Seven facts about the Restitution of Land Rights Act
August 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
KWANELE SOSIBO* Land reform is in the spotlight again after an amendment to 1994’s Restitution of Land Rights Act. Here are seven facts to consider. Thanks to the amendment of 1994’s Restitution of Land Rights Act, and the continued slow pace of transfer to land beneficiaries, land reform has once again been thrust into the public eye. The department of rural development and land reform’s unilateral approach to implementing policy, and its apparent kneejerk response to political pressure, is having a significant impact on farming communities and those awaiting the transfer of land. The government’s project to bestow autocratic power upon traditional leaders as a way to govern the former homeland areas has opened up more than a few political, cultural and economic cans of worms. Here are seven facts to consider: 1. There’s a new expiry date The most significant amendment to the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 relates to the cut-off time for lodging land claims. The initial cut-off time of December 31 1998 has been changed to June 30 2019. Another amendment states that the Act will “ensure that priority is given to claims lodged not later than December 31 1998 and which were not finalised at the date of the commencement of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2014”. 2. Nobody cares about the expiry date Although the amendment of the Act does not deal with claims relating to land held before 1913, a slew of claims initiated by royal houses and traditional leaders is claiming land that was supposedly dispossessed before the cut-off date. In February this year President Jacob Zuma encouraged those present at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders to “find good lawyers” in order to facilitate their claims to the communities. Commentators say that the president has in effect encouraged chiefs to take custody of every land claim made within their jurisdiction. 3. Beneficiaries must work the land or lose it The government appears to have been prompted to rethink the entire issue of land reform by the sheer number of communities voicing their anger about how commercially viable land acquired through restitution has been conditionally transferred or not transferred at all. A recent paper by Ruth Hall, an associate professor at the University of the Western Cape-based Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, argues that since 2011 the proactive land acquisition strategy has become the only route through which the state is redistributing land. “Eligibility is broad and unclear, yet new insistence on ‘production discipline’ suggests that those with the resources to continue commercial farming operations will be prioritised, and that the state will evict its beneficiary tenants unable to do so,” she writes. 4. Traditional land reform traditionally gets shot down Two significant laws relating to land ownership in former Bantustan areas have been shot down already. One is the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004, which in effect transferred ownership of all the land in the former Bantustans to traditional communities headed by traditional councils. This law was struck down in the Constitutional Court in 2010. The other is the Traditional Courts Bill which, according to land rights researcher Aninka Claassens, “reinforced the construct of unilateral chiefly power within those tribal boundaries that coincide with the boundaries of the Bantustan, enabling chiefs to order forced labour and the power to take away customary entitlement such as land rights”. Lacking sufficient support, this Bill stalled in Parliament. 5. Reforms meant to counter the EFF are illogical Earlier this year, the department of rural development and land reform announced plans to redistribute 50% of commercial farmland to farmworkers as a way of redressing past injustices. The announcement – seen by some as a political game to fend off the Economic Freedom Fighters, and its call for expropriation of land without compensation – proved to be illogical. Land and agriculture researcher Stephen Greenberg wrote, “According to the proposal, all workers with between 10 and 25 years of ‘disciplined service’ on the land will be entitled to a 10% share equity based on market value of the land; those with 25-49 years service to get 25% share equity; and those with 50 years or more get 50% share equity. For example, if a farm has five workers with over 50 years’ service, will they each receive 50%? The only alternative is that they share the 50% allocated to this category. Thus, the more workers there are on a farm, the smaller their share. This is an arbitrary and unjust method of distributing resources.” 6. The Ciskei is the new frontier While all eyes are on the spectacular land claims being made by kings and other traditional leaders, land commentators are saying the Eastern Cape should prove to be an interesting focus as the impact of the 19th century frontier wars is brought to the fore. Historian and former Nhlapo Commission commissioner Jeff Peires says lower-level traditional leaders in the former Ciskei are going to claim quite a few white commercial farms, because the Ciskei is where the frontier wars were fought. “From East London to the Free State, all those farms are on commercial land. And the frontier wars went up to the 1880s, affecting East London to Queenstown and beyond.” 7. Traditional leaders keep the economy lubricated In a recent talk at a Wiser seminar on land rights, rural economy and mining researcher Gavin Capps argued that the shift in the government’s interest from urban to rural areas was related to the frenetic growth of the mining industry. “The consolidation of the South African state after 1910 – and the whole series of legislation that laid down the spatial and social and racial divisions of South Africa – was inherited [by the new democratic government] in 1994. The Land Acts of 1913 and 1936, the Nation Authorities Act of 1927 – the consolidation of these tenure laws is linked in part to the construction of the migrant labour system. Chiefs played important roles in the functioning of the system. This is part of their legacy despite the changes experienced in 1994,” said Capps. “Where before the homeland areas were the places for the production and reproduction of migrant labour and the dumping ground for the reserve of labour, now these areas are becoming the prime source of the economy. *Source M&G]]>
President Zuma of South Africa highlights country’s progress, seeks economic partnership
August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
National Press Club President Myron Belkind hands a pen to South African President Jacob Zuma as Zuma prepares to sign the speaker’s guest book.
