Archive | South Africa

Back to Segregation? White-Only South African Town Denies Allegation of Racism

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  • South Africa
    South Africa’s white-only town inhabitants deny allegations of racism. | Photo: Reuters

A town called Eureka in the Northern Cape province of South Africa is built by white Afrikaans exclusively for themselves but they deny the move is racist.

White South Africans have built a white-only town in the Northern Cape province. A white-only town is not racist according to the inhabitants.

RELATED: South Africa: Ramaphosa Heading for Another Electoral Victory

The town, called Eureka, is only for white Afrikaans speaking people who allege to be victims of racism.

The place is built to protect and preserve the Afrikana culture, language, and way of life according to Okkert Swanpoel, one of the inhabitants of Eureka. “With affirmative action, it made it increasingly difficult for us as white people to get jobs… and also job security,” Swanpoel said.

Adriaan Nieuwoudt, founder of Eureka told Al-Jazeera, “The shoe is now on the other foot and now we are fighting against the racists. How can we be racists when it is us who are being forced out of the country?”

So far only 20 families reside in Eureka while more homes are being built.

However, the local government urged courts to stop people from building any more houses in the area. According to the municipality, the homes were built without permission and against building regulations. The court agreed on stopping further construction but it is also deliberating on whether a white-only town should be allowed to exist.

Racism has been a concern of Black people in South Africa even after the end of apartheid. White people still own most of the lands that they have taken away from Black farmers during the colonial period. The social movements have been demanding the government passes a law of expropriating land from white farmers without compensation.

Since the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, no more than 10 percent of the white-owned land has been transferred back to Black South Africans. Most of South Africa’s arable land remains controlled by white farmers. In 2016, the country’s parliament approved a bill allowing the “compulsory purchase” of land by the state to later transfer it to Black citizens, but not many white farmers have been interested in selling their property. The bill was withdrawn in 2018.

The land expropriation without compensation plan will seek to take back lands from white Afrikaners and to redistribute them to Black citizens who had been denied rightful ownership since the apartheid period.

That demand raised an outcry from white farmers who claimed to be victims of racism.

“The law of this country is anti-Black,” said Andile Mingxitama of Black First Land First party. “The whole economic system is anti-Black. The media projection of Black problems is anti-Black. We are going to the parliament, therefore, to represent the real voice of our people.”

South Africa is going to elections Wednesday and the issues of racism, land, and segregation are considered to be the main concerns of voters in this election.

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I fought South African apartheid

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I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel

I was shut down in South Africa for speaking out, and I’m disturbed that the same is happening to critics of Israel now

 Ronnie Kasrils was a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era and former government minister

A Likud election campaign poster in Haedera, Israel.
‘Benjamin Netanyahu said recently: ‘Israel is not a state of all its citizens … Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone.’ Photograph: Amir Levy/Getty Images

As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.

Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.

How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day

I’m also deeply disturbed that critics of Israel’s brutal policies are frequently threatened with repression of their freedom of speech, a reality I’ve now experienced at first hand. Last week, a public meeting in Vienna where I was scheduled to speak in support of Palestinian freedom, as part of the global Israeli Apartheid Week, was cancelled by the museum hosting the event – under pressure from Vienna’s city council, which opposes the international movement to divest from Israel.

South Africa’s apartheid government banned me for life from attending meetings. Nothing I said could be published, because I stood up against apartheid. How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day, stifling free speech on Palestine.

During the South African struggle, we were accused of following a communist agenda, but smears didn’t deflect us. Today, Israel’s propaganda follows a similar route, repeated by its supporters – conflating opposition to Israel with antisemitism. This must be resisted.

A growing number of Jews worldwide are taking positions opposing Israel’s policies. Many younger Jews are supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a peaceful mobilisation inspired by the movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.

The parallels with South Africa are many. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently said: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens … Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and them alone.”

Similar racist utterances were common in apartheid South Africa. We argued that a just peace could be reached, and that white people would find security only in a unitary, non-racist, democratic society after ending the oppression of black South Africans and providing freedom and equality for all.

