Complaint to Wikimedia Foundation

DAVID ROBERT LEWIS

PO Box 4398

Cape Town

South Africa

8000

6 August 2018,

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

1 Montgomery Street

Suite 1600

San Francisco, CA 94104

USA

Phone: +1-415-839-6885

Fax: +1-415-882-0495

per email: legal@wikimedia.org

COMPLAINT REGARDING WIKIMANIA CAPE TOWN

Dear Sir/Madam

In addition to my role as an independent researcher at Medialternatives.com, I am an anti-apartheid activist, journalist and Wikipedia editor. My work for South Africa’s struggle press, including Grassroots, New Nation and South Press, all titles banned by the racist regime, refers, as does my decade of contributions to Wikipedia.

I write this letter to object in the strongest possible terms to the failure of the recent Wikimania Cape Town event to include any session on ‘apartheid memory’ and also the blatant exclusion of anti-apartheid activists such as myself from deliberations.

Furthermore, I challenge the manner in which the only working session on ‘anti-apartheid activism’ was not on the main conference per se, but rather arrived at by an invitation-only, closed-door ‘Preconference Event’ with the misleading title of ‘Decolonising the Internet’.

It is clear this was done so that the theme was effectively circumscribed and controlled by officials, who wished to avoid the embarrassment of Silicon Valley neo-colonialism, and also so that Dr Sean Jacobs could deliver a keynote, in a conference otherwise devoid of any link to the epic history of struggle within my own country. Doing this most certainly gave the topic short thrift on the important issues at stake, while allowing your foundation to myopically claim that the ‘box had been ticked’.

I thus only caught Dr Jacobs’ address outside the conference via Youtube (see below). While Dr Jacobs may be applauded for alluding to some details of the history of “Information Warfare” during apartheid, (surely my own part in alerting USA media to the role played by information technology in bolstering the corrupt regime, and which became the Khulumani case against IBM refers?), the address introduced a well-known fallacy which needs to be dealt with here.

The history of South Africa is most certainly not the culmination of ‘black history month’, resulting in a ‘black nation’. Rather our nation’s journey from the ‘multiracialism’ of the Freedom Charter to the ‘non-racialism’ of the Constitution is assuredly demonstrated by the historical ‘walk to freedom’ of our nation’s founder, Nelson Mandela. It was Mandela who embraced the Unity Movement’s ideal of a single stream of humanity during his incarceration on Robben Island — the self-same ‘common humanity’ referred to by US president Barack Obama in his recent address.

To reiterate, the rainbow nation is not about the colour of one’s skin, but rather the colour of one’s rights. As a person effectively reclassified several times, according to apartheid-era race categories, the organisers should know better than to host a conference in South Africa that introduces ‘racism of a special type’, while closing down any discourse on non-racialism. Doing this tragically removed any opportunity to debate prescient and significant issues related to apartheid memory and thus Wikipedia in its current format.

Doing this further denied activists such as myself any leg-room to raise important issues to do with the allocation of resources inter alia, lack of anti-apartheid online digital assets; problems with access to local archives not yet digitised; lack of online records prior to Y2K; historical problems with censorship, bannings and lack of inclusion and the takedown of anti-apartheid material (eg. Student Revolts of 1987; torture and detention of activists; banning of organizations during the state of Emergency).

Hosting closed-door sessions of special invite-only guests parachuted in for the occasion while black youths languish in the townships, is the exact opposite of the egalitarian and liberal values to which your foundation subscribes and purports to support. It is an insult and gross injustice to those in my own country who fought against apartheid, and who have volunteered their free time and provided gratis labour on the understanding that Wikipedia is an ‘inclusive and open community.’

It is therefore alarming to find, that not only was I barred from the so-called ‘Decolonising the Internet’ pre-conference, (and despite my making a substantial contribution to the subject matter; also as the organizer of the world’s first hacktivist event in San Francisco during November 1994, an event recorded by Radio Free Berkeley and The Well), but, that I was subsequently deregistered and removed from the main conference in Cape Town. This without being given any opportunity to make representations in the matter, and following my complaining about the ‘lack of engagement by organisers’ and ‘scant regard for human dignity’ when it comes to the significant contribution of the anti-apartheid movement.

The email correspondence received on 19 July 2018, and signed by James Alexander Operations Manager for Trust & Safety at the Wikimedia Foundation (see attached and my response) thus beggars belief. Not only are Mr James’ claims dishonest and devoid of any truth, but the letter itself promotes a gross fraud inter alia, by alleging that I have ‘misbehaved at WikiIndaba in Tunis’, (I can categorically state I have not been out of my own country for several years), and that I also allegedly disrupted the aforementioned ‘Decolonising the Internet’ preconference.

