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

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


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.

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


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.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Africa, ZIO-NAZI, South AfricaComments Off on NDP MPs must stop being ‘friends’ with the Nazi regime

South Africa Downgrades Nazi Embassy in Protest of Trump Jerusalem Decision

  • 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

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

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.
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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South Africa: An open letter of SAFTU to the Communist Party

Why we are unable to honour the invitation to your Congress
Nigel Sibanda

The South African Federation of Trade Unions turned down an invitation to the congress of the South African Communist Party. SACP is an ally of the ruling African National Congress. SAFTU says SACP is as guilty as the Jacob Zuma government in implementing a neoliberal programme that is anti-poor, anti-working class, pro-capitalist and anti-socialist.

Dr Blade Nzimande
General Secretary
South African Communist Party


Dear Comrade General Secretary,

Thank you for the invitation to your elective 14th National Congress, which we have carefully considered.

As the second largest and fastest growing trade union federation in the country, and one with an unambiguous socialist orientation, it would be entirely proper for a Communist Party to invite SAFTU to its Congress. However we are unable to accept your invitation for a number of reasons including the following:

Reflection is a revolutionary process 

Firstly, it would appear that the SACP leadership has been unable to seriously reflect on the consequences of their decision to actively support the destruction of the unity of the trade union movement.

By openly supporting the expulsion of over 340,000 metal workers, and then to stand idly by when hundreds of other unions members within COSATU were summarily expelled for demanding an end to corruption, financial and political accountability and transparency by their union leaderships makes us doubt that any serious reflection has taken place.

We have yet to hear the profound voice of a genuine Communist Party speaking out against the ‘business unionism’ of corrupt leadership within CEPPWAWU, SATAWU, SAMWU, etc.

It was clear at the time that the unity of the working class was of paramount importance if a challenge to austerity and capitalist rule were to be taken seriously. Workers have been under siege from the capitalist class and neoliberal programmes implemented by the government, from the genesis of GEAR right through to the NDP.

To weaken trade unions further at the time when no effort should have been spared to unite workers is an unforgivable act of treason. These anti-worker acts alone, we must say, have seriously undermined the credibility of the SACP leadership both locally and internationally.

Frankly, SAFTU unions are simply disbelieving and skeptical about the motives of the SACP leadership. An organisation that has recently and consciously acted to destroy workers’ unity simply cannot be trusted to act differently and do the same again, if the leadership were to believe the need arose to address what the SACP referred to as a “lingering irritation”.

Looking in the mirror 

Secondly, it would appear that the leadership of the SACP have been unable to ‘look in the mirror’ and learn the lessons from the past, and especially the constraints that have been imposed and internalized in order to secure Cabinet posts and other positions inside the belly of a capitalist state driving an anti-worker, anti-working class and pro-business economic agenda.

To witness SACP leaders in the Cabinet acting as spokespersons of those implicated in thieving schemes, and pulling the wool over the eyes of our people to obscure and justify brazen theft in relation to Nkandla was such a betrayal of the role the communists inside the SACP have historically played.

Joining the attacks on the judiciary and the media and going to the extent of proposing insult laws (by actively calling on the South African citizens not to insult Jacob Zuma and, therefore, calling for legislation to punish anyone who “insults the President”) was nothing but a move to muzzle the outrage expressed at the project that was and is still about destroying all the gains of our democracy. Given the evidence, which was widely available indicating that this project was about driving a programme towards a full-blown kleptocracy, this has left many in disbelief.

This programme did not start when the Guptas were gunning for the heads of SACP leaders and other Cabinet members in 2015. It started as soon as Jacob Zuma was elected in May 2009. Those with short memories must recall the disbandment of the crime and corruption busting capacity of the state in the Scorpions, the hollowing out of the intelligence services, the destruction of almost all state capacity, including state-owned enterprises, and more recently the capturing of the Public Protector and much more besides, are the limited examples we raise in this short letter to you.

It is only very recently that the SACP leadership has been bold enough to voice their disappointment with the leadership of the ANC, when it has been painfully obvious to everyone else, as wave after wave of evidence has surfaced making an irrefutable case against Gupterisation and state capture. The SACP in a very significant way together with many in the ANC helped Zuma and made him untouchable in the process.

There have been two kinds of state capture in our view. The first was the capturing of the ANC itself in the run-up to the 1994 which resulted in the abandonment of its historic mission to liberate black people in general and Africans in particular, to address the exploitation of the working people and end the triple oppression faced by women in their homes, workplaces and broader society. The Zupta capture is an immediate threat. Left alone, the Zupta project will destroy any prospects for a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

We are in agreement with the SACP on this immediate threat; however, those who raised the alarm from 2009, even from 2007, were labeled anti-majoritarian and, worse, counter-revolutionary by the SACP leadership. SACP members must ask how this was allowed to happen.

The alternative to neo-liberalism is not austerity by another name! 

Thirdly, the SACP does not appear to have reflected on its own role in justifying and propping up the status quo. We don’t believe that you have truly looked at the scale of the destruction caused by neoliberal policies and austerity measures that the SACP has been party to supporting at national, provincial and local levels.

Have SACP leaders not asked themselves why hundreds of thousands of poor people in our communities have taken to the streets over the last period, sometimes employing extremely desperate measures, in order to be heard, and to demand that ANC election promises of a better life for all to be honoured?

Have the SACP had an opportunity to look at the destruction of jobs in the manufacturing, agricultural and other sectors, which are being decimated?

Furthermore, we are convinced that the SACP leadership has not assessed ideologically the devastating impact the Zuma and ANC Alliance projects have had on the future prospects of a genuine left project.

The destruction of state-owned enterprises in particular, the hollowing out of the state and organs of people’s power have made it harder for left forces to convince and mobilise the public about the efficacy of an active democratic developmental state that could make real change possible through programmes such as the nationalisation of strategic sectors of the economy and other measures to redistribute wealth and power in our country.

