Monday, August 22, 2011

The concepts "African" and "democracy" are mutually exclusive

I post an excerpt from an article by Vince Musewe: “…African democracies are littered with unmet expectations …”

It is because African democracies are not democracies at all. They are systematic use of the name democracy by Chiefs who rule with Big Man tactics for the sake of power and self-enrichment. The strategies are too centralist, the constituencies too big and the elections too far apart, with every “democratic” institution, the judiciary, the press, the opposition, the constitution, the parliament manipulated and twisted to suit the Big Man.

Read “South Africa: The Solution” by Kendall. It is a political model based on the Swiss Canton system, a system that has made Switzerland the most prosperous and peaceful country ever. They have the same as us, a hugely diverse population with many dialects and language differences. Instead of forcing down a one-size-fits-all from a central position run by a Big Man induna, they respect differences, limit power of the central government and have yearly elections to get rid of non-performance, corruption and all the other things so prevalent in Big Man run democracies.

Here's the excerpt:

The majority can be wrong
Vince Musewe
23 August 2011

Vince Musewe says African democracies are littered with unmet expectations

The masses have demonstrated a short memory and it has become evident that their views and opinions are shaped by what happens during the election campaign period
Have you ever imagined that a majority can be wrong? That despite democracy and the right to vote for millions of formerly disenfranchised masses, they can still be wrong in their judgment of what needs to be in place in order for them to escape poverty and lead a better quality life. History has shown that some leaders who get into power are not necessarily good for those that clamour for their rise to power.
Our African democracies, if you want to call them that, are littered with unmet expectations and the deteriorating economic conditions of the poor and a political leadership continually seeking a new mandate to rule from the masses despite their failure to meet past promises. Clearly something is wrong with our democracies.
The winner rules voting system is not delivering the economic development we seek but creating African political elite who have become career politicians. This in turn has resulted in what I call developmental paralysis because being in power has become an end in itself and not a means to an end.
Read the complete article at:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

While the ANC Plays Big Man

R. W. Johnson coins the phrase “Big Man” politics in his article “
”The future of the liberal tradition in SA.” He suggests the downfall of the ANC will come ultimately, as a consequence of its disregard for the law which is the hallmark of its Big Man politics: “The prospect is thus of Big Man government throwing its weight about to less and less effect, a sort of Nigerianisation of South African life, and the threatening collapse not just of ANC government but of government altogether. Such a collapse has already occurred in many parts of the country. Municipal government disappeared years ago in towns like iDutywa and Butterworth. East London City Council has not met for two years now.
Pietermartitzburg, which has had continuous municipal government since 1854, went bankrupt in 2009 and the council has been wound up. Many other councils are on the brink…”

Watch this space … Here is an excerpt from his lecture on the subject. I found the article at

The future of the liberal tradition in SA
RW Johnson
18 August 2011

RW Johnson says the task is to stand firm against the final wave of racial nationalism

