Category: Uncategorized

No Mr President, your narrative isn’t true.

Dear Ed,

President Zuma’ recent comments on the “nuclear programme” refers.

The narrative provided by President Zuma isn’t true. In a recent address the president suggests it was pressure from the West which lead “the apartheid government to dismantle its nuclear weapons and programmes before the Communist Bloc-backed ANC could take over power at the end of the Cold War.”

Not only does he forget that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and thus the movement which rose to power in 1994  had no backing from the ‘Communist Block’ as such, but he is being a little disingenuous when he attributes our nation’s constitutional imperatives to tinkering by the West.

The campaign against nuclear energy was part and parcel of the campus revolts and anti-apartheid movement during the 1980s. Environmental groups such as Koeberg Alert and Earthlife Africa, campaigned alongside anti-apartheid activists, linking apartheid and the environment, during successive periods and under the banner “forward to a non-racist, non-sexist, nuclear-free continent”.

Although South Africa’s nuclear weapons programme was ostensibly abandoned in 1989. It was the Treaty of Pelindaba, requiring that parties “will not engage in the research, development, manufacture, stockpiling acquisition, testing, possession, control or stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territory of parties to the treaty and the dumping of radioactive wastes in the African zone by treaty parties”, which came into effect on 15 July 2009, ratified by 28 countries, which achieved the end-result. The African Commission on Nuclear Energy, was thus set up in order to verify compliance with the treaty,

None of this would have been possible, if the first conference on Environment and Development, held at UWC and attended by representatives from recently unbanned political parties had not accepted environmental justice and sustainable development as policies for our country. It was thus pressure from the broad campaign for environmental justice on the African continent which resulted in the eventual capitulation by the apartheid government and in turn the dismantling of the nuclear programme, alongside subsequent initiatives.

It is no surprise then that South Africa is the first country in the world to enshrine ‘ecological sustainable development’ in its constitution and to willingly give up its nuclear weapons programme. As such our Constitution adopted the peace principles and environmental priorities that defined us as a nation, and this without any intervention required by the Western Powers.

Sincerely yours

David Robert Lewis
Cape Times 8 Nov 2017 Letter DR Lewis
Advertisements

Hellkom like no SOE ever scorned (part 3)

Saga of my three months without a landline, continued from part 2

DAY 85 October 24 The paralegal mediator calls me back, apparently the landlord wants me to pay for the infrastructure upgrade at his own building. I must spend money. I explain my compromise solution, it entails getting Telkom to wire a cable from their pole along the same route as the ubiquitous DSTV system, whose cabling is all over the place, giving the lie to the purported desire to maintain the building’s aesthetics.

In my humble opinion, the Telco should have at least done its job in the move Dept, by alerting all parties concerned and sending  at very least a pro forma letter explaining its position on providing services to its clients. The property owner’s attempt to restrict choice in service provider and thus also to troll the installation of same into my own account are unlawful to say the least. Our country has a Bill of Rights guaranteeing free and unhindered communication. There is an End User Services Charter, a communications regulator ICASA and dare one say an urgent need to draft consumer protections and building codes for private communications, that aren’t merely a rehash of how big business view their clients as cash cows, and thus a road to servitude and vasselship?

The much vaunted Cell C “Free Whatsapp” deal turns out to be phony. I go back to the store to get a copy of the advertising material, yes there are terms and conditions, in minuscule 5 point type on the flyer, it appears the ‘free deal’ was initially for only 600mb, but in the infinite magnanimity of the corporation, the bundle expires every month and must thus be renewed monthly. It appears my whatsapp messages have also been frozen for nearly a month. I recharge once again and notice that some digital signage flashes on my smartphone (read dumb trick) screen for about half a minute, supposedly explaining this phenomena. The promotion is nothing more than an advertising stunt to get customers to switch to a Cell C SIM and is pretty much in the same league as the Yemeni immigrant charging R5.50 for a R5 Vodacom voucher.

DAY 88 October 27 The government announces it is selling its stake in Telkom. Does this mean the end of the copper-cable monopoly? Miraculously I find that a Virgin Mobile Sim provides free wifi and free Virgin to Virgin calls if you simply recharge once month every five days. A far better bonus deal in theory, than the rigmarole of Cell C. Meanwhile I tune in my cellphone radio to catch some of the news. The SOE deal will Rob Peter to Pay Paul. ESKOM debt is big enough to swallow large portions of the nation’s future wealth, in return, a highly inefficient energy behemoth will guarantee that we ramp up CO2 emissions. That nuclear seems to be off the table for now is small consolation. I am still without access to popular sites: Hackaday, Youtube, Amazon, Daily Maverick.

