17th Aug2015

ANC Women’s League: Out of Touch, Out of Mind?

by admin

Sandiswa Sondzaba writes about the election of the ANC Women’s League new President, Bathabile Dlamini, and evaluates the extent to which they are capable of addressing the many challenges that affect ordinary South African women.

The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) has stated that it is now ready for a female President. This is great news, especially when considering the fact that the league’s former president, Angie Motshekga, has previously expressed apprehension at South Africa having a female Head of State. During the national conference, Bathabile Dlamini was elected as the new President of the ANCWL. With this new leadership, the ANC Women’s League may be able to transform itself and become more relevant in its pursuit of improving the lives of ordinary South African women. This relevance is important owing to the high levels of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa which affects millions of South Africans, but predominantly women and children.

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But wait, is the ANC Women’s League fit to address this and the other challenges which affect South African women? I do not think so. The reason for my scepticism is because the Women’s League has been notoriously patriarchal and anti-feminist in its political orientation. This political orientation is largely the result from the league’s inability to forge a political identity that is separate from yet complements the main body of the ANC. This inability is demonstrated most clearly through the league’s unbridled loyalty to President Jacob Zuma. A recent example of this loyalty was the league’s refusal to invite Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, to speak at the recent conference. However, the league invited male speakers to speak at the conference. There is nothing inherently wrong with having male speakers at an event exclusively catering to women. Although, what is a problem is excluding female speakers who have proven to be stellar examples of those that speak truth to power. Thuli Madonsela has consistently spoken truth to power through her reports. This integrity has been largely proven by her refusal to cower to political pressure as she stood by the findings of the Nkandla report which stated that President Jacob Zuma unduly benefitted from the improvements made to his homestead in Nkandla, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Through Madonsela’s exclusion, the ANC Women’s League has demonstrated its loyalty, not to the ANC, but to an individual who happens to be the President of the ANC. This is problematic for several reasons. The reason why I find this loyalty to be particularly problematic is because the league is prioritizing loyalty over integrity. Sure, the league may not agree with the findings of the Nkandla report, but to exclude Thuli Madonsela is playing another political game that lacks integrity. This lack of integrity demonstrates that the league is out of touch with the needs of South African women. The league is currently not in the position it needs to be in to address the needs of South African women. Thus, the ANC Women’s League has become nothing more than a pawn in the South African political landscape.  This is unfortunate to say the least.

04th Aug2014

Anyone fancy a visit to the circus?

by admin

 

sm2Sibongile Malgas looks at recent issues in South African parliament.

“The EFF are in parliament to pursue a revolution, not rules”-Julius Malema

If you haven’t been bombarded by the wrath of the berets, you clearly have been living on some other planet not plagued by shades of red parliamentary drama. Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Julius Malema and the red overalls clearly mean business, just not the type of business the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the rest of the country were expecting. It all started with the opening of parliament when the members of the EFF set the scene by painting Cape Town in a blanket of red, wearing the same attire as that of mineworkers (overalls) and domestic helpers. This was supposedly to show solidarity with workers’ strife of the past months and thereby demonstrating that their party represents the poor and working class. Not quite fitting the occasion but a statement none the less. Once in parliament, first on the agenda seemed to be attacking anything affiliated with the ANC

As much as we anticipated the war of words between these two parties and actually looked forward to the spats, I doubt any sane person can stand to say any of it is necessary. Besides keeping MP’s awake before the lunch bell sounds and adding a tad bit of comedy to the oh so dreary prime time news, it has reached a point where we shake our heads in shame and utter the infamous ‘eish’ in disbelief.

But not all blame should be shoved in the direction of the EFF. The ANC are just as guilty in transforming what used to stand for authority and power into just another show on Cartoon Network. The crux of the matter here really is that the parliamentary representatives of the ANC give way too much attention to what the EFF does or doesn’t do. Does it really matter if Honourable Mngxitama doesn’t address Cyril Ramaphosa as ‘Honourable’? To the individuals in the room, maybe it’s a life shattering insult but definitely not to the average South African looking onto these leaders to make ‘radical’ and positive changes to the country to benefit us all.

