BRICS war criminals seek to impose ‘reserve currency’ from above

EVER since the term was coined by Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill in 2001, as an acronym for countries, which were ‘deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development’, the BRICS grouping has been little more than, a disparate think-tank of dictators, oligarchs, and yellow democrats from either extremes of the political spectrum.

That the term arose from a paper written for Goldman Sachs’ “Global Economic Paper” series by a later British life peer and lord and former conservative government minister, should have given us a hint as to what lay in store as BRICS became a metaphor for top-down rule-by-decree and the bypassing of national government checks and balances.

In 2009 the leaders of the first four countries held their first summit and in 2010 BRICS became a formal institution of 5 nations including South Africa. It was the administration of Jacob Zuma which saw BRICS as a sterling opportunity to essentially jettison parliamentary oversight in favour of a series of corrupt practices by the executive in a scheme which became known as ‘state capture’ and whose outcome is documented by the Zondo Report.

Since its inauguration, the new entity has seen the creation of the so-called New Development Bank (NDB) in 2012, followed by this year’s hasty proposals by Russia’s Putin to create a ‘reserve currency’.

Russia was recently forced to raise interest rates above 20 percent to stop capital flight following its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The country is subject of an International War Crimes tribunal and has had its foreign reserves blocked by central banks resulting in a sovereign default, which may explain the overall Russian anxiety in wanting to create an instant reserve currency, and bar the consequences for individual nations.

In fact if one reads the press releases, the new currency is a foregone conclusion, this at the same time that President Ramaphosa is at the centre of a currency scandal involving dollars placed under a mattress. Either the Kremlin assumes BRICS has jurisdiction over our Central Bank or believes every BRICS member-state is essentially run by a dictator at the head of a command economy? One may even argue that Russia’s position in BRICS has emboldened its aggression in Ukraine, instead of acting as a moderating force much like the African Union which it seeks to surpass.

If you read the Russian propaganda spewing from news agency Sputnik, BRICS’s individual constituents may be about to forego their own sovereign currencies in order to create a brand new currency, in all likelihood a parallel version of the Chinese Renminbi, or perhaps an exchange note based upon a basket of currencies such as the Ruble? In effect a Ponzi scheme whose beneficiaries will most likely be heavily indebted nations struggling to pay off sovereign debt.

The only way a currency could ever be considered a ‘reserve currency’ is if it were frequently traded like the Euro or Dollar. Such a feat would require all BRICS members to replace their own currencies as legal tender, a costly exercise in and of itself, since this would mean replacing Randelas with new bank notes.

Exactly how all of this effects South Africa’s Rand status and our Reserve bank’s inflation targeting is anyone’s guess, but as the they say, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

China for instance has conducted a policy of currency deflation for decades while routinely implementing currency controls, pegging its fiat currency to the dollar. This is quite the opposite of the current Rand-based regime, based as it is on floating exchange rates and moving away from an apartheid-era siege economy.

There is also talk of expanding BRICS membership to include Iran (a country with a death penalty for homosexuals), in a mad dash to upsize by increasing the size and weight of BRICS, in the so-called multipolar world. Generating in effect a de facto Putin Support Committee? So much for the effete idea about South Africa being non-aligned and LGBTQIA-friendly? The BRICS NDB has already accepted countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Bangladesh, and Egypt’s military dictatorship as tentative members.

Iran and Argentina (with 90.2% inflation) have already applied to join.

In short, South Africans can kiss their democratic constitution and sovereignty goodbye, and should get ready for news of our tax-Rands flowing into Russia’s frontline. This should come as no surprise, as the ruling ANC has already signed the national treasury up to at least a decades worth of foreign aid for Cuba and other dictatorships.

Which is why our foreign policy looks a lot like a badly-thought out campaign of bribery to support anyone opposed to the current UN Charter, rather than a means of furthering the aims and objectives of our constitution via the exercise of soft power and diplomacy.

As Ray Hartley and Greg Mills put it “While democracy is vital to South Africa, it is apparently not necessary in other countries with whom we wish to be friends for opaque reasons.”

Harber: Stop claiming you’re defending RT press freedom

MOVES are afoot by state-sponsored news channel Russia Today (RT) to set up a regional hub in South Africa. Despite our pacifist constitution expressly outlawing ‘propaganda for war’ under article 16, (2) (a) — limitations on press freedom when it comes to calumny and disinformation to pursue ‘special military operations’ are simply being ignored. The result looks a lot like the apartheid government purchase of the Washington Star.

Laws implemented in Russia earlier this year, make it an offense to criticise Putin’s ‘special military operation’ and lead to protests outside the Russian embassy by a local chapter of Amnesty International. In response, Independent Group have been running paid opinion pieces produced by Russia’s Sputnik news agency. There appears to be a well-orchestrated campaign of Russian influence and news-peddling when it comes to South African media — politics redolent of the manner in which the apartheid-state sort to win hearts and minds.

Claims made of press privilege that would allow RT to broadcast from South Africa ring hollow considering the level of aggression displayed by Russian military in the Ukraine, and the channels’ support for an imperialist ‘war of conquest’ outlawed by the United Nations Charter, and our own constitution.

