Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Christians under attack in the Middle East

17 January 2012

Rhoda Kadalie asks why Ronnie Kasrils & Co. are so mute on the matter

Christians are under attack in the Middle East. Now Nigeria has also entered the fray with Islamic militants, Boko Haram, fanning the flames of ethno-religious conflict. Detonating bombs at church sites in Abuja, over the past Christmas holidays, killing and injuring hundreds of Christians, they are doing their damndest to create an Islamic state. In their mission, they continued with bomb and gun attacks at Christians in the North Eastern Yobe and Borno states recently.

In Egypt, 21 Coptic Christians died in a bomb blast as worshippers emerged from the New Year's Mass in Alexandria, Saturday Dec 31st. Although the Minister of the Interior blamed the blast on Al Qaeda, local citizens blamed Militant Muslim groups for inciting religious violence. With the Muslim Brotherhood firmly in control, Egypt's Arab Spring is set to become the Winter of Discontent for Christians and those yearning for a truly democratic state.

In a country of 80 million people, 90% Muslims and 8% Christians, the majority feels threatened by a few Christians who wish to worship freely. The newly elected Military Council and their military courts have allegedly convicted more civilians than were convicted under dictator, Hosni Mubarak, over the past 30 years.

Leader in the pack, Iran has set the precedent for persecuting Christians, having had extensive experience with the Bahai's and the Kurds. For some years the Iranian authorities have been arresting those suspected of evangelising and converting people from Islam to Christianity. Targeting religious holidays for maximum effect, both Egypt and Iran are escalating the conflict by terrorising bloggers, prohibiting the distribution of Bibles and the attendance of mass in Farsi. With only 1% of Iranians classified Christian, Iran is increasingly making their lives a living hell in the country of their birth driving many of them out. The ineffectual United Nations claims that about half of the Christian population has fled the country.

With the 2008 Bill that mandates "that all male apostates be put to death and all female apostates be imprisoned for life", the survival prospects of Christians are slim. Worse, Ayatollah Khamenei declared house churches a threat to Iran's national security and one of its governors called missionaries a "cultural invasion of the enemy."

Ditto Iraq. The numbers of Christians have declined from around 10% in the middle of the 20th century to 5% around 2000, to 3% (800 000) in 2008. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to surrounding countries and the entire Jewish population has left. Tolerance of Christians is dwindling in a country where Christians have lived for more than 2000 years.

The terrorist bloodbath that killed 62 Christians and wounded 60 on October 2010 at the Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic Church in Baghdad was a continuation of the Jihadi's mission to "exterminate Iraqi Christians" described as an "obscene nest of the polytheists [infidels]".

The international human rights community is conspicuously silent about this genocide. Anything remotely smacking of criticism against Muslims propels the Obama administration, the European Union, the United Nations, the Global Elders, and the Left into action.

Not so with Christians and the question is why. This same group does not hesitate to single out Israel for condemnation and when one country is singled out for censure, as is routinely done then the only explanation can be anti-Semitism. Otherwise how do we explain the double standards? 

When Syria's Bashar Al Asad declared war against his own citizens killing thousands, the Russell Tribunal gathered in Cape Town to judge whether or not Israel is an apartheid state. Just as Jimmy Kruger was left unmoved by Steve Biko's brutal death, so the atrocities in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and Syria leave the world's human rights watchdogs cold and mute.

They simply cannot deal with a situation that contradicts their "West versus East" human rights template. Their imperialism paradigm cannot deal with human rights atrocities emanating from post-colonial and Arab countries.

The Global Elders are eerily silent, not to speak of our self-appointed human rights gate-keepers - Zwelinzima Vavi, Zackie Achmat, Ronnie Kasrils, Yasmin Sooka, Archbishop Tutu, Professors Steven Friedman, Farid Esack, Andrew Nash, Judge Dennis Davis, and others.

The tyrannical suppression of the freedom of expression, religion and association of Christians in Muslim countries has escaped their censure. This sanitised form of anti-Semitism feeds into the bipolar view of the "West against the Rest". Like Turkey, they will come to regret what they wished for. It no longer has any influence over its former ally, Syria, as it butchers its civilians!

This article first appeared in Die Burger.

Who is our Money Going to?

3 January 2012

Last month, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) demanded that I pay an extra R17 000 in taxes. I resent it deeply given our politicians’ ravenous feeding at the trough and the endless deluge of corruption. Luxurious presidential and ministerial houses, lavish lifestyles, expensive cars, exorbitant salaries and undeserving perks that go with public life have become customary. Julius Malema epitomises this lifestyle. Never having done an honest day’s work in his life, he owns a farm, is building a mansion for over R6 million in Sandton, and he has a whopping bank balance. Bankrolled by some of the ANC’s elite, his other sources of wealth must surely come from our taxes via the procurement process.

