Tag Archives: south africa

Google gives directions in SA

Google have just released Google Maps SA. It’s awesome!

We’ve been able to see satellite images and some road data before. But now there is a lot of road data and you can get automatic directions!

The directions service works amazingly well. I’ve tested it with several routes that I often take and Google invariably got things right – even offering options!

For one test I typed in this exact input:

  • V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
  • Moyo at Spier, Cape Town

The service quickly offered two routes to Spier (N1 or N2).

It estimates time fairly accurately at about 40 minutes (N1 is slightly quicker even though it is slightly further).

Google maps SA example

It also offers step by step driving instructions for the route. Like a poor mans GPS. Simply amazing.

View the map yourself to see what I’m talking about.

Analysis of Human Development Index for South Africa

The UN’s Human Development Index is an attempt to quantify quality of life. Three measures are used to create a single human development score:

  • Health (life expectancy)
  • Education (adult literacy)
  • Wealth (GDP per capita)

Using only three variables makes comparison possible, but it does mean that the HDI is pretty crude.

It still makes interesting reading.

The latest report (with data for 2007) has just been released. Norway comes out on top followed closely by Australia.

South Africa comes in at 129th of the 183 countries (some really bad places like Somalia and Zimbabwe don’t have enough data to be on the list at all).


I was particularly interested in the trends over time. South Africa has gained ground since 1980 but has fallen off since a peak in 1990.


Looking at each of the components in HDI it becomes clear that life expectancy is hurting South Africa’s HDI score. AIDS is really holding us back. GDP per capita has also been pretty flat.


How has South Africa done relative to similar countries? Let’s compare SA to the 26 countries with the closest HDI scores back in 2000.

Not pretty. As you can see we’ve been in free fall. We went from the middle of this little group to stone last!


What about similar countries by geography? Let’s compare SA to our regional neighbors. Clearly our region is struggling, but SA has still lost two places!


Zuma’s empty election promises causing unrest

AWB was better than ANC poster

The Economist has an article on Zuma, South Africa, and the recession.


  • The current recession means that many of Zuma’s grand campaign promises are falling aside
  • This is causing serious problems among the impatient poor masses
  • It is also causing problems among his powerful left leaning COSATU and communist allies
  • The fact that Tito Mboweni is leaving (suspiciously timed) suggests that perhaps Zuma is giving in to pressure
  • It will be crucial to see if Zuma is able to “hold his left-wing allies in check” during the recession

In short, my take is this:

South Africa is full of poor people (40% of our population is below the poverty line).

These poor masses are impatient to improve their lot. They also believe that this is their right and will happen fast.

  • Many believe their current situation to be the direct result of past injustice
  • They have all been promised quick and drastic change by the ANC

With good governance and hard work their lot should improve – but only over time.

This is a problem because:

  • We do not have good governance. Especially at the extremely important municipal level we often have shockingly bad governance
  • The ANC promises unrealistic and quick results. Zuma made lots of mad promises during the campaign which are now falling by the wayside

So we have an already impatient, poor and jobless population being continually disappointed you surely have a recipe for unrest and possible disaster?

News24 balls up their graphic design

My wife is a super graphic designer and I’ve learned a bit about the industry from her.

I can tell you for sure that she would DIE before publishing this image! It comes from the main page of a News24 website (otherwise quite a cool site).


I can’t believe that this got through to the public. Is it just me or does it look like Luke Watson has donated a lower leg to Natalie du Toit?


For those who don’t know, Natalie du Toit is one of South Africa’s greatest athletes. She lost her leg in an accident as a teenager but has gone on to be an amazingly successful Paralympic and Olympic athlete!

Tell people to vote against the ANC

It seems to be established that you shouldn’t tell people who to vote for.


You should vote DA or COPE.

There. I said it… Whatever you do, vote against this guy and his party.