Nonetheless, as a result of some of these disagreements we have seen dramatic walk outs of parliament and so on. However, one issue led to more than a walk out. With much attention given to the uniforms EFF MMP’s wear, it was ruled that these overalls and so on are banned from the Gauteng legislature. The EFF were not happy with this and vowed to protest. They did protest and eventually stormed the Gauteng legislature to hand over a memorandum while also damaging the property. They also trashed the area around the legislature.

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Pictures taken during the protest

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Pictures taken during the protest

 

This is a lot of attention given to uniform. Should person A be concerned about who wore what, when they can barely afford to put food on their table because they’ve been unemployed for years and are struggling to find the employment they seek? The same should be asked about person B who has sleepless nights worrying if they’ll ever be able to send their children to varsity to better their chances of a better standard of living.

What all political parties need to understand is that they weren’t chosen to lead to create a spectacle on television. Parliament is more than just a hang out spot for the rich and influential and cannot be degraded to such. We really are thankful to the EFF for giving us a reason to watch the parliamentary channel, really thank you, but can you tone it down just a bit.

10th Mar2014

ANC: The “glue” that keeps it together?

by admin

Phumzile Ntshangase looks at the ANC in relation to the upcoming South African elections.

p2In 1994 when a journey of liberation was documented, Nelson Mandela was advocating a democratic and participating, leadership style. Question is, does great leadership today know what they too are learning and developing day by day in their job?

With Nelson Mandela’s death, it has been alleged that the ANC has lost the person that has kept the party together. Many have also brought into question the future of the party without Mandela. But the party itself is not phased.

It seems that one of the major issues in the upcoming elections is who will win the premiership of Gauteng province. “Gauteng province is going to remain in the grasp of the African National Congress (ANC)”, President Zuma said, on Friday the 7th of March 2014 when addressing hundreds of supporters in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria. “Those who say Gauteng is going to be taken by some other party are dreaming’ he said.

In a recent interview, the ANC’s second in charge, Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the current elections manifesto comes with their experience over the years. He suggested that the party has 20 Years of experience as well as clear goals and targets to achieve in the near future. This in turn links to what the party will deliver.

Ramaphosa refused claims that the Manifesto is about a boastful organization as some suggest. “We have made progress and South Africa is a different place from what it was in 1994.” Ramaphosa further argued that the ANC’s achievement demonstrates that the ANC is the only organization that has the ability, experience and commitment to lead the ongoing struggling for a better life for all. ‘We have the experience; we are not mafikizolo (newcomers).’ Hence the endless promises.

While the ANC became the leading organization in ending the apartheid era the leadership has changed over the years. Whether this change was for better or worse is for the voters to look back and critically decide.

With Mandela gone, it is likely that its many disillusioned supporters may find it easier to accept that the current ANC and its leadership has veered so far from the values of the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, and other heroes of the struggle, it is a different party in all but name.

Is ‘democracy’ just a word when people are starving? Our political vultures definitely have our attention for these up coming elections, let’s hope South Africa is awake. However X does mark the spot at the finish line?

09th Sep2013

Luthuli House fire: Political sabotage?

by admin

Joan Madiba looks at the recent fire at ANC headquarters Luthuli House.

jm1A fire broke out at The African National Congress’ headquarters Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening last week. The political party believes that this was an arson attack. Jackson Mthembu, the party’s spokesperson said that this was arson and therefore, political in an attempt to create problems in the party in a build up to next year’s election in the country.  SAPA reports that there “was a bottle containing an unknown chemical exploded in the reception area of Luthuli House at about 18:00 on Tuesday.” Security guards were however able to extinguish the fire, which is said to have damaged a couch, the floor and the ceiling of the affected area. The building was evacuated.

With the 2014 elections fast approaching one wonders if this was just a freak incident or a planned attack. In noting trends from other countries one can’t help but wonder if there is something to worry about. The election period in many countries often sees spikes in intimidation and/or violence.  A prime example would be our neighbouring country Zimbabwe where it is alleged that opposition party leader Morgan Tshangarai, was threatened, forcing him to seek asylum in South Africa. With these occurrences come questions about the legitimacy of the elections. While the elections in most cases are monitored and often described as free and fair once over, one wonders if this is really the case.

