Thursday, October 30

What is wrong with the South African Justice system? How about this?

Two pensioners accused of battering a young man to death with their walking sticks complained when their trial was delayed on Thursday, that they weren't getting any younger.
...
They're charged with the murder of Calson Malumane, 35, who was beaten at a shebeen in Salubindza tribal trust on March 17 last year after picking at the old men's food and drinking their brandy.

The pensioners have pleaded not guilty to murder. They previously testified they had taken lady friends to the shebeen for a meal and drinks.

They said it wasn't the first time Malumane had made a nuisance of himself by taking their food and drinks by force and that they decided to stand up to him.

Malumane was severely beaten with walking sticks and refused to be taken to a clinic for treatment.

He died a week later at Themba Hospital as a result of injuries to his brain.


So basically a thug harassing pensioners gets beaten up by them, and when he dies a week later because he is too embarrassed to seek medical help the pensioners are charged with murder.

But that's how it goes. Its easy to prosecute people who defend themselves, I guess.

indaba - a council at which indigenous peoples of southern Africa meet to discuss some important question

So, without fanfare I present: blogdaba!

Andrew at Southern Cross links to a fascinating piece by Juli Kilian of the 'New' National Party (As in the reformed party that brought us Apartheid).

Andrew then publishes comment by Robert Evans (no link), who makes the following arguments:
1. The DP has lost all credibility.
2. A strong opposition is required for a strong democracy.
3. The NNP has no hope of influencing the ANC, with which it is in alliance.
4. There are no real alternatives to the ANC at present.
5. That the only real alternative to the ANC will be an 'ANC reloaded'.

A black-led party that is designed to address the social and economic concerns of our generation. Not one based on years of history and suffering, but one motivated specifically by the challenges of today - globalisation, education, employment, economic growth, AIDS, human rights, environmental awareness etc

I agree with Mr Evans on points 1 through 4. On 5 I differ. It is not 'ANC reloaded', but rather 'Will the real ANC please stand up'.

The ANC is a political leviathan. It represents the freedom that we have achieved as surely as the NNP represents the country we left behind (New or not). How can any party realistically compete against this, less then 10 years after the end of apartheid?

Political debate in South Africa is taking place within ANC structures, and not in parliament. This is a natural consequence of the majority which the ANC holds. The schrillness of the Democratic Alliance can certainly be seen as a symptom of how powerless they are to influence government, except through public opinion.

The ANC is allied with the Unions, the communist party and the New National party. None of these parties can hope to carry any weight on their own in any election, but within ANC structures they do. The road to power for them lies through the ANC, and if they can wrest control of the ANC from within, then government can be theirs.

It is therefore in the ranks of the ANC that the battle of the future of South Africa is being fought, not in parliament. The Hefer commission has so far been the most public display of this fight.

There are certainly many factions within the ANC. The current government of Thabo Mbeki can however certainly be qualified as moderates, who have what I feel the true vision of the ANC at its heart.
If South Africa is to be a strong democracy, then it will be up to the ANC to divest itself of the leeches and to move the true debate over the future of this country away from the ANC to parliament and the ballot box. This is a hard thing to do for a century old revolutionary party with less then 10 years in power. The question is when will the political costs become too much to bear for the true ANC.

Wednesday, October 29

A very interesting press conference by the out going Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner.

Mr Kansteiner wobbles and weaves around Zimbabwe, but basically says it is South Africas problem:

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I mean, you have this unique position, unlike the Europeans, who've got this colonial baggage. You could have really put the pressure on, if you'd wanted to.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER: I think that our approach was -- we're 7,000 miles away. You know, the neighbors are one meter away, across a river or across a boundary line. We want to be supportive of those neighbors, as they deal with the problem. And we are supportive of those neighbors, and we are there to cajole and push and encourage. But as President Bush said, when he was in Pretoria a few months back, we look for the neighbors to be the leaders.


On Americas relationship with South Africa:

QUESTION: South Africa. The Bush Administration has had kind of bumpy relationships with Johannesburg. Can you review, you know, the differences over Iraq and HIV, and forecast the future?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER: Well, I think our bilateral relationship with South Africa is terrific. I, personally, look at South Africa as a real leader of the region. Not only do they have this tremendous economic platform to grow themselves, but grow the neighborhood, but they also have the political and diplomatic skills to be real leaders on the continent. I mean, look what they've done in Burundi, for instance. If it hadn't been for the South African involvement in Burundi, I really don't think we would have gotten the significant movement on the ceasefires and the rebel groups coming in. What they did in the Congo was tremendously helpful.

So I think their leadership potential is huge. The bilateral relationship is very good in that top leaders, both President Mbeki and President Bush, as well as cabinet-level officers speak regularly, and sub-cabinet. You know, I'm on the phone with my South African counterparts all the time. So there's good, good dialogue. And when we do disagree, we certainly know that we're going to have different perspectives on things, and we agree to disagree and we move on to the next issue. So no, I think it's a very healthy, mature relationship.


And on Libya and its meddling in Africa:

QUESTION: Do you have an assessment of Libya's influence in Africa as a whole, and whether this is good or bad?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER: I really ought to leave that to Bill Burns to answer. But from the African perspective, as I kind of sit south, look north, I see a Libyan interest in sub-Saharan Africa. I see their influence waxing and waning at times; sometimes they become more interested. You know, there was a -- there was this kind of great barrage of involvement with Zimbabwe a year or two ago. That seems to have now waned and lessened. There's been some interest in contact with West Africa -- the Charles Taylor connection we all heard about.

