Several weeks have passed since our reporter was arrested, held without access to his lawyer for eight hours, awoken for interrogation at 2.30 AM and finally released on the orders of the High Court. Not one single person in the government has expressed regret at how this incident was handled. There has been not one whisper of sympathy from those who are in a position to take a stand on this matter. I find that sad.
It suggests to me that there is consensus in the ruling party and amongst those in leadership elsewhere in society that this sort of treatment of a journalist is acceptable.
But what makes me feel a terrible emptiness is the continuation of the legislative and administrative onslaught on the press by way of the Protection of Information Bill and the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal because this is being done despite an incredible public outcry.
Opposition to these measures has come from every single newspaper editor in the country, from the World Editors Forum and the World Association of Newspapers – bodies which speaks on behalf of editors from the South China Morning Post to the New York Times – from the country’s leading authors, from diplomats including the US Ambassador to South Africa, from vice chancellors of universities, from the General Council of the Bar, which questions their constitutionality, from opposition political parties, from the business organisation representing our top 50 corporations and from countless others in civil society.
Yet there is a steadfast determination to proceed with these measures.
This suggests that there is a dangerous hubris taking hold within the ruling party. It believes that it alone is the arbiter of what is right or wrong in public policy. That the intellectuals and the editors are opposed to the measure merely feeds this feeling of standing alone for a righteous cause.
We are told that “the people” want this change and the intellectuals are resisting it. Apparently out there people are angry at the fact that corrections are published on page four instead of page three of the newspapers. Apparently the people are angry that documents are being leaked. We are supposed to believe that day and night they are begging the ruling party to take action and that this is now a national political priority.
In fact, nothing of the sort is taking place. There is no grassroots anger at the media, unless you include that which occurs when populist leaders call for it at meetings.
All of this is sophistry of the worst kind.
What is being manufactured in the mind of the public is a popular uprising against intellectuals. What is being concealed is an attack by a wealth-accumulating elite on those who questions their bona fides as champions of the poor.
It is deeply worrying. It is sad and it leaves me feeling empty.
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women some known, some obscure to all but those they help to be far more deserving of this honor than I. Read More…
IT happened again this weekend. In the Eastern Cape, the crowd sang disparaging songs about an ANC leader contesting an election and, following a fractious meeting, a bruised winner emerged.
While worrying over the goings-on in the Eastern Cape ANC should not keep the nation awake at night, we would do well to pause at the return of an old problem.
Jacob Zuma has barely completed six months in office and already there is extensive discussion about who should take over from the current leadership.
So much so that the SACP, which is normally comfortable with political infighting, has found it necessary to warn that there are those out to oust the current ANC leadership.
The ANC’s opponents might allow themselves a quiet chuckle at these sorts of shenanigans, but they would be short-sighted to do so.
South Africa does not need a ruling party that expends its energy on internal politicking at the expense of the nation.
We simply cannot afford the sort of stagnation that gripped the country while Zuma and former President Thabo Mbeki fought it out for the leadership of the party and of the country.
What is absent from our political life is a method of determining succession which is procedurally defined and timed to minimise the disruption of government.
Perhaps we should consider adopting the US notion of “primaries” in the year leading up to an election. It is far better for candidates to slug it out in public over their policy stances than for them to stealthily assassinate one another’s character under the cover of political darkness.
Politicians who have nothing better to do than plot their way to the top are dragging down those who want to see progress.
An extract from the input given by Venezualan president, Hugo Chavez’s media briefing with South African president, Thabo Mbeki:
Fortunately the attempt to impose on the world hegemony and uni-polar world has failed. In the horizon we can see rising a multi-polar world, and that is precisely the world we need. The bi-polar was terrible to the third world. The short uni-polar world was even worse to the whole world. Today we are in the midst of a terrible crisis all over the world – a financial crisis; an economic crisis; a food crisis; an energy crisis; an ecological crisis and a moral crisis. It is a systematic, a general crisis. VIDEO ON NEXT PAGE Read More…
RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has blamed the US for the war in Georgia, saying it failed to halt Georgian aggression against Russian peacekeepers.
