Friday, January 30, 2009

Traffic fines

I just paid my long outstanding traffic fines because they were reduced by 50% and tomorrow (31 Jan) is the last day for this reduced offer. Their website has been busy since morning and it is only late in the aafternoon that I managed to get through. How clever of them to bleed us dry. some of the tickets were on the verge of expiring. They must have made a killing collecting all that revenue from tickets.

And then there are these guys from the Traffic department in a a godforsaken place called Warrenton in the Northern Cape who keep on bothering me to pay a speeding ticket I got in 2005. I don't even remember being there. I told them that as far as I am concerned that ticket should have expired and they told me that prescription is 30 years....I must go read up on the Road Traffic Act.

Damn! they bled me dry these cops.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The charade called Land Reform: A personal experience

Apartheid is the most demeaning policy to black people that was adopted by the National party government. Erasing the psychological scars it has inflicted on the majority of the people of this country is going to take ages.

I grew up in a farming area in the former Western Transvaal called Schweizer Reneke in a township called Ipelegeng. The town is named after two Boer war veterans but the history of this town is much more than that but that is a topic for another time. My grandparents were staying on a farm about 30km North of Schweizer Reneke. My grandfather was a labour tenant, but growing up we knew that he worked for the baas (I never really knew the baas name because his name was baas and his kids were oubaases). (I think I met oubaas in Cape Town while studying in there and he was practicing medicine).

My grandfather had lots of livestock and planted his own field and during school holidays all his grandchildren would go spend the holidays there (and we were a tribe on our own). We used to look forward to school holidays because there would be plenty of food, hunting, fireside stories and interaction with nature.

My grandfather passed away in the 80’s and my grandmother against all advice decided to relocate to the newly established “paradise” called Bophuthatswana. She was so happy to be relocating and meeting with some of her family that were staying there. She relocated with lots cattle, sheep, goats, a few horses and donkeys. Within a couple all years all the livestock was gone because of the harshness of the conditions and lack of grazing in her new home. I think this must have broken her because very soon she suffered from a stroke from which she never recovered until she died. She was a strong woman.

The reason why I am telling this story is to show how under apartheid one had to be owned by a baas in order to survive and how trying to “beat” the system could break one’s spirit. This is a typical story of the erstwhile Western Transvaal.

Fast track into the new dispensation and the dawning of the land reform programme aimed at giving people like my grandparents rights independent of the landowners. What is happening is the exact opposite; people like my grandfather have been systematically removed from the land and the only vocation they know in this new dispensation.

As an example one of my uncles used to stay on a farm about 10 km west of the town. We used to go there once in a while to get fresh milk, fresh vegetables and fresh everything. The uncle and his kids would look at us boys from the township with pity because of our supposed superiority whereas they were sustaining us. With the introduction of land reform they were illegally evicted from the farm like slaves they were without any government intervention. The same happened to my other uncle who was in his late 70 when he was evicted; he also stays in the squatter settlements and relies solely on governments handouts where he could previously provide for his own food.

A study was done some few years that revealed that between the period 1994 and 2004 close to a million farm dwellers were evicted from farms without any assistance from government. Most of my family are included in that number, which in my view is very conservative.

But some of my family have benefited from the land reform programme. My other uncle who also stays in Ipelegeng township, has always had a few livestock which was grazing in the outskirts of the township because there were no grazing camps. As part of the land reform programme the government bought a 100 or so of them a farm about 30km from town to keep their cattle. Now imagine the conflicts that arose as a result of 100 people having to share a farm. As a result of the intractable conflicts that arose my uncle decided to take his few livestock back to the township for peace of mind and to be closer to his livestock. The problem is that land for grazing is no longer available because all the space has been taken up by the squatter settlements and the forever expanding township.

I was once a government employee with the Department of Land Affairs as a projects officer. As one of my projects we bought a prime agricultural land for about 30 or so farm worker families who were staying on that farm as a going concern. These 30 or so uneducated families were expected to continue with the farm as business as usual and come up with complex business plans and the like.

Within a few years the farm was a squatter camp because the surrounding white farmers evicted people and dumped them on this farm. So yes, I was part of this charade that systematically set up black people for failure. Me! with no agricultural background at all expected to be a project manager on an agricultural enterprise!

Less than 5% of agricultural land has been transferred to blacks in the last 14 years against an always shifting target of 15% by 2014. 80% of the projects initiated in the land that has been transferred resulted in failure. Those that are a success are because the land has been given back to white farmers (either through lease or some contract).