Telkom user panel shows four disputes lodged on same issue, three rejected fourth accepted.

DAY 92 November 2, 2017 surprise surprise, Almost 100 Days after I requested to move my landline from Woodstock to Muizenburg, the telephone line is now operational. I have been given a new telephone number. The bearded Telkom technician has finally installed the copper line via the conduit as he was supposed to, without the help of religious texts and sans the elaborate detour created by the intervention of the electrician from Zim who no longer works for the landlord. All it took was a manly meeting between the landlord and the technician to arrive at an acceptable brief. Then a bit of prodding by myself after the technician proposed several unacceptable “gippo options” before finally plumbing the conduit, hauling the line and actually doing his job without taking a break for daily religious victuals.

A bit of a mountain really created out of a molehill and no need to invest further money building infrastructure to drive spend, than what is absolutely necessary. A big lesson here is that gaining legal consent and navigating cultural differences in the new South Africa is a total pain in the %^&* , and too much delegation can ruin management if all that happens is that unnecessary work and extra spend is being generated. On the down side, I am still without Internet access following the billing debacle and both corporates need to still be tackled in order to reverse the damage of a three month drama. Significantly, Telkom have simply taken over my DSL Telkom have not bothered to provide any details such as logon information for their compulsory ADSL services. I am expected to ferret out the password to access my data on the plan I never ordered. I am expected to provide my own modem and my own telephone in what can only be described as an obscene plan to extract rental from my bank account. If this is socialism, don’t kill yourself searching for the last communist in the country.

DAY 94 November 4. I am finally online, courtesy of Web Africa, whose free 1Gb + 1Gb account is saving my weekend. I am strangely emotional and overwhelmed by having access to the World Wide Web and sans the Internet Cafe Taxi. I try to get back to just surfing without bothering with the basics of email and social media. It is Youtube which has been most absent in these past months.

DAY 99 November 7 A lady with an eerie creaky voice calls from Telkom to tell me that the charges for previous two months have been reversed. I could swear the other irate Tannie is her sister. She probably gargles with Klippies in the morning. I have yet to recoup the money lost to MWEEB, although a part credit for line rental for October has now been generated. A silky smooth voice in MWEEB accounts dept, confirms the problem. I pen yet another email explaining that since the line reverted to Telkom in September, the credit note should be for two months, in addition, since I have had no means of accessing data without a line for three months, the payments for three months should be reversed in total. I duly begin to fill out a complaint form provided by ICASA. There is a glimmer of hope and it is the abundance of fibre options coming our way, see here. If only the operators could figure out how to provide ‘voice and data’ plans to once and for all end the insanity of two communications bills, the fiction of DSL line rental.

Our 14 point action plan

1) Fire No 1 and pay back the money

2) Cut back on five hour lunch sessions, R1bn wagyu steaks for No 2

3) Dump the Gupta Raj and the British East India Company kickbacks.

4) Reduce size of cabinet to pre-Zuma levels

5) Break up SOEs into smaller units, sell SAA.

6) Dump Eskom and introduce an Energy Commons

7) Introduce a Social Wage for all (including Basic Income Grant)

8) Household responsibility to provide home economics

9) Income equalisation for periodic work

10) Rent Stabilisation for those renting

11) Compulsory Civics classes for young scholars and new immigrants

12) Adopt David Robert Lewis’ Electronic Freedom Charter

13) Celebrate the Earth Rights we got into the Constitution

14) Hire competent staff at finance ministry

Competing visions for a new South Africa

TWO parties, each with contradictory and competing visions for South Africa’s future, hold centre stage. In the one corner, the African National Congress with its legacy of struggle against apartheid and nation building, that has increasingly come under the spotlight with revelations of corruption and state capture, and the failing economic policies and antics of its president Jacob Zuma

In the other corner, the Democratic Alliance, an opposition political formation with market friendly policies, but hampered by a troubling legacy, fraught because of its historic support from white capital versus the emergence of black capital under the ruling party, and yet presenting a different vision of reconciliation, inclusion, and equal opportunity.

So far as DA leader Mmusi Maimane is concerned, the struggle is about keeping the reconciliation project alive while creating an open and inclusive society in line with a constitutional vision that is the antithesis of the creeping totalitarianism and authoritarianism of the current administration.