Photo/Image: Al Teich[/caption] President Jacob Zuma of South Africa enumerated the progress achieved by his country in the last 20 years, telling a packed National Press Club Luncheon, Aug. 4 that South Africa has “a really good story to tell” about its democratic rule, while also acknowledging “the really hard road ahead.” Zuma, who is serving a second term after winning a re-election in 2014, said his administration was happy there were “about 600 U.S. companies investing in South Africa,” a development which he saw as a vote of confidence for the viability of the country as an investment destination. “We look forward to the further expansion of trade and other investment opportunities with the U.S. and other key markets,” he said. He said South Africa would not achieve this success alone, but as part of a “broader African success story,” as the country works with other African nations for economic integration, promotion of industrialization, power generation and to boost regional trade. Challenges remain in the areas of peace, security and poverty in some areas of Africa, while the preferred solution would be an “African-led” one to tackle African problems, Zuma said. He also said that the African continent would have to work in partnership with “the world” to successfully deal with the problems. While fielding questions from the audience on a wide range of issues, Zuma was asked if President Barack Obama could have done more for the African continent due to his African lineage. He said Obama was always aware of this fact, which may have made him “tread very carefully,” when dealing with Africa. “I believe he could have done more, but I think he was always aware of this fact and therefore he has navigated that situation very well,” said Zuma. In response to a question about the risk faced by South Africa from Ebola, he said the country was at no risk, so far, and was working together with health institutions all over the continent to address the problem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUo2QPuzP9w#t=452 Zuma said South Africa was working with other African countries to find a lasting solution to religious extremism, and that countries in the African Union had discussed this problem, resolving to have a “quick reaction force” to deal with such issues, in many of the areas where they emerge. “We believe that if it is allowed to be rooted in certain areas, it will certainly spread to other areas, so we are coming together to ensure that it is stopped,” he said. While answering a question from the audience asking if he agreed with the call by his party to expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa, due to the conflict in the Middle East, he said “people were worried about what was happening,” and the problem was complex, but South Africa had “experience” which they could offer the two sides. This was in reference to what he called “institutionalized racism in South Africa,” which he said the country had managed to overcome, calling on both sides in the Middle East to sit and talk, rather than resorting to a military option. Zuma led a South African Delegation to Washington to attend a U.S.-Africa summit, initiated by Obama. *Source NPC]]>
Khaya Dlanga: The gift and curse of being a Zuma
August 2, 2014 | 0 Comments
KHAYA DLANGA* [caption id="attachment_10711" align="alignleft" width="300"] Thuthukile Zuma[/caption] Thuthukile Zuma must prove she was hired because of her potential, but she’s experiencing what many black employees experience in the corporate world. There has been much talk about the appointment of President Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Thuthukile Zuma, to chief of staff in the new telecommunications and postal services ministry, headed by Siyabonga Cwele. Thuthukile is 25. She has the gift of being born a Zuma, meaning that opportunities will open up a lot faster for her than they would for someone who is equally talented. Yet, some opportunities may disappear simply because she is a Zuma and people are terrified of the perceptions of having a Zuma as an employee. It is a double-edged sword. Was the appointment legal? According to a report by the Mail & Guardian, there was nothing illegal about the appointment, and I quote, “ministers have the prerogative to make these appointments without going through the normal processes. Several departments do advertise such posts to ensure they attract the best-qualified candidates”. “Ministers have the prerogative,” which means that ministers can hire whoever they want. So we have ticked the legal box. But legal doesn’t always equate with ethical. This appointment raises several questions; not just about the president and his daughter, but about young people appointed to positions of significant responsibility and about people in government with powerful family connections. Should a young but extremely competent person be overlooked for a powerful position simply because of their youth and lack of experience, even if they show potential? And should someone who is related to a powerful family with political connections not seek government employment? We clearly don’t know if Thuthukile is good at what she does or not. She could well possess prodigious qualities that have helped her ascend through the ranks at such a rapid rate. If that is the case, should her status as a Zuma disqualify her? There is absolutely no doubt that her promotion to chief of staff for the department of telecommunications and postal services seems suspect. Her father is the president and Cwele is regarded as a Zuma loyalist. Cwele should have considered the wisdom of the appointment even if Thuthukile were in fact prodigious. The action of hiring Thuthukile to such a powerful post at such a young age – and without the experience generally held by chiefs of staff – was clearly going to raise a lot of questions and suspicion around a president who is constantly dogged by scandal. The minister failed to protect not only Thuthukile from the resulting media, but also failed to protect the president from more scandal. It’s not just about whether the appointment was legal, but how it would be perceived and how it would make the president, and Cwele himself, look. Some of our ministers have a lot to learn about public perception. The minister comes