Monday, April 29, 2013

For better or for worse : SA 1994 - 2013

No Fear No Favour No Warlords.........


The statistics don’t lie – South Africa is undoubtedly a world away from the place it was 19 years ago when the ANC took power in the first democratic elections. Millions of people who were shut out of the government system now have access to basic services and the state machinery. But with all the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the freedoms previously denied, why is South Africa such an unhappy, angry place in 2013? It is lacking two fundamental things it had in 1994 – qualities that separate an average country from an exceptional nation that South Africa has every right to be. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

A current refrain this past Freedom Day, as has been the case on previous anniversaries of South Africa’s first democratic elections, is that the country is a much better place than it was in 1994. Well, of course it would, and should, be. The year 1994 was by no means a measure of a normal country or even “ground zero”. It was the start of a journey to reverse the legacy of statutory discrimination and to construct a new country based on democratic principles. But in order to assess the gains of the democratic order, 1994 is the generally accepted baseline to work from.
In its Freedom Day statement, the African National Congress said the following:
“South Africa is a better place today than it was in 1994. Our society has been transformed in every sphere with increased education levels, greater access to water, electricity, sanitation and housing. Moving from an extremely low base, the senior certificate rate is at its highest at 73.9% in an inclusive education system. The number of graduates has doubled since 1994, more than 3.1 million houses have been built and more than 15.1 million people have benefited as a result of our comprehensive anti-poverty initiatives which have sought to expand the social security network through amongst others grants and labour-intensive public works programmes. We have turned the corner in the fight against HIV and Aids. Our fight against joblessness and unemployment continues.”
This was echoed by President Jacob Zuma in his address at the official Freedom Day celebrations in Pretoria on Saturday.
“As we look back at the road travelled since 1994, we recall that it has not been easy. It was never going to be easy. But we have made tremendous progress.
“We are a very humble nation. We do not boast about our achievements. We also tend to be highly critical of ourselves.”
He went on to cite statistics of water, electricity and housing provision, which show how government delivery has changed the face of South Africa.
“While income inequality remains high, the expansion of our social grants system from 2.7 million people in 1994 to 16 million currently has contributed to a significant reduction in the proportion of households living in poverty,” Zuma said.
Though 16 million people dependent on the social security system for survival is a burden on the state and therefore hardly something to boast about, this has dramatically reduced the rate of extreme poverty in the country. Yet until the economy starts consistently producing high numbers of sustainable jobs, the reliance on the social safety net will remain disproportionately high.
But according to the president, South Africa continues to “perform well” on the economic front. The economy has expanded by 83% over the past 19 years, and national income per capita has increased from R27,500 in 1993 to R38,500 in 2012 - an increase of 40%, Zuma said. Disposable income per capita of households has increased by 43% and total employment has increased by more than 3.5 million since 1994.
So why then are we not celebrating our tremendous success story and trumpeting these achievements, instead of the perpetual moaning about the state of the country?
The ANC’s alliance partner Cosatu, although acknowledging the discernible progress since 1994 in its Freedom Day message, gave some indication as to why the nation is restless.
“There is little doubt that there are valuable achievements that have been recorded by the ANC in the past 19 years, in the light of a negotiated settlement…
“However, it is also true to say that these social concessions have been to a large extent undermined by the rising cost of living, the rising unemployment rate and the widening wage gap. This has caused some of the biggest protests, with over 1.3 million workers going on strike yearly and over 40% of municipalities witnessing service deliver protests.
“The fact is, even though many have won access to these essential utilities, many cannot afford them, hence almost five million people have been experiencing water cut-offs due to continuous price-hikes. Despite the great wealth underneath the soil of South Africa, the country is placed in the top ten of the most unequal societies in the world. Almost half the population survives on less than 8% of national income. On the other side, in 2009, on average, each of the top 20 paid directors in the JSE-listed companies earned 1,728 times the average income of a South African worker,” Cosatu said.
But this is only part of the narrative as to why the delivery achievements since 1994 are being undermined. The past decade has seen the ruling ANC become completely consumed by internal battles and less concerned about the state of governance and delivery. Parallel to this has been the stark disconnect between the ANC leadership at various levels from the people they purport to serve.
This disconnect has manifested in flamboyant lifestyles of those in leadership positions, corruption and enrichment schemes to benefit the politically connected, abuses of power and neglect of responsibilities in the state. Scandal upon scandal in government has fed the perception that elected representatives have abandoned their election promises and operate in total disregard of those they promised to serve. The culture of impunity and lack of accountability when gross expenditure and failings in the state are exposed has cast South Africa in the mould of other African countries, which surrendered their hard-won freedoms for the benefit of a coterie of the political elite.
Adding to the gloom has been the extraordinary displays of public violence, from police brutality to sexual crimes, which have weighed heavily on the public psyche. During all these horrific incidents, the country needed exceptional leadership to soothe a worried nation and guide us to rediscovering our humanity. What we got was the bare minimum, acknowledgment after a time lapse that something bad had happened and expressions of sympathy.
Despite the remarkable progress that has been made in reversing the legacy of Apartheid, South Africa is more restless than ever before. In 1994, there was plenty of uncertainty and fear but there was also tremendous hope that the future would be better and brighter. That hope existed mainly because there was a brigade of outstanding leaders charting the course and coaxing the nation forward. There was a common covenant between the leaders and the people of South Africa that we could make the country great.
Hope and good leadership is missing from the current lexicon and this distorts perceptions about whether we were in a better place then or now, no matter what the statistics say. There was a hint of irritation from President Zuma on Saturday when he remarked on people being jaded and critical, saying they should instead be making suggestions about what could be done to improve the country.
But it is difficult to inspire a restless nation to co-operate, particularly one that feels neglected and disrespected. No amount of delivery figures can change that, only strong leadership can. The hope that propelled us forward in 1994 is long gone. And while in many ways we are so much better, the pervasive hopelessness makes us a whole lot worse. DM
Photo: President Jacob Zuma. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)

