the Alliance, would be able to show the effect of the RDP in gradually transforming South Africa for the better with a rising HDI number which would reward all the ideological initiatives of greater empowerment, gender equality, better preventative health care and so on. Helpfully, the UNDP had calculated its indices retrospectively and these showed South Africa improving from a score of 0.66 in1975 to a score of 0.741 in 1995. If improvement like that could be achieved in the last twenty years of National Party rule, surely the figure would race ahead under ANC rule?
Well, no actually. The 2001 UNDP Report showed that South Africa had slumped to 0.604 due its high Aids rate and lower per capita income due to the (then) weak Rand. The fact that South Africa under ANC rule had slumped even behind its 1975 figure was so much the opposite of what the SACP (and ANC) wanted to hear that they promptly lost all interest in the HDR. After 2001 each successive new HDR was largely ignored.
In fact they were objective measurements all right and by 2010 the HDR showed that South Africa's score had fallen again to 0.597, placing the country 110th out of 172 countries surveyed. (Zimbabwe was in 172nd place.) Had South Africa maintained its 1995 score it would have been 59th. That is, under ANC rule South Africa has fallen 51 places, a fair measure of the catastrophic failures this period has seen.
And this is not just due to Aids. Poverty, inequality, unemployment the health services and education have all got worse and even the Aids figures would have been a lot better but for Mbeki's Aids denialism which the ANC did not in any way counter or contradict. The straightforward fact is that ANC rule has been an awful failure not just in terms of this measure, the HDI index, which the ANC previously embraced, but when judged on any objective terms at all.
Yet this is not acknowledged by the ANC. Instead the standard line is that the ANC has achieved an enormous amount but that much remains to be done. To the extent that things are not as they should be, this is due to the inheritance of apartheid. Yet the HDI figures mock this view for they show beyond dispute that South Africa's HDI figure was far higher in 1995, after nearly 50 years of apartheid, than it was in 2010 after 16 years of ANC rule. Moreover, the trend continues to be downward. Yet few members of the black ANC elite are willing to face this fact.
A little while ago I watched a BBC "Debate" about the state of South Africa. The cast involved all the obvious suspects and included Bridgette Radebe, the multi-millionaire mining tycoon married to Jeff Radebe. The BBC compère introduced the subject with some of the same sorts of data I have used above and said, right, so it's not working. What exactly has gone wrong?
Ms Radebe jumped in, speaking with great anger and conviction. It was she said, wholly impermissible to frame the question that way. That discussion simply could not be had. The fact was that all that was wrong was the inheritance not only of apartheid but of hundreds of years of colonialism. The ANC was struggling against this terrible inheritance and it was far, far too soon for anyone to judge it.
So vehement was she that not only the compère but everyone else was clearly shaken and so instead the "debate" was abandoned by tacit agreement. Instead the participants had the usual vacuous sort of discussion about what needs to be done and how it was "urgent" to do something about the usual long list of subjects.
A tougher-minded compère might have asked Ms Radebe whether her keenness to prevent debate was related to her position as one of Africa's richest women or her being the wife of a minister who has served continuously since 1994. Liberation has certainly worked very well for her, after all, if not for most.
This sort of social denialism is just as pernicious as Thabo Mbeki's Aids denialism. But the real point, of course, is that what is true of Bridgette Radebe is true of much of the state-sponsored black elite - of everyone who has got a civil service job since 1994, or got rich through their political connections or through BEE.
For all these happy folk it's a case of never having had it so good. Unfortunately, their good luck is the other side of the immiseration of the majority and the worsening inequality figures are in large measure due to the determination of this new elite not just to be prosperous but, if at all possible, to accumulate what the French call la richesse insultante - extravagant wealth ostentatiously displayed.
If you want to see people driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis, it's no good looking at the old white monied class. These are almost exclusively the toys of the new black super-rich. They behave like playboys, dress like gangsters. In purely economic terms it's tragic for they don't invest their wealth, they just waste it.
Now, such characters have their own stern critics within the Alliance and none sterner than Zwelinzima Vavi, the head of Cosatu. However, Mr Vavi has his own form of denialism, the National Democratic Revolution. Virtually all sections of the Alliance pay lip-service, at least, to the NDR, a Soviet-era concept whose own inventors within the Soviet Communist Party have long since disowned, saying the whole concept was a lot of rubbish. But within the ANC and particularly within the SACP and Cosatu, people continue to believe in the NDR.
Functionally, it appears to be a substitute for socialism. When the NDR arrives the government will enact sweeping land reform and return the land to those who work it (without compensation) and something similar will happen with the mines, banks and "monopoly capital" of any kind. The result will be a massive redistribution towards the People and with it there will be a wondrous banishing of inequality, poverty and unemployment. We are not, you will understand, quite at the NDR yet but we have to work towards it, to build it - and lo! - it will occur.