across as someone who is kissing the president’s arse, even if Thuthukile is prodigious. I doubt that there would have been such a media storm if she was promoted to the post in three years’ time, even if she still lacked the required 10 years’ experience. I don’t think that talented individuals should be overlooked even if they don’t have the required experience. I recently read a thesis in the Harvard Business Review written by Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, a senior adviser at a global executive search firm. “Top recruiters are changing how they work. Or they should be. That’s because the market today for top talent is too tight, and business is too volatile and complex, for the old method of focusing on ‘competencies’ when hiring and developing talent to work. Instead the focus needs to be on potential.” In his thesis, Fernandez-Araoz mentions having recruited a chief executive candidate for a beer company in Latin America who had an impressive resume. The man had all the correct credentials, he went to the right schools, universities, worked for some of the best global companies and had scored above target for all the competencies that were required. Despite this, he was unable to perform and was asked to leave the company. The next candidate was hired as a senior executive who rose rapidly through the ranks and became chief executive despite lacking the experience of the previous candidate. Fernandez-Araoz then argues, “The answer is potential: the ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments.” He argues that potential is more important than experience. Should we then be using the same hiring practices of the 20th century in the 21st century? Thuthukile may not have the right experience, but she may have the potential to succeed. When I started working in advertising, I was hired by an advertising agency in Cape Town. When I got there, I found a fellow university mate who had completed the full three-year course that I had dropped out of due to financial constraints. I was black (I still am), and this friend was white. One day, she blatantly told me that I was hired because of the colour of my skin, and I clearly shouldn’t be there as I had dropped out. Within a few a years, I had garnered a significant amount of global and local accolades, while she had none. The door might have been opened to me because of the law, but I believe I was hired because I had potential, not because I was black. Thuthukile will have to prove that she was hired because of her potential and not because of her surname. In some respects, I sympathise with her, because what she is experiencing is something many black employees in some organisations experience. I view the circumstances around the promotion of Thuthukile as a gift, and I believe that corporate South Africa should also consider looking at how best to utilise and encourage young potential talent. It is a debate that should permeate all organisations that perpetuate the false idea that there is a lack of talent in South Africa. *Source M&G]]>
South Africa still open on Central African Republic return
July 26, 2014 | 0 Comments
Despite losing 15 soldiers in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Africa has not ruled out a return to the war-torn country. Speaking to journalist before the debate on the Budget Vote of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans in Parliament on 23 July, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula noted that a number of countries had already deployed into the area. She noted that substantial organisation and proper command and control of the forces on the ground were required. “To add another force,” she said, “would it make a difference?” “Obviously, if the African Union were to take a decision, or even the UN would take a decision that forces, including South Africa, are required to go into the Central African Republic, we may actually have to consider that,” she stated. It was important in terms of South Africa’s foreign policy objectives to build a peaceful Africa. As a result, South Africa may have to deploy in support of those foreign policy objectives. Despite these objectives, it was up to the SANDF to advise the President, as Commander in Chief, whether the SANDF’s state of readiness is such that they would be able to deploy or not. Summing up, Mapisa-Nqakula said that the President would have to consider all the information at his disposal, including the scale of the deployment. “Because to deploy does not mean necessary to put boots on the ground all the time,” Mapisa-Nqakula explained, “We may actually go in as advisers in the reconstruction and development of that country and so on.” For now, South Africa and the SANDF are not involved in the Central African Republic. It would appear that the state of readiness and capability (or lack thereof) of the SANDF will have as much a say as to whether another deployment to CAR is forthcoming as any foreign policy initiative. South African troops were deployed to the country in March 2007 as part of Operation Vimbezela, the mission to assist the government of then President François Bozizé with training the Armed Forces of the Central African Republic (FACA) and the refurbishment of military facilities. In late 2012, a coalition of rebel groups under the name of Séléka renewed fighting, with Bozizé requesting international assistance to help with the rebellion. By December 2012, the situation on the ground had worsened to such an extent that an additional 200 soldiers were deployed the following January to protect the small group of South African troops already on the ground. In March 2013 Seleka rebels clashed with South African troops as they rebels marched towards the capital Bangui, unchecked by African Union (AU), Chadian and French forces. South African troops were caught in an ambush, but acquitted themselves well, killing or wounding an estimated 700 rebel fighters, for the loss of 13 SANDF troops (two later died of their injuries). Bozize was overthrown and the South African government withdrew its remaining forces. It was South Africa’s heaviest military loss since the creation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994. Despite numerous changes of governments since what became known in South Africa as the Battle of Bangui, chaos has reigned in CAR. Thousand s have been killed in the country, despite the presence of several thousand African Union peacekeepers and European Union and French troops. In addition, Ugandan troops have been in CAR hunting down Ugandan Lords Resistance Army rebels. Given South Africa’s history in the CAR, it is understandable that South Africa is reluctant to re-enter the fray. *Source defenceweb]]>