But, in general, I see a lessening of involvement on a -- on a problematic basis. You know, the manipulation stuff I see less of. The political involvement is still very much there. I mean, you know, Qadhafi pitches up for the AU stuff all the time and so he's, you know, he's trying to gain some political leverage there. But, generally, it seems right now we're in a lessening mode, a waning mode.

Jeff Shellebarger, ChevronTexaco's general manager for Southern Africa says that they forecast that by 2010 just under 20 percent of the global consumption of oil will be supplied by Western and Southern Africa.

Southern Africa will benefit in a number of ways. Not withstanding the very possible discovery of large scale deep sea deposits of our western coast (The government extended our marine borders some time back for this very reason), we will benefit economically as we are the gateway to the rest of the Southern African economy's.

South Africa is also one of the few viable countries in which maintenance for the oil rigs can be performed, and they have become a common sight in Cape Town harbour.

Monday, October 27

The South African pebble bed reactor is about to hit the big time, according to AllAfrica:

SA Nuke Plant is a Hit With US Power Giant
SA's proposed nuclear reactor is set to become the first plant in the world to produce both electricity and large quantities of hydrogen for commercial purposes, a US-based energy company said at the weekend.

If it can be shown the reactor is safe and can produce hydrogen at promised commercial levels, Eskom, which is the main driver behind the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) project, stands to get a foot in the door of the new hydrogenbased US energy drive, offering opportunities for SA and the company.


Eskom has invested heavily in the pebble bed technology, and has been hugely successfully. So successfully in fact it calls for a redefinition of safety standards for Nuclear reactors. The required safety zone for the reactor is only 400 meters. It physically cannot experience a melt down.

Another important aspect of this technology is the speed with which it can be constructed, with the time between the first cement being poured and the first Watt generated being only 2 years. (Compared with 7 to 10 years for traditional nuclear reactors.)

The Modular design, and physics of the plant, also make it possible to conduct maintanance while the plant is in operation. Shutting down plants for lengthy and expensive maintenance is not necessary.

The Christian Science Monitor carried an article some time back, giving attention to the opposition of environmentalists too the project. Their opposition is particularly blind for being in a country that uses coal for the majority of its power, one of the worst poluters.
The article gets it wrong however in saying that the government supports the opposition.

A good non-technical discussion can be found here.

I previously pointed out that South Africa ranks 21st i.t.o Press freedom, ahead of the United Kingdom, France and the US. The more I think on this however, the more unreal this becomes.

South Africa's media is generally ok, and its free from overt political pressure (tension between government and media is a good thing for me, and we have plenty of tension). It is not nearly as good as the news sources found in the developed world however.

(I read the Washington Post if I want to know what is going on in the world. If I want to know that a girls Matric dress was shockingly revealing and the head mistress wouldn't post it on the general school notice board then I'd read the Cape Times. The Cape Times printed the picture on the front page however. The head mistress was right. I don't want too know this. )

Why does Reporters without borders publish such a list however? Are they objective in publishing such a list?
even former East bloc countries are ahead of even South Africa on this list. Make sense? How is it compiled?

According to RWB:
To compile this ranking, Reporters Without Borders asked journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists to fill out a questionnaire evaluating respect for press freedom in a particular country.

Scientific? Probable not, but ok. It is probable reasonable.

The first thing mentioned however when reading the report is; United States and Israel singled out for actions beyond their borders

The reason for this singling out (given much later) is:
The Israeli army's repeated abuses against journalists in the occupied territories and the US army's responsibility in the death of several reporters during the war in Iraq constitute unacceptable behavior by two nations that never stop stressing their commitment to freedom of expression.

And voila! We have the rationale behind this list. RWB chooses to use this ranking to put political pressure on 'certain' countries. It does not wish to advance the right of journalist with this list, but to lambast the West for their 'perceived' short comings.

It does this even when lambasting the worst regimes.
The war in Iraq played a major role in an increased crackdown on the press by the Arab regimes.

Wow! A major role! Until you find out these countries are pretty much in the same place they were before the war. (Not quite. Kuwait, where American troops were stationed during the build up to the war, has now become the Arab country with the most press freedom. Iraq(124) is more free then the American occupied territory of Iraq strangely enough).

I don't think South Africa can take much pride in this list, when we morally should have troops in Zimbabwe being rude to Western journalists.

Off topic, Steven den Beste has a very good discussion on spam. He suggests Bayesian filtration. I only received 173 spam messages in my inbox this morning, about 50 less then my average weekend spam dose. Maybe he is right, and the spammers are giving up?!

There is a great new South African blog by two expats in Britain. Southern Cross intends to look at South African and British issues, and so far they are doing a wonderful job. Definitely one for the blogroll.

Thursday, October 23

Panic in Khartoum:Foreigners Shake Hands, Make Penises Disappear

But seriously, I know how they feel. The annual German invasion is upon us.

World press freedom ranking (via Head Heeb)

South Africa slots in nicely at number 21, ahead of France(26), the United Kingdom(27), and the United States of America(31).

If you believe in that kind of thing.

Investors rethink rand and other currencies

High-yielding emerging market currencies are coming under pressure as falling returns make investors think again whether they are being compensated enough for the risk of holding them.

Analysts see the Turkish lira and South African rand as most vulnerable to a major reversal, particularly given the scale of their gains against the dollar so far this year.

