Sorry, but the facts don’t support Iqbal Survé’s latest opinion piece

IN AN editorial published on IOL today, Iqbal Survé CEO of the Independent Media Group, a group with 9 daily newspapers, 10 Weekend Newspapers and 2 financial papers, doesn’t seem to get that the role of newspapers is to reflect back the diversity of opinion in the country.

Instead he seeks to cast his hopelessly conservative brand based upon prohibition rather than permission, as a ‘progressive’ voice ‘pitted against “a morass of anti-progressive Fourth Estate propaganda machines operating in this country, apparently bent on preventing true freedom of speech.”

In order to substantiate his argument, he then goes on to attack the online Daily Maverick without any evidence, for apparently being funded “by the Oppenheimers and other well-placed businessmen and families” and the Mail and Guardian, a niche weekly, for being ‘funded primarily by overseas backers who themselves have certain political interests’.

Significantly, he avoids the implications of a massive cartel within the daily news (print, television and radio) whose ultimate control is assuredly, a company known as Rupert Bellegings Pty Ltd.

Survé further fails to note that INM is itself, funded by our own government investment arm, the PIC and also organs of the Chinese government. He fails to explain what steps he has taken to defend ‘freedom of speech” in particular on issues related, to Tibet, Taiwan, Myanmar, and the Uyghurs, a Moslem minority in China. And closer to home, on issues related to divergences of culture, religion, politics and opinion.

An example would be the LGBT community, which following the takeover of INM by Survé, appears to have been rendered invisible.

Or the Jewish community, a sizeable minority, which is no longer granted the same status as other, more favoured groups.

In 2007 the ANC banned the Dalai Lama.

I therefore challenge Survé to demonstrate how his newspapers are in any way independent and ‘progressive’, other than their slavish subservience to the prescient political party of the day.

A news media which censors on the basis of ones purported political and cultural affiliations, whether proven or not, is not a progressive media. Rather, such organs are more in keeping with the Soviet era and its Pravda news agency.

SEE: Closure of the Mind, Independent Media’s suppression of open debate and a free press

Aggett Inquest, Mandela Release 30th Anniversary, Oh Shucks

IF YOU READING this piece, then you one of many South Africans turning to alternative media for a different perspective than the mainstream press.  It is small consolation that we are all witnesses to the Aggett Inquest, continuing during the 30th year following the Mandela Release ,while FW de Klerk still refuses to admit any wrongdoing on behalf of the former National Party.

The party responsible if you recall, for deaths in detentions of persons such as Steve Biko, Ahmed Timol and Imam Haroon. Then there’s the assassination of David Webster, one of the defining points of the period prior to the velvet revolution which lead to the release of Mandela.

A man who some believe, would have been better off having not been released, if only to continue the struggle via other means.

Apartheid was (and still is) a crime against humanity  — the daily news briefings abound of the tragic circumstances immediately proceeding the death in detention of Neil Aggett, an icon of student protest surrounding the anti-apartheid movement, are to be welcomed.

Yet I can only manage to howl and weep, because too little has been done to rectify the situation in which apartheid apparatchiks are allowed to go Scot free, while the victims more often than not, are given short thrift, with very little recourse when it comes to the law.

Hopefully the current generation, both black and white, will be inspired by the sacrifices which have been made, and speak out at the travesty which is occurring in the name of national reconciliation. Our children deserve better than the vacuous and tired explanations for these murders provided by those in authority.

As I write this, I am still bound by a racist 2019 decision handed down by one Bernard Martin of the High Court of South Africa, effectively removing my right to legal representation as contemplated by the constitution in a matter effecting the status and integrity of the TRC and its report, (and thus a matter filed before the Equality Court in 2015). As yet no legal professional has stepped forward to provide assistance, while Legal Aid South Africa has been allowed to escape its mandate of providing aid in cases where a substantial injustice would result from my not possessing an attorney.

