Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, March 31, 2008

He's baaaaack!
Not heading past lessons, Eugene Terre'Blanche has resurrected the AWB and is back to his old tricks:
"Africa has not yet satiated itself on the blood of our women and our children. The land has inherited our beautiful ones," he calls.

"But I am willing to die for the ashes of my father and the temples of his gods and the blood of our children if I am not going to be allowed to live in peace in my fatherland. Our language is born out of the grass, veld, trees and wind of this fatherland. We named the mountains in a new language."

The AWB's new plan for the boere is simple: it wants their land back, their nationhood. And their plot is not to put in a land claim like so many other South Africans, with the dream of repossession buried deep in the soil of their ancestors.

Theirs is to exert the power of three critical title deeds that, technically, may reveal "the Boer nation" to indeed be in possession of at least Vryheid in kwaZulu-Natal, the old strongholds of Stellaland and Goosen in the far North-West and sections of the Free State.

Visagie refers to the Conventions of Sand River in 1852 and Bloemfontein in 1854 and the folly of Voortrekker leader Piet Retief in 1837.

If the AWB does not succeed it will take its case to The Hague and, if it does not succeed there, it will take up arms, it claims.

The end is nigh?
Bob's delaying of the ZEC results is an incredibly worrying sign, both for Mugabe himself and for the prospects of a peaceful handover of power. It is incredibly difficult to believe that the real reason for the delay is "logistical problems" and not some last-ditch attempt by Mugabe to affect the outcome. There is simply too much personal power at stake for him to give up almost 30 years of rule meekly.

But the wider questions is; what will happen if Mugabe is announced to have won this election? If this was the case after the results were announced on time, it may not have had too much effect, but announcing a Mugabe victory after delaying the results may be a match to a tinderbox. One would hate to see what happened in Kenya (the election violence, not the ethnic violence) happen just across our borders, but this may be the realistic outcome.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Poor old T-Bone
Poor old Thabo. The man is under fire from every quarter, sees foes at every corner and friends running in every direction. He is being goaded by the DA who are accusing him of cowering before the Zuma factions but yet he has little room to manouver.

His rather insipid and wholeheartedly transparent attempt at blocking the release of the full Khampepe Commission - which was supportive of retaining the Scorpions - under "threats to security, defence and international relations" (anything else you'd like to add Thabo, maybe threats to the Bulls defence of the Super14?) was the mark of a man desperately trying to maintain relevance whilst power is stripped from him.

Personally, it's sad to see. We all know that Thabo would undoubtedly enjoy retaining the Scorpions, but alas, his favour falls in the wrong court since Polokwane. Political reality remains.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Arms Deal Amnesty
If you've been following this blog for a while, this would not have taken you by surprise, but there's plenty of behind-the-scenes discussion about the possibility of a blanket amnesty for all of those involved in wrongdoing in the Arms Deal.

Given the pressure on Mbeki and his cabinet over the largely 'Zuma coalition'-led reopening of the Arms Deal reports, this was always to be expected. As a sideline, it conveniently dodges the Zuma graft trial too, but such an amnesty may stipulate that Zuma steps aside for Motlanthe as President elect of the State. Follow this one with interest...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Great question, TNS
I was amused to see a headline of "Thumbs up for Zuma" in an IOL report on the latest TNS Survey on Zuma. The "thumbs up" comment is made in relation to a 41% disagreement (over a 40% agreement) with the statement, get this, "If Jacob Zuma becomes president in 2009, it will bring disaster to South Africa". Great question TNS, you're definitely looking for an objective response then? Priceless...

As IOL has it, we should be celebrating that 1% more of the country disgrees that a Zuma presidency will bring disaster for our country. More Zumania anyone?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Arms Deal
My latest ThoughtLeader post is up, where I discuss the 1999 arms deal as the defining moment in this last decade of politics. Get it all here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I benefited from apartheid
It does amuse me how many white people have such a difficult time stating this. There is a complete ignorance that the economy of the country was built on incredibly cheap and mobile black labour sourced from designated areas created by the apartheid state. That millions of jobs were reserved for whites only, even though whites are less than 15% of the population. That we were schooled in a stable first world system paid for by giving nothing to the majority of the population whilst spending lavishly on the white elite.

