Monday, August 30

Blogging Light

Blogging is going to be light for the forseeable future (or lighter, anyway). Nkanyiso has some more info on Gmail. Hope everyone thats received a gmail account is enjoying it, but thats it for now. Sorry.

Ive recently become a bit more serious about my woodworking hobby, and Ive decided to start using real wood instead of the chipboard Ive been using. Trouble is this is going to mean some capitol layout for some basic woodworking tools. First of a basic set of clamps is going to cost me about R1500 (4 Sash clamps, 4 G-clamps). Damn. I need a router like fish needs water, so a small DIY one is going to set me back R1000 for the router and basic bit set. Then Im still going to need about R500 for some basic hand tools (And I mean basic).

Thats before I go and buy any wood. A 2 meter by 15 centimeter plank of decent hardwood sets you back R100 these days. Ouch. And you thougth Golf was expensive.

Still, you work with what you got, and what I got is a belt sander (nice),a power handsaw (nice), a piece of pine scaffolding(cost: R32) I used to install insulation in my roof , some Woodoc 30 (bloody expensive) and two cement bricks (R16 each). Put it all together, and what do you have?



If I dont cut of my arm making it i'll post the pictures of the completed bench later this week.

Friday, August 27

African Meal



Lunch at an shangaan traditional villiage. Although how traditional the lunch was Im not sure. The salad is definitely shaky. The wife said she enjoyed it though. Hmmmm. Potjie.

American Soldier

Ive been linking to a blog by an American Soldier in Mosul for a while now. My War is probably one the best military blogger there is, so I wasnt impressed when I saw his site appears to have been shut down. His commanders had found out about the blog earlier this month, but appeared to not be very worried about it. Dont know what happened, and I dont want to speculate.

In any case, the google cache is still available so I recommend you go read it while its still there. (Have I said that I love google?)

Thursday, August 26

Gmail

I love Google. Not just the search engine, the whole damn company. Every product they touch turns to gold. If I had any money to invest Id be buying google shares. Why? Hell, just because I could. If there was one company Id love to work for its them (if only).

The search engine is superb, and rates blogs very highly. Google purchased blogger, and since then things have gone from ok to excellent. They even have their own blog. Their toolbar is a must have. Now Gmail has made me fall in love with email again. After years of grinding away in Outlook, Im moving everything to the web.

If you want to give Gmail a try, drop your email in the comment box and I'll send along an invite.

Wednesday, August 25

Land Redistribution in Kenya

Land invasions in Kenya are increasing, but the Kenyan government seams to be dealing with it sensible. It would be interesting to hear what the Kenyan bloggers have to say about it.

Tuesday, August 24

Buffalo Kill



My wife gets lucky sometimes. Ha. Who am I kidding. She's perfect. She shot this in the Kruger National Park yesterday morning.

Risk Culture

Mercenaries, Bodygaurds, Security. South Africans are involved in the worlds conflict zones more and more. Is it all part of our risk culture?

Yank Election Coverage

Im trying to ignore the American election for all Im worth. As an avid Instapundit reader I'm having trouble though, as they've decended into what appears to be pre-election meltdown.

On a side note, this morning on SAFM was the first time Ive heard about the swift boat captains book from a South African news source. They gave no context and only said that a new book about Mr Kerrys war record is giving him some trouble, but if were hearing it, its reached prime time in a big way. Now lets hope they never mention it again and I can go back to ignoring their election when I tune into local news.

Jonty On Rathbone

Rathbone had every reason to be jaded by the rugby administration in SA and the lack of player job security, and if his decision was based in his reasoning that rugby is a professional game, and he has merely chosen to ply his profession in another country, then so be it. The problem for him is that the South African rugby public do not treat rugby as a profession, they treat it as a yardstick of their society, which patently, he shares no blame for. However, the fact that he has made short work of trashing South Africa as a dangerous place to live begins to illustrate where the media is coming from. (link)

I havent got much time for Rathbone or his mother. He wanted to go make the big bucks in the land of the sheep shearers. Great for him. If he gets a bit of a raz when he comes home to play against his own country its the least he should expect.

They like us, they like us not...

Metal Acrobatics has an excellent post on sport, african brotherhood, and South Africa. He's also completely addicted to Olympics. The come down is going to be harsh.

Monday, August 23

We Won!

Blogging will be light until my head decides to forgive me. The Rugby Game saturday was stunning. All hail Jack White! I'll let those sheep loving Aussies say it.

Reborn Boks send out warning

...since coach Rudolf Straeuli was dumped for Jake White the turnaround - with the Boks winning their first Tri-Nations since 1998 - has been both a revelation and a warning to global rivals. The Boks are back, with a team whose core of young talent suggests they will be real contenders for the 2007 World Cup in France.

Keo has it all.

Friday, August 20

Olympics

Ja, um, No, well fine. Beach Vollyball is certianly doing well this year. Yahoo has a 195 page slideshow with something for everyone.

Colby Gets It Right

Some of the most sensible commentary on Africa Ive heard in a while by Colby Cosh. Its so rare Im going to post it in all its magnificant glory.