R.W. Johnson, 43rd Hoernlé lecture of the South African Institute of Race Relations, Johannesburg, August 17 2011:
The Future of the Liberal Tradition in South Africa
“…many features of the new political landscape constitute great difficulties for liberals. First, our rulers have a cavalier attitude to the rule of law. This is apparent in a host of ways: in the way that Mbeki tried to use the law to bring down Zuma, replete with such improprieties as the NPA, on the eve of the Polokwane conference, briefing the media about impending charges against Zuma; in the corresponding way that Zuma and his backers treated legal proceedings as merely a complex game which had to be kept stalled long enough for Zuma to ascend the presidency, after which all charges against him would be conveniently forgotten.
In such hands, the law became merely a set of moves in a game of political Monopoly. If Mbeki wins, Selebi remains as police chief and Zuma goes straight to jail. If Zuma wins, he gets a Get Out of Jail Free card, Mbeki can't even appear on SABC and Selebi goes straight to jail.
But the disregard for the law goes much deeper: it is visible in the machinations of the Judicial Services Commission, in the low calibre of many of those appointed as judges, in diminishing confidence in the integrity of the courts and in the increasingly sleazy and dysfunctional conditions in which the law is actually administered. Since respect for the rule of law is one of the most sacred liberal canons, this inevitably leaves liberals in a state of anger, despair and protest.
Second, liberals look to a rational form of political authority, disciplined by accountability. They do not feel comfortable with African "big man" politics, nor with the intense factionalism which it inevitably breeds as rival would-be big men jostle for control and patronage. But that is, of course, exactly what they have got.
Mbeki was a classic African philosopher-king type, comparable with others of this genre who have done so much harm to Africa, insistent on their own genius and also, effectively, on their own right to rule beyond any normal set of constitutional safeguards. Despite the fact that he was guilty of one genocide against his own HIV sufferers and that he supported other African genocidaires in Zimbabwe, Sudan and elsewhere, he had many courtiers and praise-singers, including several absurdly obsequious biographers. The normal checks and balances of constitutional government were not enough to contain him and in the end he was brought down by his own arrogance and by another big man.
Zuma's South Africa is almost resplendent in its celebration of the big man. At its apex sits Zuma himself, now quite openly a traditional Zulu patriarch with many wives and fiancees, a special fiefdom of Nkandla which attracts all manner of state investment, and a spreading network of crony business deals among his extended family. There is a sad irony in watching the likes of Jeremy Cronin and Ben Turok lending their ideological support to this phenomenon, for Zuma is quite clearly the Zulu peasant living his dream of becoming the Zulu king.
More than anything he resembles Sixpens, the populist black leader in Arthur Keppel-Jones's When Smuts Goes (Gollancz, 1947). Almost equally striking is Blade Nzimande, flagrantly denying the rule that the SACP leader should not be a Minister, so that he too can have the big car, the big salary, and the big expense account that make a Big Man. The model is clearly that of the Zulu chieftaincy, which is what makes the SACP rationalizations for this behaviour so comic.
Other Big Men abound. Think of Khaya Ngqula as head of SAA who had a major interest in a company which supplied the airline with jet fuel, its biggest single cost item, who spent millions of Rands on sports stars of his choosing, who had himself helicoptered between Jo'burg and Pretoria, and who gave away endless free air tickets to friends. Even now Ngqula refuses to pay back any of the R50 million he irregularly spent.
Or think of Bheki Cele, the national Police Commissioner, compromising the Dewani trial by referring to the accused as "a monkey" and presuming his guilt. One is reminded of how his predecessor, Jackie Selebi, stormed into a police station and referred to a black policewoman as a chimpanzee because she didn't recognise him. For the great cry of the Big Man, also found in the mouth of Julius Malema, is "Don't you know who I am ?!"
What have Selebi and Cele got in common apart from ready recourse to monkey talk? Well, mainly the fact that neither had the slightest police or legal experience before becoming national Police Commissioner; that both were given this job simply because the Big Man on top thought he could trust them - and so both of them became Big Men too, throwing their weight around. Moreover, a Big Man is expected to distribute patronage and spoils to his extended family and client network which, in liberal terms, is corruption pure and simple.
This "Big Man" phenomenon is very widely witnessed. It was only because the head of Athletics South Africa, Leonard Chuene, was caught out in public lies over the Caster Semenya affair that he was deposed but it immediately emerged that Mr Chuene had run athletics as his own private fiefdom. After a forensic audit it was reported that he could face criminal charges for poor corporate governance, alleged misappropriation of funds and tax evasion. Perhaps the choicest item was that ASA had bought him a wonderful big Mercedes - and then sold it to him for R1, though ASA continued to pay for the car's maintenance and insurance of course.
Similarly Mr Gerald Majola, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa, helped himself and his family to extremely luxurious travel privileges, secretly appropriated large bonus running into millions of Rands, when discovered repaid some of these but throughout the ensuing fracas resisted all calls for an independent inquiry and managed to expel those who called for one. In the end Standard Bank resigned its sponsorship rather than be associated with such skullduggery but Mr Majola continues to preside lucratively over South African cricket. The fact that he has had the South African cricket schools week renamed after his own brother, Khaya Majola, is an authentic Big Man touch.
