Tuesday, September 30

Comments are experiencing technical difficulties. Will hopefully be up again shortly.

Update:Back up for now.

The Police Commissioner or Minister was on Radio again, defending the way in which statistics are released. Still seems to me that the biggest problem with the statistics is bad PR.

Have a look at this to see the numbers. Also the fact was pointed out that you can go to your local police station and they are obliged to tell you about crime in your area and what hot spots there are.

Still, would be nice to have this information more widely available, and I fail to see what they gain by 'not' making it available. Crime is not under 'control' as the government would like everyone to believe, but then again it wouldn’t help if they said it 'was' out of control.

The police are doing good work in terrible conditions. The fact that the largest factor in doubting crime statistics is the fact that people do not report crime to the police anymore is scary however. (Back to the PR issue again).

Japan Pledges $1bn to Africa at Ticad 'Without Strings' Wooohooo! Free Money!! Thats the kind of money that Africa likes,

Speaking to allAfrica.com, several African leaders pointed out that although Tokyo gave aid to the continent, it did not give "orders" unlike other unnamed Western donors.

Dam the Danish and their demands! But wait a sec,

Analysts argue that Tokyo is wooing Africa and seeking its support and cooperation, with one eye on a permanent seat on the United Nations' Security Council. Wade immediately rejected that interpretation. But it is an open secret that unable to rely on the military might of the United States - with armed force limited by the Japanese constitution - Tokyo looks for other ways to extend its diplomatic and global influence.

But not too worry,

Asked whether this was simple philanthropy-without-strings, or whether Japan expected something in return, Wade and others said Tokyo was interested in seeing a better world for all people

What's that smell?

Mbeki to look into Zim paper

Cape Town - The South African government has agreed to talk to Zimbabwe about the closing down of the country's only independent daily newspaper, Daily News.

Boy, are they in trouble now!

The South African Regional Poverty Network SARPN carries an interesting opinion on Zimbabwe. That the ANC has such a clear (or diabolical) idea of what it is doing however I doubt. That these thoughts never crossed their minds I wouldn't put past them either. Is it just me, or is there something fishy about SARPN?

Saturday, September 27

The Washington Post gives its opinion on Mbekis tactic of Soft Diplomacy. They are not impressed, but I think Mbeki got of easy. Rumour has it the Bush administration has been reluctant to step on Mbekis toes in return for some soft diplomacy of their own where it comes to Iraq.

My wife and I, being a newly wed couple and starting our careers, are looking to buy a house, flat, condo or shack.

We live in Cape Town, in the City Bowl, as this is the most conveniant for both of us to get to our jobs. There is a thin stretch of property along De Waal to the N2 that would allow us both to avoid traffic. This stretches from Lions head to about where the N2 crosses Main Road, all along the North facing mountain side (Thats Table Mountain). Our Goal? Find a place along this stretch.

Firstly let me say that I know the Cape Town property market is cheap in comparison with the rest of the worlds hot spots. Secondly let me say that it seems that the whole German nation apperantly knows this too. The result? German estate agents. Yes. There are estate agents in Cape Town that cater almost exclusively to the german market. They dont even advertise here, only in germany.

The Germans apparently have bought up Camps Bay and Clifton. Now they are moving accros the neck and are invading the City Bowl itself. End Result? A semi-decent two bedroom appartment costs half a million rand. If its a nice place or has a view you can increase the price by another 3 to 5 hundred thousand.

Selling our souls and putting ourselves into debt with the bank for the next 20 years, we still cant raise this money (Current interest rate is 14% I think?). So we move on up the line, still looking along this stretch that we want to stay in. Next stop, Woodstock and Observatory. Under apartheid these were coloured areas, but they have now been invaded by yuppies (Id probally be counted as a yuppie if I had time to hang out at a coffee shop. Fortunately work has reduces me to mere geek status.)

Prices? Not bad. Varying between 3 and 5 hundred a quant historical house can be yours. Spacious, solid walls with wooden floors usually standard. Problems? Yes. Firstly, no parking also comes standard. We have two cars and I dont feel like leaving one on the street when we go away. So, find a house with a secure parking spot, or place to build one. Mission Impossible. Im picky, you say? Dam right I'm picky. Secondly, these places generally need work. Work ranges from a paint job and sanding to ripping out the interior and hoping the walls remain standing.

We saw a nice place for 350 thousand this week. We liked it very much. Good location. Nice layout. Of street parking. Unfortunaly it was in the latter of the two work categories, with doubts about the walls. Doubting the walls is not a good thing when your looking to commit yourself to financial bondage. So, the search continues!