Land Issue: Africa Must Not Compromise
July 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
South African President Jacob Zuma recently signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill into law in a landmark move that is set to empower the government to reclaim African land from White settlers for distribution to their rightful owners. The law is also a test case for the South African government’s resolve in finally fulfilling one of the contentious and emotive issues that inspired the anti-apartheid movement. The effect of the law is that it re- opens the restitution claims process that closed at the end of 1998 and gives the claimants five years to lodge land claims. Only 80,000 land restitution claims were lodged in 1998 and it is estimated that there are up to five times as many valid cases that are to be brought by victims of apartheid’s forced removals. Predictably, the bulk of the South African Press relegated the land Bill story to inside pages with no more than five paragraphs and without any background information. The indifferent reportage by the media is not without basis as most of them are owned by Whites who also happen to be the target of the land reclamation exercise. It is the same Whites who feel insecure about the economic trajectory the victorious ANC is pursuing to appease its restless supporters. The anxieties and insecurity of the White populace in South African is aptly captured by one Laura Oneal. In an article titled “Land Reform and Redistribution in South Africa” Oneal argues that “land reform projects have failed and to call for an expedited change would create a political disaster for the ANC government.” There is always the temptation by racist White analysts to threaten the SA government by comparing it with Zimbabwe and always tainting the latter’s fast track land reform programme as a disaster despite the prevalence of studies painting a clearly contrary view. But the ANC is not without blemish. Since 1994 the ANC government has always been hesitant to embark on a serious land reform programme for fear of scaring away international capital. But 20 years on, the temperature is clearly rising as general South Africans begin to question the whole essence of the liberation movement, its ideals, aspirations and objectives. Indeed, one of the areas that the ANC needs to address is the skewed nature of land legislation which favours the land owners. Zimbabwe realised the folly of embarking on land reform without the relevant legislation and swiftly enacted laws not just to smoothen the exercise but to protect the new farmers. It must be noted that land reform in South Africa started way back soon after the country gained majority rule and its main thrust was to change the inequities of the apartheid era law, which stated that Africans were not permitted to own their own land. When the late Nelson Mandela assumed office as the first African president, the issue of land was included in the constitution. However, it emphasised that there would be no arbitrary expropriation of land and that land would be distributed on a willing buyer-willing seller basis. Just like in Zimbabwe, the willing buyer-willing seller was problematic in that White landowners constantly inflated the value of the land to unsustainable levels. The ANC government also set up the Restitution of Land Rights Act and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) meant to address issues of land reform and compensate those with legitimate claims of land having been stolen during apartheid. Again, the poorly advertised restitution had little success as the deadline for the submission of claims lapsed with very few people having successfully lodged their claims. In reality, the efforts by the ANC government in addressing the land issue were less revolutionary and to a greater extent the leadership was in no rush to upset the economic apple cart that had clearly made many of them rich. Until the signing of the Bill by President Zuma into law, a number of impediments slowed down the land redistribution exercise. One of the major impediments was the lack of relevant legislation that empowered government to expropriate land for redistribution and the focus on the willing buyer-willing seller approach. Sadly, the 30 percent of the 90 percent earmarked for distribution to Africans never really materialised as only 10 percent was redistributed and 90 percent of the farms distributed failed due to lack of funding. The unwillingness to relinquish ill-gotten wealth also hindered any efforts to correct historical injustices. It is hoped that the new law will in some way wade off growing volatility and anger among South African youths who make up 77 percent of the population and 70 percent of the unemployed. Although individuals like Julius Malema are sceptical of the ANC’s recent move preferring the Zimbabwean model of expropriation without compensation, President Zuma and his government must be commended for re-opening the restitution exercise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C60hNSZ-F0U Many argue that South Africans need jobs not land. This is fallacious given the avalanche of applications for restitution. Yes, they need jobs but they also realise that most Palestinians have jobs but are still fighting for their homeland. It is the same in South Africa. In 20 years, they will have jobs but will soon realise that they don’t have a country. Land reforms are a necessary ingredient for maintaining peace and stability in Africa and it forms the basis for nationhood and identity. * Source africanglobe ]]>
FIFA’s lousy legacy in South Africa
July 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