By contrast, Netanyahu’s Likud is desperately courting extremist parties, and abandoning any pretext of negotiating with the Palestinians. His plan to bring an extremist settler party and Kahanist terrorist party into his governing coalition is obscene. His most serious opponent is a general accused of war crimes in Gaza. As long as a repressive apartheid-like regime rules, things will only worsen for Palestinians and Israelis too.

The anti-apartheid movement grew over three decades, in concert with the liberation struggle of South Africa’s people, to make a decisive difference in toppling the racist regime. Europeans refused to buy apartheid fruit; there were sports boycotts; dockworkers from Liverpool to Melbourne refused to handle South African cargo; an academic boycott turned universities into apartheid-free zones; and arms sanctions helped to shift the balance against South Africa’s military.

As the movement developed and UN resolutions isolated Pretoria’s regime, pressure mounted on trading partners and supportive governments. The US Congress’s historic adoption of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (1986) was a major turning point. When the Chase and Barclays banks closed in South Africa and withdrew their lines of credit, the battle was well-nigh over.

This required huge organisational effort, grassroots mobilisation and education. Similar elements characterise today’s BDS movement to isolate apartheid-like Israel.

Every step is important – pressing institutions and corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes and supporting Palestinians in their struggle for liberation. This is not about destroying Israel and its people but about working for a just solution, as we did in South Africa.

It is the duty of supporters of justice worldwide to mobilise in solidarity with Palestinians to help usher in an era of freedom.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on I fought South African apartheid

By Cutting Off Relations, South Africa Has Branded ‘Israel’ With the Mark of Cain

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FILE PHOTO: A child takes part in a rally against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in Cape Town, South Africa, August 9, 2014.FILE PHOTO: A child takes part in a rally against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in Cape Town, South Africa, August 9, 2014.Schalk van Zuydam / AP

Because of the election battle, an important item fell by the wayside that should have resonated here: South Africa has decided to downgrade its relations with Israel to the level of liaison bureau, which will not deal with bilateral relations. Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, who was recalled to protest the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, will not return. South Africa has essentially severed diplomatic relations with Israel. We’re left with Chad.

One can, of course, take comfort in the arms of the Brazilian president, admire the president of the Philippines, hug the prime minister of Hungary, and take pleasure in U.S. President Donald Trump. But South Africa is not just any country; it’s a symbol of justice, despite all its difficulties, corruption and crime. By cutting off relations it has stamped the mark of Cain on Israel’s forehead.

The Foreign Ministry’s response to the move only illustrates how low Israeli propaganda can go. “It’s a nod toward the country’s Muslim population, because of the approaching elections,” was the unbelievable Israeli explanation for the break. How miserable, how insulting to the intelligence, how ignorant and repulsive that is. It wasn’t the killing of demonstrators in Gaza, or solidarity with the oppressed, or South Africa’s own legacy, just a gesture to the Muslim voter. With pathetic responses like this, it would be better for the Foreign Ministry to continue to disintegrate. We have no need for it.

South Africa’s shameful capitulation to anti-Israel thuggery 
■ ‘Artwashing:’ BDS activists ramp up pressure on Eurovision 2019 in Israel

The severing of relations with the country of Nelson Mandela shouldn’t merely stir up sad thoughts about who Israel’s friends and critics are; South Africa, in a move that generates respect, is teaching Israel an important lesson about instilling the legacy of the past and learning its lessons. By cutting off ties with an occupying, apartheid state, it’s telling Israel: We’ve learned the lessons of our past. What about you?

South Africa's Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane in 2015.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane in 2015

The lesson that South Africa has learned is: Never again. In theory it’s similar to the lesson imparted to Israelis from the Holocaust, but actually it’s the opposite. When South Africa says “never again,” it plans to continue battling racism and apartheid everywhere in the world; it isn’t prepared to cooperate with regimes that are racist or apartheid under any circumstances, even if there’s a price to pay.

