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Letters to the Editor: December 09

Staff Reporter

M&G readers share their thoughts on the ruling party, Cosatu and mining.

Our fight is clear, but ANC venality may win
My (passive) association with the Mail & Guardian goes back a long way. I was there in the lecture theatre at Wits University when a fresh-faced Anton Harber spoke about the Rand Daily Mail journalists pooling their redundancy cheques to form The Weekly Mail.

I remember buying the paper from street vendors and devouring it on the way home in the bus. Most of all, I remember the passages blacked out as a result of censorship. In those good old bad days, the struggle was relatively simple: good versus evil, people power versus military power, and it seemed that in the end, good would triumph.

As the M&G editorial said on December 2, the real fight for the future is just beginning. And though this fight is also a relatively simple fight of good versus evil, of honesty and transparency versus dishonesty, non-accountability and corruption, there is a feeling that the venality of the ANC will triumph. Our kleptocrats are too shrewd at placing their deployees in positions of authority.

As far as the average rural voter is concerned, the only difference between then and now is that, under apartheid, they didn’t vote for a party that provided dysfunctional government, dysfunctional schools and dysfunctional hospitals. Now they do. The time has come to stand up against the ANC tyranny.—Name withheld by request

I am not a ‘rotten apple’
I am deeply offended by the article “How Juju’s wedding host made his millions” (November 4) and the unsubstantiated impressions created. The attempt to link the attendance of certain individuals to my wedding and the business dealings of my companies was unfortunate and much of the information was one-sided and selective. I believe your allegations were based on the information of a single source with a personal vendetta against me. I am further disappointed that you requested my comment at short notice, knowing that I was ­celebrating my wedding and was occupied with personal issues.

I now respond to some of your comments. In 2006 I bought a piece of land of about 20 hectares near Polokwane through my company Vharanani Properties. It was bought from Nedbank as part of a company liquidation process. We started the process of rezoning the land from agricultural to residential in June 2007 and final approval was granted in July 2008.

Also in 2006, I bought a 700-hectare farm near Seshego from a private seller. I realised the township was growing and saw potential in developing the land as a residential township extension. Some time in 2007 I was informed that people were invading that land, thinking it was government-owned. I asked the municipality to intervene and the invasion was stopped.

Around the same time I was approached by a group of farmers in Seshego who wanted to use the farm for their cattle and by a group of unemployed women who wanted to garden there. On the basis of this I told the municipality that, if it was interested, I would sell it the land for municipal development.

The municipality indicated that, although it was certainly interested, it had no money to purchase the land, so I recommended a land swap. In exchange for the 700-hectare farm, I identified two properties that were of interest to me. One, of 30 hectares, was next to the 20-hectare land I bought in 2006. The other was in Polokwane, an area called Ster Park—where I am presently developing doctor’s accommodation for the nearby hospital. The municipality appointed a valuator and it was agreed that the difference between my farm and the two pieces of land was R5.9-million, which I paid to the municipality.

I now owned two adjacent, rezoned pieces of land—extension 86 and 104—as well as the land in Ster Park. In 2009 the department of provincial and local government issued a tender for the purchase of land for township development. The process was open and transparent and we offered extensions 86 and 104. The department appointed two independent valuators who appraised the properties and after negotiation it purchased the land from me.

These transactions were pure business transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers. All discussions took place transparently and were duly audited by our accounting firm. All transactions concluded were approved by the relevant municipal committees and were above board.

I am a black entrepreneur and loyal to my home in Limpopo. There is a tendency to assume that every black entrepreneur is successful because of connections. The fact that I know many people in Limpopo and outside stems from my many years of political work in the province. But I am not a politician, I am an entrepreneur. As such I see opportunities. I fail to understand why corporate organisations are applauded for converting business opportunities into shareholder value but entrepreneurs are scrutinised and called “shrewd operators who forge relationships with all the right people”.

My quality of work is unchallenged, as you reflected in your article. I have won numerous awards from independent organisations for the work I do. I have established an incubation programme that to date has supported 34 emerging subcontractors.

Be fair when judging entrepreneurs. There are “rotten apples”, yes, but do not assume we all come from the same tree.—David Mabilu


Judge Navsa’s ruling on Simelane restores respect for judiciary
The judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of Appeal regarding the capability of the national director of public prosecution (”Court flexes muscles on Menzi Simelane”, December 2) will have far-reaching legal and political consequences.