Advocates of press privilege when it comes to state-news channels, such as Professor Anton Harber ignore warning signs that our own media, though relatively free, remains under threat from government intervention and non-aligned media within Russia is non-existent. Several news outlets are blocked within the country. The Setevyye Svobody (Network Freedoms) Telegram channel reports that editors for Mediazona, Republic, Taig.Info, and Lentachel had all filed lawsuits against Moscow decisions to block their sites .

Harber is the former editor of the Weekly Mail, a news title which experienced a dirty tricks operation, at the behest of the Bureau for State Security (BOSS) — instead of defending press privilege in terms of our constitution, (need I state my own case?) he has become somewhat of a stooge for Putin, a situation consistent with the professor’s acquiescence with similar campaigns during apartheid.

Apartheid operative Paul Erasmus, for instance claims that he succeeded in getting Harber to publish ‘absolute lies about the late Winnie Mandela.’ Though the adjunct professor of Journalism at Wits, refuses to apologise, nor does he engage with such public submissions, he successfully defended accusations brought by a mainstream political party that he was in effect, a ‘Stratcom agent’.

Correction, a mere tool of Stratcom.

Increasingly populist discourse in favour of any self-serving cause, is given the rubber stamp by Harber and his ilk, the result is a rejection of democratic centralism i.e. constitutionalism, in favour of narrow, authoritarian geopolitical goals of despots like Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi. With the inevitable silencing of debate in favour of political expediency — do South Africans dare to deliberate on anything these days?

As I write this, the events of last July look as if they are repeating themselves in Durban’s CBD as the current Ramaphosa administration falters under Arthur Fraser and Carl Niehaus well-orchestrated counter-intelligence campaign — all flowing from the accusations made at the Zondo Commission.

UPDATE: Harber – SA will be giving Putin the space he denies others

Blame for the energy crisis needs to be placed fairly and squarely upon the failed ideology of the ANC and its coalition partners.

In many respects the ANC policies of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and its flipside Radical Economic Transformation (RET) resemble the policies of Nico Diederichs’ ‘reddingsdaadbond’ whose Nationalists of the 1940s viewed the state as the primary instrument whereby the Afrikaner capitalist would come to the fore via ‘volkscapitalisme’. Like so many socialist experiments, the ‘capital of the state’ was seen as synonymous with the ‘capital of the Volk‘, as the party mobilised for a ‘transformation of economic consciousness’.

Version two of ‘state capitalism’ in other words, government-directed economics (dirigisme) under the ANC, has certainly turned into an abject failure. In the process ordinary South Africans — small businesses, patients in hospitals, commuters, and other categories of workers, are being sacrificed to accommodate what is essentially a Marxist fantasy.

One has merely to look at the huge cost overruns orchestrated during the building of the Medupi and Kusile projects, involving continual extension of catered lunches and free banquets for personnel. At the time contracts to feed workers were among the biggest catering contracts in the country, proving that providing a reliable source of energy was certainly never the game-plan. The projects have essentially turned into white elephants, considering the related climate factors.

Anyone who suggests otherwise, is living in cloudcuckooland or like so many political analysts, groomed on our nation’s campuses, armed solely with the tools of radicalism instead of data-analysis, fails to draw truth from facts instead, myopically deriving ‘truth’ from an ideological position.

Wherefore the Genie in the Gini?

A good example is the endless repetition and political cant involving the Gini coefficient. While the country may have a high score on the Gini Index a measure of the distribution of income across a population, which is cause for concern (a higher Gini index indicates greater inequality), continually harping on about this unfortunate statistic, fails to take into consideration other factors — for example, the country ranks relatively well on the human development index with a score of 0.705, above Egypt and Bolivia but just below Indonesia.

Unlike the Gini, the human development index is a ‘statistic composite index of life expectancy, education (mean years of schooling completed), and per capita income indicators’, which are used to rank countries into ‘four tiers of human development’.

Incorrectly suggesting that South Africa is effectively ‘under-developed’ or that life-expectancy is somehow on par with Chad or Niger, belies the fact that as an emerging nation, South Africa has a lot to be positive about and despite current difficulties with energy supply and the fuel price caused by failure to implement policy already in place, for example policy when it comes to biofuels (see below).

It is not all that difficult to see which aspects of the economy prospered under the ANC, and which parts continue to create an unnecessary burden on both the treasury and the taxpayer. Despite financial head-winds, those parts of the economy remaining in private hands are still in relatively good shape, with the country recording consecutive trade surpluses, R28.35 billion in May, and even modest growth of 1,9%in the first quarter of 2022, with many corporates posting a return to profit following the decline under Covid.

South Africa has a “mixed economy in which there is a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation” according to website GlobalEdge. It is this structural centralisation and focus on market intervention as opposed to Keynesian, social democratic welfarism, ‘based on the social rights of citizenship‘ which has received criticism from the World Bank and other aid agencies.

Far from providing for its primary mandate, Eskom and Transnet have become nothing more than massively costly exercises in sheltered employment for the party faithful, requiring efforts to trim down a bloated workforce. In both cases, these parastatals were used to siphon money into the pockets of Jacob Zuma and his cronies and are the subject of a 5 volume report into corruption.