If defending the TRC report from egregious attacks by apartheid criminals is not an odious task, requiring immediate assistance, then I fail to understand what would qualify?

It therefore remains for us to shout out to all and sundry, and from the rafters and pulpits if needs be, — it is not merely the apartheid justice system which is on trial at the Aggett Inquest, but rather, the entire South African justice system.

A justice system which began the year under a cloud of calumny, and in which the credibility of the entire system is still in question.

That the Aggett inquest may be too little, too late, is  surely to be remarked upon by commentators, who no doubt may also question the manner in which the previous Timol inquest occurred, not because funds were made available by our government but because of the valiant and heroic activism of the Timol family.

It is not too late to call for a further commission of inquiry into the entire post TRC process, if only to demand that funds be made available in order to access legal aid in such matters.

In terms of the TRC Act, the Minister has the requisite power to call further commissions of inquiry, to hold further inquests and to assist those in need of legal aid. Instead the Minister has chosen to duck and dive, passing the buck under the current administration. An administration which will no doubt be wrong footed, and in contempt of the freedom struggle, which is the hallmark of the preamble to our constitution.

 

 

 

 

This Land is our land: expropriation a poison pill or magic fix?

IN 1967, folk singers Des and Dawn Lindberg debut album, Folk on Trek, was banned. One of the reasons appears to be a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land, ‘albeit South Africanised with local landmarks ‘and written as “This land is my land, this land is your land. From the great Limpopo to Marion Island.”

The pair appealed in court to have the ban on Folk on Trek lifted’, writes Charles Leonard, but lost the case. “All copies of the album were ordered to be destroyed although some fans hid theirs and, as a result, some copies survived.”

Land dispossession, in particular the aftermath of the Glen Grey Act of 1894, and 1913 Land Act, which both limited land ownership and restricted the franchise along colour lines, has long been a bone of contention.  Yet one hundred years later a new democratic order emerged, alongside property guarantees which enabled a black majority government to begin the process of land restitution on the basis of the ‘willing buyer/willing seller principle’.

Some R60 billion was pumped into land reform with mixed results.

The country experienced a 15-year long boom period which came to an end in 2009. Cut to 2020, and wholesale ‘land expropriation without compensation’ a policy at first introduced by the far-left opposition EFF, is being seen as a magic bullet panacea by the ruling party, one which will usher in a veritable Eden of opportunity. A constitutional amendment of article 25 apparently gazetted last year is being rushed into Parliament, with January 31 being the last opportunity for comment by the public.

In the midst of this, there is talk of doing away with legal scrutiny of the new Land mechanism which can only be put in place if the constitutional amendment is passed with a 2/3 supermajority in Parliament.

The bill must be passed by 267 votes of a possible 400 votes. Currently the ANC only has 230 seats. It would still need to garner support from either the official opposition DA, with 84, seats or 3rd largest party, the EFF with 44 seats.

It is significant that it is under the former President Zuma that one version of the Expropriation bill first emerged in 2016, where it was referred to the President and lingered in committee. As early as 2006, President Thabo Mbeki ‘used his State of the Nation address to revisit the “willing‐​buyer willing‐​seller” principle for land redistribution‘. Criticism of which is a perennial favourite amongst members of the ruling party.

Arguably, the single most disruptive policy, bar already weak economic performance, failing SOEs and the Zondo Commission. It is the threat of land expropriation which is driving both immigration and uncertainty within the country,  leading to a looming tax revolt, and criticism of President Ramaphosa, lead by banks which see the deleterious side-effects on property prices as a dangerous precedent.

Nowhere in the world, wherever property rights have been eroded or undermined by the state, has there been a contingent increase in economic stability, instead the reverse is true.

Both Venezuela and Zimbabwe provide abject examples, since state seizure of land, for whatever purposes, invariably sets in motion economic forces which are difficult to contain, the least of which is the impact on foreign investment.

Nationalisation is at the heart of the hyper-inflation experienced by these two countries.