The verdict delivered by Judge Mohammed Navsa reveals that our judicial guardians can be fearless without being offensive and firm without being obstinate. It reminds us of the critically important role played by the judiciary in ensuring a level playing field and in upholding the rule of law.

The magnitude of corruption in our country has a pernicious effect on the entire nation’s fabric. It makes a mockery of our democratic dispensation and Constitution. The appeal court has shown in no uncertain terms that it means business.

Navsa’s lucid judgment has restored respect for the judiciary. Navsa has always been thoughtful, impartial, far-sighted and wholly dedicated to the proper administration of justice.

Sir Francis Bacon once said: “Judges ought to be more learned than witty.” Navsa, unusually, is both.—Farouk Araie, Johannesburg

Cosatu shouldn’t just rush to media
The actions of Cosatu with regard to the Protection of State Information Bill leave a lot to be desired (”Cosatu: Why we oppose the secrecy Bill”, December 2). As much as Cosatu is an independent organisation, with the right to make its own decisions, it should remember that it is in alliance with the ANC.

One would have thought Cosatu would call a meeting with its alliance partners and discuss the issue instead of rushing to the media to challenge the Bill.

The Bill may have disadvantages or advantages, but if an organisation in the alliance has a problem it should have an in-house discussion first. I just cannot imagine Cosatu Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi, hand in hand with Helen Zille, toyi-toying to the Constitutional Court, in opposition to the ANC.

The South African Communist Party should help Cosatu to understand the character of the alliance. It seems Vavi does not understand the roots of the alliance or its objectives. Cosatu is playing into to the hands of the opposition. Cosatu must not fight the ANC, but of course it must always be there to keep the ANC on the left and keep it safe from right-wingers.—Carlos Chambers, Johannesburg


What’s up with justice?
Somebody tell me what is going on around our dear president—does he not have advisers? (”Justice system in turmoil”, December 2.) Every time our president makes a decision to appoint persons into critical positions, the opposition and other groups protest for very good reasons, then the president comes to the defence of his decisions. Then down the line the decision is tarnished. These embarrassing decisions raise concern regarding his advisers. It also make one wonder if indeed the president’s decisions are genuine, based on good intentions or is just a strategy to surround himself with loyalists. Our government is shameful, sliding away from democracy ... South Africans must just watch out.—Joseph Motlatjo Rasethe, (on mg.co.za)


What a misleading headline—it’s the ANC leadership that is in turmoil, not the justice system, which has, by this judgement, affirmed its independence from the executive and confirmed the institutions of democracy.—John (on mg.co.za)


Mines should benefit all
I think that we all agree that South Africans should benefit more from our mineral wealth. My feelings are not anti-nationalisation but rather anti-ANC. I would rather see this adventure wait until a competent and honest government is in charge. If mines are nationalised (in whatever form) the ANC will simply treat this income stream like every other one - its own personal funds for cadre enrichment. The ANC should be kept away from anything complex or involving money. It never works out well. Literally never.—Save SA Vote DA (on mg.co.za)


Sasol is a strategic asset created by South Africans who enjoyed state protection for many decades at the expense of the consumer. In times such as these, it has no right to profiteer the way it has been doing. It is time for payback. At the very least, the returns on the state’s 26% share should be used as a direct input towards lowering the fuel price at the pump. How’s that for starters, before embarking on the torturous plan outlined above?”—Reg (on mg.co.za)

The “graceful” exit, enabled by Manuel, of the multinationals that have been plundering South Africa for centuries has enabled South Africa, albeit at a cost, to sidestep confrontation. It paved the way for a gentler form of nationalisation. Now it’s up to our government to wrest back control of our natural resources to benefit the majority and stimulate job growth. Many other countries have successfully trodden this path and are now economic powerhouses.—Dave Harris (on mg.co.za)


“... and for state institutions to take bigger stakes in companies that hold key strategic infrastructure minerals ...”

Telkom was managed according to this exact strategy. The result? Telecommunications in South Africa have been strangled for 15 years, at a probable GDP penalty exceeding R1-trillion, and Telkom is likely to be loss-making by 2014 despite enjoying a monopoly. Peter Attard Montalto’s concluding remark hits the nail on the head. After considering corporate taxation, taxation on the incomes of workers, duties, excise and ad valorems, the government already gets 60% of the turnover of mines and industry back in tax.

The ANC NEC apparently cannot understand that the way to improve society is to expand this taxation stream by encouraging the growth of the private sector. Instead they adopt an ideological position that appears most favourable for the next election and select the facts to suit it. The result, unfortunately, is likely to be an oligarchy.—WTF (on mg.co.za)

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