OPPOSITION PARTIES SHOULD NOT ALLOW OPINION POLLS TO LULL THEM INTO A SENSE OF COMPLACENCY
Opposition parties should not allow opinion polls to lull them into a sense of complacency, argues Kaizer M. Nyatsumba
As the countdown to post-apartheid South Africa’s most fiercely-contested local government elections on 3 August intensifies, a national television news channel has taken to broadcasting the results of weekly opinion polls on the likely outcome of the elections. Conducted by the reputable company Ipsos South Africa, the opinion polls have so far shown that, as expected, the race will be very tight in four metropolitan areas: Nelson Mandela Bay, Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
For a number of reasons, among them the fact that those are the big metropolitan areas in which the governing African National Congress won by slim majorities in the 2014 general elections, it makes sense that the media and the general public would be particularly curious about the likely outcome of the forthcoming local government elections in those regions. After all, those are the four areas on which the three main political parties – the ANC, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – have focused their efforts disproportionately.
While the August 3 elections will certainly be hard fought across the country, the aforementioned four metropolitan councils will continue to enjoy greater attention from the political contestants and observers alike. Not only are they some of the biggest metropolitan councils in the country, but they are also the cities where a theoretical possibility exists that one or two of the opposition parties could form the new governments in those areas.
The opinion polls broadcast last week indicated that the DA was marginally ahead of the ANC in the polls in the Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Tshwane areas. As the ANC gets even more consumed with internal battles following unhappiness over the completion of its candidates’ lists, there is an even higher probability that some of the organisation’s members and supporters might tell pollsters, in anger, that they do not plan to vote for it in August in an effort to put pressure on their leaders. Conversely, there is also likely to be a higher probability of people telling pollsters that they would vote for the DA or even the EFF on election day because of their feelings of anger or disappointment with the terrible state of governance or the economy in the country at the moment.
Should the current, pre-election trend of the Ipsos opinion polls remain the same, a concerned ANC will have no choice but to redouble its campaign efforts in those cities in order to increase its chances of holding onto those important metropolitan councils. Although the trend is unlikely to induce complacency on the part of the DA and the EFF, nevertheless there remains a possibility that psychologically these opposition parties may begin to tell themselves that they will take those councils come 3 August.
More importantly, however, even if DA and EFF leaders and candidates in those areas did not find themselves lulled by the poll results into some complacency, there is a higher probability that some of those parties’ supporters might have a false sense of comfort and, in the end, abstain from voting on election day or even vote for a different party in the mistaken belief that their preferred parties would walk the polls.
Apart from these considerations, it is also important to keep in mind that, interesting though they are, opinion polls are not an infallible soothsayer. Psephology is not an exact science. A number of examples come to mind, with the latest being that of the outcome of last week’s British referendum on its European Union membership.
Although in the run-up to last week’s referendum polls indicated consistently that the vote was too close to call, in the last few days the polls showed that the “Stay” vote would carry the day. Indeed, so confident was the international community of a “Stay” vote that the 52% Brexit decision came as a big shock.
Major British pollsters, including Ipsos MORI, had predicted an 8% victory margin for the Stay campaign, and the Financial Times predicted a 55%-45% vote in favour of remaining within the EU.
In the run-up to the 1992 general elections in the same country, all opinion polls consistently predicted victory for Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party against John Major’s Conservative Party. The Labour Party was forecast to win by such a huge margin that, exactly a week before the elections, on 1 April the party held A Victory Rally at the Sheffield Arena to celebrate its anticipated victory. A research associate at the European Institute for the Media at the University of Manchester at the time, I travelled to Sheffield to attend the rally.
On the day of the elections, The Sun, the biggest, Conservative Party-supporting tabloid newspaper in that country which deeply resented a possible Labour victory, carried on its front page the headline: “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”. Although scaremongering, nevertheless it was a headline that conceded the much-expected Labour Party victory.
And yet, to every pundit’s surprise, the Labour Party suffered a stunning defeat in those elections and John Major went on to serve his first full term as Prime Minister. As The Independent reported in a subsequent analysis of the pre-election polls: “The result, when it came on 9 April, was one that nobody, not even the Tories, had expected.”