Friday, September 26

Via mostly AFRICA I learn Nigeria is to launch their first satellite this week! Congratulations to Nigeria! True, satellite pictures can be purchased more cheaply from existing satellites then developing, building and launching your own. But there are more rewards to having a satellite program then just data. Such as spin offs.

I’ve mostly posted about negative news events concerning South Africa. This is not for a lack of trying to find the good news or a some perverted wish to see South Africa fail. There just doesn't seem to be that much good news about South Africa recently.

What is good about South Africa? Why do I love the country? What worries me? What excites me about SA?

Firstly Freedom. South Africa is as free a country as you'll find in the world, for everyone. You can think and say and do what you will (within reason of course). And everyone does. I don’t want to see us lose this.

Democracy. This country has an incredible strong political system. The miracle of the new South Africa is there because of our politicians. Are we throwing this away for one where all debate as to what affects our country takes place within one party? Can an opposition party get its act together or are we doomed to having a second rate theatre of ankle biters in the opposition benches? We need a viable opposition if we are to remain a true and strong democracy.

Capitalism. This country is ready to explode. We can be the growth engines for the revolution of a continent. We can compete with the best in the world and great things are happening all the time. But serious problems hold us back. Crime and AIDS are issues that must be addressed firmly, not as political footballs. Playing buddy-buddy with dictators that destroy their own countries on our borders does not help either (I’m talking about you too, Sam). Where is the leadership?

There are serious battles still to be fought for the future of this country. This is just me trying to get in my 2 cents.

What is wrong with the criminal justice system in South Africa? How about this?

Two mountain bikers, the brothers Lloyd (31) and Scott (30) Griffith, were arrested and jailed on Sunday 17 August 2003. They had to sleep in the Honeydew police cells on Sunday night and were released with a warning on Monday morning by the Randburg Magistrates Court.

According to their statement to the police, Lloyd and Scott were riding on Sunday morning with their mountain bikes in a field along Boundary Road in Honeydew, north of Johannesburg, when at least four men confronted them at gun point to rob them of their bicycles. Due to the number of robbery and mugging cases the cyclists and especially mountain bikers had to endure the past few months in the same area as well as a couple of other areas in Gauteng, the brothers were armed. A shootout followed between the Griffith brothers and the robbers in which one of the criminals was fatally wounded. The other criminals fled the scene.

They are appearing in court today charged with murder. The prosecutor has the option of whether to prosecute in any case. As with Deputy President Zuma the case can be dropped if it is felt there is not case. Such as a Self defence argument.

This is not the first time that people that defended themselves have been prosecuted. Two teenagers were charged with murder and successfully prosecuted for killing the man that was attacking their mother in her bed about a year ago.

The message? If you’re attacked, and your lucky enough to be able to defend yourself, don’t talk to the police. Call a lawyer. If you say anything in your defence it 'will' be used against you when you are charged. And you will be charged.

Tuesday, September 23

An article on South Africa deporting illegal immigrants back to Zimbabwe appeared in the New York Times along with a slideshow.

In the slideshow the reporter says that "crazily" the Zimbabwe government policy has backfired. That by seizing white owned land and distributing it to black people the economy has been ruined.

Imagine that. Funny how the world works exactly the opposite as to how you imagine it should.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of the Zimbabweans, or any illegal immigrants. I believe that deporting them back to their country of origin serves little purpose, and that they can be and are valuable members of our society. Illegal or not.

I do however believe that Zimbabwe has dug itself a hole, and it is up to the people of Zimbabwe to sort it out. We should support them in their struggle for freedom and democracy. But it is a hole that Zimbabwe dug for itself. There were no street protests in Zimbabwe when a minority of the population was targeted. Large scale opposition materialized only when the economic situation became so bad that people lost their livelihoods and it affected them personally.

These are not the actions of a people that believe in freedom and respect for all, and every Zimbabwean must now live with the consequences of what happened in their society. People get the dictator they deserve.

The government finally released the Crime statistics. What amazes me is the sheer ineptitude of the whole affair. Firstly they refuse to release any statistics because it is not "accurate". Then when they do release it, it seems that previous statistics are now fine for comparison because crime is down. Never mind the fact that the statistics are already a year out of date, and so broad as to be meaningless.