Since I was not admitted to either of these events held under the auspice of the Wikimedia Foundation, I categorically reject and refute this statement.

I also further challenge and protest the manner in which Wikimania organizers and officials sought to restrict my rights as a journalist, constraining and impinging upon my professional duties, and thus my right to record the movement of delegates outside of the City conference venue. I hereby lodge my objection in the strongest terms to the blatant attempt to censor the press by restricting or impinging upon the interviewing of several delegates and also the blatant attempt to gag and affect same on any video material thus privately taken and/or taken during the course of my duties.

I should not have to explain to you that South Africa is a constitutional democracy whose Bill of Rights enshrines the right to press freedom as well as freedom of association, and that your Foundation’s host country, the USA claims to accord similar rights to its own press, a right that is sadly under threat and being eroded by the current Trump administration.

Given the above circumstances, I believe that I am entitled to demand a reasonable explanation, and also an apology from your foundation

Sincerely yours,

David Robert Lewis

+27+21 788 3119

+27+82 425 1454

Cc Wikimedia ZA

Cancelation of registration to Wikimania 2018 DRL1

Dear Mr. Lewis,

My name is James Alexander, I am the Operations Manager for Trust & Safety at the Wikimedia Foundation. 

I am writing to tell you that we have decided to cancel your registration to Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town for tomorrow (Friday), Saturday and Sunday. If you choose to try and attend anyway you will be asked to leave.

I realize that this may seem a bit abrupt however we received complaints from attendees feeling uncomfortable about your behavior at the Decolonizimg the Internet conference earlier this week in addition to concerns about your behavior at WikiIndaba in Tunis earlier this year. As I am sure you  understand we need to take the safety and comfort of our attendees as a paramount concern and the decision has been made that at this time your attendance would disrupt that too much. I am sorry that this message came to you so close to the actual  event as it did but unfortunately we were not able to fully understand the situation until today.

As always please let me know if there is any questions and I appreciate your understanding. 

James Alexander

Manager, Trust & Safety

Wikimedia Foundation

— 

James Alexander
Manager, Trust & Safety (Operations)
Wikimedia Foundation

RE Cancelation of registration to Wikimania 2018 DRL2

My name is David Robert Lewis, an independent researcher at Medialternatives.com.

As an anti-apartheid activist and journalist at several banned publications taken off the shelves by the apartheid state, I object to your blatantly dishonest and false accusations.

I therefore refute the allegations that I have in any way disrupted the Tunis Conference, since I have not traveled out of my country for several years.

Secondly I refute any allegation that I attended the so-called “Decolonising the Internet” Pre-Conference in Cape Town, since I was not admitted to the event, but was rather subjected to contempt by Anasuyas of WhoseKnowledge.org.

Instead of making space for my concerns about the obliteration and deletion of apartheid memory, in particular the deletion of inter alia, pages on Student Unrest on UCT campus, Apartheid Death Squads, Apartheid Dirty Tricks, bannings of journalists and torture of editors by the regime, and/or my concerns surrounding lack of anti-apartheid digital assets and digitization of archives, she proceeded to dispute my credentials, telling me that she would ‘only communicate with me when she got back to India’.

I therefore left the venue quite hurt and upset and proceeded to film some delegates entering and leaving the conference venue.

I interviewed a delegate from Brazil, a delegate from Mexico and latin America and was accosted by a Wikimedia Foundation official who instead of upholding my rights as a citizen, proceeded to attack my standing as a member of the press in public.

I had to inform her that South Africa has a free press and also that the preamble to our constitution compels citizens and non-citizens alike, to respect those who fought during the struggle for freedom.

I therefore once again, provide you with an opportunity to correct your course of action, to restore my credentials at the conference and to make space for apartheid memory.

https://medialternatives.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

https://www.youtube.com/ 

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Whose Knowledge, whose Internet?

THREE decades of online communication, and an ongoing electronic struggle and yet our country South Africa, is desperately lagging behind the West when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge and information technology.

Compounding this problem is neo-colonialism, hegemony, the ‘loudhailer on steroids’ issuing forth from Northern Countries, dominating the wires and fibre optic cables and literally flooding our computer screens with trivia about an emerging global culture, one which to paraphrase Brian Eno, “is incomplete without Africa”.