Two factions: different sides of the same coin! 

Fourthly, the SACP appears to have to have fallen into the trap of factional politics. Despite the lessons of the past, in particular the devastating decision (which all of us rallied around and must shamefully regret) to rally the working class behind an extremely dangerous and compromised candidate such as Jacob Zuma and his NEC, it is ready to support the leadership of one faction against another by uncritically backing a pro-capital candidate as the next President of our country.

From a distance we see a repeat of history as another coalition of the wounded is put together to challenge a man who has become more and more unpopular.

Surely, the lessons of the Zuma period must teach us that a reliance on individuals, despite their rhetoric, has led to a disaster. Without an explicit programme to challenge capitalist rule, linked to the rebuilding of a mass democratic movement to ensure that the programme is implemented, will inevitably lead to further paralysis and, worse still, deepening levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption.

Meanwhile, the unending exploitation and misery that huge sections of our population experience today will continue, and blame will be placed at the door of the Alliance which you are determined to preserve regardless. Changing who occupies the Presidency will not change the class balance of forces, or the reality of workers’ lives in South Africa today, or restore the electoral fortunes of the ANC.

Despite the fact that we are possibly in the deepest political and economic crisis for decades, the SACP remains unable and unwilling to offer the working class an alternative to that posed by the dysfunctional ANC-led Alliance. In our view, Alliance policies at this time consist of little more than an accelerated continuation of the policies of GEAR and other variants of an austerity approach that is crippling the working class locally and globally.

The SACP is as guilty as the Jacob Zuma-led faction in imposing and implementing a neoliberal programme that is anti-poor, anti-working class, pro-capitalist and anti-socialist. You have to look at the rate of youth and women unemployment and the Esidimeni scandal to understand the full meaning of the crisis.

A question arises, is the SACP by inviting us and sudden talk of putting together a broad front of left formations not an attempt at redeeming itself and, worse, using us as a bargaining chip in its factional maneuvers inside the ANC-led Alliance to sort out the eating queue in 2017 and 2019, instead of addressing the crisis facing the working class and the black majority today?

Unity of the trade union movement 

Communist parties around the world have always understood the critical importance of the role trade unions must play as a school for working class consciousness. In fact Lenin defined that role as follows:

“When the workers of a single factory or of a single branch of industry engage in struggle against their employer or employers, is this class struggle? No, this is only a weak embryo of it. The struggle of the workers becomes a class struggle only when all the foremost representatives of the entire working class of the whole country are conscious of themselves as a single working class and launch a struggle that is directed, not against individual employers, but against the entire class of capitalists and against the government that supports that class. 

Only when the individual worker realizes that he is a member of the entire working class, only when he recognises the fact that his petty day-to-day struggle against individual employers and individual government officials is a struggle against the entire bourgeoisie and the entire government, does his struggle become a class struggle.” (Vladimir Lenin, On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet State)

The factionalist and sectarian behaviour of the South African Communist Party leadership has today turned the trade union movement in South Africa into a lap dog of capitalism. Look at the state of the once mighty COSATU to appreciate your own contribution to the destruction of the country.

The evidence of this assertion is the fact that the SACP, on the eve of the December 2013 NUMSA Special National Congress, wrote an open letter to NUMSA delegates to disown their national leadership who courageously called for Zuma to be removed. It is now a fact that you rejected these calls in 2013 BUT surfaced this same demand in 2017. Surely a Communist Party worth its salt should be seen to lead and not follow.

Actions speak louder than rhetoric! 

Fifthly, despite the fact that the SACP may still enjoy some support in sections of the working class and the poor, it has been impossible to detect any concrete actions to provide solidarity to workers and communities who have engaged in day-to-day struggles. We see no communist party flag in battles for “Outsourcing Must Fall”, “Fees Must Fall” and the 13 000 annual service delivery protests.

Actively supporting our people in struggle against exploitation, corruption and state repression is an essential task for any organisation claiming to be socialist and communist. The building and leading of genuine mass campaigns, to strengthen class-consciousness, and to take forward explicit demands that challenge the logic of capital is the hallmark of an organisation that is serious about challenging capitalist rule. Instead the SACP has been passive, or when pushed, has tailed organisations that represent wider class interests.

We could discuss these points in greater detail, but what we hope they illustrate is that the actions of the SACP leadership over the last period have been part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

We hope that those honest workers who have thus far continued to support the SACP, in the absence of anything else, will take note, and at the very least ask themselves if the programme of the SACP in the recent past, and at the current time, is capable of taking the class struggle forward. We believe that is decidedly not the case.

Only if, and when, the SACP decisively and publicly breaks with the politics of positioning, patronage and class collaboration will organisations like ours be able to accept an invitation to witness your deliberations. Until that time, we shall continue placing the needs of the working class at the centre of our concerns, for that is the real meaning of non-sectarianism.

Activists on the ground, if listened to, will testify and show evidence to indicate that the working class and the poor are desperately looking for organisations that will represent their interests, and who will also be ready to stand side-by-side with them in actively challenging, not accommodating the dictates of the market. That is what we intend to do.

We will await the outcomes of the SACP Congress to see if such an orientation is capable of emerging. We remain however convinced, unless otherwise proven, that you will remain hanging on to the apron-strings of the African National Congress, who has now proven to be the champion of neo-liberal capitalist policies.

Yours faithfully

Zwelinzima Vavi

General Secretary

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Democracy is looking sickly across southern Africa

Henning Melber

The political climate remains fragile and the mentality of most opposition politicians hardly offers meaningful alternatives. This is possibly an explanation – but no excuse – for the undemocratic practices permeating almost every one of the region’s nations. Beyond multi-party systems with regular elections, they resemble very little of true democracies.