Listening to the minister of Safety and Security on Safm this morning brought out the sheer idiocy of the whole exercise. (I couldn’t find a transcript on the web, but the gist is right)

Q: The crime statistics you released was very broad. Don’t you have more specific statistics.
A: That would be very expensive to collect, John.
Q: You don’t have specific statistics for policing areas? How do you then respond operationally?
A: O No. We do have these statistics that we compile at each station.
Q: Then wouldn’t it make sense to release these statistics so that businesses in the area can also respond "operationally"?
A: These businesses know what is the crime in the areas. They don’t need to know what we know as they are there and they know.
Q: Thank you Minister.

Thank you indeed. If you haven’t checked out crimestats yet, now is a good time.

Monday, September 22

As expected WTO talks in Cancun failed. The Angry economist has some good comment on this. I agree with him that fair trade is a 'good thing'. I do think this is a rather simplistic view of the situation. There are too many other issues that have nothing to do with what is good for trade for these negotiations to ever be successful.

Does the developed world want to be dependant on the third world for food? Take Zimbabwe, which went from being a large exporter of food to economic basket case in record time, thanks to Bob. True, there are more then enough countries too make the failure of any one country as insignificant event, but large scale disruptions of trade in the event of a major war or natural disaster would be catastrophic. Can Japan strategically really afford not to grow its own food, with neighbours such as China and North Korea?

Food subsidies are inefficient, granted. But you're paying for more then just food.

It seems very reasonable that the developing world should give up the Singapore issues, but this too is not as simple. From the developing worlds view trade barriers for the protection of local industry is by no means a bad thing. An established industry can easily destroy a small developing industry in a developing country, on the odd chance that they might become competition.

Fair trade is a good deal. It is just not a deal that can be made now. The American approach of striking bilateral trade agreements between countries or groups of countries is perhaps the way to go for the time being.

Its been a long time since Ive posted anything, but work has a way of sneaking up on you that way. Working full time and writing a thesis in your spare time makes Jack a very unhappy man. It makes Jacks wife even more unhappy. But blogging 'does' seems to have medicinal properties so back to it I go.

Tuesday, September 9

Africans Head for WTO With Low Expectations. And so they should.

European Union (EU) Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler last week indicated that such demands went too far; in a sharply worded rebuff to poor nations pressing for the abolition of subsidies, he said: "If they want to do business, they should come back to mother earth. If they choose to continue their space odyssey, they will not get the stars, they will not get the moon, they will simply end up with empty hands."

No major concessions will, or even can, be given. We should rather look to protecting our markets in the areas in which 'we' are less competitive. (And while were at it we can start calling our champagne, champagne again, and tell the French and their sycophants to go stuff themselves.)

The presidents minister, Essop Pahad, calls for Zuma to be charged so he can defend himself.

With the goverment refusing to release crime statistics, the internet responds with crimestats. Great concept!

Sunday, September 7

On blog vacation. Back shortly!

Tuesday, September 2

Chissano says Zimbabwe land reforms must be fair

Chissano, who is chairperson of the African Union, said when he officially opened the annual Zimbabwe agricultural show that the country's reforms would be the basis for sustainable social and economic development.
In a carefully crafted statement, Chissano commended Mugabe's government for addressing colonial injustices in land ownership and realising that "a fair distribution of land and its well organised utilisation is important".

"I wish a lot of success to the efforts that Zimbabwe is making to promote land distribution with no discrimination to colour, race and religion," he said.

Chissano told thousands of people at the Harare show, including Mugabe, that Zimbabwe had shown great resilience in tackling its problems and had demonstrated to Africa that "if you know where you are going, even if you fall, the important thing is to rise again".

Chissano is walking a fine line, and talking to two different kinds of people. On the one hand are those who hold Zimbabwe up as a model for other parts of Africa and on the other hand the West and those who see Zimbabwe as the worst possible outcome.

Mr Chissano, as the current head of the AU, shows his true feelings by his actions more then his words by addressing the annual Zimbabwe 'agricultural' show. Statement: The AU support Robert Mugabe, his goverment and the land 'reform' process.

It seems that corruption is being taken seriously by the ANC goverment. Sibongile Manana, Mpumalanga health MEC, has been "redeployed" to the provincial department of sport, recreation, arts and culture by premier Ndaweni Mahlangu.

Mahlangu transferred her to his office as deputy director-general of Mpumalanga, despite recommendations that legal action should be taken against her.

Manana told Beeld that Sunday's news hadn't really bothered her because she was still very excited about being voted onto the ANC Women's League executive.
Satisfactory answers could not be supplied by the premier or his offince on why Manana and Charles were simply transferred to new posts instead of facing disciplinary action.

On the other hand, I'm sure that Manana has many dear, dear friends who understand how unjust trial by media is and who will support her in this, her hour of need.

