Zuma “shocked and embarrassed”

Not by allegations that he showers to protect himself from HIV, nor by his pending corruption charges, but by white poverty in South Africa.

The head of South Africa’s governing African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has said he is shocked and embarrassed about white poverty in the country.
Mr Zuma was speaking after visiting the Bethlehem township near the capital, Pretoria, where white families live without running water or electricity.
He said the high level of black poverty did not mean whites did not suffer too.

Yes, in this country famed for its haves and have-nots, traditionally divided among racial lines, there has been a blurring, with an estimated 131,000 white individuals classed as homeless. Of course, this number is tiny compared to the number of black people in the same situation, but that still doesn’t make it right or any easier for those who are struggling. In raising this “awkward” issue, JZ is once again making all the right noises and appealing to potential white voters with the election coming up next year.
Does he really care? Who can say?

I, for one, refuse to believe the ZumaRuma™ merchants who can see no good in the ANC President. While I sometimes feel that he is playing a clever political game – he’s talking a lot about issues that matter to South Africans, but actually promising very little – I don’t think that he is an evil, white-hating racist as some would have us believe. I think he is more grounded and in touch with the population than Thabo Mbeki is or ever has been – and that’s a good sign in someone who, it seems, will be the President of the Republic from next year.

He does have some baggage though, obviously. Primarily his corruption trial* which, despite a myriad of delays and stalling, will raise its ugly head again over the next few months (next thrilling installment August 4th).
However, rapidly moving up to become Zuma’s second biggest suitcase is ANCYL President Julius Malema. Just as soon as JZ pacifies the whities, his sycophantic lapdog Malema alienates them again by saying something daft or inflammatory. After his somewhat ill-advised “kill for Zuma” comments last month, he moved on in spectacularly idiotic style yesterday, suggesting that JZ could rule the country from prison

We can’t imagine the courts finding (Zuma) guilty because, if you arrest him, he will lead us from prison. We are not afraid to be led by a president in orange clothes.
If you want to save yourselves the embarrassment you must drop the charges, because arresting him will not stop him from being the president.
There is no other candidate.

Am I alone in thinking that Julius was surprised to get a laugh when he said that? What’s the betting that he was stone-cold serious? One wonders if, behind the scenes, he’s been working out how to get world leaders to come to Pollsmoor Prison to conduct their business and setting up a video link to the UN, “just in case”.

However, the tide is growing for the charges against Zuma to be dropped. Not just because Julius loves him and doesn’t think he did anything wrong, because they’re rubbish reasons, but for the more serious reason that it would almost certainly be catastrophic for the country and the economy if he were to be found guilty and then take office as President. Or take office as President and then be found guilty.

So perhaps Zuma should not run for President? Or is it a case of better the devil you know?
Because Malema the Suitcase actually got one thing spot on: There is no other candidate.

So where do we go from here?
I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit stuck on that one right now.

* Actually, to be precise, it’s a corruption, racketeering, money laundering and fraud trial.

SA crime – the moaning continues

Sadly, South Africa is known, amongst many other things, for its high crime rate. But there came some good news on that front today with the release of the latest crime figures, which show a marked decrease, especially in many of the more serious crimes: murder down 4.7% and robbery with aggravating circumstances down 7.4%, for example. Well, I think it’s good news, but others aren’t happy.
Once again, (I always have to clarify this bit before I talk about crime in SA), I do recognise that South Africa has a problem with crime and I do recognise that something needs to be done about it and that people have a right to expect the government to do something about it. 
However, with the murder rate down to its lowest level in six years and a overall decrease in crime, I think that it is obvious that the initiatives and efforts which are being put in place to combat crime are beginning to work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are very few people who seem to recognise this, though.   

A lot of the negative comments I have read on various SA websites and forums on this subject fall broadly into four categories, which can overlap Venn diagram style, to allow maximum pessimism.
Firstly, there’s the Mugabe reaction: these people have read and heard that crime has decreased, but they are simply ignoring the news and pretending it hasn’t happened. That way, they continue to have something to moan about and a reason to live.
Secondly, the negative optimist approach – and no, that’s not an oxymoron. These people note that crime has fallen, but are not happy that there is still crime happening. In the negative optimists’ world, there is no murder, no robbery, no vandalism and everyone obeys the speed limits. These people should have listened to Safety and Security Minister, Charles Nqakula, as he was presenting the report this morning: 

He told media in Pretoria during the presentation of the annual crime report that even though the statistics indicated a steady decline, crime levels were still very high and “unacceptably so: Government wanted to see a more drastic decline.”

 See? He agrees with you. Crime is still unacceptably high. But it’s down.