South Africa is definitely not in as bad a space, but let’s look at the history of attacks like the alleged arson attack seen last week. The Star newspaper reports that Luthuli House was previously troubled when a fire that broke out in 2005. In 2008 a man also tried to set a security scanner on fire. They also experienced a bomb threat that same year.

Is this a trend? Until the results of the investigation on the current incident releases, we will have to wait and see. We nonetheless can hope that we do not go down a path of intimidation and so on in a democracy.

13th May2013

ANC’s visit to Mandela: a Publicity stunt?

by admin

Joan Madiba looks at recent scandals regarding the use of political icons for publicity.

jm1Former president Nelson Mandela was in the news in the past weeks because of his ailing health. Shortly after he returned home after his most recent stay in hospital the South African audience was invited into his home by the SABC. The broadcaster followed a political delegation headed by President Jacob Zuma who paid the former president a visit. The message that the delegation and broadcaster alike tried to sell was that former president Mandela was “alive and well.” Shying away from public life, the video feature offered a rare glimpse of the former president. However, as an overall reaction to the incident, the South African public were outraged by the whole incident. Social media users, especially Twitter, argued that the man looked frail and it was therefore not necessary for him to appear on camera. Many thus felt that the ANC were forcing him to appear on camera for their own gain.  Personally, I do think that this was some sort of a publicity stunt by the ANC, using the man’s presence to perhaps win the public over? It is always the case with the ANC and political parties in general, to use something or someone for publicity.

The visit, monitored by Mandela’s medical team, saw those around him laughing and chatting while Mandela was sitting quietly on the chair covered by a blanket. Some even took pictures, where the bright flash of the camera disturbed his eyes forcing him to quickly close them for a moment. This seemed completely unacceptable. The man should be left alone to rest, as his healthy is unstable.

The South African public seemed sceptical after the reports, video and pictures were released. However, chaos around fromer president Mandela is not new. Earlier it emerged that various media institutions in the country had planned various details about the former presidents’ funeral and how they would cover it.

Similarly, the Democratic Alliance, an oppositional party in the country was also accused of using a former icon for publicity. The oppositional party was criticised for using Helen Suzman and Nelson Mandela for the so called publicity when they unveiled a poster in which they appeared together. It seems clear that the now political leaders are using former political leaders to their advantages.

In the case of Nelson mandela it appears that various people are disturbing his peace. For now, they should let the man rest. After such sacrifices he has done politically for the country, it is only fair. Some reports emphasise how some people were happy that the man they honour is doing well even after several visits to the hospital. The ANC should just let the man out of the political “playground” because he has done his part for the country.

07th Jun2012

The African National Regress – South Africa’s democracy: pending…

by admin

What is it like being a member of the least intelligent race that according to YouTube poster R3ind33r destroyed the whole nation in its majority? Cindy Dladla explains.

Our country as a rainbow nation is booming with minerals, vibrancy, agriculture and shower heads that water it, not to mention baby Julius being kicked out of the crib because he learnt how to walk. When the ANC came into power, most blacks – if not all – were excited about the mere fact that a black person is finally in power. The question of that person being competent enough and equipped to play a role in the successful development of our country was beside the point. Our parents and grandparents fought hard for the liberation of non-whites. I wonder if they have come to regret their struggle, looking at the way things have gone downhill since then. It’s rather distasteful.

The very same people who were fighting with us for our rights are the very same people who are now corrupt and exploit the hard work of the lowest common denominator. The people who fought for their leaders were below the poverty line before 1994. Sixteen years down the line, the very same people who were oppressed by the apartheid government are oppressed by the ANC government in this new democratic country. The difference is that the situation has become worse and it’s now black-on-black violence. The story is getting old. Some of the white people in our country are probably saying: “they wanted to rule the country right? We gave them the opportunity that they wanted so bad but look at them, they are screwing their own people over”. We are now probably a laughing stock.

