Category Archives: south africa

Julius Malema should not have been convicted of hate speech

Julius Malema is a moronLet me be clear: I think Julius Malema is a complete tool. I can’t stand the man and I wish that the ANC would do something about him. He makes me afraid for our nation.

So I was pretty happy when I heard that he had been convicted of hate speech. But I’m conflicted. I disagree with the judgment…

Malema claimed that Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser was lying because she had not fled after the alleged rape:

“When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money”.

I think that is an offensive, ignorant and downright deplorable statement to have made. If the ANC were at all responsible they would have fired him on the spot. They are not that type of organization and that is a problem for all of us.

That said, I really don’t believe that the state should be able to fine Malema for this statement. Anyone making statements like this should be judged by society.

When the state enforces what you can and can’t say then things start to go wrong.

There’s a little thing called freedom of speech. I think it is quite important.

The South African law on hate speech says:

No person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to –
(a) be hurtful;
(b) be harmful or to incite harm;
(c) promote or propagate hatred.

This is too paternalistic. Just imagine the impact on freedom of speech.

Malema should be ridiculed. The ANC should have fired him long ago. But he should not be fined by the government for saying something offensive.

Marie Claire extra-naked issue

Marie Claire SA just love what they call “The Naked Issue”. They get South African celebrities to pose naked in order to “raise awareness” for various charities.

I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt sales either.

My wife took one look at this image in the latest edition and said in a sympathetic voice “Oh no”. I thought the picture looked great so I asked her what could possibly be wrong.

Jules is a graphic designer and a perfectionist, so she noticed immediately that some poor designer had cut off Jeannie’s tummy. She pointed out that something looked funny about the stomach.

Even I could see (once shown) that the designer who cut off the tummy took things a little too far and chopped off some thigh at the same time.

It’s embarrassing for Jeannie D, but I strongly suspect that Jules was feeling sorry for the designer. And the editor that signed off the image.

This kind of mistake is Julie’s nightmare!

We all know that these images are retouched. But something like this just puts it right in your face. For instance, now I looked more closely and I strongly suspect that some of her bum has also been removed.

It all seems a little silly in the edition that is supposed to be natural.

Economist on South Africa’s education results

The Economist has an article on education in South Africa. Some of the facts from the article:

  • South Africa spends about 5% of GDP on education – more than any other country in Africa
  • About 50% of students drop out before achieving a Matric
  • Only 15% of Matrics get marks good enough to enter university
  • The Matric pass rate has fallen from 73% in 2003 to 61% in 2009

The results are drastically different for white and black students. For example, matric mathematics results are enormously different between the two races.

Graph comparing South African educational results for white vs. black students

The article goes on to speculate about the causes of these dismal results. Obviously the historical impact of Apartheid policies on black education is mentioned. The OBE initiative also cops some blame.

But why would results be getting worse even 15 years after Apartheid and despite affirmative action programs?

The Economist speculates that the appalling quality of teachers is also to blame. The article notes that teachers’ unions prevent teachers from being evaluated – a sure recipe for bad teachers. If someone isn’t evaluated on performance, then they aren’t going to perform.

Teachers really should be evaluated on their performance – just like the rest of us.

There’s a hippo moving along the coastline towards Durban

Sea Hippo!IOL reports that there is a hippo moving along the coast in KwaZulu-Natal! Apparently the lone hippo took to the ocean and has been making its way along the coast with stops at beaches and estuaries along the way. Imagine how strange it must be to be sitting on the beach and then seeing a hippo pop up!

I know that there are hippos that live in the Mangrove swamps and oceans in Tanzania (that’s actually where the hippo in the picture is), but I still find it weird to think of one moving along towards Durban’s beaches. I hope that doesn’t happen because then the Parks Board will have to shoot it – hippos are very dangerous.

Xenophobia isn’t just shameful, it’s stupid

If Bob is really good at making hammers and Alice is a nail making genius, they can get further by sticking to their specialties and trading – better and cheaper hammers and nails for all.

Lesson 1: Specialization is good

Now Frank comes along and he’s also pretty good at making hammers. Not such good news for Bob, but the competition between them leads to a decrease in the price of hammers – good for the rest of town.

Lesson 2: Competition is good for society
Lesson 3: The current winners don’t want competition. Competition means they must work to stay in the same place

So Bob wants to prevent Frank from coming to town and forcing him to work harder. He convinces the rest of the townsfolk that Frank is bad for them – he is going to steal their jobs and housing. Bob’s nasty plan works and Frank can’t get work in town.

What are the results? The town loses (hammers are more expensive) and only Bob wins (he doesn’t have to work hard).

Lesson 4: Blocking immigrants is bad for the economy – it only protects the lazy

A frustrated Frank goes to another town and sets up a shop there. He is hard working and business is good so he hires an assistant (more jobs) and has a house built (more housing). Frank has stimulated growth in the new town.

Lesson 5: Welcoming skilled immigrants is good for the economy

Frank’s hammers are so good that people from other towns start coming over to buy his hammers. They don’t go to Bob’s town anymore, so Alice also sells fewer nails and soon they are both out of work. Everyone in town now has to travel to the next town for hammers and nails.

Lesson 6: In the long term blocking immigrants hurts everyone – even the lazy

Photos of the progress on Green Point Stadium

The other day I was driving past the 2010 stadium being built in Green Point and I was amazed by how far it seems to have come. I still worry that they aren’t going to be ready in time, but it does look pretty impressive.