Next up, my particular favourites: the nit-pickers. They will pick and choose the worst stats to illustrate just what difficult circumstances South Africa finds itself in: Yes, murder is down, rape is down, robbery is down, but what about truck high-jackings? Did you see that truck high-jackings were up?
Finally, the never-believers. They stand by the words of Mulder & Scully. Trust no-one. These stats are all made up by the Government to make us feel better, when really, crime has sky-rocketed. They cite the fact that these figures are only for reported crime. Which is absolutely correct. However, I defy any government, worldwide, to present accurate statistics on unreported crime, because, you see, it’s unreported.
However, in the unlikely event that the Government has completely fabricated the figures presented today, then I feel that they could have done a much better job on reducing truck high-jackings.

So, there you have it. Once again, I’m fed up with people moaning instead of doing something proactive, like joining their neighbourhood watch. I’m fed up with people only looking for the bad news instead of being happy that there’s actually some good news. I’m fed up with people having foolishly high expectations and feeling angry when they are unfulfilled. Bring forth your predictable and ill-thought-out comments.

One final thing – I’m also growing a little tired of Italians ruining my weekends. This time, the act was repeated by the utterly appalling one-sided refereeing of the Euro 2008 Final by Italian Roberto Rosetti.
Yes Roberto, handball and headbutting are against the rules in football.
German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann thinks the Euro 2008 final was fixed:

“The referee was a catastrophe and sometimes I think it is fixed when I see such a referee, who is biased and not correct in his decisions.”
For example, A Spanish player (David Silva) head-butted our player (Lukas Podolski) and the referee saw it and the linesman saw it.”

Now, I’m no fan of Lehmann’s, but I’m in full agreement that something weird was going on with the refereeing last night. One dodgy decision after another – all in Spain’s favour. How strange.

 

Are Italians naturally dull?

Having swum down to Newlands in miserable conditions on Saturday to watch the rugby, I was disappointed with the atmosphere, the standard of play and the complete lack of general excitement that usually surrounds an international test match. Sure, it could have had something to do with the weather, but being the scientific kind of person that I am, I then extended my research further the following day.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to watch the second bit of my experiment, because it was a Ferrari winning at the French Grand Prix. Formula One is only worth watching for the crashes, and what with all the new safety equipment and silly little rules from the FIA, even those are getting a bit few and far between and less exciting when they do happen. For the rest of the time, it’s just like a procession, with the fastest car starting in pole position and then going round and round the track with no-one able to catch it or overtake it. This fastest car is usually a Ferrari – and Ferrari is?
Yes – Italian. Exactly.

Incidentally, have you noticed how irritating it is when people think that they are “in the know” by referring to F1 drivers by their first names?

Ja, Kimi had a great race as he followed Filipe around the track for 79 laps…

Presumably, these are the same bores who refer to Star Wars films as “Empire” or “Phantom” and their favourite bands as “Jovi” or “Leppard”; their movie and musical tastes giving us further insight into their sad little lives.

Anyway, by now, a pattern was beginning to form: Italy + Sport = Dull.

A last chance to disprove my theory came with the eagerly-anticipated Spain v Italy Euro 2008 quarter final clash. And, dear Lord (even if you did vote ZANU-PF) – they went out of their way to hammer the point home. 90 minutes of the most excruciatingly dull viewing I have experienced since I last watched an F1 race. And then another 30 minutes of extra time as added punishment. What did I do to deserve that?

It seems to me that a country with such a proud military history (well, until about 100 AD, anyway), a wealth of national monuments and treasures, a pretty cool, bouncy, upbeat national anthem and moreover, a well known reputation for passion and excitement, can turn out such mind-numbingly boring sporting performances.

Has the true Italy come to the fore? Is this what Italians are really like, their genuine characters previously hidden under a thin veneer of heated, volcanic emotions?
I don’t want to believe it, but the evidence of late is pointing firmly in the direction of dull.
Convince me otherwise. Please.

Bergvliet’s NIMBYs are a disgrace

People all over the city are trying to help out (see DC’s blog) with the refugee crisis that has hit Cape Town since the xenophobic violence. However, it would seem that these fine examples of humanity and selflessness only go so far:

The Methodist Church has accused some Bergvliet parents of “an exquisite form of genteel xenophobia” for forcing refugees and migrants displaced in xenophobic violence to move from a church in the upmarket suburb.
The Methodist Church has expressed its disappointment at having to move 57 displaced foreigners from the Bergvliet Methodist Church to venues elsewhere, because of “safety and health” concerns of parents of children at the preschool on the property.

Yes, when it comes to actually having displaced people living in a church hall near your house and using the same toilets as your children, then suddenly your viewpoint changes. Dropping a couple of cans of beans or an old coat in at a collection station is great, because then you don’t actually have to see the problem. Someone else can do the hard miles and you can sit back in your comfy chair in front of your fire knowing that some poor black person is happier now – as long as he has a tin opener, anyway.

But actually finding that your local church has made its safe, dry and warm church hall available to temporarily house immigrants fleeing from violence.
Hang on a minute! Little Verity goes to creche there – whatever is the church thinking, providing shelter and food for these stinking, robbing, drug-taking foreigners?!?