Many years earlier, something similar happened in the presidential elections of 1948 in the USA. In those elections, conventional wisdom, supported by opinion polls, held that Democratic Party incumbent Harry S. Truman was heading for a defeat to Republican challenger and New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Again, so strongly did the polls favour Dewey that, on 3 November 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribune carried a prominent front-page headline loudly proclaiming: “Dewey Defeats Truman”. The accompanying story was written by the paper’s veteran Washington Correspondent and political analyst Arthur Sears Henning, who had correctly predicted the winner in four out of five presidential elections in the previous 20 years.
Therefore, while opposition parties like the DA can be encouraged by the weekly Ipsos poll findings broadcast on the television news network, they will do well not to allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of comfort and complacency. After all, psephology is not an exact science. Elections are won on election day, and not before votes are cast.
A former newspaper Editor and political analyst, Kaizer M. Nyatsumba is a senior business executive based in Johannesburg.
Posted on: 27 June 2016 | Author: Kaizer Nyatsumba
Brexit Decision Poses Greater Threat to the United Kingdom as it now stands.
The outcome of the British referendum on European Union membership may pose a bigger threat to the United Kingdom as we now know it, argues Kaizer M. Nyatsumba
A week, they say, is a long time in politics. How right they are!
Just over a year ago the United Kingdom – also known as Great Britain – was very much a single country that was an important member of the European Union. Despite its occasional Euroscepticism, the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) went back to 1970 when its membership application was eventually accepted after the French had relaxed their initial objection.
Since then, various Conservative Party and Labour Party governments have continued to keep the country within the EU, notwithstanding differences that they have had with the European Union from time to time. Throughout this period, the UK managed to maintain, with pride, its strong sense of identity based on its enviable history as a British empire in which “the sun never sets”. For instance, it held doggedly onto its own currency, the British Pound, instead of adopting the Euro, and onto its own immigration system, instead of allowing use of the Schengen visa which is more convenient for foreign travelers to much of Europe.
However, with anti-EU sentiment growing stronger in an increasing number of countries in Europe, largely in the aftermath of the 2008/9 global recession and following the recent massive wave after wave of illegal North African and Asian immigration into Europe, more EU scepticism manifested itself in Britain. With the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which made it into a coalition with the last Conservative Party government that succeeded Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s administration, and with Conservative Party support wavering, Prime Minister David Cameron went into the 7 May 2015 general election with a promise to call a referendum on continuing UK membership of the EU.
That referendum took place just over a year later, on Thursday, 24 June 2016 – and the following day the disappointed, pro-EU Mr Cameron tendered his resignation as Prime Minister when the “Brexit” lobby won the referendum by a very slim majority.
Given the very close degree of the world’s interconnectedness today, the entire international community followed events in Britain, in the run-up to and after the referendum, with great interest. While the predominant international view was that the continued presence of the UK in the EU was in the interest of both that country and the international community, just under 52% of British voters saw things differently and made themselves heard.
The narrow margin of that victory means that the UK is now a country divided almost right down the middle when it comes to EU membership. For every five British citizens who are against continued EU membership, almost five others hold the opposite view – equally strongly. They believe that the country would be better served by continuing EU membership. Going forward, this marked difference of opinion is likely to punctuate most or all important policy discussions in that country.
More importantly, however, the outcome of the referendum may well have far more serious, long-term implications for the UK itself. As the referendum indicated, among the four provinces (they prefer the word “country”) that constitute that country, two – England and Wales – voted for “Brexit” and the other two – Scotland and Northern Ireland – voted in favour of continued EU membership.
Scotland registered the highest pro-EU vote, at 62%, throughout the UK, followed closely by London in second place at 59,% and by Northern Ireland in third place at 55,7%.
With Scotland itself traditionally having a relatively high percentage of residents who prefer an independent Scotland, there is now a greater probability that Scottish nationalists will again call for a referendum on Scottish independence. Following the outcome of the UK EU referendum, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon immediately served notice that a second referendum on Scottish independence may take place soon. She said that it was “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland – which voted 62% in favour of continued UK membership of the EU – faced the prospect of being taken out of the EU against its will.
In the September 2014 Scottish referendum, 44,7% voted in favour of Scottish independence, while 55,3% voted in favour of continued membership of the UK. Judging from the outcome of the British EU referendum, a much higher percentage of Scots are in favour of EU membership than the percentage of those who were in favour of continuing UK membership in September 2014. To boot, the 55,3% of Scots who voted in favour of continued UK membership did so at a time when the UK’s membership of the EU was not in question!