I am sure most people are familiar with the 2008 xenophobic attacks. People’s homes being burnt down with no care of how this will affect them and their families. Babies being shot whilst on their mothers’ backs. Men who failed to say the word ‘elbow’ in Zulu to prove that they are true South Africans being beaten and burnt alive. I am sure if we could take a trip back to 1955 following the Sophiatown removals, people fought back because they didn’t want to be foreigners in their own land. They did not want to be removed from their homes where they had established friendships, created memories whilst watching their children dancing in the dust. Black South Africans seem to have forgotten how it feels to be chased away from your own home, tortured and being considered as insignificant as if you don’t matter. During the apartheid uproar, most South Africans sought for refuge in neighboring countries, Zimbabwe especially, and were welcomed with warm and empathetic arms.

I am ashamed to see that we lack to understand that all blacks, including all other races, belong to Africa, therefore to South Africa as well. Growing up, I have always praised the saying ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ that means ‘I am because we are’. The African ubuntu spirit that our parents have always prided themselves on seems to be reserved for the black South African nation only. Derogative terms such as ‘kwerekwere’ and ‘ikwang’ have emerged over the years, but the one thing I don’t understand is: why are black foreign nationals referred to in such terms?

If it is a white foreign national, the same term suddenly doesn’t seem to apply. I don’t understand what is really wrong with our mentality as black people. When a white person calls a black person ‘nigger’ or ‘kaffer’, fists are flying. The black person would be fighting and defending their race and honour. The white perpetrator is called racist. However, when a black person physically or verbally insults a white person, it’s okay for s/he is not considered as not being racist. It’s seen as just pure human conflict. Colour, all of a sudden, is not involved. There is this sick notion that has been going around that black people can’t be racist. Just think about it. It is ridiculous.

Going back to the ANC, the amount of corruption that has been taking place since the party came into power is such that you could easily mistake this government for the Apartheid government. I am sure you are familiar with the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. Politically speaking, this is a great piece of literature. The novel includes the use of allegorical characters which represent various official delegates who are corrupt and abuse their power at the expense of others. The thematic concerns of dystopia, false consciousness and abuse of power are very brave and give insight to those who confuse optimism and reality. The quote “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others” exactly epitomizes what is going on in South Africa.

In the year 2012, we are living in a world of freedom of expression, human rights and rainbow colour that joined us together after Zuma’s shower had rained on us. On paper, we are enjoying the fruits of the struggle and liberation as black people; we are free. However, in reality the situation the country is in seems to contradict this statement. The distribution of wealth is only for the elite few at the top of the ladder. It is similar to helping a friend climb a peach tree in order to indulge in the succulent, sweet and bright orange ones at the top. But then your dearest friend gets to the top and greedily keeps all the fruit to himself and throws you the seeds, forgetting that if it was not for your assistance he would not be there at the top – literally.

My grandma – sagacious and knowledgeable as she is – has always told me that you can never correct one wrong with another. The implementation of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) system was to some level a big failure when taking into consideration the needs of the country as a whole, and not just those people who are sitting at the top, feeling entitled to what they have been rewarded because they fought in the struggle. In South African companies, your worth, competence and value are marked by whether you were in the struggle or not, regardless of your skills, ability to make the right decisions, ability to think logically and critically, and educational qualifications. I feel that the government plays the lottery on a big scale; the people chosen for positions are randomly selected. Their resumes probably have this written: educational qualifications – 10% in woodwork; criminal record – fought in the struggle. They are good enough to go. BEE seems a temporal solution to a long-term problem. It’s similar to putting a band aid on an arm that has been amputated.

Most people overseas have always had the ignorant assumption that South Africa and the rest of Africa is a jungle with lion pets and squirrel friends that talk in clicks while we sing ‘kumbaya’ around the fire and tell old stories at night time. We seem to be offended but when taking our barbaric actions into consideration, you can’t help feel sorry for the already tainted reputation of our country. The country’s blame, ignorance, lack of mental and emotional intelligence and lack of education. Not even Zuma’s shower can cure that disease. People from overseas are probably laughing at us. Before 1994, we were fighting the whites, and then 16 years into democracy we are fighting each other. Barbaric indeed like monkeys in a cage fighting for a banana peel.

