Posts Tagged ‘ANC’

The winter of our discontent

March 30, 2016
R.W. Johnson

South Africans have, for several months now, been enduring an exceptional torrent of accusations and counter-accusations of racism. Such accusations have, of course, provided much of the steady badinage of South African politics for twenty years, but even when seen against that background the recent period has been special.

Penny Sparrow, a South Coast estate agent, provided a convenient initial focus with her virtually Neanderthal depictions of blacks as monkeys: what the French would call le racisme primaire. Thereafter all manner of essentially harmless folk have been caught up in the storm and have suffered penalties of one sort or another for a few words or sentiments a mite out of place – or not even that.

The situation has now become so ridiculous that when Helen Zille says how pleased she is by the heavy usage of Cape Town’s municipal libraries, she is accused of racism for having implied surprise that blacks read books.

On many university campuses there is a frankly anti-white frenzy. We have seen delighted declarations that “whiteness is burning” when valuable pictures are torched.

What to conclude from this? A first conclusion might be, for god’s sake avoid social media. Almost everybody who has found themselves in trouble has done so as a result of some unwise and trivial post on Twitter and Facebook. One only has to remember how her addiction to Twitter undermined Helen Zille’s leadership of the DA to see what a hostage to fortune such media constitute.

Why all the fuss over racism?

But what is this hyper-sensitivity about? The answer is not simple. For many years it has been commonplace that black commentators insist that “we must debate race”. On the face of it, there is little to debate. We all know that biologically speaking, no such thing as race exists. It is also common cause that black people have suffered badly from segregation and oppression by whites.

Nobody wishes to defend or exculpate apartheid. So what is the debate about? Usually, it seems, debate is just the wrong word: most often what seems to be meant is a further opportunity to rehearse all the multiple ways in which black South Africans still feel aggrieved. This is not a debate, nor even truly a conversation and very seldom is there anything new to say. It is also purely backward-looking.

All the heat and energy is about past grievances (student radicals frequently attack their opponents for the mistreatment of their parents or even grandparents): there seems to be little constructive thought about the future – or even much interest in it. The picture has been further clouded by attempts to reify “whiteness”, philosophically and sociologically a very dubious notion.

The key factor: ANC failure

The main new fact driving the current hypersensitivity is just that the ANC is visibly failing. No one is in any serious doubt now about this. It even passes the taxi driver test: take a taxi from OR Tambo and the driver will soon tell you that the ANC will soon lose power, either nationally or a least in Joburg. It’s literally on the street.

The ANC elites, anxiously aware of this, feel the cold whiff of change in the air. Hence Gwede Mantashe’s paranoid mutterings about the role of the US embassy in allegedly fostering regime change. It has now dawned on the ANC leadership, that far from being in place “until Jesus comes”, they could meet their Maker quite a lot sooner than that.

It is not clear, after, all, how the ANC’s claim to rule would survive the loss of Pretoria and/or Joburg. Hence, too, the much sharper focus now on the possibility of relegation to junk bond status. When I brought out my last book in May 2015 (How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis) the notion of such a relegation was rather recherché stuff.

The oddity was that although almost nobody was willing to review the book, its central ideas quickly passed into the main conversation. The possibility of relegation to junk bond status thus became the key symbolic test of whether ANC government had failed. The result, belatedly, was to make every ANC spokesman vow to avoid such a relegation at almost any cost.

The notion of ANC government as an evident failure triggered complex psychological reactions. Since this was South Africa’s first African government its imminent failure was seen as an enormous symbolic defeat for the black race by certain black intellectuals – first and foremost in their own eyes.

This in itself was almost unbearably painful, as can be seen in innumerable letters to the editor from black readers saying how personally humiliated and let down they feel by the government’s failure. Second, many black intellectuals were quick to imagine whites sitting on their verandahs of an evening, gin and tonic in hand, saying “I told you so” – an almost unbearable image.

Third, and for that very reason, this produced a renewed anti-white animus, a determination that, if the ship was to go down, at least the whites must go down with the ship too.

Julius Malema, with his usual unerring instinct, taunted the ANC with the thought that some whites were actually enjoying the prospect of a black government failing.

The hardening of opinion

There is a smidgeon of truth in this. It is undeniably true that under the weight of government incompetence and corruption, much white opinion has hardened. This is obvious in a host of ways and certainly to any reader of the PoliticsWeb comment section.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of white South Africans still want their country to succeed, irrespective of politics. Yet at the same time there has always been a tiny fringe of white apologists for black racism – it will be hard to convince future generations how much of the damage was done by whites.

