The Future of South Africa

August 31, 2015

A truly independent IEC is democracy’s last line of defence

  • Mmusi Maimane
The one institution of democracy that has, until now, escaped President Jacob Zuma’s capture of state institutions and enterprises is the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The value of a neutral, non-partisan electoral watchdog cannot be overstated. If the IEC falls into the hands of an unethical and threatened president, it can spell disaster for our democracy. The warning signs are there, and they need to be heeded.

South Africans have spent a lot of time recently talking about the threat posed by the capture of state institutions and enterprises by President Jacob Zuma. The Presidency’s extraordinary powers of appointment, along with a blindly loyal parliamentary caucus, has enabled Zuma to place dutiful cadres at the helm of a staggering number of influential bodies. Although these presidential appointments are in line with the Constitution, the writers of our Constitution could not have foreseen this abuse of power 20 years ago. They could not have foreseen that a compromised president like Zuma would one day use the full extent of these powers to secure his power, capture the state and shield himself from the law.

When discussing this systemic state capture, most of the attention has been on the institutions of investigation and prosecution, where we now see Zuma loyalists heading up, amongst others, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Special Investigating Unit, the South African Police Service, the Hawks and the South African Revenue Service. In fact, all that still stands in the way of a full house of state-captured investigative and prosecutorial institutions is the Office of the Public Protector, where advocate Thuli Madonsela is proving to be a more stubborn thorn in the flesh than anyone could have predicted. But her term of office ends next year, and the chances of the president making the same mistake again are slim.

The one institution of democracy that has, until now, escaped the same kind of scrutiny is the IEC. The value of a neutral, non-partisan electoral watchdog cannot be overstated. If the IEC falls into the hands of an unethical and threatened president, it can spell disaster for our democracy. The warning signs are there, and they need to be heeded.

The task of the IEC is to deliver regular, free and fair elections at all three levels of government. To date, it has overseen five national and provincial elections and four local government elections. All of these elections were officially declared free and fair by the IEC with no substantial accusations of vote-rigging or other irregularities (although it must be added that last year there were 250 complaints lodged).

But these elections all took place during a time when the African National Congress (ANC) felt their national lead wasn’t threatened, and electoral manipulation was never deemed necessary.

The first time the ANC was handed a notable electoral defeat was in 2006, when they lost control of the City of Cape Town to a coalition led by the Democratic Alliance (DA). They didn’t respond well to this and tried everything in their power – legal and otherwise – to break up the coalition. It was only through court action that these efforts were finally thwarted. Three years later, in 2009, they lost the Western Cape when the DA won 51.5% of the provincial vote for an outright victory. This has never sat well with the ANC, but instead of mounting an effective opposition strategy, they have banked on supporting an ‘ungovernability campaign’ in an attempt to destabilise the Western Cape.

But fast-forward another five years to after the 2014 national and provincial elections, and the whole picture changes. Suddenly the ANC finds itself staring down the barrel as their once-unassailable lead in several key metros has dramatically shrunk. As Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg voters turn their backs on the ANC in their numbers, the prospect of losing one or more of these metros in the 2016 local government election looms large. And it is at this point that we must open our eyes wide and keep them trained on the IEC. Because this is where the ANC’s last hope of swinging an unfavourable result lies.

The IEC is headed up by five commissioners. One of them serves as a vice-chairperson and one as chairperson. Currently four of these five positions are filled, and the recruitment process for the fifth is under way. Once he or she is appointed, the new IEC chairperson will be announced. (The previous IEC chairperson, Pansy Tlakula, was forced to resign in September last year following a property leasing scandal).

It goes without saying that the impartiality of these commissioners should be beyond reproach, but this was called into question in March this year when the ANC used their majority in the portfolio committee for Home Affairs in the National Assembly to push through the nomination of Glenton Vuma Mashinini as an IEC commissioner. Mashinini’s fortunes have been closely tied to that of Zuma for more than five years now. From 2010 to 2012 he served as vice-chairman of the president’s review commission on state-owned enterprises, and then from 2012 till 2015 he was appointed full-time adviser to the president on ‘special projects’. He has been earning a top salary for over five years, courtesy of Zuma, and yet we are now expected to believe that his impartiality is not in question.

But it is not only at the level of IEC commissioner that the independence of the institution warrants scrutiny. At every voting station, the last line of defence in securing a free and fair election is the presiding officer. At the thousands of schools where voting takes place, these presiding officers are often principals and deputy principals. And, more often than not, they are members of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union. Considering the amount of pro-ANC campaigning all the Congress of South African Trade Unions affiliates undertake during each election, this cannot be a healthy situation for our democracy.

When it comes to contesting elections in South Africa, opposition parties do not compete on a level playing field with the ANC. The capture of the SABC has effectively turned the state broadcaster into an ANC mouthpiece during election campaigns, and the allocation of party exposure is skewed in the ruling party’s favour. On top of this, the ANC uses election campaign periods to dramatically ramp up its food parcel handouts in contested areas – in other words, ANC-branded gifts for the bill of the taxpayer.

Then there is the issue of the municipal boundary manipulation to ensure maximum support (or weakening of the opposition). It’s such an old trick in the book, it has its own name: gerrymandering. The Municipal Demarcation Board’s recent decision to proceed with all its proposed outer boundary demarcations, in contravention of due process (and effectively ignoring all objections), places a big question mark over the board’s independence and freedom from political manipulation. The DA will make an application to the High Court to challenge these decisions.

In the face of these enormous challenges, it is absolutely crucial that our electoral watchdog, the IEC, is beyond reproach. Simply pointing to the Electoral Court as recourse in case of a dispute is not good enough, as we recently saw in the Tlokwe by-election court case. Earlier this year the Electoral Court upheld the election of several ANC ward councillors in the contentious 2013 by-elections in Tlokwe after allegations of voter-roll manipulation. The Electoral Court’s majority decision found that the number of bused-in (ie illegally registered) voters was “only” 1,040 and had no material impact on the outcome.

However, this was disputed in the minority judgment by Judge Lotter Wepener, who argued that there was enough evidence to set aside the election results. In his judgment he said: “In all the circumstances, I am of the view that the by-elections were not free and fair and were tainted by illegality, and that the votes cast at voting stations of the relevant wards in the by-elections should be ordered not to count.”

Without an independent electoral watchdog it is virtually impossible for governments to change hands peacefully. Africa is littered with examples of disputed elections and questionable governments because of the lack of electoral oversight. We only need to cast our minds back to the 2002 elections in Zimbabwe – an election that we now know was everything but free and fair thanks to the Khampepe Report finally seeing the light 12 years later. For more than a decade our government tried to prevent this report – by two of our most esteemed legal minds – from being made public because it was diplomatically awkward. But the truth will always out.

So is there anything we can do to ensure that our elections remain free and fair?

There most certainly is. In general, we must all remain vigilant and report any incidents we believe to be improper. Safeguarding our democracy is everyone’s responsibility. We must also welcome international observers. With so much at stake, you can never have too many eyes watching the process and looking out for irregularities.

But on a more practical level, we must ensure the independence of the IEC by firewalling it from cadre deployment. The DA believes that the Home Affairs portfolio committee should continue to shortlist and nominate IEC commissioner candidates. But we also believe that the portfolio committee’s recommendation should have the backing of at least 60% of the members of the National Assembly before being sent to the president. This would be in line with the appointment process of the public protector and the auditor-general, and would prevent the ANC from using their majority in the House to push through compromised nominations.

Next year’s local government elections could be a watershed moment in South African politics. If the ANC loses control of any more metros, the resultant swing in momentum could put 2019’s national and provincial elections in the balance. We know it. The ANC knows it. And we cannot afford to take any chances when it comes to securing the legitimacy of these results. DM


Koeberg unit to be shut down – possible load shedding again

August 30, 2015

Source: Koeberg unit to be shut down – possible load shedding again

The Miracle of Blood River – 175 years ago today told by Herman Labuschagne

August 30, 2015

For those who asked for my Blood River story again, this is how I wrote it last year:

The miracle of Blood River

Today, on a Sunday 175 years ago an event took place which changed the history of South Africa. In a roundabout way, it was an event that changed the history of the world. It was the start of perhaps the most dramatic event in the blood-stained pages of our country’s past. And it was the start of a day that may never be forgotten as long as blood flows through the veins of the Afrikaner nation.

The story of what happened was told to me by Uncle Gert de Jager – and he repeated it for me a few months before his death at the age of 92. I asked him to tell it to me slowly so that I could listen with care and make sure that I understand it correctly. He even wrote down what he could remember, to make sure that it would not be misunderstood. These were facts that he still heard personally from his father and from his great-grandfather who had been present at the time. Several of my other family members were there also. Some of the events that I am about to tell of are poorly known. But this, to the tribute of those who were there – and to the glory of the Hand which protected them, is the story of what took place:

Uncle Gert’s great-grandfather remembered that when night fell upon the velvet green landscape of Natal, it was dark moon, as we call it. The night was so black that you could not see your hand in front of your eyes. In the western sky the lightning flickered on and off. The night ahead looked ominous, but so did the months that lay behind them. With one or two exceptions, it had been a series of never-ending disasters. There had been the Liebenberg murders during which unsuspecting pioneer families were suddenly overwhelmed and cut to pieces. Then there had been the climactic battle of Vegkop during which only 37 men, servants and boys fought off 4,000 Matabeles. There had also been the months of being besieged in rain-drenched laagers during which time they suffered dreadful hunger and disease. There had also been the tragic scene in which the Trek leader Piet Uys was led into an ambush, where he and his young son were brutally slain. It was an incident that had left the pioneers divided and weak.