Fuel or Fool?

Analysts continue to dress up the ANC and its SACP/COSATU “RET faction” ambitions of “transformation of economic consciousness” with phrases like “the working class” and “means of production”, essentially promoting failed economic policies — policies that are at the heart of the nation’s perennial inability to drive growth and economic expansion.

In 2019 cabinet approved a ‘biofuels regulatory framework‘ mandating blending regulations, feedstock protocols, subsidy mechanisms, selection criteria for projects, licensing of product storage and blending facilities, and containing environmental, water use and land use approval mechanisms.

The legislation was published by the Government Gazette and approved by Cabinet on 13 December 2019, this after some two decades of debate on the topic, including input from the environmental justice movement. By all measures the country should have been amply-armed and primed for the current global fuels crisis. Similarly plans to restructure and unbundle Eskom were proposed as early as 2015 and an energy roadmap released in 2019, so what happened?

Instead of embracing the constitutional imperative of sustainable development our Minister of Energy Gwede Mantashe took us all on a wild goose chase in the quest to mine the ocean for gas, promoting dodgy Karpowership deals, fossil fuel, nuclear power and big coal. Instead of embracing a just transition and change at Eskom, unions dug in their heels. Instead of seeking out environmentally-friendly alternatives and demand-side reduction, we are involved in the intrigues of Russia’s Gazaprom, the closure of refinery capacity and the collapse of the national power grid. We are all paying for it at the pump, and at the electricity meter.

Though the apartheid-era steel monopoly ISCOR was sold off to Mittel, and the telephone monopoly Telkom was listed in the face of competition from mobile providers, the government retained monopolies in rail transport, sea ports, energy generation and distribution, in other words Transnet, Portnet and Eskom.

The results are plain to see. Our government’s stake in listed entities like Sasol (8.4%) have outperformed its troublesome direct holdings — state-run enterprises have thus fared dismally — demonstrating why markets are more efficient at allocating capital than governments, and essentially represent the lesser of two evils insofar as our development path is concerned.

Note: There are currently over 700 state-owned entities dependent upon the treasury.

(You can read one of my earlier postings on this subject here)

SEE Volkskapitalisme: Class, Capital and Ideology in the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism, 1934–1948

Bitcoin bomb — long dark night of our beloved crypto?

PICTURE the scene. A man controlling a virtual avatar jacks into a digital ATM situated deep within the online multiplayer game SecondLife. He exchanges the games own digital token, Linden Dollars for BTC — the new deregulated currency being mined around the world by cryptophreaks. It was the dawn of the age of cryptocurrency and I was Kubrick, the SecondLife uber-hacker, cooking up bitcoin in my effort to topple the capitalist system.

I had downloaded the BTC open source client software the minute I found out about it on Reddit, and mined the coin, divided into Satoshis after mysterious founder Satoshi Nakamoto. I even completed online puzzles at “bitfaucets”, that trickled the currency into my blockchain wallet. Dreamt up several schemes involving alternative coins like lite-coin, feathercoin and ripple (all discarded as too energy intensive).

Little did I know I was becoming involved in a global financial cult, whose recent meltdown would not only correlate and imitate a decline in the S&P, but lead me to embracing traditional capitalism as a far saner, safer real-world alternative.

My first observation back around 2009, was that BTC was not a great store of value (or as Warren Buffet called it, rat-poison). As a novel means of exchange, it had some speculative value, as too the technology behind BTC represented financial innovation, whose utility was not solely the domain of BTC.

Indeed the investment case behind crypto has proven to be somewhat flawed. The new ‘digital gold’ has turned out to be anything but gold, and is certainly not a ‘hedge against inflation’, in the process impacting upon the real world gold price and illustrating that financial systems based upon ever-shifting decimal places, and unstable ‘stablecoins’ have serious problems.

Merely getting the token exchanged for something of value in the real world, was itself a Promethean task, until the proverbial exchange of 1 BTC for one pizza happened in May 2010. I was one of the early adopters and pizza eaters, and like many geeks, at first promoted the new deregulated currency as a fair means of exchange outside of the conventional, an experiment in economics and a possible world, a crypto-future free from the essential poverty caused by lack of exchange.

I had initially also embraced community currencies such as the Talent (hosted by Cape Town Talent Exchange), toyed with introducing a currency known as the ‘Woodstock Watt’ backed by the sale of electricity tokens and was now a willing participant on a digital roller-coaster ride. This story is a cautionary tale of what not to do in the face of unbridled innovation.

My puny holding of Second Life Linden Dollars which I exchanged for BTC, added to the few actual Satoshis I managed to mine alongside the trickle of BTC, allowed me to purchase altcoins via an exchange in Serbia. This was before the MtGox fiasco, which saw a leading BTC exchange go belly up, the victim of a double-accounts scam orchestrated by its founder.