Monday, April 8, 2013

More than 16 killed after weekend attacks in Afghanistan

No Fear No Favours No Despots........

More than 16 killed after weekend attacks in Afghanistan

A suicide attack has claimed six lives and air attacks have killed 10 children over a weekend that served as a reminder of Afghanistan's conflict.
On Saturday, an attacker detonated a vehicle full of explosives in the centre of Qalat just as a US military convoy passed the provincial governor and his entourage. The blast killed and seriously injured several people from both groups, including a young Kabul-based diplomat, Anne Smedinghoff.
Provincial governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasery was in the convoy, but was unharmed, local and Nato officialssaid over the weekend.
Separately, 10 children, an Afghan woman and a US civilian adviser to the Afghan intelligence agency were killed by air strikes during an hours-long battle in a remote part of eastern Kunar province on the same day, senior local officials said. "In the morning after sunrise, planes appeared in the sky and air strikes started and continued until evening," said tribal elder Gul Pasha, who is also the chief of the local council in Shultan, where the bombing happened.
A senior Taliban commander was in the house, but so were women and children between one and 12 years old who were members of his family, Pasha told the Associated Press by telephone.
"I don't think that they knew that all these children and women were in the house because they were under attack from the house and they were shooting at the house," he said.
Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces have been one of the most emotive and high-profile issues of the war in Afghanistan, prompting street protests and condemnation from officials including President Hamid Karzai.
They remain a frequent flashpoint for national anger, and earlier this year Karzai banned Afghan forces from calling in air strikes, although his order appears to have been ignored on the ground.
US press officer killed
The deaths came as the most senior US general, Martin Dempsey, chairperson of the joint chiefs of staff, arrived in the country to discuss long-term training plans for Afghan soldiers, who from this summer are expected be leading the fight against the Taliban.
Smedinghoff, the state department officer killed in Qalat, Zabul province, was a 25-year-old press officer from Chicago who had less than four months left to serve in Afghanistan. At the time of the attack she had been heading for a local high school to help deliver books. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, paid a personal tribute to Smedinghoff, who he met on a visit to Kabul less than a month earlier. She had been put in charge of organising the trip, a prestigious role for someone on only their second overseas assignment, and he remembered her as "vivacious, smart, capable", with great potential.
Her death was a reminder of the gulf between the values that the US supported and those of the Taliban and other groups fighting the government in Afghanistan, Kerry told diplomats in Istanbul, where he was visiting the consulate.
"I think there are no words for anybody to describe the extraordinary harsh contradiction of a young 25-year-old woman with all of the future ahead of her, believing in the possibilities of diplomacy, of changing people's lives, of making a difference, having an impact, who was taking knowledge in books to deliver them to a school, and someone, somehow persuaded that taking her life was a wiser course and somehow constructive, drives into their vehicle, and we lose five lives."
There were also tributes from journalists and others with whom Smedinghoff had worked. "Saddened by loss of Anne Smedinghoff whose commitment always impressed me. RIP Anne & your sacrifice to get books to Afghans appreciated," the prominent Afghan women's rights activist Wazhma Frogh said on Twitter.
"Anne was helpful and kind, going out of her way to assist. Tragic," the Wall Street Journal correspondentMaria Abi-Habib said on Twitter.
Taliban claims responsibility
Last year, a civilian working on a diplomatic passport for the US government's development arm, USAid, died in a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan. But the last US state department diplomat killed in Afghanistan was ambassador Adolph Dubs, who was shot during a botched kidnapping in 1979.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they had wanted to target either the government or a Nato convoy. "We were waiting for one of them," a spokesperson, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, told AP. "It was our good luck that both appeared at the same time."
The 18-hour battle with the Taliban in Kunar province broke out when a clearing operation led by local intelligence agency officers met with fierce resistance, said Wasifullah Wasifi, a spokesperson for the provincial governor. An investigation was under way into how the children and woman had died, Wasifi said. The Nato-led coalition said it was aware of allegations of civilian casualties in Kunar and was looking into them.
The killings followed a bloody Taliban assault in the country's west on Wednesday that killed 44 people in a courtroom in Farah province. The United Nations says civilians are being increasingly targeted.
In a statement posted online earlier on Saturday, Ahmadi said the Taliban would continue to target Afghan judges and prosecutors.
"The Islamic Emirate, from today onwards, will keep a close watch over courthouses, all its personnel and all those who try to harm Mujahideen and will deal with them the same as the judges and prosecutors of Farah. – Guardian News and Media 2013

