3 Articles by:-

1) At Home and Abroad - By Allister Sparks
Monday, October 29, 2012 4:09 AM
Suggested headline: It's in the national interest now to build a strong opposition

It seems nearly every week brings some new indication of an impending shake-up of our political landscape.

Two weeks ago Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille flighted her suggestion that opposition parties should come together to craft a common platform to fight the 2014 national election. Last week the leaders of two such parties responded to signal their interest in the idea. Now we have former President Thabo Mbeki breaking his discreetly maintained silence on the deteriorating state of the nation to issue a brutally frank critique of the "directionless and unguided drift" of the country under President Jacob Zuma.

We have also had the rare sight of a leading South African businessman, former JSE boss Russell Loubser, finding the courage to lambaste the government in public for its lack of leadership and apparent inability even to recognise a crisis when it is upon them; and now the astonishing outburst by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, supposedly a rising star in the ANC firmament, describing Zuma as a "politically bankrupt" and morally flawed leader.

Clearly a broad sense of unease throughout the country is gathering momentum.

It is an incremental process, particularly in a country like ours where political loyalties are so deeply rooted in identity, but it is beginning to acquire a certain inevitability as the pressure builds and at some stage it will reach a tipping point.

What is making this more certain by the day is the inability of the ANC-led alliance to unlock the shackles hobbling it. There are deep ideological and personality divisions both between the alliance partners and within each of them. This paralyses the whole body because to move decisively in any one direction risks alienating the opposing factions..

A strong, charismatic leader able to project a clear vision of where South Africa needs might be able to carry all with him, but Zuma has no such vision and little charisma.

Worst of all, he lacks credibility. He calls for an end to corruption when everyone knows he got off the hook of a corruption charge himself in questionable circumstances. Now, faced with ruinous wage claims from wildcat strikers, he calls on the whole country to exercise fiscal restraint. Illegal strikers must go back to work, wage negotiations must be frozen, executives must decline bonuses and pay increases -- while he himself blithely accepts R200-million of public money for the lavish enlargement of his private country retreat at Nkandla.

Yet the ANC dare not dump him, for to do so would trigger a disruptive fight for the leadership that would tear the organisation apart. Zuma has built an interlocking patronage system in which too many have too much to lose if that should happen. So many of those desperate for change find themselves locked in to the status quo.

The evidence is irrefutable. Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary general of Cosatu, has made it abundantly clear he would like to see Zuma replaced by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, but he is having to go along with a collective Cosatu decision to stick with Zuma rather than risk breaking up the ruling party and indeed his own organisation as well. This has landed an otherwise honourable man, often a lone voice of frankness in the alliance, in a hopelessly schizophrenic situation where he is having to say one thing and do another.

The upshot is that for the next seven years we are going to have a President whom even some senior members of his own party think is no good.

That is an intolerable situation.

What it means is that it has become vitally important in the national interest to build a viable opposition as quickly as possible, because it is only when the ANC feels seriously challenged at the polls that it will begin to respond to the public mood rather than to the interplay of factional politics within itself.

Some analysts are inclined to write off the Democratic Alliance's (DA's) chances of ever being able to play that role. I think they are wrong. While it is true that the ANC managed initially to slap a reactionary "whites only" label on its only potentially serious challenger, Helen Zille has succeeded in shaking off much of that during her five years as DA leader. The DA has gained a significant foothold in the young black middle-class that has helped it nearly double its share of the national vote in that time.

Now Zille has presented her idea of a joint opposition election platform that has drawn a swift response. There are some who say that would not add to the overall opposition vote. Again I disagree. Size matters in politics, so I have no doubt such a coalition would deliver more than the sum of its parts. A joint platform that cuts deeper into the black electorate than the DA can manage alone would attract many more doubtful voters who feel drawn to the prospect of better, cleaner, more focussed government but are still held back by that stubborn identity factor.

The individual identities of parties participating in such a joint venture could be maintained, just as they were of the thousand civic bodies and trade unions that formed the hugely successful United Democratic Front during the anti-apartheid struggle.

Indeed the UDF provides a useful model for the structuring of such an opposition front. Each member body of the UDF retained its own identity and leadership, with an umbrella committee presiding over the whole and reaching decisions by consensus. It worked well and played a decisive role in winning the great struggle for our democracy.

What effect ex-President Mbeki's sudden entry into the ANC's leadership turmoil may have is hard to assess. He never managed as President to command mass popularity, but he is respected as a veteran ANC leader with an iconic name. Many admired him for his intellect and eloquence, and he had a loyal body of followers in the higher echelons of the ANC, most of whom have since melted away into retirement or the private sector.

When he expressed his despair at the directionless state of the nation during his Oliver Tambo Lecture at Fort Hare last week, Mbeki said he was uncertain what he should do about it. Some saw this as a hint that he might return to politics. I doubt it. He must know that if he were to run for office at Mangaung he would be defeated and humiliated all over again. He might try to work behind the scenes to support the Motlanthe campaign, but that, too, would be a lost cause, for Zuma already has the outcome all wrapped up.

Mbeki's best course would be to continue what he has started -- using his influence to present more critical analyses of what has gone wrong with the ANC, thereby awakening a sharper awareness within the rank and file of the kind of leadership they should demand.

If in the process he happens to advance the cause of the opposition in the 2014 election, well and good. For only if the ANC is seriously challenged by a viable opposition will it wake up to a full realisation of what it must do to ensure long-term survival. Continued directionlessness will destroy both it and the country.


Looking over the edge of a cliff - Clem Sunter
10 October 2012

Just over a year ago, Chantell Ilbury and I were giving a:-
70% probability to South Africa staying in the Premier League,
30% to a peaceful decline into into a 2nd world country
And 0% for a Failed State.