Simply transferring arable land to the masses will not equate to instantaneous economic opportunity, as so many leftist commentators maintain, but risks a crisis situation in which current land tenants move from one economic model of exploitation to another — from land tenancy at the behest of private capital to land tenancy on behalf of the state.

In effect the failed SOE model is being allowed to reign supreme, as the state begins to supersede the private sector. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange risks becoming irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

Alongside the logic of nationalisation, the invariably reduction of economic output, with consequent inability to fund growth without borrowing money. All evidence points to the failure of such policies wherever they have been tried.

While Western economies, though troubled, are growing, South Africa’s GDP reached a high of 416.9 USD billion in 2011, declined until 295.8 USD billion 2016 and is only now recovering at 349.4 USD billion, a factor of the world economy coupled with Rand deprecation which has made local goods cheap in comparison, rather than any policy per se.

Which brings one to question the entire modality of land ownership. Is land ownership really so desirable?

Would it not be better to create a co-ownership democracy in which each and every citizens receives dividends from the state which derives benefits from taxation and growth, rather than to jettison the private sector and risk dumping the capitalist economy entirely?

A policy of kaizen as practiced by the Japanese, consistent improvement as opposed to unpredictable change would also do wonders, as would household responsibility, a policy introduced in China under Deng.

Instead of building new cities and driving massive public projects, the state has instead focused on defending those few jobs which remain within SAs state enterprises.

Instead of having the courage to let go of those SOEs which have failed, or saving ESKOM the energy parastatel by splitting it up into viable parts, the ANC under Ramaphosa has chosen the path of centralisation, commandeer-ism and the dictates of the so-called dirigiste economy.

This is entirely the result of the ideology of the ruling party alliance which includes trade union COSATU and SACP, an alliance which has worked to stall progress at the same time that it looks for a quick fix, and appears to be short of ideas, save for its promises to those without land.

25 years of statist tinkering with the system has failed to deliver results for ordinary South Africans. It remains to be seen whether land expropriation will deliver anything more than a poison pill.

UPDATE: Deadline for public comment has been extended by one month.

SEE: Cato Institute sounds warning on expropriation policy.

Government can take your home, farm, or business premises under Constitutional Amendment Bill

 

 

 

South Africa’s judiciary, too many gone to the dogs?

IF THE probe of 5 Kwazulu-Natal judges fingered in a UK investigation of a $2 trillion-a-year (R28 trillion) money-laundering ring isn’t enough to grab your attention, or the revelations of judicial impropriety, influence-peddling and nepotism levelled against Western Cape High Court Judge President, John Hlophe by Deputy President Patricia Goliath, doesn’t get your goat. Then surely, the revelations before the Aggett Inquest by Advocate Howard Varney of state capture of the justice system is certain to raise your ire?

The problem is a lot more widespread than reported, (see my comments below). In his opening remarks before the court, counsel for the Aggett family, Howard Varney, said the Aggett inquest has “been plagued with ongoing delays”.

“We now know that post the winding up of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission], decisions were taken at the highest political level to close down the investigations into the cases referred by the TRC to the NPA … including the Aggett case.”

“Such interference” he says “amounted to state capture of the criminal justice system in relation to this class of cases. It allowed powerful forces in society to impose their will on institutions meant to uphold the rule of law. In doing so they guaranteed total impunity for some of the most serious crimes ever committed in South Africa.”

As a post-TRC litigant I can confirm the extant of the capture of the judiciary by nefarious forces associated with the past regime.

Not only has pressure been brought to bear, to influence the appointment of judges, as in the allegations against John Hlophe, while criminal syndicates are allowed to operate out of courts as alleged by civil rights group Constitution Accountability, Sedition, Independent, State, Access (CASISA), but both the NPA and judiciary have actively suppressed the TRC transitional justice mechanism, acting as if the judicial instruments of the apartheid state are somehow concurrent with the constitutional dispensation.