The reason I feel the attack on foreign nationals was predominantly from the blacks is because their determination, dedication and work ethic exposes our flaws. Next to them we feel naked and the world can see what we are incapable of. I have come across various people from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia who have top educational qualifications but are street vendors and gardeners. They don’t mind getting paid R100 a week, because they know what it feels like to have nothing. They have seen their children with bellies sticking out and flies in their eyes, and those flies with flies in their eyes. However, we as black South Africans want to get paid more or be employed in higher posts even though we don’t have a single qualification. Now think about it, does getting 83% in Life Orientation and Home Economics count? I don’t think so!

I still think that because of the struggle we are entitled to these things, like somebody owes us. Another similar plot point that I picked up whilst reading Animal Farm, is that Mr Jones who (in this case the apartheid government) has always been viewed as the only threat to the animals (in this case black people in South Africa). It is as if we are saying “as long as white man (Mr Jones) doesn’t rule, the country is fine because we are in a supposed democratic country”. What we fail to see is that our own people are oppressing us. Manipulators such as Julius Malema have kept the black mass preoccupied with songs like ‘Shoot the Boer’ which apparently strives for black liberation from whites. I thought we passed that phase in 1994. The song is used to divert people’s attention from what is actually going on in the country. It is propelling people to fight an invisible struggle that does not exist.

Like the animals in the book, blacks are blind to the corruption that is happening in the government. Was it better for blacks when the white man ruled? One can also look at the enforcement of the Media Tribunal and the Secrecy Bill. Apparently, these are implemented to protect the privacy of the government. The question we have failed to ask is: “to what extent are they protected?”, so that means they can get away with anything. I see this whole thing as a scapegoat to avoid being caught in the heat of corruption. We are always complaining as victims, saying that power has been taken from us but the truth is that we have handed over that power to the ANC. What happened to the right to freedom of expression and access to information?

I understand that South Africa is still in its baby steps of democracy. However, in 20 years we cannot be using the same excuse. So for now the government can get away with no service delivery and use that excuse. Boxer, who is a faithful and loyal animal, epitomizes all of the best qualities of the black mass who are now being exploited. I wonder how it feels for Nelson Mandela to see everything that he has built and worked hard for crumble into dust in his sight, before he has even turned into dust. The instructions on a varnish tin always read “make sure all dust is removed before use”. However, it seems that we are varnishing over the dust we have crumbled into for the sake of being a supposedly democratic country.

I am a troubled young person because I don’t understand what is going on with our government! They seem to have lost touch with the essence of the struggle. I can’t really tell the difference between the apartheid government and the ANC. The pig from the man.

24th May2012

Zuma and South African art unveiled

by admin

The most popular topic currently explored in South African media is the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma by artist Brett Murray, being showcased at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. The controversy erupted as a result of the painting explicitly sporting Zuma’s genitals “hanging out of his pants”. The artist is one among many who are punting the right to “freedom of expression”, whilst being fully backed by the Goodman Gallery.

From an artist’s perspective, however, there are many views to be taken into account in terms of this particular “artistic expression”, and one view is that of the ANC who claims that the art work is a mockery and indecent depiction of the President. If this be the case, it may hold grave consequences for the future of art within South Africa. The ANC has subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Goodman Gallery.

In support of the ANC’s views, one has to consider the context within which this painting is being displayed as well as the possible intentions of the artist represented by this painting.

First, the entire exhibition is a satirical commentary on issues such as the abuse of power and corruption within the current South African government. The art pieces can therefore be viewed as bringing about awareness as well as challenging the government to move towards improving the issues within its governing structures. The problem with this particular painting is that it offers no clear explanation of how President Zuma ties in with the objective of the exhibition. The artist is yet to come forward with an explanation of the meaning behind this particular painting, as opposed to the others whose meaning can explicitly be accounted for.