In politics the Big Man style is particularly noticeable in the way ministers spend millions on their cars, always travel first class and stay in the most expensive hotels, for it is understood that these are the essential trappings of a Big Man. To suggest that any Minister should forego any of these perks is to suggest that he is not really a Big Man after all. Yet under Seretse Khama in Botswana not only did cabinet ministers travel tourist class but so did the President himself. Similarly, when David Cameron came to power in the UK he immediately instructed that all ministers should travel only tourist class to show that they took the financial crisis seriously. Such an instruction is simply not thinkable in South Africa. And, of course the empowerment of women as interpreted at cabinet level means that any woman minister is also a Big Man.
Liberals feel a revulsion at such behaviour which is clearly derived ultimately from an African chiefly model of authority. Truth to tell, liberals have always felt a bit queasy, even under Mandela, about such chiefly trappings as praise-singers, though these could easily be dismissed as merely folklorique. For liberals look naturally towards a modern democratic polity. They would feel equally uncomfortable if they had to share political space with a feudal prince - and for the same reason, that the prince, like the chiefly model of authority, is pre-modern.
Inevitably and indeed quite typically, we have seen liberals react against such displays of Big Man political style, most notably in Helen Zille's campaign against so-called "blue-light bullies", the ANC big men who push ordinary motorists off the roads as they hurtle along, ignoring speed limits.
Similarly, ANC leaders since the 1950s - Luthuli, Mandela, Tambo and Mbeki - all carefully presented an educated, modern and monogamous image and most liberals feel a mixture of laughter and dismay at the speedy reversion to an uneducated, thuggish and polygamous Africa represented by Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema: again, what jars is the pre-modern.
It is important to say that many within the ANC are fully conscious of the importance of the rule of law and that by no means all Africans in authority affect a "Big Man" style. Nonetheless, liberals find themselves in the situation of having endlessly to fight for the rule of law against all attempts to ignore and suborn it; to oppose corruption root and branch - which, very often, means corruption committed by Africans; and to oppose the Big Man style which is almost wholly African.
So, while Helen Zille can dress up in African shirts, make speeches in isiXhosa and toyi-toyi all she likes, at the end of the day she will be denounced an unAfrican or even anti-African. There is no way out of this for liberals and the only consolation is that many Africans will quietly agree with them.
It must be remembered, after all, that Albert Luthuli was a liberal through and through who always lived a modest life. Although a real chief he never attempted to insist on chiefly authority. So there are excellent African exemplars of liberal principle. In the long run standing up for these liberal values will have the same significance in post-apartheid South Africa that standing up for merit, not race, had in apartheid South Africa.
It will take courage to stand up for liberal values in the situation now developing for we are in a position where the cumulative blunders of the ANC will interact with its own increasing corruption and factionalism to produce more and more situations which are beyond the government's control.
Put crudely, ANC government in its first decade and more was able to rely on the gradually wasting asset of systems, infrastructure and institutions inherited from the previous era. But the impact of ANC rule was to white-ant all these things so that they are now all ceasing to work. At the same time the country is running up against resource constraints in many directions, including water, electricity and food.
Only good management will see us through - and good management is the thing in shortest supply. At the same time the internal struggles within the ANC over position, power and money are becoming rougher. Death-threats are now the ordinary currency of politics. We have had eleven assassinations over such issues in Mpumalanga province, several more in KwaZulu-Natal and probably more than we realise elsewhere. It is purely a matter of time before we have another major political assassination.
The prospect is thus of Big Man government throwing its weight about to less and less effect, a sort of Nigerianisation of South African life, and the threatening collapse not just of ANC government but of government altogether. Such a collapse has already occurred in many parts of the country. Municipal government disappeared years ago in towns like iDutywa and Butterworth. East London City Council has not met for two years now.
Pietermartitzburg, which has had continuous municipal government since 1854, went bankrupt in 2009 and the council has been wound up. Many other councils are on the brink, in the Free State, the North West and elsewhere. Inevitably, as local governance collapses, so does the rule of law in many cases and there is already a visible ratepayers' revolt, often with the setting up of de facto alternative local authorities. In a situation of this kind authority will tend to gravitate to whoever can provide direction and efficacy.
This gives a heightened significance to the DA's attempt to prove itself superior at the running of provincial and municipal government. Already the contrast between Cape Town and the Western Cape on the one hand and the rest of the country on the other has taken on the proportions one normally sees only in the contrast between one country and another.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SA Democracy is an Illusion