I have written to the Treasury asking them to give me a valid reason why I should pay in this amount given that a sizeable portion of the national budget goes into the private pockets of connected individuals. I need an explanation from the Minister of Finance why I need to comply with this demand.

SA is a developing nation and despite an increase in tax collection (R599bn in 2009/10, an R8.4bn increase on the previous year), government has been everything but prudent with the management of the country’s financial assets. Total tax revenue is made up of personal income tax (R205,2 billion), value-added tax (VAT) (R147,9 billion) and company income tax (R134,9 billion). In other words, individuals are heavily taxed vis a vis companies and vis a vis the appalling services we get in return. In the meantime, government is living it up and we are simply failing to keep government consumption at affordable levels. The widespread abuse of power, greed, corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of tax revenues fly in the face of our constitutional obligations which demand accountability, transparency and public scrutiny.

The fights around public office are so vicious because ANC members know that in running the country they have ownership and control of the economy for their own gain. It is this entitlement that will run SA into the ground. Billions wasted on the arms deal, millions on the travel scandal, hundreds of millions on Bheki Cele’s Police Headquarters, not to speak of the investigation of 20 SABC employees accused of R2.7bn in tender and procurement rigging, leave us reeling just to comprehend it all. Then there is the building of 33 police stations to the value of R330 million without going through due process and the allegations that police officers were involved in their construction. The Department of Public Works itself is a nest of vipers and many of their officials have their hands in the cookie jar.

Chapter 13 of the Constitution spells out very clearly the role of the Treasury and its obligation to “ensure both transparency and expenditure control.” The Treasury may also “stop the transfer of funds to an organ of state if that organ of state commits a serious or persistent material breach of those measures.” Government is in breach of its own Constitution for supporting organs of state that have literally stolen and misappropriated state funds. Instead of an equitable, efficient, and well accounted for tax system meant to achieve economic growth and the development of the poor, the Treasury remains a cash cow for the deployed cadres who will milk it until it is dry.

“Throw Them All Out” is a book my daughter sent me for Christmas. It details how American “politicians and their friends get rich off insider stock tips, land deals, and cronyism that would send the rest of us to prison.” Similarly, our deployed cadres belong in jail. Few would be left to govern!

A Christmas Story of Hope

20 December 2011

Recently I interviewed 15 young people for a website administrator’s post.  All except one had an interesting story and were highly employable. My selection committee found it difficult to let go of the three short-listed candidates. I approached a funder asking whether they would sponsor the three to work as a website team and so create jobs for young people to avail their services to upgrade the websites of NGOs. They turned down my request, but then I sat with the three candidates.

Although I had no funding to employ them, I would not let go of them. Each brought a different expertise and talent to website management but one in particular was extremely fascinating. Not very polished in the interview, we were sceptical about his qualifications until we put a computer in front of him. A working class township boy with basic education in web development, he astounded us with his understanding of website construction.

Irresponsibly, I employed these three in the hope of finding funding for them. A week later, Gary called me to his desk to show me how he had upgraded one of the sites of a popular bus company. I asked him why a bus company and his response was “coz I love busses and all my life I travelled by bus.” “All my life I have been fascinated by the history of the company, how they operate, who the drivers, inspectors, and regulators are and I desperately would like to work there. But every time I go to the depot to show them what I can do, they chase me away.”

“Do you know that I know the boss of that company?” said I, and would you like me to meet with him?”  “Whatttt?” responded Gary incredulously. And so, to help him achieve his dream, I contacted the boss and immediately got an appointment. Needless to say, Gary was in heaven.

Sitting around the boardroom with the head honchos of the company Gary plied his wares showing them how he could reconstruct, upgrade and improve the site and work out a better client interface for the company. He was so excited that I needed to rein him in at one point when he said “you see you come to work by car so you do not know what your services are like.” “I know because I am part of a family of commuters who meet every day at the bus stop, we sit at the back of the bus and we are known as the kombuis, where we gossip and trade stories. Even if we are a few minutes late, the driver will wait for us and every year we collect a sum of money as a Christmas box for the driver.”

“Wie sou kon dink dat so a bus-bevokte laaitie van die Cape Flats sulke bree kennis van die company sou he?” the boss and I commented. “Gee hierdie kind ‘n drie maande kontrak en dan  sien ons watter diens hy vir ons kan lewer.”

Had I not employed this young man and had I not tried to create opportunities for him, he would be at home (one of the high unemployment statistics for youth between the ages of 15-24), in an area on the Cape Flats that has no internet connectivity. One of Cape Town’s renowned patrons of the arts, donated money for a laptop for Gary; another funder donated a small amount to employ Gary and the world is his oyster.

Government and the private sector should not underestimate the ability of NGOs to create jobs. They need to support us generously.

Die ANC maak bruin mense weer slawe

7 December 2011

Die skulppuin en visvangtoestelle van die Khoisan, wat duisende jare lank uit die see geleef het, is steeds oral aan die Kaapse kus te vinde. Opeenvolgende geslagte van hul afstammelinge het op dieselfde manier ’n bestaan gemaak.