Second, arguments from artists in support of this painting have been around the fact that many important figures in history have been artistically depicted in the nude. Why should the Zuma painting be treated any differently? The issue here is that the meaning or intention of creating a good or exemplary piece of work – through intimately connecting art with the public figure – is not present in this particular painting. If it were so, why is it that the president is fully clothed apart from his genitals being exposed?

Finally, it is interesting to note that the spokesperson for the Goodman Gallery, during an interview with Talk Radio 702, has reported that this is the first time since their apartheid exhibitions that the gallery has received so much publicity.

Is the inclusion of this particular painting therefore an addition to the meanings communicated in the entire exhibition, or just a piece used as an advertising campaign for the Goodman Gallery and the artist? Its removal would certainly not cause the entire exhibition to detract from its overall purpose but it would definitely make a difference in the number of people walking through the gallery doors and purchasing the art works.

The most poignant part of these questions is the implication they hold for art in South Africa. Are we truly exercising our rights to freedom of expression, or are we resorting to clever marketing tactics in order to get our work showcased and purchased? If the latter be true in this particular case, then the ANC certainly has an opportunity to make a valid case against the artist and the gallery in terms of their intentions behind showcasing the Zuma painting.

Sharney Nel is a second-year student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

01st Jun2011

Please call (VOTE 18 MAY)

by admin

Naledi Siphokazi Msimang ponders the SMS war waged on her SAMSUNG STAR by the opposition parties.

I am sure that you got these SMSes too; you know, the ones summarising a political party’s manifestos and achievements since 19-voetsek in 160 characters? It seems that my cell phone has now become a hotly contested terrain wherein political battles must be waged. I had Helen SMS me shortly before the elections to remind me of the opening and closing times of the voting stations, while Jacob instructed me to vote for a particular candidate in my ward 81. I have come to call them by their first names as they contacted me directly. I promptly saved their numbers in my phonebook – I know I will need to call on them in the near future!

Nevertheless, what has prompted this move to telecommunications warfare (canvassing of votes for the May 18 Municipal Elections notwithstanding)? Jacob uploaded his Twitter profile on the 10th of May, @SAPresident, which on 19th May 2011 stood at 16 280 followers and most recently read out comments posted by his ‘friends’ on Facebook (not to be confused with ‘friends of JZ’) at his State of the Nation Address in Parliament this past February. @HelenZille meanwhile has been tweeting for over a year to her proud contingent of almost 32 000-odd followers. Copycat tactics are the pap and vleis of political party strategies, so it is no surprise that we see party leaders trying to outdo each other in toyi-toying, slogan-chanting, struggle-song-singing, t-shirt-handing-out, and open-toilet-scandalling during this merry season of the democracy. It is a 2-for-1 special: two political party leaders’ electioneering antics and related promises for the price of one X. It is the stuff democracies are made of, lol!

Now, this battle for votes is being staged on my SAMSUNG STAR it seems. I haven’t seen this much action on my phone since the period shortly before the National Credit Act was about to come into force. I had all sorts of companies offering me a lifelong noose at low interest rates. Thus, I question Vodacom’s complicity in this regard. I knew there would be pitfalls to RICA-ring my sim card; now, Juju* might just use this as a broadcasting tool to extend his reach to more masses! Imagine getting the lyrics to “Dhubul’ iBhunu/Shoot the Boer” SMSed to you by Juju? Aikhona! The IEC, on the other hand, is playing the devil’s advocate on this one. According to its constitution, political parties are not allowed to canvass for elections using rallies, demonstrations and door-to-door techniques on the day of the election. Thus, it was well within ‘the law’ that Helen and Jacob contacted me on May 18th. As if I needed another reminder that it was election day; the defaced posters on the non-operational lamppost overlooking my house drove the point annoyingly home! The perils of new technologies…

