White is not a Precious Metal

May 11, 12 White is not a Precious Metal

Posted by in Culture, Featured

After much umming and ahhing, a friend and I finally got to wander around a penthouse at Ponte City on the outskirts of Hillbrow today, and boy, were we surprised! Melrose Arch, it is not – and no one ever pretended it is; however, Abuja extension (to use the pejorative) it isn’t either. Now granted we would probably need to pop in on a Friday or Saturday night to get a more accurate reflection of the building and its surrounds, but first impressions were lasting… and not all for the good. The lone encounter we had with a Ponte City letting agent was obviously a pleasant one, but almost every other pale South African had a look of shock and horror on their faces when the name Ponte was spoken about. Smash & grabs were mentioned, references to the three, four, no… five story rubbish dump in the centre of the building were made, and more often than not, that most precious of minerals was emphasised – that of our white skins. This topic not only comes up when entering these outskirts of Hillbrow, but in almost area or topic of conversation where white people are not in the majority – which is pretty much most places in South Africa, if you haven’t noticed! Of course there are “safe havens” for the paler of the species, they tend to be the access-controlled suburbs and cluster bombs we stay in, as well as the bomb shelter-like buildings that we frequent so often known as malls; of course we feel safe here because we’re usually in the majority. Given the rambling by twitterati as of late, mostly by younger generations who were not exposed directly to a pernicious apartheid-based education, one would certainly be curious as to the roots of this blatant racism. I would be at a loss to speak about it from a black point of view, for obvious reasons, but looking at it from my white side of the spectrum – that constant...

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Why We Should Pay More Attention to Julius Malema

Jun 21, 11 Why We Should Pay More Attention to Julius Malema

Posted by in Politics

Julius is not a Kingmaker In and of himself, even with the backing of the title of “President of ANC Youth League”, his power is limited. That he has significant sway is beyond doubt, especially after the Midrand conference, however, something else underpins this source of power. It is still the traditional structures that elect the president of the African National Congress. Malema cannot force nationalisation, property and banking policies? No. This requires a two thirds majority in parliament, which the ANC does not hold and, even if they did hold such a majority, by demonstration the ANC has been a responsible stakeholder and Julius is far from being able to bend this. Ignoring him will not make him go away A definite no. The argument that media fuels his acerbic rants is baseless; if anything responsible media coverage is crucial in ensuring that Julius is bound by all the checks and balances that binds every other South African citizen. Malema gets attention because he brings up important issues Well, Malema spouts populist rhetoric that addresses significant South African problems – those of development. He attacks all those who represent old South African wealth from the modern day Rand Lords to even the current crop of tenderpreneurs. To his supporters, who often wait hand and foot on relatively wealthy white people all day or who have seen the blue light brigades storming past once too often, his appeal is enormous. Some would have us believe that he is just a Young Turk, learning the ropes, someone who will be integrated in to the democratic political structures. I do not believe that he will change his tone, however, as he feeds on the current malaise that is South African development. In an article by Moeletsi Mbeki, where he predicted South Africa’s “Tunisia Day”, he believes that by 2020 the South African government will not be able to continue funding the ever expanding social programs as well as ensure development benefits the poorest that need it. And...

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The United States of South Africa