Dié leefwyse word toenemend bedreig. Die direksies van die blinklyf-ondernemings wat die leeue-aandeel van die beskikbare viskwotas verorber, is topswaar gelaai met die ANC se bekende “Groot Groentes” – ’n beskrywing wat deur die Kongolese gebruik word vir Afrika-politici wat lustig soos varke by die trog vreet.

Die ANC se werkwyse in hierdie opsig is meedoënloos. In ’n onlangse onthulling deur die Sunday ­Times, onder die opskrif “Skuitlose ANC-winkelier kry viskwota vir twee ton”, is berig: “’n Senior ANC-politikus is in die spervuur vir hulpverlening aan ’n partylid om ’n kwota vir twee ton kreef te bekom, hoewel sy nie eens ’n visserskuit besit nie. Maria Brown, wat in ’n tuinhuisie in Darling woon, het die kwota ingepalm met die hulp van Maxwell Moss, voormalige ANC-LP en tans die party se hoof van transformasie in die Wes-Kaap. Die kwota is vroeër toegeken aan altesame 197 vissermanne en -vroue.”

Dit was nie verrassend dat amptenare van die departement van landbou, bosbou en visserye dié toedrag van sake verdedig het eerder as om hul loopbaan in die gedrang te bring nie. Me. Shaheen Moolla, gewese direkteur van mariene en kusbestuur, beskou egter dié toekenning in ’n ander lig: “Dit is absoluut skandalig. Dis ’n kwessie van watter vark eerste by die trog is.” (Sunday Times, 14November)

Maar dit is nie net die bruin mense wat op die see uitvaar wie se bestaan deur die ANC bedreig word nie – ook die bestaan van diegene wat die vis verwerk, word bedreig. Me. Lumka Yengeni, voormalige voorsitter van die arbeidsportefeuljekomitee, het in Oktober teen die bestuurders van Weskus-visfabrieke en vakbondlede uitgevaar en hulle van rassisme beskuldig omdat hulle meer bruin as swart vroue aanstel – ongeag die feit dat dit die demografiese werklikheid van die omgewing weerspieël.

Nadat sy ure laat vir ’n byeenkoms opgedaag het, het Yengeni geweier om ’n vakbondlid die kans te gee om op haar woede-uitbars­ting te reageer. “Moenie praat nie, hou jou smoel,” het sy hom toegesnou. In antwoord op die vraag of sy ’n lys van haar besware kan verskaf, was haar reaksie dat sy nie daar is om “liefdesbriefies” te skryf nie. In ’n latere brief aan die Weekend Argus het Yengeni gesê haar optrede is geregverdig omdat arbeidswette ras as maatstaf vir indiensneming gebruik.

Ook in Oktober is Yengeni se punt met wrede duidelikheid tuisgebring deur die departement van korrektiewe dienste. Luidens ’n berig van Llewellyn Prince in Rapport van 23 Oktober (“Wit, bruin en Indiër benadeel”) het die kommissaris van korrektiewe dienste, mnr. Tom Moyane, instruksies gegee dat die diensstaat saamgestel moet wees uit 79,3% swart werknemers, 9,3% wittes, 8% bruines en 2,5% Indiërs. In ’n brief aan die provinsiale hoofde van die departement het Moyane dit duidelik gemaak dat hulle die gevolge sal dra indien die beleid nie deurgevoer word nie. In die Wes-Kaap is die praktiese gevolg hiervan dat geen bruin mens in die huidige boekjaar aangestel of bevorder mag word nie. Bruin mense word andermaal tot ’n laer stand verneder – slawe wie se stand in die lewe nie deur verdienste, potensiaal, vermoë of toewyding bepaal word nie, maar deur velkleur. Vir die apartheidsregime was bruin mense te donker; vir die ANC is hulle nie donker genoeg nie.

 Dit is die party wat maar te gretig is om die edikte van Julius Malema toe te pas, soos dat “minderhede” weggehou moet word van die “ekonomiese bondels” – ’n eufemisme vir die trog!

Dit is geen wonder nie dat bruin mense reageer met die enigste mag wat hulle in ’n de facto-eenpartystaat het – die geskooldes emigreer toenemend en ontneem die land broodnodige vaardighede. Ander reageer by die stembus. Bruin mense moet ligloop vir politici wat voor die plaaslike verkiesing geskenke aandra, maar hulle agterna die rug toekeer.

En, terloops, sal die minister van finansies, mnr. Pravin Gordhan, asseblief verduidelik hoekom die voorsitter van die Nasionale Jeugontwikkelingsagentskap R1,8 miljoen verdien, en hoekom R29 miljoen geoormerk is vir ’n konferensie vir ’n klomp halfgeletterdes sodat hulle op belastingbetalers se koste kan fuif eerder as om te sorg dat hulle geskool word? Met daardie geld kan minstens 500000 werksgeleenthede geskep word. Is daar ’n grootbaas wat bereid is om die ANC-regering aan te vat omdat hy belastingbetalers se geld gebruik om die party te bevorder?