It's a view shared by Karl Gostner, who has set up a blog inviting white people to 'acknowledge the horrors of the past'.
"There is no doubt that I benefited from apartheid, he said. I went to a well-funded school. I never had policemen raiding my home, arresting my parents, teargassing my classroom or anything else that constituted the teenage years of many black South Africans who are my peers. The fact that I have a successful life today is because I did not experience the violence of apartheid."

Whilst I don't neccessarily agree that young South Africans should apologise for their role in apartheid that happened before they were born, I think it is critical that all white South Africans acknowledge that they have benefited out of the consequences of the apartheid state.

See the blog here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Can. Worms. Open.
As we've discussed before, there is plenty of dirty laundry yet to come out regarding the ANC's role as a party in the 1999 Arms Deal. The Mail & Guardian this morning breaks new revelations about the murky network of companies involved (most notably Chancellor House) with bidding companies, the money trail of which ultimately flow back to the ANC.

The so-called “Mabandla dossier” obtained by the M&G illustrates arms brokers' dealings with the ANC during the arms deal bidding process and raises new questions about President Thabo Mbeki’s role.

There is plenty more to come out here, especially if Zuma's graft trial goes to court . There is a distinct democratic danger here, but personally I feel that in order for us as a nation to move forward, all of these shady dealings must be aired. We need to have an open acknowledgement of these transgressions and suitable justice served, in order for us to fully defeat corruption and move forward to clean governance.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Motlanthe's slow burn
ANC Deputy President and "thinking man's ANC President" Kgalema Mothlanthe has not spent too much time in the spotlight of late, but he is preceded by a reputation respected by most on both sides of the current ANC divide. However, as Ebrahim Harvey writes in the Mail & Guardian, Motlanthe's left leanings have been emboldened by the occurrences pre-, during and post-Polokwane, and his socialist values have supposedly become more pronounced. According to Harvey:
Today, he speaks freely and openly about problems confronting the party and particularly those that preceded and produced Polokwane. He seems to be a man who has been freshly liberated from the fetters President Thabo Mbeki and his allies imposed on leaders of the ANC at Luthuli House.

My interviews last year and early this year make it very clear that Motlanthe has moved to the left. The earlier trenchant defensiveness has been replaced by a far greater openness and a willingness to confront many uncomfortable realities in the ANC.

Jacob Zuma's dismissal by Mbeki, without meaningful consultation with Luthuli House and the ANC's allies, was Motlanthe's turning point.

The new Motlanthe welcomes the radicalisation in the ANC and sees no reason why anybody should try and arrest it. He strongly criticises the Mbeki-led Cabinet's domination of the ANC. He hit out at Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa for thinking that his premiership gave him the right to do as he pleased, with scant regard for the party that placed him in that position. He says that policy must not be cast in stone and that the membership of the ANC must appropriate it for ends they wish.

We must remember of course that Harvey is a former Cosatu unionist himself, and thus may be willing Motlanthe to further this leaning, but I don't neccessarily agree with Harvey that Mothlanthe is likely to take this emboldened view into government. I think of Motlanthe as a wise head in the NEC, and one who understands the balance required between socialism and capitalism in an emerging economy such as ours.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Walking the Line
President-elect Jacob Zuma is quickly working out how difficult his tenure may be. At present, he is walking a very fine line between his various and beholden 'partners', particularly with respect to business and labour. If there's one this Zuma knows, it's that he cannot vastly alter the current macroeconomic principles laid down in the past decade, but he also realises that he has to make placatory noises to the far left.

He's already been slapped down once by Cosatu, just last week, but he's now in danger of running foul of them again in comments yesterday with business leaders as well as comments calling for the need for debate around affirmative action.

Zuma needs to work out who he is very quickly, both for himself, and for the country.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Alternate view on the BJF
There's been a lot of conjecture about the decision of the Black Journalist's Forum to bar white journalists from the Zuma session a week or two ago, much of which I agree with. For an additional view, here's an op-ed piece by Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya in the Mail & Guardian. Moya writes:
So let us not kid ourselves. It is patently untrue that black people are incapable of being racist. The poverty of thought displayed on the banners of the relaunched FBJ showed that blacks are not instinctively sensitive to the pain of racial exclusion.

But similarly the owners of media houses cannot, solely on the basis of the blackness of those who manage newsrooms, assume that black journalists have no issues that pertain to them as blacks.

Condemnations can fly. The question is: Can those editors in the South African National Editors' Forum return to their newsrooms, face their black colleagues and say the reasons for the existence of the FBJ are absent in their workplaces?
Read the whole thing here.