Here is a site that posts photos of the progress as it moves along. The ones below are from 21 April 2008. Long way to go….

South Africa’s road network is being allowed to fall apart

South Africa's road networks are falling apart
South Africa has huge backlogs on required roads maintenance. However, the currently allocated money is nowhere near meeting the needs. That means that we are falling further and further behind and unless something really drastic is done our roads will be as bad as our electricity.

Infrastructure is a tricky thing for politicians. It costs a lot to build and maintain infrastructure, but it’s normally one of those things that you don’t notice till it’s gone. Stupid politicians often don’t bother with infrastructure which won’t be noticed for years when they can use the money to win votes now.

That, to the dismay of many, has been happening in South Africa for a while. In 1994 the ANC took over and they did a great job as a transitional government – South Africa got through that little part of history wonderfully. But anyone who reads this blog will know that I think the ANC are rubbish at governing a running country.

One of the things that the ANC are worst at is maintaining our national infrastructure. So we are already in deep trouble with electricity, our rail networks are nowhere near what they should be, and our roads are falling apart.

Jeff Radebe (Transport Minister) has just released information (after being hounded by the DA) on just how bad things are with our roads – see the graph above. Basically he said that we are miles behind on road maintenance and that at current rates we will never catch up. In other words unless something drastic is done South Africa’s road network will completely collapse!

One of South Africa’s biggest problems is that the ANC can do anything without worrying about the results of the next election. They are a terrible government largely because they don’t have to worry. I wish that there was a possibility of them losing an election.

The Economist on our crooked police chief – Jackie Selebi

The (hopefully former) head of police in South Africa is a crook. As the Economist reports he has “admitted to being a friend of Glen Agliotti, a drug trafficker who was implicated in the murder in 2005 of a shady mining magnate”. Now there are new (well-founded) allegations that “as well as handing out bags of cash to Mr Selebi, Mr Agliotti also paid for some of the police chief’s shopping. In return, Mr Selebi protected Mr Agliotti’s friends and shared confidential documents with him”.

Unfortunately out of loyalty Thabo Mbeki has been protecting Selebi from prosecution – I always complain about the ANC being more concerned with loyalty than competence.

We are now left in a crazy situation:

  • The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are trying to nail Selebi as the crook he is – this is their job
  • Mbeki made sure that the head of the NPA was fired in September for going after Selebi
  • Now the NPA have followed through and are going to charge Selebi anyway
  • In retaliation the police arrested the NPA investigator on trumped up charges

This stuff is crazy. We need a new government. The ANC have done some things well, but at the moment they are doing a lot of things particularly badly. This is the last paragraph from the Economist:

This murky sort of business would scandalise any country. But in one plagued by some of the highest levels of violent crime in the world, it is tragic that South Africa’s law-enforcement officials should expend so much energy fighting each other rather than the criminals. The police judged that they needed no fewer than 20 armed officers to arrest Mr Nel at his home. On the hopeful side, the charges against Mr Selebi show that no one yet is above the law. But if they turn out to be true, it will further reduce confidence in a police force that is often perceived, at best, as merely incompetent.

Poacher killed in the Kruger National Park

Earlier this year when I was on a walking tour of Kruger we became very conscious of poaching in Kruger. We encountered more than one heavily armed anti-poaching patrol and our guide had several harrowing stories of encounters with poachers.

I must say that I loath poachers and revile them at every turn. I know that they are poor and often desperate, but I still hate them – there are better ways. So I was pleased to hear that one of those Kruger patrols recently bumped into and killed a poacher recently.

Apparently after midnight an anti-poaching patrol bumped into an unknown number of poachers. “A gun battle ensued between the rangers and the poachers. One of the poachers was killed.”

I admire the brave men and women (I saw several female rangers) who put their lives on the line to protect our wild animals.

The Economist weighs in against Mbeki, Zuma and the ANC in general

Two imperfect candidates - one will decide the future of South AfricaThe Economist has some interesting articles on ANC leadership election happening this weekend (here is the best one, but also here, and here). Basically they are saying that it is a pity that the ANC are choosing “between two deeply flawed candidates, neither of whom should be running the ANC or the country after next year”.

The article has scathing criticism of both candidates:

  • “Mr Zuma should have been ruled out on several counts. His dreadful views on sex were revealed during his trial for rape last year. He was acquitted, but claimed that he could tell by the way a woman sat whether she wanted to have sex with him and that his Zulu culture demanded he should oblige her; also that he could avoid contracting HIV by taking a shower. He may soon be charged again with corruption.”
  • “Mr Mbeki is standing just to stop Mr Zuma. But Mr Mbeki has shown by his own autocratic ways and weird views on AIDS—which he seems to think is not caused by HIV—that he too should no longer be leading the ANC”.

The real problem in South Africa is something that the articles do mention: there is no competition for the ANC.

“14 years of unbroken power have given way to corruption, factionalism, paranoia and arrogance” within the ANC. Although the ANC has “on the whole done a good job” since 1994, it is now no longer the party that should be leading the country. The ANC should spend a term in opposition so that it can “purge or renew itself”.

The problem is that the masses are an unthinking lot who blindly vote along historical lines despite the current problems in the ANC. If only they would see past race and think rationally they would know that there is a better, if imperfect, alternative – just look to Cape Town!

“South Africa deserves a lot better.”