My personal annoyances aside, I find it interesting that these parties have found such a credible way to bridge the technological impasse created by the arrival of new technologies. In 160 characters, your politician of choice can persuade you to vote (or not) in a particular direction. Does this spell the end of the long-drawn-out speeches that the electorate is subjected to at mass rallies and commemorative events? Perhaps I am pushing it a bit but the idea of carrying in your pocket or brassiere a SMS from your favoured political party leader is appealing. My grandmother has been showing off her SMS, asking each of her grandchildren to read it out loud for her guests! How many of the electorate, with access to the most basic of mobile phones, are eagerly claiming to be close to their leaders, now that they have been SMSed?  This electioneering sneak tactic will be the political guerrilla warfare of the future:  April 2014ill be abuzz with SMSes, MMSes, emails and other telecoms weaponry. Don’t say you didn’t see this coming: you have been warned.

Importantly, perhaps this presents a new landscape wherein leaders and the electorate can engage. Communication channels between ‘the masses’ and their leaders are ironically largely confined to rallies and service delivery protests. These are often met with obligatory responses that serve to pacify, as opposed to service said masses. Perhaps if Helen or Jacob (or Zweli or Gwede or Patricia) received the desperate pcm’s (please call me’s) from their electorate on a daily basis, that cut through the red tape that is so often characteristic of bureaucracies, they might be spurred into quicker, greater action, and indeed, deliver services where they are required. I would then be very proud to say my Leader SMSed me to ask me to vote.

Yes, much of the electorate does not have access to the Twitters and Facebooks we so love to update but this SMS sneak tactic is beyond that. It is characteristically grassroots, mass-based and communicative in one go. The only prerequisite to being a member of this club is a cell phone with SMS functionality and 35c (if you are a Vodacom user). Beyond that, it is fair game! Hopefully, the potential of this kind of communication to decrease the digital, political and deliberative divide is exploited by political parties big and small in their engagement with their electorate, sans the 3am wake up call to remind me to vote that I received on May 18th!

Congratulations on another successful election South Africa!

*Juju is used here to refer to a system of public entitlement on the part of celebrated-for-all-the-wrong-reasons individuals who have access to television cameras, loudspeakers and microphones as part of their daily repertoire. In no way is it a reference to a national ruling political party youth league leader who shall, for the purposes of avoiding defamation suits against the author, remain nameless.

17th May2011

Who will get your vote?

by admin

Pheladi Sethusa, a second year Media Studies student, attended a local government elections debate held by the Wits Politics Department on East Campus today. She presents a report on the positions put forward by three representatives from the ANC, the DA and COPE.

The topic up for debate was the local municipal elections, which will be upon us in a matter of hours now. There was quite a large turnout. I suspect with the elections a matter of hours away people are desperate to gain as much insight into the various parties so as to cast a vote that will both benefit them and make a difference.

The first party to have their say was of course the African National Congress (ANC). Godfrey Madja, a representative of the Wits ANC Youth League, opened his speech with the classic “Amandla-Viva” chant to which the ANC supporters in the crowd responded positively. He spoke for eight minutes in what turned out to be a speech on ANC policy. He made the point that the ANC, unlike other parties, does not have a “cut and paste manifesto, but it has a historical policy”. He went on to speak about how the ANC will and is already implementing programmes for the creation of jobs, education and training programmes, health etc. Everything he had to say was related to what we have all heard President Zuma talk about in his addresses.

Next up was a representative from the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mohammad Sayanvala. For the first time in a speech about the DA, I heard about their manifesto and not just a speech that berates the ruling party. The DA’s policy platform is to create opportunities for all in society and to deliver to all. He emphasized that the DA rebukes the “jobs for pals” system that seems popular within the ruling party. The DA aims to award tenders and other such opportunities to the most qualified applicants irrespective of their race. Mohammad ended off on a strong note, saying that “the DA is no longer just an opposition party but a party of governance”.

The last representative was a young lady from the Congress of the People (COPE), Mukondeli Mphigalele. Her main argument was that people should not dismiss COPE as a joke of a party, as they are merely trying to fight for their rights like everyone else. She went on to comment on members who recently left the party and went back to the ANC as people who are clearly “capable of vomiting and once done, being able to eat that vomit”. This remark had the audience in stitches. There was no talk of policy and empty promises, merely the acknowledgement that the time for blind loyalty was over and that voters need to now vote for their own interests.

