Anti-Semitism & its political adherents in Parliament

​THERE is officially ‘no antisemitism’ in South Africa. No sooner had Justice Minister Ronald Lamola kicked up a storm after making bizarre statements on a BBC hardtalk interview, the country was being entertained by two incidents from inside the country’s various legislatures.

A tie-episode involving the wearing of a ‘Star of David’ by a member of the Johannesburg City Council was soon followed by threats inside the National House of Assembly: “We won’t allow you make this a Jewish state. The City of Cape Town would be a bloodbath,” ranted Member of Parliament Munzoor Shaik Emam, who proceeded to threaten Jews living in South Africa.

It was Sartre who once remarked: “If the Jew did not exist, the Anti-Semite would invent him”. ” In his seminal Anti-Semite & Jew, written after the author had noticed the absence of the Jews living in Paris before the war, deported to the Nazi death camps, he wrote: “The anti-Semite convinces himself of beliefs that he knows to be spurious at best.”

The latest debacle is redolent of ANC MP Marius Fransman’s invention of ‘Jewish property tycoons in Woodstock”, and other statements for which he was ordered to apologise. A suburb that had once seen an influx of Jews from the Shtetls of Czarist Russia, but which like District Six has lost its Jewish population, a factor of immigration and structural discrimination.

Lamola’s claim: “There is no antisemitism in South Africa against the Jewish People“ is not only a blatant lie, similarly debunked, with a demonstrable increase of 631% over the past three months, but it reminds one of equally perverse statements made by the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who once proclaimed: “In Iran, we do not have homosexuals. Or apartheid’s own PW Botha who explained to the world’s press:”Most Blacks are happy” and “we treat our Blacks well.”

Sartre explained the tendency towards the objectification of Jews, who before the creation of the state of Israel, had become the ‘objects of history’ instead of the ‘subjects of humans rights’.

“A Jew is a person that others look at and say, “look, he/she is a Jew”. Just as a chair is a chair by virtue of our considering it a chair, so is a Jew a person whom others consider to be a Jew. Therefore, a Jew’s Jewishness exists only to the extent they are considered Jewish by those around them.

A 2010 hearing presided over by ANC apparatchik Halton Cheadle involving his own client, found inter alia, I was not Jewish enough to possess rights commonly afforded other Jews, and therefore could not claim anti-Semitism on the basis of an outrageous inquiry into my identity by an apartheid media firm — an entity that pathetically denied their role in the regime, and proceeded to pillory the findings of the TRC during the kangaroo ‘trial’.

So yes Minister Lamola, there is ‘Anti-Semitism’ or Jew-hatred in my country — a disgraceful, ugly history harking all the way back to the dark days of the National Party, whose swastikas adorned membership cards, whose laws actively discriminated on the basis of religion and cultural identity.

Organised crime, Eskom monopoly, De Ruyter en Swart.

ALARMING accounts of several crime syndicates operating within Eskom have arrived on the heels of similar findings made by the Zondo ‘Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State’. Judge Raymond Zondo’s investigation is outlined in Volume 4, and two parts, aptly named Eskom 1 and Eskom 2.

The content should not simply regale the public with shenanigans surrounding the appointment of the 2014 board, the manner in which Brian Molefe and Mr Anoj Singh acted to assist the Gupta’s and ultimately former president Jacob Zuma, to unlawfully benefit from various Eskom contracts. Rather it should have lead to earnest self-reflection, mass action and debate within our Parliament.

Unfortunately, our daily press failed to report on the Zondo Commission Report in a manner befitting the gravity of the commission and the seriousness of its findings. One would have expected pages and pages, not simply columns narrating the facts in both chapter and verse to the public, alongside screaming headlines that characterised the 1977 Muldergate and Information Scandal which implicated then Prime Minister, B. J. Vorster.

The reduction of our paper-thin media to mere summarisation alongside anecdotal reporting and casual opinion, — where details and facts get lost under bullets and straplines, buzzwords and talk-points that essentially lead nowhere — is a minor tragedy of our age. The newsrooms which broke the Muldergate and Information Scandal are long gone. In their stead are paid sycophants, centralised editorial and lowered credibility.

