Saturday, August 30

Arms Deal Saga is Sending Wrong Messages to the World
Read the whole thing.

Romantic Cape Town, where the restaurant manager is a bank robber, the chef a terrorist and the owner a fraudster! Defining the good life since 1652.

An interesting piece on Muammar Khaddafi's attempt to bribe his way out of his hole. It should certainly be enlightening to know how much he has been using just this tactic to make dear, dear friends in Africa. NRO puts it under their 'At War' section where it belongs.

This looks good: SA, Japan Sign Science And Technology Agreement

Majority of Invited African Ministers Snub Harare Summit

The scary part:

Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who opened the meeting yesterday, told delegates that the government had identified 18 farms for acquisition within Harare as part of the government's controversial land reform programme.

However, Tobias Takavarasha, the director of Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Policy Analysis Network, said that although the government had acquired some land in urban areas, it had failed to come up with a policy on how the land should be utilised.


I'm sure the minister will personally endeavour to see this land 'utilized' properly. Now where did I put my copy of Animal farm again? My Doublespeak skills are slipping. (Or was it 1984?)

I know power corrupts, but it seems to also cause various mental diseases. God knows what absolute power would do to the poor man.

SADC Summit Takes Crucial Decisions

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit has approved the region's development blueprint for the next five years.

Five year plans? Now where have I heard of that before?

Mr Pahad also said Lesotho had been elected as the chair of the SADC organ on politics, defense and security cooperation, which would deal with preventing conflicts in the region.

Lesotho, the country with practically no military whatsoever, which was overrun by a South African Medical unit the last time they collapsed into anarchy. That Lesotho is not part of South Africa is a national shame. Lesotho is as much a Bantustan as any other; only it was a Bantustan long before the others were created. It cannot exist as an independent country, as its military and foreign policy will always be subject to South Africa, while the majority of its citizens will always work in South Africa. By keeping this illusion of a country alive, the migrant labour practices of apartheid are continued in the new South Africa. But then this illusion has its advantages:

South Africa has been elected as the deputy-chair of the organ

Wednesday, August 27

The presidents office responds. I dont think they realize things have changed yet and just how serious the situation has become.

Zuma responds to revelations about his finances in the same old fashion here. Not good enough anymore, Mr Zuma.

Mr Zuma must either sue the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions for making the allegation, or resign. The ANC cannot allow this to drag on for the next two years, which is the minimum time it will take for the criminal case to run its course. (Keep in mind that national elections is to be held next year.) Even should Mr Zuma successfully launch a legal defence, his integrity would still in question over the manner in which this case has been handled by the goverment and the fact that he did not declare his business interests in companies awarded contracts.

The French Connection
A coded, handwritten fax in French contained in the charge sheet against Schabir Shaik may hold the key to making a direct connection between deputy president Jacob Zuma and irregularities during the government's arms acquisition process.

The interesting part

"I asked SS to at least obtain clear confirmation from JZ or, if he was unable to, an encoded statement (I have identified the code) to confirm the request by SS at the end of September 1999. This JZ did (in code).

"Let me just remind you the two primary objectives of Thomson CSF are:

protecting Thomson CSF during the current investigation (SITRON);

permanent support from JZ for future projects.

Amount: R500 K a year (until and including the first payment of dividends by ADS)."


Just why he would be so stupid as to write all this down however baffles me. Could this be a fake? Possibly. If Mr Zumas financial records corroborate the amount however...

Tuesday, August 26

Bogus victims cry rape

Bogus victims increasingly 'cry rape' to obtain free treatment from clinics against possible HIV/Aids infection, Northern Cape health MEC Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.
...
Peters said they should be charged for wasting government's valuable resources and time. It cost government an estimated R1400, including the prophylactic drugs, to treat a single rape victim, the MEC said.


No, Mrs Peters, you should be keel hauled for inhumanity. This is one of those "Only in South Africa" stories.

Union Vows to Fight Amended Land Rights Bill in Top Courts'

The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill will give the minister the power to expropriate land for restitution without having to go to court.

Grobbelaar also took issue with the contention of chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya, who had told the committee that the enhanced expropriation powers were needed because farmers were not co-operating with the state in trying to resolve claims. Gwanya said farmers chose to go to court to subvert the restitution process.

Grobbelaar said: "Our clients are of the opinion that any delay is due to the fact that a large number of outstanding land claims in terms of the Restitution Act are invalid and of no substance whatsoever.