"Famine--the lack of food--is principally a man-made condition. It is not a natural phenomenon or act of God." This was one of the hard but encouraging lessons humanity learned in the 20th century: that only command economies can make the bizarre economic errors required to leave large numbers of people utterly without food. The economist Amartya Sen received a Nobel Prize for establishing, as he says, that "no substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press." Which brings me back around to my original quote. It was not uttered by some development officer wrangling grain shipments from behind a desk in New York: it comes from a newspaper in a country on the verge of serious famine, namely the Nation of Nairobi, Kenya.

I don't make a particular pursuit of following politics in Africa, but since the Internet magically globalized major newspapers, what I've noticed (and what ought to have been obvious) is that Africans, far from being passive victims, typically know quite well who is to blame when they're going hungry. Three years of spotty rainfall have "caused" famine conditions which were declared a national disaster by President Mwai Kibaki on July 14. About 2.3 million people are now in peril of malnutrition, and the Kenyan government--having relented on its opposition to food aid that might include genetically-modified content--is appealing for large quantities of maize,
in tandem with the World Food Project, UNICEF, and other international agencies.

All of which will focus, in presentations and reports to the press, on how very dry the weather has been; and none of which will emphasize the
rampant corruption which led the EU to cut off foreign aid to Kenya just last month. Or the fact that the country's national strategic reserve of maize was sold off wholesale at cut-rate prices two years ago in a series of dodgy transactions. Or that the import of maize is tightly controlled by the "parastatal" Cereals and Produce Board to provide price supports for domestic farmers trying to grow a rain-hungry crop in semi-arid regions. (Or even the superstitions which circumscribe Kenyan dietary practices.) In the West, as a rule, African hunger is reported on as a crime without a culprit.

Blaming Capatilism

The anti-globilization website, Corpwatch, isnt happy with the ANC.

Privatizing Hope
Ten years after the first democratic elections in South Africa brought the African National Congress to power, critics claim that privatization and neoliberal economic policies have usurped the promise of democracy.

Imagine that. The ANC are all neo-libs. No wonder they dont get along with those neo-cons in the white house. Can anyone tell me what the last part of that sentence actually means?

South African Land Reform

An Article in Voice of America on land reform in South Africa.

In the first part of a series on the struggle for land in Africa, VOA’s Delia Robertson looks at land reform in South Africa. Land reform was a key promise made by the African National Congress when it won elections in 1994 – ending three centuries of white minority rule.

I like the part in bold especially. Im sure Simon van der Stell would be thrilled to hear he was the governer of the whole of South Africa. Shaka Zulu and some other people might be a bit upset though.

Its so ... fluffy!

Another human interest piece on South Africa by Michael Wines. You'd swear there wasnt any real news to report on in this country.

The corn on Casparus Joubert's farm is as high as an elephant's eye, or would be, were any elephants around. There aren't - yet. But it is not out of the realm of possibility. "We'll start out with reedbuck, zebras, all the small antelope," Mr. Joubert, a big, blond man with a booming voice, said during a recent chat in his farm office. "Later we'll put in rhino and giraffe, because they need an additional game fence. And the third phase will be to put in predators."

The NY Times likes these pieces because it allows them to show pictures of shantytowns with captions like;

"As some South African farmers shift to big game, their laborers are being moved into shantytowns like this".

Only its not really true that workers are necessarily losing their jobs, as you learn later in the article.

Tourist sites need workers, though, and Mr. Joubert said his preserve would generate jobs paying as much as or better than farm labor. Mr. Gaisford, of the parks agency, says one cattle rancher who employed a dozen laborers wound up employing 100 workers on his game ranch.

So, the only problem really is tenants who dont work on the farm that have to move elsewhere. The farmer is being pretty generous in their story, to put it mildly:

To ease the transition, Mr. Joubert says, he has offered tenants space on a nearly 1,100-acre farm or a cash settlement to move elsewhere.

But someone has got to be suffering otherwise where is the human interest.

But the moves are seldom pleasant for either side, and those tenants who accept a settlement and move are sometimes filled with remorse. "Nobody's working, and only one woman is earning a pension from the government," said 62-year-old Jonas Shabalala, who took a $1,500 payment from the Jouberts and moved his family of 12 to a barren mud hut. Mr. Shabalala now has no land to grow crops or raise cattle. "We are all depending on that one woman to live," he said.

So he wanted the money instead of an alternative piece of land and now he's sorry?

One thing though. The largest part of South Africa is too dry and arid for a safari lodge. Very few regions in South Africa have the plant growth or rainfall to support the density of wildlife that justifies a safari lodge. The majority of farmers that become game farmers do so to attract hunters, because the density of game isnt that important to people only looking for one or two animals.

This has been going on now for a number of years, with the result that there is now more wild game in South Africa than there were in the 1930's. The real story here is not the safari lodges, which only make up a small percentage of the game farms, but the hunting lodges.

These future of these lodges are threatened however by the gun laws that have been introduced by South Africa. It makes it almost impossible for hunters to bring their rifles into the country. A hunter want to use his own equipment. Period. More than the law, it is the uncertainty and the bureaucratic bungling that is causing the most harm. If there is a 'news' story here it is that a very profitable sector of the economy is being threatened by draconian guns laws that wont have any affect on crime, its supposed target.

Feel the Love

The your either with us or against us mentality is getting pretty old. As unimagineble as it must be to some people, there 'are' more important things to some people in the world then Al-Qaeda and winning 'the war on terror'.