According to a CNN report: “Putin told CNN it was done to benefit a presidential candidate.”
The report went on: “Putin said Russia had no choice but to invade Georgia after some of its peacekeepers in South Ossetia were killed.”
Then, in a somewhat bizarre aside, Putin said that 19 US poultry companies had been banned from selling chickens to Russia for health and safety reasons. All this was totally unrelated to Georgia, he said.
And so the new cold war was born.
TODAY history has been made in the US where Barack Obama has been officially nominated to run on for Democratic Party in this November’s presidential election.
His nomination was a foregone conclusion, but it nonetheless signals a watershed moment in American politics.
Obama has not only shattered a racial glass ceiling, but he has re-energised the world about the possibility of a different America, which once more enjoys the admiration of the world.
But expectations should not be too high.
There are very real limits to what Obama will be able to do for Africa.
He will first have to win the race against Republican John McCain, who will be nominated shortly.
In order to do so, he will have to win over voters who are enduring – by their standards – harsh economic times.
He will have to propose ways in which local jobs can be stimulated or protected from migrating abroad.
He will have to rescue the domestic economy.
Some of the resources to do this will result from the reduction in spending on the Iraq war.
All of this inward focus on American jobs, will make it difficult for Obama to further open US markets to foreign trade without paying a political price.
In short, don’t expect progress on global trade agreements with Africa, the only long-term, sustainable way to provide this continent with hope.
Not that it would be any different under McCain, who will face the same pressures should he take office.
The major dividend of an Obama presidency will be to relieve the world of the burden of an aggressive American foreign policy which has alienated much of the world.
The battle for open trade will remain as difficult as ever as an inward looking America places job protection first.
BARACK Obama will this week be formally nominated to stand as the Democratic Party’s candidate for US president in elections at the end of this year.
He will be the first black candidate to stand for this position and the weight of expectation from the developing world is growing.
But what can we realistically expect a US president to do for Africa?
It’s actually very simple. South Africa’s mantra has always been “trade, not aid” and Obama would do well to listen to that message.
Giving Africa fair access to American markets will do far more for this continent than hand-outs. But it carries a political price.
It would of course, be wrong for the US to suddenly pull out of its aid commitments to Africa. Many very good causes that are saving lives would suffer. But when it comes to how the relationship should grow going forward, there can be no doubt that trade needs to open up.
Trade terms that allow African products to compete in the regulated US and European markets will build the continent’s processing and manufacturing sectors, where real jobs will be created.
But economics is a zero-sum game and those jobs will be created at the expense of American jobs if they are in areas where uncompetitive American practices are being protected. That’s the political price that someone like Obama must be prepared to pay in exchange for throwing a much-needed economic lifeline to an entire continent.
Writing for YaleGlobal Online, Mustapha Nabli put it like this:
A key lesson from the last four decades is that trade, not aid, holds the key to successful development. Any one not convinced of this should look at the experience of East Asia, and especially China, where trade has helped 400 million people escape poverty in the past 20 years.
The potential global gains from full trade liberalization are enormous, in the range of $290 – $460 billion per year by 2015. Even this may underestimate the true gains since it does not include the substantial, but hard to measure, benefits from services liberalization and trade facilitation. The current trade talks are a significant opportunity for global progress toward this goal.
This opportunity is critical for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Multilateral trade liberalization – under a trade round named for a MENA city – offers the best hope for the region to achieve sustainable higher growth and make a serious dent in its unemployment problem.
This from reader Sera Jones: A blog called wisegeek did a tally and, yup, the Soviet Union would have walked away with 171 medals from the Beijing Olympics had it not broken up into 15 separate states. That’s 61 more medals than the US which won the medal tally.
At first blush, it suggests that the old communist regime was the greatest sporting power. But then, if you think about it a little more, the truth is that the satellite nations are doing better now that they are free from central control. At sport. Actually at most things.