What appear to be a series of boardroom deals brokered by apartheid financier Johann Rupert and members of the Sisulu family during the CODESA negotiations have directly lead to the situation —  one in which Rupert Bellegings Pty Ltd, the ultimate controller of a vast media cartel involving businessmen Koos Bekker, Ton Vosloo and Terry Moolman and invested inter alia, in Remgro, Kagiso, Caxton and Naspers, was able to suppress a TRC-complaint before the Labour Court and by implication, the Equality Court.

The direct capture of the Labour Court was most certainly effected via a company known as the Resolve Group, whose director at the time Michael Halton Cheadle also held a directorship at Cheadle Thompson, Haysom (CTH). The respondent, Media24, a company which had previously attempted a gagging order, for my blowing the whistle on newsroom racism at WP Koerante, the owners of the People’s Post. Media24 were at the time clients of CTH at the same time that both Kagiso and Remgro were providing media content to MIH, a subsidiary of Media24.

In papers before the Cape Law Society, Cheadle acknowledged Media24 was a client of his law firm, but failed to explain why he had not revealed this fact on record before the court. He further attempted to justify his relationship on the basis of a decision in Bernert vs Absa Bank in which a judicial officer’s holding of over-the-counter (OTC) shares of the bank, during the proceeding, had been found to be de minimus, in other words not significant enough to effect the outcome. 

Far from being insignificant,  Cheadle’s shareholding flouted the ‘nemo rule’ (nemo judex in causa sua), one of the pillars of our justice system.

Kagiso then owned a 25.9% stake in Resolve, alongside former speaker for the House of Assembly Max Sisulu (5.7%). In 2005 Remgro (formerly Rembrandt Group) bought a 37% stake in Kagiso (reduced to 36.3% when Kagiso-Tiso was formed). Significantly this meant that a company with strong ties to apartheid, bought into a group associated with the former democratic struggle, in the process making good on a business relationship which had bloomed during the CODESA process.

Several partners at Resolve had ties to Media24 and/or CTH and/or the ANC, including Peter Harris, Nicola Galombik, and Murphy Morobe.

Galombik at the time was the executive director of Yellowoods, then majority owned by TBWA Hunt Lascaris who listed Media24 as a client. (“TBWA Media24 showcase”)

The NPA have declined to prosecute a complaint, after a docket was handed to the authority. The JSC appears to be toothless according to William Saunderson-Meyer. 

Further allegations against Hlophe have surfaced in a piece by the Daily Maverick.

In March of last year, AJ Martin handed down a racist decision trashing the TRC report, “as too long to read”, in the process crushing hopes of legal representation in a collateral matter before the Equality Court brought to defend the TRC from vicious attacks emanating from Naspers and Media24 counsel. (please see my open letter to the TRC Commissioners). The unlawful, irregular and repugnant Labour Court finding most certainly played a part in the outcome of Lewis v Legal Aid SA.

Records from the trial of General Magnus Malan, a Pretoria secureaucrat implicated in apartheid death squads appear to be  missing from the South African legal information institute database.

This week, the official opposition party, DA called for John Hlophe to be immediately suspended, as did National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) and Freedom Under Law (FUL). John Steenhuisen said the allegations faced by Hlophe were a threat to the credibility and independence of the judiciary at large, and said they had to be taken seriously. Constitutional law scholar Pierre de Vos is also talking about a “credibility crisis” as is Legalbrief, an online law professions site.

“The current head of the Western Cape High Court is compromised. Until such time as a proper investigation is completed and all consequential processes – which may include impeachment – are completed, Judge President Hlophe cannot be allowed to exercise the powers of a judge,” said Nicole Fritz, Executive Director FUL, in a statement, supported Nadel’s call for the suspension of Hlophe.

The same principles should apply to  allegations emerging from the Aggett inquest, in particular the latest revelations that it was a piece of paper provided by Barbara Hogen, which lead to the arrest of Aggett.

Ethical norms, not political compromises, should also apply to those behind the campaign against the TRC being waged with the full support of a captured judiciary.

