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Letters to the Editor: November 04

Staff Reporter

Readers weigh in on Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema, the economy and other stories.

Zuma does as he’s told by 1%
To judge by the obsessions of the media at the moment, the ruling elite—the so-called “1%”—fears that Jacob Zuma will face a serious challenge at Mangaung. This accounts for the clown show that has been put on in an attempt to make Zuma look statesmanlike (”Was the president pushed or did he jump?”, October 28).

His recent actions have been performed under orders, direct or indirect, from the elite, and received hearty praise from the elite. These actions undermine the image of the ANC and provoke conflict in the party, while pandering to anti-ANC propagandists. This is not likely to please many in the ANC.

The ruling elite seems unable to address these problems, perhaps because they do not understand (or wish to understand) democratic politics. In providing Zuma with cash, propaganda and judicial protection, the ruling elite saw a chance to buy the presidency.

Zuma’s success in shattering the post-1994 settlement has alienated his rank-and-file support base, while his undermining of the ANC has made it harder to control. The fragmentation of the ANC prevents Zuma from going to Mangaung with any firm knowledge of what will happen there.

This is promising, because the policies of the ruling elite are wrecking the country while leaving a corrupted ANC in control. Take a look at the Medium Term Budget Policy statement. Pravin Gordhan’s achievement was to squeeze so many lies, confessions of incompetence, reactionary fantasies and meaningless phrases into a comparatively short statement. An attentive reading shows that the country is in deep economic trouble, but also that we don’t have a functioning finance minister, and that nobody in government has any idea of what to do, or the will to do anything.

This means that, by default as much as by design, the policies of the ruling elite are implemented, hence the Zuma administration’s anti-poor, anti-worker, anti-public-service, anti-growth and anti-democracy policies and record. The comparisons sometimes made between the poor recent record of the ANC and the much better record of the early decades of the apartheid regime are valid: the apartheid regime was trying to serve between 15% and 30% of the population, whereas Zuma and his merry men are serving just 1%—and many of those are domiciled abroad. As a result, Zuma is following the orders of people who actually don’t care if the bulk of the country shrivels up and dies.

This is why it is important that the will of the ruling elite should not prevail. Zuma must be replaced by someone less under the control of inhuman social parasites. We should get behind figures such as Julius Malema, who at least acknowledge the problems and strive to address them, and possess the courage to stand up for their beliefs in defiance of the unholy union of elite media and corrupt ANC structures. If we don’t fight now, the country we struggled to liberate will rot away or be burned down around our ears.—Mathew Blatchford, University of Fort Hare

M&G missed the point of the march
Your “Zuma 1, ANCYL 0” (October 28) completely misses the point. The question is not who won by gaining more attention from the press by their actions, but rather: What are the urgent issues for government to address in relation to the youth?

We need to understand why the youth are marching. Do they indeed have legitimate grievances?

I believe that, whoever the leader, there are legitimate grievances among young people.

Unemployment is high, particularly among the youth; education standards are poor; inequalities are increasing; services are not being delivered to poor people, particularly the young; and young people may be feeling alienated and excluded. This seems to be part of a worldwide trend.

The Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, the demonstrations in Spain and Greece and Israel, and the recent riots in London are indications of disillusionment and frustration.

By focusing largely on Julius Malema versus Jacob Zuma, you are surely doing the young people of our country and the country as a whole a disservice. We as readers expect more in-depth reporting, particularly from the Mail & Guardian.—Ros Hirschowitz 

No IT deal between state and Equillore
I am replying to the article “Lawyers riled by state IT deal” (Mail & Guardian, October 28 to November 3) on a supposed state information technology deal with Equillore.

The article contained unfortunate and misleading allegations and conclusions. Because it failed to reflect my written replies to the questions it is necessary to set out the key aspects and refute them in turn.

I am not speaking on behalf of the minister of justice and constitutional development, Advocates for Transformation (AFT) or even advocates Dumisa Ntsebeza and Ishmael Semenya.

  • The article suggests an IT deal exists between the state and Equillore. This is not true. Our business is dispute enablement and not IT.

  • The article suggests a government request that Equillore should develop a system and that this was because of relationships with the minister. This is not true. Equillore gains business on our commercial merits.

  • The article quoted an AFT view that it would be open for Equillore to bid for the system development mandate. Albeit with appreciation of the view, Equillore would not bid for such a mandate as the work is outside our business focus.

  • The article says the application could be sold to the government for millions of rands.

Equillore performed a small and free functional specification for AFT because we support the values and objectives of that organisation. Systems development for the open market falls outside our core business, whatever the commercial value of such work may be.