I refer to the following article:
Mogoeng Mogoeng nominated as next Chief Justice - Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma
16 August 2011

President says judge has demonstrated keen interest in transforming judiciary

Media Statement by President Zuma on the nomination of candidate for position of Chief Justice of the Republic, August 16 2011

In this article Zuma makes the following comment:

“He has demonstrated his expertise and keen interest in the transformation of the judiciary and the promotion of access to justice for all, by being part of, and also leading programmes and activities designed to promote court efficiency and transformation.”

The president has also said, words to the effect that the judiciary is interfering with the executive. In my opinion Jacob Zuma wants things his way, total power. And we know what happens with absolute power—Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Or is it total power corrupts totally, I forget?

I believe that “…promotion of access to justice for all…” and “…promote court efficiency …” is a thin camouflage for the real motive, “…transformation.” It will not surprise me if the motive behind the surprise selection of Mogoeng is that Jacob Zuma is working towards transforming the judiciary so that it can no longer interfere with the executive aka the will of a select few within the ANC. In the words of Atholl Trollip, “…Zuma is changing the constitution by stealth…”

You may call what we have now a democracy, but I believe it is that in name only and soon it will exist as a democracy only in the imagination of those who blindly, fanatically and unthinkingly support the ANC.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The ANC Follows the Biggest Losers

I want to quote Plutarch. I don't know her real name, but here's the comment: "A short history of losers--Africans and other members of the modern equivalent of the flat earth society show their inherent losing characteristics by their constant repetition of the same experiment in the vain hope of achieving a different outcome."

On the one hand there is the demagogic implementation of socialistic, communistic ideology with proven failures--Cuba, Russia. On the other hand there are known successes like Switzerland, the world's most peaceful and prosperous country. Guess which of these examples is feverishly followed by the ANC and which is methodically ignored by the ANC.

I have posted excerpts below, one by Frances Kendall on the Swiss system and one by Irina Filatova on the history of the ANC and the Soviets. When you read the Kendall article you wonder why the ANC so ignores a winning game. And when you read the Filatova words you see why--they are stuck in what brought them success as a revolutionary organization. The ANC will become extinct like any organism or organization that is unable to adapt to reality.

By the way, Kendall has had 3 Nobel nominations and co-authored South Africa: The Solution. It is a book well worth reading. It focuses on the similarities between Switzerland and SA. It may be somewhat idealistic, but it is a work that South African politicians, including the ANC, ignore at their peril and at the expense of the ordinary people in our land.

And also by the way, while the Kendall and Filatova articles appear different, they are actually saying very similar things; Kendall suggests following a winning game while Filatova warns against following a losing game: "This fixation with ideology at the expense of reality was one of the most important factors that killed the Soviet economy. Yet in South Africa the core of the Soviet legacy stands."

Here are the excerpts:

– A Model Democracy –

by Frances Kendall

In this, the first of the "ISIL Solutions" series, we examine the "Swiss model" of government – a highly-decentralized system which Swiss economist Robert Nef more accurately describes as an "ongoing experiment" than a "model."

The concepts of devolution of power, local autonomy, and participatory democracy have produced the world's most peaceful and prosperous country. Of course, Switzerland, with its compulsory military service, state controlled monetary system, railroad and telephone services, and taxation, is not a pure libertarian society – but for those interested in reining in out-of-control governments in other parts of the world, there are large parts of the Swiss cantonal system that are worthy of emulation.

Read the full article at

About the author: Frances Kendall, a member of ISIL's Advisory Board, was formally nominated along with her husband, Leon Louw, for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, 1989, and 1991 for their work to end Apartheid and defuse racial conflict in South Africa. She is the author of "Heart of the Nation", "Super Parents, Super Children", and "The SeX-Y Factor". She is co-author, with Leon Louw, of "South Africa: The Solution" and "Let the People Govern," which studied the Swiss system. She is a former member of the Johannesburg City Council.


And now the other excerpt:

The ANC and the Soviets
Irina Filatova
10 August 2011

Irina Filatova on the lasting legacy of the USSR's support for the liberation movement

The lasting legacy: The ANC's Soviet connection

If the close relations that existed between the ANC and the Soviet Union during the decades of the struggle against apartheid are mentioned now, it mostly happens at appropriate official occasions: embassy receptions or national holidays or speeches during state visits.

It was very different back then. Garth Strachan, a communist and an MK veteran said in one his interviews: "Although it has become popular not to admit this now, at the time-at least in the circles where I moved and up to the mid or late 1980s-the reality was that in ANC... there was a kind of pro-Soviet hysteria". [1]

"Hysteria" may be too strong a word, but there is hardly any doubt that there was a lot of admiration for the Soviet Union - its achievements, its ideology and its policy - both among the ANC leadership and the rank and file cadres in exile. Songs were sung and poetry composed about the Soviet people.

The debate about the NDR in South Africa has centred not on whether this ideology is correct, or, indeed, needed for fast development and job creation - both these notions are accepted as indisputable truths by the ANC and its allies - but rather on the pace of its implementation and on its concrete contents at every stage. These aspects of the NDR may be differently understood and interpreted by different groups within the ANC and among its partners - but its ultimate goals are as alluring as ever.

And whatever the arguments about details, it is ideology, not economic reality, that dictates much of the ANC's thinking and policy. This fixation with ideology at the expense of reality was one of the most important factors that killed the Soviet economy. Yet in South Africa the core of the Soviet legacy stands.

Read the full article at