As the 2014 FIFA World Cup climaxes in Brazil, supplanting South Africa as the latest sucker host nation, South Africans reflect on its lousy legacy and Berliners shrug their shoulders knowingly. The World Cup is a rip-off, so why do nations fight to host it? By Brent Meersman* [caption id="attachment_10346" align="alignleft" width="300"] FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) and South African President Jacob Zuma give a press conference in Johannesburg on 12th March 2010. Photo: AP[/caption] Perhaps only an economist – the type of financial wizard that gave us the global economic meltdown – is able to convince people in the face of all the evidence that hosting the FIFA World Cup makes any financial sense at all. The figures are pure fantasy. Just as Tom Waits sings – what the big print giveth the small print taketh away – so the accounting firms commissioned by greedy politicians seeking popularity, and FIFA and global corporations seeking stupendous profits, put disclaimers in fine print knowing their wholly unscientific projections will almost certainly be rubbished after the event as the true costs and actual benefits become self-evident. One example of how mad and distorted the figures get were the claims that “32 billion viewers” watched the cup in South Africa. There are only seven billion people on the planet. South Africa has an economy about a sixth that of Brazil’s, which in turn has an economy about two-thirds that of Germany (FIFA host in 2006), and yet the nation of South Africa ponied up at least US$3 billion to host the event. FIFA walked away with a staggering profit of $3.5 billion tax free, 14 times the profit when the event was held in wealthy Germany when FIFA made (or was constrained by those sensible Germans to make) only a mere $254 million profit. Berliners have been in high spirits as their team beat Portugal, the United States, Algeria and France, and went on to thrash the host nation, securing their place in the finals on Sunday, their fourth since 1930. But ask the locals about the FIFA legacy and the reaction you are likely to get is that it was a great party, nothing else. No German seriously believed it would create jobs, boost GDP, bolster the country’s image or be a tax windfall. Germans can afford fun. They are rich. Already in 2007, my German friends in government positions were warning me that holding the cup in South Africa would only create greater not less inequality in an already economically riven nation. To give one example, it has been shown that the number of years a general worker would have to work to earn what the CEO of the construction companies building the stadiums earned (on average per annum) increased from 166 in 2004 to 285 years in 2009. [caption id="attachment_10347" align="alignright" width="300"] Before the tournament: The flagship Soccer City in Soweto, aka First National Bank Stadium. South Africa’s monopoly capitalist construction firms and their Black Economic Empowerment allies inflated prices, rigged tenders, and registered a 100% increase in their profits from 2004 to 2009[/caption] But FIFA has an almost unbeatable formula. It has the knack of matching mass support with prestige projects. Politicians love what the World Cup does for their image in the eyes of the world. Global corporations love getting not only a tax holiday, but also a massive subsidy from local taxpayers to make even greater profits. Both love the billions up for grabs nations spend to host the event. And the people love the tournament; sport mania, nationalist pride and economic desperation make for gullible populist support. In South Africa, most bizarrely the Communist Party came out rabidly in support of the event. This as South Africa’s monopoly capitalist construction firms and their suspect class of Black Economic Empowerment allies inflated prices, rigged tenders, and registered a 100% increase in their profits from 2004 to 2009 then massively cut (not added) jobs; as the state gave astonishing tax concessions to FIFA and its global corporate partners, exempt them from foreign exchange controls, suspended labour legislation, and took extreme measures to entrench the private property rights of multinationals that aren’t even integral to the South African economy. No one has yet scientifically shown any tangible benefits from the 2010 World Cup. South Africa is left with a clutch of empty stadiums, white elephants costing ratepayers millions per annum. Undoubtedly, the country has benefitted from the $1.7 billion the government spent on improving transport infrastructure, though it’s the wealthy that have most enjoyed the new roads, upgraded airports, enhanced neighbourhoods, and the Gautrain. All this is infrastructure that could have and should have been done by government without a World Cup. It is a sad reflection on government that political will can only be mustered for the sake of the eyes of foreign capitals and not through the wishes of its own people. The South African government found billions to build high quality, giant state of the art stadiums and completed them well within schedule. Yet it can’t build simple quality houses for the people evicted from land and protesting in the streets in the shadow of the stadiums. Such is the nature of the prestige project and its ability to circumvent democracy. And what of the sportsmen and women of South Africa four years later? FIFA has to date transferred $42 million to the World Cup Legacy Trust, a fund that supports “grassroots” soccer projects. That is 1.1% of its profit (which didn’t generate tax revenue for the host country). The legacy for young black South African soccer players has been pitiful to date. The board only decided in January 2013 to disburse the first funds and approved applications totalling $5 million. It is notable too that the national team of the former host nation failed even to qualify for the 2014 event. Perhaps the most widely touted claim for the legacy of the cup is that it changed the image of South Africa as an “investment destination”. But no sensible businessman will blindly direct investment to South Africa just because they saw a soccer match. They will as always do their homework on the fundamentals and the challenges pertinent to their business, and those challenges haven’t changed for the better thanks to FIFA. That it changed the minds of Afro-pessimist is equally absurd. If it did, it only took them one week more of news from Nairobi or