Ok, Now there 'is' an Oil Crisis

David Ignatius in the Washington Post opinions that this is 1973 and prices are going to soar. $50, $60, $70 and we all fall down.

Happy Birthday

Well, it’s been a year and Way South is still alive and well. Its been fun. There have been plenty of changes, but I’m reasonable happy with the format of the blog at the moment. Readership has grown slowly but steadily during the year, with the only exceptions being the two periods during which I didn’t blog. (December-January and April-May). These gaps also illustrate what can only be described as the visitor noise level. That is, the number of people who visit the blog even though no blogging is taking place.



The graph above shows the number of visitors to Way South each month for the last year. Blogger fame might never be mine, but Im reasonably happy. The spike in readership in June can be attributed to a link from USS Clueless, but I doubt if I gained any permanent readers from this flood. Apart from June, August should be Way Souths best month.



The graph above shows the number of visitors to Way South during the last 30 days. The day-by-day picture of traffic at Way South is interesting, with most readers visiting during the week. You can see traffic slowing down over the weekends. Whether this is due to the fact that I dont blog over weekends, or that the majority of my readers are South African and dont surf or have acces to the web over weekends I dont know.

Blogging in South Africa is still tiny in comparison to the rest of the world. With any luck, Way South will grow with it. If you have any suggestion, complaints or comments on Way South, let me know.

Thanks to Sitemeter for the statistics

Thursday, August 19

Looking at Iran III

The news that South Africa was to sell uranium to Iran left quite a number of people dumbfounded, including me. As we now know this was nothing but a rumour gone wrong, but the correction has not caught up with the original story yet.

Shaun Laurence took it in stride however and analyzes South Africa foreign policy in light of the news that South Africa is selling uranium. Even though the story was wrong, I think his analysis still stands given that Iran supplies about 30% the oil that is imported into South Africa and the rather precarious position Iran has in world politics.

I've learnt a few things from this episode however:
1. I'll believe anything about the Department of Foreign Affairs. My opinion is pretty low.
2. I shouldn’t believe the news I read on even the more reputable news papers (Jerusalem Post). The fact that they printed the story without even doing the most basic checks stinks to high heaven.
3. Were always just one step away from Axis of Evil territory for some people.

Touring Soweto

Nice article in the Washington Post on white South Africans going to Soweto.

About 200,000 white South Africans will visit Soweto this year, according to the Soweto Tourism Association, up from 30,000 five years ago. About 400,000 foreigners visit annually, the association says. The owners of bed-and-breakfasts in Soweto report that white South Africans make up at least one-third of their business -- up from virtually nothing two years ago. And tour bus companies are beginning to market township tours to white South Africans.

Haven't been myself, but then I left Joburg at the end of '94 and things werent so rosy then.

What Oil Crisis?

Interesting take on the Oil price.

...the only conclusion can be that oil prices will fall hard — perhaps to $25 a barrel in 2005. But two conditions are necessary for this to happen: Inventory levels need to rise further and there must be no major supply interruption. As inventories rise, speculators will shift their focus from fear to fundamentals.

South African Inventions

Cool pics of South African inventions that have changed the world!

Those Crazy Israelis

Some people will believe anything. (See the poll at the bottom. Hi-la-ri-ous.)

Wednesday, August 18

Got That Itch



Every now and then I get the itch to get out of the city and fast. Now my bloody camping buddy is hunting Bushpig with his bloody bow and arrows way up north, my wifes of to inspect some safari lodges and Im stuck in CT in the bloody rain. The joy. Need to make plan.

Vacation Pics

Vaz is back from what appears to be paradise, and he took some photos. He's also just as worried about the South African moonbattery in Iran as I am.

Looking At Iran II

In a previous post I listed a few responses South Africa can or will likely have to Irans attempt to go Nuclear. Little did I suspect that selling Uranium to Iran and being open about it is going to be the way we go. (Hattip Steve)

Ok, Im calling it. SA Foreign Policy is completely at odds with our national policies. Supporting Mugabe, making excuses for Sudan, holding hands with Fidel Castro. The list goes on. Now selling nuclear material to Iran? It is completely crazy. Nuts. Stupid. Insane. Demented. Its crazier than our AIDS policy has been in recent years. Do we need the money? Hell no. This is purely political.

If Iran gets into a nuclear spat with the US does the ANC really think we can stand aside as a neutral party if we are the guys selling them the uranium they need to make their bombs?

Goddam moonbats!

Update: Well, my first reaction was perhaps a bit severe. (Ok, call it a rant). Seems like SA is only supplying unenriched uranium, which is pretty common (relatively) in return for cheaper oil. Via little green footballs comment section, which is always good if you can avoid the trolls:

As for the uranium, that appears to be yet another SA foreign policy screw-up, but I think some of you are overstating it. The sale is of non-enriched uranium, something Iran can get from almost anywhere and is not forbidden under any IAEA regs from acquiring any, unlike Iraq was. What's more, the story about SA supplying Iraq was a lot of baloney. Some Brit paper saw a report that said Iraq was trying to get yellowcake (uranium ore) from Africa, and immediately thought about SA's nuke program and said: "Oh, oh, I know! It must be SA!" Idiocy. So SA, so far as I know, is not breaking any laws in this sale, though it's being pretty damn stupid. Of course, in return SA gets cheaper oil, that's what this whole "Memorandum of Undestanding" is about. We give you uranium, you give us oil. There is no transfer of nuke technology whatsoever. Besides, all the parts for SA's nuke weapon program were destroyed.
What's more, SA is an active participant on the US side in the War on Terror in the intelligence and policing fields, and though its often silly foreign policy does piss the US off, the two countries have good relations, including a defence co-operation committee, and numerous military exercises have been held between the two nations. Hell, USN ships going to and coming back from Iraq have refuelled and resupplied in SA without any problems, SA was one of the few African countries George W. Bush has visited, and the US military is actively funding the creation and supply of an additional 2000 South African troops for use in peacekeeping deployments.
In fact, it's been theorised at the moment that SA's closer to the US in private than it is in public, for a number of reasons. One, SA cannot show too much public support for the US or it will lose its influence in the African Union and Non-Aligned Movement, and thus allow more radical countries (such as Libya) to gain control, as well as the fact that losing control of the AU means Mbeki loses his dream of an African Renaissance. Yet there is a lot of evidence that the US and SA are indeed working together (I gave some of it above), but doing so quietly. While this is a very thin line for Mbeki to trod if true, and risky, it means SA benefits from decent relations with the US but is able to retain influence amongst countries which dislike the US and thus move organisations like the AU on the correct path.
So come on some of you, at least do a little research before responding. Some of you are equating SA with NK, which is just stupid.
Impi


Still, why bother? Is it worth it?

Update: Guess not. A spokesman for Minister Lekota is denying all;

A Spokesman for the South African MOD, Sam Mkhwnazi, confirmed that South Africa will not assist Iran's nuclear development and will not sell any uranium to the Islamic Republic, the South African Defense Ministry told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

A spokesman for the South African MOD, Sam Mkhwnazi, confirmed statements made earlier in the day by South Africa's Ambassador to Israel Maj.-Gen Fumanekile (Fumie) Gqiba, who told Army Radio that SA will not aid Iran's nuclear program, and will not support any country wishing to develop nuclear weapons.

My faith in the world is restored and sanity returns (well, whats left of it anyway).

Come on Home, ZombyBoy

ZombyBoy want to come and live in 'Africa', but

One of the things that makes my dream harder to achieve is the constant turmoil that plagues the continent, leveling the most beautiful nations under murderous tyrants, genocidal rabble, disease, and hunger. What you might not know is just how sick it makes me to watch, helpless, from a distance as Africa burns.

Wish it was burning a bit more around these parts. Its been downright cold the last few weeks. But seriously, whats needed in Darfur isnt food, water or aid. What's needed are guns, radios and some air cover. In fact, the best way for the Second Superpower to help the people of Darfur is to hire some of these guys.

Love That Game

Ahh, my new favourite sport! Womans Beach Vollyball. Watched the Brazilians playing the Italians last night. Damn! Got to feel sorry for the guys in Iran.

Witch Doctors

Article by Micheal Wines in the New York Times on 'traditional medicine'. Eight out of ten South Africans consult Witch Doctors, and there are 14 'traditional healers' for every western doctor. That is 1 in every 150 people is a healer, given Mr Wines number of 23,000 doctors.

Nice to see South Africa get so much news coverage in the Times.

Tuesday, August 17

The Evil Eye



Ive got that feeling that the evil eye is upon me, so blogging will be light until the witch doctor clears me.

Monday, August 16

Waterfall


Glad to Know

Always happy to see ignorance in action.

...Africa, for example, is a continent possessed of vast and incredibly expensive natural resources, and yet, outside of major metropolitan areas, which is to say, 99% of the continent, paved roads can hardly be found, much less indoor plumbing.

The governments of the continent consist mainly of autocracies of various stripes, most of whom are more or less Marxist, rather than capitalist in their economic outlook. Taxes are confiscatory, and proitable foreign investments tend to be nationalized by the government, at which point, they cease to be profitable.


The Third World produces practically nothing whatsoever of economic value, and it's leaders make no connection at all to that fact and the griding poverty of their countries, as if the two were completely unrelated...

But at least he's got a fine grasp of the issues as pertains to World Trade.

The third world's political elites constantly carp about what the industrialized nations should be doing for them, a chorus that mainly ends with, "Give me money."

Sadly he is also wrong about the causes of terrorism. It is not poverty but ideology. If poverty 'did' cause terrorism the world would take poverty more seriously.

The Coming Energy Crisis

An interesting conversation on Oil Prices.

Watch the Numbers

Well, it has been 4 days since the drop in interest rates and the Rand is still trading at R6.48 to the US Dollar but has weakened slightly against the Euro to R8.01 from R7.89 (That’s about 1%).
That is, the Dollar was weakened slightly compared with the Euro with the Rand standing pretty much firm.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rand was to strengthen in the next few days as the traders recover from the Reserve Bank doing something unexpected (bunch of pansies).

On the other had, the Oil price is at unprecedented levels thanks partly to uncertainty in Venezuela but mainly to ever increasing demand (Iraq has been factored into the market months ago). If inflation is to go up then I'm blaming the Oil price. In fact, the world economy is in serious danger of hitting its energy limits. (Blame Bush for the best growth the world has seen in a quarter decade.)