Furthermore, there had been the worst day of all: the day in February of that same year when their leader, Governor Piet Retief was murdered, along with his young boy and his entire party of men. They had just concluded a successful land purchasing transaction with Dingane, king of the Zulu. During the festivities that followed, Dingane suddenly rose and shouted: “Kill the witchdoctors!” upon which Retief and all his unarmed men were seized. Their fate was so horrible that it cannot be described without shocking the senses. They were impaled alive and fed to the vultures – with Piet Retief being forced to watch it all until he too, as murdered.

That same night, the Zulu impies had swept across the length of the upper Tugela river. They fell upon the unsuspecting encampments of families across a huge distance. It was totally unexpected. In the darkness, that evening became the sum of all nightmares as unspeakable cruelties were committed. While men fought desperately in the darkness against an unseen foe, they were overcome by sheer force of numbers. Pregnant women were cut open, and children and babies were swung by their feet to have their brains bashed in against the wagon wheels. In that one night 500 men, women, children and servants were butchered. Their bloodied bodies with drawn-out entrails were found among the charred remains of their burnt out tents and wagons the next day. It was a crime and a tragedy in that small community which was so great that words could not be found to express emotions.

After this incident the pioneers realized that they were now faced with most desperate hour in the entire existence of civilization in Africa south of the equator. All attempts at peaceful relocation had failed. Their honest intentions had been met with murderous deceit. And now they were left weakened and vulnerable in a strange and hostile land.

Dingane commanded the most fearsome army in the history of Africa south of the Sahara. For two generations they had swept the southern and central parts of southern Africa, killing and murdering as far as they went. Entire nations were driven to the brink of extinction. In the Mfecane, or great cleansing, the vast interior had in fact become uninhabited by humans, except for a few miserable starving souls who tried to survive in the isolated mountain regions. They were already driven to the extremes of cannibalism as a result of these deprivations.

The pioneers knew that they had only two choices – either to return to the Cape Colony where they had already been exposed to nearly 60 years of border warfare – or to act with daring defiance that might amount to suicide. They knew their resources were desperately weakened by that time. But they had never been weak as men. And so they chose the most bold and daring action of all – to attack in order to survive. They knew the risks. It would be an all or nothing act of the most desperate kind. There would be no partial victory. It would be total victory or total oblivion. There was no doubt about the gravity of the risks they would be facing.

Accordingly, when the spring rains came, a fighting force was assembled. The pioneers had no army. They were simply farmers, sons, fathers and grandfathers who had to defend heir families with every fibre of their strength. Even so, only 470 men could be assembled. With them came their 150 strong service core of ex-slaves and servants who would not be there to fight, but only to handle the livestock and move supplies.

When their reconnaissance-men returned, the news was dreadful to the extreme. The armies of Zululand were on the move. Like rivers of dark ants the dreaded regiments of the amaZulu – literally “people of the heavens” – were already streaming through the valleys towards them. They knew that battle had become unavoidable, and the best they could do was to hurriedly find a place where they could wait for it.

The place they found was on what would become Uncle Gert’s family’s farm until the current generation. There the desperate pioneers drew their wagons into a circular shape. On one side they had a deep ravine and on the other side a flooded river. In the space between these two defences there was only open range – a soft green landscape of rippling grass that afforded clear views northwards. This would be the theatre of death on which they had to act out the most terrifying play of all. In great haste they lashed the wagons together. The gaps between them were closed off by wooden grates, called “fighting gates.” Ammunition was checked, guns were oiled, and then they settled down to wait. If their spies were right, the Zulus would not keep them waiting long.

The men who were there that day must have known that on this fateful night they had come to fight back – or be exterminated from history. There would be no middle ground. They tough men, but ordinary all the same. Old men with weathered faces and gnarled hands. Middle-aged men who thought about their wives and unborn children. And clean-faced youths who had not experienced very much of battle yet. The Voortrekkers knew that theirs was a precarious situation. They were hugely outnumbered. Surrounding them in the darkness of an African night was possibly the biggest army that the Zulu empire had ever assembled. They were the most experienced, most cruel, and most effective army in Africa. And they were there to kill to the last man.

The Zulu army was exceedingly great. But they were pitched against an enemy who knew where their strength lay. Knowing that humanly they had no hope at all, the pioneers had made a covenant with God during the preceding days. A covenant which they had repeatedly every night. And a covenant which successive generations have continued to renew ever since that day. In this covenant, they had promised to God that if He would grant them victory, they would build a church to His honour, and that they and their descendants would honour this day as a Sabbath in all perpetuity. The pioneers had no ministers of religion with them, for not a single one had been willing to join their exodus. But that did not mean that they did not have some men of faith to lead them. Sarel Cilliers was a man who carried the word of God like a sword. And they called upon his to lay their case before the Lord.

Gathered round their spokesman, where he was standing on a small ship’s cannon, they renewed their covenant for the last time. His words must have sounded grave and hollow in the suffocating mist as he made his famous deal with God and spoke words that have been echoing across the ages ever since:
“At this moment we stand before the Holy God of heaven and earth,
to make a promise if He will be with us and protect us,
and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him,
that we shall observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year,
and a day of thanksgiving like the Sabbath,
in His honour, and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this for a remembrance even for our posterity.”
When it was over, cold fingers returned their damp hats to their heads. Hauntingly, their sad and melancholy psalms filled the night. And then the long sleepless wait began. Trouble was all around them. They knew it from the barking of the dogs, and from the restless way the cattle and horses milled around. Lantern light shines barely five paces. Beyond that the grass was rustling. That, they all knew, was the sound of death.

On the Zulu side, it proved to be a night like no other. The army had planned to attack the laager at midnight. Had they done so, it would have been a massacre. But this did not happen, because everything started to go wrong in dreadful slow-motion fashion. From nowhere an eerie mist settled in – a mist that was so thick that it enclosed the whole landscape and swallowed the Zulu army. The Zulu regiments got hopelessly lost, and after marching twice around the wrong hill, they concluded that the white men had managed to make themselves invisible by means of powerful sorcery.

The regiments who did manage to find the laager were baffled by what they saw. The Voortrekkers had tied lanterns to their whip sticks, which they then suspended above the wagons. In the haunting fog the diffused light of the lanterns looked like suspended balls of fire, and so the mightiest nation in Africa paused to reflect with superstitious awe. By slowly following the trail of the wagons the main force finally found the laager near the end of night. When most of them had reached the spot, they sat down on their shields and prepared to wait. Some were testing the sharpness of their spears already. Spears that had already tasted an ocean innocent blood.

Dawn broke with milky whiteness which yielded unwillingly before the eastern sun. In the laager the men had barely closed an eye. By the low droning of thousands of voices they could tell that they were completely surrounded. In the laager their horses and cattle were milling fearfully. Even they could smell the danger. After a while they were able to faintly make out the figures. The nearest ones were seated 50 paces away. In their hands they carried the long throwing spears of their ancestors, and the short stabbing spears of Chaka. In their hearts they bore the wish of death. Beyond them the regiments were still arriving like angry ants across the landscape. The pioneers could not believe their eyes. There were thousands upon thousands of them. So many that not even the Zulu commanders could count them. As many as 30,000 warriors were assembled, some history books say. Uncle Gert’s grandfather held that after both calculation and from his impression as a whole, the number might have been far larger yet. The odds were at least 63 to 1 – if they were lucky.

Inside the laager the Voortrekkers were deeply concerned. They knew almost without a shadow of doubt that they were doomed. Not only because of she sheer numbers against them, but particularly because they knew that after a night of such heavy fog their gunpowder would be rendered entirely useless. Gunpowder had a famous affinity for moisture. And after such a foggy night, the men all knew that their guns would not be firing. With a sinking feeling they realized that at this point nothing but a miracle could save them.

What they did not know was that his was destined to become a day of miracles. While they were still vainly straining to peer into the mist, it suddenly lifted. One moment it was there, and the next it just rose and vanished away into thin blue air. The change was startling and completely unexpected. Uncle Gert’s grandfather stressed that this was unprecedented and unbelievably dramatic. Suddenly not even a single cloud remained. Now, beneath the harsh glare of the morning sun, they could see that they were completely enclosed. With a surging drone the regiments rose. Lines upon lines of dark figures, grandly arrayed battle dress: plumes around the arms, blue crane feathers in the hair to signify war – and different coloured shields to identify the individual regiments. In their hands they held the sharpest spears in Zululand. And they were ready for the kill.

They wasted little time. At the blowing of a reed trumped the mass of straining warriors leapt forward, bellowing the ancient blood-curdling battle cry of “Usutu! Usutu! Usutu!” Thousands of spears were beaten against thousands of shields so that the very air shook with the thunder of it. It was as if the whole landscape had turned into a black avalanche which came thundering towards the dim square of fragile wagons. The attack was swift and brutal. With great anxiety the Voortrekkers held their fire – and then pressed the triggers. To their utter astonishment the powder exploded in all guns – and the laager erupted into a wall of liquid fire, followed by an avalanche of pure white smoke. In each barrel the men had placed multiple balls of lead. And now they were firing for their very lives. There was no need to aim. At each shot several warriors fell to a single shot – with great holes blown through their bodies by the heavy lead balls. Some tried to catch the bullets with their hands. Others charged forward without fear – for they had been blessed by their witchdoctors at their departure – and many believed they were untouchable by death. Yet, death found them faster than the speed of sound. And Uncle Gert’s great-grandfather said that they fell across each other like a reed patch in the wind.

