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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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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On Media Sensationalism

May 16, 11 On Media Sensationalism

Posted by in News & Media

I hold the opinion that melodramatic segments of African media houses hold too much sway in the industry. I therefore find many headlines, photos and sound bites too over the top to warrant attention. Two incidents in Kenya and South Africa caught my interest mainly for the sensationalism that surrounded them. Besides the fact that the two stories shared the similarity of protagonists appearing in court, I thought of no connection whatsoever. Nevertheless, the degree of rumour mongering and speculation that had circled these events provided me an awareness that led me to build a comparison regarding the nature of hyped news items. The first incident was Winnie Mandela’s ‘embrace’ of Julius Malema captured in a cheekily titled “PHOTO OF WINNIE KISSING MALEMA” as the latter left court on one of his recent appearances. Expecting a spectacularly scandalous photo I was disappointed to find a snapshot meant to play mind games on whoever stared at it too long. In the second incident, one of Kenya’s leading dailies reported the loss of $10 million by one of the International Criminal Court (ICC) suspects on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi from The Hague. Though the article named no names it was full of innuendo and a spontaneous internet buzz targeted at Uhuru Kenyatta, the son to the country’s first president currently serving as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. It was later reported that all that was lost was a bag containing an ipad and cell phones. I dislike the sensationalism for its deliberate generation of loud attention-seeking, self-centered and theatrical nature. Driven by elaborate corporate structures of media networks, advertising agencies and sponsors, it combines show business, advertising and news. I am averse to the negative effects of the inefficiencies that arise from all three. Considering the almost miraculous power of the media, these influences directly affect society, culture and heritage by encouraging escapism, indifference and insulation from the realities of their contexts. Mainly by the means of distraction, media...

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Dubul’ Ibhunu

Apr 20, 11 Dubul’ Ibhunu

Posted by in Culture

Advocate George Bizos, a renowned Senior Counsel at the Johannesburg bar, was once involved in a trial where he had an opportunity to cross-examine the late leader of the AWB, Eugene Terreblanche. Spurred by the North West’s heat, Terreblanche became thirsty while he was testifying. The Court Orderly had not placed water on the witness stand. Advocate Bizos SC was ably assisted by a young black attorney.  She took the glass which was being used by Advocate Bizos SC, with the intention of pouring water into the glass and giving it to Tereblanche. Never the type to miss a golden opportunity such as this one, Bizos stopped her from using his glass and directed the young attorney to instead use her glass to quench the parched throat of the racist. Wedged between the necessity of lubricating his throat and his racist convictions, Terreblanche sat staring at the glass for a long while as he did not want to drink from the same cup as a black person.  Something had to give.  However, one can never undermine the lengths to which an extremist will go, to defend his principles.  Terreblanche was no exception. He eventually lifted the glass to his face and literally poured the water into his mouth without the glass even touching his lips. And so, Bizos led Terreblanche to a personal cross-road. A cross-road that all South Africans need to arrive at and are being led to by none other than Julius Malema and the Afrikaans interest group, Afriforum. This is the point at which we test out ideals, somewhat like we did at CODESA, except this time with a common set of beliefs that we have agreed to as our yardstick. The legalities of this matter are simple. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, this right to freedom of expression is limited by the hate speech clause, which expressly carves hate speech out of the constitutional guarantee of free expression. Hate speech is defined as “an incitement to violence against a defined group of people”. This makes sense. A democratic...

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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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