The rand is up over 20 percent on the year to date, though off three-and-a-half-year highs hit earlier in the month, while the lira is still up over 12 percent on the year, even after recent losses.

"Turkey and South Africa have both cut interest rates aggressively this year and risk-reward levels are now a lot lower," says Ashley Dodd-Noble, emerging markets strategist at BNP Paribas.

Wednesday, October 22

Ethan Zuckerman comments on the Oil pipeline in Chad, and questions whether it will really help the 'people' of Chad.

Cathy Buckle has another letter from Zimbabwe. She has a list of people to contact if you want to help. Alternatively you can follow my Help Zimbabwe link, and give to the people I think can do the most.

Politics.za is all over the Hefer commision and agent RS452.

If you havent been there before, Unganisha has got Ethiopia covered. He has a very interesting piece on the "food problem".

A Taste Of Africa blogs first hand on the current goings on in Somaliland.

Mostly Africa also notes the trouble in Somaliland, and the revelation that Secret Agent RS452 is a old white lady living in London and not the public prosecutor.

Africapundit jumps into the water again, commenting on the Washington Post editorial on Islamic fundamentalisms move to Africa, American relations with Sudan, trouble in Somaliland. He also asks where the French are with the trouble in the Ivory Coast, and if they arent suppose to be in charge?

Africablog is about to blow a heart valve (Hey, being liberal is tough! I know.), so here is some good news from Africa:

SA supplies dagga to the world

A new study has found that not only is South Africa the fourth largest producer of dagga in the world but that the locally grown drug also commands extremely high prices overseas.

(Note: Dagga=Marijuana)

Tuesday, October 21

Sacu And US Ready for 'Real Trade Negotiations'

THE Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and the US are ready for "real trade negotiations" following a successful round of talks in Washington last week, SA's chief trade negotiator Xavier Carim said last night.
...
Carim said that one of the biggest achievements to date in the negotiations had been the ability of Sacu to come to common positions, and to work together effectively. Sacu's members are SA, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho.


WTO Who?

'SA Rates Among Best in Corporate Governance'

SA IS among the best performers in corporate governance in emerging markets, said a report by the Institute of International Finance released on Friday.
...
But, he made a series of recommendations for further improvements. These, he said, included encouraging shareholder activism by requiring disclosure of voting records by institutional investors and tightening interpretation and enforcement of mergers and takeover procedures. Baker also suggested revising the Companies Act and adopting accounting standards into law. Enforcement could also be improved by giving more power to regulators through the use of class action suits, he said.

Just to clarify, there are two separate lawsuits being filed against multinational companies because of apartheid in American courts.
One is for aiding and abetting the apartheid regime, the other is for the misuse of workers funds.

Have to wonder if this will have an impact on investor sentiment in SA? And given that the SA goverment naturally refuses to recognize the power of an American court in this matter, how we will respond if the absurd damages claimed are awarded?

'I was spy RS452'
Former Eastern Cape human-rights lawyer Vanessa Brereton claims to be the apartheid-era spy national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka has been accused of being.

In an interview with Independent Newspapers, Brereton, who now lives in London, claims to be Agent RS452.

She is apparently drawing up an affidavit to be presented at the Hefer Commission, established to explore the allegations against Ngcuka, who was linked to the codename RS452.


Can you hear that pin drop?

Monday, October 20

Norman Geras discusses the morality of amnesty. (via Gideon, who I learn was an interpreter at the TRC and who's opinion I still would like to hear on this).

Mr Geras comes to the conclusion firstly the government cannot forgive the perpetrator of the crime on behalf of the victim. He also argues that more stringent requirements need to be layed down. That Amnesty must still be seen as a burden, even if much easier then the punishment for the crime would have been.

I haven't thought about the amnesty process for a while. I was very angry at the time that so many political criminals could walk away for the things they did. On both sides, but especially in the police.

To let things go, to wipe the slate clean, to forgive, to forget. How can anyone ever forgive on command? The Truth and Reconciliation Commision. The TRC. Truth, Yes. But Reconciliation? Who was this reconciliation between? Between the criminals and their victims, or the politicians and their soldiers on both sides?

No, this was not a reconciliation. The TRC was a Peace commission. For the new South Africa to become a reality, both sides needed to have their killers forgiven. Their leaders cleared of responsibility for what they allowed. Justice for the victims of apartheid South Africa was traded in return for our peace.

Update: Norman Geras responds.

God. SAs great. But with news like this every now and then it is horrible too. (News24 does its reputation as internet rag good with the headline though.)

Missing hubby in pauper grave

Police apparently told Pastor Robert Bruun and his family of his son's death only seven months after he died and five months after he had been given a pauper's funeral.
...
Jayson wasn't identified in the police mortuary, apparently because of "wrong information" on the official form. This was after his identity document had been found on his body.

Marlisa said there had been enough life-insurance policies to pay for their house if her husband died, but she had had to sell it while they were still in the dark about what had happened to Jayson.

Their bank had also held her liable for transactions on Jayson's credit card that were made after his death. They are still not sure who had stolen the card. She had also had to pay the contract of Jayson's stolen cellphone.

Police opened a murder docket only recently

Sunday, October 19

The Head Heab comments on a recent decision by the constitutionl court to uphold a land claim by a group of Khoi-san.

New Iraqi blog at the edge of my vision. With the amount of propaganda coming from the "official" media, I dont have to tell you to treat this "un-official" one with a grain of salt for now.

Importing second hand underwear has been banned in Tanzania.