In the laager, the men staggered back to reload their muskets with trembling hands. It took 2-3 minutes to reload each gun, and it must have taken about that long for the first warriors to reach their position. Yet the strangeness continued. After the third volley the smoke was so dense that the whole army could no longer be seen. Perplexingly, however, moments later the gun smoke cleared again – rising straight up into the air. This too, was something the defenders had never encountered before. The pride of Zululand broke as their front ranks faltered. And then the commanders began to think. Hurriedly the signal was given so that the warriors withdrew to beyond gunshot and settled down to reflect. The battle had started badly.

Realizing that they had to take advantage of momentary confusion, and emboldened by events thus far, Uncle Gert’s grandfather, along with some settlers then galloped out to provoke a new attack. In this they were successful. With a fearsome cry the battle-tested warriors leapt to their feet and came for them. With the sound of many waters their limbs raced across the bloody fields. Shouting and leaping across their fallen comrades they came – bellowing with rage and determination. Yet they ran into a wall of death again. Slight though the effect was upon their huge number, it nevertheless caused them to slow the attack.

When the second assault finally also faltered, 12 mounted men were sent out to provoke the next wave. As dreadful as it seemed, the regiments had to be kept moving so that they would not be able to rest. They were not as quick to respond this time. Then one man, Flip Coetzer, shouted at them.
“This time it’s not the women and children that you murdered in the camps,” he shouted at them, “but strong men who came to vanquish you!”

The next attack came at once. With earth-shaking thunder the regiments ran into streams of screaming lead. In the laager the small ships’ cannons thundered methodically. Their ranks crumpled like wheat before a scythe, but their numbers seemed limitless and they were advancing faster than the few hands could reload their cumbersome flintlocks guns. Even the three small ships cannons were unable to blow large enough holes into their ranks. It was as if all of Zululand had been unleashed upon the tiny circle, and for a moment it must have seemed as if they were about to be engulfed. And yet, again the attack lost impetus and then turned into a soft retreat.

At this point the Zulu commanders decided that there was no need for further attack. With their superior numbers all they needed to do was draw the circle tight and besiege the settlers. That night, they argued, they would close in and wipe them all out cleanly. At night settler eyes could not see to take aim. At night they could simply swamp the brittle defences and slaughter every living soul inside.

But suddenly a strange problem arose. The young warriors were still bloodthirsty and rearing for battle. They were severely dissatisfied at being denied more opportunity to attack. Furthermore, a few of them had made a new and critically-important important observation. It had quietly occurred to them that every time the horsemen were sent out, it took some time for the wagon that served as a gate to be drawn back into the perimeter. And during that time the entire defence was deeply vulnerable. Some of them had therefore devised the plan of sneaking around towards the gate area. When the horsemen were let loose, they planned to rush inside before the gate could close – and once that happened the battle would be over. From inside the settlers would stand no chance at all. Thereupon, a great argument ensured among the leaders, but eventually it was decided that this would be the surest way to victory. And so the young men stealthily moved into place to execute their plan.

Exactly as expected, the settlers soon sent out another 18 men to charge at the enemy and fire into their ranks. The young men saw the gate open and recognized their chance. This was when they would all be heroes – and they rose with whitened knuckles around their deadly spears. What followed next should been a race to victory. But then the strangest event took place – something that history could never explain – an event which some would later point to as having been one of the greatest miracles in our nation’s history.
“Even though each of us directed our gun shot at the nearest Zulus,” Uncle Gert’s great-grandfather remembered, “their faces were not directed at us. In stead, they were facing the mountain, in which direction they beckoned to each other.”

When this happened the curious horsemen blinked with astonishment. They could not believe their eyes when, almost as if by a prearranged signal, much of the entire Zulu army turned and ran. But not all of them, as Uncle Gert explained. Flight was not permitted in the Zulu army, and so the older regiment of white shields would not let the young ones depart. Running into their path of retreat they presented steel – and the two sides clashed with a thundering report. Before the incredible eyes of the settlers the Zulu army began slaughtering itself with the most bitter passion.

There are no words to describe the utter rout that now took place. The slaughter was so intense that many fell down and pretended to be dead. Suddenly it had become a fight of brother-against-brother and father-against-son. The pride of Zululand was cutting itself to pieces in a way that nobody had ever seen before. The scale of the confusion was beyond description. Many just ran in any direction – and the direction that most were drawn to was the direction that lead home. Accordingly, an enormous number of them plunged into the Buffalo river where they were drowned or swept away, or presumably taken by crocodiles. It was an outcome such as no man had ever expected to see.

As the battle of screaming humanity thundered away from the powder-stained laager, the Voortrekkers stared with disbelief. How could such a thing be possible?

The 18 men, in particular, were dumbfounded. They must have looked towards the mountain behind them many times and blinked in complete astonishment. What did the Zulu army see which had instilled the terror of death into their hearts? They looked, but they could see nothing. They were speechless.

The answer to this mystery was only revealed years later when old survivors of the battle came to Uncle Gert’s family and told them their version of the story. I had heard this story since I was a little boy, but this time I quizzed Uncle Gert most carefully. I wanted to make sure that I got the story exactly straight.

Uncle Gert told me that the old survivors told his father and grandfather that the turning point came when they looked up at the mountain and saw the most perplexing sight. According to them they saw a mighty army of fighters on white horses and streaming banners, tearing towards them across the soft green landscape. It was an army of cavalrymen, they said. And leading them – right at the very head of their columns, was a single man upon a white horse that carried a long knife – which was their way of describing a sword. It was at this dramatic appearance that the young regiments turned and fled.

As for the veteran regiments and even the settlers themselves – they never saw a thing. Not one of them saw that phantom army. The thought never even crossed their minds. Yet this story was told to several members of Uncle Gert’s family on various occasions. They shared what they heard with their friends and neighbours, but as Uncle Gert told me, most of them just dismissed it as “Zulu stories.” They themselves had, after all, never seen the white army.

In the meantime, the settlers pursued the fleeing Zulus. All around the laager the fight continued in places. Here and there it turned to hand-to-hand combat. Both Voortrekker leader Karel Landman and Andries Pretorius were attacked by Zulu warriors and both succeeded in killing the warriors with their own spears. Pretorius was wounded in his hand in the process. He was 39 year old at the time.

Uncle Gert told me that the settlers rode up and down the river banks for several hours – firing at all the noses they could see – and defending themselves from periodic attacks from the reed beds. Between the regiments’ killing themselves and the Voortrekkers’ shooting at what they could see, the river slowly turned red with the blood of Zululand’s best. And that is where the river got the name by which it is know to this very day: Blood River.

The Battle of Blood River was the pivotal event in South African history. After Blood River the Zulu army was still mighty. But after decades of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent black tribesmen across South Africa they never managed to reorganize themselves completely. It was as if the fright that had taken hold of their hearts on that day remained with them forever. King Dingane was so shaken by the defeat of his enormous army that he burnt his own capital at Ulundi and fled into the depths of Zululand where he felt more safe. For the time being, this left him unwilling or unable to reorganize his armies.

During this time of confusion the Voortrekkers took possession of the land of Natal which they had fairly bought from the Zulu king months ago. A year after their deputation had been treacherously murdered by the Zulu king they discovered the skeletons of their fallen governor with the deed of sale still in his leather pouch. It exists to this day, still bearing the cross which Dingane had scrawled upon it by his own hand. Dingane had murdered Retief’s men, but he had already set in motion a sequence of events that could not be altered. After this the land was safe to dwell in.

In the annals of famous South African battles, none are as important or as famous as Blood River. It was the most unlikely of victories under the strangest of circumstances. There are those who may ascribe the deliverance to luck and pluck. Some scholars and armchair historians even argue that the outcome had been assured because after all – what match could spear-carrying natives have been against modern firearms? And yet, if one carefully thinks about it, the argument seems pitifully flawed. When the overwhelming force of numbers is considered, the entire notion becomes childish.

There are many who will always acknowledge that “something took place” that day at Blood River. Something that was not of human making.

Among the settlers, only two were lightly wounded, one of them being the commander himself. Among their ranks, not a single man was killed. Among the Zulus the number of dead as so great that it could never be estimated. According to Uncle Gert, his great-grandfather said that in his opinion the numbers must have been close to the largest figure that history suggests. A figure so great that it is often regarded as improbable. The dead numbered in the thousands – and the greatest part of these, Ungle Gert’s grandfather said – did not die by settler bullets. They were killed by the blades that had been forged in their own kraals. Whatever the real facts, it was a totally unlikely outcome of incredible significance.

This day continues to be remembered for divine deliverance in a battle which the settlers never could have won on their own. The covenant that was made on this day was renewed many times by succeeding generations. There are those who choose to dismiss the covenant, or the events which took place on that day. But there are some who still remember. And some who still acknowledge that we are alive today because that ancient battle had been won. Without it, the history of South Africa would have been vastly different.

In 1938 my great-grandfather wrote a letter to his son, whose name I bear. It was the year of the centenary of the Great Trek. That letter was carried by one of the centenary wagons which trekked all the way from the Cape to Pretoria where the Voortrekker monument was revealed on this same day. It was a letter that he had written not only for his son, but also for posterity. He ended his letter with the following words:

“And so we close with the prayer that this Centenary would contribute towards making of us better, father, mothers, better sons and daughters, better Christians, better burghers and fatherlanders. And that the heritage of our forefathers would always be held in great honour, that it shall be built up and improved, and that we may become a noble nation in a pure land. That you, dear Herman, with everyone entrusted to you, would have a happy and a blessed future in our beloved South Africa – this is the blessing and prayer of your loving parents.