Politics are in shambles across the world. Populism and political gambles are making headlines from London to Washington. Southern Africa is no exception. If it’s any comfort, this suggests that there’s nothing genuinely typical about African versions of political populism. Nor are the flaws in democracy typically African.

This might put some events into wider perspective. But it’s nonetheless worrying to follow the current political turmoil in some southern Africa countries.

The regional hegemon, South Africa, is embroiled in domestic policy tensions of unprecedented proportions since it became a democracy. And the situation in the sub-region is not much better.

The state of opposition politics and democracy is in a shambles too. The fragile political climate and the mentality of most opposition politicians hardly offer meaningful alternatives. This is possibly an explanation – but no excuse – for the undemocratic practices permeating almost every one of the region’s democracies.

Beyond multi-party systems with regular elections, they resemble very little of true democracies.

South African hiccups

At the end of May the dimensions of “state capture” in South Africa were set out in a report published by an academic team.

It shows how deeply the personalised systematic plundering of state assets is entrenched. Additional explosive evidence was presented only days later through thousands of leaked e-mails. Dubbed the “Gupta Leaks”, they document a mafia-like network among Zuma-loyalists and the Indian Gupta family.

The evidence points to massive influence, if not control, over political appointments, the hijacking of higher public administration and embezzlement of enormous proportions.

Some 65% of South Africans want Zuma to resign. An all-time low approval rating of 20% makes him less popular among the electorate than even US President Donald Trump. Despite this – combined with growing demands from within the party that he steps down – the ANC still backs its president.

But divisions within the party are deepening, with some in its leadership demanding an investigation into the Gupta patronage network.

For his part, Zuma is focused on pulling strings to secure Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor as president of the party. The other front-runner candidate is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zuma’s assumption appears to be that, once in office, his former wife would not endorse any legal prosecution of the father of her children.

But the country’s official opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA), isn’t reaping the benefits of the ANC’s blunders. It has its own problems, which are constraining the gains it might otherwise be making from the ANC’s mess.

The party is divided over what to do about its former leader and Premier of the Western Cape province, Helen Zille following a tweet in which she defended the legacy of colonialism. The comment whipped up a storm of protest and for weeks the party had been at pains on how to deal with the scandal.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane finally announced that Zille had been suspended from the party and that a disciplinary hearing would decide what further political consequences she might face. But a resilient Zille immediately challenged the decision.

Whatever the outcome, the DA’s image is damaged. Its aspirations to be the country’s new majority party has been dealt a major blow.

Regional woes

In Angola, 74-year-old Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in office since 1979, has decided to select a successor. The scenario will secure that the family “oiligarchy” will remain in control of politics and the country’s economy, while the governing People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) uses the state apparatus to ruthlessly suppress any meaningful social protests.

In contrast Robert Mugabe – reigning in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 – shows no intention of retiring. He was nominated again as the Zimbabwe African Nation Union/Patriotic Front’s (ZANU/PF) candidate for the 2018 presidential elections. But everyone is anxiously following the party’s internal power struggles over the ailing autocrat’s replacement. Fears are that the vacuum created by his departure might create a worse situation.

While the regime’s constant violation of human rights is – as in Angola – geared towards preventing any form of meaningful opposition, there are concerns that the unresolved succession might add another violent dimension to local politics.

Zambia’s democracy also looks sad. The country’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) is on trial for high treason. Hichilema has been embroiled in a personal feud with President Edgar Lungu of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) for years. He was arrested in early April after obstructing the president’s motor cavalcade. The charge of high treason is based on the accusation that he wilfully put President Lungu’s life in danger.

The trial is feeding growing concerns over an increasingly autocratic regime. The once praised democracy, which allowed for several relatively peaceful transfers of political power since the turn of the century, is now in decline.

Lesotho is also in a mess. It provides a timely reminder that competing parties seeking to obtain political control over governments are by no means a guarantee for better governance. Aptly described as a “Groundhog Day election”, citizens in the crisis-ridden country went to the polls for the third time since 2012 with no new alternatives or options.

Their limited choice is between two former prime ministers aged 77 (Tom Thabane) and 72 (Pakalitha Mosisili). The likely election result is another fragile coalition government – provided the military accepts the result.

Meanwhile, the biggest challenge for relative political stability in the region might still be in the making: President Joseph Kabila, whose second term in office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ended in December 2016, is still hanging on with the promise that he’ll vacate the post by end of this year.

Despite a constitutional two-term limit, his plans remain a matter of speculation. In a recent interview, he was characteristically evasive. He refused to give a straight answer on whether he’s still considering another term and flatly denied that he had promised anything, including elections.

Kabila’s extended stay in office threatens to exacerbate an already explosive and violent situation, with potentially devastating consequences.

His continued reign would not only provoke further bloodshed at home. Any spill-over will challenge the Southern African Development Community’s willingness and ability to find solutions to regional conflicts in the interests of relative stability. A stability which is at best fragile and indicative of the crisis of policy in most of the regional body’s member states.