With the tabling of the Secrecy Bill, we changed to:-
50% probability to South Africa staying in the Premier League
40% for a peaceful decline and
10% for Failed State.

Gagging the media would remove an essential pillar of democracy, precipitate a massive increase in corruption and terminate our brand of being a model for the rest of Africa to follow. Accordingly, we went more negative.

With the Marikana tragedy ushering in a period of industrial turmoil which, aggravated by the lack of service delivery, can escalate into a full-blown South African version of the Arab Spring, we have revised the probability yet again.

50% probability to South Africa staying in the Premier League
50% for a peaceful decline and
25% for Failed State.

We have been saying for several months that South Africa shares the same characteristics as those existing in all Arab countries that have experienced or are experiencing a popular uprising: an abnormally high youth unemployment rate; combined with active social networks; combined with a growing alienation towards the state by young people. All these uprisings were triggered by a random event and maybe in our case it was Marikana. One senses a change in mood among the workers in this country.

They no longer trust authority whether that authority is exercised by employers, the unions or the government. If that deep distrust and anger continues and merges with the total desperation felt by the unemployed, then we have a recipe for a revolution which nobody in authority will be able to control.

Hence, it would be foolish for Chantell and myself to continue backing peaceful decline into Third World status as our favourite downside scenario. Events of the past few weeks have shown how quickly the wheels can come off when the mood turns ugly. However, we are at pains to emphasise that the incidents so far are relatively isolated and we are still a long way from the violence that engulfed Libya and is destroying Syria.

The whole point about scenarios is to recognise when the chandelier in the ballroom is beginning to tremble. The way we are programmed is to stick our heads in the sand and go on enjoying the party until the lights go out.

Like everyone else, neither Chantell nor I wish to raise the probability of a terrible outcome. But the flags say otherwise and the purpose of flags is to take emotion out of our judgement on the probabilities of desirable and undesirable futures.

We are still holding the odds at 50:50 on Premier League versus Second Division and Failed State. We still maintain that the country is at a tipping point where it can tip either way. What we are saying, though, is that the penalty for not tipping in the right direction has just become a lot more extreme. Have we as a people got a sense of crisis to remedy the situation? You decide.

As for Chantell and I as two seasoned scenario planners, we sense a perfect storm approaching which could blow us over the edge of the cliff. All around the world, inequality is increasing as technology drives a stake through traditional job creation and human greed ensures the rich get richer. South Africa just started higher up on the inequality scale. We need a new economic accord which gets rid of the waste, inefficiency and corruption. We cannot afford it anymore. We need to tighten anti-monopoly legislation to create the space for millions of new small enterprises. We need to return to a stable industrial relations climate by creating greater wage parity, better living conditions for workers and a greater sense of common purpose.

All this can only be achieved by setting up an Economic Codesa to come up with a new economic blueprint involving measurable outcomes for all the parties concerned - and to which they are held accountable by each other.

We are in a state of emergency. Collectively, we have to resolve it.



3) FW: The MDC Today - Issue 450 3
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
This story tell us how the secret and shadowy world of the CIO and other operates in Zimbabwe = with complete impunity.

Two MDC members Emanuel Kambarami and Andrew Vera were abducted by five heavily armed secret State security agents at their homes in Mpopoma, Bulawayo on Wednesday night.

Kambarami is the chairperson for ward 9 Mpopoma constituency while Vera is the Youth Assembly ward chairperson.

After the night raid, the two activists were taken to Magnet House, which is the Central Intelligence Organisation provincial head office where they were heavily assaulted during interrogation which lasted into the early hours of the next day. The notorious Magnet House, which is used as a torture base by the CIO operatives, is owned by Obert Mpofu, a Zanu PF Politburo member.

According to the two MDC members, the merchants of torture claimed that they wanted to know which perceived 'faction' the two belonged to and who had written an MDC slogan, which read; 'MDC Kwese Kwese' at Sikanyiso Ndlovu's house at Block 59 in Mpopoma.

Ndlovu is a Zanu PF Politburo member.

The State security agents also took photographs of the two victims and threatened them not to go to the press as they would abduct them again and make them disappear for good. However, the two said they would not be intimidated by the acts of the CIO operatives who were working on the orders of disgruntled Zanu PF politicians who are facing defeat in the next elections in 2013.

Since their release, they have been receiving anonymous calls and being visited by strange people driving unmarked vehicles.

Kambarami and Vera are currently receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the assault.

Meanwhile, police in Mberengwa have concluded that a faulty refrigerator thermostat sparked the fire that gutted down the shop of Charles Ndovisai, a war veteran whose shop Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson claimed was torched by MDC youths.

The police said there were two 20 litre containers full of petrol and a generator, which vaporised due to the heat resulting in a spark from the thermostat igniting the fire. The police have since ruled out foul play.

The police said Zanu PF's Rugare Gumbo was forcing them to arrest MDC youths in connection with the inferno although police investigations have shown that the incident was purely a faulty refrigerator rather than a politically motivated incident.

'We are being told to make arrests, but who do we arrest? The fire was started by a faulty fridge, which sparked and started the fire. What do we do?' asked a petrified police officer who refused to be named.

Gumbo is the Zanu PF national spokesperson and a losing parliamentary candidate in the Midlands South province in the 2008 elections.

Gumbo was on ZBC TV last week alleging that MDC supporters had burnt the shop in Mberengwa East, belonging to a war veteran Ndovisai.

In the early hours of last week Sunday at Nhenga Dam Business Centre, a shop belonging to a war veteran and Zanu PF member, Charles Ndovisai, caught fire destroying property and goods worth thousands of dollars.

My Voice is in. My Vote is YES!!!

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