In my family, we have never had any doubt at all that God’s hand was to be seen at Blood River. We have been reared with a sense of ever-lasting gratitude that victory had been granted to our forefathers when they certainly could not have deserved it.

I visited the 175th commemoration of this Battle of Blood River and the Great Trek at Hartenbos today. With me there were the descendants of many of the men who fought that day – and across South Africa – their number is beyond estimation. At the commemoration Frans Moolman, professor of history, said something that made a significant impression on me. He said that the Battle of Blood River has been politicized so much. It has been dismissed as irrelevant by modern generations. It is often even held in a negative light from the point of racial relations. And yet, he argued, if this is how the world is viewing it, they are missing the entire point.

The facts of history show that the Battle of Blood River was not the result of land-hungry invaders that had come to disturb a peaceful people. In stead, it was a peaceful people who had come not to rob land, but to fairly purchase it. When they were faced with murderous treachery, they presented arms out of a sense of self-preservation. That they survived, could only be accounted to divine intervention. The Battle of Blood River, he pointed out, pointed not to the triumph of white over black. In stead, it marked the triumph of the light of civilization over the cruelty and barbarism.

I never really thought about it like that before. Professor Moolman said if the tribes of South Africa understood Blood River for what it really was, they too, would commemorate the day with much enthusiasm. After all, between Chaka and Dingane, innocent thousands without number had been slaughtered. Death, superstition and fear pervaded that land from the dry interior to the shining coast. When the might of the Zulu nation was crushed at Blood River, that was when the bell of liberty rang for the multitudes who would surely still have perished beneath Dingane’s cruel hand.

As for king Dingane, he died as he had lived – assassinated as a back-stabbing traitor, just the way that he himself had assassinated his own half-brother Chaka before. His successor, Mpanda, remained a loyal friend of the Andries Pretorius, the victor of Blood River. Between the two they signed a treaty of “everlasting friendship.”

The Voortrekkers never lost their respect for the Zulu nation after that, nor did the Zulus lose their respect for the Trekkers. I grew up with the Zulus – and always felt that in the greater scheme of South African politics, there exists a strangely respectful bond between our two peoples. Perhaps not a bond of total brotherliness, but the bond of understanding that can be found between two groups who would like to never go to war against each other again. In my family, I never knew a shred of disrespect or resentment about those dreadful times of the past.

Finally then, we can look at Blood River today and ask ourselves what would have happened if the pioneers had lost the fight that day? Almost without question, the Zulu armies would have spilled across the land and slaughtered all the encampments in Natal. From there they probably would have wiped out the settlements in the deep interior. What they did not finish off, the Matabele of the north probably would have taken care of.

Inspired by these successes, it is likely that the Xhosa of the Eastern Cape would have launched the greatest assault against the eastern border. Desperately weakened by the departure of the pioneers of the frontier, the Colony very likely might have collapsed. It is not unthinkable that it might have wiped out the light of civilization in South Africa for the next half a century or more. If this had happened, the history of the world would have been entirely different. Throughout all of this, genocide would have followed genocide among the black and brown races of the southern continent – and millions who are alive today would have never existed.

This then, sums up the history and the significance of the most important day on the calendar of South Africa. This is a day that our children should know of – and that the world should understand. In the end victory came to the pioneers not because they were good, but simply because God was great.

May we who live today, never forget to teach that to the heroes of tomorrow.

Herman Labuschagne, Glentana, 16 December 2013.
Original article:…

Rugby – Exsplained at last

August 23, 2015

For all you FORWARDS out there. You’ll love this. WHY RUGBY HAS BACKS?

At Last a Rational explanation of the Game:

It is largely unknown to players and followers of the modern game that rugby started off purely as a contest for forwards in opposition in line-outs, scrums, rucks and mauls. This pitted eight men of statuesque physique, supreme fitness and superior intelligence in packs against one another. In those days, the winner was the pack that won the most set pieces. The debasement of the game began when backs were introduced. This occurred because a major problem was where to locate the next scrum or line-out. Selecting positions on the ground for these had become a constant source of friction and even violence.

The problem was resolved by employing forward rejects, men of small stature and limited intelligence, to run aimlessly around within the field of play. Following a set piece, the ball would be thrown to one of them, who would establish the next location either by dropping it or by throwing it to another reject for dropping. Very occasionally, a third reject would receive the ball before it would be dropped, and crowds would wildly cheer on these rare occasions. Initially these additional players were entirely disorganized but with the passing of time they adopted set positions.

For instance, take the half-back. He was usually one of the smallest and least intelligent of the backs whose role was simply to accept the ball from a forward and to pass it on to one of the other rejects who would drop it, providing the new location for the forwards to compete. He could easily (given his general size) have been called a quarter forward or a ball monkey but then tolerance and compassion are the keys to forward play and the present euphemism was decided on.

The five-eighth plays next to the half-back and his role is essentially the same except that when pressured, he usually panics and kicks the ball. Normally, he is somewhat taller and slightly better built than the half-back and hence his name. One-eighth less and he would have been a half-back, three-eighths more and he might well have qualified to become a forward.

The centres were opportunists who had no expertise but wanted to share in the glamour associated with forward packs. After repeated supplication to the forwards for a role in the game they would be told to get out in the middle of the field and wait for instructions. Thus, when asked where they played, they would reply “in the centre”. And they remain to this day, parasites and scroungers who mostly work as lawyers or used car dealers.

You may ask, why wingers? The answer is simple. Because these were players who had very little ability and were the lowest in the backline pecking order, they were placed as far away from the ball as possible. Consequently, and because the inside backs were so diligent in their assigned role of dropping the ball whenever they received it, the main contribution to the game made by the winger was not to get involved. Their instructions were to run away as quickly as possible whenever trouble appeared, and to avoid tackles at all costs. The fact that the game was organised so that the wingers didn’t get to touch the ball led to an incessant flow of complaints from them and eventually the apt description “whingers” was applied. Even though the “h” dropped off over the years, the whingeing itself unfortunately has not.

Lastly, the full-back. This was the position given to the worst handler, the person least able to accept or pass the ball, someone who was always in the way. The name arose because the forwards would understandably become infuriated by the poor play invariably demonstrated by that person, and call out “send that fool back”. He would then be relegated well out of everyone’s way to the rear of the field. So there you have it. Let’s return to the glory days of a contest between two packs of eight men of statuesque physique, supreme fitness and superior intelligence. The rest can go off to where they will be happier – playing soccer.

Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma – Kali Holloway / AlterNet

June 13, 2015

“The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man,’” —Joe Ehrmann, coach and former NFL player

If we are honest with ourselves, we have long known that masculinity kills men, in ways both myriad and measurable. While social constructions of femininity demand that women be thin, beautiful, accommodating, and some unattainable balance of virginal and fuckable, social constructions of masculinity demand that men constantly prove and re-prove the very fact that they are, well, men.

Both ideas are poisonous and potentially destructive, but statistically speaking, the number of addicted and afflicted men and their comparatively shorter lifespans proves masculinity is actually the more effective killer, getting the job done faster and in greater numbers. Masculinity’s death tolls are attributed to its more specific manifestations: alcoholism, workaholism and violence. Even when it does not literally kill, it causes a sort of spiritual death, leaving many men traumatized, dissociated and often unknowingly depressed. (These issues are heightened by race, class, sexuality and other marginalizing factors, but here let’s focus on early childhood and adolescent socialization overall.) To quote poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “tis not in death that men die most.” And for many men, the process begins long before manhood.

The emotionally damaging “masculinization” of boys starts even before boyhood, in infancy. Psychologist Terry Real, in his 1998 book I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, highlights numerous studies which find that parents often unconsciously begin projecting a kind of innate “manliness”—and thus, a diminished need for comfort, protection and affection—onto baby boys as young as newborns. This, despite the fact that gendered behaviors are absent in babies; male infants actually behave in ways our society defines as “feminine.” As Real explains, “[l]ittle boys and little girls start off… equally emotional, expressive, and dependent, equally desirous of physical affection. At the youngest ages, both boys and girls are more like a stereotypical girl. If any differences exist, little boys are, in fact, slightly more sensitive and expressive than little girls. They cry more easily, seem more easily frustrated, appear more upset when a caregiver leaves the room.”

Yet both mothers and fathers imagine inherent sex-related differences between baby girls and boys. Even when researchers controlled for babies’ “weight, length, alertness, and strength,” parents overwhelmingly reported that baby girls were more delicate and “softer” than baby boys; they imagined baby boys to be bigger and generally “stronger.” When a group of 204 adults was shown video of the same baby crying and given differing information about the baby’s sex, they judged the “female” baby to be scared, while the “male” baby was described as “angry.”

Intuitively, these differences in perception create correlating differences in the kind of parental caregiving newborn boys receive. In the words of the researchers themselves, “it would seem reasonable to assume that a child who is thought to be afraid is held and cuddled more than a child who is thought to be angry.” That theory is bolstered by other studies Real cites, which consistently find that “from the moment of birth, boys are spoken to less than girls, comforted less, nurtured less.” To put it bluntly, we begin emotionally shortchanging boys right out of the gate, at the most vulnerable point in their lives.