Mail and Guardian


The ILLUMINATI is waging war - EAST VS WEST.

Russia has to dump its old war stocks so they sponsor their past enemies against the West.

Putin and Zuma are Brothers in Arms via Bric's.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Zuma makes space for China's Xi in Nkandla

No Fear No Favours No Chinese expansion in South Africa........

President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma

01 APR 2013 06:46 - MATTHEW BURBIDGE

The M&G can reveal that China's relationship with its smaller Brics cousin has just become a lot more cosy, with a rural residence for its president.

Diplomatic sources, who were not authorised to comment officially, told the Mail & Guardian that China's President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma sealed a new bilateral deal on the sidelines of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) summit in Durban last week.
The deal provides for the aggressive enlargement of Zuma's rural homestead in Nkandla and will include a new residence for Xi, his family, and entourage.
The deal is apparently being kept under wraps. The Nkandlagate scandal came to light after a string of reports revealed that over R200-million would be forked out for infrastructural improvements at the president's private residence at Nxamalala in rural Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
The M&G has previously reported that there would be a clinic, as well as a helipad, medical clinic, bulletproof glazing and air-conditioning in certain residential units as well as a bunker at Nkandla. The upgrade is currently the subject of an investigation by public protector Thuli Madonsela, although a public works department report on alleged abuse of public funds during the upgrades found no signs of wrongdoing.
The plans for the expansion – which the M&G has seen – include a tea house and small tea estate, which is likely to thrive, given the area's high rainfall and fertile soil. The plans also provide for a small Chinese take-away.
Comment from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation was not immediately forthcoming.
Zuma, a prominent tea drinker, has often been seen sipping Rooibos and honey, said to be his favourite drink. It is not known whether Xi enjoys tea.

Main and Guardian


This could be an "April fools Day Joke".

Or this could be the workings of a depraved despot or madman.

If true then, this is inviting Chinese and foreign expansionism in South Africa.

There will still be life after Zuma.

The Chinese already have a FOOTHOLD IN ZIMBABWE.