People who have benefited from this programme are estimated to be a few millions. Now close to a million farmers have been evicted from the land and a few millions (maybe 1-2 million people) have benefited from this programme. You do the maths.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reflections of.......

I started jogging today (well it was more of walking really!!) after more than six months of excuses and it feels really good to be out pounding the road. The main reason for this procrastination is that Jo'burg roads are not friendly to joggers, unless you wake up very early in the morning to avoid the harassment from taxis and other drivers. We are so selfish and ruthless once we are behind the wheel, perhaps because we feel macho once inside the vehicle. I believe it is called road rage. And the layout of towns and cities in SA does not cater for pedestrians and in Joburg it is worse because there are cars everywhere and people are just impatient.

I met fellow joggers along the way and I was passed by two old ladies while I was doing the walking leg of the jog. I could just admire their stamina, I tried to catch up but ended up giving up. There were greetings and acknowledgements with other joggers and I felt that I belong.

But I also came across a lot of security guards in full uniform either walking or jogging to work. And none of them neither greeted me nor looked me in the eye so that I could greet them. You could see that they were avoiding my gaze and it made me sad. I asked myself whether these people feel so dehumanised and belittled in their uniform such that they can't look other fellow human beings in the eye. Or is it because they know that even if they look the joggers in the eyes they will not get any acknowledgement. Other people wearing their own clothes and presumably going to work were just fine.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with one of the security guards at the complex where I stay. Ours is a small complex and though we do not know each other (as residents) the security guards know each and everyone of us. It was just a simple conversation really where he was telling me who greets and who does not greet them at the gate when they enter or leave....and they know a lot more I tell you. And the abuse they have to undergo under their employers......

Anyway today's observation has reinforced my belief that each one of us should belief that no job is beneath us and that we should show appreciation for the "lowly" jobs that others engage in.

And on another matter....apparently the Zimbabwe government of unity is on again and the sticking point of ministries has been resolved. Apparently MDC has agreed to share the Home Affairs portfolio with Zanu PF subject to a review after six months. This is nothing new!! It was part of the agreement that was signed last year. The constitutional amendment will also be effected for the creation of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister's post....again nothing new. One is bound to ask....what was the impasse really about. Lets hope that this time MDC does not unilaterally pull out of the agreement...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Something must give

Zimbabwe is on the verge of total collapse and something must give. The two sides, the MDC and Zanu PF represent two polar opposites who are not willing to give an inch, but one will have to relent. It is a supreme battle where one party is holding out with the hope of wearing another down. Reminds me of the "Thriller in Manila" where Mohamed Ali and Joe Frazier slugged it out and wore each other down but they kept on going for 14 solid rounds until Frazier gave up. Who will give up. The proposed SADEC summit next week will be the 15th round and something must give.

Zimbabwe represent a fight between the West and Africa for Africa's self determination and both parties are slugging it out to see who will emerge victorious. In the MDC corner is the West represented by the US and UK (with Botswana giving vital advice, Kenya, in the form of Raila Ondinga has ran out of steam and fallen by the way side). In the Zanu PF corner is Africa represented by SADEC and the AU. No party is willing to give an inch.

You see Mugabe is to Africa what David was to the Israelites, he took on the mighty Goliath that is the West and he is smelling victory. And his fellow leaders are urging him on. He has done what no African leader could do, albeit fortuitously, and went to the heart of the African problem....take control of the land and its resources and give it to the indegenous people. Even the mighty ANC could not even attempt to do confront the land issue head on. Confronted by the devil and the deep blue sea, the ANC chose the devil (an easy path in my opinion). Mugabe's is the difficult path and the results are there for everybody to see.

Now every third Zimbabwean I meet here in South Africa has a piece of land back home and they are just holding out in SA until the situation returns to normal so that they can go back home to their piece of land. Those who did not acquire a piece of land did so out of choice or because some undue infuence. Now imagine what this means for Zimbabwe in the next 10-20 years. Remember they are a well educated kind, these Zimbos.

In my opinion Mugabe, with the encouragement of the African leaders, is willing to ride out the storm with a view to the future. In my opinion, Zimbabwe represent, in the eyes of the African leaders, what Africa should strive for but are very afraid lest they offend their "friends" in the West and encourage their population to turn against them. These leaders know that Zimbabwe chose the route they all should have chosen but they did not have the courage of their convictions to take it. That is why Mugabe can call the UK and the US all manner of names and get away with it; he can derogatrorily invite any African country to come and topple him and get away with it.