Reuters adds this gem:

Imports of secondhand clothes from rich nations form a significant part of the economy in Tanzania and various other African countries, where many people cannot afford new clothes.

Umm, no. Neil Kearney, the General Secretary of the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation explains how importing and selling western cast offs destroys local African economy's

Charities Exporting Poverty

...This is a scavenging trade, where companies get their product practically for free before converting it into cash. Us exporting company, Domsey Trading Corporation, for example, reports annual sales of more than DM45 million.
...
Workers and their trade unions in the countries concerned and internationally have no objection to the collection of used clothing for charitable purposes. However, steps need to be taken to ensure that used clothing donated for the poor is used for that purpose and distributed free of charge, thus avoiding the damage recently caused in developing countries.

South Africa bans the import of second hand clothes for this very reason, according to the SA consulate in New York.

Meanwhile the IFP has been having its own little internal spy war. Not as sordid as the ANC, but every bit as facinating.

IFP probe unearths senior spies

A special investigation instituted by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to crack down on spies within the party's leadership has implicated two senior members.

...security company called Lietech, had identified two senior members who had leaked secret information and documents to the ANC and the media.

Lietech specialises in lie detector tests, forensic investigations and intelligence gathering.

"It was the same unit that was used by the IFP to crack down on ministers who were trying to cross the floor during the period of floor-crossing early this year," a source said.

Ray Hartley, managing editor of the Sunday Times, weighs in on the news story that led to the Hefer commission into spy allegations against Bulelani Ngcuka.

It is a very good discussion on the right of news journalists to withhold their sources. On the news report itself he raises some interesting points that I have not seen anywhere else:

1. The primary source used by the journalist who wrote the story - the City Press's Elias Maluleke - is now publicly known. He obtained - or was allowed to peruse - documentation and other "corroborating" information from former Sunday Times journalist Ranjeni Munusamy, much to the distress of her then employers (The Sunday Times) .
2. She (Ranjeni Munusamy) has claimed that she has been threatened with death by these very sources, an extreme and violent action which ought, incidentally, to raise the alarm about their credibility.
3. The report was the cause of a chain of events that led to the establishment of the commission in the first place. In a very real sense, it was not an ordinary news report (and in the judgement of the editor of this newspaper, it was not a news report at all). It appears to have been a device used to intervene in dramatic fashion in the nation's political affairs.
Is such a "report" worthy of the protection accorded normal news reporting, or has it transcended journalism to take on a new life?

4. His (Judge Hefer) solution has been to rule that Munusamy ought to testify at the commission, with an important caveat: her lawyers may intervene to prevent her from answering questions which might compromise her sources or her safety.
This would seem a reasonable compromise, especially since Munusamy has willingly, if not eagerly, spoken about her story on radio, on television and in the press. She has gone so far as to actively seek publicity on the matter by issuing public statements.
...
Hefer's ruling has nonetheless been rejected by Munusamy.


If your interested in this I'd recommend reading the whole article. What is clear however is that the Media is not neutral in this, and that certain reporters are more then willing to go to extraordinary lengths to push certain views.

As a side interest, the involvement of so many Indian members of the community in this debacle raises many questions. The chief suspect in corruption allegation and right hand man of Zuma, Shaik, the vice-presidential hit man Maharaj, the hand picked prosecutorial attack dog Kessie Naidu and the dedicated "investigative" reporter Ranjeni Munusamy.
There have been power plays by the "Indian faction" inside the ANC before. (That whole Ghandi thing)

Mr. Mbeki and the ANC structures have refused to step into this. I suspect that things are going to get very interesting very soon as both sides abandon all restraints.

President Mbeki in his weekly newsletter once again walks a tangled path. The main point is this:

Today, even as opposed to a mere five years ago, there are many more of our
people who can say with genuine feeling and conviction that we are all South
African and African.
...
Fortunately, I know that the ANC will, as it has done for 91 years, continue
to argue that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

Thabo Mbeki

Getting to it is the problem. Mr Mbeki is pissed at The Citizen. He is pissed at people who wish to see reconciliation thrown away. If only Mr Mbeki was this pissed at the mess Zuma has made.

What this man needs is a blog! Instead of launching a weekly rant, he can then bring up things as they occur to him. That would save me a lot of trouble wading through his letter, and Im pretty sure the press will love it!

Perhaps what he needs a presidential blogger. If a president can have a speech writer, why not add a blogger to his team?

If the president had a blog, would you read it?

Friday, October 17

A Report on the effectiveness of the current HIV drug program has been released.

Added Geo tracking to the site, and found a fellow SA blogger which I have missed close by. Give Farrel Lifson a visit.

Thursday, October 16

A 'through the looking glass' view of South Africa in the Japanese Times today. Important highlights are the shockingly brutal criminals!, the complex tax rebate for tourists, the amazement of the author at the friendliness of society and the fervent wish that South Africa will succeed as it is the only multicultural society in which Europeans form a substantial minority (?).

The Scotsman gets it just about right in its report on Zumagate;

THE greatest test of South Africa’s democracy began yesterday with the opening of a judicial inquiry triggered by corruption allegations associated with a multibillion-pound arms deal.
...
The judicial inquiry, in Bloemfontein, is into charges that the director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, was a spy for the apartheid regime. Many alleged spies were executed in ANC camps abroad when the movement operated from exile as a guerrilla army.

The inquiry was instituted after Mr Ngcuka, who is also head of the Scorpions, South Africa’s crack anti-corruption police unit, launched a prosecution against a friend of Mr Zuma for alleged multimillion-pound fraud in connection with deals with Italy, Britain and Germany.