I disagree with Tim Attwell’s “genteel xenophobia” comment. It’s an oxymoron.
Yes, he’s comparing it to the horrific violence in the informal settlements – but in many ways, moving these people on in this way is equally prejudiced, equally unnecessary, equally heartless, equally ugly. It’s xenophobia – hatred of those who are different to you – there’s nothing genteel about it.

Four parents wrote to the church and 12 signed a petition, giving the church an ultimatum to remove the displaced families, or they would remove their children or stop paying fees.

The refuge seekers were moved to Trinity Methodist Church in Heathfield, Aldersgate Methodist Church in Steenberg, and Lotus River and Grassy Park Methodist Churches at the weekend.
Members of the Bergvliet congregation are still taking food to the people every day.

That 16 misinformed, prejudiced hypocrites can have such an impact on the lives of these people, especially in their time of need, is a great shame. I know some of those “members of the Bergvliet congregation” who are continuing their good work in helping the refugees. They now have to drive further into less reputable areas and at their own cost – many of them are pensioners who struggle to afford petrol as it is. It’s sad that their humanitarian efforts have been associated with this negative story.

I hereby invite any of those parents who complained to the church to get in touch and give their side of the story. Because, as it stands right now, you are as much a disgrace to this country as those beating and burning their neighbours in the townships.

Bergvliet Methodist Church: (021) 715-3045

NIMBY – “Not In My Back Yard”

Get the balance right

Actually, there’s more to this post than just quoting Depeche Mode songs, but…

Don’t take this way, don’t take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn til you’ve got it right.

Being the editor of a hugely popular international website brand isn’t all fun and games, you know. Aside from the hard work, trolls and begging letters (yes, I’m still writing them), there’s the constant heavy weight of responsibility resting upon my shoulders.
See, what I’ve found is that there are an awful lot of gullible people out there. I haven’t calculated exact numbers, but I’m guessing that we’re probably looking at about 95% of people who have access to the internet. All of which means that you can basically write what you want and people will actually believe it.

Incoming from Katie at brand42 last night, an email inviting me to “preview” (subtext: “please blog about”) their “exciting new site”, mysouthafrica.tv, which launches next Monday and  invites people to send in their images, videos and thoughts on SA – and which CHOWS bandwidth, so is completely rubbish for er… South African users. The small print indicates that this is a SA Tourism initiative. How patriotic of them to use a UK-based web design company. Hmm.

But I don’t mind SA Tourism promoting SA. In fact, I’d be rather annoyed and somewhat bewildered if they didn’t. After all, it is their job.
What I don’t like are sites which are blindly positive or negative about SA. I’ve always tried to strike a bit of a balance on 6000 miles…I’m not completely objective, because this is a personal blog and yes – I like here and I like living here. If I didn’t, I’d pack my son, a few kilos of biltong and a crate of Castle Milk Stout into a rucksack and head for the airport. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the bad things that happen here. Or that I ignore them. One only has to look at the coverage that I gave the recent xenophobic violence to see that.

Compare and contrast my attitude with homecomingrevolution.co.za or sagoodnews.co.za. Read them and you’d wonder how such a perfect Utopian society had previously gone unnoticed by the world. Which it hasn’t, because SA is far from Utopia. And which is why I don’t read them, because being blindly positive is misleading and ignoring the challenges which SA faces doesn’t help overcome those challenges. So really – what’s the point? You still go out of your front door and see the real SA every day.

But then compare that with the doom and gloom merchants like Daxk and his sort on [forum name censored]. They can turn any thread on there into a rant about how miserable life in SA is in about 2 minutes, despite the fact they don’t actually live in SA.
e.g.

Tourist sights in Cape Town
Hi, I’m coming to a conference in Cape Town and I have a spare morning for sightseeing. What should I see in my spare 4 hours?

1st Reply: If the weather’s good, you should try and get up Table Mountain – it’s a wonderful experience and the views are fantastic.
2nd Reply: Be careful with your bag in Cape Town. The armed robbers look for foreign targets with bags.
3rd Reply: I would think twice about attending the conference if I were you. There was a murder on a farm near Brakpan (fake photos attached) and all the black people in SA have AIDS and rape tourists. 
4th Reply: My mother’s old next-door neighbour’s sister’s boss was hijacked in Jo’burg last year.

And so on.
And that’s why I don’t go on there any more either. Because they are racist idiots.

So it really is a bit of a balancing act on here. Mainly because I think that as soon as a site gets so very subjective one way or the other, the value of the message it is trying to convey is lost. Mysouthafrica.tv could rapidly join the list if (as I suspect) the user generated content on there is heavily edited to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Seriously, you’re better off sticking here at 6000 miles… with me. Unbiased, reasoned social comment on South Africa and everything else besides, all for the cost of free. Consider yourself informed.