In the final analysis it is true that Mugabe took advantage of the situation in the late 1990's and implemented the fast track land reform but then which leader won't. You just have to look at 9/11 and how Bush manipulated the situation to suit his agenda or how the ANC took advantage of the Nicholson ruling to topple their intellectual leader. Every leader will take advantage of a situation.

Have you asked yourself how it is possible that somebody in America could by fuel for somebody in Zimbabwe or a person in Zimbabwe have to go to the Internet to access fuel that is stored somewhere in his country. Why are the commodities made in Zimbabwe freely available in our supermarket shelves but are very scarce in Zimbabwe. Now I am no economist but this tells me that somebody is deliberately withholding these commodities to the ordinary Zimbos for a few more dollars.

The government in Somalia has collapsed and pirates are running the show, the situation in Darfur and DRC are even worse that in Zimbabwe but all the preocupation of the world is with Zimbabwe...why are the leaders of the world not concerned about these situations which require urgent attention. Why is Mugabe such a devil yet almost half of the population support him.

Mugabe has messed up the Zimbabwean economy and Zanu PF became complacent and arrogant at some stage. This was to the detriment of the Zim economy and it is a road that it going to be difficult to finish. African leaders have realised this and I think they are chastising Mugabe behind close doors but they are telling him that it is in their interest that he wins this battle. Is it possible that they could settle for a draw?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Facts about life

True story 1 – The psychiatric ward

The nurse was doing her usual rounds in the psychiatric ward of the then Bophelong hospital in Mafikeng. This included giving medication to the psychiatric patients in the ward. She went on giving the patients medication until she arrived at this other patient who was busy biting and licking his lips and tongue. The patient refused to take medication and continued the licking and the biting. The nurse asked “Jaanong o dirang wena?” to which the patient replied “Ke ja nnyo staff, ke ja nnyo!”

True story 2 – BoMme ba ko Motseng

Mme yo le motho wa gagwe(ka gongwe e ne e le monna wa gagwe) ba ne ba dula mo mengweng ya metsana ya ko Mafikeng. E ne e le balekane ba dingwaga di ka balwa mme ba ne ba ithatela ntshe. E ne e tle e re mo maitsiboaneng ba be ba itlhadia ka metsi a masetlhana go fitlhela bosigo tota.
Ka gale fa ba fetsa go tagwa go tla be go tsoga kgotlhang magareng ga bona. Ka gale Rre o tla be a solofetsa mosadi gore o tla mo tswalela ko ntle. Ka Letsatsi le, ga diragala gore rre a tswalele Mme ko ntle. Mme o ne a simolola a bua dipuo tsa baswi le batshidi. A simolola a tlhapatsa rre yo. E rile fa a tla go feleletsa are “selo se se potswana se”.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Siphiwe M - A response to my "The Sober Judge" posting

Not being from a law background, a lot of the arguments below seem to go right over my head, although I would like to believe that the crux of the ruling was around the Judge from the lower court passing judgment on issues that were not even on the table in the first place, and in the process taking liberties/being very creative with the interpretation of acceptable legal aspects/code/procedures.

That aside, it only dawned on me that this sad episode in the movement's history has at its core, the "class" divide that has always existed within the movement. I stand to be corrected on the facts, but it appears that the movement has being led for the past century by the "black elite"... the mission school educated (from the likes of Lovedale, the "Eaton of Africa") type, that went on to enroll and earn degrees from the likes of Fort Hare, Wits or even international universities... in many instances, the "black Englishmen more English than the English themselves"... priest, teachers, medical doctors, etc. If not, then they had some claim to being "royalty", and foregoing the comforts that such claims brought for them to take up the fight on behalf of their less privileged fellow black South Africans (backward rural peasantry, disorganized urban proletariat) was their leadership ticket. Yes, I may have taken some liberties and over-generalized a little bit.

But to illustrate my point, take a look at the lineage since formation (an extract):
1912-17: JL Dube, , US university degree, teacher, "businessman"
1927-30: JT Gumede, mission-schooled, teacher
1952-67: A Luthuli, mission-schooled Adam's College, teacher, "chief"
1967-91: OR Tambo, mission-schooled St Peter's College, Fort Hare, teacher/lawyer
1991-99: RN Mandela, mission-schooled, Fort Hare, lawyer
1999-2008: TM Mbeki, mission-schooled Lovedale, UK university degree
2008-?: J Zuma, rural peasant background, formal education - primary school to standard 2/4?