...
Mr Ngcuka, in his role as Scorpions chief, said a prima facie case of corruption exists against Mr Zuma thanks to documents seized in raids on Thomson CSF offices in South Africa, France and Mauritius.

But he said without the co-operation of the French government the evidence was not strong enough to convict President Thabo Mbeki’s deputy. Mr Ngcuka is trying to extradite senior Thomson CSF executives from France who are alleged to have distributed bribes.

...
Mr Ngcuka, with the backing of the justice minister, Penuell Maduna, said the claims were false, a sideshow to detract attention from massive government fraud over the purchase of European state-of-the-art equipment.

An editorial in the WaPo on Africa: Radical Islam's Move on Africa

...radical Islamist schools, are leaving to avoid arrest in a government crackdown on Islamic extremism.
...
"About 500 have already moved to South Africa. . . . Others are planning to pack their bags."


If true, this is indeed alarming. Cape Town suffered from a string of Islamic terrorist attacks. The rise of the vigilante group PAGAD (People against Gangsterism and Drugs) in 1996 was seen initially as a response against crime and the gangs that rule in the Cape Flats.

Their power and influence increased dramatically however over a short span of time, and in 1998 their main aim seemed to be the overthrow of the government in favour of an Islamic regime, and the support of other Islamic groups by targeting western targets such as the 'Planet Hollywood' bombing at the waterfront in August 1998 in response to the bombing of Sudan by the Clinton government . This has been blamed on funding from Iran or Saudi Arabia, and the apparent take-over of the group by the militant Islamic group Qibla. There have been a number of visits by high level members of the Saudi royal family to Cape Town, as well as a visit by the Iranian Foreign minister at around that time. Rumours of meetings between them and PAGAD have been rife.

With the recognition that PAGAD as a terrorist organization funded by foreign governments, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) was tasked with stopping their activities (All out war, as described by some.). In this they have had spectacular success. The core of PAGAD, the G-force (Gun force), has about 50 members of which most are now in jail. A seemingly incessant terrorist campaign in the Cape peninsula came to a dramatic end.

South Africa has a small Muslim population however (2% of the population), so the chance of forming an Islamic republic here has about as much chance as Saddam Hussein has of a happy retirement. If there is a new move by Islamic fundamentalist to Cape Town however, it cannot be a good thing.

A 'very' even handed discussion of the events around this time can be found here. A nice "One Mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter" article by the BBC can be found here.

Wednesday, October 15

Election results time in Swaziland! One month after the election anyway. An independent province of South Africa, Swaziland is ruled by the last absolute monarch in Africa. He is famous for abducting school girls, and his taste for expensive planes to go travel the world in search of aid for his starving people. The royal family, the Dlamini's, control this isolated mountainous country of a million people with a Darwinian fervour. If you're not a Dlamini, you're nobody! Even the opposition leader is a Dlamini;

Ignatius Dlamini, the secretary general of the People's Democratic Movement (Pudemo), said: "We have consistently warned that the country is seated on a time-bomb and it is a matter of time before it explodes.

"We call upon all democracy-loving people to stand up and support the struggle for human dignity in Swaziland as an expression of the world-wide struggle to broaden the frontiers of a better world and social justice for all."

He said the results of elections held last month would be made known at the weekend


Update:Dlamini is a clan name. My post is slightly tongue in cheek as there is a running joke in South Africa about Swaziland and the large number of Dlaminis in position of power. There are a large number of people with the Dlamini name in South Africa as well.
See this for a brief history of Swaziland and this for a rundown of the current political situation.

I have no specific information on whether Ignatius Dlamini is closely related to the Royal family, but I doubt it. Swaziland is still a very traditional society however, and having the Dlamini name certainly never hurt anyone.

Updated the blogroll

Mozambique suffers from levels of poverty that are hard to imagine for most nations.
Zimbabweans, with its collapsed economy and political problems, are still about 2 and a half times richer on average then their counterparts in Mozambique. For a large number of people forest roots and fresh water crabs is still the staple diet.

South African Contractor Pulls Out
South African contractor Basil Read has announced that it is unilaterally rescinding its contract with the Mozambican authorities for the rehabilitation of the main road between Manica and Tete provinces in the centre of the country.

Basil Read scrapped the contract because of a debt of three million dollars owed by the Mozambican state.

The closure of this road project will have a tremendous impact on this growing economy. Hard to imagine for many people, roads are few and far between in this large tropical country. South Africa recently built a 2 lane highway to connect Southern Mozambique to SA. After reaching the border however, the road stops. This means that a 80 km journey to the ocean from the border post is a rough 4 hours with a 4x4. The tropical climate is especially a problem.

As part of the preparations to upgrade the road, Basil Read had removed some bridges. Unless they are speedily replaced, the road is liable to be interrupted in the first heavy downpours of the rainy season.

The goverment of Uganda once again shows the way forward in the fight against AIDS.

President Yoweri Museveni has threatened to stop the cultural practice of circumcision, which he said had endangered the lives of youths through the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Crime in SA. There is a new Hijacking survey.

These were the kickers for me:
analysis of car and truck hijackings in South Africa found that 102 111 cars and 29 089 trucks were hijacked in the country between 1996 and 2002.
...
results showed these people committed an average of 105 crimes each before they were arrested for the first time

Tuesday, October 14

Comments are down for now.

Update: Comments are back for now.