While crypto-libertarian Ross Ulbricht also known as Dread Pirate Roberts was setting up Silk Road I was investing in Cryptostocks and Havelock Investments. None of my investments including a small investment in a ‘provable fair’ Bitcoin Casino panned out. Since sharks simply ‘pumped and dumped’ altcoins, burnt their rigs, or took your real cash for stock and then ducked to places far beyond, like Panama City.

In any event, bitcoin wallets could be stolen by computer virus attacks and brute forced, given enough time and CPU power, and thus I foresaw a moment in the near future when an artificial intelligence (AI) agent did something pretty similar, narrowing the limits placed on this guessing project by 100x or more, and thus a coming crypto ‘space race’ in which the algo-kids good and bad, waged war against the algorithms. Burnt by Havelock, I threw in the towel.

Nevertheless a UCT computer studies associate of mine dragged me off to a Hacker meeting, in a shack under a bridge in Claremont, where I attempted to relate my tale, only to end up soaking in Ethereum (ETH) and hooked back on the cybersauce as it were. It seemed once the crypto bug had bitten, there was no way back from the edge of sanity, since nobody really understood, not least the pundits. My general enthusiasm slowly dwindled, the venture-bus it seemed had already left the station.

About 18 months ago I was surprised to see BTC mainstreaming again, as Elon Musk put BTC on the Tesla balance sheet only to retract his support upon climate issues. Along with running jokes about Dogecoin, the proverbial FOMO had kicked in and I once again found myself feverishly investing my ZAR via an exchange called Luno. A small R6k investment rocketed up to R15k, but then hearing a tax consultant on the radio going on about capital gains and ‘BTC being taxable by SARS’, stopped me from cashing out.

The past month has seen absolute carnage in the market, beginning with the Luna-Terra fiasco (two algorithmic ‘stablecoins’) and the latest Celsius debacle, followed by cryptoworld gobbledygook, ‘Eth1 stakes caused ETH to dislocate from BTC’, leading one to question the fundamentals. (Read about problems associated with another regulated stablecoin Tether here). Which brings me to my conclusion. Yes, blockchain technology is useful and yes we can thank the new wave of maths wizards for giving us fractional investment schemes, but like all experiments, one needs to take the good and leave the bad.

I started investing in real-world securities because I learnt about balance sheets and underlying net asset value. I got involved with mainstream capitalism out of an urgent need to escape the wild-west of crypto and online investment scams, and can thank the cryptophreaks for introducing me to tradable indexes like the Top-40, All-Shares and S&P 500.

Does this mean I still want BTC on my balance sheet?

Not while its below USD 21 138,60 (as I write this) and heading towards 16 000,00 like a falling knife. When the Crypto-winter ends, another 12 months, I might just get back into the market, but for now, I need more predictable, less volatile financial instruments, dare we even call these assets?

If you consider BTC to be a measurement of confidence in the world of crypto (not a play on anonymous transactions cast as a commodity — nor even a Casinocoin gamble?), or a bit like the VIX is a fear index, then it may be an asset class for some. But for now, such schemes, despite their utility, are resulting in lay-offs and uncertainty.

Check out this video: https://youtu.be/6IRgSSBPrWY

SEE: Bitcoin will be remembered as a historically insignificant fallacy

SEE: They couldn’t even scream any more. They were just sobbing’: the amateur investors ruined by the crypto crash

Debate: Non-racialism vs Anti-racism

Neville Alexander’s Unity Movement opposed the now defunct, multi-regionalist theory of human evolution and proposed that all of humanity was the result of a common stream, not separate and distinct ‘race groups’. Given that non-racialism is now the basis for our Constitution one would think that Alexander’s ideas were relatively secure on our nation’s campuses?

Not so, according to Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seeking, who write about the influence of a “contemporary American antiracism … being promoted with a missionary zeal.”

They write in the Daily Maverick: “American antiracism does not simply mean being anti or against racism. It means adopting a racialised and profoundly American worldview that frames all disadvantages experienced by “black” people as the result of “systemic racism”, meaning the institutional and cultural promotion of “white supremacy”. Contemporary American antiracism entails a rejection of non-racialism. It emphatically asserts an essentialist apartheid-style understanding of ‘race’.”

“At the University of Cape Town (UCT), in a city where anti-essentialist ideologies of non-racialism — including radical as well as liberal and African nationalist ideologies — have a long history”, this contemporary American antiracism, they claim, is being promoted as a religion.

The imported, ‘racist conception of race’ flies in the face of science, since as scientists have elegantly put it, ‘adaptive traits such as hair and skin colour are not indicative of a separation between the species’, we are all one race, the human race, or as the late Robert Sobukwe put it, ‘there is no plural in race’. Issues such as discrimination, whether institutional or otherwise, are thus the product of racism, not race per se, since clearly race, is the ‘child of racism not the parent’.

Consider the Apartheid regime’s ‘separate and distinct’ race groups were tragically claimed to be the product of spontaneous human evolution, which they alleged had arisen in isolation on different continents. Race theorists, early paleontologists and bureaucrats such as Piet Koornhof, the so-named Minister of Plural Development, a man often drawn in cartoon caricature, spent their time on SABC pronouncing upon the classification of black persons as Non-White. ‘Plurals’ and similar such pseudoscientific nonsense, were terms often cast in direct opposition to apartheid’s many critics.