If indeed, the ANC is the political home of the ordinary masses, then JZ is the first leader to come from within this mass. Yes, there are corruption charges hanging over his head. Yes, some of his peasant-type views has resulted in others questioning his judgment. Also interesting is that, the birth of COPE was around personalities... "we cannot be led by a 'fool'" they proclaim. Let me be controversial for a moment: how different is this stance from that of the former colonial masters, "we will never be ruled by a black man; too backward, too barbaric"? I'm only asking the question here, so do not shoot the messenger. Interestingly, the majority in this very network will probably identify more with the long lineage of ANC leaders before JZ, well-educated, with university degree(s)... finding the idea of being led by someone who failed to excel in academia repulsive. When the people proclaimed "The people shall govern", they never meant nor intended to have it interpreted as "The people with a good academic backgrounds, that excel in their professions of choice, that speak the Queen's language fluently through their nostrils, from privileged background, of royal blood, shall govern".

Let us stop this madness (read: COPE), let the people determine their own future even if in your "learned" opinions would only result in doom and gloom. The correlation between leadership and academia is a poor one, else all important leadership positions would have been occupied by professors. JZ is a leader chosen by the masses, it is about time that the masses take their rightful place at the forefront of the struggle to self determination. If we think they are not capable of it, then we are no different to our former colonial masters (we become "more English than the Englishmen themselves").

As we continue to provide commentary on what 2009 will hold for the nation, I urge all of you to introspect... take a step back and ask one's-self the question: how much of this unconscious class bias is clouding my judgment and opinions on matters relating to the leadership of the movement? Only if that commentary passes the litmus test, then pen it... if not, think carefully whether it's worth penning in the first place.

It is just by coincidence that it is JZ, it could just as well have been another peasant....

That said, I would like to wish Msholozi well in his legal battles. He always contended that he wanted his day in court, well that day is not far away. Even if he pulls out of the race, after TM.... the masses do not want another one of those know-it-all, intelligent type and aloof leaders. Just a simple person, that will understand our day to day issues, someone that will converse with us in our language, and not talk at us in a language only a few select elite would understand.

For the masses, aluta continua............

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Go latlhela tlhware logonyana

In its literal translation it means to throw a stick to a python. Tlhware is a python and we all know how dangerous it can be and I suppose in coming up with this idiom Motswana wa ko ga Lowe studied the behaviour of a python and how one could pacify it. This phrase has its regular use in meetings ko kgotla where issues of importance will be discussed and a person will respectfully stand up and request to voice his opinion. That person would respectfully be given the platform to state his opinion and so the kgotla will continue until a decision is made.

Now in today's multi media world one does not have to ask for permission to voice an opinion, it is at the fingers of your keyboard and that is good.

There is a tendency among South Africans to pass comment and opinions based on newspaper headlines and news bites without necessarily reading or understanding the whole story. This is clearly illustrated by our leaders who have called professionals doing their job all manner of names because they said something they did not agree with without necessarily reading and understanding what that professsional is saying.

As an example people have passed their opinions and views on the Supreme Court of Appeal judgement without actually reading it (even the summary). And this happens in all the other issues. I mean how dof can this be. Is reading that painful such that people can rely on headlines to be informed.

Is it too much to ask to request people to acquant themselves with the facts before they comment. It is Abraham Lincoln who said it is "“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The "sober" judge

The NDPP's appeal against judge Nicholson's judgement in the Jacob Zuma case has been granted by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and Jacob Zuma can be charged by the NPA again. In arrieving at their decision the SCA was scathing,, was contemptious (ba monyetse) of the decision reached by Nicholson. The SCA basically found that the judge's decision had no basis in law, procedure, accepted conduct from judicial officers and had no logic at all. His decision basically transgressed all accepted procedures and principles in adjudicating legal issues.

This is summed up neatly by analogy at paragraph 13 of the judgement that "the trial judge recognised, ‘political meddling’ was not an issue that had to be determined (para 229 of his judgment). Nevertheless, a substantial part of his judgment dealt with this question; and in the course of this discussion he changed the rules of the game, took his eyes off the ball and redcarded not only players but also spectators." (emphasis mine). What the SCA seem to be saying in this regard is: Is this guy stupid or what? Can a person really be this stupid to contradict himself and kick all the rules of common sense out of the window?