- Die Burger

The thing about Politics

6 December 2011

I am frequently asked why I do not consider going into politics. My stock response is that I have seen far too many of my friends ruined by politics. Perfectly nice people prior to 1994 have become arrogant, pompous, self-serving and narcissistic. Politicians across the spectrum, except for a few, are a horrible lot. One such friend, Yolanda Botha, received a damning editorial in the Argus (30 November 2011) for lying under oath that she had vested interests in a business company that received R50 million contract from the Northern Cape Department of Social Development and in return her house was refurbished at a cost of R1.2m. Worse, she retains her position as chair of Parliament’s Social Development - wait for it - oversight panel, which adds R180 000 to her already exorbitant salary of R800 000.

Botha was a nice woman and one wonders whether there are anymore honourable ANC politicians left. The height of cynicism is the Speaker’s reprimand which yet again reinforces the culture of impunity that has left political corpses strewn all over the place - likeable men and women like Winnie Mandela, Jackie Selebi, Bheki Cele, Mac Maharaj, Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, Judge Hlophe, Baleka Mbete, Allan Boesak, and Tony Yengeni, to name a few. More generally, the ANC has destroyed swathes of people who should have been in senior positions today to give direction and guidance to aspirant young people. 

Instead young, inexperienced, untrained and incompetent people are governing us and their role models are those at the highest levels of government, even in the judiciary, have been crooks.

 This stranglehold of impunity in the hallowed halls of the legislature must be smashed. Its seeds are deep and were sown with the start of the Arms Deal and entrenched by the Travel Scandal. The most sacred space where the country’s laws are made has been defiled and “moral regeneration” continues to elude a society desperately in need of a moral fabric that will inspire SA’s youth. Regrettably, when the morally degenerate occupies the levers of power, then we have no hope of addressing the challenges of health-care, housing, unemployment and poverty that the country. No wonder SA has declined on Transparency International’s corruption index from 54 in 2010 to 64 in 2011 – worse than Namibia, Rwanda, Mauritius, Cape Verde and Botswana.

Can we blame some of the cops for being corrupt? Can we blame Home Affairs officials for taking bribes? Can we blame some magistrates and prosecutors for taking chances? 
Political office and the entitlement that goes with it have destroyed wonderful people, many of whom were my friends; we belonged to the same political organisations; we worked at the same university; we frequented the same parties, and so on. Today many who now serve in government, universities, and on corporations view themselves as entitled and despise columnists especially when they become the objects of our critical pens. Those who enter politics as a first step towards wealth and those who have wound up their vested interests with political office and steal from the very poor they profess to serve, harbour resentments towards opinion-makers, so venomous, that one knows they are guilty. The problem is – the fallen still remains mighty. We, the citizens, should dislodge them. 

A pensioner friend of mine is starting the first act of defiance. She told me that she would refuse to pay in any tax demands over and above what she has already contributed this year.  She can no longer take the flagrant abuse of our taxes for personal enrichment and conspicuous consumption. I concur and will join her. Any takers? 

Lost Girls

19 November 2011

A silent epidemic of rape is devouring our young girls in the townships. Lost Girls in South Africa is a documentary currently on circuit, tracing the effects of rape on girl children, their mothers, their families, right through to the ineffectual responses of the police and the courts. Offenders are no longer just fathers, brothers, uncles, and brothers; they are much younger, many of them schoolboys in the neighbourhood, known to the girls. Life is a nightmare for thousands of girls as they grow up in informal settlements and the rural areas, the targets of men and boys who cannot keep their sexual urges under control.

One of the worst aspects of these stories is the collusion between the rapists and their mothers against the raped and their mothers. Exemplifying worst types of complicity, one cannot help but feel enraged at the gross incompetence of an emasculated state that does not care.  

Profiling the lives of Ntombi, Fuzeka, Gretchen and Nozuko, aged from 11 to 13, the documentary exposes the inner trauma suffered by girls, who lose their childhood and become old way before their time. The portrayal of the disruptive effects on their school life, on the relationships between mothers and fathers, and amongst neighbours is wrenching.

Ntombi’s rapists, who are virtually her neighbours, stalk and taunt her while released on bail, knowing full well that the criminal justice system is as futile as the police who routinely fail to maintain their grip on offenders. The terror in her eyes is palpable as she navigates her way from school, to her home, or run errands for her mother. Social workers and the police admit that they are powerless in executing their duties, blaming the courts as much as the courts blame their ineptitude.