Posted in South AfricaComments Off on Democracy is looking sickly across southern Africa

White, white, white: History repeats itself

The judgment has been handed down on Helen Zille, leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, muzzling her from any party related communications in future. She said that colonialism wasn’t all bad. Her tweet was insensitive but true, the backlash furious and nonsensical. Why? I blame black guilt, which I understand very well, because I’m white.
The old way
‘I grew up in Rhodesia,’ I said out loud recently, whilst taking a walk with my son (he’s 35, I’m 69).
His face soured.
‘Why do you have to say that? Why can’t you say Zimbabwe?’
‘Because they’re not the same thing. Rhodesia was different from Zimbabwe. I never lived in Zimbabwe. Rhodesia is where I grew up.’
There was a tense silence.
‘Why do I still identify with Rhodesia?’ I wondered. ‘Why do I hold onto some old imperialist identity? Is there really a difference, and is that difference important enough to insist on, out loud, in the face of all the damage colonialism has done?’
Rhodesia and colonialism were wrong. Agreed. But why not talk about them? In fact, in a country reeling from a poverty crisis that is only escalating, and will tear this nation apart if something meaningful is not done (and soon), how can we not talk about them?
Because colonialism is not over, not by a long shot. That ‘wrong’ history is repeating itself.
The new colonialism
Colonialism has been on the go since 1415. The nations of Europe, with their armies and the cross of Jesus at the fore, have conducted a vicious assault on ‘non-whites’ everywhere with the stated goal of promoting Christianity and Capitalism, while hauling back to Europe all of value. The various independencies of previous colonial territories would seem to have been the end of that process, but they were not.
Colonialism is still alive and well, except now we call it ‘globalisation’, ‘free trade’, etc.
Today, instead of the European nations of old, the drivers of colonialism are the massive corporations and bankers. There are new owners of the world’s capital. They define which currencies are worth what and they own the banking system, armies and armaments. They have taken over ownership of the government from the people and their goal is singular – maximum profit.
They are headquartered wherever the taxes are best but mainly in the US and Europe. In their operational areas, such as Africa, they employ through corruption and bribery a new class of manager – the local African who wields the power of the vote.
Mostly they’re Black Africans, men and women who substituted their socialism and people advancement dreams for wealth and cover-page status – exactly how we whites controlled the population in Rhodesia, until they rose up and bit us.
In 2007 there were 6,200 black millionaires in South Africa; 14,700 in 2014; and as late as 2015 over 17,000.[1] The new black middle class has more than trebled over the past 12 years to 5.81 million, completely overshadowing the fast declining white middle class, now estimated at about 2.5 million.[2]
How much the South African middle class earn is difficult to work out. Standard Bank reports the ‘low emerging middle’ class annual salaries start from R51,000, the ‘emerging middle’ starts at R111,000, and the ‘realised middle’ range from R240,000 to over R380,000.[3]
And there is the growth in government and city and municipal council employment of mostly non-whites. Government employment, as at 2014, has jumped to 2.7 million employees.[4] The assumption has to be made that the government (and compliant city and municipal councils) is committed to at least the minimum wage for every single one of those employees.
University of Cape Town marketing professor John Simpson is quoted as saying, ‘the black middle class is keeping the economy alive …’ Well, with those salaries it would be the driver, but it isn’t necessarily a mark of prosperity for South Africa. Most of South Africa’s big exports are raw resources sent overseas to have value added to them. It is a process that has been followed since Rhodes’s time. The little exports of finished goods South Africa does manage is of small consumer type items such as food stuff, and it all goes to her poor(er) neighbours.
This means South Africa’s new emerging middle class is not adding value. Instead, it’s buying and selling houses, cars, insurance, food, eating in franchised restaurants and generally creating debt, the mainstay of the corporacy and its banks.
In 2010, 16 years after the ANC adopted the White Nationalist Party’s Capitalist principles by which to run the country, the average income for South Africa’s black folk was R10,000 per year.[5] Some 60% of South Africans, 99% of them non-white, still live under poverty conditions, scratching away a living in informal settlements and the old homelands.
At the same time there has been a surge upwards as hundreds of men and women who twenty years ago promoted themselves as liberators have embraced the greed system and become rich beyond dreams – Ramaphosa, Gordhan, Sexale, Motsepe[6], Mbete[7], Trevor Manuel[8] and wife[8], billionaire Mbeki, Mboweni[10]… the list rolls on.
There doesn’t seem to be much trickle down to the ordinary folk. To me South Africa seems just like the old Rhodesia, with the few living off the backs of the many.
Through the looking glass
Surely it would be both logical and reasonable to argue South Africa’s horrible inequality world record is, in the main, now black driven? Aren’t the new elite treating their own kind as objects out of which to make money in exactly the same way as Imperial Britain treated South Africa?
Is it not logical to point a finger and say the ANC-led government are the new colonists by behaviour and employment of capitalism and religion?
Why didn’t the president forget all the colonial bull, cut out the mythological and announce he and his government are going to stop corruption? The talk is that corruption has cost South Africa R700 billion, and I’m guessing that does not include all the contracts to mates to do what they quite clearly cannot do.
What isn’t falling apart? Water is, electricity, health,[11] schooling, railways, harbours, airways are.
‘Why is Africa, a continent blessed abundantly with natural resources and excessive value of human capital, yet to find its rightful place in world politics? Africa is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but corruption and bad governances are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings and deaths on the continent’ is the statement of Front Page Africa.[12]
Africa is yet to find its rightful place because the old system of Colonialism is still active, now driven by the continent’s current leaders.
I see a mirror of the privileged society I grew up in. Capitalism is not freedom, but continued slavery, colonial style.
We must act
The 23-year-old ANC government can play a huge role in the growth and development of South Africa.
It has a by ‘no means insignificant role of state capital in the South African economy – owning and controlling approximately 30% of the economy in highly strategic sectors such as state banking, information technology, energy, transport, aerospace and the weapons industry, communication, among others. In addition the state owns about 25% of land, and has an array of regulatory and administrative apparatus to influence the behaviour of capital. There is also the question of pension funds and union investment funds, which currently play and could be geared to play an even more strategic role in the economy’, wrote Mcebisi Jonas just last week. [13]
And Jonas asks, ‘so what are the implications of this understanding for growth and transformation?’
Inequality has a lot to do with the failure, but to continue tagging the white 8% and the once white-only colonialism isn’t cutting any cheese anymore.