It’s true that you shouldn’t intimidate or force people to vote your way. But, in my opinion, you should try to persuade them to vote the right way. That’s democracy.

It’s their vote, but your responsibility to get them to use it wisely!

The ANC are a corrupt, inept and dangerous in government. However, because of our country’s history the ANC are assured of an election victory again.

There are several reasons why you should still vote against the ANC:

  1. To stop them from getting a 66% majority! That would allow them to change our constitution – something they have already threatened to do
  2. To make your voice heard against the corrupt and inept government of the ANC. Votes against the ANC won’t be ignored forever
  3. In some towns and provinces the opposition has a very good change of winning control from useless ANC local or provincial government

As for which opposition party to vote for, choose one that has policies you agree with. Surely you can’t agree with the ANC and their policies? They are nowhere near the party they once were.

I have strong feelings on who you should vote for – suffice it to say that if you vote DA or COPE you are doing your country a favor.

Make sure that you get out there and vote accordingly. And tell other people to do the same.

Julius Malema – threatening UCT

Julius Malema is seriously frightening. The things he says, and the positive attention he gets for saying them make me sad about South Africa.

Yesterday he was at my old university, UCT, threatening to remove the management of the university once the ANC comes into power.

I get angry when I read some of the things this fool says. I get sad when I see how many people in our country agree with his statements

Quotes from his speech at UCT yesterday:

  • “Forces that are opposed to our revolution are still here. We must change the management of this university and also the lecturers.”
  • Don’t provoke us, it is us (ANC) who brought the nonsensical apartheid regime down. No opposition (party) will ever defeat the ANC. We want them all to combine so that we can defeat them”

Julius Malema: 100% for Zuma, 20% for woodwork

DA launches a Obama style online campaign

DA LogoThe DA is trying to emulate some of the success that Barack Obama had online during his election campaign.

He set up highly effective online resources and managed to mobilize a LOT of support online. South Africa obviously isn’t as conducive to using the internet, but it’s still a great idea.

The DA have just launched a social network (like a mini Facebook – complete with profile page and wall!) called Contribue to Change. You can easily register on the site and:

  • Connect with other DA supports in your area and around the country
  • Find out about events in your region
  • Get lots of information on how to help the DA in this crucial election
  • Join groups for particular causes, activities and events

I recommend that you at least take a look. Even joining is very easy and you aren’t actually expected to do anything more.

The site itself works fairly well. It’s driven by WordPress (the same software that runs this blog) with a social networking plugin called Buddypress. Most features work perfectly with a few clunky areas here and there (like the avatars which just don’t work for me).

Give it a look. Here’s a link to my profile page.

Screenshot of Contribute to Change

This is a super important election for South Africa.

We really, really all need to get out and vote against the ANC (DA is an excellent choice, but against the ANC is important).

I won’t get into too much detail now, but here are 3 big reasons to get involved:

  • If the ANC get a two thirds majority then JZ can do anything he wants. Including passing a law that he can’t be prosecuted. I’m not kidding – that is what the ANC say they will do
  • We need a strong opposition in SA. Now that the ANC has split we have a very good opportunity to build a strong opposition to the completely inept and at least partially corrupt ANC government
  • There is an excellent chance that the DA can win the Western Cape from the ANC and make a great difference to a great province.

World record Zambezi shark caught in the Brede River

The front page of the Cape Times today detailed a story about a world record Zambezi shark being caught 5.5km up the Brede River. I did a bit of Googling and found more information and pictures:

  • At over 4m long this is the largest Zambezi shark ever caught anywhere – a world record
  • The researchers were looking for sharks in the river after reports and rumors that they were in the Brede
  • After hooking the shark they were towed 2km further upstream before they could drag her onto the shore for tagging
  • She was tagged and tracked over the next 43 hours. She spent most time in the estuary with only short periods in the surf

Awesome stuff. You can get more information from this article

Brede River Zambezi Shark

Brede River Zambezi Shark

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