Frequently such folk will find sophistical arguments for the proposition that only whites can be racists, although ordinary common sense shows plainly enough that this is a disease that anyone can catch. Blacks and whites can both be racists in the same way that blacks and whites can both be fast food addicts, both be thieves, both be religious nuts and so on.

What seems to drive such folk, oddly, is a strong sense of collective guilt. They would all insist that their own treatment of black people has been blameless (so individually they are not guilty) but they believe that all white people should feel collective guilt about the past. This despite the fact that all the churches, the UN and no end of judicial eminences have declared that the doctrine of collective guilt – used by anti-Semites down the ages to justify their persecution of the Jews – is not only invalid but an offense against humanity.

The doctrine of collective guilt was invoked by the Nazis when they murdered whole communities in reprisal for the acts of a few resistants. It is a deeply inhuman and reactionary doctrine. So guilt can only be individual. No doubt we should all examine our own consciences, but that is far as one can go.

The history of non-racialism

When the ANC was in its pomp under Mandela, it was proudly non-racial and did not stoop to anti-white racism. The person who really reintroduced racism to South African public life was Thabo Mbeki who repeatedly conjured up loathsome visions of blacks as dirty, diseased, plundering and rapacious folk, an imagined white stereotype, though one which Mbeki himself found weirdly believable.

Mbeki relied more and more on “campaigns against racism” (read anti-white mobilizations), held a World Conference Against Racism and said this would be the guiding theme of his entire presidency. This was all very telling. With the Mandela magic gone, Mbeki felt paranoid and insecure and his first instinct was to fall back on anti-white racism.

Zuma was, at first, much better. With Mbeki’s defeat at Polokwane, anti-white racism faded from the scene. But as the cumulative weight of the ANC’s economic blunders became apparent, this has changed. When the ANC has to fight for survival its last card is racial nationalism: vote for us because we are black, vote against them because they are white.

This situation has been dramatically transformed by the emergence of the EFF. The ANC has always most feared attacks from its left and it can see Malema’s radical anti-white rhetoric gaining traction.

This panics it completely and its response is to attempt to ensure that, whatever else, it will not be outflanked on that theme. It must fight to ensure that racial nationalism works in its favour, and not in Malema’s. Thus whites find themselves on the wrong end of a Dutch auction on anti-white racism.

It must be understood that this is all part of the logic of multi-party proportional representation. A new development to the Left of the ANC will have a ricocheting effect right across the system as one billiard ball after another feels the colliding motion of the next. The eruption of an anti-ANC left has immediately set up a new field of force right across the system.

The eclipse of the old Left

Most obviously, of course, it has had dire effects on the SACP and Cosatu – the old ersatz Left. Nobody bothers to mention the National Democratic Revolution any more. Indeed, the NDR seems to be just as dead as the NDP (the National Development Plan), which is to say, as dead as a dodo. If there is a radical vision held out to the radical young it is Malema’s furious return to the Freedom Charter with forced expropriation of all white assets.(Malema carefully omits the Charter’s strongly non-racial stance.) The SACP can’t compete with that. The best it can do is just stay quiet – rather like Blade Nzimande, who is staying as deliberately invisible as possible during the current university troubles. So much for the SACP’s vanguard role.

In effect, neither the SACP nor COSATU brings anything very substantial to the ANC now. They continue purely on sufferance. The hoary old mythology was that the ANC relied on Cosatu to mobIlize the urban vote for it. But the ANC is losing precisely in the cities, and is relying more every year on the great vote banks of the old bantustans, in which Cosatu plays no role.

The budget has set the stage for a further intensification of racial nationalism. As Anthony Butler commented, its boundaries were “set by cronyism, the power of public sector unions, antipathy towards the private sector and public discontent about the economy”. That is, Gordhan could not go further without disturbing or dislodging the patronage networks on which Zuma’s rule depends.

The ANC clock: always slow

The result is weirdly reminiscent of the National Party dramas of the 1970s and 1980s when enormous pressures for change would be met by the fact that the NP’s clock was set not by those pressures but by the purely internal consideration of the relative strengths of the verligtes and verkramptes.

It is the same now with the ANC. It can proceed only at the pace set by its internal clock, which depends on the balance between its factions, its patrons and their clients. This is way behind the pace required by the international political economy of which South Africa is part.

In effect what this means is that the ANC is simply not able to carry out the sort of reforms necessary to guarantee its own survival. Instead it has adopted a defensive crouch which it will maintain through possible local election losses and a further ratings downgrade. As these things occur its mood will get increasingly sour, panicky and paranoid.

Its recourse to racial nationalism will become increasingly shrill. It will be a good time to remember the old adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones but hard words will never hurt me”. But, of course, it is playing with fire and, as recent university incidents have shown, it is all too easy for this sort of racial mobilization to tip over into inter-racial violence. Should that occur on any scale it would undo the whole post-1990 settlement and leave the country in no man’s land.