It’s a pattern that continues throughout childhood and into adolescence. Real cites a study that found both mothers and fathers emphasized “achievement and competition in their sons,” and taught them to “control their emotions”—another way of saying boys are tacitly instructed to ignore or downplay their emotional needs and wants. Similarly, parents of both sexes are more punitive toward their sons, presumably working under the assumption that boys “can take it.” Beverly I. Fagot, the late researcher and author of The Influence of Sex of Child on Parental Reactions to Toddler Children, found that parents gave positive reinforcement to all children when they exhibited “same-sex preferred” behaviors (as opposed to “cross-sex preferred”). Parents who said they “accepted sex equity” nonetheless offered more positive responses to little boys when they played with blocks, and offered negative feedback to girls when they engaged in sporty behavior. And while independent play—away from parents—and “independent accomplishments” were encouraged in boys, girls received more positive feedback when they asked for help. As a rule, these parents were unaware of the active role they played in socializing their children in accordance with gender norms. Fagot notes that all stated they treated sons and daughters the same, without regard to sex, a claim sharply contradicted by study findings.

Undeniably, these kinds of lessons impart deeply damaging messages to both girls and boys, and have lifelong and observable consequences. But whereas, as Terry Real says, “girls are allowed to maintain emotional expressiveness and cultivate connection,” boys are not only told they should suppress their emotions, but that their manliness essentially depends on them doing so. Despite its logic-empty premise, our society has fully bought into the notion that the relationship between maleness and masculinity is somehow incidental and precarious, and embraced the myth that “boys must be turned into men…that boys, unlike girls, must achieve masculinity.”

Little boys internalize this concept early; when I spoke to Real, he indicated that research suggests they begin to hide their feelings from as young as 3 to 5 years old. “It doesn’t mean that they have fewer emotions. But they’re already learning the game—that it’s not a good idea to express them,” Real says. Boys, conventional wisdom holds, are made men not by merely aging into manhood, but through the crushing socialization just described. But Real points out what should be obvious about cisgender boys: “[they] do not need to be turned into males. They are males. Boys do not need to develop their masculinity.”

It is impossible to downplay the concurrent influence of images and messages about masculinity embedded in our media. TV shows and movies inform kids—and all of us, really—not so much about who men (and women) are, but who they should be. While much of the scholarship about gender depictions in media has come from feminists deconstructing the endless damaging representations of women, there’s been far less research specifically about media-perpetuated constructions of masculinity. But certainly, we all recognize the traits that are valued among men in film, television, videogames, comic books, and more: strength, valor, independence, the ability to provide and protect.

While depictions of men have grown more complicated, nuanced and human over time (we’re long past the days of “Father Knows Best” and “Superman” archetypes), certain “masculine” qualities remain valued over others. As Amanda D. Lotz writes in her 2014 book, Cable Guys: Television and Masculinities in the 21st Century, though depictions of men in media have become more diverse, “storytelling has nevertheless performed significant ideological work by consistently supporting…male characters it constructs as heroic or admirable, while denigrating others. So although television series may have displayed a range of men and masculinities, they also circumscribed a ‘preferred’ or ‘best’ masculinity through attributes that were consistently idealized.”

We are all familiar with these recurring characters. They are fearless action heroes; prostitute-fucking psychopaths in Grand Theft Auto; shlubby, housework-averse sitcom dads with inexplicably beautiful wives; bumbling stoner twentysomethings who still manage to “nail” the hot girl in the end; and still, the impenetrable Superman. Even sensitive, loveable everyguy Paul Rudd somehow “mans up” before the credits roll in his films. Here, it seems important to mention a National Coalition on Television Violence study which finds that on average, 18-year-old American males have already witnessed some 26,000 murders on television, “almost all of them committed by men.” Couple those numbers with violence in film and other media, and the numbers are likely astronomical.

The result of all this—the early denial of boy’s feelings, and our collective insistence that they follow suit—is that boys are effectively cut off from their feelings and emotions, their deepest and most vulnerable selves. Historian Stephanie Coontz has labeled this effect the “masculine mystique.” It leaves little boys, and later, men, emotionally disembodied, afraid to show weakness and often unable to fully access, recognize or cope with their feelings.

In his book, Why Men Can’t Feel, Marvin Allen states, “[T]hese messages encourage boys to be competitive, focus on external success, rely on their intellect, withstand physical pain, and repress their vulnerable emotions. When boys violate the code, it is not uncommon for them to be teased, shamed, or ridiculed.” The cliche about men not being in touch with their emotions says nothing about inherent markers of maleness. It instead identifies behavioral outcomes that have been rigorously taught, often by well-meaning parents and society at large. As Terry Real said when I spoke to him, this process of disconnecting boys from their “feminine” —or more accurately, “human”—emotional selves is deeply harmful. “Every step…is injurious,” says Real. “It’s traumatic. It’s traumatic to be forced to abdicate half of your own humanity.”

That trauma makes itself plain in the ways men attempt to sublimate feelings of emotional need and vulnerability. While women tend to internalize pain, men instead act it out, against themselves and others. As Real told me, women “blame themselves, they feel bad, they know they feel bad, they’d like to get out of it. Boys and men tend to externalize stress. We act it out and often don’t see our part in it. It’s the opposite of self-blame; it’s more like feeling like an angry victim.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that across race and ethnicity, women are twice as likely to experience depression as men. But Real believes men’s acting-out behaviors primarily serve to mask their depression, which goes largely unrecognized and undiagnosed.

Examples of these destructive behaviors range from the societally approved, such as workaholism, to the criminally punishable, such as drug addiction and violence. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from rage disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control, men are more likely to drink to excess than women, leading to “higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations.” (Possibly because men under the influence are also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as “driv[ing] fast or without a safety belt.”) Boys are more likely to have used drugs by the age of 12 than girls, which leads to a higher likelihood of drug abuse in men than in women later in life. American men are more likely to kill (committing 90.5 percent of all murders) and be killed (comprising 76.8 percent of murder victims). This extends to themselves, according to studies: “males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and comprise approximately 80 percent of all suicides.” (Interestingly, suicide attempts among women are estimated to be three to four times higher than that of their male counterparts.) And according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, men make up more than 93 percent of prisoners.

The damaging effects of the aforementioned emotional severing even plays a role in the lifespan gender gap. As Terry Real explains:

“Men’s willingness to downplay weakness and pain is so great that it has been named as a factor in their shorter lifespan. The 10 years of difference in longevity between men and women turns out to have little to do with genes. Men die early because they do not take care of themselves. Men wait longer to acknowledge that they are sick, take longer to get help, and once they get treatment do not comply with it as well as women do.”

Masculinity is both difficult to achieve and impossible to maintain, a fact that Real notes is evident in the phrase “fragile male ego.” Because men’s self-esteem often rests on so shaky a construct, the effort to preserve it can be all-consuming. Avoiding the shame that’s left when it is peeled away can drive some men to dangerous ends. This is not to absolve people of responsibility for their actions, but it does drive home the forces that underlie and inform behaviors we often attribute solely to individual issues, ignoring their root causes.

James Gilligan, former director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School, has written numerous books on the subject of male violence and its source. In a 2013 interview with MenAlive, a men’s health blog, Gilligan spoke of his study findings, stating, “I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed and humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed, and that did not represent the attempt to prevent or undo that ‘loss of face’—no matter how severe the punishment, even if it includes death.”

Too often, men who are suffering do so alone, believing that revealing their personal pain is tantamount to failing at their masculinity. “As a society, we have more respect for the walking wounded,” Terry Real writes, “those who deny their difficulties, than we have for those who ‘let’ their conditions ‘get to them.'” And yet, the cost, both human and in real dollars, of not recognizing men’s trauma is far greater than attending to those wounds, or avoiding creating them in the first place. It’s critical that we begin taking more seriously what we do to little boys, how we do it, and the high emotional cost exacted by masculinity, which turns emotionally whole little boys into emotionally debilitated adult men.

When masculinity is defined by absence, when it sits, as it does, on the absurd and fallacious idea that the only way to be a man is to not acknowledge a key part of yourself, the consequences are both vicious and soul crushing. The resulting displacement and dissociation leaves men yet more vulnerable, susceptible, and in need of crutches to help allay the pain created by our demands of manliness. As Terry Real writes, “A depressed woman’s internalization of pain weakens her and hampers her capacity for direct communication. A depressed man’s tendency to extrude pain…may render him psychologically dangerous.”

We have set an unfair and unachievable standard, and in trying to live up to it, many men are slowly killing themselves. We have to move far beyond our outdated ideas of masculinity, and get past our very ideas about what being a man is. We have to start seeing men as innately so, with no need to prove who they are, to themselves or anyone else.

Life Lessons

May 12, 2015

Few people on the planet have lived the kind of globetrotting and adventure-filled life that chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain has. You can probably learn a thing or two from the man.

1.) “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”

2.) “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”

3.) “Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever”

4.) “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?”

5.) “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

6.) “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

7.) “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

8.) “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

9.) “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”

10.) “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”

11.) “We know, for instance, that there is a direct, inverse relationship between frequency of family meals and social problems. Bluntly stated, members of families who eat together regularly are statistically less likely to stick up liquor stores, blow up meth labs, give birth to crack babies, commit suicide, or make donkey porn. If Little Timmy had just had more meatloaf, he might not have grown up to fill chest freezers with Cub Scout parts.”

12.) “Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

13.) “Luck is not a business model.”

14.) “There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar – even in this fake-ass Irish pub.”

15.) “Under ‘Reasons for Leaving Last Job’, never give the real reason, unless it’s money or ambition.”

16.) “It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.”