Predominantly Catholic by religion, Northern Ireland has long had a peculiar relationship with the mainland UK. It is a province in which both political and religious battles have raged over the years between Catholics and Protestants, the Irish and the English. It is a territory that has long been the home of Sinn Feinn’s Irish Republican Army, which historically has been at the forefront of calls for a united Republic of Ireland.
The outcome of the “Brexit” referendum is certain to have potentially significant implications for the UK. Just what those implications are remains to be seen. As the new UK works on negotiating its new relations with the rest of Europe, it will have to keep an eye on possible events back home, with demands for Scottish independence and a united Ireland likely to grow louder.
However, contrary to fairly pervasive fears that were expressed here at home ahead of the British referendum, South Africa may not be that terribly affected by it all. Pretoria has every reason to want to strengthen its relations with the EU, while leveraging its relations with Britain to accomplish the same goal with that country. In the end, then, the UK EU referendum outcome may well be a win-win for South Africa, depending on how smartly Pretoria plays its cards.
Kaizer M. Nyatsumba is a senior business executive and writer based in Johannesburg.
Posted on: 24 June 2016 | Author: Kaizer Nyatsumba
South Africa needs to eradicate the culture of impunity and ensure that there are real and visible consequences for wrong doing, argues Kaizer Nyatsumba.
Something very worrying is happening in our beautiful country. Instead of South Africans working together as a team and honestly confronting their challenges in search of a solution, we appear hell-bent on mutual destruction.
We appear to be incapable of holding honest, constructive discussions with one another as compatriots. Instead, we talk past one another and seem to excel at hurling insults at one another. Mandela’s illusion of “a rainbow nation” is something of the past.
Is it too unrealistic to expect that we should all be worried about the current state of affairs? I hope not. Personally, I am very worried about state of affairs in our country – and I think that all right-thinking South Africans should be, too.
Racial insults and counter-insults are flung around with apparent gay abandon, with some even going far as opening moulting frightening threats of violence against fellow compatriots who look or sound different from them. Some political parties have shamelessly resorted to fuelling racism, while some do so indirectly by opportunistically labelling as racist anyone with whom they do not agree or anything with which they disagree, especially if that happens to be criticism of the government, the President or the governing party.
Even more concerning and frightening is the fact that this apparently all-pervasive malady has now afflicted a growing percentage of our youth, most of whom were born during our democratic dispensation. For instance, how is it justifiable for a young, black man at a tertiary institution to eulogize so despicable a figure as Hitler or to wear a T-shirt or carry a placard insulting a whole section of the population and, worse still, calling for genocide against them?
Yes, the legacy of apartheid is very much alive and stares us stubbornly in the face every day. Yes, a frighteningly-high percentage of our white compatriots are in denial about the terrible system of apartheid which benefited each one of them handsomely and whose legacy continues to exist. And, yes, some among them have shown frightening levels of arrogance and gross insensitivity to the feelings of their black compatriots.
That notwithstanding, the answer can never be an adoption by black South Africans of the same ignorance, prejudice and arrogance. Nor is it the turning of the other cheek. The time for the latter option has long passed, if ever there was such a time.
Although in the main the product of ignorance and fear, no doubt compounded in the post-1994 era by competition for scare opportunities and resources to which most – if not all – of our white compatriots traditionally believed themselves to be entitled, racism should never to tolerated in a civilised, democratic society. Instead, it should be punished by ruthlessly invoking the laws of our country.
That should happen regardless of the identity of those behind it. Similarly, purveyors of racism should be quartered and drawn, as correctly happened to Penny Sparrow, and persecuted accordingly. There should be no corner of our country – be it the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal or some of our top universities – in which racists of whatever hue can take refuge.
However, care should be taken to ensure that an all-out war on racism does not offer a shield for censorship. Like racism, censorship should remain in our bygone era of apartheid which was justly decried by the civilised world as a crime against humanity.
Freedom of speech is very important for a democracy. Those with whom we disagree have as much right to it as those with whom we agree. That is why it is vital that the fight against racism is not abused and reduced to a fight against freedom of speech.
Therefore, it was very unfortunate that the comments by radio personality Gareth Cliff and Standard Bank economist Chris Hart were incorrectly labelled as racist. Neither comment was, in and of itself, racist. Instead, both represented fair comment: they were articulations of views to which both men are entitled. Like everybody else, they are entitled to hold and express views or opinions, even if those views are wrong. However, like everybody else, they are not entitled to hate speech, which is a crime.
