How not to play the race card Mr Miyeni

Aug 01, 11 How not to play the race card Mr Miyeni

Posted by in Politics

Eric Miyeni is best known as an urban intellectual, and like all South Africans, is entitled to his opinions, but as a writer, is this the best that he can do?

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Local Elections: beyond the ballot

May 17, 11 Local Elections: beyond the ballot

Posted by in Politics

Local government elections. Politics at the lowest level, at its least sexiest, sometimes dirtiest, and yet politics at its most critical. There are over 23 million registered voters, and unlike previous local government elections, it is anticipated that over 50% will vote. Polls open at 7:00AM at 23 000 polling stations across 19 000 voting districts on the 18 May 2011. A day which coincides with the 99th anniversary of struggle icon Walter Sisulu’s birth, an election day with useful facts, but more importantly, an election day which will have an impact on the ANC in the run-up to its 2012 national congress in Mangaung. Five years ago, the previous local government elections were characterised by service delivery protests and a lack of capacity. This hasn’t changed. What has changed in the past five years is that opposition parties have undergone many developments. COPE emerged, and is faltering. The Independent Democrats, once strong in the Cape, have merged with the DA. The DA continues to project itself as the official opposition, and this claim has gravitas with every successive election. The DA is expected to keep Cape Town, and possibly win Port Elizabeth. Time will tell. While it is unlikely that the ANC will lose the local government elections, what is likely is a decrease in their results from the 2006 elections. Much of this also depends on the public response to the tactics that the parties have employed in their electioneering campaigns. Electioneering by most of the parties has been about track records (good and bad), or about moral principles, even about voting to improve the health of struggle icons. In some cases electioneering has been fused with a sense of religious duty, and in some cases it has been an exercise in breaking down stereotypes. We have been witness to an intense electoral campaign where various parties have asked us for our votes come May 18. We have heard promises, accusations, derogatory jibes and racial slurs. We have been entertained, insulted, pandered...

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Cote d’Ivoire – quo vadis?

Cote d’Ivoire’s post electoral crisis has been a dramatic moving picture, with events in the past three weeks threatening to undo the economic and political progress that has been made. After a decade of civil war, strife and promises of democracy Cote d’Ivoire (CDI) finally held presidential elections on the 31 October. This was followed by a second round, or electoral run-off, between the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and the runner-up Allassaine Ouattarra on the 28 November. Gbagbo lost to Ouattarra, 46% to 54%. The United States, the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the West African bloc ECOWAS have all recognised the electoral commission results showing Ouattara as the winner of the election and have called on Gbagbo to step down. Despite this, Gbagbo has not yielded, and instead has tried to contest the results unsuccessfully, and has resorted to clinging to power. In addition to an old rivalry between the two candidates, Gbagbo has a history as a political strongman in his country, and has in the past resorted to various tactics to keep power. This has included intimidating former rivals, playing the ethnicity card, and now using a combination of political maneuvering and blatant violence to stay on as President. In the early days after the results were announced, he attacked the credibility of the Ivorian Electoral Council and he sealed off the country’s borders temporarily. He also has allegedly censored the local media. Recent reports state that he has hired two American lobbyists who worked for the Clinton administration to represent him in the US. He has also threatened to expel UN peacekeepers from the country. Gbagbo does not act with political maturity, and has lost any hope for a legacy as a true statesman, but his strongman tactics have kept him in power thus far. Even if another civil war does not ensue, the damage has been done economically. In September the World Bank granted US $465 million in funding for the next four years to Cote...

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#Twitterquette much?

Ahh, Twitter. Love it, hate it, it cannot be ignored, just ask Floyd Shivambu. It was instrumental in Iran’s Green Revolution, according to western media. It wasn’t instrumental in the Green Revolution, according to Malcolm Gladwell. Whatever your views on its relevancy, its here to stay, and usage seems to be increasing in South Africa. I have however become acutely aware of reactions when I tweet in certain environments, and have to ask: just when and where it is appropriate to tweet, and when is it a faux pas? A Google search on “#twitterquette” yielded 2 350 results. According to the Urban Dictionary definition of twitterquette, “Twitter is not a social network! Its micro-blogging!” I can agree with that. Instead of shouting “Amen”, I whipped out my cellphone with every intention to tweet. But before I hit the Twitter bookmark, I stopped myself. No battery power? No signal? Nope. Just the words “what am I doing tweeting in church?” looming large in my mind. I retweet posts from events and people that interest me, and I’ll post news that I find exciting or important. I am no Twitter addict, yet I find that my tweeting has increased recently, and I find myself curious about the evolving etiquette of tweeting. With the proliferation of cellphones in the past decade it was deemed impolite to sms or speak on one’s phone during a meeting, as it’s considered distracting and disrespectful. Does tweeting during an event or meeting fall into the same category? Case in point: I recently attended an event where a Minister responded to a question related to human rights, homosexuality and African governments. The response, although graceful, was a side-step on the issue. My friend and I immediately whipped out our phones, and posted this bit of news and our opinions of it on Twitter and Facebook. While tweeting though, I could sense the annoyance of the people sitting next me. Later during the week, I retweeted posts from the #gathering, as I couldn’t attend...

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Empire State of Mind

It’s traffic-jam season in Manhattan again. While we’re conducting a mid-term review of those good old Polokwane policies down in Durban, I mean eThikwini, New York hosted the beginning of the 65th United Nations General Assembly, and also the Millennium Development Goals Summit. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at all these events… Our Minister of International Relations and Cooperation headed off to the Big Apple recently, and the agenda was seemingly smooth, with a polite, staid script straight off the DIRCO website. Of course we were going to behave; my hunch is that we’re still after that Holy Grail: a permanent UN Security Council seat. On the other hand, the ANC NGC script resembled an episode of a local soap, with enough plot devices and twists in that script to keep me tuned in to Radio 702 (props to Stephen Grootes on the coverage). I was expecting the ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe to encounter more trouble from Julius and his ilk, but he foiled that – for now. I was also anticipating the dreaded NGC-agenda coup, but President Zuma set the tone and scuppered that little threat. All in all, the powers that be handled things rather well. What impressed me on the first day was that while the President set the tone for the congress, the Minister of Finance spoke to a business forum in Durban. Likewise Mantashe’s report has me believing that we could see a move towards more efficiency and less cronyism in government. I’d like to believe that this was coordinated, and I’m more than happy to thank whoever was responsible for that. Ideologies aside though, I prefer smooth efficient politics; they do wonders for my stock portfolio. Perhaps the leadership tussles have been quelled (temporarily), but what lies ahead for SA for the next 30 years? Our government may be focused on the next 2-3 years, but have we anticipated the needs and challenges that we’ll be facing in the years to come? I see...

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