A difficult problem. That some people in government and elsewhere 'would' like to see a Zimbabwe style land grab cannot be doubted. That some farmers would do everything in their power to subvert the process is also not in doubt. Lets hope cool heads prevail.

Arms deal: ANC could be charged

The ANC could face charges of corruption, theft and tax evasion. This is if the allegations entailed in a 45-page document released yesterday as a draft charge sheet against Schabir Shaik are proved to be true. Legal experts reviewing the arms deal document say Shaik, a Durban businessman, and Jacob Zuma, the Deputy President, are not the ones involved in the arms deal saga. They say the ANC stands as one of the accused - in the form of Floryn Investments.
...
Legal analysts have nonetheless paid attention to accused 10, due to the implications. Floryn Investments according to the charge sheet is wholly owned by Shaik. He holds the share as nominee or cedent to the ANC. It also makes the ANC 10% shareholder in Nkobi Holdings. "The effect of this is that the ruling party faces charges of corruption, theft and tax evasion," says Robin Palmer, a legal expert.


Time to do the the right thing and take one for the party, Mr Zuma?

From Nairobi a perspective on the WTO. I think it sums up opposition to the WTO nicely, falling back on 'all' the cliches. This shouldn't be surprising however given:

It is for this reason that Heinrich Boll Foundation, Oxfam Great Britain, and EcoNews Africa, resorted to creating awareness amongst the ordinary public on the goings on at the international institutions.

At a workshop they organised in Kenya recently, they revealed how the WTO rules are designed and made by the rich countries, noting that the interest of the developing countries was not a priority at the institution.


The Heinrich Boll Foundation is a political non-profit foundation affiliated with the party of Alliance 90/The Greens. Oxfam has this link on their site which makes for some interesting reading. EcoNews Africa seems to be HBF's and Oxfams link to Kenya, and in turn derives funding from at least Oxfam.

Who is driving this campaign, and why? Is it the developing world, or the activists in the developed world? I can promise you one thing though. The 'priorities' of these two groups are not the same.

I'm innocent, insists Zuma

Deputy president Jacob Zuma again proclaimed his innocence on Tuesday on corruption allegations made against him, adding that the matter was in the hands of the court.

At a weekend media conference, national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka said Zuma would not be prosecuted, despite indications that there may be a corruption case for him to answer.

The decision was taken in spite of a recommendation by the investigating team that Zuma be criminally charged.


Serious questions have been raised about Mr Zumas integrity. The fact that no charges will be filed against him personally, while charging everyone else involved, is probably the decision most damaging to Mr Zumas reputation.

Mr Zuma has chosen to attack the investigators, the media, the minister of Justice and everyone involved in this case, instead of defending himself in the court of public opinion. He has never addressed the questions raised about his affairs in a satisfactory manner, if at all. (As he should, given his high public profile)

The vice president of a country must not only 'be' a trustworthy person, he must also be 'seen' to be one. The obvious behind the scenes pressure that has been applied to matters relating to the arms deal has been the work of people very high up in government. Apparently to the highest levels. Whether Mr Zuma is innocent is at this time irrelevant. Mr Zuma should resign from his office as vice president.

Politics being as it is though, this will probably be a "Victory for our democracy".

Monday, August 25

Foreign Dispatches draws a comparison between South Africa and Rwanda.

The history of South Africa offers a salutary lesson in this regard. As in Rwanda, a significantly outnumbered minority attempted to monopolize wealth and power by hiding behind all sorts of phony excuses - "We got here first", "The blacks have their own homelands" (bantustans), "Africans are genetically inferior", and, in the 1980s, "Black rule will lead to communism!" Where South Africa has been relatively fortunate has been that it had in F.W. De Klerk a ruler who realized that the status quo could not be perpetuated for much longer without giving rise to a massive bloodbath, while in Nelson Mandela it had a black leader who understood that the common good was best served by leaving behind past animosities, instead of trying to avenge old wrongs.

There is no guarantee that South Africa will not eventually go the way of Zimbabwe - Thabo Mbeki's record does not give rise to optimism - but even the Zimbabwe of Comrade Mugabe would be a better place in which to be than the killing zone that is the Rwandan region. The Tutsis need a De Klerk of their own, but Paul Kagame is not such a figure.


I’m not quit convinced by the comparison. Rwanda is very much politically backward, with two opposing ethnic groups with hundreds of years of conflict in their history. South Africa is ethnically and politically very diverse, with a highly developed political infrastructure. (The ANC is one of the oldest political parties in Africa after all, being founded at turn of the previous century, and most other parties can also trace back their history to that time)

It was not just two leaders that made peace but the country as a whole. The spirit of reconciliation is very much a national movement, which has crossed most party lines. My point is that the political conditions on the ground allowed De Klerk and Mandela to create the South Africa that they did. I doubt whether those conditions exist in Rwanda.