In his comment, Cliff made the critical point that freedom of speech is an important right protected by our Constitution. Yes, by asserting that right following Penny Sparrow’s gratuitous insult of blacks, whom she called “monkeys”, Gareth Cliff associated himself with her insult of black South Africans and defended her right to call us monkeys. His statement, per se, was not racist, but his contention that calling his black compatriots “monkeys” is free speech is itself racist.
On the other hand, there was absolutely nothing wrong or objectionable about Hart’s comment. Yes, some people may not have liked his analysis, but it was nothing more than his opinion. Personally, I share his concerns: inadvertently, this Government has done a great job of fostering a culture of entitlement. I also agree with him that it is untenable to have a growing civil service and a burgeoning social security system and a small number of taxpayers.
The Government can do much better in getting historically disadvantaged compatriots to understand and appreciate the fact that rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. While the Government has an important responsibility to deliver on its promises to the electorate, including on social services, it has an equally important task to get South Africans to understand that they have just as vital a task to do things both for themselves and for the country.
That is the essence of John F Kennedy’s moving exhortation, in his inaugural address as president of the USA in January 1961, to his compatriots: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Instead of routinely making unrealistic promises during each election, that is the kind of message that our leaders desperately need to tell ordinary South Africans all the time.
It is, therefore, grossly unfair that Hart found himself pilloried and suspended from his job for expressing an opinion simply because some disagree with that opinion. He is owed an apology and Standard Bank needs to grow some spine and recall him to work.
At a time like this, when the degree of political contestation in the country is at its fiercest in many years, it is understandable – but no less deplorable – that the governing party would be inclined to tar and feather anybody even mildly critical of it. Such people will most likely to be called all sorts of names: racists, uncle Toms, “clever blacks”, coconuts, etc. We should brace ourselves for that reality, but we should never allow ourselves to be fooled.
That is the nature of politics. During the McCarthyism era in the USA, everybody who disagreed with Senator Joe McCarthy and his methods was a communist or communist empathiser, as was the case in South Africa during the apartheid era when those opposed to apartheid were called communists, communist lovers or terrorists. Labelling one’s opponents is an age-old trick in politics.
What South Africa needs to do, though, is to eradicate the by-now-dominant culture of impunity. We need to ensure that there are real and visible consequences for wrong doing. That is a culture that we have to develop and inculcate in every person in the country.
That means that people who vandalise public and private property during a strike should never again be able to get their employers to agree not to press charges against them as a condition of ending the strike. It means that students at our tertiary institutions should never again vandalise property during protests and still be able to get universities not to discipline or lay charges against them when the said protests are over. It means that it should never again be possible for some misguided hot heads to wear clothes or carry placards with inflammatory statements like “F..k White People” or even “Kill White People” at our universities and not have charges of hate speech and/or crimen injuria laid against them.
We need to eradicate the culture of impunity. Instead, we need to go out of our ways to ensure that there are clear and visible consequences for every wayward or improper action, whenever or by whomever it might be. Failure to do that will certainly sink South Africa in the long term.
Kaizer M. Nyatsumba is a writer, a senior business executives and a PhD candidate.
Posted on: 14 February 2016 | Author: Kaizer Nyatsumba
The 2010 World Cup Bid
THE 2010 WORLD CUP BID COMPANY NEVER APPROVED THE PAYMENT OF ANY BRIBES TO JACK WARNER OR ANYONE ELSE
Like most – if not all – South Africans, I find the corruption scandal that has engulfed the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and enmeshed our hosting of the 2010 World Cup deeply embarrassing. This terrible saga has a real potential to overshadow what was, without doubt, our crowning moment as a democratic South Africa.
My pain is deepened by the fact that, unlike most of my compatriots, I was one of those who were intimately involved in efforts to win South Africa the great privilege of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I am terribly pained by the fact that what was meant to be our brightest day in the global sun is slowly being turned into a curse of potentially gargantuan proportions, with the possibility that the 2010 World Cup may, in years to come, be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
While we should be very concerned about the raging controversy and the alleged corruption that has engulfed FIFA, we should not allow our wonderful memories of the 2010 World Cup to be sullied. Personally, I refuse to allow so glorious an occasion to be reduced to an event of which we should be ashamed.