As former solicitor-general under Reagan and Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried said of Trump: “You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

 

Remgro Organogram showing 36.3% Kagiso-Tiso holding

Kagiso Asset Management Organogram, showing Remgro 32.6% holding of KTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE READING:

https://ewn.co.za/2020/01/22/spat-between-deputy-judge-president-goliath-and-judge-hlope-plays-out-in-public

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/goliath-vs-hlophe-deputy-claims-cape-judge-president-wanted-judges-favourably-disposed-to-zuma-on-nuclear-deal-case-20200121

https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/the-problem-isnt-hlophe-its-the-jsc

 

 

 

 

 

Cannabis & Canapax: healing not dealing?

WHILE THE Canadian state of Ontario was removing the cap on the number of marijuana shops in the province, South Africa’s drug enforcement agencies were busy taking down a dagga dispensary franchise operation known as Canapax. News of cannabis operations being opened to the public overseas were met by stories of SAPS beating up on local dagga activists. The death of Rastafarian Jan de Bruin at the hands of law enforcement, is a particularly galling example. De Bruin’s crime, having the audacity to grow weed in the small town of Wellington.

The country’s inability to deal with the ramifications and nuances of the end of prohibition  follows a groundbreaking ConCourt ruling last year which allows use of the herb in private, yet expressly forbids dealing, while granting Parliament a period in which to review regulations.

Canapax, a going concern was ostensibly rolled out in terms of the ‘Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007’ (THP). The result was a tragic case of magical thinking. Franchisees sincerely believed that Canapax had all its papers in order, and was operating as a registered entity under the act.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, to put it mildly. Since in terms of the law, it is still an offence to practice as a traditional healer without a licence  — health practitioners may not prescribe nor examine patients without authorisation under a regime, which is essentially based upon a medical model.

Fields of Green a website published by Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke maintain that the real reason was that THP precludes healers from prescribing any ‘dependence producing or dangerous substance or drug.”

The statement were supposedly backed up by a briefing issued by SAPS and comes after a directive was issued by the NPA on the subject calling upon officers to obey the ConCourt decision.

That both law enforcement and the so-called Dagga Couple had it wrong can be seen  by the fact that our apex court had already ruled that dagga was no longer a dangerous , dependency causing substance but rather could be used in private. The law in this respect had yet to be confirmed by parliament.

As I suggested to Gareth Prince and Richard Kraak, during the period of the High Court trial, your crime is essentially, ‘baking bread in a no-baking zone’. Microbrewers of gin don’t have the same problem as growers of cannabis in selling their product,  nor do bakers of bread, what exactly is going on?

The ConCourt decision essentially shifted weed from the realm of the narcotics and medicines act into the realm of the liquor act, at least insofar as harm was concerned. Ganga is no more harmful than a tipple and in many respects less harmful than alcohol.

Here is another way of looking at this: Under Dagga Prohibition, the law had three pillars; 1) Dagga is a dangerous, dependency causing substance and therefore is prohibited 2) It must follow that no dealing or possession is allowed 3) You cannot grow or produce a prohibited substance.

Along came the ConCourt decision, down went pillar one:

1) Dagga no longer dangerous

2) It read into law the decision, and gave Parliament two years to come up with regulations.

3) It maintained the regime with regard to dealing, but stated that possession and growing in private was allowed.

It doesn’t take much further reasoning to show how dagga prohibition came to an end, and how dealing in dagga today, is about as bad as dealing in bread without a licence.

Yet absolutely nobody gets bust for baking bread or distilling alcohol these days. It serves no purpose to continue to claim that dagga is harmful and ergo, must be regulated.

There really is no sense in cannabis culture continuing to pursue a medical model ( ditto patient confidentiality?) and for regulators to continue to pursue a regime which no longer has constitutional validity.

If anything Canapax erred in not seeking proper registration with the THP council. Under THP penalties are imposed on individuals who practice as traditional healers sans registration.

