27 June, 2014


President Jacob Zuma delivered his annual State of the nation earlier this month and the parliamentary debates that followed were a feat on their own. 

The new kids on the block, the EFF, turned the usually dull and predictable sessions into a feast for the minds of the public.Was it personal? Was it all in public interest? It has been argued that Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, was disrespectful and out of line .Was he really not just saying what everyone else was thinking and just too afraid to say? 

The Economic Freedom Fighters, dubbed parliament’s bad boys have been stepping on toes and ruffling feathers in Parliament. According to reports in the media, squabbles over seat allocation, noise complaints and allegations of intimidation have characterized the party’s first few weeks in Parliament.

According to the CityPress newspaper, EFF butted heads with the Afrikaans party, Freedom Front Plus when the FF+ reportedly laid a noise complaint against the EFF for their behavior in the Marks Building, which houses the offices of the opposition parties on the parliamentary precinct. The FF+ Chief Whip, Corne Mulder reported that members of the EFF in turn swore at and intimidated members of his party.

While all this media hype is brewing in their backyard, members of the EFF made it very clear that they don’t really care.“We are here to debate substantial issues on policy and not seating arrangements or noise complaints.” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. And that is exactly what they are doing.

There’s a pattern looming from parliament. With the ANC controlling two thirds of the votes in parliament, many of the other parties seem to be abstaining from raising their voice. One can’t be sure if it’s whether they are worried about their future in parliament if they go up against the ANC or they just feel it’s not worth the time.

The EFF’s presence has certainly brought a breath of fresh air to parliament. The debates have incited interest in the nation’s politics among the youth. Indeed, Julius Malema is fairly young himself. He relates to the youth. Are his methods orthodox? Most interestingly not, but they get the job done; they get the message across.

Before the EFF, controversy and interest from the public in parliamentary debates were low. Was it the jargon?  Were there too many intellectuals talking in huge words and not dumbing it down for the everyday man on the ground? The current election debates have the masses interested. The EFF speaks whatever they feel needs to be said, they seem willing to voice out any opinion and the some of the heads in parliament support them.

We are seeing a coalition in parliament that is similar to the ANC Youth League of 1977 that was present in the United Nations. It’s “rise of the underdogs” scenery. They seem to serve the public, with Julius Malema adamant on his notion that the ANC allegedly massacred the Marikana miners. He refused to withdraw his statement which resulted in them being dispelled during a parliamentary session.

The days are too little to effectively conclude whether this is an attack on the African National Congress or if they are serving the public’s interest and it all just amazingly coincides with the ANC being under duress.

Poor service delivery: A ticking time bomb for the worst...By Mailula Refilwe

As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy, many communities countrywide are still without proper sanitation, access to water or a decent place to live. This has resulted in a rise in violent service delivery protest in recent years.

One may ask, if municipalities are battling to cope with growing demand for services? Or are corruption and maladministration and lack of skills in the local government crippling service delivery? Does it have to cost an arm or a leg for service to be delivered to the people?

Hundreds of communities across South Africa are angry and frustrated over the delayed service delivery and thus results in violent protest. With an endless list of grievances about lack of services, nepotism in municipalities and corruption, the governments’ achievements have been forgotten.

To make matters worse, over the past five years, a number of municipal officials have been arrested countrywide, for crimes ranging from financial mismanagement to tender fraud.

However, according to the office of Performance Management and Presidency, set up on 1 January 2010 to monitor the impact of government policies on the population, since 1994, the government has delivered:

·       New homes built- 2.5 million homes housing ten million people
·       Households with electricity- over 80% today from 32% in 1994
·       Households with access to drinking water- almost 100% from 60% in 1994
·       Households with access to sanitation- 63% from 49% in 1994
·       Households with access to regular refuse remove- 64% from 50% in 1994

Although statistics proves that ANC-led government has delivered service to the people. The former Minister of Human Settlement Tokyo Sexwale said that 134,000 of the houses built under government programmes are collapsing and need urgent repair.

In November 2010, he said his department would spend about R2 billion to repair those houses and in May this year told The Sowetan newspaper a further 400 million would be needed. And if “portable water” is supplied to almost 100% of households, some 264 out of 283 water purification schemes in the country have severe maintenance backlogs which will cost R10 billion to fix.

President Jacob Zuma said that the government had out performed every country in the world over the past 20 years in delivery services to its citizens. Indeed the ANC-led government has certainly outperformed some government in delivering public services to its people- but not all governments worldwide.

Should towns like Ermelo in Mpumalanga, were residents are angry and have been protesting against poor service delivery for years, claiming their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, embrace these sentiments?