‘Africans make up 77% of public sector employment compared with 66% in the private sector … In terms of the skills profile, the public sector is more skills intensive. Almost 45% of all public sector employees fall into the top three occupational categories, compared to 26% in the private sector.’[14]
The ANC and its MPs are not representative of the nation or of the 80% blacks – it was voted in as a party and is a party having a party with an overpaid head of state. And worst of all, those who are meant to be really representing the workers, the major union bodies, are in it.[15]
‘We need a paradigm shift, underpinned by a new consensus,’ explains Jonas, ‘a new bargain around which the state, business, labour and civil society can cohere – to move us out of our low growth and high inequality trap. We must not be naïve and think this will be easy to achieve.’
Capitalism, far from going away, is going to become leaner and meaner. Unless we begin to act in a moral way that is inclusive of all, fewer and fewer families are going to become richer and more in control. As we have seen with the Gupta reveleations, those with power will manipulate those that want it.
There is no democracy in Western Capitalism, ‘Corporations now govern society.’[16]
A new way
And there is another way. How about the emergent Asian Capitalism of strong leadership inducing Shared Capitalism?[17]
The new China not only pulled hundreds of millions of peasants out of poverty but empowered them. Their railways and etc. work. Last week they launched the ‘one road one belt’ initiative, [18] a program that will possibly enable half of the world. And they are going to mine the moon.[19]
The system can be changed without taking away the good points of Capitalism, creating something along the lines of Asian Shared Capitalism which, by the way, has for a long time had significant Western investments. US and European banks and funds have taken major shareholder positions in almost all Chinese firms of reasonable size.
To borrow from Rian Malan: ‘We should rather follow the truly revolutionary path of Deng Tsaio Ping, who set forth in 1978 to “seek truth from facts” and deliver Communist China from its misery and backwardness.’
And with their brand of Capitalism they have and are doing it much better – to the anger of the quite unreformed colonists of Europe and the US.[20]
Desperately needed in South Africa is a new system led by leaders who can take the country forward beyond the legacy of Greed Capitalism.  The current system demands profit that comes at the expense of the national reserve. The current system has become so profit driven, so full of dogma and impossible promises, it is a religion. It has to go and along with it all those who manipulate it to their own end, all these new colonial masters.
History repeats itself
‘Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief,’ said Frantz Fanon.[21]
I grew up in Rhodesia. The British history I learnt from Grade 3 to university entrance level taught me emphatically blacks were savages tamed by Colonial Christian Capitalists – it was that simple. I believed all the memes of the time, memes that declared unless we white Rhodesians ran the show it would collapse.
Like South Africa, Rhodesia was a White Nationalist Socialist State which, as the title infers, meant I and roughly 200,000 other whites had all privilege while the non-whites suffered.  Most non-whites lived on starvation diets in Trust Lands, were deprived of a reasonable education and getting a job as a servant was to win a prize.
I knew nothing of the duplicity and theft of colonialism until I joined the government as a trainee administration officer. It took another 10 years of self-study to change my mindset, to begin to undo my biases and irrational ideas. I came to learn of alternates like the amazing community way – the support of the extended family – of the Bantu, a way us Europeans (now white South Africans) had dumped some 400 years before as we were forced from our bonded societies into the process of the Industrial Revolution.
I understand that Rhodesia was a flawed place, a place that should not be allowed to exist again. But it does, here.
President Robert Mugabe, his cabinet, generals, his inner circle and provincial land-lords have replaced Smith, his cabinet, generals, his inner circle and provincial land-lords. The only difference is numbers. Perhaps 10 or 20% of Mugabe’s 16 million Zimbabweans live the good life, where under Smith only 200,000 of us did.
History is repeating itself. Unless we get over public posturing, learn from the past, and demand real change. To forget the lesson of Rhodesia is foolish, and so it is to miss the real intent in Zille’s tweet, even if it was insensitive.
Her tweet was one in a series of reflections on her trip to Singapore where she saw a society taking the best of its past and building on it (I don’t agree though, I think Singapore is benefitting from the Chinese in the same old colonial way).
Zille herself is not a leader associated with corruption. She has no legal charges against her of any kind. No lying, no extortion, no bribery, rape, theft, duplicity. If anything her crime is she is too honest and too white, qualities that it seems do not benefit a politician.
South Africa should be talking about the continued failure of the government to uplift their people, to move on from Colonialism.
South Africa should be pulling the problem out at the root. Our problem is not racism, it’s the quest for personal profit and personal gain at the expense of the whole.
History repeats itself, until we learn from it.
* DOUGLAS SCHORR is a former soldier and district commissioner in then Rhodesia. He is today a committed critic of capitalism and colonial legacies, citing them as the source of poverty in Africa. His first book, The Myth of Smith, is available for sale on Amazon Kindle as are the short stories Mr Boomslang & 7 Other Rhodesian Fireside Tales. Schorr blogs at Follow him on Facebook for regular updates.
End notes
[6] ‘Motsepe initially built much of his fortune on his own and has never been directly involved in politics, but he does have senior contacts in the ANC.’ …
[7] ‘… Baleka Mbete, and many others in the leadership of the ANC are part of the rapacious mining elite that suck the blood and sweat of helpless, defenceless workers for self-gratification’ …
[8] Remember he ‘retired from active politics in 2014 and shortly thereafter made headlines when he became a senior adviser and deputy chairman to the Rothschild group of companies.’ ……
[9] ‘Maria Ramos is the Chief Executive Officer of Barclays Africa Group Limited. Prior to joining Absa as Group Chief Executive in March 2009, she was the Group Chief Executive of Transnet Ltd.’ Wikipedia. A British bank with mostly British shareholders drawing money from South Africa, Barclays Banks’ association goes back to 1902. Its philosophy was enable British manufacturers do business in the colonies (European Banks and the Rise of International Finance: The post-Bretton Woods era y Carlo Edoardo Altamura), there has been little change until very recently; ‘Barclays Group has made firm its intention to sell its 62.3% stake in Barclays Africa Group (formerly Absa).’ ……/barclays-makes-firm-intention-to-sell-absa
[10] … Mboweni Brothers Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd is a South African private company that provides investment services.
[11] Latest report … this week … ‘The biggest underachievers … in Africa  … it was Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho.’
[15] ‘Another feature of the public sector labour market is the relatively higher rate of unionisation, which is often associated with a wage premium. Union members made up almost 70% (1.4 million workers) of all public sector’s formal workers in 2014, up from 55% in 1997 (834,000 workers).’ See…
[16] The Corporation by Joel Bakan
[20] ‘What’s in a gold medal’ by Douglas Schorr
[21] ’Frantz Omar Fanon was a Martinique born Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism.’ Wikipedia

