I am extremely privileged to extend the warmest welcome on behalf of His Excellency President Zuma and all South Africans. We appreciate your decision to hold the second Africa Water Week in South Africa. I would hazard that each time you convene as AMCOW; the issues at hand are more pressing and much more demanding than they were on any previous occasion.
It used to be that in governments, the responsibility for water was unfashionable. This is no longer the case. It certainly is true that water was even the butt of jokes few analysts forget Mark Twain’s famous remark, “whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over.” Most decision-makers now fully appreciate the interconnectedness of water to the developmental challenge, very few laugh at Mark Twain’s remark because in many parts of Africa, water is truly for fighting over.
There is this deep, if playful poem by Kenneth Boulding, a now-departed economist that reads:
* Water is politics, water’s religion
* Water is just about anyone’s pigeon
* Water is tragical, water is comical
* Water is far from the pure economical. Read More…
IT should come as no surprise that Jacob Zuma has publicly endorsed the leadership qualities of Julius Malema. They are both after all the creations of a populist movement that place “the people” at the center of power.
Of course only certain people can magically understand what the people are thinking, usually those that shout the loudest and are the fastest to conjur up demons for the people to exorcise.
The demons (for there are two types) that are currently being exorcised by Zuma and Malema – on behalf of the people, of course – are the rag-tag remnants of the defeated Mbeki faction, whether they be local government councillors in Tshwane or Standerton or intellectuals such as Joel Netshitenzhe and Kader Asmal.
The former type of demon is not really worth defending. They have messed up local government and for years they have been untouchable. They deserve to be tarred and feathered. Provided of course that those that replace them are able to turn things around and not introduce a fresh round of incompetence with new beneficiaries reporting to a different master. The jury is still out on that.
But the second variety of demon is more complex.
To describe Netshitenzhe and Asmal as Mbeki cronies is an act of both callousness and calculated ignorance.
Netshitenzhe has always been a dyed-in-the-wool ANC operative. He has been one of very few who have resisted the trappings of high office, staying away from the power and money that comes with Cabinet appointments or business deals. He has stuck to his guns as the ANC ‘s leading intellectual light, delivering some of the most telling criticisms of government’s failings without flinching.
He has done so with humour, with insight and with an engaging ability to think laterally.
That he should be charicatured as a man who must “cleanse” himself for his political sins – as Malema’s Youth League has done – is grotesque.
So too are the assaults on Asmal. While in office Asmal was responsible for many of the ethical measures against which we were able as a nation to judge those in office.
Without him MPs and Cabinet ministers would not be forced to report their shareholdings and gifts to the public.
He established civillian control over government’s arms business, a strategy which worked when Nelson Mandela was president, but which waned under the leadership of Mbeki and Zuma where the political will to place human rights high on the agenda vaporised in the heat of opportunism.
What Malema’s Youth League appears to be doing is to set the scene for an assault on intellectuals – those who are critical of their rise to power, those who do not accept their reactionary racial stereotyping, those who want South Africa’s discourse to advance in the face of growing political thuggery.
Zuma appears ambivalent – he publicly praised Netshitenzhe, but it was he who demoted him and effectively driving him from the presidential office.
But this ambivalence is superficial. Out there with the masses, Zuma cannot resist hitching his bandwagon to populism.
At a rally with Malema, he is quoted in The Star newspaper saying: “Some of us are no longer young, and when we go across the mountain in terms of age, we are happy that when we go on, the organisation will remain in real hands of [those] who will think about the people. The ANC recognises talent and leadership and we give people an opportunity.”
And: “Julius has illustrated that he is indeed a good leader and that he understands the people.”
What a load of nonsense. For one thing, the people’s grievances about a lack of delivery have been very well understood by even the most junior researcher at the HSRC for over a decade and have even formed the basis of election campaigning in two general elections.
For another, “leadership” has not been shown by Malema. All he’s done is follow the baying crowd around, his eyes lighting up with the maginifent realisation that he has discovered a path to power.
Real leadership would be to demand the punishment by the law enforcement agencies of those who destroy property or threaten lives when they protest.