Is violent protest the only way to push the government to deliver service to its people?
If only our government officials would stop being self-serving, be neglectful of their needs for self-riches and honestly serve their people without greed, maybe the 43 lives lost in service delivery protest  from 2004 and 2014 will not be in vain. 

Unfortunately, we live in a country where the President’s homestead comes first before people’s needs.

20 June, 2014

Opposition parties describe President Jacob Zuma’s State-of-the-Nation Address as “mediocre” and “muted”. by Jackie Malatji

President Jacob Zuma arrived to ululations and hands clapping at a fully packed National Assembly chamber when he made his first public appearance at Parliament on Tuesday after a two week rest period as a result of illness to deliver his State of the Nation Address( SONA).
In the interim of his speech in February, the President talked about government’s achievements of the past year and looked to the future by presenting a programme for the coming year, called the Programme of Action. The PoA sets out government’s plans to address various key government programmes but there hasn't been any direction of promises or plans and many believe the speech he made on Tuesday is exactly the same as the one he gave back in February which had no concrete promises.

This year president Zuma focused on economic growth, rebuilding local government, the unrest in the mining industry, energy and incentives for the youth. He announced that the theme for this year’s International Mandela Day which is on the 18th next month was to clean South Africa.
Zuma mentioned the growth of African trade with neighbouring countries and those further norths are becoming important trading partners for South Africa."We are encouraged that South African investments in the continent increased from R5.5 billion in 2002, to R32.3bn in 2013 and our exports into the continent are also increasing each year, having been at 28.5 percent, up from 22.6 percent in 2002 ", said Zuma.

He also said that government will target the agricultural sector to create a million jobs in the next 16 years by providing comprehensive support to smallholder farmers through speeding up land reform and providing technical, infrastructural, and financial support.
He touched on energy by saying we need to respond decisively to the country's energy constraints, in order to create a conducive environment for growth by developing a sustainable energy mix that comprises coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas, and nuclear energy
“South Africa needs drastic intervention to jump-start the economy and overcome poverty, unemployment, and inequality”. He added, “to end this, a national minimum wage to reduce income inequalities that persist in the country’s 20 years into democracy was being considered”.

According to Jacob Zuma, government is expected to continue focusing on various infrastructure projects that will ultimately change the living conditions of South African citizens and boost economic growth. He also stated that, government has invested approximately one trillion rand in new infrastructure to provide water, energy, transport, sanitation, schools and clinics and internet connections to SA citizens.

Some believe the president has adequately detailed the main areas of focus for the next five years but Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema who was dressed in a red overall and red beret for the occasion disagrees and says African National Congress members were clapping for mediocrity during President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Adress and that there is nothing exciting except a blowing of hot air and a repetition of the things that we have heard before.On the other hand Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said President Jacob Zuma was responding too late to some of the country's problems that the DA had called for.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the President seemed "muted" during his speech and some positives which came out of Zuma's address were infrastructure and corruption, nevertheless he didn’t mention how about he’s going to prevent a repeat of the five-month platinum mining sector strike.Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said, “Zuma did not go far enough in his address on industrialisation, from a Cosatu perspective we can never achieve the fundamental change we need in South Africa until we recognise that most of our wounds come from the fact that we inherited a growth path from the apartheid era"

Promises have been repeatedly made in SONAs before but Zuma’s government never kept them, speeches needn't be “CONCRETE OR DECISIVE”, actions are; despite all that, the African National Congress had high praises for President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address and said it provided decisive actions to speed up economic growth and practically takes forward the commitments made in the ANC manifesto.

Nonetheless the president did highlight some of the important aspects that will move SA forward in his speech such as of improving the economy that will create sustainable jobs but is this a chant of a number of promises the president has made before that lack substance?.  Why didn't he include how South Africa has done in the past 20 years in ANC hands? Where are the 6 million job opportunities they promised? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

13 June, 2014


By Aviwe Mtila

On June 7, South Africa lost another of its great leaders - Epianette Mbeki, the mother of former president Thabo Mbeki - who died at age 98. 

With the loss of legendary struggle hero Nelson Mandela in December last year, one would not be blamed for viewing the passing of MaMbeki as symbolizing the end of an era of selfless leaders.

Leaders who dedicated their lives to serving the people of South Africa; stalwarts such as Oliver Thambo, Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Albertina Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, to mention a few, are people who led for the sole purpose of bettering the nation and serving the needs of its people.

South Africa is in its twentieth year into democracy, and yet, the country is still unstable. It is marred by with high levels of unemployment, strikes across the nation and shockingly appalling levels of poverty.

Corruption and lavish lifestyles seem to be the order of the day among current politicians in government. With this in mind, the question of what the contribution of this generation of leaders to the South African Society is, needs to be looked at closely.