Over the past months, the ANC has diverted itself from the proud nation-building of past administrations, towards an increasingly tribal vision of a society not unlike the Bantustans of the apartheid-era. A country defined by race, where domination of one group by another is the order of the day, and where expropriation of land without compensation is matched by the growth of state and tribal authorities.

And yet within the ANC itself, there exist competing visions to what has been broadly condemned by the investment community as “Zumanomics”, an unworkable recipe for economic disaster.  Thus a lively debate on so-called ‘radical economic transformation’ has ensued at the party’s organising conference.

So far as ANC NEC member and Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa is concerned, “South Africans should focus less on the colour of monopoly capital and rather focus on contesting monopoly capital in all its forms”

“We shouldn’t be aspiring to change white monopoly capital to black monopoly capital. The uncompetitive nature of monopoly capital makes us raise an issue of contestation, whether it will be black or white,” Mthethwa told reporters during a media briefing this week.

It was party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa who thus also articulated a view that is in direct contrast to the DA faction under Helen Zille and seemingly the ANC under Zuma. According to Kodwa, “the new South Africa creates a clean break from our ugly past giving birth to a new nation with new prescripts. South Africa is not an improved version of the past or a case of taking our better past forward, South Africa is a new nation.”

Can the DA match its own rhetoric and the propaganda of the ruling party, with a victory at the polls? The alliance has seen major victories during the past general election in several of South Africa’s metro’s including Johannesburg, and Nelson Mandela Bay. As the ANC moves to reduce its opposition to the left, it invariably risks losing the middle ground, where the most votes in the next election are bound to reside.

Thus as the party erodes the opposition EFF base, whose red shirts are now ironically being deployed in support of the DA — the ANC policy conference and its adoption of far-left language, risks reducing the party’s central mandate as articulated by the NDP and will come as a blow to those arguing for moderation.

All good news so far as the DA is concerned.

Black opinion: Rationalists versus Irrationalists

TWO rationalist pieces, thoughtfully debunking the legs of Helen Zille’s argument in favour of ‘colonialism not being all that bad’, need to be seen alongside an incredible piece of sensationalist and irrationalist nonsense, authored by self-proclaimed saviour of the ‘black race’ one Andile Mngxitama. The embarrassing piece (compared below) merely demonstrates that when it comes to black opinion, and criticism of colonialism, there are better tools, than a racist free-for-all.

Reported on News24 , without any scientific evidenceMngxitama claims that the recent Cape storms are all the ‘fault of white monopoly capital’. It is a crackpot thesis devoid of any merit — touting an unproven conspiracy theory whose achilles heel is the fact that China is the world’s second biggest emitter of CO2 —  far from being an ‘all-white affair’, climate change is rather the result of a rampant consumer society, one occupied by black and white alike, for which anyone of any colour, utilising its benefits, needs to take responsibility.

CO2emit

South Africa CO2 emissions 1988-2012 showing a peak and plateau strategy

One has merely to remark that it is the ‘black majority’ South African government, which commissioned two of the largest mega-coal projects on the continent this decade, and so far as Nature is concerned, the impacts will be felt by all, regardless of skin colour or pigmentation. What was once true of apartheid South Africa, and its skewed electrification policies, no longer holds. My own research published by the Panos Institute in 1991, alongside that of Mamphela Ramphele, reported the racial bias impacting upon a then output of 246 million tonnes of CO2 pa.

South Africa is currently the 13th largest emitting country based on 2008 fossil-fuel CO2 emissions and the largest emitting country in Africa. Saying: “the ecological disaster awaiting planet earth is a direct creation of white people,” is not just shoddy science, it is assuredly evidence of a racist political agenda. There is no data, to my knowledge, showing that skin colour has any impact on the behaviour of litter-bugs nor that of conspicuous consumption.

The only reason Mgnxitama gets published in the mainstream press is because of his vocal position as leader of the ‘Black First’ front. An organisation with much in common with Donald Trump’s America First movement, and thus deserving of similar criticism to that levelled against France’s Marine le Pen. Though he differs from these two politicos in at least recognising the existence of climate change, is no recommendation.

That Mngxitima’s writing is increasingly on the fringes of rationality and scientific argument, can be seen by the emergence of writers whose opinions are eminently more sensible and suited to the important issues of the day. Thus we turn to Tembeka Ngcukaitobi writing in the Conmag, for our guidance on Helen Zille, who correctly observes, that “neither England nor Holland can claim the same robust system of judicial supremacy that we do” and “the notion of an independent, fair and just legal system ‘which is not influenced by politics whatsoever’ first emerged in the writings, not of a lawyer, but a journalist: John Tengo Jabavu, the editor of the Xhosa newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu, in the late 1890s.”