Posted in South AfricaComments Off on White, white, white: History repeats itself

Why I pulled out of Kenya’s 2017 presidential race

Philip Kamakya

Elections in Kenya have become a ritual performed periodically to legitimise the control of power by a few, while the majority remain silent, but enraged, waiting for the opportunity to vent their frustrations. Just a few months before the August 8 poll, all indications are that the type of leadership the country needs to end corruption and tribalism has no chance of rising. Kenya has a long way to go.

In December 2016, I announced my decision to run for election as President of the Republic of Kenya. The pronouncement came after almost a long reflection on the terrible state of the circus that characterizes our country’s politics, which is today driven by the scourges of corruption and tribalism.

Over time, leadership and by extension the presidency, have become a matter of who can galvanize the tribal numbers or groupings using vast amounts of unexplained, and many times illegally obtained, finance. To effectively mount a bid for the presidency, most aspirants have fallen into the temptation to play by the same rules. In the prevailing state of affairs, our own history has shown us that the natural consequence of a disputed presidential election will be violence, if not outright civil war.

This state of affairs doesn’t bother many Kenyans, as over time, they have been conditioned to live in hope that they will be on the winning (eating meat) side. Indeed, Jubilee’s campaign platform is built around the economic opportunities that come with being in power, the latest being that all losers for party nominations will be given state jobs. Matters are complicated today by Jubilee’s premature campaign message is that it has already won 70% +1 of the votes, and the opposition’s (Cord and NASA) reply is that they will not accept a stolen election. A reminder, in case of a dispute, KENYANS WILL ALL LOSE, IT IS A ZERO SUM GAME!

Just how badly Kenya is doing politically, is graphically revealed in a sample of the results of recent nationwide poll conducted by the Jesuit Hakimani Centre (a Catholic Church institution), and published on 30th March 2017, as follows:

a) 80.3% of the respondents did not believe that electing credible leaders was a personal and constitutional responsibility.

b) 88.3% of the respondents did not find the connection between election and issues.

c) 90.3% of the respondents viewed party manifestos as “public relations rhetoric” only meant for campaigns.

d) 76% of the respondents are of the view that more education is a wasted investment.

e) 85.1% of the respondents do not approve of how corruption is addressed.

Our country needs a fresh approach to tackling the twin evils of corruption and tribalism, which not only divide but eventually destroy us. As Kenyans, we need to remove from power the increasing number of politicians and oligarchs who thrive and profit from the destruction of the delicate national fabric that holds us together. What has been sadly lacking in our top leadership is the political will to resolve the problems.

Many have asked me how I intended to solve the two deeply entrenched problems, and my short answer has always been: my honesty, courage and commitment to good governance coupled with my non-tribal approach is all I would need as an executive president to place our country back on its path to prosperity, and greatness.

Articles 10 and 73 of our constitution that prescribe the national values and principles of governance as well as the requirements of leadership for holding public office have been consigned to the dustbin.

The voting public, particularly sections of the less fortunate members of our society, have fallen prey to this addictive corruption driven electioneering, and have been conditioned to look forward to the largesse through voter bribery that comes with elections, simply as a means of buying an extra packet of unga [maize flour, a national staple]. Such voters have learnt to expect and demand hard cash as a condition to participate in campaigns at all levels, including attending rallies. The catchwords to describe funding campaign activities are “mobilise and facilitate”. Nothing comes for free. For the middle and upper classes, in many cases, it is a question of which side their bread is buttered.

One of the managers in my campaign recently requested me to stop admitting to the public that I did not have the billions of shillings that other leading presidential candidates had at their disposal. He stated that I would get no support at all if I were candid about my limited finances. I replied that we were campaigning on a platform of integrity and honesty, to which he stated that it was important to give the false impression of having the billions, and proceed to beg, borrow or steal in order to conform. As a last try, he asked me whether I would accept funds from a drug lord and saw his disappointment at my emphatic NO! He left soon thereafter in search of a more lucrative campaign. Such is Kenyan politics.

There is a whole industry of service providers for election campaigns, all of who assume that the candidates running for office, have come upon limitless funding, and therefore should splash it around without insisting on value for services. It is evident that this feeding frenzy is informed by the fact that significant amounts of the available cash spent during elections in Kenya generally comes from proceeds of corruption, crime, including narcotics trafficking for which no accounting will be required. Almost all service providers to the electioneering industry suddenly present all manner of products at inflated rates.

Large sections of the print and electronic media spend four years playing an oversight role over government, and society generally, but in the countdown to elections on the 5th year, they become deaf and dumb, and the unfortunate purveyors of all things negative to society. Cash handouts determine the direction, extent and flow of news coverage. The Kenyan media must restore its credibility, and continue to cover and critique all sides in the political contest.

The presidential campaign in Kenya is largely driven by negative tribalism. The main formations coalesce around a tribal leader, after which, everyone else is a traitor or spoiler. Tribalism has today risen to the point where many Kenyans (28%) have declared that they will not vote, to protest against the perceived choices, which they consider indistinguishable from one another, in their negative attributes.

