South Africa’s Xenophobic Attacks

We, more than many other nations, should know better. We should know better because we have just emerged from more than three centuries of the horror of settler colonialism and apartheid… This madness has to stop. There is simply no justification for attacking people simply because they are not South African nationals.

Editorial, City Press

 

But xenophobic violence continued today, especially in the townships around Johannesburg. The police (SAPS) who had previously warned of a growing undercurrent of xenophobic unrest have accused criminal elements of hijacking the issues which have caused these attacks and worsening the situation. And while the police responded to the trouble with rubber bullets and tear gas, they have regularly come under fire from live ammunition. 

Burning man 
Immigrant alight (BBC)

 Section 201 of South Africa’s Constitution allows for the army to be called in by the President to assist the SAPS: 

Only the President, as head of the national executive, may authorise the employment of the defence force ­… in co-operation with the police service; 

 I would suggest that the time for that decision has already passed. With every news bulletin, we are hearing of more problems, more casualties, more deaths. However, whether Mbeki will (for once?) act decisively in this situation remains to be seen.

 Now there is the distinct possibility that the situation will spread to other cities across SA, including Cape Town

About 30 Somali shopkeepers trading and living in Du Noon have received warning letters telling them to leave the area, fuelling fears that xenophobic attacks occurring in Johannesburg could spread to Cape Town.

It seems likely that this situation will certainly get worse before it gets better. In fact, listening to the news on the radio, it’s getting worse even as I write this. Once again, huge negative publicity for South Africa and huge issues for the 3-5 million (depending whose figures you believe) immigrants in this country at the moment. And what choice for the Zimbabwean immigrants particularly – starvation in their own country or the threat of violence in this new home.

I’m sorry. I don’t have any answers. Even deploying the army in these hotspots will only see the trouble move elsewhere and does nothing to cure the underlying issues which have led to this situation.
“Send them back where they came from” suggests to these people that violence is the answer. It surely isn’t.
And me? An immigrant here myself – “taking their jobs”.  I’m just glad that I am where I am and not facing what those less fortunate than me are facing right now.

More on this issue will surely follow over the next few days on here as the situation develops. Don’t miss out.

Some Freedom

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. The first of three this week. On May 1st, we have the ubiquitous Worker’s Day and on the 2nd, an “extra” public holiday which was only granted in late March, for reasons that no-one really knows or wants to ask about in case it gets taken away again. This means only 2 working days, which means that we have the obligatory dose of Short Week Service Syndrome ahead.

But celebrate, for today is Freedom Day – the National Holiday to commemorate the 1994 General Election and the “official end” of apartheid. While many were delighted to welcome the non-racial elections, there were some disappointments, not least the poor showing of the DikWankWetla Party, who only managed to capture 0.1% of the vote. I know very, very little about the DikWankWetla Party, but they have an absolutely awesome name and for that alone are probably worth a vote even if their policies are a little ropey.

So. How has SA done over the last 14 years?
I guess that would be one of those questions with a host of “no win” answers, basically drawn out along racial lines. Let’s just say that the majority of people in this country are better off than they were pre-1994.
Of course, it hasn’t worked for everyone. Somehow today, it was even more saddening to see the beggars with small kids and babies in tow at the traffic lights. Some freedom for them. One wonders if they recognise that today holds any special significance for the country.
I gave away an entire 2kg bag of apples on the 3km run back home from the supermarket. Not much, I know, but trying to help, at least. One day, I hope 0.6 will understand why he didn’t get his Granny Smiths today.

Happy Freedom Day, South Africa.

The JonnyHarvard post

There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship.

So said Mark Twain. And yes, we all look to further ourselves, we strive for knowledge, for education. Some more than others. One of those “some” is Jonny Faull, 6000 miles… own political analyst.
Jonny was the one swimming against the tide of “experts”, when last March he predicted a Zuma win in Polokwane, 9 months before it happened. He was the one on the front line in Zim last month acting as an independent observer during the elections which Bob/Thabo/Morgan/Simba* won. He talks politics honestly and frankly, basing his opinions on solid logic facts, with no subjectivity and no emotion save for his obvious passion for the discipline.  
He has written articles which have been published in newspapers across the world, from Cape Town to New York. He plays football, is well respected in the Cape Town knitting fraternity and has recently taken up basketweaving as a weekend pastime. He uses the word “fabulous” like there is no tomorrow – a fact that, given his apparent clairvoyant skills, is somewhat disturbing.