It was only a matter of time before the bubble of public credulousness generated in this manner, would burst. All it took was for Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to spill the beans in a national television interview. Despite attempts by political commissars and conspiracy theorists on the ground to spin this story into a mere ‘tale of privatisation by stealth’, and worse, ‘right-wing posturing’, de Ruyter hit back with a damning Affidavit implicating the ruling party, and backed up by sworn statements by Eskom employees.

I encourage readers to listen to the audio below, in which a Daily Maverick journo refers to the cartels and a ‘territorial ruler’ currently under investigation.

Ukraine: Enter Dugmore & the Tankie Left

TANKIES are leftists who defend Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, but who are otherwise opposed to the use of tanks to resolve disputes. It is a term derived from an earlier generation of Western leftists who backed the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 — and who also defend Russia’s behavior today. It may applied to any situation of paradoxism in political outlook involving the use of state force, such as invasions, pre-emptive strikes and the like.

The ANC’s Cameron Dugmore best epitomises South Africa’s tankie left. In 1987 as UCT SRC president, he appeared on a combined ECC – IDF platform alongside then SAUJS President, Johnathan Handler. It was the first of a large group of 23 objectors, which included Christian pacifists, Jewish and also Atheist objectors

Handler opposed the use of SADF tanks in the townships, but paradoxically supported the IDF and its war in Lebanon. It was the 1982 invasion of Southern Lebanon under direction of then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon  which had lead me to a path of opposition to the use of force by the State of Israel. Of course, I naively assumed at the time, there were parallels between the SADF war in Angola and what was happening in the Middle East (you can read my response to Seth Rogen here).

This week at a combined Russian and South African gathering, hastily called to celebrate apparently ’30 years of solidarity’. Dugmore took issue with the Democratic Alliance (DA) for wanting to light up Cape Town’s public buildings in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. He also attacked what he claimed was the parties ‘refusal to debate issues to do with Palestine’.

That Dugmore shares the Russian autocrats homophobic and misogynistic worldview is not that surprising given Palestinian opposition to LGBTIQ+ rights, and the Tankie left should pause to consider that Putin is admired by Republicans on the far-right, and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish.

Russia proceeded to bomb a well-known Holocaust war-memorial yesterday, commemorating Babi Yar, a site where some 150 000 Jewish Ukrainians were massacred.

Many on twitter were quick to point out that Ukraine had also been a part of the USSR, and if anything, South Africa owes the country a debt of gratitude for its support of the anti-apartheid movement.

South Africa itself has ties with the Russian people and the former Soviet Union going back over 70 years and to World War 2 where it fought alongside the allies. The attempt to recast Putin as a contemporary savior figure has been condemned as nothing short of foolish nostalgia, the result of the ANC’s moral agnosticism.

Naledi Pandor for example was quick to jump on the ‘unconscionable racism’ experienced by many Africans attempting to flee Ukraine under martial law amidst unavoidable restrictions on travel — nothing less than ‘supporting evidence’ for Putin’s claim that he was ‘denazifying the country by invading’. (read my previous open letter to the Minister)

Poland for example has a 1 in 10 policy, only letting in 1 Foreigner for every 10 Ukrainian women and children. Africans fared a lot better at the Hungarian border, where unlike Poland, there were no far-right groups objecting to their presence.

Meanwhile a Russian millionaire offered a $1 million bounty for the arrest of Putin, stating: “As an ethnic Russian and a Russia citizen, I see it as my moral duty to facilitate the denazification of Russia. I will continue my assistance to Ukraine in its heroic efforts to withstand the onslaught of Putin’s Orda.”

And by that he means to De-Putinise Russia.

Though our own country is a partner in BRICS, (an economic block dreamt up by economists, in the same vein as FAANG, a Wall St acronym), there is little to be gained by equivocating on the issue. The government has been taken to task for being on the ‘side of the oppressor’.

The much-vaunted BRICS bank is bound to come under pressure from economic sanctions, even China has baulked at the prospect of a financial fall-out from Putin’s war, bearing in mind that the Chinese economy has just experienced a major event in the managed deflation of a stupendous property bubble.

President Xi Jinping can ill-afford to bankroll his neighbours war adventure in the Ukraine, and neither is South Africa able to afford the luxury to go it alone so far as international sanctions and pressure on Putin is concerned, –our own sovereign debt and junk rating, must rank high on the agenda of our finance minister.

South Africa chose to abstain from a UN General Assembly vote this week, condemning the Russian invasion. Pretoria may live to regret its lack of action.