This negative voter sentiment transforms to apathy in the belief, sometimes justified, that the outcome is predetermined, by an electoral system that is neither free nor fair. As the Hakimani survey proves, eventually elections will become a ritual performed periodically to legitimise the control of power by a few, while the majority remain silent, but enraged, waiting for the opportunity to vent their frustrations.

Based on the above considerations, having not held political office, but equipped with relevant and valuable public service experience as a former and very effective Director of Public Prosecutions, I had in December last year offered myself to Kenyans as a reform and radically different presidential candidate capable of dealing with corruption. Most reactions to my announcement were disbelief and skepticism, confirming how disengaged we had all become.

I was repeatedly asked the simple question about where I would obtain the required support from a tribal base, and whether I had the billions of shillings required, to throw around in the countryside.

To all these, I responded that I believed Kenyans were not inherently corrupt or tribal, but driven into this state of decadence by the tribal chiefs, who dominate our present day politics. I insisted that all that Kenyans needed was a credible option, a candidate who historically had proven him or herself as non-tribal and not corrupt. I remain convinced that Kenyans do indeed, hope and pray for the day that they will have such a leader and government.

Today, I have come to the realisation that I announced and embarked on my bid for the presidency too late in the present unregulated, and free for all, circumstances. The IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission], the official referee in the general elections, has set the official campaign commencement date as June 28, 2017. However, President Kenyatta, for the last year or so, has led the country on premature and illegal campaigns. The opposition candidates have reacted by giving chase, so as not to be left behind. Recently, when I requested the IEBC to order a stop to the unlawful campaigns, the lame response from the Chairman was that IEBC had no capacity to enforce the regulation on campaign timelines.

Generally, IEBC appears to already have lost control of a contest which, to many, has become a matter of life and death, going by the prevalence of violence.

Kenyans should note as follows:

i) This violation of the election rules constitutes grounds for challenging the eventual outcome in the Supreme Court.

ii) If the aspirants pick and choose the regulations to obey, with impunity, we will end up in anarchy and chaos.

iii) The rationale behind the limited period for electioneering worldwide is designed to ensure minimum disruption to a country’s social and economic affairs. This is particularly true for developing countries, like Kenya, where elections are extremely disruptive.

iv) Failure by IEBC to enforce the limitation to the campaign period is likely to result in tribalism, clanism, and even general competition being inflamed to the point of violence. Kenyans only need to refer back to the PEV in 2008, and its catastrophic consequences.

As matters stand, the lawfully permitted five weeks of official campaigns will be very costly. To conduct campaigns for several months is unsustainable for any bona fide candidate, of modest and accountable means. Tragically, most Kenyans do not financially support political causes, and only do so when it appears likely to be successful. Matters have been further complicated by the ever-changing IEBC timelines, making it difficult to plan or budget for a campaign.

As a champion for the rule of law, I would be remiss if I joined the bandwagon of bending and breaking the law governing the election process, particularly campaigns. A government led by me would ensure the strict enforcement of the election laws and campaign regulations to minimize interference with the lives and economic activities of the Kenyans.

In addition, on the December 6, 2016, upon declaring my candidature for the presidency, I immediately requested the Mr. Joseph Boinett the Inspector General of Police (IG) for the provision of an armed police bodyguard for my personal security, both as a former Director of Public Prosecutions and a presidential candidate. Despite attaching a letter from Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, as then Chairman of PAC dated February 28, 2006, and a letter of 1 March 2006 from the Amos Wako, the then AG, directing that I should be provided with adequate security, the IG summarily, and casually, rejected my request on grounds that it was not within an alleged police policy to provide me with a bodyguard, and further that I would be provided with security after presentation of nomination papers to IEBC, sometime in May 2017.

I protested, indicating that the failure by the IG to provide me with security was, inter alia, discriminatory, and the application of double standards, but to no avail. Subsequently, assurances by the Mr Joseph Nkaissery, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and National Coordination, that the matter would be looked into, not surprisingly, have come to naught.

The lack of personal security has therefore prevented me from traversing the country (not necessarily holding campaign rallies) like all other presidential candidates and party leaders, to market United Democratic Movement (UDM) as a political party, or my candidature generally, given the current violent nature of campaigns, political activity, and insecurity in the country generally. In most cases, pictures have been published of the politicians (including opposition) being protected, or whisked to safety by their police bodyguards. Why have I been denied security? What is unique about my case? Whose interest is the IG serving?

It is clear that the refusal to provide me with security was deliberately calculated to ensure that, for security reasons, I would not be able to engage in any political activity at all. The effect being that I would only have myself to blame, if I exposed myself to risk. The irony of the IG’s decision is that all other aspiring presidential candidates have adequate government security, whether currently serving in government or not.

The upshot is that, having reflected, and consulted with my family, friends and supporters, with profound regret, I have decided to pull out of the 2017 presidential race. I, however, assure Kenyans that this is not the end of my determination to bring about positive, corruption-free, detribalised politics to our country. I end with a quote from an American Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, in the recent US elections:

“This campaign was always about our citizenship –taking back our country from a political class that serves only the big, the powerful, the wealthy and well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”

So, too, as I suspend my candidacy, I assure all Kenyans that I will continue the difficult journey of pushing for the awakening our citizens to the critical need for radical change if we as a nation are to survive and return to the path of prosperity, self-respect and patriotism. I remain a member of UDM and shall continue to support all its activities, and I encourage aspirants to seek nomination through the party for all categories of elective positions.

In the meantime, I thank the many Kenyans I met along the relatively short but difficult journey and who encouraged and supported my quest to bring about positive change to the politics of our great country. And to those who believed that in me, they had found a transformational leader, with the unique ability to steer our beloved country away from the path of destruction through tribalism and corruption, I urge that you do not surrender your hopes and aspirations for the restoration of our country to the path of sustainable peace and prosperity. I will continue to walk with you in engaging and agitating for radical change in the affairs of our beloved nation.