“Jabavu’s writings in a marginal Xhosa newspaper were unsurprisingly ignored by the colonial government of the day. But they found fertile ground in the organisation which he did not found, but whose foundations he clearly influenced – the South African Native National Congress.” Ngcukaitobi’s writing on legal history thus traces the emergence of the ruling party and our own constitution, before tackling the second of Zille’s claims “which draws a link between colonialism and the development of our transport infrastructure [which] is equally distortive of history.”

“It was an official policy of the colonial government,” he says, “to use prison labour for infrastructure. Large numbers of Xhosas imprisoned after the last frontier war in 1878 were taken to Cape Town and, on arrival, turned into unpaid labourers, in the development of the rail infrastructure.” This transportation and technology theme is given better treatment if not short thrift in a parallel piece published by a blogger known simply as VaPunungwe, who asks: “what model car was Cecil John Rhodes driving?” 

The same question may well be asked of Jan van Riebeeck — what cellphone brand was he using? Technology is thus to be seen within its own context, not as some imported novelty, but rather as an historical construct, within a milieu as it were. It would thus behove persons such as Mngxitama to rather stick to writing on what one knows for certain, instead of punting racist theories and speculative rhetoric as easily debunked as that of Helen Zille’s.

 

 

Zille and all that Mmusi Jazz

images

A ploy to raise the stakes in bid for Presidency?

IT WAS inevitable that the opposition Democratic Alliance would arrive at its own Rubicon. The saga involving party stalwart Helen Zille, what she said or didn’t say, what was meant or not meant, the affectations of white liberal insiders, the embarrassing grand old colonial edifice and all its past glories, suddenly rendered impotent by a growing and vocal group of black entrepreneurs to its left and the irony of a conservative Afrikaner establishment to its right. Let’s just say that the old model of opposition politics no longer holds.

While cavalier, Mmusi Maimane was certainly reading the mood of the electorate, setting the stage for the 2019 general election, and his run for President in standing firmly against superiority, class attitudes and snobbery within his own party. Admittedly with this type of populism, it is all about political demeanour, perceptions and the will of the masses on the ground.

That national student movements such as SASCO found themselves weighing in on the subject, meant the DA, an alliance if ever there was one, was suddenly finding itself cast into the national spotlight. Provincialism of the kind articulated by Zille and her followers had no place. And hence while some bemoaned the outcome, a tragic fait accompli, it was inevitable that the party would find itself at a cross-roads, with a choice of futures. Can the DA ever hope to govern the nation, without creating tensions amongst its provincial partners?

It was no less than Douglas Gibson who first characterised the problem, Zille was past her sell-by-date. Thus Tony Leon soon found himself publicly praising Maimane for taking tough action against Helen over the colonialism tweets. While the prevarications and equivocations by the premier went from bad to worse. That the Cape Town lady was deploying the politics of World War 2 in her defence, admittedly of an Asian economic model merely made her arguments seem antiquated.

This was not a society gone racially mad but a case of corrective action, a necessary medicament arising from the furore surrounding a simple online tweet, and requiring a better perspective, than the past fiasco which had been a case of not growing up, or too much too soon —  the party head-hunted struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele mid-flight, in the last general election was unable to broker an effective alliance with its grass-roots ticket and thus a broad coalition of partners that could have produced a major victory for moderate black voters and their allies in the civil service and SOEs.

If the party is to have any hope of winning the next general election, it has to move forward under its current leadership. There are a number of caveats. Can the social wage be protected if not by social democrats? Whereto the provinces versus the national vote? Is there a way of saving the Western Cape’s unique character, given that the DA is an alliance, which has done remarkably well in South Africa’s metros? Where to Mmusi from here?

It was thus apt, that Zille announced her suspension today, with a tweet “DA has suspended me. They have agreed I can share my reasons why I should not have been suspended. Here they are:

Screenshot from 2017-06-08 18-51-45

Only time will tell whether or not this emerging political formation, untrammelled by the corruption within the current Zuma administration, and unhindered by the ideological baggage of the far-left, will pull through to its destiny in a future national cabinet. My bet is surely on Maimane for president, and come the next election, anything but the current Mafiosi state of Jacob Zuma.