Mao persecuted and then demolished his political enemies by drawing a distinction between “actual socialism” and “dictatorial socialism”. Are we at the start of a culutural revolution?
PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA PAYS TRIBUTE TO JOEL NETSHITENZHE
President Jacob Zuma today paid tribute to the contribution made by Joel Netshitenzhe, Director-General of the Policy and Coordination Services (PCAS) in the Presidency, who has resigned to pursue other interests.
Netshitenzhe will leave the Presidency at the end of December 2009, and will during this period continue performing his functions and assisting with the handover process. He has previously served under Presidents Mandela, Mbeki and Motlanthe. Read More…
ON the face of it, it is a simple decision for President Jacob Zuma. He should deny Schabir Shaik a pardon because Shaik committed exactly the sort of crime that Zuma (without the slightest sense of irony) has committed himself to eradicating.
Add to that the fact that if he pardons Shaik it looks very very much like a friend abusing his office to pay back a debt.
But what if Zuma were to deny the pardon? How does that play out there? Here is a man who was jailed for his part in transactions with Zuma. Would it not be cold to leave him with a criminal record while Zuma enjoys the fruits of high office and has no blot on his record?
This really is a cleft stick and my money is on Zuma recusing himself and delegating the decision if he can find a legal way to do this.
SOUTH Africa has just learned about the high cost of ill-considered populism the hard way.
Olga Kekana, an innocent young woman who was out partying has been shot dead by police who opened fire on a car they mistook for a hijacked vehicle.
Why did they do so?
The answer is simple: A very strong message has been sent to policemen on the street that they will be politically protected if they shoot and kill dangerous criminals.
Then deputy Safety and Security Minister, Susan Shabangu, put it this way: “You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility. Your responsibility is to serve and protect.”
This is a strong message to the police that they can shoot first and ask questions later.
These sorts of comments have since been repeated by other government leaders, including the Commissioner of Police, Bheki Cele and President Jacob Zuma himself.
Zuma has been at pains to stress that he does not want “trigger happy” police.
But he did not mince his words when he told a gathering of police station commanders that it was open season on armed criminals.
The tragic shooting at Mabopane has sobered the politicians up and they are now trying to spin-doctor their way out this mess.
They should think long and hard about their failure to provide proper leadership and the consequences of throwing fuel on the populist fire.
There is mounting evidence that the police are setting ambushes and blowing away people they believe to be criminals as if they have been given the power over life and death. Crime is awful and we need tough action. We don’t need more crime committed by the police.
This from a commenter on this blog calling himself Ian Doha:
President Zuma – you mentioned ongoing meetings with the public sector. The public sector has shown its inability to deal with crime over and over. It is time to draw in private sector resources to a greater extent -not guards, but their planning capability, like at BAC and SABRIC, to name only two.
To raise the numbers of policemen by 20-odd thousand is not going to get results – focusing on developing their capabilities will. Read up a bit on capabilities-based planning as approached by especially military forces elsewhere.
Throwing more money at Forensic Science Laboratories will be meaningless unless the people’s capabilities are developed, or better people recruited. From personal experience I know that the equipment is there but the majority of the personnel do not even know how to use standard computer software.
Changing the name of the service to a force (a) harkens back to the apartheid years, and (b) will by itself do nothing to promote effectiveness – only more money to be spent on changing stationary, vehicle signage etc. The same goes for the rank structure. By the way Mr. President, the name “inspector” is world-wide recognised as a police rank.
Cash in transit heists – the private sector, under the auspices of the SARB, have now for 5 years been given time to sort out their business and to ensure that they self-regulate and put proper standards in place. This has obviously failed so government regulation should be the next step. Use the best practise standards of a company like SBV and enforce it throughout. This will soon get rid of the fly-by-nights.
It is good and well to talk up a storm about action that wil be taken against poor station commanders, but it is time that you start making some examples. Some of these commanders are literaly getting away with murder.
Your refer to the crime stats as showing “considerable progress”. Well, I suggest you talk to the head of crime statistics and find out exactly how the stats are calculated – it will make your blood curdle. Then engage the banking sector and insurance sector to obtain the real levels of fraud in only those environments. The police commercial crime stats only relate to reported cases.