Are the good morals, values and leadership qualities that speak for themselves in our past leaders still evident in our current leaders? Are our leaders still serving the needs of the nation or have they shifted their focus on enriching themselves and each other, neglecting a poverty stricken nation?

Our current leaders can learn a lot from the likes of MaMbeki, who lived a modest life in Ngcingwane, a rural village in the former Transkei. Till her dying days, MaMbeki dedicated her life to community development.

After marrying Govan Mbeki in 1940, MaMbeki gave up her life as a teacher in Durban and moved back to Transkei with her husband, driven by the calling to uplift and emancipate their home region’s impoverished rural masses.

In Transkei the Mbeki’s opened a shop in Mbewuleni which MaMbeki ran when her husband focused on the nation’s politics. 

When her husband was facing life imprisonment and her three sons were in exile, what kept her going was her unflinching belief in community development and her faith in self-help projects as means towards social and economic advancement. MaMbeki was involved in community projects as she was the patron of a successful community farming project.

Epianette Mbeki is a true reflection of the type of leaders South Africa is losing and has lost; a generation that has contributed positively to the South African society. She is part of a generation of leaders that has shown us the true definition of the term ‘Ubuntu’.

What are our modern day leaders contributing, besides their lavish homes being upgraded with millions of tax-payers hard earned money?

Are we suppose to trust that our leaders will bring us ‘economic freedom’, when they live luxurious lives which we know they can’t afford or account for?

Are we supposed to believe that the leaders of the DA will bring any change, when the gap between the rich and the poor in the Western Cape is too disturbing to note?

In a South Africa, where our leaders are clearly benefiting first before considering the needs of the nation, one needs to use the examples set by our past leaders such as Epianette Mbeki. 

South Africans need to stop depending on the government for survival and start engaging in self-help projects as means towards social and economic advancement. 

Will the legacy of the passing era of leaders ever be visible in the current leaders? That remains to be seen.

What is clear, though, is that the current leaders need to learn true leadership from past leaders in order to shape a brighter South Africa.

06 June, 2014

A repeat performance for Brazil?

By Bongani Mtshwene

n 1950, Brazil lost the world cup to Argentina in their own backyard. On this occasion, it seems that they are losing it to time.
Brazil faces a number of delays regarding to world cup preparations, probably the worst in recent times.

When Brazil hosted the world cup in 1950, the tournament was described as chaotic and disorganised, and much of the same air currently overshadows the country’s world cup preparations.

Brazil’s first stint as hosts of the world cup was a logistical nightmare due to groups and venues which were not matched accordingly. Teams had to frequently trek up and down the large land mass, 8,514,212 km² to be exact (which is way larger than South Africa).

Withdrawals from visiting teams, the lack of a cemented fixture schedule, and the incomplete Maracana stadium was the biggest problems they faced.

The burning question now is how Brazil will react as the past threatens to play out in the present.

Here are a couple of Brazil’s woes at the moment:

  • ·         The GDP has plummeted from 7, 5% in 2010 to just 0, 9% in 2012 and continues to dwindle.
  • ·         There are delays in the electricity projects in half of the host cities.
  • ·         The Brazil government fears that water rationing will hit the host city during the tournament, following a record dry summer.
  • ·         The percentage of those in favour of the World Cup has fallen from 79% in 2008 to 48% in April 2014. Fifa Secretary-general Jerome Valcke maintains a new Fif a survey in May reveals that 57% of Brazilians are excited about the tournament, and the number looks displeasing.
  • ·         Labour action and protests could still disrupt the event. Although protests have cooled since last year when more than a million people took to the streets.
  • ·         Ailing infrastructure (just 1, 5% of Brazil’s GDP is invested in infrastructure) also raises the cost of goods. That can’t be good for tourists.

  • ·         Eight construction workers have died on the job, while only two died in South Africa ahead of the 2010 world cup. This causes concern about the safety of the workers and usability of the sites.
  • ·         Work continues on some stadia that have since been handed over to Fifa on May 20th.

To add to more of Brazil’s problems, in Germany in 2006, stadiums were ready to be tested in January of that year and South Africa met the deadline a few weeks before the event in 2010.

What worries critics the most is how South Africa managed to beat Brazil pound for pound regarding planning for the tournament.

South Africa was a first time host whereas Brazil has had experience with an event of this scale.

Looking closer to home South Africa had been criticised for taking too long to construct and refurbish some of the stadia but by the end of the group stages, the Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke felt secure enough to joke that South Africa had been so successful that it would become "plan B" for all future tournaments.