Inflation bias overestimates CPI

comparison with other countries indicates that South Africa's consumer inflation rate may be over-estimated by between 30% and 50%, according to research by Standard Bank economists

What does this mean? The Rand is the strongest performing currency against the dollar in the world at the moment. One of the reasons is the massive influx of foreign capital into South Africa to take advantage of our higher interest rates.

If true, it would indicate that a massive drop in the prime interest rate is called for. (currently at 13.5%) Effect? The rand will suffer in relation to the dollar, manufacturers will be happier, and there will be more money in my pocket each month as I pay less to the bank. Talk about good news. If only they're right.

Zackie Achmat of TAC is profiled by the New York Times

He said he had thrived on the energy of the struggle against the government, buoyed by his fellow activists.

"I'm lucky I have supportive friends, but the main thing I have is T.A.C.," he said, referring to the Treatment Action Campaign. "After shouting at the health minister, I gained 20 CD4 cells."

Activists set to battle SANDF
While the government pins responsibility for its decision to ban HIV-positive soldiers from active duty on United Nations regulations, activists plan to fight the battle in court.

Say what?!

South African? Voting? Make sure you're registered!

Update: The ANC is opposed to South Africans voting overseas. See this article on the verbal slinging match that broke out about a month ago on the issue.

I can hardly imagine the ANC would ever be in favour of it, and it is unlikely to change unless the constitutional court orders it.

The Head Heeb points to an article on the reaction of a Botswana diamond company to the immanent introduction of artificial diamonds to the market.

What has interested me in this issue is not the fact that artificial diamonds have finally been perfected, but that DeBeers is worried about it.

Diamonds are very common in comparison with most other precious metals or stones. The fact that it is so highly priced has everything to do with the fact that supply is tightly controlled by one company. DeBeers.

It would not be in their own self interest for these companies to flood the market with cheap jewelry quality diamonds. It would destroy the market (Diamonds are suppose to be exclusive after all.)

What they can do is lower the price of industrial diamonds (small, poor quality diamonds). This has implications for a lot of industries, not least of which is the computer processor market which is looking for an alternative to silicone.

The Botswana mines are looking at just another competitor for the foreseeable future. In the end however, man made diamonds will control the market, making Botswana diamonds all the more exclusive.

Monday, October 13

Zimbabwe union warns of land grabs in South Africa

CFU President Doug Taylor Freeme said a law allowing South Africa's agriculture minister to seize land for dispossessed blacks was similar to a Zimbabwean law legitimizing the seizure of white-owned farms by President Robert Mugabe's government.

This has been a common theme in the debate over Zimbabwe. There are no doubt that people in SA would like to seize all property owned by 'white' people regardless of the source. It is just about the only coherent policy that the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) has been able to maintain.

The PAC has however less then 1% of the vote (down from just less then 5% in the 1994 election). The PAC will in fact probably cease to exist after the next election, joining the HNP, their white counterpart, in blissful obscurity.

Mr Freeme would also have you believe that what is happening in Zimbabwe is about white against black and about land. It isn't. It is about power. Specifically Robert Mugabes power. Mr Freeme is playing the same race game Mr Mugabe has played from the beginning. His audience is Britain and white South Africans, and his target Mbeki.

Mr Mugabe targeted white people after 20 years in power, because that power was slipping. There was a land issue (White people had it, Black people didn't). There has been a land issue for 20 years prior to this, but Mr Mugabe chose to not do something about it. Now there is no land issue and no land.

The South African government is doing something about it. It slow, its painful, its expensive, but what Mr Mugabe should have done 20 years ago is happening in South Africa now.

The PAC has tried to stage farm invasion in SA. The police came and arrested everyone involved and that was the last farm invasion we've seen. In Zimbabwe, people were paid by the government to invade farms. Now they are paid to hunt down the opposition.

Can Mbeki stop Mugabe? I think so. Better diplomacy and a few days of closing the border would do wonders I think. Do I understand the political position Mr Mbeki is in? No I don't. Can I speculate? Hell, yes.

Firstly, SA is not going to send troops north. Not now, not ever! That would destroy the SADC. The SADC might authorize it, but every tin pot leader north of us will wet his pants. Politically the SADC is worth more to us then Zimbabwe. The same goes for closing the border, assassinating Mugabe, supporting a coup or helping the MDC.

Secondly, Zimbabwe isn't worth a lot to SA. The fact that it has collapsed has in fact made our political and economic domination complete. What in it for us? Not much. If the world rose up as one and condemned us for our moral ambivalence we might think about it. The French are still doing ok though, so I wouldn't hold my breath.

Third point. The ANC does not trust the MDC. Better the evil you know then the one you don't. At least they can trust Mugabe to do his shopping in Sandton. Mugabe gives Zimbabwe a modicum of stability to a country that has ceased to be. If he goes, who knows how many factions will be fighting it out.

Fouth point. SA has a list of priorities. On that list Zimbabwe fits in alphabetically. Transformation, crime, AIDS, poverty upliftment. These are priorities. All these are solved by one thing and one thing only. Money. Zimbabwe has none.

Result. Business as usual. Hope Mugabe goes away. Hope their can be a relatively peacefull transition. Hope no one notices us ignoring a tragedy we can stop. Make sure we get all the choice reconstruction projects.

Update: Ive added a link to the Zimbabwe opposition MDC. Want to help Zimbabwe? Help them help themselves. With the current exchange rate one US$ carries an extraordinary amount of influence, and the MDC has offices in both America and Great Britain.