This model was clearly not the best vehicle for a commercial dispensary operation, and yet, significantly, THP does create a system for dispensing ganga which is no longer considered dangerous, but only if you happen to be licensed. No need to read new laws, while we here, may as well state the obvious, ganga has been prescribed for many decades by registered alternative health practitioners, they are not dealing, but healing.

Evidence lead during the ConCourt “trial of the plant’ was that dagga had many health benefits, and the evidence is both mounting and persuasive.

Clearly, Traditional Health Practitioners may prescribe cannabis,  as a complimentary traditional therapy, but may run foul of the law in calling it a medicine.

It is surely up to our legislature to clarify and refine the regulations.

It’s not all gloom and doom

SOUTH AFRICA has had its fair share of disappointment. Corruption in every sphere of government. A ruling party that has to some extant, captured the judiciary. A leftist project which has delivered dismal economic performance and GDP figures which place us alongside Argentina, Thailand and Colombia. If you’re a clueless commentator like the Financial Mail’s Chris Roper, unable to see the wood for the trees, and who believes ‘the apocalypse is now now’, then here is a list of what is going right:

Thriving Arts Sector

The South African Cultural Observatory (Saco) in Port Elizabeth — which maps, measures, values and calculates the gross domestic product (GDP) contribution of South Africa’s cultural and creative industries — pegs it at R63-billion a year.

This is a small but not insignificant contribution to GDP, and unlike many sectors continues to deliver growth

Automotive Made in South Africa

One thing that our President is doing right, pumping the automotive sector, which continues to produce export quality vehicles. He recently unveiled the Tshwane Automotive Hub at the Ford Motor Company in Pretoria. Part of the Tshwane Special Economic Zone which diversifies the country’s already major auto hub in Nelson Mandela Bay. Almost 19% more vehicles were exported so far this year, compared with 2018.

Emerging Renewables Market

Although competing for government spend alongside parastatel Eskom, the groundwork has been laid for renewables to step into the gap left by unreliable coal projects. In 2016 South Africa was ranked first for its addition in concentrated solar power.  Latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 allocations indicate 8 100 MW for wind, 5 670 MW Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and 2 400 MW of small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) to be procured by 2030, which has the potential of attracting in excess of R200 billion in the next 12 years.

Internet Growth

While South Africa has a modest 54 percent internet penetration it experienced 7 percent growth from 2017. More citizens are gaining access every day and South Africans spend an average of 8 hours and 32 minutes on the internet per day via any device. Revenue in the local eCommerce market amounts to US$3,308m in 2019. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019-2024) of 8.3%, resulting in a market volume of US$4,930m by 2024.

Agricultural Haven

Thanks to post-apartheid reforms, the country’s middle class increased by 30% between 2001 and 2004. After a period of recession following 2009, this trend looks set to continue which is why the WWF observes ‘a shift from staple grain crops to a more diverse diet’. Accordingly South Africans have shown a decrease in the consumption of the staples maize and bread, and have massively increased their annual consumption of chicken from 6kg to 27kg per person.

Worth considering that despite land anxiety and uncertainty, climate change and water scarcity, the country remains a net exporter of agricultural products.

African Financial Hub

South Africa is well-positioned to take advantage of its position as a gateway to the continent. The sector contributes some 22% to GDP. Innovation in financial services has made South African banks extremely competitive, responsive and able to deliver what consumers need, low fees, digital access and more on the way.

BRICS development funds

Funds coming our way as a result of the BRICS bank initiative include $200-million loan to Transnet to expand the capacity of Durban port, $300-million loan to the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for on-lending to sustainable development projects, R1.15-billion loan to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for on-lending to renewable energy sub-projects $480-million loan,  to Eskom to retrofit flue-gas desulphurisation equipment, to make Medupi power plant compliant.

NOTE: Sorry Chris, if you want to apportion blame, Stephen Hawkings says, greed and stupidity is what will end the world, not merely politicians.