Burning down the house, Zondo, Tutu, Mafe

NO SOONER had Desmond Tutu been given a rousing sendoff and funeral, when our Parliament was set ablaze, an inferno of epic proportions. This two days before the handover of volume one of the Zondo Report. It is a poignant, tragic moment in our nation’s history. Coming hot on the heels of the events of last July which saw KZN go up in flames after a failed insurrection launched by former president Jacob Zuma. It was a year which was meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Constitution.

I attended the inaugural signing of the foundation document by the first constituent assembly. A moment which ushered in the first chapter of our young democracy, and presided over by a government of national unity. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what has occurred under an embattled, diminished party, beset by factionalism, and the stench of corruption. It could not get any worse, if one launched a coup d’état of one’s own or realised the list of names implicated in state capture, include the very same individuals who in all likelihood will benefit from the massive distraction caused by the torching of the National Assembly.

Enter the proverbial scapegoat, Zandile Christmas Mafe, a man set to take responsibility for every sin committed by the ruling party in a vacuum caused by what appears to be Presidential immunity. Charges include arson, possession of stolen goods, and a growing number of allegations which could prove to be interesting from the perspective of anyone wanting to purchase a Ninja kitbag.

Not only is the Speaker and Secretary of Parliament blatantly misdirecting our attention from the turned off sprinkler systems, the failed alarms and lack of CTV monitoring, but we are now lead to believe, (this by our so-called authorities), that Mafe was carrying explosives. Next I suspect we will wake to find that Mafe is implicated in a plot to destroy the Republic in favour of the formation of Greater Pongololand, in a twisted narrative that will disguise the fact that one need look no further than Nkandla for the source of our current difficulties as a nation.

While it is clear that South Africa dodged a bullet in July, the Zuma counter-revolutionary shit-show is by no means over. We have a failed justice system to thank, one that is either incapable or unwilling to deal with the treasonous mastermind, the sinister force behind what should really be termed, the Anti-Zondo insurrection committee — those who have certainly attempted to turn this beautiful country into a feeble, tribalist homeland, merely in order to escape the implications of being named as the protagonists behind state capture.

It may be reassuring to some that Judge Zondo has recommended an ‘independent corruption agency’, free of party manipulation and executive control, but isn’t this what the Scorpions were supposed to be doing before they became the so-called Hawks?

Yet another government agency, costing millions which could turn out to be equally incapable of investigating a tuck shop heist even they are given specials powers to accomplish the task? This while the more troubling findings of the Zondo commission are steadily buried under a mountain of information and bluster, as the robust political discourse that passes for our nation’s realpolitiek takes its course?

Only time can tell whether our democratic, multi-party system will prevail over those who wish nothing more than to assert themselves as our ‘leaders in perpetuity’, who desire no less than the destruction of parliamentary authority — the end of democracy and the market economy, and its replacement by feudalism and dictatorship, all under the guise of a command economy.

Yes, we will rebuild, recover and restore our fledgling democracy, but only if the perpetrators of crimes against the state are dealt with post haste.

Time for patriots to assist the police in their duties?

SEE: Or Else, Dr Nie and the coming of the Warlords

If Biko and Plaatjie were alive today, debating non-racialism (response to Majavu)

THERE is a special place in hell reserved for those who wish to forge and revise history. A bizarre fabrication of the facts surrounding the origin of non-racialism was published in the Sunday Independent, written no less by a ‘senior lecturer in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University’.

Dr Mandisi Majavu’s fraudulent propaganda piece apparently for a stream of political thought adjacent to or associated with the ‘black consciousness’ movement, argues that the black intelligentsia ‘have consistently misread, misunderstood, and mistook white racism for something it was not – a white benefactor.”

He then descends into an unsupported and counterfeit conspiracy claim that ‘non-racialism was introduced by whites in the ANC in the 1950s leading to a further blunting of ‘the organisation’s race analysis toolbox’.

In this asinine and acerbic view, persons such as JT Jabavu, publisher of the first black newspaper Imvo ZabaNtsundu, and even critic Sol Plaatjie, were simply ‘racial accommodationists’. In the process both Jabavu and Plaatjie are stripped of human agency, mere foils for the colonial authorities.