Mr Mbeki has the opportunity too show his leadership now in a matter that has serious consequences for our democracy. Unfortunately I think the best we can expect is for things to muddle on as they have.

You will pay me ... ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS! Muhahaha!

Sunday, October 12

Vice-President Zuma claims his first victim with his laughable smear campaign against the justice system.

Maduna set to quit
Justice Minister Penuell Maduna says he will not stand for re-election into the government next year

...
Maduna's decision could make him the first victim of the escalating political row sparked by the Scorpions investigation into whether Deputy President Jacob Zuma solicited a R500 000 bribe from a French arms company bidding in the multi-billion rand arms deal.

Congrats Mr Zuma! Now all you need is the head of the public prosecutor and your victory will be complete. A few more years in the slipstream of Mbeki and power is for sale yours!

The difference between South Africa and our SADC neighbours are not obvious from a distance. Politically they are of course independent. Economically they are not. It is the size of that economic difference that is the kicker. (source: CIA world fact book)

GDP : purchasing power parity

South Africa : $432 billion (2002 est.)

Namibia: $12.6 billion (2002 est.)
Botswana: $15.1 billion (2002 est.)
Zimbabwe : $27 billion (2002 est.)
Mozambique: $19.2 billion (2002 est.)
Tanzania: $22.5 billion (2002 est.)
Zambia: $8.9 billion (2002 est.)
Malawi: $7.2 billion (2002 est.)
Angola: $16.9 billion (2002 est.)

In comparison with the other power houses of Africa:
Nigeria: $113.5 billion (2002 est.)
Egypt: $268 billion (2002 est.)
Morocco: $115 billion (2002 est.)

The SADC was formed to try and reduce the member countries dependency on South Africa. With the collapse of apartheid, the reason for its existence has been co-opted by a South African government still finding its feet in international politics.

Its walking damn softly as a matter of fact. After almost 10 years of growth and prosperity, perhaps its time to tread a bit louder?

Glad to see Mostly Africa back, and with a vengeance.

As he points out, the large number of SANDF soldiers infected with HIV/AIDS has again made news.

"All of this noise every day about HIV/Aids and so on, that suggest that this country is about to collapse as a result of HIV/Aids, is really unfounded," he[Minister of Defence Mosiuoa Lekota] told senior foreign envoys in Pretoria.

The story that news papers would of course like to run is imminent collapse and absolute disaster. Sells more papers. The SANDF has had a abnormally large infection rate now for a number of years. The fact that it is at the same level as the general population is probably a decrease in the overall levels of infections.

South Africa faces no military threats. Political instability in neigbouring countries are a cause for concern, but not militarily. The army inherited from the previous one was one geared for total communist onslaught. The largest army in Africa. It takes a lot to destroy that.

Even should the army be disbanded, we would still be able to rely on the police to successfully invade 'any' neigbouring country.

The only possible threat is to indigenous populations where our peace keepers are stationed. AIDS, as serious as it is, it is a minor concern in the places where these troops go.

Via Instapundit, a blogger posts about shooting attackers in self defense.

In South Africa the blogger would most likely be charged with murder. The reason behind this, as far as I can understand it, is because the legal system itself has not yet resolved what is and what isn't legal "self-defense". The police do not know how to act in cases such as these. Prosecutors do not know either, so all these cases are taken to court.

Two opinions on this can be found here and here.

People naturally assume that the police and prosecutors are on their side, people will speak freely as to what happened. They called them to come help them, after all. Result? It is much easier for the police to successfully prosecute people who defended themselves then the people who attacked them.

The criminals will be quiet. So should you. Wait for your lawyer, and then explain things. If your in such a situation call the police, and then call a lawyer. Don't wait for morning. You will be taken into police custody in any case.

Thursday, October 9

S.Africa expects biggest drought in 100 years Do the Chinese know something we dont?

Whats wrong with the South African criminal justice system? How about his?

Video must prove rape
A mother agreed to have a hidden video camera installed in her daughter's room after her "despondent" daughter claimed that her lieutenant-colonel father had indecently assaulted her.

A video recording is necesary to prove rape? The victim must be abused again, so that the police can prove it?

Mbeki's popularity

Forty-six percent of South Africans who participated in a poll conducted by Research Surveys in August this year believed that President Thabo Mbeki was doing a good job as president of the country.

Research Surveys said the results for the metropolitan population had improved significantly over time -- in February last year, only 27 percent of metropolitan South Africans felt Mbeki was doing a good job. This figure rose to 37 percent in February this year and in August stood at 43 percent.

Tuesday, October 7

If any Californians are reading this, Vote for Arnold! From a comment section in the blogosphere:

"cwush your enemies, see them dwiven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women"

Conan the Barbarian (aka Arnold Schwartzenegger)

The Brain drain has been on for a few years now. Many people, including myself, feel that this is not as bad it might appear on the face of it.

Many people have gone overseas after the end of apartheid, be it to get away from the crime situation, international work experience, to earn hard currency or just for the adventure of it. A lot of those people are now coming back!

Business Day carries an article that agrees.

While South Africa looks on benignly as Zimbabwe degenerates into anarchy, Sam Nujoma of Namibia is looking to the future!

In April last year it was announced a new State House would be built for R186m, provoking bitter opposition pro- tests that this was wasteful in a country where more than a third of the population earns less than R7 a day. The total rapidly reached R468m as the project became increasingly grandiose.

