Saturday, 20 March 2010

South African revelations


10. Jacob Dlamini's column in Business Day on recent academic research showing how the notorious 1913 Land Act did not, as is commonly assumed, place an absolute bar on black land purchases outside of the native reserves:

Dlamini cites a recent academic article by Harvey Feinberg and Andre Horn which noted: "between 1913 and 1936... [black] Africans bought about 3200 farms and lots outside of native areas." Black South Africans could apply for exemptions from the Act, and according to the authors, "between 1913 and 1924, under the governments of Louis Botha and Jan Smuts, there were 302 exemptions granted, amounting to 35% of the total. Between 1924 and 1936, when JB Hertzog was in power, there were 565 exemptions granted, amounting to 65% of the total."

9. The Carte Blanche story on the dumping of police dockets from the Burgersfort police station:

The programme reported that year two former high ranking police officers, Charles Bosch and Daryl Els, stumbled across thirty three dockets in a black bag in a road just outside of Burgersfort. "The cases in these dockets [were] related to armed robberies, attempted murder and kidnapping between 2005 and 2007." Carte Blanche managed to track down and interviewed two victims of violent crimes - whose dockets were contained in the bundle - Kgomotso Mehlape and Wayne Farmer. Mehlape's store had been robbed, while Farmer had been abducted by two armed men at an ATM. "They bundled him back into the boot of the car and drove around for four hours, waiting for midnight, so that he could withdraw the maximum amount from his bank account. And then they let him go."

8. The report in Die Burger on how the ANC government, having spent billions of dollars on purchasing hugely expensive Hawks and Gripens for the South Air Force, has not bothered to allocate enough money to allow pilots to train and fly on them:

Pieter du Toit writes that according to an Auditor General's report the use of the Gripen fighter jets will have to be kept to a minimum and those trainee fighter pilots - on the Hawk program -will have to be satisfied with half the required flight hours. Together the Gripens will be allocated 550 hours flying time this year. In 2011-2012 and the year after 250 hours, hopelessly insufficient by European and American standards.

7. Tim du Plessis' column in Beeld on how, during the great awakening of South African civil society, one institution remains sleepy and servile:

Du Plessis notes: "'n Nuwe tydsgees is aan die ontwaak. Mense, gemeenskappe, minderhede, noem maar op, staan op en sê: genoeg is genoeg. Nou vat ons ons regte terug. Groepe en instansies uit alle sfere kom in verset teen die versmorende ANC-hegemonie van die afgelope tien jaar. Die Pretorianers veg vir hul stad se naam. Belastingbetalers weerhou dienstegeld uit protes. In die townships is die middele van protes anders, maar die boodskap dieselfde: ons eis die regte wat die staat aan ons verskuldig is....Oral word die regerende party se groot projek - die ‘nasionale demokratiese revolusie', gemik daarop om die ANC in elke uithoek van die SA gemeenskap te laat domineer - in trurat gedwing. Oral behalwe by die Universiteit van Stellenbosch (US). Daar gebeur die teenoorgestelde - regte word geabdikeer."

6. Tim Cohen's comment in Business Day on decoding alliance language:

Cohen notes that the squabbling within the ANC alliance is articulated "in a special language called ‘alliance code', characterised by the excessive overuse of the passive voice. Hence Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of union federation Cosatu, announced on Thursday that a campaign had been mooted to oust both Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at the ANC's general council meeting in September. The ANC called Vavi's statement ‘not only misleading but also divisive', alliance code for ‘absolutely true'." Cohen notes: "The simple fact is both nationalists and leftists within the ANC are angry: the leftists with Zuma's decision to stick with real-world economic policies, the nationalists with the leftists opposing their attempts to use the state as tool of organised kleptocracy. Zuma needs to step in decisively, yet his big concern seems to be morality - his code for people questioning his right to unprotected intercourse with anybody he wants."

5. The IT Web story on the decision of the minister of trade and industry to place CIPRO CIO Dr Michael Twum-Darko on special leave:

The latest move stems from the continuing aftershocks caused by the inexplicable decision to give a little known company Valor IT the contract to implement an ECM system for CIPRO despite its R153m bid being two-and-a-half times as expensive as that of Faritec's. Twum Darko told IT Web's Martin Czernowalow that he was the victim of a racist conspiracy. "'I have always faced a challenge from my white counterparts,"... adding that he had been tasked by the DTI's director-general [Tshediso Matona] to replace white executives with black staff." Meanwhile, ValorIT chairman Josias Molele explained why Valor IT had yet to deliver on the system, a full year after the tender was awarded: "Our side of the project is finished. We have completed the new Web site, the intranet and file system. Cipro has admitted it is having problems with getting the infrastructure in place."

4. Kader Asmal's letter to The Times on the shameful decision by the police to revert to military ranks:

Asmal writes that "the egregious police commissioner, Bheki Cele, has requested MPs (nogal) to address him as ‘General Cele'." Yet the former cabinet minister notes: "Under section 205 [of the Constitution], the police are described as a service and under subsection (3), they are enjoined to uphold and enforce the law, which would involve strict adherence to the Constitution. As for Cele's burgeoning head, he will have to look at section 207(1), which refers to the appointment by the president of the national commissioner. There are also provincial commissioners. In passing those idiotic proposals, the Cabinet no doubt took into account these constitutional provisions. Will there be constitutional amendments to fit these whimsical fancies?"

3. The Mercury report on how a powerful ANC KZN politician, John Mchunu, had been handed some R40m worth of tenders by the eThekwini (Durban) Municipality:

Wendy Jasson da Costa writes that Mchunu is the chairman of the most powerful ANC region in KwaZulu Natal, and a member of the provincial legislature. He apparently "benefited financially from tenders awarded [by the municipality] to two of his companies, Inyameko Trading 148 cc and Zakhele and Mondli Trading Enterprise cc." The newspaper quoted the DA's John Steenhuisen as saying "many of the municipality's officials, including [Municipal Manager Michael] Sutcliffe, reported directly to Mchunu. ‘For tenders and contracts in Durban, the buck stops with him'."

2. Anthony Butler's column in Business Day on the agenda behind ANCYL President Julius Malema's call for the nationalisation of the mines:

Butler notes that under ANCYL proposals the state mining company would take up to 60% of the shares of mining houses. "This would amount to a giant corporate welfare system for over-leveraged and politically connected miners. Almost all of them, moreover, will see the proposed "partnerships" as opportunities to unload exhausted mines, and legal responsibility for the industry's environmental legacies, onto the state: the people as a whole shall share in the country's toxic mine wastes." One likely source of funding for the scheme, mooted by govt, are "public-sector workers' pension funds (ie the life savings of unionists)." Butler notes: "The incredible truth, then, is that Malema has persuaded many young communists, SACP cadres and Cosatu activists to campaign for a wholly bogus nationalisation programme. What they will get is a state-owned mining house that will bail out fat cats by looting unionists' own pensions. And the left says it is Malema who is stupid?"

1. Nadira Naipaul's controversial and contested article in the London Evening Standard on her meeting with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela:

Madikizela-Mandela told the Naipauls that the "great Mandela" has "no control or say any more. They put that huge statue of him [in Sandton] right in the middle of the most affluent ‘white' area of Johannesburg. Not here where we spilled our blood and where it all started. Mandela is now a corporate foundation. He is wheeled out globally to collect the money and he is content doing that. The ANC have effectively sidelined him but they keep him as a figurehead for the sake of appearance."

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