In the final analysis the problem of crime can be traced back to the following five issues: (1) the porous borders (see the contribution of foreigners to inter alia fraud, CIT, bank robberies); (2) lack of visible policing; (3) an ineffective prosecution system; (4) lack of properly embarking on PPP strategies harnessing the private sector (despite the fact that you all say you do); (5) failure to recognise that most of the trio crimes are organised in nature, and dealing with it accordingly.
Couldn’t have put it better myself. Thanks Ian
COSATU’s general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, has made himself available for election to the ANC’s top leadership structures in 2012. This despite an appeal from Jacob Zuma that the succession issue be taken off the agenda.
Zuma went so far as to say he would “name and shame” those behind moves to unseat ANC leaders. He didn’t, but Vavi has put his hand up and openly begun campaigning.
His candidature suggests that the left wants more than the alliance partner role it currently has. It is seriously unimpressed with what it describes as Zuma’s “kitchen cabinet” with nemesis Trevor Manuel in the chief planning role.
Vavi has broken (refreshingly) with the ANC’s long-standing tradition of not expressing ambition for high office and the gauntlet has been thrown down in public.
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions is asserting itself. It has claimed, with some justification, that President Jacob Zuma owes his rise to power to the left and now it wants it’s pound of flesh.
It has chosen Trevor Manuel and his planning commission as its battleground.
The left was happy with Zuma’s decision to appoint trade unionist Ebrahim Patel as his Economic Planning Minister. But the smile was wiped off their faces when Zuma announced that Manuel was to become the head of a planning commission situated in his office, a position which trumped that of Patel in influence and seniority.
Last week Maneul released a green paper outlining his vision for the commission. It followed his medium term strategic framework which mapped out how he envisaged government going forward.
Now Cosatu wants the whole green paper chucked out and redrafted. It resolved to “vigourously engage” the ANC over the paper, which Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi described as a “massive turf battle in Cabinet”.
ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe has already warned against the focuss on Manuel, saying such a focus on an individual was “always a dangerous act for an organisation.”
Will Zuma hold the line or will it finally be payback-time for the left alliance that got him into office?
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has laid down the law to Cabinet ministers lobbying for the appointment of Siyabonga Gama as chief executive of Transnet. And he has warned that those who want Judge John Hlophe on the Constitutional Court should not “overdo it”
Zuma didn’t mention names, but both Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda have publicly backed Gama for the job.
Zuma said: “There is a minister dealing with this. Whoever has made a statement in public, it is unfortunate.”
The minister in charge is Barbara Hogan who has pointed out that Gama is not necessarily the front-runner for this job.
Zuma appears to be growing into the presidential role and his willingness to chide his ministers bodes well for his promise to performance manage them out of their jobs if they don’t perform.
THE relationship between the ANC and the official opposition DA could be set for a new, more politically mature phase, if the words of DA leader Helen Zille are anything to go by.
It was not long ago that she was running an election campaign with the slogan “Stop Zuma”. And then she publicly attacked Zuma for his sexual behaviour.
But, following a meeting yesterday, Zille appeared unable to summon negative energy.
“If you sit one-on-one with President Jacob Zuma it is hard not to like him. He is a warm and engaging person and I can’t say he isn’t.”
She went further: “A meeting with President Zuma is always friendly. It’s hard even to fight with him when you are disagreeing strongly.”
And she added this: “There were many points on which we differed quite strongly, but I didn’t get the feeling at any point that President Zuma was saying ‘We are not listening to you’.”
Then the cherry on top: “I could run an entire campaign saying stop Zuma and he will meet you and be warm and affable and friendly. Now it’s hard not to like a person like that.”
Zuma has been big enough to accept Zille despite some nasty personal (and out-of-character) attacks.
And Zille has been big enough to change her approach and signal the start of a different kind of politics.
Can this be translated into a more mature national political debate where there is strong disagreement, but an acceptance of the personal bona fides of leaders on both sides? This would be long overdue and would turn the tide on the name calling that has passed for public debate until now.
I see green shoots.