As for South Africa going the way of Zimbabwe, I doubt it. Zimbabwe is in the situation it is now because of Mugabe’s love of power. Nothing more. While a future government in SA might once again turn society in South Africa upon itself in a quest for power, the political differences between our two countries are huge. Almost as much as between Rwanda and us.

Update: The Head Heeb comments.

Ive changed over to Bogspeak for my commenting. Enetation was not working out. I could not see the comments half of the time and ive never even been able to even see my test comment. I understand its a free service, but hell, no one likes bad service.

Better yet! Blogspeak worked first time, and its got a nifty online editor, AND it gives you e-mail notification. Goodbye old, Welcome new!

Mandela slams lawsuits against apartheid
Somebody get the lawyer-spray!

Reason weighs in on the BBC ruckus. As BBC is the only international news source publicly available in SA, I'm going to bed early these days. No sense staying up until 3 am just for Hard Talk.

SADC Set to Snub Mugabe Again
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe's regional peers are set to snub him by denying him the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community - for the second year in a row.

Hey!

Update: Mugabe met with wild enthusiasm
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe - reviled by the west - was greeted by screams, clapping and ululation in Dar es Salaam on Monday at the opening of a summit of southern African countries.

Thats what you get for wishfull thinking.

Update: African leaders ask EU to lift Zimbabwe sanctions
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) backed Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President's, controversial land reforms and said so-called "smart sanctions" on Harare were ineffective, unwarranted and hurt ordinary people.

"Those sanctions should be lifted now. The quicker they are lifted, the quicker more influence for positive growth and change can emerge," said Benjamin Mkapa, the Tanzanian President and SADC's chairperson. Mugabe sat on the podium smiling as Mkapa, who took over the chair from Angola's Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, spoke at the community's annual summit in Tanzania.


This is disturbing. From planning to snub Mugabe to active support for his regime. Seems like Mugabe hasnt given up anything either. Early days but looks like a 'win' for Bob.

Sunday, August 24

Wife No 11

Southern Africa's last absolute monarch, Swaziland's King Mswati III, has picked his 11th bride - and has already paid an "admission of guilt" fine for courting a virgin.

Last week, King Mswati, also known as the "Ngonyama" (lion), paid a fine for breaking the "Umchwasho" chastity rite which bars young maidens from sex for five years.

The rule is an attempt to combat a high HIV/Aids rate in the tiny country.


Living the dream.

King Mswati, whose father, King Shobuza II, had more than 70 wives at the time of his death in 1982.

Those are some big shoes to fill.

Zuma off the hook

Deputy President Jacob Zuma will not be prosecuted for allegedly soliciting a R500 000 bribe from a French arms dealer , Scorpions boss Bulelani Ngcuka announced yesterday.

"The investigating team recommended that we institute a criminal prosecution against Deputy President Zuma.

"After careful consideration in which we looked at the evidence and the facts dispassionately, we have concluded that, while there is a prima facie case of corruption against the deputy president, our prospects of success are not strong enough.


Excuse me if I dont comment. It gets better though.

Maduna is believed to have threatened to resign after coming under fire at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Zuma on Wednesday while President Thabo Mbeki was on leave.

The meeting saw an ugly exchange between Zuma and Maduna over the Scorpions' investigation.

It is understood that members of the Cabinet criticised Maduna for stating publicly earlier in the week that the government was placing a gag on further comment on the investigation. He was also condemned for allowing the investigation to run on, causing embarrassment to the government and ANC.


Seems like there are other people that are not happy as well.

ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said the organisation accepted Ngcuka's decision and viewed it as " a victory for our democracy".

Ngonyama said prima facie evidence found by the Scorpions against Zuma would not taint his political career or public image


But this is politics, so its business as usual. "Victory for our democracy" indeed.

Friday, August 22

SA told: Take Aids seriously

Soweto, South Africa - Visiting US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist suggested Thursday South Africa had to take the scope of the AIDS pandemic sweeping the country more seriously.

Frist said in conversations with South Africa's trade minister he was told Aids was not hurting the country's economy or lowering life expectancy despite assessments by the World Bank and others.

An estimated 4.7 million people, roughly one in nine people, are infected with HIV. An estimated 600 to a 1 000 South Africans die everyday from Aids-related complications.