Majavu postulates “Jabavu’s political project was aligned to the agenda of his political “masters” – the South African Party” before upbraiding his chief critic, Sol Plaatjie, written off as unashamedly contaminated by the “white liberal spell of Cape liberalism”, which Plaatjie himself described as representing “British ideas of fair play and justice”.

“Not only was Plaatjie short-sighted” alleges Majavu “when it came to the history of white racism in South Africa, he failed to appreciate what was coming next.”

Well, hang me high for suggesting that hindsight is 20/20 vision and this type of phoney syncretism begs the question — what would Plaatjie or Biko say for that matter, if they were alive today?

“Plaatjie is not the only 20th century black leader ill-equipped to understand the full meaning of the white supremacist project being advocated for by whites in early 20th century” declares Majavu who then goes on to propose:

“John Dube, first president of the ANC, subscribed to Booker T Washington’s racial accommodationist and black self-help politics.” In the process unfairly writing off both Pixley Seme and Alfred B Xuma, ‘part of the black intelligentsia who though fighting valiantly against the Native Land Act nevertheless elicited a ‘disappointing response to race segregation’.

This sets the stage for the unfounded assertion that whites were solely ‘responsible for the introduction of nonracialism’ and that persons of colour, all subjugated servants to a tee, timidly took up the baton, bearing the cudgels of universalism and monogenesis (the theory of human origins which posits a common descent for all human races). This under the egregious whip of the Church, influenced or brainwashed by missionaries and that it was the ANC which invariably became non-racialism’s foremost champion and proponent from the very start.

Majavu’s piece painfully ignores the historical tragedy of the singular fact of the struggle that it was Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who first articulated race agnosticism in any coherent fashion.

Although universal ideas such as equality and respect for human rights, alongside the paleoanthropological evidence of our common origin, may have been advocated in private by ‘white persons’ such as communist party leader Joe Slovo, the ANC of the 1950s was very much defined by the Freedom Charter, itself a document bound up with the multiracial language of the period.

Sobukwe famously stated in his United African States inaugural 1959 address, “The Africanists take the view that there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race. “

“To us the term “multi-racialism” implies that there are such basic insuperable differences between the various national groups here that the best course is to keep them permanently distinctive in a kind of democratic apartheid. That to us is racialism multiplied, which probably is what the term truly connotes.”

History demonstrates it was thus the ANC an avowedly ‘multiracial’ party which went on to adopt non-racialism at the behest of the Unity Movement and other critics of colour.

In particular my mentor and comrade, the late Dr Neville Alexander used to relate the story of how he and Mandela were prone to engage in dialogue on the issue of the race question, whilst breaking lime stone in the quarry and incarcerated on Robben Island .

Speaking on the position of the ‘Unity Movement,’ Alexander’s view was that there was a ‘common stream of humanity, not separate and distinct streams as the racists would have it’.

The journey of both the ANC and the Rainbow Nation is thus an epic one from the multiracialism of the 1950s to the non-racialism of the new South African Constitution, a document whose preamble enshrines an elegant and powerful idea alongside recognition of the injustices of the past.

Would Steve Biko be a non-racialist if he were alive today? I think he would most definitely support non-racialism in its far-reaching appeal to end race discrimination, at the same time that he pointed out that ‘blackness is not the result of skin pigmentation but rather a reflection of a mental attitude’.

If Jabavu, Dube, and Pixley Seme were alive, perhaps they would be upbraiding the ANC for neglect of its allies in the freedom struggle, its avoidance of the universal imperatives of the Preamble to our nation’s Constitution and its abject failure to chart a coherent vision, free from corruption.

Given the adverse conditions under which those opposed to the apartheid state found ourselves, I find Majavu’s fraudulent attempt to malign non-racialism as an ‘all-white affair’ morally reprehensible and beneath contempt, since the facts certainly do not support the above conjecture.

[David Robert Lewis is an anti-apartheid activist and graduate of the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town]

[Published in a radacted form by Sunday Independent, 14/2/21]

Rugby World Cup: Non-Racialism vs Multi-Racialism

BEFORE a global audience of millions, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanked the nation following his side’s historic Rugby World Cup win on Saturday. So far as Kolisi was concerned, this was yet another miracle, a wonderful example of ‘the different races working together‘ he said, to bring an historic victory that recaptured the spirit of the 1995 rugby world cup.

The interview was soon followed up by news reports with headings such as ‘Boks thrive on racial unity‘.