Fuzeka who is sexually molested by her father is caught between her distraught mother who must act to stop the abuse but who knows that in doing so, she must leave her home for a shack with no running water and electricity. Happier under horrible conditions, her husband harasses them day and night and daily they have to run the gauntlet of a patriarch who could not cope with a wife who removed from him the source of his sexual terrorism. Fuzeka feels crushed as she has to deal with the guilt of separating her parents as well as tending to a mother riddled with AIDS.

Gretchen who claims that her father molests her while her mother goes out to work at night, seeks the custody of her school until a safe place is found for her. Denying the charges, the father blames his misdemeanours on drugs, refusing to take responsibility for any of his actions. iNozuko lives with the guilt of a father jailed for murdering her rapist. Carrying this burden denies her the space to mourn her own violation.

The most searing scenes in this movie are the predicament these girls face, having to juggle their own survival with dealing with the consequences of disclosing the sexual violations to their parents and the authorities. Robbed of the joy of being children, they are constantly thrown into situations where they are compelled to philosophise about the meaning of life, or whether death is not a better option. As a mother of a young woman, this documentary was hard to watch and it starkly exposed the destruction of the moral fabric of SA. A more appropriate title would be: How SA loses its Girls Every Day!

Inspirational University Lecturers: A Rare Breed, Indeed

8 November 2011

Last week I was privileged to launch the opening of a student photographic exhibition at UCT, entitled Imagining Our Worlds. It was a celebration of what is possible when lecturers inspire their students.

Five post-graduate students in Film and Media, with camera in hand, travelled around the Cape crossing race, class and cultural barriers to understand the world and underworld of the informal economy, others, captured the sub-cultures of those living on the margins, and another tried to portray “the traces of humanity and humans in a context of unbounded nature.”

Coloured, African and White, local and foreign, these students produced an aesthetically pleasing and erudite display of their work, often crossing over into the realms of ethnography, anthropology, and sociology. They all claimed that this course was the highlight of their academic experience at UCT, firstly because their teacher, Paul Weinberg, was the best they had during their entire learning experience. He taught them what he knew about his craft without indulging in theoretical hogwash. “Instructors like Paul are rare. He was committed to sharing his time and sharing himself. Class was like hanging out in a pub...just without booze...lots of laughs.” “He eschews theoretical bullshit; he is refreshing and much of his teaching is experienced-based. He teaches us what he knows, and he knows a helluva lot!”

Is that not how Oxford University’s tutorial system works? Personalised attention and tutelage?

When students are passionate and enthusiastic about their courses, then we should celebrate them; more importantly, we should celebrate the teacher who gets it right. Paul Weinberg is not only a renowned photographer, whose works everyone knows, but he is also an amazing teacher, who as a teacher occupies a role few have the privilege to witness. Two comments capture the essence of who he is: “He embraces all that is South African.” “His work has been against the traffic challenging stereotypes.” Weinberg jolted his students out of the straightjacket of political correctness; he got them to explore the world around them and view life “against the traffic” so to speak. As young adults they have become grounded in their identities – conscious of who they are through discovering the magic of photography. He taught this class to look beneath the surface; to capture the world upside down and on its side, as confirmed by William Allard in “The Photographic Essay”: “I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don't find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.

Peter-Jon Grove, born in Komaggas, reading a MA in Historical Studies, exhibited a photo-story called Hands and Feet. Asking the question “what is the physical cost of our professions and history upon our person” he portrays the hands and feet of a range of personalities in every nook and cranny of Cape Town. Grove discovers the “in-between worlds” inhabited by people and he reveals, starkly that “the labours ... we undertake leave their marks on us, on our body parts.”

Chiedza Mutizwa-Mangiza from Zimbabwe and Nairobi ventured into the hot-spot of racial tension, Ruyterwacht Caravan Park, capturing the lives of sixteen households of inter-marriage, “each representing a racial group that often sits outside the discourses on poverty.” Her goal was to portray “the changing racial dynamics of inequality in post-apartheid South Africa”, and the result is excellent!

Kayleigh Roos, “too young to understand what the word apartheid meant” revisited some of the places and events captured by iconic struggle photographers in black and white and juxtaposed her photographs with these “to preserve memory and [create] new memories for our generation and those to come.”

Candice Jansen set out to explore Retreat Road, her home ground. It is 3km in length, and as she claims, it is “a sounding board for the nostalgia of its past and aspirations for its future – Retreat Road is the heartbeat of Retreat.”  All her life she walked past those little shops, 134 in total, but it was only in choosing this as an area of exploration with her camera that her eyes opened to what lurks behind the informal economy: economic refugees, weird and wonderful examples of entrepreneurship; people who circumvent red tape, who beat the system, who make money, who make deals, who survive, who make an honest and dishonest living, who go to church and funerals, and so on. Powerfully, she demonstrates that “the goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.”

There are many lecturers in our universities who stifle students, who kill their spirit and who even feel threatened by students who ask questions. Weinberg reversed this for his students and succeeded in making his students see the world rather than just look at it.