22.) “Without new ideas success can become stale.”

23.) “But I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

Eskom and Shedding – a personal view by Nico van der Merwe Snr. March 23, 2015

April 21, 2015

Hierdie brief word gerig aan ons personeel en vriende en is geensins opgestel om mense paniekerig of negatief te stem nie. Dit word gestuur om mense die feite te gee en aan te moedig om PARAAT te wees vir wat DALK mag gebeur. Interessant dat as jy iets begin doen, soos ek onder voorstel, sal jy vind jou negatiwiteit begin verdwyn want voorsorg is tog immers beter as nasorg.


Vandat ek in 1993 begin reis het in ander Afrika lande, het ek opgemerk dat daar 3 faktore is wat uitstaan bo al die ander. Hierdie 3 faktore het ‘n wesenlike invloed op elke persoon in daai land in ‘n mindere of meerdere mate en ‘n geweldige invloed op die bedryf van ‘n gesonde besigheid. Verskeie Afrikaanse sakemanne (Whitey Basson van Shoprite en Louis vd Watt van Atterbury om net 2 te noem) verstaan dit baie goed en het die kuns bemeester om die 3 probleme te oorkom wat besigheid kan sink of laat floreer in Afrika.

• Betroubare krag voorsiening
• Betroubare water voorsiening
• Eie, effektiewe sekuriteit

Ek noem betroubare krag en water voorsiening want om net dan-en-wan krag of water te kry help ‘n sakeman niks – kyk maar hoe al die winkels gesluit is in Menlyn en ander inkopiesentrums op ‘n Saterdagoggend (die besigste dag van die week) as beurtkrag skielik inskop. Eie, effektiewe sekuriteit is ook krities noodsaaklik want hoe minder mense het hoe groter die versoeking om van ander te vat wat dalk meer as hulle het. Dadelik sien ek natuurlik die leemte in ons eie organisasie – kontrole van die wat ingaan, maar kontrole van die wat uitgaan (dalk met maatskappy eiendom in hulle besit), word nie gedoen nie.

Suid Afrika is deel van Afrika en word ‘meer deel’ daarvan elke dag. Kragvoorsiening is onbetroubaar, daarmee saam watervoorsiening (ons was al met tye tot 4 dae sonder water!) en privaat sekuriteit is ‘n massiewe industrie in ons land. Om pro-aktief te beplan is dus van uiterste noodsaaklikheid, veral as mens ‘n ‘total blackout’ in die gesig staar soos dikwels al in die pers genoem is en Eskom ten sterkste ontken het. Dit laat my dink aan Shakespeare se stuk in Hamlet … “Methinks thou dost protest too much”

As ek dan ook dink aan die opmerking van ‘n Turkse sakeman toe ek en my vrou Anita jare gelede een aand langs die Bosporus staan en gesels het oor die dramatiese devaluasie van die Turkse Lire op daai stadium en ek die sakeman vra hoe hulle oorleef toe was sy antwoord “Never trust the government”. Dit het my tussen die oë getref en my bygebly. Geweet dit was ‘n boodskap wat ek moes hoor.

En so lei die Here mens om seker goed te doen wat vir baie mense half onnodig is of nie sin maak nie. Met die installasie van ons kragopwekker by ons hoofkantoor in 2007 het ons professionele span gesê dit is ‘n ‘over kill’ en wat het gebeur? “In the later months of 2007 South Africa started experiencing widespread rolling blackouts as supply fell behind demand, threatening to destabilize the national grid.” Ons het vir die kragopwekker binne ‘n week betaal. Ons het ook ‘n 10’000 liter houer met water in die kelder-parkering laat insit wat al handig te pas gekom het wanneer daar nie water was vir welke rede ookal nie. Maar dit is geskiedenis.

Situasie vandag

Wat van die toekoms? Wat gebeur sou daar ‘n ‘total blackout’ wees? Die eksperts sê om die ‘grid’ weer lewendig te kry kan tussen 2 en 6 weke neem (selfs langer!) Eskom se kredietwaardigheid is al verskeie kere afgradeer en staan tans op ‘junk’ status. Nog steeds word niks of baie min gedoen en word Eskom verbruikers letterlik in die duister gehou. Volgens die Mail & Guardian van 3 Feb 2015 …
Eskom on Monday would not divulge what plans it has in the event of a national blackout.

The utility announced on Monday that a unit at Koeberg power station should be operational by the end of the week. (David Harrison, M&G)
This was after Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille warned in her SA Today column that a nationwide power blackout would result in “catastrophe”.
According to reports Eskom has warned Cabinet about the risk of a national blackout.
Zille defined a blackout as “what happens when the grid fails and everything shuts down indefinitely”.
Eskom has repeatedly said that rotational power cuts – or load-shedding – were necessary to prevent a total blackout. Previously the parastatal indicated such a situation could take around two weeks to resolve.
Zille said that if the national power grid was hit with a blackout, a “huge amount” of electricity would need to be sourced from elsewhere to restart the grid. “This is not available from any of our neighbours.”
Asked about the validity of Zille’s claim and to what extent Eskom has planned for this possibility, aside from implementing power cuts as a preventative measure, the parastatal would not disclose details.
So, dit lyk vir my of daar dalk ‘n sterk moontlikheid is vir ‘n ‘total blackout’ hierdie winter. Om voorbereid te wees sou dit gebeur is dus na my mening nogal belangrik. Daarom deel ek hierdie met u, nie om jou die skrik op die lyf te jaag of jou te laat paniek aankope doen nie maar om jou aan die dink te sit en pro-aktief te laat begin optree.

Dit is belangrik om te verstaan wat gebeur tydens ‘n ‘total blackout’.

Reuters reported on Friday that in the event of a national blackout, President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet would be taken to a secret location and soldiers would be deployed at national key points, such as the SA Reserve Bank and the SABC’s head office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
Eskom this week refused to be drawn on the chances of a large-scale blackout happening and merely said it would continue to implement load shedding to protect the grid, as this was the best way to protect South Africa’s power system.
US embassy staff are now taking a hard look at South Africa’s power situation on a daily basis.
US Embassy spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer confirmed the embassy had a plan, but said it was “standard procedure”. “The safety and security of our American and local staff and facilities is a top priority,” he said. “As we do in our locations throughout the world, we plan and prepare for possible emergency situations we may face. Our planning in South Africa is similar to what we do in all countries.” Hillmeyer said he could not discuss specifics about safety and security planning for “obvious reasons”. Eskom sources have told City Press a national blackout was a “very significant possibility for the foreseeable future”.

Hoekom al hierdie prosedures? As die krag stop, stop die water (pompe kan nie meer water suiwer of water in die reservoirs pomp nie); die riool stop (oorvol rioolpype begin in die strate uitloop); ATM’s stop – geen kontant beskikbaar nie want die ATM’s en kredietkaart masjiene in die winkels en supermarkte werk nie meer nie; banke kom tot stilstand; brandstop stop uiteindelik (gelukkig het my garage ‘n kragopwekker! … jammer! Die rafinaderye sal nie meer brandstof kan voorsien nie want alles stop!) So as ek nie genoeg spaar brandstof vir my kragkopwekkers het nie (ja ook by die kantoor wat die dompelpompe aan die gang moet hou sodat die kelderparkering en stoorkamers nie oorstroom word met grondwater nie!) sal ek ‘n groot probleem hê! Vrieskaste sal begin ontdooi en kos vrot – jy sal nie vinnig genoeg kan braai en eet voor alles om jou vrot nie! Daarmee saam sal kos aflewerings staak (geen vervaardiging agv geen krag en geen aflewering nie weens brandstof tekorte) en in massa histerie sal mense blikkieskos en water begin opkoop maar dit sal alles te min te laat wees. Binne 5 dae sê kundiges begin daar bendes in die strate alles roof wat hulle kan. Totale anergie begin intree. ‘n Slegte scenario wat ek verseker hoop nie sal gebeur nie maar tog ‘n moontlikheid is waaraan mens moet dink onder die huidige omstandighede.

Is daar iets wat ek kan doen?

Natuurlik! Ons elkeen se plig is om krag te bespaar soveel as wat ons kan. Gloeilampe te vervang met LED lampies wat feitlik geen krag gebruik nie, sonenergie warmwater toestelle installeer (duur!) en krag in die algemeen te spaar – net genoeg water in die ketel vir daai koppie koffie ipv die hele ketel se water te kook, tensy jy dit in ‘n warmfles bewaar vir later gebruik, swembadpomp minder te laat loop, geyser af te sit tydens piek tye; ligte afsit as jy uit die kamer of kantoor uitstap; ens. ens. ens. Is dit regtig nodig dat al die ligte in die kantoor aan is terwyl lig van buite instroom? Baie mense kyk na son-krag om heeltemal van die ‘grid’ af te gaan maar dit is op die stadium nog baie duur.