Back in the 1980s we dubbed the then Weekly Mail “the Bible”, for a host of reasons.

This opportunity to reply is consistent with the honourable traditions of the Mail & Guardian. It is also in line both with principles of fairness and the ethos of South Africa’s deliberative democracy.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this conversation; one we regard as effectively a debate on the probity of our political and commercial institutions.—Khanya B Motshabi, managing director Equillore Group

Govt, not capitalism, curtails economic freedom
The fact ignored by popular attacks on capitalism (”Why are some ‘occupiers’ more equal than others?”, October 28) is that free markets and capital accumulation are the natural way that free humans do business with each other. The massive advantages that capitalism offers to super-smart opportunists in today’s high-tech global economy must not confuse us.

Central planning and state autocracy are no substitute for individual freedom and responsibility. Any sideways glance at the incompetence of government, anywhere in the world, should cure us of the fallacy that the state knows best. In fact, it is the growing power of government and some of the institutions we have created, not the system of capitalism, that is curtailing economic freedom.

We must also challenge, loudly and continually, the type of racist amnesia that accompanies anti-capitalist rhetoric among our liberated compatriots—and most Third World communities today. It has become fashionable to trash whites and European colonialism as the new great evils of the world. Wrong. The great evil has always been the tyranny of imposed rule.

Our ancestors fought for thousands of years against the yoke of oppression, from foreign invaders, hereditary monarchs, religious tyrants and fascist dictators, who taxed us for their own ends and curtailed our freedom. Innovations, invention, enlightened thought, intellectual growth and educational systems all flowed through the exercise of our freedom and the fruits of our effort, not from the dictates of tyranny.— Richard Kelland, Montrose

You can’t bank on them
Two natives waltzing into a black hole—that’s what unites the cheeky native and the pragmatic youth (”End to whiteness a black issue” and “Regulation is choking us” respectively, October 21).

Thank God for press freedom. Else we would not witness two otherwise sane African beneficiaries of the liberation struggle attack the “people’s government”. You would not expect the folks at Mshenguville to ululate at the end of whiteness any more than watch as the sods in Athens celebrate the end of Greekness.

No thanks to clan affiliation, Sim Tshabalala is my idol. He protests against increasing government regulation of banking institutions. “We’ve never faced so much regulation in the history of global banking”.

PIGS talk, some would say. “In South Africa, we also have the Treasury Red Book and 150 pieces of non-banking legislation. It’s incredible, in the first half alone, we’ve had to comment on 30 things that will have an impact on banking.” The heart bleeds.

“There are 20-million people that are unbanked and sitting in our customer base.” The fellow lives in a dream world. Those with any semblance of employment already have the Mzansi account, much-vaunted achievement of the Red October campaign. Mzansi is a regulatory cost to banking.

“Black diamonds” at least service mortgage loans and credit cards, if barely. Get the 20-million hordes in productive employment or be choked to death.—Vuso Shabalala, Queenswood

Some real research
Enough of the unthinking regurgitation of whatever Andrew Kenny says (”Department misses green targets”, October 28). Lisa Steyn quotes Kenny saying that “research [has] shown that technology such as wind generation actually causes job losses because it was so costly and the money spent on it could be better used to create employment”. What research? And what is meant by “such as wind”?

Here is some research on the subject, from South Africa’s Renewable Energy Policy Roadmaps: Final Report, by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre for the UN Environment Programme Research Project, 2010. Here are its stats on estimated job-creation potential (jobs per MW capacity):

  • New coal - Construction, manufacture and installation: 2.5. Operation and maintenance + fuel processing: 0.65;

  • Nuclear - Construction, manufacture and installation: 1.8. Operation and maintenance + fuel processing: 0.68;

  • Biomass - Construction, manufacture and installation: 8.5. Operation and maintenance + fuel processing: 14;

  • Wind - Construction, manufacture and installation: 15. Operation and maintenance: 1.0;

  • Concentrated solar power - Construction, manufacture and installation: 10. Operation and maintenance: 0.4; and

  • Solar photovoltaic - Construction, manufacture and installation: 30. Operation and maintenance: 0.4

If Kenny knows something that the UCT Energy Research Centre and their researchers do not, he ought to give them the information.

You say Kenny is independent. He may well be: he holds a minority view on global warming, which he claims is not happening or, if it is, is not caused by humans. The Mail & Guardian publishes his opinions freely, so you should be more than happy to publish his research on global warming in time for COP17.—Rod Gurzynski, Kommetjie

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