Billed as the “first ever conference about centering marginalized knowledge online”, Whose Knowledge decolonizing the Internet is a pre-conference in the runup to this years Wikimania, which is being held in Cape Town later this week.

“51% of the world is online today,” say the organisers “but the Internet doesn’t represent our diversity.”

“The knowledge of marginalized communities is the knowledge of the majority of the world. Yet most online public knowledge still skews towards white, male, and global North knowledge. It is a hidden crisis of our times.”

The organisers plan to “convene marginalized community organizers, technologists, scholars, artists, and Wikimedians in the first conference of its kind.”

“The change we hope to create: With these newly created alliances and networks, we will work together towards more diversity and inclusion in the experience of internet design, architecture, content, and governance. We intend to dramatically change the way the internet represents the majority of the world.”

The right-wing’s Politicsweb goes big on support for Naas.

Andrew-Kenny-nuclear-conference-5-555x370

South Africa’s Walter Mitty

SEVERAL pieces on the right-wing political site Politicsweb, a local news platform run by James Myburgh, demonstrates the narrow racialism of its multifarious contributors. The site purports to carry opinions from across the political spectrum, but has a seemingly limitless abundance of polemic and commentary from the likes of RW Johnson and the Freedom Front’s Pieter Groenewald,

First off there’s a familiar conservative spokesperson opining on the subject of the Ashwin Willemse incident ‘On racism, real and imagined: “Can a disagreement between sports broadcasters really qualify as news?” asks RW Johnson who then proceeds to denigrate the standing of the Equality Court, (in the process casting aspersions against its status in terms of the Equality Act): “Him and his lawyers are now proceeding to the Equality Court (the name has an Orwellian ring),” writes Johnson.

While our justice system if far from perfect, the Equality Court is a shining light in this regard. Rather it is conservatives who must be taken to task for dangerous double-speak, bigoted opinion that essentially denies that Willemse has access to any rights in terms of his own opinion on the matter. As the liberal mantra often restated by conservatives goes, ‘we believe in the audi rule so long as only one side to the dispute is heard.’

Andrew Donaldson, forever a lapdog of the effete rich and trendy wealthy, finds the time to wade in with a pathetic Cry racism piece that although erudite, willfully proceeds to miss the point entirely by cynically misstating the Equality case: “shoehorning the controversy within a racial context will restore moral order and present the readily outraged with a familiar, comforting paradigm’ that of Cry Wolf? No Mr Donaldson, this isn’t about racism per se, but rather apartheid denial, the rotting carcass of quotas and the sell-by-date of former apartheid-era darlings, a corporation with anything but a sterling history of opposing racism.

With all the tact of a charging hippopotamus, the grandson of Verwoerd and Oranie spokesperson, Wynand Boshoff’s ‘Ashwin, actually we know what you mean’ delivers a thinly disguised hatchet job, attempting to deflect attention away from Naas Botha and thus Afrikanerdom in general. Deploying the tired and anachronistic ‘blame it on the British’ schtick that is so often used by former members of the Nationalist party to ingratitude themselves with the ruling ANC whilst also affecting a crushing blow to us English-speakers.

It is not terribly surprising then to find South Africa’s own Walter Mitty, one Andrew Kenny delivering an equally destructive blow to the English language. Having affected a mid-life career change from failed nuclear pundit to “contracted columnist to the Institute of Race Relations” Kenny’s vivid imagination proceeds to shower us with bizarre details verging on the fantastical, “I know nothing about rugby” he says before embarking upon a sorry attempt at the nitpicking obfuscation for which he is perhaps renowned. The result is a failed piece of political bumph posing-as-commentary which merely demonstrates that Kenny has zero credentials and course-work when it comes to the social and political sciences. 

 ‘Hurt, pain & Ashwin Willemse‘ deploys a scurrilous and appalling comparison between the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, (perhaps to assert a vivid fantasy life in which Kenny recently acquired a moral position on non-proliferation?), to the aforementioned Supersport incident, before proceeding to freely mix metaphors and borrowing heavily from a Nixon-era public administration pundit:

“The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low” is a saying attributed to one Wallace Sayre. It is thus rephrased as Sayre’s Law, which was all really just another patronising putdown to the students of the University of Berkeley and the victims of the Kent State massacre, and grist to the mill, for a decade of revolt which gave the world free love, women’s rights and equality. Enough to ruffle the feathers of today’s youth and our modern generation of die-hard de-colonialists?