However, we should be very concerned about the serious allegations that have been made against South Africa and two as-yet-unnamed individuals who are alleged to have been involved in bribery. Was there any malfeasance in our bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup? That is a question that we should confront head on. Should there ultimately turn out to have been any whiff of scandal attendant to our winning the rights to host that World Cup, then we will have no choice but to hang our heads in collective shame.
As it may be recalled, South Africa lost the bid for the 2006 World Cup to Germany by a soul-crashing single vote in 2000, thanks to Oceania delegate Charles Dempsey’s abstention despite a mandate from his football association for him to vote for South Africa. Like most – if not all – South Africans, the group for which I worked at the time, Independent Newspapers South Africa, was shattered by the narrow defeat. It mobilised the public to sign a petition to be sent to FIFA headquarters in Zurich, asking for the vote to be re-taken.
As the Editor of the Daily News at the time, the newspaper group designated me to be the public face of that campaign, and I participated in various television interviews, articulating the group’s concerns and giving updates on the petition. Needless to say, our efforts amounted to naught. As things turned out, all we managed to do was to give bitterly disappointed South Africans a much-needed opportunity to vent their pent-up emotions.
Although Dempsey subsequently gave his reasons for his abstention, only he knows whether they were true or if there was more than met the eye. Regrettably, he has since gone the way of all flesh and is not around to answer any further questions. Certainly, there would be a lot more interest in hearing from him now, at the height of the scandal that has engulfed FIFA.
Subsequent to the controversy that followed our marginal loss to Germany, FIFA resolved that the 2010 World Cup would take place in Africa, with only countries on the continent to compete among themselves to host it. It was when South Africa decided to bid for it again that I had a more direct involvement with the bid. By then I had left journalism and was employed as Vice-President for Corporate Affairs at Anglo American, with a responsibility for marketing. My primary responsibility at the company was finding a way to get it to reconnect emotionally with South Africa, the country of its birth.
In search of a property with which to associate the powerful Anglo American brand, and aware of the power of football, early in 2003 I approached then Premier Soccer League (PSL) CEO Trevor Phillips and then South African Football Association (SAFA) CEO Danny Jordaan respectively to discuss the possibility of an Anglo American sponsorship. I had a good meeting with Phillips, but Jordaan informed me, during our meeting, that SAFA had decided to have another go at the World Cup and was looking for sponsors for the bid. With the company’s support, I seized on the opportunity for Anglo American to come on board as the first sponsor of the 2010 World Cup Bid.
To allay any concerns that main sponsors may have about corporate governance, they were each entitled to a seat on the Board of the 2010 Bid Company. Anglo American CEO Anthony Trahar designated then Deputy Finance Director Norman Mbazima as the company’s main representative on the Board, with me as his alternate. However, throughout the existence of the 2010 Bid Company, I was the company’s primary representative and main spokesman on that board, with Mbazima attending a handful of meetings. On that glorious day on 15 May 2004, when South Africa was announced as the host of the 2010 World Cup, then Anglo American South Africa CEO Lazarus Zim and I were in that hall in Zurich, Switzerland.
As a very active member of the Board of the 2010 Bid Company who was involved in shuttle diplomacy to ensure that the SAFA leadership worked as a team and was the most outspoken person on corporate governance, I can state categorically that no 2010 Bid Company Board meeting that I attended ever discussed or approved the payment of bribes to secure the 2010 World Cup. Had any such discussion ever taken place, I would have opposed it most vehemently both in my name and in Anglo American’s name. Neither Anglo American nor I would ever countenance, let alone tolerate, any payment of bribes.
Anglo American worked very hard to help South Africa win the right to host the 2010 World Cup. In addition to making its corporate jet available for the FIFA inspection team to travel in when it was in South Africa, the company also made it possible for me to travel extensively with 2010 Bid Company CEO Danny Jordaan to campaign for South Africa in those countries where Anglo American had a presence and FIFA Executive Committee Members lived, such as Tunisia, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Then Anglo American South Africa CEO Lazarus Zim and I also travelled to Botswana to ask FIFA Executive Committee member Ishmael Bhamjee to vote for South Africa, and then FNB Marketing Director Derek Carstens and I accompanied Jordaan to Spain to entice Barcelona FC and Real Madrid FC to come to South Africa to play exhibition matches against the country’s premier teams to show off our preparedness to host the World Cup, to coincide with the presence in the country of the FIFA inspection team. Regrettably, neither team was available, and Britain’s Tottenham Hotspur ended up being the substitute.
