South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA AND ESKOM’S WORLD BANK LOAN

On the 14th November the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, in the presence of a World Bank official and on behalf of the government of South Africa, signed for a R1.9 billion loan from the World Bank. The money is to be used for Eskom’s electricity generators. The loan is payable in forty years at 0.25% interest. A country that accepts a World Bank loan is required to enter into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The World Bank and IMF work hand in glove.

It is unbelievable that in the 21st century South Africa can borrow money from the World Bank when there are known problems associated with amortisation and interests. The World Bank most probably insisted on land as collateral. World Bank loans are used to ensnare countries into an unending debt. The World Bank and IMF loans employ conditionalities which involves highly controversial requirements such as austerity or privatization of key public services. Conditionalities imposed on borrower countries are known as Structural Adjustment Programmes.

REJOINDER TO THAMI KA PLAATJIE’S “MALEMA DOES NOT MINCE HIS WORDS”

Thami Ka Plaatjie’s article in Sowetan of June 21, 2011 published under the headline, “Malema does not mince his words” reminds me of the words of the Pharaoh of African Studies the late Dr Cheikh Anta Diop during the time whites claimed that race determined the intelligence of a people. Diop responded that equating intelligence with race is like confusing rectal temperature with good health.

Ka Plaatjie claims that the recent ANCYL “conference affirmed its President Julius Malema as a critical voice of the youth in the current South African trajectory, secondly the conference confirmed Malema as the political and ideological heir of the mantle of Anton Lembede and AP Mda, thirdly Malema used the elective conference to lavishly display his nationalist ideological thrust and fourthly, he exposed his Pan African political and ideological outlook and fifthly, Malema has brought about a greater urgency to issues such as nationalization and land reform”.

MANDELA APPEASES WHITES!!!

The Long Walk to Freedom is an invaluable source of information on the political history of South Africa and the ANC although it is fraught with ethnic and organizational biases. If Mandela is a leader of all people of South Africa, he should transcend these tendencies. For example, those unfamiliar with the South African life may end up thinking that Xhosas and Zulus are the major inhabitants of South Africa, as one reviewer recently did.

The African anthem which translates as God Bless Africa has both the Sesotho version (Morena Boloka Sechaba sa Afrika) and Nguni version but nowhere in the book does Mandela refer to this anthem in its Sesotho name. Mandela himself is an Nguni speaker. In fact, during the raising of South Africa’s new flag, only the Nguni version of this song was sung, followed by the settler colonialists’ anthem Die Stem.

Although the book is an invaluable source of information on some aspects of South African history, it has some historical inaccuracies. For example, Mandela writes that gold was discovered in 1886 on the Witwatersrand (p 55). In fact, South Africa has the earliest gold, iron and copper mines in the world going back to thousands of years.

Mandela claims that the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania is ‘anti-white’ (p 264) and criticizes the Black Consciousness Movement for excluding whites (p 422). Some of the criticism Mandela leveled at the PAC are ridiculous and border on the absurd. For instance he writes: “Their actions were motivated more by a desire to eclipse the ANC than to defeat the enemy” (p 206). Mandela also claims the views and behaviour of the PAC are immature. The philosophy of Black Consciousness according to Mandela is also immature and he also labels one of the greatest African leaders of African descent, Marcus “Mosiah” Garvey as an extremist. Garvey is at the same time described as an African hero.

The forerunner of APLA, POQO is described as “irresponsible” and labeled “terrorists” (p 295). But nowhere does Mandela label the white supremacist terror group Afrikaner Weestandbeweging (AWB). Instead he refers to them as a “militant right-wing” group (p 530).

Mandela writes that he was saddened by the bombing to death in Mozambique of Ruth First, Joe Slovo’s widow but never mentioned anything about Onkgopotse Ramothibi Tiro let alone his tragic bombing by white South African agents in 1974 in Botswana. Tiro, a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement, was probably the first South African to be parcel bombed and the first martyr of the Black Consciousness Movement. There is also no mention of Bantu Biko or the cruel way in which his life was ended in a South African jail. Biko was one of the founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement.

THE AUTOPSY OF SA STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

President Jacob Zuma delivered his 2011 state of the nation address to parliament. Since the time of Nelson Mandela, we have been hearing the same story every February. Zuma gets his fat cheque every month so are Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, including those of the opposition and they don’t give two hoots about the poor and unemployed. They are the worst hypocrites.

Praise singing, which was introduced by Nelson Mandela, has gotten out of hand and reflects the parochialism of ethnicity/tribalism. It doesn’t belong to a national institution like the national assembly. Parliament must transcend tribal predilection.

POVERTY, POLITICS, AND THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA

Why is it that governments can find billions of dollars for global sporting events and little to deal with the grinding poverty that affects impoverished populations? Canada applauded itself for the $135-million in aid and disaster relief it sent to an earthquake ravaged Haiti while spending nearly $6-billion on the two-week long Vancouver Olympics. A similar contradiction is revealing itself in South Africa, where massive amounts of public and private spending on the upcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup are expected to salve a faltering economy and crippling poverty. Most South Africans, however, will see little direct or sustained economic benefit from the games let alone muster the funds to even purchase a ticket.

What is trumpeted as a branding and investment remedy to South Africa’s economic woes may very well become another Greek tragedy – where the legacy of the 2004 Athens Olympics has contributed to an economic meltdown. These global games offer dual incentives to both local and foreign business elites and little to a frustrated local population. On the one hand, investment, sponsorship and tourism opens new markets to foreign capital while local business elites profit from a heightened global image. At least, this is the story sold by both the state and World Cup planners. Central to this strategy is selling South Africa as a marketable and consumable brand.

The transition from apartheid to democratic rule in South Africa has been well documented. During this period, the pressures of both domestic and foreign capital forced the emergent African National Congress (ANC) government to follow the economic paradigms of the past and encourage foreign investment. The sanctions that once crippled the economy gave way to a period of increasing investment and relatively stable economic growth. Promoting a comfortable and gentrified image of South Africa perfectly serves the ruling African National Congress’s redistribution through growth policy that is intended to drum up foreign investment while selling off government owned assets. The Soccer World Cup effectively opens these economic and political spaces necessary to further neoliberal policies and development.

LAND REFORM AT THE CROSSROADS

Land Reform
Land Reform

Zimbabwe is definitely not an example of where everything is going perfectly well, but they are getting very good mileage out of their national consensus on land reform and rural development. As things stands, there is a collective wisdom that land reform is a must and should be addressed with speed to avoid further chaos and mayhem that has beset the once beautiful country.

While Zimbabwe is in unison about the change that is expected, South Africa seems to be way in the political doldrums not knowing what is going to work or what alternatives are there for a successful land reform. It is a fact that at the practical level about 5% of white owned land has been transferred since the first democratic elections of 1994, which means that about 80% of land is still owned by whites. At this rate the already modest redistribution target of 30% has absolutely zero chance of being achieved by the target date of 2014.

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