As a direct result of the Unity Movement’s interventions — and whilst Alexander was incarcerated on Robben Island, and a story often told by Alexander — the ANC adopted non-racialism as one of its central pillars, his having persuaded Madiba of the merits of the idea. Alongside a discourse similarly advocated by Sobukwe, the history of our country is in reality, an epic journey from the oblique multi-racialism of the Freedom Charter to the clear non-racialism of our Constitution. Nevertheless, the racist conception of an essentialist race identity persists.

You can read about my dis-enrollment from the ‘white race’ here. And the manner in which an anti-racist bigot and oxy(moron) on the bench acting in cahoots with the apartheid system, has censured me for simply advocating Alexander’s ideas, this whilst over-ruling several acts of Parliament, all of which provide a legal basis for non-racialism.

Or if you up for some additional UCT controversy, read Lushaba’s Faux Pas or take a bite out of some UCT Skeletons.

SA Astonishing failure to plan transition away from ICE

EVEN if there was no war in Ukraine and no embargo against Russian oil and gas, South Africa would find itself in a pretty pickle, forced to import fuel directly. It is not just our strategic fuel reserves which have been plundered, but our capacity to refine crude in the face of a global transition away from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) which stands at the heart of massive increases at the pump.

Attempts by government to restructure and partially deregulate the fuel price by lowering or dropping levies are merely band-aids on a serious problem, whose root cause is the pivot away from fossil fuels towards Electric Vehicles (EVs).

The blame needs to be placed squarely on both the Minister of Energy and Resources, Gwede Mantashe and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula whose porfolio’s intersect.

It seems strange that a former spokesperson to the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Yonela Diko should be generating after the fact opinion pieces pointing out that ‘depending solely on fuel imports threatens energy security”, as if this strategic reality were not already at the heart of our energy policies, and especially given our countries past experience with sanctions?

Diko’s demonstration of the lack of refining capacity caused by the unwillingness of energy companies to invest in upgrades is only part of the problem in dealing with the harsh reality that the entire world is transitioning away from fossil fuels, towards electric vehicles:

He writes: “The latest closure of Shell and BP-owned Refinery Sapref in Durban which had a peak capacity of 180 000 bbl/d, a whooping 35% crude refining capacity of the entire country, becomes the latest blow in the countries refining capacity leaving the country with only one option, to import.”

“We are now left with the only worlds coal-based synthetic fuels refinery, Sasol’s Natref, which has a peak day production of a 150 000 bbl/d, which is not enough to carry the entire country and replace the lost refinery capacity. We also have the ever so incapacitated PetroSA which is supposed to be a gas-to-liquid refinery in Mossel Bay which never seems to find any gas.”

Instead of defending the capacity already in place and coming up with a mitigation plan, we have seen a veritable, wild goose chase. Readers may remember the debacle involving Shell and Mantashe’s search for oil and gas off our coast? The entire energy strategy, which found its origin in Jacob Zuma’s Operation Phakisa, has been to pivot towards ‘prospecting’ (read: Adventurism) and the parceling out of future ocean rights to oil companies, none of which have panned out. It is only Namibia which has benefited.

As the saying goes, a bird in the hand is always better than two in the bush.

In some respects the environmental justice movement is also caught offside with its mantra of “Just Transition Away from Coal”, instead of a ‘Just Transition Towards Renewables in Transportation’.

Although there are tentative plans involving so-called “Green Hydrogen” impacting upon heavy industry and mining vehicles, the government has failed to deliver any tangible incentives to transition towards Electric Vehicles. No rebates, no tax incentives, no assistance to an industry which desperately needs to be retooled.

Petrol attendants and ‘pump jockeys’ may just go the way of the lift attendant, elevator operator and ice-hauler, who no longer haul ice to the proverbial icebox. All categories of work long considered redundant. Unless SADC is able to co-operate in finding a solution, the transition will come-about via accident if not force majeur, and not according to any particular plan.

Unlike the USA and Europe, South Africa faces a hybrid future, where bio-diesel, methane, hydrogen fuel cells and electric all play a role. One would expect the Minister of Transport to have announced plans for moving South Africa’s massive fleet of Quantum minibuses towards sustainable bio-diesel or methane. Ditto the trucking industry.

To date there are no plans to my knowledge to assist in the retrofit of private and public transport.Talk about the introduction of Chinese-produced, electric-powered ‘Bullet Trains’ seems to be just empty talk, as consumers are forced to pore fuel at the pump.

SEE: https://www.outa.co.za/blog/newsroom-1/post/reclaim-sas-strategic-oil-reserves-946

IOL-Brkic ‘forensic report” nothing more than a list of scurrilous multi-baby questions?

THE EDITOR of an ‘elite investigative unit’ , housed deep inside Independent Media, the so-named Falcons claims to have uncovered evidence linking the Daily Maverick to Jackie Selebi and the underworld. A report emanating from Paul O’Sullivan’s ‘Forensics for Justice’ (FFJ) used to back the piece, claims to have publisher Branko Brkic under investigation. It appears to be nothing more than a scurrilous piece on a website posing strange questions.