The conundrum of student protest

Finally there is the difficult question of how to interpret the current wave of student protest. While this younger generation is just as affected as others by the emotional consequences of ANC failure, there are clearly extra factors – grievances over fees, over accommodation, over the language of instruction, over exclusion because of indebtedness, as well as fear of academic failure born of poor schooling and a weak culture of study, discomfort (of some) at finding themselves in a mainly “white” environment for the first time, unhappiness at the sight of white and Indian students often scoring higher marks and anxiety over the high rate of youth unemployment.

As if this wasn’t enough, the student movement has quickly been hijacked by out-sourced workers wanting to be in-sourced and by ambitious black academics wanting more affirmative action in academic hiring and promotion.

On top of that there is a general fear that ANC fat cats have feathered their own nests by selling out the next generation, a fear sometimes phrased as the Mandela generation selling out to “white monopoly capital”.

That is already eleven separate factors and doubtless there are more. It is this hydra-headed nature which accounts for both the protest movement’s power and its confusion.

However, as the political theorist Michael Oakshott argued, no political movement is born or exists in a vacuum. In practise it intimates its new meanings and demands in terms of the existing political traditions in that society. In that sense the students had to choose between three competing traditions:

1. The Freedom Charter’s non-racial stance – “South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, black and white, and no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”.

2. The PAC/Black Consciousness alternative. Although Robert Sobukwe and Steve Biko both insisted that they did not believe in black domination or racial animosity towards whites, their followers have generally interpreted this tradition to mean just that. In addition, BC enthusiasts generally favour de facto racial segregation, with separate racially-based organisations for black students, lawyers, businessmen etc.

3. The radical “Struggle” tradition inherited from the ANC’s thirty years in exile when the party fought for the total overthrow of the system, the “conquest of power”, and a full-on socialist programme. Once the negotiated settlement was reached at Codesa this tradition was cut short but it continued in the popular mind and various leaders bid for its leadership – Chris Hani, Peter Mokaba, Winnie Mandela and Julius Malema among others.

Although Nelson Mandela invoked the first (non-racial) tradition in 1994 as the basis of the new settlement, the truth was that it belonged to the period of Albert Luthuli’s leadership of the ANC and had largely been eclipsed since his death.

But strong traces of it remain for it is still the presumptive base of the Constitution and the entire post-1994 dispensation. In essence Luthuli was a Christian liberal. The black and white students who joined together to pray for peace on their campuses lay exactly within that tradition.

In practice most student activists seem to mix the second and third traditions with little regard for theoretical coherence, just as Malema attempts to combine the (incompatible) first and third traditions.

In truth, the situation is confused. The third tradition has been formally ended; the second was defeated by the ANC and is thus not in power, while the first, though theoretically the basis of the present dispensation, is widely ignored and flouted. The result is literally anarchic.

Thus although some of the activists believe we need to revisit the 1994 settlement and change it, the situation is now quite different from 1990-1994. That period was dominated by the approaching certainty of an irresistible ANC hegemony. Today that hegemony finds itself under assault from all directions with no real certainty about what the new balance will be.

We thus have a period of rough water ahead of us – which could be quite prolonged. It will be a time forvasbyt, for holding fast, for remembering that whatever the accompanying noise, the vast majority of South Africans simply want peace and growth, and remembering too that the country has come through far worse times during the Anglo-Boer War, during the Depression of the 1930s, during the Second World War and during apartheid. It is a resilient country in which it is rational to be an optimist.

R.W. Johnson


South Africa: Only a matter of time before the bomb explodes

March 3, 2016

by Moeletsi Mbeki: Author, political commentator and entrepreneur.
12 FEBRUARY 2011

I can predict when SA’s “Tunisia Day” will arrive. Tunisia Day is when the masses rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia. The year will be 2020, give or take a couple of years. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialisation phase will be concluded.

For SA, this will mean the African National Congress (ANC) government will have to cut back on social grants, which it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes. China’s current industrialisation phase has forced up the prices of SA’s minerals, which has enabled the government to finance social welfare programmes.

The ANC inherited a flawed, complex society it barely understood; its tinkerings with it are turning it into an explosive cocktail. The ANC leaders are like a group of children playing with a hand grenade. One day one of them will figure out how to pull out the pin and everyone will be killed.

A famous African liberation movement, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, after tinkering for 30 years, pulled the grenade pin by cancelling an election in 1991 that was won by the opposition Islamic Salvation Front. In the civil war that ensued, 200000 people were killed.

