Wednesday, October 30, 2013
So often I hear people from across the spectrum in South Africa say that they love this country and want to make a positive difference but they don’t know how. This blog is part 1 of 3 about how you, as a regular citizen in South Africa, can make an incredibly positive difference in our country. The first step you need to take to make a change in South Africa is to decide that you will vote. One of the most tragic things I hear is that people say they will not vote as it is a waste of time. Despite all the problems within democracy, the one incredible power it has is that the government truly is a government of the people. The citizens of a country decide the make up of the government. Your vote may seem small, but when added together with others it has incredible power for change. It is easy to find out if you are registered to vote; SMS your ID number to the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) SMS number 32810 (R1 per SMS). They will SMS you straight back with your registration details. Our National Elections will be in April next year and the first voting drive will be on the weekend of the 9th and 10th of November 2013. With this voting drive you will be able to register at the voting station closest to where you live. If you cannot register on the 9th or 10th of November you can register at any municipal electoral office in your area, you just need to call first to make an appointment. For more info please take a minute to check the IEC website, it is very clear, and easy to navigate: http://www.elections.org.za/content/ What is very important is that South Africans living abroad can vote too. For details check http://www.elections.org.za/content/For-Voters/How-do-I-register-/ I appeal to you, if you want to make a real, powerful difference, make sure you are registered and use your vote. Do it for yourself, for those who fought for our democracy and for this country.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
There is a mighty furore going on over the government looking to change legislation banning parents from spanking their children. Recently Pierre de Vos wrote an article explaining the constitutional implications of this (http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/sparing-the-rod-what-it-really-entails/), I feel that maybe there is another angle that we need to be looking at. While I am in agreement that the argument ‘it is in the bible’ is problematic, there are problems with the current line of argument as well. In his article, Mr de Vos states that South Africa has such a high rate of child abuse and thus a big driver for the banning of spanking by parents is to reduce child abuse. While I agree with this in principle, there are some glaring issues. Firstly, Mr de Vos does not state any evidence to reduction of abuse when child spanking is removed. If we are to be scientific, studies need to be done on countries where child spanking by parents ahs been outlawed and do a correlation of child abuse from before and after the banning. Secondly, it is problematic for me to ban something outright if a few people are abusing it. That line of argument taken to its end would say that rape is prevalent in South Africa and so we should ban sex, or that teachers take advantage of students so we should ban teachers. Personally, I would like to see in-depth studies done in countries where child spanking by parents has been banned to study the consequences. It would be interesting to see the rate of juvenile delinquency, social service intervention in children, discipline in schools, violence in schools, violence against the aged etc in these communities. Once we have an accurate assessment of the social implications, then maybe we can decide, scientifically, if banning parents from spanking their children is feasible in South Africa. If we are to introduce such legislation into South Africa I feel we need to take a more scientific approach, rather than an emotional agenda pushed by minority groups in South Africa.
Friday, July 12, 2013
The story of independence in Africa seems to run along similar lines: white oppression, local uprising, bitter-fighting, freedom, followed by corrupt officials, failure of the state, collapse of the democratic system. Being a proud South African I do not believe our story will be the same, but recent events have raised my concerns. Recently the African National Congress (ANC) Mayor in Tlokwe (previously Potchefstroom) was ousted for the second time. In a sitting of the council a vote of no-confidence was called for and the mayor was voted out unanimously by members of the council and the replacement was Prof Annette Combrink from the Democratic Alliance (DA). This has been seen as a major victory for the DA and a major embarrassment for the ANC. Through a democratic process a mayor was ousted and a new mayor put in place. 20 years on in our democracy this should not be a shock or something difficult to digest; this is democracy in action. However, when the new mayor and her team arrived at the mayoral office they were told they were not welcome, as the ex-mayor was not leaving. It turns out that the ANC, the ruling party in our country, have instructed the ousted mayor and his team not to vacate their positions. The ANC have blatantly ignored due-democratic process and obstructed the rule of law. This is an unbelievable disgrace, one for which the ANC should be ashamed and for which we should all be worried, and angry about. If this is how the central ANC acts over a small region like Tlokwe, I shudder to think how they would respond should they lose a national election. Elections are coming up soon, use your democratic voice and vote to ensure that our story of freedom is different to the rest of Africa.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Egypt’s revolution last year is now seriously in question; the Egyptian army has stormed the capital and deposed the elected President by military coup. This is a major setback for democracy in that country and a poor example for the rest of Africa. As a result of this I have heard many young South Africans say that we should do the same here; just overthrow the government. It is obvious that many people are unhappy with the government, but to say that we should do what the Egyptians have done is incredibly worrying. Citizens of a country will only force a change of government through demonstration or the army, when they no longer trust the systems in place to protect their rights. The environment this creates is ripe for civil war. South Africa has a credible election process with a respected Independent Electoral Commission. Every South African over the age of 18, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation has the right to vote, in secret. It took decades of hard-work, sacrifice, dedication, and many lost lives to win this right for all South Africans. As a result of this we have a credible government that was put in place by the will of the people. If the population of South Africa wants a change they have the power to change it with the simple ‘cross’ in a box. I cannot claim to have a full understanding of politics in Egypt, but what I do know is that the military has take over in Egypt is very worrying. We do not need this, or want this, to happen in South Africa. If we do not like our government, we have the power to change it with our vote. Get out and vote.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