Mar 07, 11 The United States of South Africa

Posted by in Culture

This is not a reference to the (hopefully) soon to be deposed Muammar Gaddafi‘s “United States of Africa”. Rather, this is about South Africa and the disturbing similarities to the country we all like to hate – the United States of America. There are a plethora of videos on YouTube demonstrating the ignorance of Americans where they can’t even point out Iraq on a map. While it is ridiculous that they have no sense of the world that they dominate, let us apply the same exercise to South Africans in reference to the continent they believe they dominate – ask your average “Saffer” to locate Nigeria, Uganda or Ghana on a map… South Africans are more akin Americans than they would like to believe, and for the same reasons: we dominate the continent financially (the Gauteng province alone contributes 10 percent to the African GDP!), we believe that all of Africa’s poor aspire to be like us, and we refer to ourselves as being separate from the continent. The legacy of apartheid informs the last point significantly; it was the aim of the nationalist government to differentiate South Africa from her neighbours. This has carried through to post-1994 South Africa, as the periodic xenophobic outbursts demonstrate that it is not only the white community that is often scornful of their northern neighbours. While we emulate these negative aspects, there are positive American attributes we would do well to replicate. South Africa differs significantly from the US in demonstrating her hegemony. And whilst this may seem like a compliment, it is not. South African ambivalence (read: “quiet diplomacy” and our dithering with the turmoil in Ivory Coast) has cost her any strength of place when assisting in conflict resolution on the continent. There are further aspects of American society that we should reproduce, such as political participation. For all the complex lobbying in the US, it goes to the core of democracy – participation. The ANC’s dominance does not preclude any of the electorate from...

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Sudan 2010

In April, following presidential and parliamentary elections, Sudanese party leaders began informal discussions about structuring negotiations on post-referendum and post-CPA arrangements between the North and South. Concurrently, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, headed the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), whose mandate had been extended to “assist the Sudanese parties in implementing the CAP and related processes”. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Mekelle, Ethiopia in June that committed the parties to a discussion of the post referendum issues and outlined its modalities. In the following three months there were few significant negotiations and even less progress. The interconnection of issues, minimal sequencing of the agenda and the absence of strategic directives from the parties handicapped the working groups. The SPLM was lacking in technical expertise and felt they were being marginalised by their NCP counterparts. Initially the SPLM saw the benefits of third party engagement in the talks, but as time passed by the AUHIP group saw less negotiation time as a the go-to third-party, with observers questioning the infrequency of its direct engagement. Broader negotiations were resumed on 7 November at the Council of Ministers’ premises, with the goal of developing a framework agreement within one week, before voter registration began on 15 November. The Obama administration offered to lift the “state sponsor of terrorism” nomenclature, normalise diplomatic relations, and offered aid packages and multilateral debt relief to the North as a counterweight to the potential cost of partition, thereby helping reintegrate Sudan into the world...

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2000-2010: Peace Wrapping Up the Decade?

2000 saw the conflict between Bashir and Turabi continue, and at the end of the year Bashir was re-elected president for another four year term. Bashir proposed a move toward democracy and the creation of a secular state in order to achieve reconciliation with the SPLM; Turabi protested vehemently to the latter. Ongoing IGAD meetings in February, May and December were fruitless. In 2001 China signed an oil agreement with Khartoum. By oil had become a major issue in the war; Talisman Oil Corporation oil production levels reached 200,000 barrels per day, generating a revenue of US$400 million, the equivalent of 40 percent of oil revenues, and vital revenues for the government to pursue the war with the rebels. In mid-2002 there seemed to be a breakthrough in the peace talks. The government agreed to allow a referendum in the South after a six-year interim period, and the constitution would be re-written to ensure that Sharia could be used in the North but it would not infringe on the rights of non-Muslims in the South. Despite this success, however, US President Bush signed into being the Sudan Peace Act, under whose terms the President could impose sanctions on Sudan if they did not believe Khartoum was serious about the peace process. Predictably, Sudan reacted furiously. Numerous protocols and agreements led to the formation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, namely: The Machakos Protocol (or Chapter I) of 2002; The Protocol on Power Sharing (or Chapter II), signed in 2004; The Agreement on Wealth Sharing (or Chapter III) of 2004; The Protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict in Abyei Area (or Chapter IV) of 2004; The protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States (or Chapter V) of 2004; The Agreement on Security Arrangements (or Chapter VI), signed in 2003; The Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation Modalities and Appendices (or Annexure I) of 2004; and The Implementation Modalities and Global Implementation Matrix and Appendices (or Annexure II) of 2004. The raison d’être of the CPA was to end...

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