And now, he has been accepted to study a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Yes – that Harvard University. An honour indeed and one that he has worked so hard to achieve. 
Just one issue. Cash. Moolah. Spondulicks. Or as we call it here in South Africa: “Money”.
Five hundred thousand of our South African Rands, to be precise.

And that’s where you can help out. In order to raise funds, Jonny has already sold all his worldly possessions. I know this for two reasons. Firstly, because I myself picked up some awesome (some might say “fabulous”) bargains including his beautiful collection of handcrafted woollen tea-cosies; and secondly because he has been seen wandering around Cape Town CBD wearing just his underpants. Evidently, there were no takers for those at the garage sale.

What he needs now is more money. And you can help by pledging on his website. I would urge my UK and US readers to be particularly generous. You’ll hardly even notice the hard currency equivalent of R500 disappearing from your bank account.
You could either have that 12th bottle of disappointingly watery beer or you could send Jonny to Havard.
Think about it. Well, actually – don’t: it’s a no brainer.
Jonny says:

I believe that the Kennedy School MPP will complement and deepen my political, economic policy and analytical skills base and consequently enhance my capacity for contributing to the consolidation, and vibrancy of democracy in my country and region.

And while that may be true, I can’t help but think that it would like a paler version of Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. Surely, that’s got to be worth your cash alone.

* delete as applicable when we actually get some results.

Problems in Zim, Problems in Sheffield

Just when the poor people stuck just over the border (though admittedly a border a long, long way from me here) thought that bent elections, crooked politicians, ridiculous inflation, food shortages, violence and intimidation were the only minor issues they had to face upon getting up this morning, comes this.

Yes, according to the BBC News website, African leaders have now taken their lead from Thabo Mbeki and Mad Bob and are further conspiring against the Zimbabwean people – and not just any Zimbabwean people – some the most vulnerable: Amputees.


BBC News spells it out clearly. No arms for Zim.

I am appalled.  How are these unfortunate people supposed to find gainful employment when their prosthetic limbs are denied entry to the country over some inconsequential political spat?

Meanwhile back in Sheffield, copper theft from electricity substations is out of control, apparently.
No – wait – surely I mean Cape Town?
Hmm – this is the perfect home from home, it seems.

Can you write me off too, please?

Great news! (if you’re Cuban, that is.)

According to this morning’s Cape Times, the South African government has written off a 12-year-old debt owed to it by Cuba for export insurance relating to diesel engines, pesticides, Joost van der Westhuizen promotional mechandise and biltong.  
Very generous. Very, very generous in fact, when you hear that the debt totalled R926,8million. Now although the current exchange rates mean that that princely sum would only buy you a prawn mayo sandwich in London, it’s still a whole lotta Rands.

Government communications head Themba Maseko told a media briefing following Wednesday’s regular Cabinet meeting:

Given the assessment of Cuba’s debt position, government is of the view that Cuba was not in a position to meet its obligations in the foreseeable future.

I’ll bet that little gem of an announcement was slipped in right at the end of the briefing, following 4 hours waffling about exciting social grant allocation, fishing subsidies, landfill waste statistics and annual concrete price fluctuations. “Oh – and for those of you still here and still awake, we also voted to write off a billion Rands worth of debt to the Castro brothers. Thank you all very much, see you next week.”

At this point, I’d like to introduce you all to my bond. My mortgage. The money I borrowed from the bank to pay for my house. Now, to coin an official government phrase, “Given the assessment of my debt position, I am of the view that I am not in a position to meet my obligations in the forseeable future.”
This, by inference and extrapolation, together with a good dollop of subjectivity and bias, therefore means that my bank can write off all that I owe it and I can celebrate with a few mojitos and a fat cigar. Right?

Wrong. Despite the fact that I could be doing better things with my cash than throwing it into the ever-deepening pit of excessive interest payments, a pit which now dwarfs Kimberley’s Big Hole (and here I refer to the city in the Northern Cape, not the lass on Sea Point Main Road) – I still have to pay it back. Life is just so unfair.

Seriously though, what could South Africa have done with that billion Rand? Well, maybe the answers are right in front of us on the same Cape Times website:
Prevent deaths through water-borne disease in Soweto?
Fight the scourge of alcohol abuse and tik which is ruining students futures?
Reducing child mortality rates, which are still on the rise?

Look, I know Cuba has problems too. But I pay tax in SA. For SA.