None of the supporting documents demonstrate any links. Nor do they support any of the claims being made.

The so-called FFJ ‘report’ conveniently follows a months-long spat between IOL and Daily Maverick. With editor Sizwe Dlamini utilising the list of questions provided by FFJ to create a rather fancy organogram — a diagram whose arrows appear to be absolutely meaningless.

If either FFJ or IOL has actual hard evidence or even a prima facie case, then surely the public would appreciate if they could publish this information in the public domain? Until then we can only suggest readers ignore the posting of salacious online claims posing as questions, questions whose answers would essentially require not only the discovery of information under oath, but a prima facie case, — surely an abuse of the justice system?

The resulting triumphant article fails to use qualifying words like ‘alleged’ nor does it provide any objective distance.

Its all facts, I tell you.

One may as well ask questions: Is Paul O’Sullivan an alien from Mars? If there is smoke there must be fire, what next, alien babies? An alien trafficking ring?

The bizarre allegations include strange claims that Daily Maverick is running an online subscription racket that provides membership access for R200 ‘without any tangible benefits’. Err, isn’t this usually called a ‘pay-wall’, as used by News24 and Mail and Guardian? Nope, that would be a paywall, what Daily Maverick have is a ‘supporting subscription’ model.

A cornerstone of the IOL claim is that Daily Maverick is passing itself off as an altruistic charity for public benefit when in fact the company is ‘in business for profit’. This is the first I have heard that Daily Maverick aren’t actually in business.

The specious claim of a scandal, seems to revolve around the failure of a subsidiary magazine company of Daily Maverick which appears to have been liquidated, resulting in write-off of a R4 million loan from the IDC. To give some context the size of the loan is an order of magnitude smaller than the double digit millions borrowed by Sekunjalo from PIC, to purchase IOL.

If anything the claim demonstrates why capitalism is more efficient at dealing with risk than statism, and why government support of media and other state-run companies creates a situation of ‘too big to fail’, with the resulting drain on treasury? Isn’t this why business exists in the first place, either to make a profit or to shutdown?

To spice up the piece, state capture and the Guptas are thrown into the mix. I suspect, next up will be an all-boys Choir performing underwater?

Medialternatives has reviewed all the legal-looking ‘supporting documentation’ currently available on the site, all of the affidavits appear to have no links to the actual story. The Falcons story further fails to demonstrate any links, and there are thus no details as to why the mysterious arrows may be leading us to Pyramids under the Sea?

Then again the farcical ‘incomplete investigation’ may just be click-bait for Iqbal Surve’s top-notch multi-baby unit, remember the unit run by Piet Rampedi? If so, IOL have certainly swallowed the bait.

The Press Council’s deportment of SA Jewish Report

AT the face of it, a cartoon caricature of a ‘greedy capitalist’ isn’t anti-Semitic. Taken within the context of a boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israeli goods? Well, there are some who may be offended. Personally I don’t find such images, which are redolent of similar Nazi propaganda, in particular the earlier Dreyfus Affair, terribly problematic.

Distasteful yes, and often accompanying conspiracy theories of Jews controlling the world, or bizarre plots to murder Christ and Christian babies, the images are well-known and documented. The illustration in question is a stock ‘man eating money’ image, symbolising greed, similar in many ways to earlier NP-inspired ‘Hoggenheimer‘ images from the 1930s and also deserving of comparison with ‘watermelon men‘ images, from the 1950s symbolising, indolence.

Although the picture in question has appeared in the context of such mischief, and is often used by anti-Semites, it is not one of the truly abysmal images depicting Ashkenazi Jews, with over-sized facial features deserving of our opprobrium. Judge Bernard Ngoepe is right to some extent, and on this account alone, to attempt to discount the controversy, since the image could just as well have found its home on the cover of Noseweek.

Unfortunately the logical analysis provided by Ngoepe is absolutely flawed. The least of which is its resort to an a priori finding — reasoning which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience.

The argument goes: Somebody who is Jewish says the cartoon used in this context is not Anti-Semitic, therefore it must follow that the author Tali Feinberg cannot impute any Anti-Semitism to BDS on the basis and must apologise.

The finding is wrong for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is clear that Feinberg quotes the opinion of an esteemed academic and expert on the subject, Prof Milton Shain, whose conclusions are thus immediately at odds with the a priori finding. (Frankly, the result does pose the question, why similar union campaigns are devoid of caricature? The subject of the use of cartoons in politics is especially touchy when compounded by religion.)

Secondly, Ngoepe essentially quotes only one opinion, provided by the complainant, that of David Saks, a member of the SAJBD in order to substantiate his own opinion in the matter.

Thirdly, Ngoepe is correct in averring a lack of balance and fairness, thus an impact upon journalistic standards of their member, insomuch as the report in question failed to solicit either the opinion of GIWUSA or BDS, the two affected parties.

Lastly, the sanctions imposed do not fit the nature of the offense. (SEE: Sanef Urges JR to reconsider its position).