Die groot gevaar tydens beurtkrag of selfs ‘n ‘total blackout’ is egter die emosionele effek wat dit op ‘n mens het. As jy in die donker sit begin jy ook donker gedagtes kry. Depressie, emigreer gedagtes en paniek wat vinnig begin posvat. Maar daar is ‘n paar basiese stappe wat mens kan neem wat jou emosioneel paraat sal laat voel sonder dat dit jou ‘n sak vol geld kos! Hier is ‘n paar wenke (dit is geensins volledig nie!) …

1. Koop ‘n paar gassilinders (gassilinder met ‘n kookplaat bo-op en ‘n stang vir ‘n sterk gaslig. Tenminste kan jy as die krag af is kos kook (al bak jy net ‘n eier!) / water en sop warm maak en lig hê. Dit alleen is al klaar ‘n groot stap vorentoe. As jy 2 of 3 ekstra gassilinders kan bekostig om in jou sitkamer en slaapkamers te sit vir lig help dit al klaar baie. Jy kan dit noual gebruik tydens beurtkrag. Voorraad kerse en vuurhoutjies veral vir die nie-rokers is ook noodsaaklik.
2. Een of twee gasverwarmers – daar is niks so negatief as om in die middel van die winter koud te kry terwyl jy in die donkerte sit nie. Jy kan dieselfde verwarmers ook in die toekoms gebruik al is die krag nie af nie.
3. Genoeg kontant in jou huis te alle tye om te voorsien in jou kos / brandstof / water en ander behoeftes tenminste vir ‘n maand. Onthou geen ATM of kredietkaartmasjien gaan werk of bank wat gaan oop wees nie. Koop maar daai kluis wat jy altyd wou hê om jou kontant en vuurwapen in te stoor.
4. Vuurwapen en ammunisie – jy sal jou eie goed moet beskerm. Geen ADT / Chubb meer of elektriese heinings nie. Geen selfoon ontvangs of telefone wat werk om vir hulp te bel nie – die selfoontorings het al lankal gaan staan. Wees paraat!
5. Hou altyd tenminste ‘n maand se noodsaaklike medikasie as noodvoorraad en gaan die vervaldatums gereeld na. Ruil gereeld jou ou medikasie met nuwes om!
6. Sorg dat jy ‘n voorraad drinkwater het – laat kontroleer jou boorgatwater se suiwerheid (onthou jy moet dan ‘n kragopwekker met genoeg spaar brandstof hê om die pomp van krag te voorsien – kan ook dalk jou koelkas en vrieskaste voorsien). Mens kan ook natuurlik jou swembadwater drink mits dit varswater en nie soutwater is nie. Suiwer egter alle drinkwater deur dit te kook of gebruik watersuiwerings tablette.
7. Sorg dat jy genoeg blikkies / nie bederfbare kos soos pasta / tuna / sardiens / geblikte beesvleis / ham / rys / groente / mieliemeel / tee / koffie / suiker / ens het vir tenminste ‘n maand… wat dalk gerek kan word na 2 maande in ‘n noodsituasie. Hoë proteïen voedsel van goeie kwaliteit is van uiterste belang en geblikte kos het gewoonlik lang vervaldatums en kan geëet word na die krisis verby is. Sogenaamde ‘Corned beef’ is heelwat duurder en beter kwaliteit as ‘Corned meat’ (wat enige vleis kan bevat – selfs ook perd of donkie!)
8. Plastieksakke om in die toilet te gebruik is noodsaaklik – onthou wanneer daar geen water is nie werk die rioleringsisteem nie! Behalwe as jy ‘n ‘French drain’ het maar dan het jy water nodig. Gooi jou
swembad chloor op die vastestowwe en begrawe die sakke in die tuin. Gebruik ook vir rommel – daai leë blikkies moet sorgvuldig platgetrap en begrawe word anders kan allerhande peste uitbreek.
9. Baie belangrik! Koop sterk skoonmaakmiddels en seep om jou hande / koppies / borde / werksareas skoon te hou. Meer mense gaan dood van voedselvergiftiging / diarree tydens ‘n krisis as van hongerly! Sorg dat jy Kantrexil of enige ander sterk antibiotika in jou huis hou sou jy of van jou gesin diarree ontwikkel. Was jou hande gereeld!! Handy Andy / opwas seep / Jig / ens is noodsaaklik.
10. Sorg vir ‘n groot genoeg voorraad gas – vir jou braaier / gas stofie / ligte / verwarmers. Jy kan dit altyd gebruik na die krisis verby is.
11. Flitse met ekstra stel batterye of twee. Consol se sonenergie liggies werk net so goed – kan dit op jou stoep ook later gebruik. Herlaaibare flitse gaan nie die ding doen nie want daar is niks om dit mee te laai nie!
12. Maak seker jou motor is vol brandstof veral as jy die tekens begin sien soos meer gereelde en langer kragonderbrekings. As jy ‘n diesel motor ry wil jy dalk diesel kragopwekker hê en paar honderd liter diesel veilig stoor? Dalk wil mens nou al belê in twee of drie skoon 200 liter dromme , reg om op te vul die oomblik as die tekens begin wys op ‘n krisis … vlak 3 beurtkrag met lang tye sonder krag is een daarvan.
13. Bêre alles in 1 of 2 plastiek kratte. Maklik om op te tel en te vervoer as jy besluit om uit die stad pad te gee.

Voeg elke maand bietjie-vir-bietjie by jou nie-bederfbare noodkosvoorraad.

Die eksperts sê dat indien mens tydens so ‘n ‘black out’ so gou as moontlik uit die stad kan kom, dit ideaal sal wees. Ken jy iemand wat ‘n plaas besit? Meeste boere is redelik selfvoorsienend. Spaar diesel / pompe / water en party selfs met hulle eie krag, gas koelkaste en gas waterverwarmers. Meeste het ook ‘French Drain’ riool sisteme en boorgatwater wat ideaal is in ‘n krisis situasie. Dalk wil jy voor die tyd reël dat jy eendag kan kom kuier in die geval van ‘n ‘total blackout’? Wild en veeboere het altyd iets om te slag en te eet … dit is die ideale opset en persoon om by te gaan bly – kos, water, sekuriteit. MAAR, dan moet jy so gou moontlik na die ‘blackout’ uit die stad uit padgee – voor daar chaos intree… en onthou om jou kratte kos saam te neem!   

Ek sê weer, bostaande is NIE om mens die skrik op die lyf te jag nie maar om jou te laat dink en proaktief te laat begin optree ten einde PARAAT te wees sou ‘n krisis dalk ontstaan. Jy kan maklik elke maand ‘n paar ekstra goedjies aankoop – beginnende met die gassilinders / kookplaat / ligte / water en geblikte kos en voor jy weet is jy paraat en reg vir wat dalk mag kom. Dink net hoe lekker gaan ons lag as daar niks van kom terwyl ons ons Bully beef partytjies saam het nie! Terselfdertyd dink mens ook daaraan as daar wel so ‘n krisis op ons land toesak – dan is ons paraat en reg daarvoor, sonder paniek aankope en opsoek na blikkieskos op leë rakke.

Wat van besighede?

Tenlaaste moet ons ook onthou dat wanneer daar ‘n ‘total blackout’ kom sluit al die maatskappye feitlik oornag. Soos wat Menlyn se besighede gesluit het die Saterdagoggend toe daar beurtkrag was. Niemand is daarvoor gerat nie, behalwe Woollies. Dit beteken dat mense onmiddellik op onbetaalde, verpligte verlof geplaas sal word totdat die situasie na normaal terugkeer. Ek hoor iemand vra “hoekom onbetaald?’ want maatskappye kan geen inkomste genereer nie; geen oorplasings kan gemaak word na bankrekeninge en in sulke omstandighede probeer elkeen net oorleef. Ja self pensionarisse kry geen inbetalings in hulle bankrekeninge nie want die banke is toe! Wat daarna gebeur as alles na normaal toe terugkeer, is ‘n ander storie. Het jy genoeg kontant spaargeld om ‘n maand of twee sonder inkomste te oorleef? Laat mens dink nê?

Dink oor bostaande, ek is seker baie mense sal nog baie ander punte kan byvoeg, elkeen wat vir hom/haar belangrik is. Ek voel egter hierdie is die basiese dinge om in gedagte te hou in die geval van ‘n krisis. Laat ons nie soos die 5 dwase maagde in Matteus 25:2 gevang word sonder om voorbereid te wees en genoeg olie ons in lampies te hê nie. Macro was laas klaar uitverkoop van LED ligte – meeste mense wat ek ken het nie eers ‘n kers in hulle huise nie!

Maar, terwyl ons besin en oor bostaande nadink, laat ons ook Jesaja 43:18+19 in gedagte hou…

“Maar moenie net aan die vroeëre dinge dink en daar by die verlede stilstaan nie.
Kyk, Ek gan iets nuuts doen, dit staan op die punt om te gebeur, julle kan dit al sien kom;
Ek maak in die woestyn ‘n pad, Ek laat in die droë wêreld riviere ontspring.”

Ek vra vir die Here wysheid en insig oor wat Hy wil hê ek moet doen. Dit is met ‘n opgewondenheid dat ek uitsien na Sy belofte hier bo … dat Hy reeds besig is om iets nuuts doen, en dat dit op die punt staan om te gebeur. Niemand sal weet of ‘n ‘total blackout’ dalk deel van Sy plan mag wees om verandering van denke teweeg te bring in ons land. Maar tenminste is ek paraat – het ek ‘n plan vir my en my familie. Here maak my oë oop sodat ek sal sien en sal weet en sal deelneem aan die … Nuwe Suidafrika waarvan Louis Wilsenach praat.

Sien jy dit nie? Dit staan op die punt om te gebeur!
Nico van der Merwe is die skrywer van ‘What does God know About Business?’ – Making the right decisions in tough times. Hy was ook die samesteller van ‘n ‘Noodtas’ namens die Aptekers Vereniging van SA tydens die 1976 Soweto opstande waarvan meer as 60’000 verkoop is deur apteke landwyd. Hy is die voorsitter van hulle familie besigheid (H.A.S.S. Groep), stigter van die Oorinstitute en stigterslid van die Eduplex in Pretoria.
Web werwe | | |

Cost of living: South Africa vs the world

April 20, 2015

While South Africans often complain about the rising cost of living in the country, it remains one of the most affordable countries in the world.