It’s not simple to sever relations with Israel. Trump might get angry, and there is still a strong Zionist community in South Africa. But South Africa is motivated by more than just interests.

Israel is the total opposite. Its lesson from the Holocaust is, as Golda Meir put it, that Jews are now permitted to do anything. Generations of young people are sent on trips to Auschwitz that corrupt their souls and rot their consciences. They are told their country must be strong, to live only by the sword, and that the whole world is against it. They wrap themselves in flags, cry and swear to live by power and not to rely on anyone.

FILE PHOTO: A group of Jewish people take part in a mach gathering thousands people through Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2018
FILE PHOTO: A group of Jewish people take part in a mach gathering thousands people through Cape Town, South Africa, May 15, 2018RODGER BOSCH / AFP

There is no humane message or moral lesson. That’s why Israel can embrace Rodrigo Duterte, stroke Jair Bolsonaro and admire Trump, or supply arms to all the tyrannical countries in the world and ignore the moral and ethical implications of its foreign policy. That’s for wimps.

When South Africa says “No” to Israel, it is speaking in the name of Mandela, who supported the Palestinians in their struggle and felt a moral obligation to assist them, but also tried to maintain good relations with Israel despite its shameful ties to apartheid. There’s no doubt that today Mandela would also support severing relations. South Africa is also speaking for those exemplary Jews who struggled hand in hand with the black freedom fighters, were wounded and jailed with them, and one can assume are already fed up with Israel. We have almost no such brave moralists who will struggle alongside the Palestinians.

The state of conscience has decided to ostracize the State of Israel. Israel doesn’t care. “Cry, the Beloved Country,” wrote Alan Paton about his country during its dark days. In Israel, there isn’t anyone who’ll cry.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on By Cutting Off Relations, South Africa Has Branded ‘Israel’ With the Mark of Cain

A Foreign Ministry: First stage of Nazi embassy downgrade complete

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SA protests

South Africa has already completed stage one in the process of the downgrading of its embassy to Tel Aviv, and South African ambassador to Tel Aviv, Sisa Ngombane, is back in South Africa, said Minister of International Relations, Lindiwe Sisulu, on Wednesday.

Speaking at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, Sisulu went on to say: “Our liaison office in Tel Aviv will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development co-operation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities. The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations.”

DIRCO’s decision to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv is in implementation of a resolution taken at the ANC’s 54th elective conference in December 2017, directing the South African government to “immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office.” The ANC called the resolution “a practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine” and a means to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine.

Palestinian Authority (PA) ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, welcomed the move. “South Africa represents the values of dignity, freedom and justice, and is fully aware of the importance of its pioneering role in international solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world, especially the Palestinian people. This support will surely contribute to peace and security in our world,” Dajani said in an interview with the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Hamas spokesperson, Basem Naim, hoped that the downgrading would eventually escalate to a complete boycott of Israel. “We thank South Africa for the steps it has taken to express its anger at the apartheid policy of the Israeli occupation state,” Naim told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel also welcomed Sisulu’s remarks.

Israel’s lobbyists, however, have warned that downgrading the embassy in Tel Aviv would harm South Africa economically.

According to Na’eem Jeenah of the Afro-Middle East Centre, cutting ties with Israel won’t hurt the country.

“Whether there are any trade implications from a downgrade will depend on how Israel responds. Even if Israel places obstacles to trade between the two countries, the effect will be insignificant. The trade volumes are not significant enough to be of great concern to South Africa. Israeli imports can easily be replaced with substitutes from elsewhere or by locally-developed technology. Israeli technology is not indispensable,” explained Jeenah.

Jeenah also dismissed claims that a downgrade will negatively affect South African Jews and Christians’ ability to travel to Palestine-Israel for religious reasons. “This is nonsensical. This fear can only be realized if Israel denies entry to Jews and Christians.”