Bangui or Marikana or Nkandla to bring back their prejudices. The second greatest claim – also hard, if not impossible, to quantify – is it boosted tourism. But given the costs involved, it seems even in the best-case scenario a feeble return. Imagine rather if the billions spent on stadiums was put into tourist infrastructure that could be accessed, used and enjoyed daily by visitors to the country. I have little doubt word of mouth was excellent from the fans who came to South Africa, as it generally is among visitors who discover the country. But did seeing the World Cup on television change the image of South Africa? Of this, I am less sure. More than once here in Berlin I have been asked about whether visiting South Africa is safe and are we tourist friendly. The first time, I was aghast. Did you not see our marvellous World Cup? Didn’t you see what we achieved? [caption id="attachment_10348" align="alignleft" width="300"] The country has benefitted from the $1.7 billion the government spent on improving transport infrastructure, though it’s the wealthy that have most enjoyed the new roads, upgraded airports, enhanced neighbourhoods, and the Gautrain, South Africa’s first high-speed train (Pictured). Photo: AFP[/caption] I have subsequently realised that the act of watching football takes place in a bubble. No cognitive connection is made between the country as a place to go to on holiday and what is seen enacted by international sports teams on football pitches that look exactly the same everywhere in the world. It is like trying to sell a country by showing people pictures of McDonalds – look we have these too. It is hard to write a column like this at this particular time, knocking the FIFA World Cup when everyone else is in raptures, but the unpleasant facts are there. South Africa certainly did itself proud in delivering the event so superbly, but to make any economic argument in favour of hosting the World Cup is at best delusional. FIFA expects to make a profit of $4 billion in Brazil. *Source thisisafrica]]>
South Africa: Zuma extends land restitution claims process
July 1, 2014 | 0 Comments
Crystal Orderson* South African President Jacob Zuma has signed into law a bill that re-opens the land restitution claims process that closed in 1998. The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment gives claimants up to June 30, 2019 to lodge land claims with the government. We have been bending over backwards as black people, particularly African people There has been debate that the 80 000 land restitution claims lodged by the 1998 deadline did not reflect the actual number of victims of the apartheid era forced removals. Land reform remains an emotive debate in South Africa with ctivists decrying the slow pace of land reform in the country with ownership still skewed in favour of whites. But the country has been very careful not to follow the Zimbabwe style land invasions and opted for the willing buyer willing seller model. Activists, however, say the willing buyer willing seller model, which sees the State buying land at market related prices, has failed to address land ownership patterns. Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj said that the Act now provides for the re-opening of the process of land claims by those who missed the 31 December 1998 deadline to lodge land claims. He added: “the regulation of the appointment, tenure of office, remuneration and the terms of and conditions of service of the judges of the Land Claims Court has also been amended”. Earlier this month, in a bid to address the land issue, the Land Affairs Ministry announced a new land reform proposal involving giving 50 percent of land to farmworkers. The policy paper on land reform and restitution, finalised in February and titled “Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land”, has sparked alarm and uncertainty among farmers. The document proposes that farm labourers assume ownership of half the land on which they are employed. This would be “proportional to their contribution to the development of the land, based on the number of years they had worked on the land”. The proposal has been rejected by organised agricultural bodies and described as “ill-considered” by Agri SA, one of the largest farmers ‘ unions. The commercial farmers’ group said the proposal by Rural Development and Land Reform minister Gugile Nkwinti ‘contained elements of what had happened in Zimbabwe’. But the minister hit back saying: “We have been bending over backwards as black people, particularly African people… It is time that all of us took responsibility for progress… for South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”. According to the proposals — with a deadline for feedback of April next year — government “will pay for the 50 percent to be shared by the labourers”.
Who will lead Africa now?
June 20, 2014 | 1 Comments
There was a time when everyone looked to South Africa for African solutions to Africa’s problems. After the advent of democracy in 1994 South Africa was a beacon of hope for the continent. Sadly that situation has not been sustained, writes Benedicta Dube
There was a time when South Africa was the leading angel in Africa. We led the establishment of the Pan African Parliament and assisted in changing the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was our pet project. We were there when Joseph Kabila ousted Mobutu Sese Seko, and the former Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Restoring the Timbuktu Manuscript was a personal project for former President Thabo Mbeki – falling under NEPAD – aimed at restoring the dignity of all Africans, and restoring northern Mali as an ancient centre of learning and teaching. Then 2009 came, and the South African political landscape changed.
We know today, that Nigeria has surpassed South Africa as the continent’s economic powerhouse. We also know today that Angola might just be Africa’s Qatar because of its generous oil deposits. The former Portuguese colony has catapulted itself to become Africa’s third largest economy, after Nigeria and South Africa. Pretoria’s economy has stagnated but Angola is touting optimistic oil production forecasts of 2 million barrels per day. That’s about 3 per cent of world crude oil production in coming years.