One of my frustrations in the political landscape of South Africa has been that the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has been battling for a platform to talk about their policies and successes, and when they did get their chance, all they did was to criticise the ruling African National Congress (ANC), rather than talk about themselves. This was not healthy for democracy in our country. However, if you have been paying attention to the political scene you would have noticed something very interesting: in the last year or so the DA has been driving the political merry-go-round. They have been incredibly aggressive in their drive to get their policies into the public domain and to create their own future for the party. While they endeavoured to get their message out, they never had the platform to spread the word. The ANC has proved to be an unlikely source of the biggest possible platform for the DA. Recently, The DA’s ‘Know your DA’ campaign has got the most airplay from high-ranking ANC politicians, and this has given the DA a huge platform to respond, and talk of their history. Furthermore, the ANC visited Midvaal, the only opposition run municipality in Gauteng, and made all sorts of outlandish accusations against the DA; the DA was given a platform to respond and share the truth that Midvaal is the best run municipality in Gauteng. Finally, the ANC has called on Barack Obama to refuse the key to the city that will be given to him when he visits Cape Town, citing that the DA does not care for the poor. All this has done is led to the DA being given a platform to share how they provide more for the poor than any city run by the ANC. Add to that the fact that The ANC do not seem able to move past a continuous stream of scandals and you have a situation where the DA is the party that is dictating the political tone and the ANC is on a continuous backpedal. Exciting times lay ahead for democracy in South Africa
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A Judicial Services Commission (JSC) report has recently been leaked to the media stating that if a judge needs to be appointed and there are only white male candidates available, the position should remain absent until a suitable candidate is found One would think that a statement such as this would be vehemently denied by Chief Justice Mogoeng, whose primary job is to see justice served in our country. However, our Chief Justice has come out openly and said that while it is sad that the document was leaked, he sees no problem with the statement being made. Essentially Justice Mogoeng is saying that he would rather there be no justice than justice be served by a white male. While this is racism of the highest order and should be despised on every level, this is not the worst part of the statement. The greatest tragedy is the corrosion of the rights of the average citizen of South Africa If a judging position sits vacant, or if an inferior candidate is put in place, then the citizens of South Africa will, quite simply, not have access to justice. The real loser is not the white candidate who is applying for a job, it is the average South African who has been a victim of crime, and every victim of crime has a right to justice. While I agree with the need for transformation, it cannot be at the expense of the rights of every citizen in our country In a country as riddled with crime as ours is, I would have to say to the Chief Justice that actually no, transformation is not the first priority, Justice is.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
In many countries in the world a politician will be forced to resign, or resign voluntarily due to poor performance or mistakes. In South Africa, this is not the case. Over the last few months we have had a few stark examples of South African politicians who have failed dismally in their provision of services and their ability to act professionally and show a decent level of management. I can think of two examples (among a list of very many). The first is the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Consistently the Education department fails in a myriad of areas including: textbook delivery, teacher performance, abuse of children in schools and teacher absenteeism. Despite all these and many others the minister refuses to resign. Why? The second is Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Following the scandal that was the death of protesting miners at Marikana , having been shot by the police, Riah Phiyega has been disgraceful in her response. It is so obvious that she has absolutely no idea of how to run the police, no idea of the structures and procedures required, and no desire to take responsibility for the worst police brutality since apartheid. Despite this, she refuses to resign. Why? My opinion is that in other nations politicians get their positions based on expertise, experience, and desire to serve. In South Africa, politicians get their positions based on party loyalty, regardless of ability. If a minister in another country resigns they still have their skills and experience, which will allow them to get another job. In South Africa, if ministers are not in government they will more than likely not be employable anywhere else. If they resign, they join the rank and file of the rest of the unemployed in our country, as so quite simply, they cannot resign. It is a matter of urgency that the government begin employing people with the necessary skills required or we will continue to slide into mediocrity.