According to Jeenah, Venezuela and Bolivia are useful examples. “Their Jewish populations continue to enjoy normal ties with Israel, and the Chavez government even secured Jewish religious sites in 2009, protecting the country’s Jewish population from protests against Israel’s 2008-2009 Gaza massacre.” This, Jeenah argues, is the kind of responsibility that the South African government should also adopt. 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on A Foreign Ministry: First stage of Nazi embassy downgrade complete

Protests in Nigeria, South Africa in support of Palestinian rights

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Hundreds took to the streets in the south-western Nigerian city of Iwo (Osun State), in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine on 30 March, 2019 [File photo]

Hundreds took to the streets in the south-western Nigerian city of Iwo (Osun State), in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine on 30 March, 2019 [File photo].

Nigerians and South Africans joined tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in commemorating the first anniversary of the Great March of Return and Palestinian Land Day on Saturday.

On Saturday, hundreds took to the streets in Iwo, in a march organised by Nigerian Friends of Palestine. “Until freedom is attained we will remain committed to the Palestinian cause,” spokesperson Daood Imran Molaasan told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.

Today, we are defending a just cause and we need not be Palestinians or Muslims to do so

he added.

Other Nigerian rights activists and Muslim scholars have hailed Palestinians for resisting the occupation by Israel.

“The Palestinian struggle is about the existence of a generation of people who keep fighting, and they must continue to sustain the struggle until justice is achieved,” said Nigerian author and veteran broadcast journalist, Abdur-Razaq Abdus-Salam.

READ: South Africa to downgrade Israel diplomatic mission

South Africans also gathered at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg for a tree-planting ceremony and protest organised by the Palestine Solidarity Alliance to commemorate Palestinian Land Dayand the anniversary of the Great March of Return on Saturday.

Over 260 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army over the last year during protests that aim to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Palestinians are protesting calling for an end to the 12-year Israeli siege on the enclave and to return to the homes from which their families were forcibly displaced to make way for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

READ: Nigerian Muslim body calls for sanctions on Israel

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, South AfricaComments Off on Protests in Nigeria, South Africa in support of Palestinian rights

Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation

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Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation
US President Donald Trump has expressed concern over the fate of white farmers in South Africa, where the extremely controversial land redistribution reform might leave owners without their properties or any compensation.

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers,’” Trump tweeted.

The South African government this week has reportedly moved to seize two farms from owners who refused to accept the government-set compensation, triggering panic among landlords and investors.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews

Local media reported the properties in the northern province of Limpopo became the first to be seized as the government pushes to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. While the government valued the land at 200 million rand ($18.7 million), Akkerland Boerdery, the hunting company that operates the farms, said they are being offered just 20 million rand ($1.87 million), which they have refused to accept.

This week’s seizures reportedly mark the first instance in which the government is expropriating land “in the public interest”without compensating owners with its full market price.

Land for sale in the Western cape area of South Africa © Education Images/UIG

South African state-owned Land Bank has warned of the massive economic burden for the economy, that may even trigger a default, if the farming sector and agri-business loses confidence and stops investing and paying off debts. If reforms to the constitution are introduced and the bank’s rights as a creditor are not protected, it may cost the economy 41 billion rand ($2.8 billion) in a bailout, the institution said.

The recently elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who repeatedly pledged to act more aggressively in redistributing white-owned land to the long-oppressed black population, disregarding a “willing seller, willing buyer” policy that was adopted after apartheid ended in 1994. Statistics show that white owners still control some 72 percent of farmland in South Africa, despite constituting only 9 percent of the population.

While Trump bemoaned the “large scale killing of farmers,” homicide rates in South Africa are at 20-year low, with 47 farmers killed in 2017-18, according to a recent research by one of the country’s biggest farmers’ organizations AgriSA. A peak in attacks was registered in 2001-2002, when 140 murders took place. Murder statistics, however, diverge, with civil rights group AfriForum saying 84 were killed in 2017 alone.

Posted in USA, South AfricaComments Off on Trump orders Pompeo to ‘closely study’ South Africa’s land expropriation

NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with the Nazi regime

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Image result for NDP LOGO

NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with Israel

By Yves Engler 

Is it appropriate for NDP Members of Parliament to be working for “greater friendship” with a country that is killing and maiming thousands of non-violent protestors?