Then the floor was opened up for questions to the representatives. The first was a young black man who asked how the parties planned on putting a person like himself, who was born disadvantaged, on equal footing with a person who was born advantaged. Mohammad answered that “the DA will eradicate the legacies of Apartheid by creating opportunities for all”. The ANC rep Godfrey said: “We all need to remember that our democracy is only 17 years old. It did not take the apartheid government 17 years to marginalise us, so it cannot take us 17 years to eradicate all inequalities”. The COPE rep shied away from this question.

Another interesting question was why public servants like Helen Zille and our President do not make use of the public services they promote like public transport. The DA rep vouched for Zille saying she frequents public transport and the COPE rep followed in that vain. Godfrey said “as an ex-MK member and a public figure, President Zuma cannot travel with public transport for safety reasons. You forget that the AWB and people in Orania are still planning things and ready to attack”, ushering in another roar of laughter from the crowd. Most of the questions asked were left unanswered as we ran out of time.

I went into the debate thinking the ANC was the scum of the earth, the DA was merely the jealous middle child who wanted a chance in the spotlight and I honestly had no feelings about COPE. Unfortunately the latter has not changed. The COPE rep was not as convincing as she could have been. As for the DA I think they fail to point out how they plan to do the things they say they will. For instance, their response on affirmative action left the person who asked the question still wanting. The ANC appealed most to me in that the representative answered all questions posed effectively. If there was a winner, he would be it.

However, I am still not willing to be complacent in voting for the ANC or the DA. Neither parties proposed changes that met my immediate needs and neither were willing to offer evidence conducive to these planned changes of theirs. It is one thing to look fantastic on paper, but as we are all very aware, delivering on those promises is the number one problem.

13th May2011

He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones

by admin

In January 2010, the ANCYL filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against the DA-led municipality in Cape Town for the installation of open toilets for Makhaza residents. And for months to come, the ANC would use the incident as the why-you-should-not-vote-for-the DA-card! ANCYL President Julius Malema was on the forefront of the court proceedings on the matter and attended the judgement last month that “declared the provision of unenclosed toilets at the settlement to be a violation of the residents’ constitutional rights to dignity”. Shortly thereafter, he urged residents to stop voting for the DA and vote ANC.  “Down with Helen Zille! Away with Helen Zille! Viva ANC, Viva! Spread the message. We are here today to bring down Helen Zille. Convince everybody here to vote for the ANC”, Malema said.

Now who are the people to vote for when the same ANC provides the same infamous “open toilets”? On Saturday, Times Live reported that an ANC-led municipality in the Free State has been providing “open toilets” for residents from as far back as 2003. Moreover the toilets’ conditions have been deteriorating since then and the ANC municipality has done nothing about it. The municipality’s acting technical services manager Mike Lelaka admitted that they had only started enclosing some of the toilets last year and blamed delays on lack of funding. “Everything is dependent on funding, but we have approached the departments of water affairs and human settlements. We are still awaiting a response from them”, Lelaka said.

Meanwhile these Free State residents are subjected to (by an ANC- led municipality) the same violations of their constitutional right to human dignity that an ANC-led investigation uncovered. What was that saying about living in a glass house? The authenticity of the ANC’s objection to violations of people’s human rights is now questionable. Two deductions can be made from this scenario. One would be that politicians are all really on the same side and the ANC are hypocrites. The other would be that the national ANC “is not aware”, as national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said, of what happens at local level which itself questions the party’s competence.

Could this similarity in government be an indication of broader similarities in the two opposing parties’ governance? South Africa is a multiparty democracy. There are more parties to vote for other than the DA and the ANC. Citizens should make sure that they are adequately informed about all the parties available before casting their vote. If this country’s democracy has any chance of moving forward then pre-election discourses in the media and elsewhere need to start reflecting the multiparty democracy embedded in our beautiful constitution.

Matshidiso Omega Moagi

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