Back in South Africa, the economy is seeing a major decline. Unemployment is at a debilitating official rate of over 25 per cent and an unofficial rate of 40 per cent, and industrial unrest remains the order of the day. There’s so much domestic crises that there’s hardly time to focus on the rest of Africa.
London based research firm Capital Economics tells us that the South African economy probably grew at its slowest pace in nearly five years in the first quarter of 2014 as strikes weighed on output, but also due to slower consumer spending.
GDP data released last month indicates that seasonally adjusted GDP at market prices slumped at an annualised rate of 0.6 per cent for the first quarter of 2014. If there is a second consecutive quarter of negative economic growth this would mean a technical recession. The Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has revised our growth down from 2.6 per cent to 2.1 per cent.
On the back of this, it’s been a while since there was an active and direct intervention by South Africa in crises on the continent. The situation has deteriorated so badly that even when the Rwandan government was alleged to be actively staging assassinations against its opponents right under our noses, the South African government could do nothing.
When the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped the school girls at the Chibok Boarding School, it took South Africa almost a month to react, and that was only after intervention and active opposition from Europe and America.
Somalia remains an albatross around Africa’s neck, but we are waiting for Europe to intervene. We have to ask, who will lead Africa now?
It certainly will not be South Africa, President Jacob Zuma is too focused on fighting for his political survival and staying out of jail, Nigeria has too much on its plate trying to deal with infrastructural issues and terrorist groups in its midst.
The private sector is milking it, but won’t be politically involved. In the words of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, we are back again to “Black man, you are on your own.” We are on our own, and unless another Thabo Mbeki rises, we’ll have to look to Europe for rescue.
Mandela aide's memoir set to ruffle feathers
June 17, 2014 | 1 Comments
Nelson Mandela’s widow was treated badly by members of his family as the peace icon was fighting for his life in hospital, excerpts from a memoir by his long-time aide have revealed. In a book likely to ruffle some feathers within the large Mandela family, Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s personal assistant for 19 years, tells of shabby treatment suffered by Graca Machel, even in the aftermath of her husband’s death. La Grange’s book “Good Morning, Mr Mandela” will be launched on Thursday. Excerpts published by Sunday Times newspaper reveal that Machel was once called “Ms Frantic” by Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe, after media reports that she had been in a frenzy when an ambulance driving Mandela to hospital broke down on a motorway on a cold evening in June 2013. La Grange also recalled family squabbles over control of the revered statesman during his final days, sidelining Machel. She says politics within the Mandela family about his funeral took place for years before he died in December last year at the age of 95. Machel had refused to be party to such arrangements. “I don’t know of any person alive who has been treated with the amount of disrespect that people have shown to Mrs Machel,” writes La Grange. She also says that Machel, like anybody else, was compelled to get accreditation to attend her own husband’s funeral on December 15. The Machel family was allocated only five spots at the service. Makaziwe told the Sunday Times that La Grange would have to prove any reference she made about the family in the book “otherwise she will be sued.” But the former aide has defended her words. “My book was not written as a definitive account — to say ‘this is Madiba’. It’s just my experience,” she told the Sunday Times. La Grange, a white Afrikaans woman, had over the years become a permanent feature at Mandela’s side, often seen holding his hand to offer support during his frail final years. On a lighter side, she told how she was at loss for words when she met him for the first time. “I said: ‘Good morning, Mr Mandela’,” and started crying. “I felt guilty that this kindly-spoken man with gentle eyes and generosity of spirit spoke to me in my own language after my people had sent him to jail for so many years.” La Grange also claims that Machel had to intervene after Makaziwe had prevented her from visiting Mandela in hospital, telling her that she was no longer an employee. *Source newvision]]>
Winner of African Story Challenge Focuses on the Health Toll on Miners
June 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
Journalists and media organizations in Africa often shy away from development stories, such as those on health and social justice, and instead opt to cover politics. Rebecca Davis, of South African daily online newspaper Daily Maverick, says African news organizations “feel [development] stories are boring or [that readers] have ‘poverty fatigue.’ ” But journalists like Davis are working to change that. Last month, her story “Coughing up for Gold,” which looked at the toll that mining has taken on the health of former South African mine workers, emerged the winner of a continent-wide reporting contest, the African Story Challenge. For her work, Davis wins an international reporting trip. The African Story Challenge is a project of the African Media Initiative (AMI), the continent’s largest association of media owners and operators, in partnership with the International Center for Journalists.Joseph Warungu, AMI’s content strategies director, developed the challenge during his ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship. Story ideas are selected to receive grants of up to US$20,000 to support journalists in producing comprehensive multimedia stories in three categories that are organized in cycles – agriculture and food security, disease prevention and treatment, and business and technology. Davis won in the disease prevention and treatment category. “The African Story Challenge reminded me of the importance of Africans telling their own stories,” Davis said in an interview about the making of “Coughing up for Gold.” She urged journalists to “always put a human face at the center of the story, and that’s