However, close to the announcement of the winning bid, at one meeting in Sandton, the Board was informed that Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) President Jack Warner had asked the 2010 Bid Company to pledge to contribute funds for football development in his region or country in return for votes. Deeply uncomfortable about the request, I spoke out most strongly against it, as did other board members, especially those representing sponsors. (There was no Government representation on the 2010 Bid Company Board.)
In addition to the valid governance concerns that we had, there was also the fact that the 2010 Bid Company’s budget was hardly enough to cover its bidding business, with subsequent requests made to sponsors for additional funding to enable it to executive its mandate. Requests like Warner’s could neither be entertained nor covered by that budget.
In the end, the Board turned down Warner’s reported request, and that was the last time that I heard about it – until the arrest two weeks ago of some FIFA leaders attending the last FIFA congress in Zurich. Any subsequent approval of a $10 million legacy project donation to CONCACAF would have been done either by the Government or the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, of which the original bidding sponsors were not part.
As far as I know, I never missed any meeting of the 2010 Bid Company Board. I also attended the last Board meeting in Woodmead, after we had been awarded the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, where a resolution to dissolve the company and donate its assets to SAFA was approved.
The full story of South Africa’s bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is contained in Kaizer Nyatsumba’s book, Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis.
South Africa. What a beautiful country it is on the southernmost tip of the African continent.
As a democracy, we are only twenty years old, with 27 April 2015 marking an important milestone when we will turn 21 and come of age. However, we don’t have to wait until then to reflect on our development as a country. It is never too late to pause and reflect on our lot from time to time in order to establish what we could have done differently or what requires our immediate attention as a nation.
So, twenty years since the end of apartheid, how are we doing as a country? Well, we have certainly made considerable strides, about that there can be no doubt. Thanks to the efforts of our founding father, Nelson Mandela, and the leadership of those who followed him in office, but especially former president Thabo Mbeki, we have proudly taken our place among the civilized nations of the world. There have been occasions when we have punched way above our weight on various international fora and when our opinion or approbation as a country has been sought by nations far more powerful than us both politically and economically.
In our first 20 years of democracy we have hosted some of the most important events on the political and sporting calendar, including United Nations events and three World Cups in three different sporting codes: rugby, cricket and, of course, the mother of them all, football. We have made impressive and visible investments in infrastructure, with the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg being among the most iconic features of that city.
Politically, our democracy has matured. Where once political intolerance was rife, with many a no-go area in the country for some political parties, by and large free political activity is now the order of the day – except, as we have seen in the run-up to our last general elections in May this year, when some members of the ruling party feel seriously threatened politically in some parts of the country.
We will have to watch the latter development very carefully, because it may be more revealing of the kind of behaviour that we can expect as real competition for our votes takes place in the country, with liberation credentials no longer adequate to guarantee the black masses’ support. After all, the true test of a fledgling democracy takes place when a party which had come to take winning elections as its birthright suddenly feels seriously challenged to the extent that it might lose an election – or lose in some significant areas of a country. What we saw happening in the country in the run-up to the May 7 elections indicates that we do, indeed, have reason to be concerned.
Still, we continue to pass the democracy test with something akin to flying colours, and that is something worthy of celebration. However, we dare not be complacent as a people. We will do well to be ultra-vigilant, and those institutions charged with the important responsibility of oversight over Government have additional pressure to guard their independence jealously.
It is when we turn to our economy’s performance that we have reason to be very concerned. Regrettably, as a country we have not done as well economically as we could have done. This is an area that requires the kind of mature partnership from all stakeholders that was shown by those who led South Africa’s political transition from apartheid to a democracy, especially those within the now-moribund National Party – in human history, it is never easy for people in power to give it up voluntarily, without having lost in battle – and Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela.
Even when our economy registered healthy annual growth rates bordering on five percent, it simply failed to create jobs in sufficient numbers. In many ways, it was a job-less growth. In the past decade our economy has been stuttering, with the situation worsening after the advent of the global recession of 2008. In 2013 we registered a pitiable 1,9% growth in our Gross Domestic Product – at a time when many other countries on the continent have registered much higher growth rates – and in the first three months of this year our economy contracted by 0,6%. Since then, our sovereign credit rating has been downgraded by Standard and Poor’s from BBB to BBB-, just a notch above junk status, with Fitch downgrading our economic outlook from positive to negative.