Forget anything else, if the oil price hits $50 a barrel and stays there for a meaningful time the rules of the world economy will change as it tries to deal with the energy crisis. Can you say "nuclear power"?

Nick on BIG

Nick has an interesting post on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) idea that has been bandied about the last few years. (Permalinks Nick?)

The government struggles to release pensions and other social grants on time and without significant skimming through corruption (just go to the Eastern Cape to see what I mean), so who’s to say the distribution of a BIG would be any better? I say, wait until the pension and child grant processes are running effectively and then one can think about piggy-backing a BIG onto these. A problem, however, is that the government has recently announced they will be centralising the management of the social grants which can only result in a bureaucratic nightmare of inefficiency.

I think we'll get there in a few years time. I dont think we always realize however how difficult a job the ANC has, or how well they have done it for the most part.

Friday, August 13

Camps Bay



The most fiendishly conceived German trap in the history of mankind! Otherwise known as Camps Bay and Clifton. If you look past Lions Head Hill you can see Robben Island to its left.

Positive on South Africa

Must read article on South Africa in Reason magazine by John Blundell, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London.

In the end I went with my eyes, and my training as an economist, in judging South Africa’s prospects. Yes, there is crime, unemployment, and AIDS. But from my perspective on the street, in the heart of it, I don’t believe the problems are as big as the reports make them out to be, or as insurmountable as the naysayers would have them seem. With a black majority that is stunning in its patience, understanding, and willingness to find a way, South Africa will not only survive but thrive.

Basketball

Got to love Americans.

While driving across Namibia it occurred to me that 4 weeks in a remote village in Malawi might not offer as much opportunity for activity as, say, Atlanta. I wondered “what will I do with all that free time?” Moments later the solution presented itself: I should build a basketball goal and teach the kids how to play the game.

Some very cool pics.

Blame the UN?

The UN gets blamed for a lot of things. Should the UN be blamed for the events in the Congo as well?

I worked in Bukavu for three years with MONUC, the U.N. mission in Congo. The recent fighting erupted as I was about to leave the region. For me and many of my colleagues, the fighting came as no surprise. It had become obvious that the various factions in the recently formed transitional government were more interested in lining their pockets than in rebuilding their country. Legislation on key issues such as the national army, amnesty and nationality was simply shelved for months as parliamentarians bickered over their salaries and per diems.
What the U.N. panel of experts reported had also been clear to us: that Rwanda was arming and supporting a group of dissenting officers in Bukavu. On several occasions we found arms caches in houses in Bukavu; once we surprised dissident soldiers secretly transporting weapons stolen from the national army.


Despite this knowledge, MONUC did little to prevent the violence.


Is it the job of the UN to enforce peace? Seems to me that the people of the Congo also carry some responsibility.

Kenya's Foreign Minister

Fricken Hilarious

Despite the fact he did not have any senior diplomats in the area; Despite the fact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been in regular contact with the employer of the hostages; Despite the fact he had not checked with his own High Commission officials; Despite the fact other arms of government were reportedly making frantic efforts to stop him from speaking as it was thought his premature announcement would actually jeopardise the drivers' release;Kenyan foreign minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere cut short a visit to Mombasa and boarded the first available plane back to Nairobi so he could announce the men's freedom to a waiting world. Our minister strode arrogantly on to TV to boast that it "was a great achievement"; "it was diplomacy at its best" in addition he lectured Kenyans telling us "Kenyans should learn to be patient, have faith in prayer and have confidence in systems of government."

Only one slight problem: the hostages had not been released

Update: The Kenyan anti-corruption commision has also run into some controversy.

Interest Rates

Well, the South African blogosphere has had time to absorb the interest rate cut. Wayne thinks that this will mean that the Rand will weaken and inflation rise. Fodder think Mboweni buckled in the face of pressure.

My own opinion is that I don’t think that the link between the Rand and interest rates are as strong as it use to be. Our money markets are still very attractive, and dollar weakness has been the reason for the low exchange rate. Not Rand strength.

I don’t believe that the Reserve Bank believes that there is a strong link either. However, by dropping the interest rate they remove a lot of political wind from the proponents of stricter Rand control. They also relax the reign on the economy a bit more giving us hopefully a slight growth spurt, and unless this 50 basis point drop causes a dramatic tumble in the rand it is unlikely to affect inflation nearly as much as the sky-high cost of petrol, which is out of our control anyway.

I think this was a smart move politically for Tito Mboweni, and I’m sure the economists in the Reserve Bank are not overly worried by the consequences of this move. If the Rand weakens, Tito wins because he is seen to be saving the manufacturing sector. If the Rand stays the same or only weakens slightly (Even 10% would beinsignificant given the fluctuations of the Rand we've seen the last few years) Tito wins because the case for Reserve Bank intervention is weakened.

Update: The Rand is currently at R6.45 to the Dollar and R7.89 to the Euro. This is still easily within the the range it has been trading for the last few months.

Thursday, August 12

Sunset Cruise



Taking a Sunset Cruise from the Waterfront in Cape Town might be the touristy thing to do, but it's more than worth it. Great views of the mountain, seals, whales and all the sparkling wine and local beers you can drink.

Woohoo!

Interests Rates reduced by 50 basis points! Calling that unexpected would be a mild understatement, but I can certainly use the extra money in my pocket.