Would it have been appropriate for any elected member of the party to be a “friend” with South Africa’s government during the apartheid era?

Victoria area MPs Randall Garrison (left) and Murray Rankin are members of the Canada Israel Interparliamentary Group (previously named Canada-Israel Friendship Group).

Garrison is vice-chair of a group designed to promote “greater friendship” and “cooperation” between the two countries’ parliaments.

The chair of the group is York Centre MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund, who issued a statement blaming “Hamas incitement” for Israeli forces shooting thousands of peaceful protesters, including Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani.

The Interparliamentary Group is one of many pro-Israel lobbying organizations in Canada. In conjunction with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, the Interparliamentary Group has hosted wine and cheese lobbying events on Parliament Hill. Three hundred parliamentarians and parliamentary staff attended their 2014 “Israeli Wine Meets Canadian Cheese” gathering in the East Block courtyard.

The group regularly meets the Israeli Ambassador and that country’s other diplomats. Representatives of the Group also regularly visit Israel on sponsored trips. For their part, Garrison and Rankin both participated in CIJA-organized trips to Israel in 2016.

The Interparliamentary Group works with its Israeli counterpart the Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. In 2016 the Group sent a delegation to the Israeli Knesset and last year they organized a joint teleconference with Israel-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group co-chairs Yoel Hasson and Anat Berko.

Last month Hasson responded to Meretz party Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg’s call for an investigation into the Israel Defense Forces’ killing of non-violent Palestinian protesters by tweeting, “there was nothing to investigate, the IDF is doing what’s necessary to defend the Gaza border.”

Chairman of the Zionist Union Knesset faction, Hasson opposed the UN resolution on a Palestinian state. When the Knesset voted to strip Arab MK Hanin Zoabi of parliamentary privileges for participating in the 2010 Gaza flotilla Hasson and MK Carmel Shama “nearly came to blows” with Zoabi and her fellow Balad party MK Jamal Zahalka. Hasson later called Zoabi a “terrorist”.

Berko is even more openly racist and anti-Palestinian. A Lieutenant-Colonel in the IDF reserves prior to her election with Likud, Berko openly disparaged African refugees. In February Israel National News reported, “Berko said that the MKs should see the suffering that African migrants have caused South Tel Aviv residents before jetting off to Rwanda” to oppose an effort to deport mostly Eritrean and Sudanese refugees to the small East African nation.

In January Berko co-sponsored a bill to bypass a High Court ruling that Israeli forces cannot use the bodies of dead Palestinian protesters as bargaining chips. The aim of the bill was to make it harder for the bodies to be given over for burial, which should happen as soon as possible under Muslim ritual, in the hopes of preventing high profile funerals. In a 2016 Knesset debate Berko make the ridiculous claim that the absence of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet meant Palestine did not exist since “no people would give itself a name it couldn’t pronounce.”

In response Richard Silverstein noted, “Apparently, the fact that the word is spelled and pronounced with an ‘F’ (Falastin) in Arabic seems to have escaped her. It’s worth noting, too, that according to her logic, Israeli Jews do not exist either, since there is no letter ‘J’ in Hebrew.”

Garrison and Rankin must immediately withdraw from the Canada–Israel Interparliamentary Group. If the NDP MPs refuse to disassociate themselves from the pro-Israel lobby organization, party leader Jagmeet Singh should replace them as (respectively) NDP defence and justice critics.

Israel’s slaughter in Gaza should lead to an end of the NDP’s anti-Palestinian past.

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South Africa Downgrades Nazi Embassy in Protest of Trump Jerusalem Decision

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  • A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Israeli forces during protest against U.S. President Trump
    A Palestinian protester throws a stone at Nazi forces during protest against U.S. President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, Dec. 20, 2017 | Photo: Reuters.
South Africa’s ruling party said it is downsizing its embassy in Israel to a “Liaison Office” in solidarity with Palestinians in the face of U.S. bias toward Israel.