"I want to encourage the political leadership here to recognize the magnitude of the problem," Frist told journalists.

Frist, a Republican from Tennessee and the other six senators on the delegation, will be instrumental in deciding how the $15bn, pledged by US President George W Bush to combat Aids in Africa, will be paid out.


I'd like to make two points. First, AIDS is a class disease in South Africa. In the west everyone can expect to live with AIDS. In the third world most people can expect to die, as very few people can afford the drugs and livestyle necesary to survive even if they are employed. In South Africa, with our mix of first world and third world economies, if you or someone in your family has a semi-decent job, you can most likely afford the drugs and lifestyle that would allow you to survive. If you don't, you will die. The South African economy will, as the minister said, be less affected by this tragedy then most other countries.

Secondly, more then AIDS drugs are needed to keep people alive. By some estimates a third of the working population is unemployed. Assuming there are 2 people in every family that can earn money, a ninth of all families (5 million people) are without a single breadwinner and destitute. (This is in actual fact much higher given the uneven distribution of wealth in the country) These people would not be able to afford the food and lifestyle necessary to keep them alive, never mind the expensive drug therapies.

If America wants to save these people, they would need to give not only the AIDS drugs, but also welfare support for them and their families. $15 Billion dollars? Say a stipend of $300 per family per month. (Less can be given, but the goal is surely that the people survive, and therefore fresh vegetables and meat is necessary). Lets say of the 5 million people currently with AIDS only 2 million people qualify for the stipend. (It would be much higher.) Therefore $600 million dollars would be needed every month to keep these people healthy. That would use up the $15 billion dollars in around two years. Just in South Africa. Without actually buying any AIDS drugs.

Please tell me again how those Tax dollars are going to be used to help with this epidemic? Only one thing can really lessen the impact of this disaster, and that is substantial economic growth. Everthing else is plasters and candy. The one thing that 'can' hurt South Africa and the people infected with AIDS is if people disinvest because of fear of the epidemic. The more jobs that are created, the more people will live. If America really wants to help, either buy more South African products or make a profit while helping by investing in South Africa. (For a safe bet Bonds at 11% and up are hard to beat, but our equity market is also large and one of the most volatile in the world if youre willing to speculate!).

Maybe i'll go have a look tomorrow. If I cant find it maybe it doesn't exist?

Fondness for SA's Wines Grows in UK, Netherlands

SA's wine exports to the UK grew 25% in value in the year to June compared with the preceding 12 months, which compares with the 6% growth for the UK retail wine sector in the same period.

While SA is already the biggest exporter of New World wines to the Netherlands, the country grew its market share to 16% in the past year from 14%.


Pinotage anyone?

Equities On a Roll As Rand Sinks to New Lows

The rand slumped to a low of R7,50 against the dollar last night, tracing the euro's decline to a four-month low against the US currency as investors shifted out of the European unit amid growing concern of worsening economic growth in Europe.

And the roller coaster ride continues...

I haven't said that I think the man is INSANE yet, have I?

Africapundit blames Mbeki however, saying that that he should speak up.

I dont agree. Firstly Mbeki has spoken about this, and condemned Mugabe in very strong language, for Mbeki. When this happens one of Mugabes lackeys launches a wild attack on Mbeki, or whoever said anything, we protest, Mugabe says it was but the lackey’s opinion, the relationship sours some more and there it lies. If he keeps speaking out against Mugabe Mbeki gains nothing.

If he tones down his attacks, he gains because Mugabe allows him to intercede in negotiations with the MDC. Even though this ultimately gains him nothing, he is seen to be doing something positive and has some power in a situation were very few people do.

Realistically Mbeki has few options:

1) He can condemn it and refuse to deal with Mugabe. Difficult to say the least given that they are our neighbours directly to the north, and he is expected to deal with the situation by the West.
2) He can close the borders with Zimbabwe, causing havoc, starvation, and possibly war. Would Mugabe resign if he sees 'more' of his people starving? Doubt that. Would the world community allow Mbeki to do this? Don’t think so. They would insist on food shipments, and we would be back to where we are now.
3) He can declare war, roll north, and saddle South Africa with a country deeply in depth, knee deep in a Gorilla war. Democracy imposed from outside anyone? This would ruin our economy, and our army is not in a state where we can launch a 4-week blitzkrieg. It would be slow and messy and civilian casualties would be high.
4) He can walk softly, try to keep people talking, and hope the old man dies, one of his lieutenants work up the courage to do him in or he comes to his senses.