Monday, September 1

But it is Monday,so... Apparently there is method in the madness of denying us access to crime statistics.

Between January 2000 and March 2002, there were almost 48 000 murders in South Africa. In the same period, approximately 27 000 murders were referred to court, of which only 4 760 ended with convictions.

In America there were 16 110 murders in 2002. We beat that handily with a few thousand too spare. When you consider there are 6 times as many people in America then in South Africa our crime wave becomes a slaughter. About 60 people a day are is being murdered in SA, with only 1 in 10 murderers ever being convicted.

Perhaps the african potato will help with this problem.

Mondays good news! MDC wins poll! Put this in the stange but true catagory. As soon as the winner can walk again from the beating he received at a police station there will probably be a party.

I’ve been trying to find some good news, but this is Monday, so all I get is this. The African potato? A thousand peopleare now dying a day, and the African potato is still the solution? This would be farcical if it wasn’t such a tragedy. Blogging will stop until I regain some semblance of sanity.

Police crack down on 'easy' gun licences: It appears as if 'legal' gun ownership is the cause of our high crime statictics.

The ANC responds to the, erm...CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

Lynch-mob mentality does nothing for justice or clean government

South Africans should not allow the rule of law and basic principles of justice to be sacrificed to the 'lynch-mob' mentality which has seized opposition parties and much of the media in recent weeks.

This mob mentality follows the investigation of allegations against Deputy President Jacob Zuma by the Scorpions, and the announcement last weekend of their decision not to prosecute.

Throughout this process the ANC has steadfastly held the view that the law must take its course and that the relevant authorities must fully exercise their responsibility. It has held fast to the principle that a person must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

The Deputy President, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, has cooperated fully with the investigation.

Despite this unambiguous commitment to due legal process, and despite the fact that the allegations have not been tested in a court of law, opposition parties and many in the media have immersed themselves in a frenzy of savage political and personal attacks.

In the face of this unseemly onslaught, the ANC this week said the Deputy President would not resign his position as a deputy president of the country.

"The ANC reiterates its position that until such time a court of law or competent institution of justice passes a guilty verdict, the Deputy President will not be subjected to any disciplinary process or be asked to relinquish his position."

"We must desist from the temptation to subvert due processes and pass judgment without evidence that has been tested in a court of law," it said.

Since 1994 the ANC-led government has achieved much in the effort to tackle corruption and criminality, and to promote accountability and transparency in public life. The institutions which have been established, and othersthat have been transformed, have scored numerous successes in exposing and
curbing corruption.

These successes have been possible because these institutions have been systematic and rigorous in their work. The rule of law has been observed and the independence of the judiciary respected.

This work must continue. The fight against corruption must be conducted within our legal system, on the basis of facts and in line with the law. Anyone suspected of criminal behaviour, regardless of who they are, should be subject to investigation, and, if the competent authority deems necessary, should be tried without fear or favour.

Yet what we have witnessed in the last few weeks is nothing short of trial by media, where rumour and speculation is enough for a person to be charged, tried and convicted. A number of political parties have willingly - and energetically - participated in this spectacle, sensing that there is much
political mileage to be gained from destroying the reputation of the Deputy President and casting doubt on the integrity of the ANC.

Earlier this week, these parties seized on the indictment prepared in the case of Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessmen and financial advisor to the Deputy President, to further malign the Deputy President and suggest the ANC may have been party to illegal activities through a company called Floryn Investments.

These suggestions are false. In a statement released this week, ANC Head of Communications Smuts Ngonyama said: "We wish to state categorically that the ANC has no relationship with Floryn Investments, or with Nkobi Holdings for that matter."

Suggestions that the ANC may have benefited from the arms deal are at best mischievous and at worst malicious, he said.

"We wish to emphasise that the ANC has never benefited from the arms deal, directly or indirectly, and any suggestions to the contrary are nothing more than slander aimed at undermining the integrity of the ANC," he said.

The scale and intensity of the media onslaught over the last few days and weeks, while most disturbing, should not deter South Africans from the important tasks we face as a nation.

It should not deter us from our efforts to preserve the integrity and strengthen the capacity of our criminal justice system. It should not distract us from our efforts, through the legal system, to tackle corruption wherever it manifests itself.

And it should not deter us from our determined effort to push back the frontiers of poverty, to create new and increasing opportunities for all our people, and to build a united and democratic nation.

God forbid that we are deterred from nation building by these nasty lies told by those 'apartheid' cronies. God forbid that the ANC should actually 'respond' to the allegations. But maybe if the left hand denies hard enough the right hand will be forgotten.

I guess some are just more equal then others.