This is according to new data from Deutshe Bank, looking at world prices for a number of goods and serves in terms of purchasing power.

The 2015 report follows indices like the Big Mac Index closely, but covers a far wider selection of goods than simply the famous McDonalds burger.

The Big Mac Index – which is also included in DB’s research – is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP).

This is the notion that, in the long run, exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a Big Mac burger) in any two countries.

The Bic Mac is selected for comparison as the popular fast-food meal is widely available across the world, and remains fairly consistent in pricing; however, it is by no means an exact science.

DB’s research covers more items, including the relative cost of living across 20 countries, car rentals and hotel rooms, as well as specific goods such as Coca Cola, beer, sports shoes, Levis jeans and Apple iPhones.

Prices in New York City are used as the standard measure, and all other prices are listed by city, where applicable, relative to NYC.

Global cost of living

Along with other emerging markets, South Africa has seen relatively large shifts in consumer prices – over 6% – between 2013 and 2014. This is an increase on par with economies like Brazil, India and Russia.

In relative terms of purchasing power parity, however, the cost of living in South Africa is just over 44% of that of the United States, showing relative affordability.

On the flip side, however, this trend of affordability in South Africa is notably shifting.

According to DB, in 2001, Johannesburg was the third most affordable city measured on the index. Fast-forward to 2014, and the South African city has disappeared from the top 10 completely.

Cost of living 2001 vs 2014 Top and Bottom 10

“In previous years, Australia had consistently been the world’s most expensive country while the United States had been the cheapest developed country,” deutsche Bank said.

“This year, however, the strength of the USD has significantly narrowed the gap between the two. Similarly, shopping in Europe and Japan now feels a lot cheaper than before.”

Brazil was the most expensive emerging market in the world and was more expensive than the US for several categories.

However, currency depreciation has brought Brazilian prices more in line with what one would expect for a country at its level of development.

India remains the cheapest major economy in the world across a range of products.

Relative price levels by PPP

South African prices

In its report, Deutsche Bank measures countries across a basket of goods, looking at multiple cities where possible.

Two South African cities were featured: Cape Town and Johannesburg. Here is how South Africa’s averages compared to the New York standard, as well as how Cape Town and Joburg fared, head to head.

Item Cape Town price Johannesburg price South Africa average
Petrol (1 litre) 143% 143% 143%
iPhone 6 126% 126% 126%
iPhone 5S 120% 120% 120%
VW Golf 2.0 TDI 99% 102% 101%
Levis 93% 106% 100%
Five star hotel rooms 109% 64% 87%
Sports shoes 86% 86% 86%
Coca Cola 56% 56% 56%
Taxi trip 48% 63% 56%
Economist subscription 51% 51% 51%
Men’s haircut 51% 45% 48%
Big Mac 46% 46% 46%
Car rentals 42% 42% 42%
Movie ticket 31% 37% 34%
Gym membership 32% 35% 34%
Beer 27% 26% 27%
Public transport 20% 27% 24%
Marlboro cigarettes 22% 22% 22%

According to the data, South Africa’s highest relative charge is for petrol, where the country pays 143% the relative value of a litre of petrol in New York.

On the other end of the spectrum, vices such as smoking are more affordable in the country, where a pack of cigarettes is only 22% of the relative value in the States.

Looking at the cities, of the 18 items, Cape Town and Joburg differed in price in nine – six of which had higher prices in Joburg.

Education, dates and holidays

Using Harvard as its standard, DB also analysed business school tuition fees and salaries offered to graduates across the world.

In South Africa, tuition fees at Wits and UCT were only a fraction of those at Harvard – 14% – but with an average starting salary of US$43,556 for graduates, South Africa ranked lowest for pay.

In it’s “cheap date index”, Cape Town offers the 7th most affordable night out, with date costs amounting to only 40% of the same night in New York.

Joburg prices amount to 47% of NYC’s prices.

A cheap date consists of taxi rides, McDonalds burgers, soft drinks, two movie tickets and a couple of beers.

The weekend getaway index, which looks at a two night stay at a 5-star hotel, four meals, snacks and car rentals, among other things, also works out to be relatively cheap in South Africa.

Cape Town prices work out to be 89% of the New York values, with Joburg prices even cheaper at 61%.

Thank You Howard Feldman

April 19, 2015

The Monster we Created

Howard Feldman

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That the Monster of hatred that is currently marauding across the country surprises South Africans, should be the biggest surprise of all. Not unlike Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the creation of Xenophobia has been painstakingly crafted evil sinew by evil tendon, until this 8ft beast with yellow eyes and skin that hardly conceals the blood vessels and the tissue underneath, terrifies its creators.

The beasts of Xenophobia and the one from Mary Shelley’s novel share common characteristics. Both were created by man and both turned on the very people who gave them life. In the novel the beast is clear that it is the “Adam of your labour,” and indeed, he might as well being referring to the violence and racism that is currently rocking this country when he spoke these prophetic words.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Over the last few years we have seen the steady and un-abating rise in racism. Intolerance of alternative cultures, nationalities, skin colour, religion and lifestyle choices have become acceptable, despite our insistence that it is not. And the continual march towards the current status made it almost inevitable.

When Government Ministers demand that the foreigners share their “secrets” of their trade it implies that they collectively have a clandestine technique that deprives locals of their livelihood. When powerful Zulu Kings underscore the tension that already exists, when EFF leaders speak with open hatred of White South African’s, when the Minister of Home Affairs embraces convicted terrorists who continue to support and encourage violence and terrorism, when levels of Islamaphobia and Anti Semitism is at its highest on record, I am not sure what part of this situation could be a surprise.

A simple example. Robert Mugabe is currently outraged, as he should be, about the treatment of his citizens in South Africa. He is deeply concerned and does not hesitate to voice his worry. All acceptable, but for the fact that less than ten days ago, this same man refused to see a “White face” when approached by journalists. He refused to answer a question based purely on the colour of a person’s skin but is shocked and appalled by discrimination based on region.

When statues are defaced in the most disrespectful manner possible- by feces being thrown at them, when it is impossible to respect at least an element of a history that is not consistent with your narrative, when pig’s heads are deliberately placed in kosher sections of a supermarket to cause the most offence and then that action is defended, then what part of Xenophobia should come to us as a surprise.

We have built this monster, and we are clearly unhappy with the product of our creation. South Africans of all people should understand the dangers of racial prejudice. We have seen first hand what the “logical” but evil implementation of a racially based system achieves. We have seen the destruction of a society and the abuse of human rights when this monster is allowed to run rampant. But we seem to have forgotten this and neatly boxed it away for the schoolroom, where our children will learn the theory but not the practice.

There needs to be a zero tolerance for any form of hate speech. And it needs to begin with Government and with any political participant. It is all very well to make inflammatory remarks in order to gain grass roots supports but it is irresponsible and very clearly deadly. And if we can’t see that, the problem is bigger than we can imagine.

Victor Frankenstein’s monster ultimately destroys all that he cares for and all that he cherishes. The beast will ultimately murder the love of his life and will taunt him with her corpse. We in South Africa need to stop our monster before it does the same. We need to fight back the beast of racism, we need to keep our language responsible. But mostly we need to ensure that we never again create something that can destroy everything we value.

#1 you should read this

February 27, 2015

The British perspective

After President Jacob Zuma’s statement some weeks ago that all the problems in South Africa started with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652…..
I know, I know… We had the same problems in England, you know…

First we had the Picts and the Scots. And then came the Romans who stuck around for about four centuries. Then we had the Angles and the Saxons and all those other Germanic tribes. Oh ho! Then came the Danes and their Viking mates, a nauseating bunch of horny helmeted rapists and looters they were.

Nevertheless, the Danes were eventually displaced by the Normans, who turned out to be Frenchmen in disguise – but we were a bit slow to recognise the fact until it was too late; anyway, they were led by the Duke of Normandy, who was a real bastard, and who gave our wimpy king a right one in the eye. (The bloody French are still hanging around with their cheese and their bread and their wine and their accordion music and their fancy restaurants, seducing our people away from our culture of slap chips with custard.)

And then, and then, came the Dutch when King William and Queen Mary of Orange popped over and started causing nonsense with the Irish at the Battle of the Boyne. The Irish have never completely forgiven us, so they came over and settled all our building sites.

Then the Germans came back again, surreptitiously, and occupied the top of the Mall in Buckingham Palace…

And where are we now…? Now we have Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians, Caribbeans, Syrians, the Oz, Italians, Americans, Canadians, Poles, Portuguese, Saudis , Kuwaitis, Moroccans, Egyptians, Iranians, Palestinians, Israeli Jews, Ethiopians, Somalis, Nigerians, Rhodesians, Scots (to run the government)… and (whoa!) South Africans…

It has been going on for two thousand years. It’s an outrage…

And yet, and yet… All of these people (well most!) have contributed to make England and the English a great and democratic nation. And yet, I have never felt the slightest inclination to bomb Rome, to shatter the Pyramids, to close a Pakistani restaurant, to nuke the Ka’aba in Mecca, to blow up a bus in Jerusalem, to chop off the head of a Nigerian etc. (And even if I have, I have controlled myself from saying so.)

I have few words for Mr Zuma and his depraved ANC: Grow up, or piss off. You stand in the way of civilisation.

There you have it guys, make of that what you will.

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