A few feats that Mzansi can brag about:

  • ·         All 10 stadia being completed with weeks to spare.
  • ·         A crime free confederations and world cup tournament, in spite of South Africa being listed as a crime hotspot.
  • ·         The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in Johannesburg that assisted in transporting people to and from the match venues and fan parks. South Africa has done relatively well in comparison to countries like Germany and Korea which both have bullet trains.
  • ·         With over 4 million visitors, the vivid memory of vuvuzelas, and fan parks packed to the brim, no one can say the country wasn’t behind the event. Even in the face of a Bafana Bafana loss during the group stages, the country rallied behind Ghana, showing the world what African unity is.
  • ·         Infrastructure development is one of the legacies the world cup has left behind.
  • ·         130 000 jobs were created, most of which were temporary construction work but some of them remained sustainable, some of which are security and stadium management.
  • ·         In December 2010 Fifa president Sepp Blatter rated South Africa’s organisational efforts 9 out of 10.

After thorough success on African soil, one can’t help but wonder how Brazil is going to fair this time around.

With the event less than two weeks away from kick-off, Brazil’s credibility has been questioned. This is not a good thing, especially because they are to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

The World Cup has also stoked another favourite topic of discussion among Brazilians — the famed “custo Brasil” (cost of Brazil); steep costs that are fuelled in part by high taxes.

As a result, Big Mac meal, in this instance would cost almost R93, double what it costs in SA, and at this rate Brazil would need a miracle to host a world cup half as breathtakingly effective as that of South Africa.

Will Brazil make it in time?
That question will be answered next weekend.

Brazil is definitely a tourist destination but I don’t think I can stomach a Big Mac that costs 100 bucks. Just saying.

A worthy legacy? A look at the 2010 World Cup.

By Sisonke Mlamla

For football fans across South Africa, the words “world cup” conjures images of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the dazzle of skill and flair.

No one doubts football can be a route to achieving goals big and small.  But fast forward to now; it’s been four years since South Africa’s played host to the prestigious tournament. And we have to ask what have South Africans gained? 

The hosting of 2010 showpiece was promised by the South Africa government to its people that social and economic benefits would accrue.  

A reflection of post world cup period and considering billions of rands spent on staging this global event, questions about the longterm benefits of the tournament have been posed. 

Contrary to the massive expectations, the ongoing problems that still persist in our society after hosting the world cup have propelled some to question whether it was worth it.

Undoubtedly, South Africa hosting the FIFA 2010 world cup, which was a first for the African continent, excited all Africans, particular the poor who never dreamt of staging such a competition.

How funny times move.  The world cup has come and gone, but the question still stands what legacy has it brought to us?
Four years, and yes, we could argue that South Africa benefited from the multi-billion rand investment in Infrastructure development brought by the event. 

We could even say that the country has transformed in significant ways. For example, Eskom spent R84-billion, mostly on energy generation, transmission and distribution, and in the post-world cup phase, this has had an lasting impact. 

Transnet spent R47-billion, with R40-billion of this went to harbours, ports, railways and a petroleum pipeline; and without a doubt this has improved the transport system in the country especially in host cities such as Durban and Cape Town. 

The Gautrain was completed, the Rea Vaya bus transport and the state of roads were improved because of the World Cup. 

Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) spent R5.2-billion on airport improvement and the Dube Trade Port, while R19.7-billion went to water infrastructure and this has improved its operation systems. 

Massive infusion of cash and capital inflows into South Africa was good in that it increased Gross Domestic Product and Tax revenue. Also there were gains in foreign direct investment and also a boost in tourism. 

Many companies benefited and employment at micro level increased in tourism, catering etc. The policing system in the country benefited a lot and crime rates in South Africa has dropped significantly

The revamped roads and street lights, new parks and clean streets are all obvious benefits from the World Cup. But the challenge post world cup is how to maintain them.
However, despite the obvious benefits visible, South Africa as a nation continues to battle with problems such as poor housing, prostitution, HIV pandemic. Many feel that a chunk of the 2O10 world cup proceeds would have been used better if it was channelled towards catering for basic needs and serving the poor. 

From revenue generated FIFA was the winner in terms of pocketing more than the SA government.

Scenes like what happened on the 3rd of June; the eviction of people from the Lwandle informal settlement in Strand, Cape Town (www.iol.co.za) are some of the unintended consequences of the world cup. 

The billions spent on world cup that could have been used to help these people; the homeless and poor. 

On the 4th of June 2014 five people, including three children, died in Johannesburg shack fire at the informal settlement of Vlakfontein

What legacy can we claim after the world cup? Is it the Marikana crisis? Bucket system? iNkandla?
Is it looting of foreign shops?

Despite all the controversy, no one can argue against the fact FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa did reinforce social unity in a country marked by deep racial division.

Grassroots soccer has benefited from the proceeds of FIFA funding. ABSA premiership teams have also benefited from the state-of-the-art stadiums and training facilities.

Our level of football has dropped though. 

One thing that hasn’t happened is world cup inspired improvement of our national team.