The court went even further to remind judge Nicholson what his duties ought to be. But before doing that they went for his jugular and said "It is crucial to provide an exposition of the functions of a judicial officer because, for reasons that are impossible to fathom, the court below failed to adhere to some basic tenets, in particular that in exercising the judicial function judges are themselves constrained by the law."What this seem to be saying is: Is this guy really a judge? Can a judge of his seniority and experience really not know what procedures and practices need to be followed in dealing with this matters? What drove this guy to come to such a decision?

On lessons on how to conduct motion proceedings the court stated that the judge has "applied a novel approach to motion proceedings which, if left undisturbed, may serve as a dangerous precedent." This means that he has departed from established and accepted practice and came up with his new (read kak!) approach that is dangerous for the legal practice and has never been heard of. The judgment is fairly long and the major part tears into judge Nicholson's conduct and his bizarre ruling, Counsel for Zuma is not spared either. The court has said that judge Nicholson instead of deciding on the legal issues before him went on about his "own conspiracy theory" and decided on issues "not.... advanced by Mr Zuma."

What one is left thinking is what was this "sober" judge thinking. Sober comes from the pronouncements by the ANC that this was a sober judge and judges of the constitutional court are counter revolutionary. And Malema went on to say that judges of the constitutional court make their decisions in shebeens (we know that shebeen refers to a drinking hole in the townships patronised by blacks). You draw your own conclusions...

Zuma's options of using every available legal avenue to quash the charges are getting slimmer by the day. Only those 'counter revolutionary judges' in the constitutional court are remaining now and one supposed that Zuma is going to apply for their recusal when he appeals the SCA decision. The only other way is for him to change the law when he becomes president
(if he becomes president) but with COPE on the horizon they will not have the requisite majority to change the law.

Zuma might be the presidential candidate for the ANC but with COPE on the horizon it is interesting to contemplate whether the ANC will garner the sufficient majority to elect him the president of the country.

In my final analysis the decision of the "sober" judge are coming to haunt the ANC in a very significant way. In his solomonic wisdom of trying to decide for the natives, the sober judge was very drunk in his soberness. Even if a political solution is found for these charges that won't go away the "sober" one has made it even more difficult for the "anointed" one to ascend that throne.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Going for the jugular

South Africa finally got the monkey off their back by beating Australia in their own backyard since the all conquering West Indies completed the feat in the early 1990s. We have now beaten England on their home soil and there has also been significant victories on the Indian subcontinent. Are we world beaters? It is too early to tell. We have on more than one occasion flattered to deceive. With that feeble South African mentality I was talking about some people are hailing this one of the greatest side....wishful thinking I say. There is still a lot we have to do in order to match Australia or that 90s West Indies side in this regard.

In my view we should have gone for the jugular against Australia and thrashed them 3-0. I watched the last three history making overs this morning and we just didn't have that mental edge to outdo the hapless Australians. In my view this is the weakest Australia has been and knowing their resolve this situation will not happen in a long time. Maybe we celebrated too much, maybe all the intensity was not at all there but I believe it is something that has to be interrogated and a solution be found on how when the situation presents itself we should be ruthless. England, the West Indies, the Sri Lankas have on a number of occasions escaped when we had them by the throat.

I wish our soccer playing stars were watching what a bit of self belief can do. They are way behind in terms of mental strength when it comes to Cricket and Rugby even though you can count the countries that play these two sports competitively in one hand.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

'tis a season for well wishes

Is the world becoming a better place to live in with each passing year? The answer is a definite no! What with the butchering of innocent people in Gaza, the unending sufferings of the people in Somalia, Sudan, DRC, Zimbabwe and other countries throughout the world. Should we lose hope and give everything up? The answer is a resounding no once again. At a personal level some people have lost their loved ones or have had some sort of personal tragedy. There is no reason for these people to give up.

It is with this in mind that I wish you all a happy and fruitful new year. Despite all the trials and tribulations we have had to undergo, we always need to have a positive outlook in what we do and what life throws at us. Let us in this new year strife to be better people than we were in the previous one. Help someone closer to you who needs a little push.

A lot around us is changing and we need to understand what this change means. We need to influence this change for the better. To all those who have had a successful 2008, strive for more success in this new year and those who view 2008 as a failure, there is no reason to be pessimistic, all odds can be overcome.

And lets all be the change that we want to see in the world as Mahatma Gandhi would say.