Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Blogger on leave
This blogger will be experiencing the cultural and political wares of Washington DC before taking a well-earned break in New York City over the next 2 1/2 weeks. See you on the flipside...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Threat of Palestinian Politics
With the violence erupting between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas' penchant for sustained suicide bombings and Mahmoud Abbas' knife-edge politics, Palestine is on its way to becoming a failed state. The implications of this for Israel, and the entire Middle East, are acute and concerning.

Yesterday, Palestinian security loyal to Abbas, attacked Hamas-led parliament and cabinet buildings in Ramallah. This is the latest in a wave of continuing violence, but is the first real violent rampage from the Fatah side. This immediately escalates the position in Palestine, and will further alienate aid agencies and hopes for peace within the state.

Time has an excellent report on the situation, with the potential similarities between Palestine and modern-day Mogadishu. Read it here

Friday, June 09, 2006

SACP's dangerous path
High-level politics is a simple thing; people vote in what they believe is their best interests for their future within the country. If successful, the SACP's decision to begin a process moving away from the tri-partite alliance will, in my opinion, sound the end of the party's involvement in the South African political process at any high level. The SACP holds a largely unionised base that is hugely influential in directing politics (similar to the Teamsters in 60's America), but holds few skills in governing a country.

This is a fundamental difference. I cannot see how a rational person will continue to vote for the SACP as a serious contender for government leadership beyond one - or at most two - elections. The SACP will face the lonely fields of opposition politics, and will undoubtedly struggle to find an electable platform away from the coat-tails of the ANC. Communism is a difficult sell, worker's rights less so, but ultimately, worker's rights doth not an effective government make. I would imagine that the voter base will be easily cherry-picked by a liberation party message from the ANC.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Misleading statistics
As much as I have warned of Zuma's populist strength of late, I can't go along with some misleading conclusions from the Natal Mercury over a recent Research Survey report. The survey reported that "Jacob Zuma is seen as the politician most likely to become the next president of the country". Now this may well be true, but it is well too premature to be undertaking this type of survey. The ANC succession battles truly begin next year, and no other candidate (barring Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - who is second on the list) have been mooted. Come next year, closer to the ANC AGM, there will be a plethora of candidates vying for position who will be gathering newsprint and being introduced to the public eye. At present, the only person in this race is Zuma, who has started way before the starters have even lined up, and the only reason he his in this position is that his supporters have taken the recent allegations and trial as an affront to his chances of making the presidency.

Take this same survey toward the end of next year, that is when we can really draw meaningful conclusions.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Islamic militia set to rule Somalia
It seems likely that in the next five to ten years, Africa will be a central battleground for Islamic terrorism. North Africa is generally sympathetic to the radical cause, having a long Islamic history, and the Horn of Africa has long harboured Islamic terrorists.

The most recent clashes have taken place in Somalia, where the incumbent warlords have been fighting a bloody battle with an Islamic militia group, The Islamic Courts Union. Yesterday, the Islamic Courts Union completed it's victory in Mogadishu, and is trying to establish Islamic rule in the capital city. Given that nobody has been able to govern Mogadishu, and thus Somalia, for decades, it will prove an interesting experiment.

Whatever the outcome, it will undoubtedly embolden other Islamic militia groups in countries similar to Somalia where there exist huge power vacuums. This can only spell further trouble for our embattled continent...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bush panders to his conservative base
In what can only be described as a political move to try and restore a semblance of credibility with the conservative voters, Bush is trying to push through an amendment on gay marriage. Let's not forget that Bush used this heavily on his campaign trail in 2004, but yet has done nothing, not even said anything, about it in the two years since.

It will be a miracle if the Senate approves this, a fact I'm sure Bush well knows, but it provides a rallying point for the Republican conservatives who have in the last year begun to shun Bush's leadership.

This may be a Bush initiative, but it's something that the entire Republican party needs before the upcoming mid-terms. Republicans have been battered in the past year, with internal scandals, a lack of political ability to push through reforms, and some hot-button failures such as immigration. If they are to pick up the pieces, they need to present a united front, and it will be issues like this so dear to social conservatives that will rally them. Whether it'll be enough, that's to be seen...