To cap it all, there is also a strange statement released by the Freedom Front’s Pieter Groenewald “Minister of Sport and DA leader must apologise” absurdly blaming the Minister of Sport and the leader of the DA, for the incident. Apartheid collaborators are racists, full-stop. Instead Groenewald wants a fantasy-world where “people must refrain from attributing incidents where people of different races are involved to racism,” begging the question, what happens when racism isn’t about race per se but rather structural racism? The two apartheid darlings Mallet and Botha turned into on-air monuments, the post-apartheid wing, Willemse, forever in the studio shadows.

The Freedom Front shows its metal, providing uncritical support for the discredited Naspers-Multichoice and its pathetic inhouse finding on the matter, arguably, all the result of extra-judicial privileges founded upon race, and despite the matter being sub judice. The outcome of the labour proceeding in which Willemse was not represented, has been rejected by the former Springbok, as too should any similar proceedings not meeting standards of due process. There has yet to be an official inquiry into the role of sports administrators during apartheid in terms of the TRC Act, which allows the Minister of Justice to appoint special inquiries subsequent to the winding up of the first commission.

And so Multichoice grants itself a clean bill of health on apartheid

images (1)IT WAS bound to happen. The bizarre situation in which two apartheid-era springboks were taken to task by a post-democracy Springbok, over racism, quotas and paternalism. Followed by the media spin driven by Multichoice Supersport whose holding company Naspers refuses to come clean over its role in promoting separate development, race classification and segregation during the apartheid-era.

Naspers the company which owns Multichoice, ducked the subpoena handed out by the TRC to its former-director PW Botha, refused to participate in the media hearings at the commission, rebuked a group of journalists attending in their private capacity, and instead has stuck to a version of history that is anything but an accurate and fair depiction of the times.

After effectively being found guilty of gross violations of human rights by the commission, and thus a report which records  “a total lack of concern for the company’s support of the racist system” (Volume 4 of the Final TRC report), the company proceeded to deny the reality.

“I worked hard to earn my own respect in this game… so, I’m not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid – a segregated era – and come and want to undermine… people” said Ashwin Willemse after a match last month  between the Lions and the Brumbies.`

The Supersport public relations machine immediately went into overdrive. Holding their own internal inquiry, the company casually announced yesterday that it had found that “there was no racism involved in Ashwin Willemse walking out from an on-air broadcast” in the process exonerating Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, two darlings of the apartheid regime.

Apparently  SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane maintains the group was cleared by Advocate Vincent Maleka, and thus presumably a member of the Bar. The result is anything but an open inquiry before an independent tribunal, and echoes similar statements by manager Ishmet Davidson, who claimed on air the entire group had been cleared by the TRC back in the early 90s.

Davidson’s 2015 comments followed a case-limited apology issued by Media24 CEO Esmarie Weideman citing only one instance in which a ‘coloured employee’ had experienced difficulties with separate facilities.

Talk about undermining the Truth. Willemse did not participate in the internal review for obvious reasons. The attempt to legitimize apartheid-denial by acting as sole arbiter of apartheid history, must be rejected for what it is, a total sham.

Willemse’s lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo told SAFM radio host Tsepiso Makwetla on Wednesday morning that Willemse “did not see any value in participating with the process” because the rugby analyst had already expressed his views …”

“We expressed a view to Adv Maleka SC that he (Adv Maleka SC) was being used to sanitise and chlorinate failures by SuperSport to deal with a number of reported incidents of racism by the gentlemen in question‚”

DISCLOSURE: The writer is currently suing Naspers via the Equality Court and is awaiting the outcome of a case brought against Legal Aid South Africa in this regard.

 

 

The far-left’s plan to jail their opponents

THERE is an emerging far-left junta in South Africa. A disparate red anschluss surrounding the egos of Malema, Shivambu, Ndlozi and Vavi, who equally view Mandela’s legacy with antipathy and Constitutional democracy, as a means to an end. Our Constitution, accordingly, is nothing more than a highly flawed liberal document ‘protecting the interests of the few’, and equally defended “by liberal jurists who want to protect this liberal constitution at all costs.”(1)

United in their common loathing of minorities, ‘Indians, Jews, Whites, Capitalists’, and consequently the rule of law, these strongmen, seek to move the country away from its democratic foundation and market-socialist centre under the ANC, towards a radical re-alignment with an Anti-West and Anti-Zionist ticket, that could see the removal of the Constitutional dispensation and its replacement by a Marxist dictatorship, with a few strongmen at the helm of a command economy.