Should we be concerned? Most certainly. With rampant unemployment confronting us, we need to grow our economy as a matter of extreme urgency. We need to find ways to stimulate local manufacturing and to improve our international competitiveness as a nation. We need to take a very critical look at some of the decisions that we took hastily in the early days of our democracy, including some of the pieces of legislation that we put in place at the time, which have had the unintended consequences of making us less attractive for foreign investors.
To this end, the Government has by far the biggest responsibility. South Africa will never realize its true economic potential for as long as some in Government are hell-bent on pushing certain ideological agendas, rather than on advancing the country’s best business and political interests; nor will it do so for as long as key appointments in Governments and related institutions are determined by political – or even factional – membership or allegiance, rather than qualifications and experience.
However powerful it may be, even the Government cannot accomplish this goal on its own. Instead, it will need a rock-solid partnership with the business community and the labour movement. The Government will have to prove itself to be driven solely by what is in South Africa’s interests, and business – especially white business, which continues to be very dominant 20 years into our democracy – will have to prove itself to be truly willing to embrace change and transformation and to enter into a constructive partnership with the Government. The less transformed our economy continues to be, the more threatened business will be, with white business interests more so.
The same applies to the labour movement, which generally appears to be caught in a terrible time warp. It, too, will have to enter into that constructive partnership with the Government and the business community, in the best interests of South Africa.
Is that all a pipedream? Is it too much to ask of stakeholders who are currently miles apart from one another? Yes, I understand that it might appear so at the moment, but it is certainly not an impossible dream. If we could slay the apartheid monster and transition relatively peacefully to a democracy two decades ago, surely we can do the same economically – if only we can have the kind of inspirational leadership that we were so fortunate to have as a country in the period from 1989 to 1994 and beyond.
Among the dragons that need to be slayed is the deep-rooted culture of entitlement that was allowed, by our political leaders, to take effect right from the early days of our democracy. While social grants are important, everybody will have to accept that they do not constitute a solution. Except in the case of senior citizens, children and the disabled, social grants ought to be temporary assistance offered to those who find themselves in a situation where they require it, with the solution being to help transition them out of grants and (back) to the workplace as soon as possible.
It is only when the people of South Africa – men, women and the youth – recognize that their destiny lies in their respective hands and not in the Government’s, when they accept that if they work hard enough they can turn their lives around and attain any goal that they set for themselves, that South Africa will know true success. It is only then, too, that South Africa will finally be a truly stable country that does not need to fear the possibility of an uprising from poor masses who consider the Government their uber Parents.
Posted on: 06 July 2014 | Author: Kaizer Nyatsumba
On The Murder Of Senzo Meyiwa
My brother’s murder five years ago deserves the same degree of urgency that has been shown by the SAPS following the murder of Senzo Meyiwa, argues Kaizer Nyatsumba.
The murder of Orlando Pirates and national goal keeper Senzo Meyiwa over the weekend is absolutely despicable and has rightly been condemned by all South Africans. The Meyiwa family, his team and the nation have been robbed of a phenomenal talent that had begun to have its impact felt on the international footballing stage.
I join the millions of my compatriots in conveying heart-felt condolences to the Meyiwa and Orlando Pirates families. I wish them strength to face this terrible situation during this difficult period. Like them and many other compatriots, I also look forward to the immediate arrest and prosecution of those responsible for so vile a deed.
Meyiwa was a much-liked footballer who distinguished himself at Orlando Pirates over the years and in the colours of our national football team in recent months, and went on to captain our national team. Without doubt, he was one of the most talented young men playing football on the African continent at the moment and would appear to have been well on his way towards realising his ambition to be among the best goal minders in the world.
At only 27 at the time of this terrible tragedy, Meyiwa must certainly have had an even brighter future ahead of himself not only on the sports fields, but also in life in general. At a time like this, our thoughts and prayers go to his young family, his parents and his siblings, who will continue to feel his gaping absence in their lives long after South Africa will have moved on to deal with other matters.
