Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Power-obsessed leaders fiddle while SA burns

It has been a week-and-a-half since Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan both dropped bombshells on South Africa.

Without beating about the bush, they told us that the economy is tanking and tough times lie ahead.
The country is in economic crisis but no one seems to care much about it except these two leaders.
Marcus told us on July 18 that the Reserve Bank's economic growth outlook for 2013 had been revised down from 2.4% to 2%.
Then, speaking from Moscow the next day, Gordhan echoed Marcus and said the Treasury would cut its economic growth forecast for this year to as low as 2% because mining strikes and the recession in Europe would dent exports.
But it says something about our political elite, and our political culture, that these announcements have not made it into most newspapers.
Let's unpack what the two announcements really mean.
First, consider that the economy grew by only 0.9% in the first quarter, the slowest since 2009, when President Jacob Zuma's administration came into power. Consider also that we need the economy to grow at about 7% annually to lower the unemployment rate to 14% by 2020.
Then consider this: Marcus announced on the same day that the youth unemployment rate had reached 52.8%. Yes, more than half of all young people are walking the streets instead of working.
The Zuma administration's economic performance has been getting worse ever since it came into power. Gordhan's projections for economic growth have taken a beating every year. He promised 2.7% last year but gave us only 2.5%. He promised 2.7% this year but has already backed off to a measly 2%.
The implications are dire: unemployment is likely to rise and retrenchments will continue as businesses take strain. South Africans are hugely indebted as it is, but things will get worse.
So who cares? No one, it seems.
Election season is in full swing. A lot of mud, poo, scandal and tears are being flung about.
There is a lot of noise, but no real engagement with the issues that affect the poorest of the poor - the people whose lives are going to be devastated by inadequate economic growth, retrenchments and deepening unemployment.
We have forgotten about them.
Instead, the ANC, its allies and the twitterati were yesterday salivating over the Zwelinzima Vavi sex scandal.
The in-fighting and the divisions that have gripped the tripartite alliance - the ANC, labour federation Cosatu, and the SA Communist Party - are now more important than a serious discussion about what ails this economy and how we should go about fixing it.
Many political players are in this sad, pathetic state of disarray.
COPE is still in court fighting over leadership positions.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, despite the name, are nothing more than champagne socialists, drunk on the promise of power.
The party is only in its infancy but already it is flirting with dangerous religious quacks such as the notorious Pastor Mboro, of the East Rand.
The Pan Africanist Congress and Azapo are in tatters and will be wiped out in the next election.
The Inkatha Freedom Party is being consumed by its own ghosts.
The DA is bending over backwards to sign up a man associated with homophobia, sexism and an attempted murder charge.
All the while, the economy is tanking. If there is a case for Zuma to answer, this is it.
Since he came to power he has singularly failed to provide leadership on economic policy.
To avoid making a clear decision, he appointed four ministers to oversee the economy.
Gordhan and Minister in The Presidency Trevor Manuel have gamely tried to pull one way while Economic Planning Minister Ebrahim Patel and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies have pulled the other way.
It's a confusing mess. Four years later, there is still no certainty about our macro-economic policy.
The whole thing is a patch job. Last week, the ANC announced that it would establish yet another task team on the economy. Oh my, not another.
All this has consequences. South Africa has been wracked by service delivery protests: who is behind them? Answer: the young people walking the streets without jobs.
Now the populists are running around promising young people "economic freedom" and nationalisation of the mines and land - all of which could lead to a Zimbabwe scenario.
What will the hopeless, unemployed young do then? They will follow the populists because the ANC is failing them.
There's a popular phrase: "It's the economy, stupid!" Our leaders would do well to reflect on it before the nation goes bust.