The current demand by the would-be all-male junta, whose war council speaks to the militarism associated with the EFF party (see here), is for the state to nationalise and take control of all private property. Thus the state in their mind, would be the custodian of all the land, including bonded real-estate. Instead of drawing rates and taxes off the sale and resale of property, the state would be in effect, the sole title-holder as citizens are reduced to mere tenants under a totalitarian system.

More worrying than the move away from individual freedom and a mixed economic model where property rights are protected, is the racial rhetoric and faux radicalism emanating for the war council’s Floyd Shivambu, whose statements about struggle veteran Ismail Momoniat in Parliament resulted in a storm of criticism. This was followed by party founder Julius Malema’s equally galling statements outside of parliament, claiming that ‘the majority of Indians are racist.’

Daleep Lutchman, chairperson of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) was moved to say his organisation would meet to decide what charges to press against Malema for “going back to the apartheid system of classifying people by race”.

Malema recently conducted an interview with Turkish Radio and International Broadcasting Association, and promised a revolution if his demands were not met at the ballot box.

Not one to shy away from controversy,  Malema has often stated that if he were President, people like FW de Klerk would be in jail. The party also appears to want to jail its opposition, including former President Jacob Zuma and any Zionist Africans expressing support for Israel.

Unionist Zwelinzima Vavi has proposed a final solution for Zionists on national television. Under the EFF any supporter of Israel, whether black or white, would thus find themselves imprisoned. The statement was backed up by a marvel of conflation and innuendo. A tweet stating ‘any supporter of apartheid here and abroad including support for apartheid Israel must not be fired but must face prison term (sic) for supporting a system declared a crime against humanity.”

Screenshot_2018-06-12_12-43-41While apartheid was declared a crime against humanity, to date nobody has ever been jailed for the crime of apartheid.

The TRC process and negotiated settlement was contingent upon amnesty being granted in exchange for participation and acknowledgment of wrong-doing. The EFF thus appears want to discard the entire constitutional dispensation, including provisions protecting divergences in political beliefs and religious outlook.

Musa Novela, a spokesperson for the party’s Joburg region, thus released a bizarre statement last week condemning the DA’s Mpho Palatse, after DA Mayor Herman Mashaba had suspended the MMC of Health for her unauthorised participation at a ‘Stand with Israel’ event.

Embarrassingly, Novela’s statement claims that a 1974 (sic) UN resolution ‘declared Zionism to be a crime against humanity’. However resolution 3379 of 1975 ‘equating Zionism with racism’, was overturned in 1991 by the UN general assembly resolution 46/86 and thus adopted overwhelmingly by the majority of nations, 111 to 25. Although the ANCs Tony Ehrenreich has been known to call for revenge against supporters of Israel, this is the first time that a political party has proposed jail sentences for Zionists, and thus the limitation of their constitutional right to political and religious expression.

(1) Floyd Shivambu on the Justice Factor

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

WHEN the Independent Group was taken over by a consortium lead by Dr Iqbal Surve, there were some like me, who hoped for a fresh start. The group quickly ran into criticism, the least of which is the highly publicized debacle surrounding the firing of Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois.

After a settlement was extricated at Labour Court, the group once again ran into trouble with Dasnois accusing the group of being in breach of the settlement and so Independent was sanctioned by the Press Council, which ordered the group to apologise for a number of misleading headlines.

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Independent media can’t spell.

No sooner had the ruling by the Press Council been issued, when Independent announced it was withdrawing from the council, and a structure which had arrived out of decades of frenetic negotiation around a government-sanctioned self-regulatory mechanism. The reasons for the withdrawal were attacked for ‘not making logical sense‘.

“In ditching the Press Council, Independent Media listed as its main complaint the Press Council’s reluctance to reintroduce the highly contentious waiver as its reason for ditching the Press Council” wrote Julie Reid.

Previously, complainants waved legal action in order to bring their complaints under the auspices of the council, however the very reason the council had been set up was threefold. Firstly to avoid government regulation and intervention in the press. Secondly, to provide the public with a cost effective and impartial forum for making complaints and thirdly, to provide a Press Code that was not simply written by one organisation.

In its stead, Independent reverted to an internal Ombudsman system which had been in place during the years of the former Argus Group, and a state of affairs for which the Argus had already apologised during the TRC media hearings. In the process Independent dumped the Press Code, and formulated its own narrow view of the press, which appears to by nothing less than gabbering sycophancy so far as government is concerned.