Granted, this is a difficult choice, but I know which one I would choose. It is not a pretty choice.

Now with comments via Enetation

Update: Or not as the case may be. Seems there is some trouble on their side. It has worked with another persons id on my site, but not mine. So there is nothing I can do about that now but wait a while.

Update: Customer service mails to let me know it will be up shortly and they were just a little behind on registration. Low and behold: comment.

Booming Gold Price Takes Johannesburg Stock Exchange to a New High

GOLD stocks on the JSE Securities Exchange SA soared yesterday, boosted by a firmer gold price and slightly weaker rand, helping to lift the overall equity index to fresh sevenmonth highs.

Well, doesn't that just beat all. Here I thought we were permanently scarred?

This looks good: Ressano Garcia Border Post to Open 24 Hours

Thursday, August 21

Strong Rand to Leave Scars On Economy

THE strong rand is hurting the domestic economy in ways that will leave lasting scars, says Hennie de Clercq, head of the South African Institute of Steel Construction.

Hmmm, wonder if we should believe that?

ANC Women's League in Tribute in Madikizela-Mandela
THE African National Congress (ANC) Women's League has paid tribute to its former president, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, officially marking the end of her leadership.

And the beginning of her time in jail? No one seems that upset that she used the Womans League as a front for her scams.

SA Government Condemns Attack on UN Headquarters in Baghdad

'The sanctity of the UN, its officials and its offices is respected even in the harshest conflict situations,' said Mr Mamoepa.

As opposed the people terrorists usually blow up?

Government also called on the UN to persevere in its quest to resolve the Iraqi political situation and not to be derailed by the attack.

What 'political situation' would that be?

Update: Cabinet reiterates condemnation of UN attack

He said it was utterly senseless to attack those whose mandate was to work with the people of Iraq in all their diversity to launch a legitimate political process designed to lead to the establishment of a freely elected, representative government in Iraq and to act as the guarantor of that process.

Strange. Wasn’t the UN against the establishment of a freely elected, representative government in Iraq a short while back? Wonder what changed?

Governors Want Political Backing for One African Currency

Well, if that isnt just the worst idea since the great Xhosa cattle slaughter.

From the New Republic (via Instapundit)

In the meantime, the ostensible U.S. position is an odd one. We accept the principle that trade in agricultural goods ought to be liberalized, and that this is a matter of justice as well as of efficiency. But we're not willing to give any more than Europe and Japan are--and "Europe," in this case, means "France." The current administration is supposed to be unburdened by the temptation to wait for French approval for everything that happens in the international arena; it's supposed to be willing to indulge some American idealism rather than reducing everything to the cynical level of Gallic sophistication. Where's a bit of unilateralism when you need it?

This is a disingenuous position to say the least. No American Government can abolish agricultural subsidies. Neither can the Europeans or the Japanese. While politicians will talk this is another Kyoto treaty. A lot of hot air and very little reality. (The French in this case is a convenient scapegoat for everyone)

The reality is that economically it might be better for the industrialized nations to remove the subsidies, but politically and socially this is not possible. The costs of being dependant on the third world for food and having a countryside that has collapsed economically is not something that can be realistically considered. (And it 'would' be the consequence in the end. Some quicker the others though, i.e. Japan)

No. Any politician in America, Europe or Japan that says subsidies must be abolished is either lying or is not going to be in politics for much longer.

South Africa does not have agricultural subsidies, yet we compete very successfully on the world market. Subsidies do not make for a flexible agricultural sector. It is control from above and the true capitalist style we use will always be more competitive. We import cheap Italian tomatoes, cheap French wine, cheap American Rice and cheap Spanish Olive Oil. We still compete successfully in all these markets. But it is in the niche market, where moving fast and spotting opportunities that we can compete the best because of our third world advantages. (Cheap labour, resources, exchange rate etc.)

The main points in any true negotiation should be that trade 'barriers' be lifted. "We can compete in an unfair market, but let us compete!" should be our slogan. The Europeans in this regards are the worst culprits, with more and more useless regulation being used as barriers to free trade. (EU inspections of premises, licences, more inspections in harbours so produce rots, No GM foods, etc, etc.)

Wednesday, August 20

Agricultural Subsidies to Top Agenda at WTO Talks

Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin has emphasised that the success of the next round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations will depend on developed countries making concessions on issues of agricultural subsidies and access to markets.


Right.

Hi. Welcome to my blog. This is still a test run so things might be a bit rough for a while, so give me a break if its a bit confused.

Update: Ok, Im now blogging!