FACEBOOK Muzzles Human Rights Campaigner

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Sunette Bridges
Sunette Bridges, human rights campaigner
Sunette Bridges Human Rights Campaigner
Sunette Bridges, South African human rights campaigner 
has been highly critical of the powerful South African 
press group NASPERS over the group’s policy on non 
reporting of human rights abuses, murders and torture 
of white minority members in South Africa. Now 
FACEBOOK is also helping to keep her message out of 
the public arena.
Since the beginning of 2012 Ms Bridges has been keeping a record of attacks 
and murders, most of which of go unreported by the mainstream press in South 
Africa and posting them on FACEBOOK.
FACEBOOK has reacted to complaints, thought to originate from NASPERS 
and ANC supporters, by deleting her group page and even editing her 
personal page. She has been under fire since she started publishing the 
attacks which are proving to be an embarrassment to the ANC 
The current controversy is thought to have started when another popular singer, 
Steve Hofmeyer published an article titled “ My Tribe is Dying like Flies”.
This sparked off a "Boycott Naspers" movement on Facebook which was 
established on Monday 1 June 2013. The membership numbers jumped to 
over 7,000 in less than a week to close to 223 by 28 July. Others who have 
been active in the publishing of victim’s names and criticism of the ANC and
 NASPERS have also been in the firing line with smear campaigns and even 
threats directed at their lives.
FACEBOOK has also closed another well known campaigner’s page but it is
 thought Ms. Bridges, who avoids publishing gruesome pictures but simply 
keeps a note of basic details of victims is coming in for a more concerted 
attack to muzzle her because of her popularity. She is the daughter of a well 
loved local music icon, Bless Bridges who died in 2000 and is regarded by 
many as a symbol of the Afrikaaner nation. Sunette Bridges is perceived as 
a brave, outspoken, caring person who is deeply troubled by the relentless 
slaughter of her people and the fact that it is being covered up, not only
 by the ruling party but by the press supposedly representing her own 
Ms. Bridges has been a thorn in the side of the ANC bringing to light the fact 
that over 69 000 white South Africans have been brutally murdered since 
1994 mostly in racially motivated hate killings. Well over 4000 white 
commercial farmers have been murdered in the same period. It is 
noteworthy that The attackers seldom spare anyone - even children, babies 
and the elderly are tortured, raped, castrated, mutilated and often dismembered 
while still alive - even family pets are mutilated. In some cases, only a few articles 
are stolen, often - nothing.
For the past 17 months Ms. Bridges has put 
names, dates and details to the statistics which 
is attracting attention to the plight of her people.
The NASPERS group was founded in Cape Town in 1915 and is the largest 
media company in Africa. The group has interests in Internet, Pay TV, 
Newspapers, Magazines, Books and is very powerful with increasing interests
 around the world. In 2006, NASPERS invested 422 million USD in the Brazilian 
media company Abril S.A. The company also has an ADR listing on the London 
Stock Exchange (LSE). In 2012 the online retail division of the group, Kalhari 
reported well over a billion USD in revenue for just 6 months.
NASPERS own Code of Ethics lays out a clear set of guidelines for business 
practices and employees but there is a noticeable lack of any reference to 
ethical reporting. It does however state that “Through its various operations, 
the group wants to be useful to the communities it serves and use its expertise 
to that end”. There is clearly a dim view taken of any community that does not 
want to be served by the group.
In South Africa it is virtually impossible to make economic headway 
without embracing the ANC’s BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) rules 
which basically exclude white males from the job market. This policy has resulted 
in well over a half a million whites becoming destitute and recently the 
ANC prohibited any companies from offering these people food aid. 
NASPERS has enthusiastically implemented these policies although, 
interestingly the senior management is made up of white males only.
NASPERS is also in complete compliance with ANC policy of under 
reporting black on white violence and the group’s highlighting of the 
rare incidences of the reverse have not gone un noticed by the white minority.
 To this end Ms. Bridges took particular offence to an article in a NASPERS’ 
paper in response to her listings that claimed that white women in South 
Africa have more to fear from their husbands and boyfriends. She 
countered this with a detailed list of 55 white women who were 
brutally murdered by unknown black males since 15 May 2012 to
8 June 2013. Murders that were not reported in the NASPERS press. 
These include numerous horrific cases that, in any other country would make 
headlines – reports of elderly women being gang raped, tortured and 
hacked to death.
The surprise is not that Ms. Bridges is under attack by the powerful, pro 
ANC NASPERS but by FACEBOOK. A close look at FACEBOOK’s rules 
does not shed any light on why Ms. Bridges’ group page should have been 
deleted. It also does not outline any ethical policy that FACEBOOK should 
adhere to with regards the allowing of the publication of facts concerning 
what has been deemed by the US organization, Genocide Watch to be a 
stage 6 genocide of the white minority in SA.
Clearly this feisty woman who has a heart for the survival of her people is 
up against some very powerful opponents – both government and commercial. 
These opponents, for a variety of self serving reasons do not want the
 world to know the truth of what is going on in South Africa. Sadly 
FACEBOOK is all too happy to join in this scandalous activity and dictate 
what they think a section of their billion member users should and should not know.
Africadesk is based in Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, and is a Stringer for Allvoices.