To the many “undecided” voters who may not vote, unless there is a truly transformational candidate, I appeal to them not to abdicate their civic duty and ensure to vote on election day, for the candidate that best represents at least some measure of positive change, taking into account the following advice of Montesquieu:

“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of the citizen in a democracy.”

Finally, I assure Kenyans that I will keep my options open for the presidential elections in 2022.


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For South Africans, another ‘long trek’ looms

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Stiff-necked apartheid high priests had their problems but none of them contemplated the type of weird political culture the ANC and Mr. Zuma are foisting on post-apartheid South Africa. Where is that country headed?

From the look of things, another long, tortuous trek looms in South Africa. The ‘long trek’ has been primed by what many expected would be a honey-coated story but which has now left a bitter taste in the mouth of South Africans! Coming a little over two decades after South Africa threw off the yoke of apartheid, the trek threatens to replace white minority rule with black majority dictatorship.

We can only hope the mere thought of South Africa sliding into dictatorship under President Jacob Zuma did not hasten the recent expiration of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada.

What we do know is that South Africa, for the second time in its chequered history, is under siege arising from the crass leadership deficit of Mr. Zuma, the third person of colour to rule South African since independence in 1994. Once again, the ruling ANC party has thrown its weight behind the embattled president even as authentic voices continue to appeal to the ANC “to take urgent corrective action in the best interest of South Africa and its peoples”.

The latest indication that Mr. Zuma was determined to take South Africans down the weather-beaten road of all despots came when, against wise counsel, he reshuffled his cabinet with the main aim being replacing the independent-minded finance minister Gordhan Pravin with one of his fiercest supporters and former defence minister. This time, Mr. Zuma’s deputy and the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, which stood by Mr. Zuma in previous corruption scandals, added their voices to calls on the president to step down.

Elections are due in 2019 but, with majority ANC parliamentarians solidly behind him, it should come as no surprise if Mr. Zuma transmutes into another sit-tight African leader. He only needs to look northward across the border for inspiration. The defences around the scandal-prone president may be crumbling but, like a cat with nine lives, Mr. Zuma can still count on fiercely-loyal supporters who impatiently shout down dissenting voices, to achieve his aim.

Any attempt at transmutation may only intensify the campaign to unseat Mr. Zuma. The campaign took a new twist after a controversial security upgrade at the Nkandla country home of the president in 2012. Allegations that Mr. Zuma corruptly enriched himself from the controversial house upgrade were confirmed by the report of the Public Protector that was released in March 2014. A superior court even ordered President Zuma to refund part of the appropriated funds.

Signs that South Africa was headed in the wrong direction manifested in 2007 when Mr. Zuma clawed his way to the powerful presidency of the ANC. For Mr. Zuma, the ANC presidency was an opportunity to get even with enemies, including then President Thabo Mbeki, who dismissed the controversy-prone Mr. Zuma from his cabinet position in 2005 after he was implicated in a corruption scandal. Mr. Zuma got his pound of flesh when he forced Mr. Mbeki to resign in September 2008. Eight months later, Mr. Zuma, as presidential candidate of the ANC, led the party to an easy victory. Things have continued to fall apart for the country since then.

Mr. Zuma is not new to challenges. As a young man with no formal education, the budding anti-apartheid struggle appeared the only way for him. After joining Umkhonto We Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, Zuma received military training at ANC camps in several southern African countries and occasionally sneaked into South Africa to participate in insurgency against the apartheid regime. It was during one of the operations that Zuma was arrested and jailed for 10 years.

The return of black majority rule in 1994 was all Mr. Zuma needed to advertise his recklessness. As a parliamentarian in 2004, he was fingered in a scandal that involved Schabir Shaik, a businessman and Zuma’s ally who was jailed in 2006 for taking bribes from arms deals which he allegedly channeled to Mr. Zuma. Critics who called on Mr. Zuma to resign as deputy president of ANC were disappointed when COSATU joined in the defence of Mr. Zuma who, on the gravity of the offence, resigned from parliament but remained as deputy president of ANC.

While the Nkandla scandal raged, a former ANC member of parliament, Ms. Vytjie Mentor, revealed that the Guptas, a prominent Indian family with interests in information technology, media and mining, promised her a ministerial post on condition she drops the India route on the flight schedule of the South African national carrier. Within hours, then deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jones, also revealed how he rejected the offer of substantive finance minister by members of the Gupta family.  South Africans had good cause to worry when, around the same time, a former cabinet spokesperson, Themba Maseko, revealed that President Zuma requested him to find ways of helping the Gupta family.

South Africa has many indigenous Indian families but the Guptas is not one of them. In fact, the Guptas, probably at the instance of Mr. Zuma, arrived in South Africa a decade-and-half ago and has made giant strides that are only possible with a string-pulling benevolent godfather. Of course, President Zuma’s family is represented in the octopoid Gupta family business by his 33-year-old son, Duduzane, who resigned his non-executive directorship when the latest scandal broke.

If South Africans needed proof of how well connected the Guptas are, they got one in April, 2013, when security and aviation authorities simply turned the blind eye as the Guptas breached state security when the highly-favoured Indians landed a private jet, filled with wedding guests, at an Air Force Base near Pretoria! South Africans were aghast and, soon, those who pressured government to wield the big stick were silenced and dubbed enemies of state by the normally-vibrant official propaganda machinery.

Stiff-necked apartheid high priests had their problems but none of them contemplated the type of weird political culture the ANC and Mr. Zuma are foisting on post-apartheid South Africa. For now, the least expectation of Africans is to sneer as Mr. Zuma transforms a promising Republic of South Africa into a prototypic African republic.

Posted in South AfricaComments Off on For South Africans, another ‘long trek’ looms

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