Angolan Property Rights

Angola is looking to normalize property ownership upset by decades of civil war, but not everyone is happy.

Observers are also uncomfortable with a clause that gives people just one year to formally request the regularisation of their right to the land they are occupying. In a country struggling to rebuild its legal framework - not to mention its infrastructure and health and education systems - it is a pipe dream, they say.

"This is very worrying because institutional capacity is very low, so even now, when people apply for regularisation papers, the percentage of cases that are processed is very small," Figueiredo told IRIN. "If you try in a short period to have everyone applying, it's likely that a lot of people will fail. On top of that ... it's very likely that many people will simply not be aware of this process."

Via Head Heeb.

Looking At Iran

Iran will be a nuclear power within months, not years. Is this the disaster that America and Britain would have us believe it to be? I don’t know.

The Soviet Union and consequently most of its client states were nuclear powers. China is a nuclear power. Pakistan is a nuclear power. Lest we forget, North Korea is also a nuclear power. Is Iran really such a great threat in comparison to these other countries? North Korea is willing to sell their grandmothers for doggie food. Are you going to tell me Iran will present a greater threat to nuclear containment?

No. They don’t. The cat is out of the bag and no ones going to put it back.

Will Iran supply nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations "freedom fighters"? If they believe it to be in their interest I believe they would. Would North Korea or Pakistan or China? Ditto. Is it in their interest? Not likely. A nuclear terrorist attack would change the game, make the current "war on terror" seem like a tea party, and possibly wake Europe out of its navel gazing stupor. That's something not one of them wants.

Iran becoming a nuclear power will however change the rules, making it hands off to America at a time when America needs and wants to be very much hands on in Iran. It makes Iran a political power in the Middle East, something it has not been for a while, and will put pressure on America in Iraq. Israel might drop dead from a collective hernia (understandably).

All good for Iran, all bad for America. Is it bad for us (South Africa)? We'll that depends on how were going to look at it. Politically it is a neutral event for South Africa. It forces America to deal with Iran through diplomatic channels, where South Africa has some influence and we could gain by it. On the other hand, Iran has shown political interest in Africa before and they might want to play in our backyard, so to say. A nuclear Iran would definitely be a tempting partner to many small time tin pots on the continent.

Morally? Who are we kidding? We give trains to the Sudanese government so that they can more easily kill people in Darfur, we turn a blind eye to the destruction of Zimbabwe by a greedy megalomaniac, we dump Taiwan the moment China says 'Aye' and couldn’t care a fig about the people of Iraq or any other people suffering under a crazed dictatorship. The morality of the 'poor against the rich' is the only one we understand. Iran becoming a nuclear power is a victory in our book.

Practically? What can we do about it? Well, urm ... nothing. We 'could' condemn Iran and support American interference in Iran. We would gain little to nothing for doing this, except maybe some self-respect, and that would be putting ourselves firmly in the American camp. It’s not really where we care to be. Bush just isn’t photogenic, if you know what I mean. In any case, if America is going to do something our support or lack of it wouldn't affect the outcome anyway. So Hakuna Matata, and heres to hoping they don’t bite us in our ass later.

Trustworthy Journalist

Is it an Oxymoron? Trustworthy Journalist, I mean. I’m looking for some "trustworthy" journalists in South Africa (Not news anchors, moderators or presenters. Journalists.) About the only journalists I trust on TV is Special Assignment. On Radio I’m a fan of Michael Coulson. In print? I stopped reading papers when the Sunday Independent started using Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky to cover the war in Iraq.

Who do you trust to get your news from in South Africa? For that matter, who don’t you trust?

Deal Breaker

Bad news for Iraq. Amazing how important credibility is, and how little the press has in my eyes these days. Jim Hoagland is one of my exceptions. From most reporters I would brush this opinion off as mere fluff. If Mr Hoagland says there is a problem I take his word for it.

If America messes up the Iraqi reconstruction, and allows a new strongman to take power, all bets are off. It would vindicate the mass of hyperventilating anti-Americans in the world, and reduce American influance to the levels that they imagine and wish it to be.

Wednesday, August 11

And The Award Goes To...

Marthinus van Schalkwyk has finally contributed something worthwhile, the "Kortbroek" award.

Tuesday, August 10

Kreef a.k.a. Dinner


Everyones Favourite 'News' Site

Well, I was over at Stupid White People. I know I shouldnt go, but I found a 'blogger' that likes them. It was like road kill. Know you shouldn't look, but somehow end up looking anyway. Anyway, they have an exiting new feature. Tell them what you think! Always love people that ask me my opinion. Enter my choise, and whazam!

Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a01a8'
Object required: 'oCookie'
/Classes.asp, line 1813


O Well. Better luck next time white man.

A Fisking We Will Go

Laurance at Commentary has some good posts on the recently departed NNP,

...the NNP was a party of naked political opportunism. They had no principles, no ideology, no values that they were not willing to sacrifice in order to hang on to some shreds of power.

and fisks Cosato for its communist double speak. If those boys werent so greedy for the gravy train I'd be worried.

The Sweet Irony

Preface to an article in the New York Times:
A string of terror arrests is raising new questions about the depth of Islamic extremism in a country known for its racial and religious tolerance.

What country are they talking about? Why, South Africa of course.