In this sense, not only was the industry seemingly ‘regulating itself’, but the company was now distancing its titles from the legal system as well as the press council framework, in effect picking its own favourite regulator, a friendly Muslim, whilst playing a dual role of both editorial and inhouse complaints resolution. Thus setting in motion a situation where Dr Iqbal Surve, and his male-dominated and sectarian newsrooms, possessed an administrative override on any complaints made to his news organisation. While women still figure in writing and reporting, they are remarkably absent when it comes to editorship within the group and where they do affect editorial, they invariably occupy a symbolic role.

Of concern, is that there is currently no means of enforcing the Press Code when it comes to the Independent Group, and with our legal system being rather expensive and out of reach of the ordinary public, the result has been positively stifling.

Gone was any effort to balance news stories affecting a range of controversial subjects around the world, in particular the USA and Middle East.

Gone was divergence of opinion on the opinion pages.

Gone was the plethora of letters debating, disagreeing, and calling editors and writers to task.

In their place were editorial love letters, and weekly ravings by self-styled news correspondents such as “foreign editor” Shannon Ebrahim and “analyst” Ebrahim Harvey, two obviously Muslim persons, followed by lengthy and often turgid materialist and industrialist views of South Africa and the World. A world viewed via the narrow Islamic prism of the likes of Aneez Salie and Aziz Hartley.

A former shipping columnist Brian Ingpen for instance, is now a regular opinion piece in the Cape Times op-ed pages, providing the dull rigmerol of shipping information flowing into the gutters, alongside dense and impenetrable press releases, like that issued by DIRCO yesterday presumably testifying to the joys of a BRICS summit to be held in Joburg and thus available to buyers of the now 10 page rag, in 10 point type.

Independent titles in recent months have come to resemble government tearsheets, with short thrift given to concerns about whose opinion in the broader community should receive priority over the daily thrust of a hopelessly compromised news agency ANA, and equally boring headlines, with the one exception, that it appears INM have now launched a sports magazine, if only to allay fears that the group is going under.

Suppression of views with which one disagrees are the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. As a well-known commentator puts it, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Having a daily press the size of Independent producing government propaganda and fan-mail for the Surve Group, whilst censoring opinion, can only have the opposite effect to liberal democracy. There is a reason why Pravda is now a fashion label and a single newspaper in Russia, and is no longer the state news agency for the Soviet Union.

NOTE: This writer is currently under an unspoken ‘editorial fatwa’ issued by INM with respect to his letters to the press see here and here and and here, thus content carried by Medialternatives.

 

How South Africa’ fuel fund turned into anti-consumer profit markets for oil dealers

LAST NIGHTS massive fuel hike, represents a record increase in the price of petrol products. The immediate result say economists of Rand weakness, and taxation by central government. Hidden from public view and the narrative of biannual price hikes as the new normal, is the backstory involving the sale of South Africa’s strategic oil reserves, their supposed “rotation” and the ensuing fraud associated with the former Zuma administration.

The result has been a strange parallel story of massive profits being made by oil dealers and involving oil traders, whilst motorists get stumped at the pump, and without a coherent electric vehicle policy articulated by central government moving forward, one which might mitigate the future effects of oil price increases.

According to Bloomberg there is still money to be made in South Africa out of fuel, “there’s no place quite like Saldanha Bay. When prices slumped in 2014,” says  “the  trading houses generated outsize profits by storing millions of barrels of crude in the deep-water harbor north of Cape Town.”

The same article goes on to tout the commercial potential of the storage area which once housed South Africa strategic oil supply.

The Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), first created by the apartheid government during sanctions, was meant to cushion the consumer against oil price spikes and dollar fluctuations. Instead,  it has proved to be nothing more than a cash cow for close associates of Jacob Zuma and his family, in a corruption case known as Oilgate.

In May of 2016, there were revelations that former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson “had sold off the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) reserves without the go-ahead of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.”

The latest taxes may represent a claw-back strategy by treasury, but need to be seen in the contest of another corruption investigation involving the apparent allocation of oil-fields in the DRC and Nigeria, and open speculation surrounding the misappropriation of government funds, to the tune of R100bn and involving Khulubuse Zuma 

All pointing to government involvement in a scam to move away from a strategic investment benefiting the economy and broader public, towards continued private manipulation of the fuel supply.

The result is an unavoidable increase of input costs across all sectors of the economy which can only harm growth. Weaning South Africans off the petrol habit, and moving towards tax incentives for the introduction of energy efficient electric vehicles, is a policy which is perhaps long overdue.

In this respect, the country is far behind the West.