how you draw your audience, no matter how dry the subject matter may seem at the outset.” More of her interview is published below with permission from the African Story Challenge: African Story Challenge: How would you describe your experience as an African Story Challenge Finalist and Winner? RD: The African Story Challenge has been a priceless opportunity for me. The training I received during the Story Camp in Lagos was particularly useful as I learned a lot on data journalism. Now I have some of the skills to make my own graphics. I work for a news organization that doesn’t have a lot of resources so anything we can do ourselves, we do. Above all, the financial support was invaluable. In this day and age, few organizations have the time or money to do such in-depth investigative reports. If we hadn’t received this grant from the African Media Initiative, we would not have been able to do this story. ASC: You had six weeks to produce “Coughing up for Gold.” How did you go about it? RD: In doing “Coughing up for Gold,” I wanted to look at the complex issue of silicosis amongst former miners whose plight has been neglected by government and other industry players. Silicosis has everything: it’s politics, money, race, sort of South Africa in a microcosm, and that’s why I found it such a fascinating issue. My cameraman, fixer and I travelled to the Eastern Cape, sometimes for many kilometers in very remote areas and into the mountains to find these ex-miners. We found them sick, and living in conditions of heartbreaking poverty. They couldn’t work due to the disease, and if they had been paid compensation, it was too little. They were welcoming and willing to talk to us, and it was quite humbling to experience their hospitality considering the hardship of their living conditions. It was very hard to get access to the mines themselves, but at short notice, we were able to visit Sibanye Gold, one of the biggest gold producers. We wanted to get a general feel of what mining conditions are like. We were able to speak to top mining officials there who obviously gave us a sanitized version, but it was still interesting to hear what the mines had to say about the situation. We carried out other interviews with mining experts from the chamber of mines and other officials who didn’t want to go on the record, who gave us interesting insights into exactly what the industry knows about the problem and what they are doing about it. One of our biggest coups in doing the project was finding two health experts attached to the national institute of occupational health, Dr. Jill Murray and Dr. Tony Davis who gave us an interview. They had been carrying out autopsies on former miners for years and years and were in the best position to cut through the PR waffle from the mines because they are the ones looking at the lungs of the miners, and can show you the graphs of how incidences of Silicosis and TB are rising year after year. Every journalist should be so lucky to find such knowledgeable interview subjects who aren’t scared, and are willing to talk at length and explain the subject to a layman. We finished off by interviewing the lawyers who’d been involved in taking up the compensation cases for a legal perspective. ASC: What has been the feedback from the story? RD: The feedback has been quite positive, even from people within the mining industry. We’ve had a couple of people come forward to say that though the story was hard hitting, it was essentially valid. The lawyers for the miners have asked to use part of the project, such as the videos, in their own documentation, which was quite heartening. I hope it can be of use to them in the fight for compensation. In general, a lot of people said that although they were aware the issue of silicosis existed, they hadn’t seen it in such a comprehensive package before, and “Coughing up for Gold” managed to inform them in that way, and that has been an incredibly worthwhile thing. The African Story Challenge reminded me of the importance of Africans telling their own stories. A lot of journalists and media organizations shy away from development stories and particularly those on health and social justice because they feel these stories are boring or have “poverty fatigue”. Part of what I’ve learnt from the African Story Challenge journey is to always put a human face at the center of the story, and that’s how you draw your audience, no matter how dry the subject matter may seem at the outset. *ICFJ .This story was also published on IJNet, which is produced by ICFJ.]]>
Ailing South African president to work from home
June 14, 2014 | 1 Comments
South Africa’s ailing and exhausted leader, President Jacob Zuma will miss his government’s first meeting, as he recovers from fatigue following last month’s election. Recently elected for a second term, Zuma was last week admitted at a Pretoria hospital and treated for fatigue, before being discharged on Sunday evening. “The President will continue to rest for a few days and will work mainly from home during the rest period,” the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe said. Zuma’s office said he had already met with all his new ministers and their deputies ministers in May to go over the policy priorities and his expectations of them. The Presidency refuted media reports that Zuma had made certain “unscheduled visits” to Durban hospitals early this year. All visits, Zuma’s office said, are booked in advance and those mentioned were part of the annual first semester check-ups. The ruling ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) reportedly also made an impassioned plea to Zuma to take a “well-deserved rest following a gruelling election” and the naming of the new cabinet. The ANC was at pains to explain that all the top leaders would be taking a break following the release of the election results. Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said the campaign ahead of the May 7 election was gruelling and Zuma needed a rest, while ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe echoed similar sentiments at a recent meeting. Zuma is likely to end his sabbatical in time for the all-important State of the Nation address at parliament on June 17 in Cape Town. The address gives shape to the government’s policy trajectory for the country over the next year.]]>
President Jacob Zuma announces members of the National Executive, Pretoria
May 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
Fellow South Africans,