"...a country known for its racial and religious tolerance." What a difference a decade makes.

On the other hand, the article makes plane that South Africa faces some problems not of its own making. It is by Michael Wines though. You know, my favourite journilist. See here and here.

At the same time, Mr. Chalk said, South Africa's Western values - and its status as a preferred locale for the world's major news media - also make it a potentially tempting target for Qaeda-style attacks.

"South Africa may not be particularly in line with U.S. policies on Israel, or the Palestinians, or Iraq," he said. "But certainly South Africa is part and parcel of the global capitalist system. And the global impact of something happening in South Africa, a place far more developed that other neighboring countries, is far greater."

Nothing like a Good Fight

Fifteen minutes and Fodder have been having a go at each other. Vehement disagreement for apparently no reason is always fun to watch.

Whats that Smell?

Few things give me so much pleasure these days as the sight of the rats fleeing the sinking ship that is the NNP.

One of the NNP provincial leaders even described the NNP's decision to join the ANC as "dishonourable" and "undignified". Other reactions contained words such as "treason", "selling out for a few seats", "painful relief" and "tragic".

Shame.

On the other hand, few things give me so much dread as the thought of Marthinus van Schalkwyk still being in politics in this country in 20 years time. Is this guy a political vampire or what? If I was the ANC I'd start wearing garlic cloves around my neck.

Friday, August 6

Paternoster Fishermen



Paternoster is a traditional fishing villiage along the west coast famed for its 'kreef' and the hotel bar. Seems like the bug still has me by the shorty and curlies though. Im going to climb back into bed. Enjoy the long weekend.

Earth to Pahad

Aziz Pahad once again tries to prove that 'Denile' is a River.

South Africa's support for Palestinians in the Middle East and its opposition to the US-led war in Iraq makes it an "unlikely target" for terrorists, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said on Thursday.

If Mr Pahad was any more subserviant you'd think we were the client state of greater Islamostan. It wont help of course. They still want to kill us.

That Time of Year

A Nasty little virus knocked me out of orbit this week, so apologies for the lack of blogging. I'll see if I cant make it up today ;-)

Monday, August 2

Uphill



It has been a bit of an uphill battle to get together the pics lost in the great partition frazzle of '04. Full photoblogging will hopefully resume later in the week. In the mean time, excuse the pun.

South African Terrorists

An American Blogger notes the sudden increase in Al-Qaeda activity associated with South Africa. The blogger (jokingly, i think) comments:

One of the more interesting aspects of this is the South Africa connection, which I hadn't known about. (Yet another group to get hysterically frightened of when they go to the bathroom in an airplane.)

All I can add, is good luck spotting the 'South African'.

Best Damn Rugby Game Ever

Watched the Springboks play the Wallebies at Perseverance Pub on Saturday. Is it just me or was that one of the best games I've ever seen. (Even though it was 16 men against 15, but heh, isnt it always.) The pub was nice too.

I'll believe it when it happens

Andrew is optimistic about the latest developements at the World Trade Orginization. I wont be holding my breath.

Questions Answered

Nick took time to answer the plethora of questions I threw his way. I'm so impressed with the answers giving a link and telling you to go read it would not do the reply justice. Im reprinting Nicks answers, which can be found here.

Hi Richard,

I appreciate your interest and will do my best to answer your questions. Although I have spent quite some time researching these settlements, I don’t, by any means, claim to know all there is to know. I welcome any comments, corrections or additions from anyone reading this.
Before I try and answer your questions, I think I should first distinguish what I consider ‘townships’ and what I consider ‘informal settlements’. Townships are the formal residential areas established as black ‘locations’ or ‘group areas’ during aparthied (eg Langa, Nyanga, Guguletu and Khayelitsha). These consist of formal brick structures and are usually fully serviced. The definition also includes any associated informal structures (backyard shacks).

Informal settlements are stand-alone settlements consisting almost exclusively of informal structures (shacks) established during land invasion or inconspicuous growth on vacant land. Residents of these settlements have no formal tenure and have only minimal services in most cases. These settlements are often situated in and around townships, but have their own names, identities and social structures. They can also be located on vacant land quite distant from the townships (e.g Red Hill on the Cape Peninsula and Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay).