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." Nikos Kazantzakis


24 October 2011

A senior journalist from one of our reputable newspapers recently asked me: “How did the ANC lose its moral compass so soon?”  “That is precisely the mistake we make”, I responded. “The ANC never had a moral compass; apartheid was the enemy and our fight against it did not necessarily make us morally righteous.” Like the nationalist party before it, the ANC victory was about the seizure of power, about control and ownership of the economy, and about racial domination. How else do we make sense of the Auditor-General and Public Protector’s regular reports of billions of rands worth of corruption going into the personal pockets of deployed cadres?

Looting of the state’s coffers for personal enrichment; stealing the country’s mineral wealth for black economic empowerment; and using the procurement process for the primitive accumulation of wealth, have become a national pastime. The conflation of state and party is ingrained in the ANC’s DNA. Commanding eternal loyalty for liberating us from Apartheid is precisely the entitlement that brutally destroyed Ghaddafi a few days ago.
Already in 1990, Paul Trewhela wrote:

“The next hot spot for the ANC was in Zambia, where the headquarters of the ANC was based and where most of the leadership was living. This was in 1980. MK cadres, who had been drilled for months in ‘communist ideology’ of the Soviet-East European type to denounce all luxuries and accept the hazards of the struggle, here came into direct confrontation with the opposite way of life lived by the ANC leaders. It became clear that the financial support extended to the ANC was used to finance the lavish way of life of the ANC leadership. Corruption, involving rackets of car, diamond and drug smuggling, was on a high rise.”

Corruption and rank consumerism have become the hallmark of ANC governance and it started in exile already, continued by Thabo Mbeki’s government and perfected by Jacob Zuma’s administration and his family. The more children the president produces, the more wives and mistresses he accumulates, the more he feels entitled to create Zuma millionaires all over the show.

For every billion stolen, services and resources are denied to the poor. The effect is fewer clinics and less health-care, fewer police and more crime, fewer houses and more informal settlements, fewer schools and poorer education.

To say “that the ANC never had a moral compass” is perhaps unfair. When the ANC was formed in 1912 against white minority domination, it did, rightly, occupy the moral high ground. After most indigenous revolts and uprisings were cruelly crushed by the colonial regimes, black leaders came together before the formation of the Union, to unite and represent all Africans, regardless of tribal affiliations in the hope of engaging government more seriously about the black franchise.

Most of its leaders were missionary-educated, Christian, and valiantly fought against the pass laws, the Land Act, migrant labour, restrictions on their mobility, and so on. By the 1940s, it adopted more militant strategies, marked by the formation of the ANC youth League in 1943. The ANC now embarked on a range of subversive and unconventional strategies to overthrow white rule. It was probably during the 70s and 80s that the ANC’s morality was most tarnished and the slippery slope towards the Quadro camps in Angola, Mozambique, and Lusaka began.

It was the left versus the ultra-left; the Marxists versus the Trotskyites; the Charterists versus the Nationalists; the socialists versus the capitalists. And these fights were vicious. Paul Trewhela exposes Quadro in gory detail; and the biographies of Mbeki and Zuma alert us to the tensions prevalent in the high command. The deep rivalries between Nelson Mandela and Govan Mbeki on Robben Island are known and it was during the 1980s that ANC’s moral compass started going awry.

Often when liberation movements confront a common enemy, all eyes are on the enemy, and very seldom on its opponent. That was the case with the Spanish Civil War, the Marxist Leninist Struggle against imperial Russia, the Latin American struggles against Spanish colonial rule, and the African struggles against colonial rule.

A closer inspection of liberation movements, of the ideologies that drove them, and of the militant strategies to overthrow their oppressors, reveals that the hubris of liberation leaders and their followers is often overlooked. It is this hubris that is troublesome.  

Whites and the "woundedness" of Blacks

11 October 2011

Rhoda Kadalie says all too often it's whites who try to negate other whites' constitutional rights

Kallie Kriel's off the shoulder response to Adriaan Basson's mealy-mouthed attack on Afriforum is the kind of debate we should be having in our public forums. The politically correct media have condemned Afriforum for daring to take Julius Malema to court for that horrible "Kill the Boer Kill the Farmer" slogan.

Whether chanted in the struggle or not, this song is disgusting. Whether or not Judge Lamont ruled against it, it will remain hate speech. Yet holier than thou Basson insists that Afriforum's lawsuit was inspired by rightwing impulses that further polarise South Africa. What if I argue to the contrary? What if I argue that AfriForum did this precisely to stop racism and polarisation?

It is of course easier for limp-wristed Basson to take on Kriel rather than Julius Malema - the megalomaniac of racism and sexism. Malema's raison d'etre is to divide people. He has done that par excellence even within his own party to the extent that President Jacob Zuma no longer trusts his own cabinet and party.