The former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once commented that whoever thought that the ANC could rule SA was living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Why was Thatcher right? In the 16 years of ANC rule, all the symptoms of a government out of its depth have grown worse.
• Life expectancy has declined from 65 years to 53 years since the ANC came to power;
• In 2007, SA became a net food importer for the first time in its history;
• The elimination of agricultural subsidies by the government led to the loss of 600000 farm workers’ jobs and the eviction from the commercial farming sector of about 2,4-million people between 1997 and 2007; and
• The ANC stopped controlling the borders, leading to a flood of poor people into SA, which has led to conflicts between SA’s poor and foreign African migrants.
What should the ANC have done, or be doing?

The answer is quite straightforward. When they took control of the government in 1994, ANC leaders should have: identified what SA’s strengths were; identified what SA’s weaknesses were; and decided how to use the strengths to minimise and/or rectify the weaknesses.

A wise government would have persuaded the skilled white and Indian population to devote some of their time — even an hour a week — to train the black and coloured population to raise their skill levels.

What the ANC did instead when it came to power was to identify what its leaders and supporters wanted. It then used SA’s strengths to satisfy the short-term consumption demands of its supporters. In essence, this is what is called black economic empowerment (BEE).

BEE promotes a number of extremely negative socioeconomic trends in our country. It promotes a class of politicians dependent on big business and therefore promotes big business’s interests in the upper echelons of government. Second, BEE promotes an anti-entrepreneurial culture among the black middle class by legitimising an environment of entitlement. Third, affirmative action, a subset of BEE, promotes incompetence and corruption in the public sector by using ruling party allegiance and connections as the criteria for entry and promotion in the public service, instead of having tough public service entry examinations.

Let’s see where BEE, as we know it today, actually comes from. I first came across the concept of BEE from a company, which no longer exists, called Sankor. Sankor was the industrial division of Sanlam and it invented the concept of BEE.

The first purpose of BEE was to create a buffer group among the black political class that would become an ally of big business in SA. This buffer group would use its newfound power as controllers of the government to protect the assets of big business.

The buffer group would also protect the modus operandi of big business and thereby maintain the status quo in which South African business operates. That was the design of the big conglomerates.

Sanlam was soon followed by Anglo American. Sanlam established BEE vehicle Nail; Anglo established Real Africa, Johnnic and so forth. The conglomerates took their marginal assets, and gave them to politically influential black people, with the purpose, in my view, not to transform the economy but to create a black political class that is in alliance with the conglomerates and therefore wants to maintain the status quo of our economy and the way in which it operates.

But what is wrong with protecting SA’s conglomerates?

Well, there are many things wrong with how conglomerates operate and how they have structured our economy.
• The economy has a strong built-in dependence on cheap labour;
• It has a strong built-in dependence on the exploitation of primary resources;
• It is strongly unfavourable to the development of skills in our general population;
• It has a strong bias towards importing technology and economic solutions; and
• It promotes inequality between citizens by creating a large, marginalised underclass.
Conglomerates are a vehicle, not for creating development in SA but for exploiting natural resources without creating in-depth, inclusive social and economic development, which is what SA needs. That is what is wrong with protecting conglomerates.

The second problem with the formula of BEE is that it does not create entrepreneurs. You are taking political leaders and politically connected people and giving them assets which, in the first instance, they don’t know how to manage. So you are not adding value. You are faced with the threat of undermining value by taking assets from people who were managing them and giving them to people who cannot manage them. BEE thus creates a class of idle rich ANC politicos.

My quarrel with BEE is that what the conglomerates are doing is developing a new culture in SA — not a culture of entrepreneurship, but an entitlement culture, whereby black people who want to go into business think that they should acquire assets free, and that somebody is there to make them rich, rather than that they should build enterprises from the ground.

But we cannot build black companies if what black entrepreneurs look forward to is the distribution of already existing assets from the conglomerates in return for becoming lobbyists for the conglomerates.

The third worrying trend is that the ANC-controlled state has now internalised the BEE model. We are now seeing the state trying to implement the same model that the conglomerates developed.

What is the state distributing? It is distributing jobs to party faithful and social welfare to the poor. This is a recipe for incompetence and corruption, both of which are endemic in SA. This is what explains the service delivery upheavals that are becoming a normal part of our environment.

So what is the correct road SA should be travelling?

We all accept that a socialist model, along the lines of the Soviet Union, is not workable for SA today. The creation of a state-owned economy is not a formula that is an option for SA or for many parts of the world. Therefore, if we want to develop SA instead of shuffling pre-existing wealth, we have to create new entrepreneurs, and we need to support existing entrepreneurs to diversify into new economic sectors.

Mbeki is the author of Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing. This article forms part of a series on transformation supplied by the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

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

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.
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Nkandla Style

March 28, 2014

Viral throughout South Africa –