Now, anyone who is seriously interested in doing something about poverty, inequality and unemployment will quickly understand that the prescriptions of the NDR would quickly result in the Zimbabwe-ization of South Africa. And do just remember that Zimbabwe was plumb bottom of the entire UNDP list, making even places like North Korea seem desirable. That is, it would result in mass starvation, industrial decline, debt default and enormous immiseration as well as torrential social unrest.
It would be a short cut to the country's complete destruction, nothing less. And this is what is so odd about Blade Nzimande, Jeremy Cronin, Zwelinzima Vavi and those others who continue to assert their belief in the NDR. They are not fools. They do not, one assumes, believe in Father Christmas or that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden. Yet there is something indubitably magical about their theory.
The land is given to the masses who do not know how to do commercial farming. The mines, banks and various other industries are taken over by government which has proved quite incapable of running public corporations of any kind. And yet - hey presto! - there is a magical moment of transformation and we all come out happy, equal and employed. The mechanisms by which these happy results are achieved remain unexplained, nay unexplored. They are just magic and no one should enquire further into that unless they want to be turned into a frog. Personally, I would find it a whole lot easier to believe there are fairies at the bottom of my garden.
It may be objected that this is an unfair and unduly satirical description of NDR, but listen to Mr Vavi. Last week he spoke of the significance of 2014:
"This will be 20 years after freedom and at that time people will no longer care about history. There will be a new generation of voters who know nothing about Chris Hani's blood flowing in the streets. By that time we should have dramatically narrowed the gap of inequality in the country, created jobs and removed poverty."Vavi adds "There will be no better life for all unless we change the economic structure of our country."
There you have it. If the political leadership is simply determined enough to install the NDR - and there's no doubt this is what Mr Vavi is thinking of - they can magically cut inequality, create jobs and, yes, "remove poverty". Mr Vavi's belief that this can be achieved within three years can only be ascribed to a belief in magic, for it can be ascribed to nothing else.
Belief in the magical formula of the NDR is a critical form of denialism, for it means the Left can simply ignore the merely sensible. For example, any number of educationists have emphasized that progress in education cannot be achieved unless the power of the teachers' union, Sadtu, is broken in much the same way that Mrs Thatcher crushed the miners'. This can be gaily ignored by Vavi and others because Sadtu is a highly "progressive" union (it votes the Left ticket) and is thus a key building block of NDR which will, by the way, solve educational problems as well as others.
The key point is this: if you give up the millenarian dream of the NDR, what are you left with? You are left with a middle income country which is achieving results worse in many spheres than those of many of the least developed countries. It is doing this largely because its governance is so exceptionally bad. What is shows, in a nutshell, is that African nationalism is incapable of governing a country as complex as South Africa and that it requires help from the other racial minorities to do so.
This is quite unwelcome enough but one could go much further. One could, for example read a study by J.P. Landman, Haroon Bhorat, Carl Van Aardt and Servaas van der Berg, Breaking the Grip of Poverty and Inequality in South Africa (2003) in which they typify South African society at that time as a 55/45 one - 55% being well enough off and 45% in poverty. The full extent of their not inconsiderable ambition was to make that into a 70/30 society by 2014.
They point out that to achieve that there will have to be 3 million extra jobs and that to generate those there will have to be a sharp and continuous improvement in labour productivity, without which the economy will not be internationally competitive, and that that will also require steady 4% growth for ten years and thus an economy which is 48% bigger by 2014.
As an empirical study this is as favourable as Mr Vavi can possibly hope for (Landman et al. also welcome a degree of redistribution) but it will immediately seen how entirely unacceptable this is. This prescription would insist that South Africa has to be internationally competitive (Cosatu's hackles rise) and, worse, that it must sharply increase productivity (major Cosatu heart attack), and all this to achieve a situation where 30% of the population still live in poverty (Vavi expires).
This, it must be emphasized, is the very gentlest and most politically correct of studies available of the real economy. Yet even this is unacceptable if you have bought into NDR. Another way of putting it is that the best reason to buy into NDR is so that you don't have to face the facts. Once you buy into the NDR all sorts of magic is possible.
If you want to live without magic you accept that South Africa is appallingly badly governed, that there needs to be a substantial white input into government if the system is to work, that the economy can be made to work to produce greater equity, higher unemployment and less poverty but that to achieve that Cosatu has to accept it or play dead, and that the improvement of health and education requires the emasculation of the teaching and health unions. We will arrive at this point one day but immediately you can understand the appeal of denialism.
This article was published with the assistance of the Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF). The views presented in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FNF.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