South Africa will downside its diplomatic representation in Israel in response to the U.S. government’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the ruling African National Congress said Wednesday.

RELATED: Palestine Slams US ‘Blackmail’ Says Jerusalem Not ‘for Sale’

“In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine, the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office,” Palestinian state news agency Wafa quoted the ANC statement as saying.

The ANC said their move would “send a clear message to Israel that there is a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, called the move “an important decision,” and added that he hoped other governments around the world would follow suit.

The South African decision comes one day ahead of an emergency session at the United Nations General Assembly where its 193 members will vote on a draft resolution calling on Washington to reverse its declaration on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile 10 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the decision last month, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Wednesday, while hunderds have been injured in clashes with Israeli police and occupation forces.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society also said that at least 490 people have been arrested since the Trump decision earlier this month, including 148 minors and 11 women.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, South AfricaComments Off on South Africa Downgrades Nazi Embassy in Protest of Trump Jerusalem Decision

Entre-preneurship for radical economic transformation in South Africa

Youthvillage.co.za

Entrepreneurship is more than just an economic term — it is a way of thinking. Creating jobs, empowering people and giving individuals access to better lives is certainly a development goal which all countries aspire to. But while South Africa has embraced the rhetoric, it has yet to create the economic ecosystem necessary for entrepreneurship to thrive.

Addressing widespread poverty is the single most important policy challenge facing South Africa. Not only is poverty high when benchmarked against other emerging economies of the world, but also the rate of poverty reduction has been slow. Whilst the South African economy has grown since 1994, albeit at a snail’s pace, poverty incidence remains relatively high. On a parallel plane, another critical development parameter indicates that South Africa has the highest income inequality in the world. According a recent Oxfam report, South Africa’s Gini coefficient consistently ranges from about 0.660 to 0.696. The Gini coefficient is the measure of income inequality, ranging from 0 to 1, 0 is a perfectly equal society and a value of 1 represents a perfectly unequal society. This makes South Africa one of the most consistently unequal countries in the world.

Inclusive development has been seriously lacking in South Africa. The critical challenge is to spread the payback of economic growth among the people, especially the poorest of the poor. As much as this sad state of affairs has been politically dressed up in all sorts of radical narratives and memes, the crux of the ANC’s policy conference held a few weeks ago was the urgency for transformation to a society which has a more equitable distribution of wealth.

Indeed poverty and rising income inequalities are critical challenges for South Africa. They adversely impact inclusive economic development and socio-political stability and simultaneously impede progress in health and education. With rising unemployment rates, South Africa will continue to have the highest income inequality in the world in 2020 measured by the Gini coefficient. There is an imperative to transform or face the wrath of the down trodden masses.

This unequal development, though, is not unique to South Africa. Governments in both developed and emerging economies have been under pressure to cut fiscal expenditures and reduce unemployment. Equally, there has been increased focus on the need for governments to pursue inclusive growth, rather than merely focus on macro-economic indicators like gross domestic product. This new development consensus has emerged at a time when many countries are grappling with the root causes of political uprisings. Governments have been increasingly concerned with the need to provide decent and productive work, especially for their burgeoning youth populations, which are likely to be unemployed or underemployed at higher rates. Conversely, many emerging economies, including South Africa, continue using the public sector to achieve employment goals, resulting in relatively bloated public service sectors that do not contribute in any meaningful way to the prosperity of a country.

Deriving from this negative experience, many developing economies have begun to explore entrepreneurial initiatives as a means to facilitate job creation and inclusive growth. Even the cornerstone of South Africa’s National Development Plan espouses entrepreneurship as a means of dealing with a flagging economy and the perennial question of unemployment. However, while South Africa has embraced rhetoric extolling the benefits of entrepreneurship, entrenched political, economic, and socio-cultural interests limit these efforts. The country has yet to create the economic ecosystem necessary for entrepreneurship to thrive—that is, an integrated policy environment that encourages start-ups and enables entrepreneurial ventures to take hold and succeed. Instead, many challenges continue to impede South African entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential.