If it all seemed a little contrived, former adversaries segregated under apartheid making good on the promise of reconciliation by bringing victory, not simply in green and gold, but black and white, under the first black captain to do so, then you’re probably in the same boat.

Government officials, including the president, had made no bones about the opportunity for nation-building presented by a third victory in Yokohama.

And yet little more than two weeks ago, former President Thabo Mbeki had put pen to paper, to write an opinion-piece, berating the opposition DA, and fedex chair Helen Zille for deploying the exact same multi-racial ‘race-speak’ as the springbok captain. The DA’s twisted explanations of the controversial events surrounding the resignation of several prominent black members from the party, including Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane are public record.

It appears Mbeki wished “to emphasise that, consistent with our Constitution, all our registered political formations have an absolute obligation practically to contribute to the national effort to make ours a non-racial country.

It was thus Zille’s badly thought out statement:  “There are racists of all races in South Africa” which jarred when it came to the outspoken non-racialism articulated by the ruling party, and for which Mbeki was now going so far as to remind other political formations, that there was also in effect, a constitutional imperative to reject multi-racialism.

If what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, why wasn’t Kolisi’s aftermatch statement equally jarring as Zille’s, despite a winning game? Why was it okay for a black man to refer to separate and distinct races, but the same didn’t apply to a white woman?

And please forgive me, why is race and racism here, starting to sound like a definition of straight marriage, right out of the period of gay prohibition? In other words, racism can only be experienced by a person defined as black by apartheid race classification, circular logic if ever there was one?

It should be remembered, that history also records the epic journey from the ‘multi-racialism’ of the Freedom Charter to the ‘non-racialism’ of our Bill of Rights. Indeed, the ANC were not the first to articulate such a progressive vision, the late Robert Sobukwe founder of the PAC, went so far as to assert before Mandela adopted this type of language during the period of reconciliation, “ there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race”, and similarly,”multiracialism is racism multiplied”.

That the then multiracial ANC of the 1950s found itself in power as avowed non-racialists in the 1990s, while the much larger, at the time, PAC is in danger of withering away in the ranks of the opposition is no small lesson of history.

Which brings one to the point invariably raised here, that of semantics, is this all just nitpicking about words, and was Kolisi not entitled to make his remarks, as was Zille?

Not if one believes in South African exceptionalism — that we have somehow overcome the race question as a nation of non-racialists, at least on paper.

Not if one wishes to adopt a scientific approach to the problem of race, since, correctly there is no race when it comes to Humans, (as the recent National Geographic Race Issue, suggested, the matter has been laid to rest for quite some time). Bare in mind that the multi-regionalist theory of human evolution has been resoundingly shot down by mainstream scientists along with much South African paleontological research on the basis of race, conducted prior to the 1980s.

And certainly not if one wishes to remain consistent as a patriot with the non-racial principles governing our constitution instead of practising double standards. (It is still a mystery why our jingoistic media and captured legal system continues to operate on the assumption of race and despite the law).

Thus what Kolisi might have said differently, if he didn’t have a coach like “Rassie Erasmus” whose name itself is a strange cipher for race, and if we were not so obsessed with categorising differences and separating people into ‘race’ groups?  Surely a project doomed to failure? And yet one quixotically given sanction despite our constitution, by certain racist legal authorities who deserve to be outed.

Kolisi could have said: ‘We all came together in our differences’, or ‘our people as a nation have differences but we are essentially all the same’, instead he chose to walk the same path as Helen Zille in articulating race as a conceptual framework through which we view our world. So much for the game of rugby.

And ditto the great South African experiment in non-racialism, i.e the absence of race-based thinking.

For all the springboks prowess on the field, one cannot help wondering why there was no coaching on the tricky subject of anti-racism especially when it came to a captain delivering a message to the entire world? And a team which just a brief few hours prior to winning the world cup, had received a pep talk from none other than President Ramaphosa himself?

And surely if we believe Mbeki, that ours is a country based upon the premise and promise of a non-racial future?

Which leaves us with another Sobukwe gem also taken from the 1959 Opening Address at the Africanist Inaugural Convention: “In Afrika the myth of race has been propounded and propagated by the imperialists and colonialists from Europe, in order to facilitate and justify their inhuman exploitation of the indigenous people of the land. It is from this myth of race with its attendant claims of cultural superiority that the doctrine of white supremacy stems”.