In upholding the complaint in its entirety, instead of making an objective ruling upholding the rights of both parties, and thus the complainants right to respond to the article (right of reply) — to thus have their views published by the Jewish Report, as too the publisher’s right to publish, Ngoepe chose to side with the complainant. It is thus a highly politicised stance and outcome, one which immediately calls into question the Press Council’s standing and capacity to act.

The Press Council’s opinion in this regard really runs counter to the idea that a publisher may publish an authors opinion, based as it is on an academic’s opinion, however problematic and contrary to mainstream politics, it may be, and is contradicted by its own previous findings — rulings made when similar complaints are lodged by Jews regarding anti-Semitism in the press, (see my own complaint against Cape Times).

Does this make me biased when it comes to pointing out the resulting hypocrisy? It certainly should and please mark my words — the result is now an exile of the party concerned, an outcome which does not bode well for the council since BDS via its advocacy of far-ranging sanctions, which often translate into cultural sanctions against anyone vaguely Jewish, has long since gained a reputation for Anti-Semitism, in other words, hostility to secular Jewish identity.

I have merely to refer readers to death threats issued against the runner up to last year’s Miss Universe.

In seeking to close down the debate on what constitutes anti-Semitism, (rather than interpretation of the cartoon per se), and instead of reaching out to issues of fairness, the result rubs salt in the wound as it were. Surely it is not up to non-Jewish members of the council to determine such definitions, same way as whites don’t get to define racism, and an apartheid media company doesn’t get to decide who is a member of the anti-apartheid movement or not?

The result thus erroneously attempts to limit discourse, to force an apology on the substance of the unproven allegations, instead of a sanction on the merits, and with the unfortunate effect, a professional excommunication from the council. Which leads one to conclude Ngoepe is really entertaining a presumption in seeking to set BDS up as a movement whose reputation is beyond question at the same time that he denies the right of SA Jewish Report to call out Anti-Semitism, however and whenever they see it (surely all a matter of opinion?).

I also note there appears to be some debate as to whether the Clover boycott effects the so-called occupied territories or not. For the record, both sides in the tragic case of injustice vs injustice need to be heard.

If anyone wishes to engage with Medialternatives on creating a press code of conduct that would include internationally accepted definitions of anti-Semitism that include the right to criticise the policies of the state of Israel, please comment below. Surely time for a South African code?

SEE Press Council Expels SA Jewish Report.

SEE: Furore over SA Jewish Report, BDS Clover cartoon and the Press Council — let the ConCourt decide

Absolute content hypocrisy from the Mail and Guardian

IN 2005 the Mail & Guardian launched a news aggregation site Amagama. At the same time it hijacked content from users on its own free Blogmark platform, and thus work posted under a non-commercial creative commons license scheme. The company thus simply appropriated the material and republished it sans permission under its own copyright and sold the result to advertisers.

Around the same time the company destroyed my book review of ‘A Secret Burden’, and locked me out of my own blog, claiming the piece had offended an apartheid-era war journalist.

When it came to the new online world of digital journalism and blogging, writers such as myself were simply peasants. Our new overlords, ‘data jockies and cyber-cowboys’ such as Vince Maher and the late Mathew Buckland, saw us as nothing more than a means to make money, monetising content without any thought of sharing a penny with the creators of said content.

I struggled to retrieve my writing on this blog (see how Medialternatives came into being) and the matter of the destruction of material and the use of my content, was never settled. The offending item remains destroyed. (See Toby Shapshak bleating about AirBnB deleting and then undeleting his own review). Needless to say Amagama was closed down after a not well-publicized bun-fight in which I invited hackers around the world to spam the site.

At one point spambots were opening accounts and flooding the site with the digital equivalent of canned beef, to the extant the M&G servers fell-over from the weight of electronic gristle. Not surprising considering I had attempted something similar back in 1994 when I launched the world’s first Internet Riot in protest against John Major’s Criminal Justice Bill.

Write a chapter on Electronic Civil Disobedience if you so wish.

Now Hoosain Karjieker, ‘CEO of Mail & Guardian Media and chairperson of a nefarious entity known as ‘Publisher Support Services’ has approached the competition commission claiming ‘platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance.’

“The main objective of our challenge is to protect the future sustainability of the local news industry. The proposed draft legislation aims to ensure fair and equitable remuneration for South African news media businesses, large and small, for the use of their content.”

Well hooray for you M’lord, since your racist, parasitic company has a history of similar abuse of its position and most certainly does not give a fig about the plight of online content creators.

For years publishers have abused the default position when it comes to the Copyright Act. Any so-called unsolicited content submitted for publication is deemed to be the work of the publisher. The drafters never envisioned a situation in which the Internet existed, nor did it envisage a position in which writers published their own content.

In 2022 the Australian High Court was asked to find whether or not search engine Google was a publisher, since it linked to online content. The question as to whether or not Meta and Google are publishers remains a sensitive one, since depending upon how one answers this question, the result impacts upon whether or not the company’s ‘revenue and royalty’ model is a legal one, especially if original content creators are deprived of income. In this age of fractional investment schemes it stands to reason that a revenue sharing model would be the only fair way forward.