Entrepreneurship is more than just an economic term — it is a way of thinking. Creating jobs, empowering people, and giving individuals access to better lives for themselves and their children is certainly a development goal which all countries aspire to. It is no wonder, therefore, that entrepreneurship has become a dynamic, emergent part of global economies promoting inclusive growth. It can provide the solution by creating wealth, jobs, and social empowerment, especially if South Africa is to address the issue of poverty with some degree of success. History and empirical evidence inform us that we have no choice but to actively encourage entrepreneurial ventures.

Unquestionably, entrepreneurship offers the opportunity to South Africa’s poor to earn a sustainable livelihood. It represents a sizeable engine of decent employment generation and can provide an important contribution to sustainable development by creating jobs and driving economic growth and innovation, fostering ‘radical economic transformation’, reducing poverty, improving the quality of life and promoting the equitable distribution of wealth.

Notwithstanding the fact that entrepreneurship can contribute significantly in achieving inclusive growth, South Africa has existing political, economic and socio-cultural challenges, especially in areas such as regulation, finance and education. The public sector, likewise, remains a major challenge. This sector is the largest employer in South Africa and has historically absorbed excess labour, accounting for more than 60 per cent of total formal employment. It is a major problem increasingly burdening public finances, especially through the wage bill.

At another level, while South Africa invests vast amounts of monies in small business development, the outcomes are dismal. As a result the sector is not able to generate jobs to assist in offsetting unemployment. The youth labour markets are also in a state of disarray in South Africa. According to STANLIB, the labour market participation rate for young people is down at a mere 26 per cent, compared to 46 per cent in the rest of the world. Troublingly, these unemployment and labour force participation figures are combined with high rates of underemployment, as many youth are only employed because they have accepted jobs below their qualifications in order to earn money. Recent statistical information indicates that the country’s unemployment rate has now increased to 27.3 per cent in 2017.

Given the above mentioned poor record of small business development, the recent down-grading of the country’s economy and the fact that South Africa is in technical recession, it behoves all sectors of our society to promote an ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurship. The challenges that hinder entrepreneurship, such as competition from larger firms, regulatory and socio-cultural constraints, and limited access to capital have to be addressed expeditiously by the public and private sectors with the assistance of civil society. The campaign for a new entrepreneurship ecosystem has to be a collective one.

In order to facilitate entrepreneurship, both the public and private sectors should liberalise the regulatory environment and relax rules for new business entrants. Low costs for registering and licensing new businesses and shorter wait times can go a long way to encourage entrepreneurship. In addition, governments can develop one-stop shops for retrieving information and government services in order to make regulatory environments more conducive to entrepreneurship.

Where there is national will and an acknowledgement of the need for economic change to realise people’s potential, a country can harness the power of its people for economic development. South Africa urgently needs a vision for prosperity based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. One of the defining features of this new agenda is the need for structural transformation of South Africa’s economy towards achieving shared growth, decent jobs and economic opportunities for all.

In essence, vibrant entrepreneurship is indispensable not only for economic development but also for radical transformation in South Africa.

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Lesotho government’s new-found political will is welcome, but it will not solve endemic corruption