A myth indeed.

published in Weekend Argus, Sunday Independent & Pretoria News

Dear Extinction Generation

IT WAS June of 1991, the apartheid government had just unbanned political parties such as the ANC and PAC, exiles were returning to the country, and negotiations towards a new democratic dispensation were in full sway. The First National Conference on Environment & Development, organised by myself and my colleagues from the Cape Town Ecology Group (CTEG) and World Council on Religion and Peace (WCRP) was being held at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

It was here that the campaign to include sustainable development in our country’s new constitution came to a head, with a mandate to ‘ecologise politics and politicise ecology’.

Solly Skosana of the PAC was of the view that ‘land apartheid had not disappeared and that a constituent assembly was the only mechanism in which environmental concerns over land distribution would be able to be addressed.’

There was consensus among delegates that unequal land distribution was a major cause of environmental problems in South Africa and that the land itself needed protection under the law.

Speaking on behalf of the ANC, Cheryl Carolus criticised the lack of political involvement by environmentalists in the past and made the point that her decision to get involved in politics had ‘arisen out of a desire to empower herself and to regain control over her environment.’

The issue of workers’ involvement in environmental issues was taken up by Nosey Peterse of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) who told delegates: “You can talk about environmental degradation but while you talk workers are losing their jobs because of environmental degradation.”

It was here too that I stood on a podium alongside Mike Kantey of Earthlife Africa, Ebrahim Rasool of WCRP and Julia Martin of CTEG, with delegates from across the political spectrum, to rally against apartheid while calling for a future in which the needs of future generations would not be compromised by the demands of our own generation.

As the conference drew to a close, we had no inkling of the dire consequences our nation would be facing today, with water shortages, air pollution and threatened ecosystems, nor did we realise back then, what it would take. Our actions back then simply introducing article 24 of our Constitution, enshrining Earth Rights, to impact and affect climate change and the lives of those yet to be born.

It was thus a twisted and tortuous politics which saw successive appointments of environmental ministers, from then Minister of Environment General Magnus Malan, to Dawid de Villiers, Pallo Jordan, Valli Moosa, Marthinus van Schalkwyk and Edna Molewa, each taking the credit for the groundbreaking inclusion of ‘ecological sustainable development’ in our nation’s constitution, and yet collectively responsible for the allied policies of the ruling party. Despite becoming the first country to include the environment in its bill of rights, the party proceeded to pave the way for mega coal projects, increasing of GHG emissions and lowering of air pollution standards.

You can read about the campaign to put Earth Rights into South Africa’s constitution here.

At the same time that the Mbeki administration was hosting the 2002 WSSD (the acclaimed “Earth Summit’ which produced very little of real substance) the ANC was promoting a crackpot policy sans physics which became known as ‘peak, plateau and decline‘. A neat phrase cooked up by the DEAT to describe a strange new political compromise between our constitutional imperatives, ‘the needs of the future’, and the diktat of the fossil fuel industry, in particular the opportunities (read curse) presented by our own country possessing abundant supplies of coal.

Thus when Min Gwede Mantashe opened a new colliery, while myopically claiming: “our vast coal deposits cannot be sterilised simply because we have not exploited technological innovations to use them,” he was articulating this self-same policy. It describes the apparent trade-offs to be made — ramping up our GHG in the short to medium term, so that we are on par with the West economically speaking, before reaching an abstract ‘plateau’, whereupon we will by some act of the imagination, decline our GHG profile (perhaps via slight of hand and creative accounting) — the introduction of a Carbon Tax, is yet unproven.

Every year, the time frame for the plateau and reduction of local GHG targets has been shifted, while the much vaunted Carbon Tax is slow on the uptake and still being implemented. The Climate Change Bill introduced in 2018, focuses on mitigation and adaptation as opposed to implementing a drastic about turn in energy policies.  Bare in mind the Carbon tax is an economic charge which Greenpeace has said, will not be ‘effective enough and far from adequate’.

Every policy decision thus far made by the ruling party, has been on the basis of the bad maths of these mantras introduced without much scientific consensus, and there is no precedent.