Pointing out other charges of hate speech brought to the Equality Court by the Sonke Gender Justice Network and the gay lobby against John Qwelane's anti-homosexual diatribes, Kriel asks why Basson does not condemn these organisations equally for defending minority rights? It is not AfriForum that has polarised civil society; it is your double standards, stupid!

Exposés of shoddy reasoning are what our country needs. Public dialogue in the media, as in our universities, is littered with half truths. Journalists write superficially about complex issues and they often lack the courage to take on politically incorrect stances. They will go out of their way to attack white people who take up a cause to defend their rights but will retreat when black people violate the rights of others.

The "woundedness of black people" has become sacrosanct - the untouchable political G-spot! And, if you want any kudos as a white person, then attack your own. This is what the Home for All Campaign and the Wealth Tax debate were all about? The good whites versus the bad whites; the coconuts versus the nuts! And, God forbid if you are conservative, the wrath of Marx will be unleashed upon you as though conservatism is a sin.
In essence, white people are too easily considered not worthy of constitutional rights and the ones who often negate their rights are other whites - the gate-keepers who appropriate the right to judge.

South Africa's universities, equally, are populated with like-minded commissars. It is therefore no wonder that the Humanities are on the decline as reported in the latest Mail & Guardian. Prof Lawrence Hamilton lists a range of reasons for this decline: declining student enrolment; falling graduation rates; decreasing government funding; human resource stagnation; declining and lack of high quality research outputs; and more support for the science and technology disciplines to the detriment of the humanities.

Prof Lawrence fails, however, to mention the more serious reasons for the decline of the Humanities. The culture of political correctness and self-censorship prevalent in faculties of humanities has killed scientific inquiry. Prior to 1994, debate, critique, and engagement between the academic and political enterprises were vibrant, explosive and exciting.

Today academics eschew controversy except if they are sure of populist support. They hesitate to ask the big questions. Few academics read or write even though books and computers are their means and modes of production. Intellectualism is frowned upon; the word ivory tower is used to disparage the life of the mind; voting in faculties and senates are often driven by political rather than academic motives. Our Chief Justice justifies his poor publication record to a lack of passion for writing!

When the financial crisis hit the USA and Europe, the Marxists immediately jumped on the bandwagon, seeking justification for their long dead cause, seeking justification for holding onto their dogmas like religious fanatics.

In the Sciences scholars cannot get away with such intellectual recklessness and bullshit. If you make the wrong incision in a heart operation, the patient will die. If the aeroplane is badly constructed, it will crash. If we do not recycle waste, we will exacerbate global warming. In the Humanities, the effects of poor research are not as immediate, but can be equally deadly.

This article first appeared in Die Burger. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

SABC in Ruins

26 September 2011

Since the ANC came to power, it has destroyed more institutions than it has built up. In its short history it has ruined even some of the good institutions the apartheid government has set up. One of its irretrievable disasters is the SABC. Its high-minded Board has been unable to transform the broadcaster as it sinks deeper and deeper into the mire and one wonders why they stay on. The programmes offered are shockingly mediocre. The news is biased in favour of the ruling party. Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba has just had his 40th birthday party featured writ large on Top Billing last Tuesday and I shudder to think of the mutual schmoozing that went on to get his party on the box. No wonder the internet is alight with comments from people who refuse to pay their licences as an act of protest against a broadcaster that has shamelessly nailed its green, yellow and black colours to the mast. Increasingly people prefer to use their computers rather than watch TV or listen to SAFM for entertainment. Those who can afford DSTV acquire it. Worse, even SABC staff are bored by their own fare, so now their bosses have paid R102 000 for them to acquire MNet and DSTV. To add insult to injury, according to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the SABC also pays for their subscription bills.

According to reporter Thinus Ferreira, the SIU has uncovered “widespread corruption, wasteful expenditure, fraud, undeclared interests and a broad spectrum of unethical conduct”. The Unit revealed further that R150 million was spent on television programmes which were so beyond the pale that they were declared redundant and written off. As usual, kickbacks were also part of these deals. SABC staff has clearly learnt from Parliament how to defraud the nation. And so it continues. Remember when CEO Dali Mpofu got the ultimate golden handshake of some R11 million for plunging the broadcaster into disarray; similarly the chronically useless Solly Mokoetle received some R3.4 million payout for 12 months, inclusive of leave and other entitlements. How to Become an Instant Millionaire, ANC-style, would be a best seller based purely on the shenanigans of SABC officials. All one needs to do, is to run an organisation into the ground.

Numerous CEOs employed by the ANC in various parastatals, have since 1994 been handsomely rewarded for destroying crucial state organisations. Equally the turnover of Board members in the SABC in particular, has always been dramatic, which leaves those who remain behind highly suspect and Tony Benn’s contention that “broadcasting is really too important to leave to the broadcasters” rings true for our beleaguered SABC.