Here goes:
1. What is the tribal mix of the black townships. Is it still mostly Xhosa as is believed? Yes, the black ‘townships’ in Cape Town are almost exclusively Xhosa. In one survey, 99.4% of respondents stated Xhosa as their first language. From other studies and my own observations, there are a handful of coloured residents in these areas, but in terms of numbers they are almost insignificant.
2. How integrated are the coloured and black communities on the flats? In the older areas, not at all. There is unbelievably strong racism amongst coloured and black communities at the lowest end of the economic scale. Added to this is the fact that these areas are still very strongly spatially segregated by the physical barriers imposed by apartheid planning such as railway lines, freeways, canals and buffer strips. However, a recent study by Oldfield (2004) shows that in the new RDP housing projects in Delft South, where coloured and black households were placed amongst each other indiscriminately, a surprising amount of integration has already taken place.
3. Is there any information on the number of people living informally elsewhere in the city (that is, not in townships.)? I’m not sure what you mean here. I can get figures for the informal settlements (that is, settlements of more than 10 shacks) not in formerly black group areas, but if you are meaning street dwellers or backyard shack dwellers, I wouldn’t know. I think The Haven night shelters may have that info.
4. Is there movement of people from informal to formal housing sectors? Yes, and no. In the new ‘RDP’ housing projects, most of the residents moving in there (although not all) come from informal settlements. These houses are being delivered at a rate of 11 000 per year, so that is probably around 8 000 households being ‘decanted’ from informal settlements every year. However, there is a lot of evidence of people selling their houses (for many complex reasons) and moving back to informal settlements. These are also people who are given their houses through the housing subsidy, not people who progress up the housing ladder through increased wealth. In fact, it has been shown that there is very little movement out of informal settlements that is not related to the housing subsidy. The gap in the market between informal and formal is huge and thus very difficult to bridge. For this reason many people are trapped in informal settlements. Another phenomenon that I have observed is that even the few people who become relatively wealthy in informal settlements (spaza/shebeen owners, taxi drivers, etc) prefer to stay in the informal settlements than move to formal areas. I have no proof of this and don’t know why it happens, but I suspect it is because the informality is the very source of their livelihoods. Other reasons may include social networks, no rates, and localised power. 5. How prevalent are foreigners in the townships? Cape Town has a large population of illegal aliens. Are they accepted in the informal settlements? In the informal settlements I’ve dealt with there is strong xenophobia and foreigners are certainly not welcome. For this reason, foreign Africans prefer to rent backyard shacks from formal township residents. In this way they only have to negotiate a one-on-one deal, rather than negotiate acceptance from a community structure. Formal township residents apparently also prefer foreign tenants because they are prepared to pay higher rents. In Cape Town, apparently a lot of foreign Africans prefer to stay out of the township and rent small (often overcrowded) flats in the former white areas (e.g Nigerians and Angolans in Muizemberg, Congolese in Seapoint and Woodstock, etc). This is not the case in Joburg, however, where it has been reported that a large number of illegal Mozambiquan aliens choose to live in informal settlements where thy can remain undetected. I don’t have figures for the number of foreign Africans and illegal aliens in Cape Town – nobody does.
6. How strong are the social links to the Eastern Cape? Do many people still send money back to relatives in the countryside? There are certainly strong links, but these are not as strong as some people think. For example, in a survey done in 1994, only 31% of black African in Cape Town considered the Eastern Cape ‘home’ and wanted to retire there, while 74% considered Cape Town their home. The same study showed that in some families there was a pattern of circular migration, but mainly only individual family members (children or wives) moving temporarily to whichever area could support them best. Often the breadwinner was stuck in a cycle of poverty and could not afford to leave Cape Town. However, other families surveyed were born and bred in Cape Town and had no intention of leaving. There is a culture of sending money back to the rural areas, but I have no idea how much. This is largely a throwback from apartheid laws that prevented families from living in the city and forced breadwinners to migrate. My perception is that it is on the decrease. Money that is sent back is either to support family members, or to consolidate a rural base for retirement. This is prevalent amongst hostel residents (a whole other kettle of fish) who are typically breadwinners who move individually to the city and seek the cheapest accommodation possible while sending as much as possible back home.
7. The agricultural labour sector still seems very much to be dominated by coloured people. Are black people moving into agriculture in the Cape? Sorry, can’t help you on this one.
8. Is there any information on the prevalence of AIDS in the settlements? Are there large differences in infection between different communities? I have tried to get health data on informal settlements, but because the residents use the same health facilities as formal township residents, no distinction is made in the health stats. For an idea, the KTC clinic, which serves many of the informal settlements, recorded a TB prevalence of 1410 per 100 000 residents and a 16% HIV prevalence in 1996. I don’t have any more recent data, but one can imagine that the overcrowded, damp and unhealthy conditions in informal settlements aggravate all sorts of diseases. Yes, there do seem to be differences. Apparently, HIV is rife in certain settlements, such as Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay, but there is no evidence to support this. The Medical Research Council must have done some studies on this. If you are asking about the difference between prevalence in different race groups, there is clear evidence that shows that HIV is highest in the black population and second highest in the coloured population.
9. What is the state of the schools in the informal settlements. Do children have to go to formal neighborhoods to reach a school? There are no formal schools in any of the settlements, only crèches. Yes, the children have to go to schools in neighbouring townships.
10. Much of the settlements are in areas that are less than ideal. Ive seen some settlements bulldozed, but not widely. Do the authorities plan to just upgrade the informal settlements, or move those that are in areas that are untenable? This is true - informal settlements are generally on the worst land in the city. Bulldozing is definitely not a politically acceptable solution anymore (and something I strongly disapprove of). To answer your question I would have to give you my entire thesis, as this is recisely the question that I am looking at – you’ve hit upon what I think is the most pertinent question regarding informal settlements at present. Give me a shout in March next year and I’ll send you a copy!

In short, it is very much a political decision. Some will go, but most will stay. For example, most of the settlements on the N2, directly opposite the airport runway, are situated on an old landfill site. In any other circumstances these people would have been moved off years ago, but there is nowhere to move them to, and the people now have a powerful political voice. The city has been touting extravagant plans to upgrade these settlements, so it looks like it is going to have to be done. This is clearly a case of political will overriding technical constraints (but I fully support their intentions to upgrade these settlements. Where there’s a will (and heaps of national government money) there’s a way.