After negotiating a COP-out deal at Paris, which has allowed our country to continue with business as usual — South Africa’s pledge under the Paris Climate Agreement is ranked as “highly insufficient” — we are left with a Promethean struggle involving several massive coal mega-projects versus the reality of today. At 510.2377 mtCO2e pa our GHG profile is currently on par with the UK, a country with a population of 66 million people, as we begin to exceed the West in air pollution. Our country has been criticised internationally for “ delaying the development of policies to cut emissions.

It is thus with some sadness and poignancy that I read a letter addressed to our president and signed by some 50 local environmental organisations, demanding ‘an emergency sitting of Parliament to deliberate on the recently issued UN report on 1.5°C increase in planetary temperature and its implications for South African climate change policy.’

This while 300 kids marched from Parliament to the City Hall in Cape Town last Friday, to hand over a memorandum demanding government take “immediate action on the climate crises”. Following a mass demonstration on 15 March where thousands of school learners protested, calling on government to act against climate change. In various parts of the Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, where “youth collectives are meeting to learn about climate justice and organise, “writes Alex Lenferna

“Outside of the Union Buildings, young people rallied and delivered a petition to the president calling for climate justice now.”

Instead of declaring a climate crisis, President Ramaphosa, has chosen to skedaddle and bamboozle with stats and an unhelpful allusion to the climate problem during SONA. The government clearly lacks any real programme to deal with the crisis. This is not the first time that the ruling party has attempted to colour itself with the revelry of the green movement.

Stating that the President’s  ‘recognition of the climate crisis is the first step to fundamental change“, as a 17-year-old environmental activist Ruby Simpson does, is expecting a serial climate change denialist, to suddenly get science and find Gaia, because the reality is our nation’s policy of ‘peak, plateau and decline‘ is founded upon a tragic denial of the existential threats facing our planet and its people.

Regrettably, one can only express skepticism of presidential lip-service, uttered with pro-coal cynicism — successive ANC Presidents and their cabinets have shown themselves to ‘talk green, but walk with coal’. One has only to witness the abject failure of the President to address the detailed requirements of a ‘just transition’, and thus his startling refusal to acknowledge the implicit question of ‘whose justice?’

Without an immediate adoption of a climate emergency, articulated by the 2011 Durban Declaration, there can be no justice. And without a complete u-turn in our energy policies, there will be no future for our country.

Socialism under the ANC begat state capture, graft, corruption …

THAT IT would all go so horribly wrong for the African National Congress is best demonstrated by comments made by Moletsi Mbeki on national television. The ANC he says is really a conglomeration of competing, ‘factions acting in their own self-interest’.

What unites the party, aside from its competing sectarian and nationalist aims, is its avowedly ‘socialist character’. Problem is, wherever socialism has been tried in Africa, it has failed. Whether Tanzania under Nyerere, or Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah, South Africa’s experiment with socialism and the so-called ‘mixed economy’ under the ANC has fared no better.

While a successful roll-out of a social wage, has arguably made the ruling party, the envy of the rest of Africa, the word socialism itself, does not appear in the party’s constitution as such.

Socialism so far as the ANC is concerned, and as its policies demonstrate, has more in common with the socialism (or volkskapitalisme) under the former white Nationalist regime, than multifarious examples across the continent. In both instances, economic policies aimed at reducing inequality (in the latter example, the inequality experienced by poor white Afrikaners) ended up unfairly benefiting the party faithful — well-positioned insiders who sought to ‘take control of the commanding heights of the economy’, and who in turn created opportunities for graft, self-enrichment, maladministration, corruption and ‘state capture’.

of the Free Market Foundation argues “corruption is a feature and not a bug of socialism. Every socialist system is guaranteed to have a high level of corruption.

“The reason why a socialist system can never work” says i  “is the trade-off that has to happen at the heart of it – individual liberty in exchange for more power given to the state.” The fatal flaw inherent to party centrism and a dominant government promoting statism, (read ‘economic intervention’ via ‘state-owned-enterprises’) — has been endless bureaucracy, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and a never-ending litany of corrupt officialdom.

The latest revelations from the Zondo commission paint an appalling picture of a socialist-leaning administration in which political bribes of well-known politicians, cabinet members and officials have become the order of the day, and not merely during the tenure of Jacob Zuma but also under current and prior administrations and thus grand larceny by, and on behalf of, socialists — ideologically-driven corruption which continues to manifest under the Ramaphosa government.