Last year sometime, board member, Pippa Green, lodged a complaint against me to the Ombudsman for a column I had written about Solly Mokoetle’s ineligibility for the post of CEO. Defending him as competent, she owes me several apologies for the Board’s subsequent admission that he left soon afterwards on the grounds of an “irretrievable breakdown between him and the board”. I wrote an approximately 43 page rebuttal of her complaint and to date I have had no feedback about the Ombudsman’s ruling, yet the board itself forced him out due to his inability to deliver a turnaround strategy for the corporation and based on a damning report from Gobodo Forensic and Investigating Accounting which declared him lacking appropriate corporate governance experience. In August 2011, the SABC yet again asked Parliament for a R6.9 billion bailout to keep the broadcaster alive yet it doles out gifts such as mirrors and Madiba T-shirts to staff. Wasteful expenditure, fraud and corruption do not abate and it is time the public demands the resignation of the Board for failing in its fiduciary duty. Financial controls and management are obviously lacking.

The SABC needs a fundamental overhaul. Band aid and patchwork will not transform it. 

The ANC has reduced the SABC to political rubble through Cadre Deployment and it is now reaping the fruits of this tactic. As municipalities increasingly become cauldrons of violent protests and as we slide dramatically down the scales of the Global Incompetence in education, health-care, unemployment, and the burden of disease, the ‘dumbing down’ of the nation through the public broadcaster further fuels the steady decline of a nation that can excel. 

"The people you must fear the most are those who agree with everything you say.”

13 September 2011

Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng is a nice man. Honest and likeable. He has had some years of experience as a judge and his faith is clearly important to him. While some of these traits may be necessary, they are not sufficient for the position of Chief Justice. The reams of criticism against his appalling judgements on rape and capital punishment were grounds enough to disqualify him from the post let alone a nomination. I then watched parts of the hearing on television to see for myself who this guy is and was truly disappointed.

More than being annoyed with Judge Mogoeng’s performance, the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) oversight, enraged. As they say, “soort soek soort”. Deeply sceptical about this body, I watched them in action. They are truly frightening. Except for a few courageous members, Ngoako Ramathlodi, Fatima Chothan, Karth Govender, Dumisa Ntsebeza behaved like apparatchiks par excellence. Giving lectures instead of asking probing questions to test the judge’s jurisprudential expertise, Commissioners put their vanities on display.

Van der Merwe, Smuts, Schlemmer, and others (unknown to me) asked the kinds of questions befitting a judicial hearing. Alas our affirmative action-obsessed colleagues failed. Their mission was to protect their candidate with sweetheart questions, aptly articulated by columnist Redi Tlhabi from the Sowetan:

“Jeff Radebe, Ngoako Ramatlhodi and all your sympathisers did not do you any favours by asking you easy, patronising questions. My theory is they did this because they thought you needed protection and were not capable of tackling this task head-on. By treating you like a fragile eggshell all they managed to do was communicate their own lack of confidence in your aptitude and competence. Your supporters should have been the ones grilling you relentlessly about your suitability and trusted that you would survive. A tough task is a chance to show your mettle. And this you did, whether people agree with your judgments or not. I beseech you - the people you must fear the most are those who agree with everything you say.”

This is the nub of the matter. Zuma’s intention was to thrust greatness on an obviously mediocre affirmative action candidate, and it partly explains why he made the nomination. Determined to stick the knife into the Deputy Chief Justice, he deliberately wanted someone junior who was not up to the task and who would forever be beholden to him.

Fortunately, Commissioner, Koos Van Der Merwe, did not disappoint. He cut to the chase and hit the jackpot! “Is it true that you said to a friend that God has chosen you for this job?” So wragtig Judge Mogoeng said “Yes” without a hint of irony - the notion of a secular state way beyond his horizon. Skirting issues left right and centre, it was clear he either did not know the answers or knew he would put his foot into it if he tried. He sank deeper into the mire with his response to the question why he had no track record of publications. “Writing is not my passion” said the Judge. It was like asking a school child why she refuses to do her homework and she responds “because I hate writing.”

A prerequisite for some jobs is writing. One does not have to be a novelist to write about your subject. If that were so many academics would be disqualified.  Shockingly, no one followed up this question. It is simply unacceptable for a judge to say he lacks publications because writing is not his passion. That alone was the surest sign that Zuma wanted a lightweight to occupy the highest office in the land.

Lastly, Judge Mogoeng’s repeated claim that his exposure to such a public hearing was unprecedented, made his eligibility suspect. It may be unprecedented in SA, but not in most civilised democracies where many are subjected to rigorous scrutiny for the whole world to see even if they are presidential nominees. Mogoeng should have welcomed the opportunity to display his expertise in public instead of seeing it as a punitive exercise. Regrettably, openness and transparency are no longer hallmarks of ANC governance.

Having heard the Judge personally, I now more fully understand why we have a Julius Malema, a Bheki Cele, a Siyabonga Cwele, and a whole host of fraudulent Parliamentarians ruling over us. The more unfit and the more improper, the more powerful!