Construction work on the 40,4ha site was started this year by Mansudae Overseas Projects, the same North Korean firm appointed without tender to build the giant Heroes Acre monument in Windhoek whose centrepiece is a many times life-size bronze statue of Nujoma wielding an AK-47.

The North Koreans are working at a fiendish pace seven days a week and under floodlights at night but even so the palace cannot be ready until at least 2005, when Nujoma's third term ends.

Nobody believes that he would undertake the country's largest public works project since independence for the sake of an unknown successor: hence the growing conviction that he intends a fourth and even fifth term.


But at least Sam has the support of the tribal chiefs people!

During the past several months the chiefs of the biggest tribes the Ovambo, Karango and Caprivi groups have all appealed to Nujoma to stay on as president for another 10 years.

For a good introduction to the corruption of absolute power, read the whole thing.

An editorial by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times on an AIDS victim in South Africa. Excuse me if I think it has a bit too much of a 'noble savage' flavour and too little expectation.

These are people living a tragedy, like many other. The tragedy could have been prevented, but the society in which they live has not been willing to make the changes necessary to fight this disease.

Like the girl Thabang, people seem to still go on with their lives as normal, even though up to a quarter of us are dying of this disease. Thabang has choices, even if terrible and limited. She chooses to leave her mother and grandmother, and go the route which she does. We should feel sympathy for the tragedy she is experiencing. Should we feel the same sympathy for the inevitable tragedy that is to follow because of her choice?

Friday, October 3

In the weekly ANC newsletter Thabo Mbeki writes:

...there are some who are trying to undo what our movement sought to achieve when it proposed and supported the establishment of the TRC, and fully cooperated with it. Effectively, these are arguing that some list of members of the ANC, who were allegedly recruited by the apartheid intelligence services, should be published.

This is an apparent referance to the smear campaign launched against national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka in the Zuma affair. I think?

I'm sure Mr Mbeki commented on a whole range of issues that are important to South Africa, if only someone could perhaps summurize them for me so that I could figure out what they were? Ive been following the ANC newsletter for a while now, but I still have to read one letter by Mr Mbeki that I can fully understand. He uses so many 'Them', 'Those' and 'There are Some' that I lose track of 'Whom' he is talking.

I generally like Mbeki, but feel that his greatest failure has been communication. The ANC weekly newsletter doesnt help.

Via Samizdata I learn about the Free State Project.

Libertarians unite? I'm not impressed. I respect many Libertarian ideals, but this is idiocy. In the South African context they also remind me of the Boer Idiotorian Force (BIF). Im sure the Free State project isn't racist, its just the whole move to be with your own kind thing that smells. Coincidently one of the two original Boer republics was called the 'Orange' Free State. Orange is a reference to the Dutch heritage of many Afrikaners.

Thursday, October 2

And the brain drain continues?

Manawatu employers desperate for skilled workers are turning to South Africa for help.

This month, a scout will head to the country to try to lure hydraulic and refrigeration engineers, nurses and carpenters to the region.

World Cup 2010 Bid

After the Germans bought the 2006 world cup, and deprived SA of the opportunity, FIFA announced that Africa will get a chance to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Nigeria has now stepped down as a contender, leaving only SA, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco. This means that South Africa is sole Sub-Saharan contender.

Libya has no realistic chance. (Gaddi is probally just in it so he can bribe someone. Addiction does that to a man) That leaves Tunisia and Morocco strong contenders for the cup.

The 'War on terror' will certainly count against these countries, with terrorist attacks having taken place in both recently. At the very least it will detract attention from crime in South Africa, which is a point of concern.

Although warnings have been given about possible attacks in SA, none have materialized. The police have apparently been able to successfully root out the (Iranian backed(?)) terrorist group active in Cape Town, certainly a plus point.

Both these countries also have authoritarian regimes, while South Africa is a multi-party democracy. In Morocco the King still rules and in Tunisia President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was re-elected for a third term without opposition; percent of vote - Zine El Abidine Ben Ali nearly 100%.The French might buy that, I don’t.

Morocco invaded the Western Sahara in 1970, a dispute that has not been resolved amicable. Both are old colonies of France, which can be expected to support them. They can in fact probably count on a lot of South European support, purely for the reason that they are geographically close.

So, its a grudge match between Northern and Southern Africa. Its sure to be bloody, and the bribes are sure to be fast and furious! I'll keep you posted!

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2003 Awarded to the South African Writer John Maxwell Coetzee

Wednesday, October 1

At least the goverment is serious about cracking down on crime.

Correctional Services Minister Ben Skosana told the symposium, held at Langebaan on the Cape West Coast, that overcrowding threatened the implementation of rehabilitation programmes [in prisons].

He said strategies put in place to reduce overcrowding included bringing the parole dates of certain low-risk prisoners forward, releasing prisoners who were incarcerated because they could not afford minimum bail, reducing unnecessary police arrests, and constructing four "new generation" prison facilities which would each house 3 000 prisoners.


Unnecessary police arrests. I like that.

The Rand is trading below the 7 Rand to the dollar mark today. Bad for manufacturing, bad for mining, good for the petrol price and I have no idea if its a good or bad thing overall. All I do know is that the rand has been very stable for a few months, and thats a good thing for sure.

An interview with foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over at All-Africa.

The short version: Yes, we know the Japanese are bribing us with aid, but so what? SA-Japanese bilateral relations are good, no need to dump your trade agenda on us thank you. Trade in Cancun failed because what we need was not put on the table. Nepad is still the main thrust of SA foreign policy and were doing fine in Africa thank you very much