The Bosassa debacle comes after the revelations of the VBS bank saga, and the 2018 indictment of former president Zuma on corruption charges. For analysis of the impact on the economy, one need look no further than the corruption scandals plaguing South Africa’s SOEs in effect all ‘State-owned bureaucracies’.

Eskom on its own has created a massive and embarrassing debt bubble, which risks upsetting the entire economy, and whose economic fallout is still being bankrolled by consumers locked into demands for annual 15% pa rates increases. Latest figures, show a massive impending R100bn bailout by treasury.

The central party, unable to deliver coherent economic policy, hamstrung by unions hooked on fossil fuels, oil and gas cartels, and equally inept socialist partners, and compounded by the perceived need to reign in a boisterous far-left opposition grouping, has resorted to ‘lekgotla‘ after lekgotla‘, each one promising action.

A party plenary held over the weekend, promised to finally to breakup the state power supply entity into competing parts, all begging the question as to why a lot more was not accomplished in the past 25 year of ANC rule to boost efficiency, and at very least avoid the current dire situation?

SEE: Defend South Africa’s Social Wage

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.

From NDP to Junk status without a Plan (or even a paddle) in three easy steps

ANYBODY remember the National Development Plan (NDP)? The economic initiative was the hallmark of successive ANC administrations. As late as January 2017 the plan was being touted as a vision for 2030, “the product of hundreds of interactions with South Africans, input from tens of thousands of people, extensive research and robust debate throughout the country”. When Pravin Gordhan was hastily recalled from London, whilst on an economic roadshow, it was the NDP, with its broad vision that he was selling to investors.

The markets were reassured by the long-term stability promised by Pretoria bureaucrats, and, after the Nene fiasco, (a foretaste of what was to come) not only was the economy in recovery, but the currency was even experiencing a bull-run, making the Rand one of the world-beating currencies of 2017, at least this was until President Jacob Zuma fired his finance Minister again, and then half-his cabinet while embarking on a course which took South Africa directly into the headwinds of currency volatility and the ire of ratings agencies. Within a short space of a week, the gains and momentum of the past 12 months were wiped out, as local banks lost heavily, and borrowing money on international markets suddenly became a lot, lot harder.

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What happened? Can one put this down to the simple cult of personality surrounding the President? The Guptas and the intrigues of Nkandla and Pretoria, or BRICS?  Here is one alternative version of events, and no doubt there will be others:

Frustrated by electoral inroads being made to the left and right of the party, the centrist ANC realised that something drastic needed to be done. Instead of meeting the official opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) whose market-friendly policies and promise of renewal had resulted in astonishing gains at the polls, in both the City of Johannesburg and metros of Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, NEC party insiders decided to quietly drop the NDP focus in favour of a new mantra —  that of ‘Radical Economic Transformation’ (RET)

In effect, the ANC were now adopting the policies of the far-left Economic Freedom Front (EFF), promising massive changes in ownership, whilst debating expropriation of property without compensation,  (an all too familiar bait and switch strategy) and thus a sure sign that groups such as Black Land First (BLF) were also beginning to dictate the ruling party agenda. Exactly what RET represents, is anyone’s guess. In all likelihood, it is mere code for a hodge-podge of incoherent leftist policies. If the ANC is to survive at the polls come 2019, it will have to enter into coalitions, and the dilemma remains that the DA and EFF are on opposite sides of the political fence so to speak.

The resulting drift to the far-left by the ANC under Zuma (even if by some accounts, simply empty promises) has had severe consequences. The fallout couldn’t get any worse than if Hugo Chavez had to suddenly arrive back from the dead, flogging the statist focus of big government and the anti-private property rhetoric which nearly destroyed Venezuela. So while ratings agencies were hammering the bond market, and the parastatals were still on life-support, we saw the travesty of Malusi Gigaba and the trillion-Rand nuclear debacle (read: expensive mega-projects) getting everyone in a tizz.

Unless Pretoria figures out a way to print money without encouraging further Rand depreciation, the big bucks flagship projects and renewable energy procurement touted before the downgrade are all but DOA. The only questions remains: Can the NDP be saved (or scaled back?), or will it take a defeat at the polls to realise, that when it comes to economic policy, nothing in South Africa is cast in stone? That the ANC is unlikely to be in power come 2019, with a workable NDP or not, is slowly dawning. Some 100 000 people from across the spectrum, marched on Friday while calling for the President to resign.