The decisive action taken by the South African Police Service to improve their chances of speedily apprehending Senzo’s murderers is to be welcomed. By offering a reward of R250 000 for information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of the murderers, the police have considerably improved their chances of making a breakthrough in this matter.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega even moved equally swiftly to announce, at a press conference on Monday, the formation of a special unit to investigate this dastardly murder. In addition, various stakeholders, including the Minister of Sports, the ruling party and the Presidency, also condemned the killing and conveyed condolences to the Meyiwa family.
Also commendable was the speed with which the South African Police Service made arrests a week ago following the stabbing of African National Congress Member of Parliament Jackson Mthembu at an auto-teller machine in Witbank. As I did through a text message last week to Mthembu, I take this opportunity to wish him again a speedy recovery and to welcome the arrest of those who put him in hospital.
It is very encouraging to know that our police are capable of moving swiftly to effect arrests when crimes have taken place and to offer public rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who terrorise our communities. The speed with which the SAPS moved in response to the terrible criminal incidents mentioned above is a positive development that we would like to see replicated in all similar incidents.
Regrettably, however, my family and I have not seen that level of police professionalism and that sense of urgency when our beloved brother, Elphus Mfana Adonis Motha, was found dead in a veld outside the Pretoria area, with multiple stab wounds, five-and-a-half years ago now. Instead, in every turn we have been confronted with police ineptitude of the worst kind, with the original investigating officer, one Captain De Jongh of the Akasia Police Station, having been too quick to want to close the investigation.
When I objected to that decision, the investigation was then assigned to another police officer, who had to acquaint himself with the facts of the case anew, and it was subsequently handed over to a third investigating offer, Lieutenant MR Sema, a year ago. Almost five-and-a-half years later, no arrests have been made, even though promises to that effect have been made from time to time.
My family and I accept readily that, educated through he was, our beloved brother did not have the kind of public profile in South Africa that Messrs Mthembu and Meyiwa have/had. Instead, he was a humble man who had given two decades of his life to the service of his country as a teacher, a profession in which he rose to become principal of Sinqobile Primary School at Soshanguve. So much did he love education that, over the years, he acquired more degrees and moved on to work first for the National Prosecution Authority and later for Eskom as an Ethics Officer, after he had obtained his Masters in Public Administration from the University of the Witwatersrand.
My family and I would hate to think that the Government of South Africa and its law-enforcement agencies do not treat all victims of crime equally. Although I wrote to President Jacob Zuma, then Police Minister Nkosinathi Mthethwa and then Acting SAPS Commissioner Tim Williams, on behalf of the family, a mere few days after the brutal murder of my beloved brother, there was never any press conference held by the SAPS to call on the public to come forward with information – and there was certainly no reward offered for such information.
Instead, over the past five years I have done everything possible to assist the police in their investigation. I have engaged the services of a private investigator, who amassed a lot of information and passed it on to the police, but still no arrests have been made.
I have spoken to both General Phiyega and her predecessor, Bheki Cele, in their capacities as SAPS Commissioner during their respective tenures, and yet we continue to wait for news of the arrests of the architects of the murder of our beloved brother, Adonis. This cannot be right. Indeed, it is so egregiously wrong that we, as a family, have vowed never to accept this situation.
Adonis was no less a citizen of this country and no ess a taxpayer than any other victim of crime, and he deserves much, much better from those towards whose salaries he contributed through his taxes. As a family, we, too, are no less citizens of this country and deserve much, much better from those towards whose salaries we contribute through taxes.
The information amassed by my private investigators remains available to the police, and it is now captured in my book, Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis, which will be launched in Johannesburg on Saturday. As a family, we remain available to assist the police in their investigation and look forward to that day when they will tell us that arrests have been made.
As we commiserate with the Meyiwa family and wish Mthembu a speedy recovery, we would find it totally unacceptable that the country’s law-enforcement agencies would treat citizens differently, depending on their respective public profiles. And so we ask, General Phiyega and your team: please find the killers of our beloved brother, Adonis, as soon as possible, and offer public rewards if that will help you to achieve that goal as soon as possible.
Given our unhappiness with the manner in which Adonis’s murder has been treated by the police so far, this week I will lay a complaint against the police with the Public Protector and the Independent Complaints Directorate.
Kaizer Nyatsumba is a senior business executive in Johannesburg. His book, Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis, will be launched in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Posted on: 06 November 2014 | Author: Kaizer Nyatsumba