SA Government in trouble, in a Hole, but Still Digging Furiously

This is my opinion:

Our government has failed in just about every instance except clinging to power through demagogy based on racist and tribal polarizing. But it keeps plugging away at holding on to power and digging the hole it’s in deeper, yelling for a bigger spade instead, while many of those in power positions enrich themselves.

We once had systems that, while not serving all, were working. One option the government had in 1994 was to surround itself with smart people and say, help us build on the systems we have and expand them so we can serve everyone. Instead the government chose to throw the baby out with the bathwater, chase thousands of competent people out the country, restaff existing systems with loyal cadres irrespective of level of competence and integrity and fail miserably in the process of service, succeeding only in holding on to power. The recent election showed that even the holding on to power is a less brilliant performance than the president claims it is.

Trevor Manuel chose the smart people option. The one area in our land that can be singled out as a shining example of this approach is Finance.

How is it so difficult for people who consider themselves competent in running the country to see the warnings? It is common knowledge that sharp people see the problems years before they bubble to the top. Why can our leaders not heed the words of Vavi, Jack Bloom, Moletsi Mbeki, Rhoda Kadalie, Trevor Manual to name but a few smart people with good ideas? Change a losing game, please.

No, our leaders choose to follow losing game tactics presented by radicals. It sounds so good from the podiums. It polarizes. It keeps them in power with demagogy. But it fails miserably where the rubber meets the road, in its implementation. Our leaders refuse to investigate failures and fix them. They do not hold people accountable. People at the very top are left unaffected, even given bonuses and other rewards, despite gross acts of incompetence, dishonesty and worse. Our leaders continue to try and cover up, muzzle criticism, while furiously strategizing to get control of new areas that they have not yet messed up.

I’ve written to the presidency about our failing systems--received no reply. I’ve written to the president—received no reply. I’ve tweeted and emailed people in the press and opposition parties—I received many replies and confirmations of the crisis our land is in, but our leader fiddles.

The rainbow nation has become an empty concept. Our leaders want to continue polarizing the people of our nation, forgetting that despite our many differences we have this in common: a right to live our lives to the best we can and we have a right to be supported towards this goal by those in power. Rather than wanting to unite us in this, our leaders want separateness. The further we move away from our common-ness, the desire to live our lives to the best we can, the emptier “rainbow nation” will sound.

I’ve included the whole article by Jack Bloom here.

So you think you can run the mines?
Jack Bloom
27 June 2011

Jack Bloom says Julius Malema should visit a govt laundry in Gauteng

ANC Youth League President Julius Malema is a great champion of nationalization. I suggest he visits one of the five state laundries that serve public hospitals in Gauteng. They are inefficient beyond belief. Only 93 of the 195 laundry machines are running.
The 13 boilers are more than thirty years old and work at about half capacity. Eight of the 9 tunnel washers run at 38% efficiency level, and the other one barely functions at 11% efficiency.
Other machines are equally decrepit. The budget for repairs and maintenance is largely unspent because this falls under another department. Getting the public works section to respond takes incredible effort.
So machines are often down for days or weeks at a time, with workers doing nothing. The overtime bill, however, is enormous because they work late hours or on weekends to catch up. State hospitals are affected badly by the unreliable laundry service.
Sometimes operations are cancelled because of no clean linen, or patients have to bring their own sheets or bed clothes. During the civil service strike last year the laundries shut down and volunteers had to assist, including Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
It's quite crazy that we have these state laundries when there are plenty of private laundries that can do a better job at lower cost. The Pretoria laundry services hospitals as far away as Johannesburg and the West Rand.
It would be far better if hospital managers could choose the laundry that provides the most cost-effective quality service. The state laundries should be sold off or given to a worker consortium to compete with private laundries. This would enable the Health Department to focus on its core mission, which is to provide a decent health service. Why be hassled with laundries? The same goes for other non-core services that can be outsourced.
Security is already provided by private companies, so why not cleaners and catering as well? The Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban is the model as it outsources virtually everything, including porters.
Trade unions don't like this, but its efficiency enables a better health service for the poor. Julius Malema, of course, would opt only for the best private health care. It would actually be better if private health providers were contracted to serve the poor as well.
Poor patients are often treated badly in state hospitals because staff know they have no other option. State hospitals, like state laundries, won't go out of business if they provide bad service. We need to find the right mix of state and private health provision, with productive partnerships between the two.
Nationalization of private businesses has been shown to be such a disaster that it is amazing that any sane person can still advocate it. In the case of mines, we already have state-owned Alexkor that loses money and jobs. It employed 691 employees in 2000 but has just 105 employees today. But the Malema types don't care about this as they seek lucrative positions in state enterprises.
They are political parasites as they don't have real skills that add value in society. Our future depends on whether or not the poor see through their self-interested rabble-rousing.
This article by Jack Bloom MPL, DA Leader in the Gauteng Legislature, first appeared in The Citizen.