Google however threatened to block publisher’s links, in effect to shut-off Australia if the company was pursued with any tentative revenue-sharing schemes. The issue of fair use / fair dealing (how much one can publish before running into copyright issues) is dealt with to some extant by the latest amendment to the Copyright Act. IMHO, the way to deal with the problem is via resort to WTO/Davos and previous settlements with book publishers.

Vince Maher is currently the Group Executive Head of Digital at MultiChoice Group, a subsidiary of Media24, an apartheid company which rigged an unlawful decision before the Labour Court in 2010. At the time, acting justice Halton Cheadle was in business with Kagiso, a media company supplying content to Multichoice. The corrupt ANC party apparatchik proceeded to rubber-stamp a ‘racist religious inquisition’ into my identity with the resulting condemnation of the outcome by myself, as absolutely false, devoid of any truth, and alienating of press privilege.

For the record I am a secular humanist, not an Orthodox Jew per se.

You can read about my experience with Amagama here.

And my experience with Media24 here.

Radical birthkeeper, a non-traditional birth attendant controversy?

IN 2005 the earlier apartheid-era Nursing Act was redrafted to provide a ‘democratic sheen’. Gone was the French term ‘accoucheur’, meaning ‘one who assists at birth’ usually a ‘male midwife or obstetrician’. Colonial distinctions between midwife and pupil were instead replaced by several new categories including, ‘midwife’, ‘learner midwife and ‘auxiliary midwife’. No allowance for complementary or Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) was deemed necessary by the drafters.

According to the World Health Organisation 22% of all births are performed in the world by TBAs particularly in underserviced areas and rural communities. In countries where TBAs have been encouraged to work in more collaborative ways with formal health systems, and community-based ‘Skilled Birth Attendants’ (SBAs), they were able to overcome the rivalry that existed between them and ‘facility-based staff’.

Historically the role of TBAs is one that has been usurped by the Colonial Authorities. In particular the history of Nursing in South Africa reflects an over-emphasis of Western norms and standards (some would say for good reason), with a resulting centralisation of care and authority, and an undermining and de-emphasis of the power of woman-hood. The result is that not everyone can afford a professional midwife in private practice.

“When programmes used broad participatory approaches to design new models of care which included TBAs, and where TBAs were given clearly defined roles (such as birth companions or interpreters for women during labour and birth) they were more readily accepted …” write Tina Miller & Helen Smith in ‘Seminars in Perinatology‘ (2019).

Where the earlier apartheid Nursing Act (1978) failed to define midwifery, the new democratic version defines “midwifery” as certification, referring ‘to a caring profession practised by persons registered under [the Act], which supports and assists the health care user and in particular the mother and baby, to achieve and maintain optimum health during pregnancy, all stages of labour and the puerperium‘ i.e. six weeks from childbirth.

The act itself is, for all intents and purposes, the self-same colonial framework predicated upon the Medical Model introduced into the country by Western Medicine, with the only exemptions from the aegis of the act, being those actions ‘conducted during an emergency.’ It thus blatantly neglects TBAs and consequently forgets almost a quarter of births occurring in the country (and this tentative figure may be even higher!). In the process these births are effectively rendered invisible by the system and its emphasis on professionalism, under a status quo where traditional midwifery is swept under the carpet.

Enter a controversy

Enter the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, enacted in 2007 to “establish the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa; to provide for a regulatory framework to ensure the efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health care services; …” An instrument which defines TBAs as” a person who engages in traditional health practice and is registered as a traditional birth attendant,” and thus operating much in the same vein of the Nursing Act, save for its emphasis on registration rather than certification.

The latest controversy regards amateur birth practitioners, lay midwives, radical birthkeepers, traditional birth attendants and doulas (hereafter home-birthers) and at the face, revolves around interpretation of the above two acts, our Constitution and also natural law.

The resulting Carte Blanche documentary “Radical Birthkeeper” proceeds apace without any context other than the Medical Model and seems to suggest that home-birthers should be placed in the same category as back-street abortionists, fraudulent plastic surgeons and all those who wish to provide hospice patients the right to die and dignity in death.

Worse still, the documentary creates the impression that our public health system is abundantly resourced and more than willing to provide professional midwives for gratis, is otherwise supportive of home-birth, in a situation where the infant mortality rate for a professional practice is claimed to be “2 in 20 years” (Carte Blanche) or “Zero” (M&G) and that ‘if only the persons concerned had utilised this free service, all would be well?’ I note too that the days of GPs arriving to deliver home births are long gone.

About 99% of maternal and newborn deaths occur in low and middle income countries, globally amounting to about 500 000 maternal deaths and 8 million peri-neonatal deaths per year. While the trend in South Africa is downward, (if one ignores the past two years), the country still experiences some 12 000 perinatal deaths per year, mainly due to complications of pregnancy, labour and delivery.

The documentary is loosely based on a slightly more informative article published by the Mail & Guardian which raises several issues to do with infringement of the Nursing Act, the subject’s efforts to certify their midwifery practice, the role of Traditional Birth Attendants and the Free Birth Society as well as testimony by Angela Wakeford, a registered midwife. No real stats are provided by either of these contributions.