The Trouble With Youth Leagues

Oct 27, 11 The Trouble With Youth Leagues

Posted by in Featured, Politics

Cosatu announced recentlythat it is starting its own youth wing. Cosatu Young Workers will target youth, particularly those in learnerships through Setas, who they feel are being exploited. The cut-off age will be 40. Yet another youth league. That brings to… well, many the number of youth wings in South Africa. Youth leagues ostensibly set up to give the youth a say in how organisations work and, at least if the ANC is to be believed, to provide a platform for the leaders of the future to learn and develop. This makes some kind of sense. They also (ostensibly) provide a platform for youth to test out their radical, revolutionary ideas before they get into real politics. They’re meant to be a place for radical hoodie-wearing teenagers who want to overthrow the government to deal with their angst before they get to make decisions that affect people’s lives. The problem comes when youth leagues include everyone under the age of 35 or 40. Particularly when most of the people in the country are under the age of 35 or 40. South Africa’s population bubble is in the 20s. We’re not Japan. Our majority is not aging out of the working system, they’re 20-something, pissed off and looking for work. And the current system has put them in the same small box as the 30-somethings who have finally managed to find a minimum wage job (if they’re lucky) and are still clamouring for respect in every other respect. And it places all of them at the kids table, sitting in a corner watching the grown-ups make the decisions. Youth leagues provide a platform for the perspectives of a small but important group when they represent the voices of the minority. When most people are classified as youth, this set-up provides a nice, safe, easy way to shut ‘youth’ issues out mainstream national politics – like a slightly less grossly unequal economy and people having jobs . ‘Youth issues’ are given a separate, distinct and less...

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ANCYL – Would Nationalisation be so terrible?

Jun 29, 11 ANCYL – Would Nationalisation be so terrible?

Posted by in Politics

To some this would be a rhetorical question. For others it would be a resounding YES.  I would have answered in the same vein, but after hearing the ramblings and sometimes threats from the ANC Youth League and strong denials from the broader ANC movement; I have been compelled to delve into this issue. The idea of nationalising the mines is really not as new as some would have us believe. When the ANC first gained power in 1994, part of the economic plan was to gain some ownership of the mines to earn revenue to fund the social programs that had been planned. This plan was clearly derailed after the infamous trip Mandela took around the world on a fact-finding mission and in hopes of reviving the image of South Africa in the world.  Seventeen years later, we find South Africa the most successful economy on the continent beleaguered with many problems. South Africa stands as one of the most unequal societies with the current unemployment rate standing between 23 % and 25% as of the 4th quarter 2010. One may ask why the sudden focus on nationalization by the ANC Youth League? The ANCYL has stated that the  economy needs to be reformed which is true when considering the fact that the majority of the unemployed in South Africa are the youth and that poverty levels are increasing by the year. The question is whether this would be the solution. There have been cases where a government’s ownership or having the majority shares of natural resources has benefited the country. Neighboring countries such as Botswana have been able to positively use the revenue gained through their joint shares with De Beers in diamond mining. Botswana is known as the success story of the sub-Saharan region with a strong economy, a stable state and population that is well provided for. This is not any way denying the problems The worrying part about the ANCYL’s insistence that nationalisation be considered a viable option is...

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The Media’s love affair with Julius Malema

Jun 13, 11 The Media’s love affair with Julius Malema

Posted by in News & Media, Politics

Julius Malema, love him or hate him, is in the news again. Or shall I say, still. It’s no secret that the South African media love the ubiquitous ANC Youth League President, or as Floyd Shivambu, the League’s spokesperson likes to refer to him, “the President”. And why not? His near-daily exploits are the stuff of many an editor’s wet dream. Edgy, controversial and antagonistic, the man certainly knows how to get attention and keep it. And of course the kinds of attention-grabbing statements and publicity stunts he is now well-known for sell newspapers, draws in a readership and get advertising revenue flowing. Despite his detractors’ claims of stupidity and simple-mindedness, the evidence is stacking up that Mr. Malema is in fact rather clever in his own way and is playing the media like a well-tuned fiddle. Nary a day goes by without images of our favourite Youth League President being splashed across front pages of our newspapers and online news services, and while it may not be true that “no publicity is bad publicity”, the adage does bear some weight in this context. Of late, that context has been the widely-publicised hate speech trial recently concluded in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, which at this time is awaiting judgement. For those who followed the court case itself, and not the mud-slinging that occurred outside it, the debate inside the courtroom was rather important and as such has had a significant presence in the public mind. More than this, and in no small part as a result of the high profile nature of the case, the exchange has been of a very high quality and an intensity that would put many a Friday night legal drama to shame, thanks in no small part to the level of experience and seniority on display from the legal fraternity. Despite this however, the headlines we are reading include such juicy tidbits as Winnie Madikizela–Mandela’s pre facto proclamation of victory and posturing outside the court buildings or Mr. Malema’s own extra-court dancing, singing and built-to-be-headline statements. The actual discourse within the courtroom has seemingly been sidelined in favour...

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Nationalisation or freedom: What would Julius do?

Mar 11, 11 Nationalisation or freedom: What would Julius do?

Posted by in Economics, Politics

Julius Malema and his posse are right: the unemployment situation in South Africa, the inequality, the lack of economic freedom, is a ticking time-bomb that cannot be ignored. The poor will eventually stop being okay with rich people riding around in fancy German cars, wearing expensive, imported watches and drinking x-year old whisky that costs their annual family income. The solution, the ‘cure’ the ANCYL proposes, is nationalisation. How does nationalisation of the mines fix massive unemployment? Nationalisation suggests a change in ownership; it doesn’t change output or productivity. The mines won’t suddenly become more profitable because they are state owned. They won’t be more productive, so they won’t hire more people. In a recent speech, Malema invoked the example of Botswana. This may explain what he has in mind. In Botswana, the government is a majority stakeholder in mining. This means that the government gets a larger proportion of the profits than would otherwise happen (for example, through taxes) and (some of) this is fed back to the people in public investment and grants. The result? A population dependent on the whims of the government as to how the money is used. Not unlike the population of Bahrain (and several other middle-eastern dictatorships) who are rising up against their dictators because they want freedom, not hand-outs. In many of these places, the standard of living and average income levels far outstrip those in South Africa. It appears that isn’t enough. Even where a democracy theoretically exists, if most people live on government hand-outs, the power of ruling party over people (because they are dependent on grants) ensures that, most of the time, the people won’t risk voting against them. This means the party stays in power and is able to act with impunity, without the usual checks and balances to curb actions that go against the people’s interests and demands. This is not to suggest that social grants are wholly bad. Social grants provide a crucial safety net in difficult times. But when they are...

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