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Lesotho Times
One of the reasons a national budget speech is such an important occasion is that it reflects the goals and priorities of the government of the day. A budget speech transforms political rhetoric and campaign promises into concrete policies that address practical problems. In Lesotho, and other developing countries, this speech provides a benchmark against which ‘development partners’ can gauge how far politicians are prepared to go to literally put money where their mouths are.
This week, Lesotho’s newly appointed Minister of Finance, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro, a former employee of the IMF, made his maiden budget speech. He emphasised, once again, his government’s commitment to the fight against corruption and wasteful spending. The four political parties in the new coalition government — the second in three years — campaigned on a strong anti-corruption ticket.
Depoliticising bureaucracy and strengthening the procurement regulations are some of the measures that the new administration is apparently lining up to tackle endemic graft. Perhaps the clearest sign of commitment to anti-corruption is the 40 per cent increase in the budget of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).
These efforts are commendable.
Old wine, new skin?
But, it is not the first time Lesotho’s finance minister acknowledges extensive venality in the public service and commits the government to rooting it out. In the budget speech of 2005, for instance, the Finance Minister and former employee of the World Bank, Dr. Timothy Thahane, announced that the government was “committed towards identifying and removing public service delivery bottlenecks and rooting out corruption” (see here). The following year, the minister made a further commitment “to reduce the scope for systemic corruption at all levels of government”.
As many waited for Thahane to show the way out of corruption, charges were filed against him, his Principal Secretary (i.e the chief accounting officer in the ministry of finance) and a local businessman for defrauding the government of 19 million Maloti (approximately $1.5 million).
Further, Lesotho under Thahane’s watch was confronted with one of its biggest corruption scandals as it emerged that a $30 million deal with an Israeli company to supply electronic national documents was not above board. An Israeli court later found this company guilty of bribing a foreign official, and fined it NIS 4.5 million ($1.15 million).
Tim Thahane and others before him failed to rein in on corruption under the favourable conditions of a dominant party system. During this time, government stability did not depend much on the use of ‘patronage’ as it is likely to be the case under the coalition government that Majoro finds himself in.
Political imperatives over good intentions
Dr. Majoro and his colleagues may be eager to eschew the mistakes of the past administration, but political realities will weigh heavily on their generally good intentions and the drive to tackle corruption.
First, this coalition government has too many people queuing up for the disbursement of ‘patronage’ of one form or other. There is a frightening legion of young people with college qualifications looking to the government for decent jobs. Some have been hoping and waiting for close to a decade to find meaningful employment in the civil service — Lesotho’s biggest employer. They are hungry and their patience has run out.
Yet, as qualified as they are, their large numbers relative to job opportunities make it all more difficult to rely on merit alone for recruitment into the public service. Employment into the public service will most likely continue to proceed on some particularistic criteria (e.g. family, political or some other connections) as has always been the case in Lesotho.
This will inevitably complicate government’s efforts to fight the scourge of nepotism and favouritism that defined the previous government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili (see here for the shocking details on nepotism in Lesotho. Further examples, here and here).
The unemployment crisis is forcing many graduates into the business sector. Yet, economic stagnation and the fading business opportunities mean that many of those trying their luck in the private sector increasingly rely on doing business with the government through the tendering process. Many will not qualify for tenders if procurement regulations are tightened or those in place are strictly enforced as envisaged.
When coupled with the rapidly increasing cost of living, the stagnant salaries in the public service provide strong incentives for public officials to continue tendering for government contracts — a practice that the new Finance Minister condemned in the budget speech. It will difficult to get most civil servants, including chief accounting officers, to support whatever measures are put in place to address these tender irregularities and other practices that compromise the integrity of Lesotho’s procurement system.
All coalition partners — particularly the newly formed Alliance of Democrats (AD) whose leader and the new Deputy Prime Minister has a prime ministerial ambition — are eager to strengthen their base and compete effectively in the next general election. Where the link between a political party and society is weak, as is currently the case with the AD, political patronage and corruption become vital elements of party building strategy.
Members of parliament are likely to continue being under pressure to fulfil social expectations to cater for the personal needs of their constituents. One only needs to spend a few minutes in rural communities and, recently, on popular social media platforms, to understand the expansive role that Basotho assign their representatives. There is a perception among the Basotho that an MP must intervene personally, and using his/her own funds, in the personal problems of the constituents. This creates, in the context of high levels of poverty and increasingly competitive elections, a strong incentive for MPs to get involved in all manner of illicit dealings.
Conclusion
Unfortunately, ‘political will’ is not enough to tackle corruption where it is endemic, performs the basic function of maintaining political stability and is key to winning an election. The new government’s efforts to tackle systemic corruption will be severely hamstrung by current economic and political conditions. In the coming years and months, we should brace ourselves for two things: first, more rhetoric but less action about government’s commitment to anti-corruption, and, second: allegations of nepotism, fraud and kickbacks.

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