/ 28 February 2014

Letter to editor: Party politics is not for Ramphele

Letter To Editor: Party Politics Is Not For Ramphele

A staggering display of ignorance is how I would describe SABC chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala's response to the public protector's findings on the public broadcaster's acting chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng ("Never mind Thuli, long may Hlaudi reign, says SABC chief", February 21).

Public protector Thuli Madonsela found that former SABC chairman Ben Ngubane "acted irregularly when he ordered that the qualification requirements for the position be altered to remove academic qualifications as previously advertised". Let's say for a moment that Motsoeneng is doing a good job (which he isn't) despite his lack of academic qualifications.

What happens when, say, a new candidate is sought to fill that critical position in years to come? Could someone with a grade 3 education apply, because he/she "also listens, which is one of those rare qualities", as Tshabalala said of Motsoeneng? "When he does not understand, he asks," she is reported to have said.

If this is the job requirement, the SABC board need look no further than someone who "listens" and "asks when he does not understand". How much dumbing down should taxpayers tolerate?

Surely Communications Minister Yunus Carrim should not rely on Tshabalala and the board to advise him on the chief operating officer appointment, which he says is their prerogative. Instead, he should fire the lot: they have shown no insight or understanding of governance. – Sam Jacobs, Pretoria

Herbal sex drugs can raise the bar

Your article "Down side of sex enhancers" (February 14) was indeed an eye-opener. It alerted consumers to some of the shoddy products on the market, as well as the absence of clear product supply regulation.

I also think it overly diminishes the role of sex enhancers. The newspaper's front page had the words: "Why you should skip the sex drugs", which in my view is inadequate for such a serious healthcare challenge.

The South African Sexual Health Association in a brochure states that at a Western Cape clinic 77% of black and coloured men between 35 and 50 years were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction!

I wonder what percentage can be projected for the over-55s?

Similarly, medical authorities say 45% of women over 40 suffer from hormone problems, leading to sexual dysfunction, night sweats, hot flushes, irritability and a failure to orgasm, among other conditions.

Expensive hormone replacement therapy, previously used by doctors, is now being discouraged and herbal substitutes are being considered.

Sexual dysfunction is thus a serious challenge and so common that there should be no need for embarrassment in discussing it with doctors. Unfortunately, most general practitioners make psychological, psychiatric and "exercise" prognoses, which usually don't work, or they prescribe the pills recommended at their Western medical schools.

The authors of your articles conducted some interesting "in-body" research, but they omitted to test Sildenafil tablets, which sell for R10 on the street. The unbearable side effects caused by approved PDE-5 inhibitor drugs such as Cialis, Viagra and Levitra are the reason men opt for other sex-drive enhancers. As for the manufacturers of these failed concoctions, they deserve the bad publicity they get.

There are, however, some excellent products on the market, which were unfortunately not picked up by the M&G team.

There is a huge potential market for quality herbal products and research to identify safe and effective herbal alternatives has to continue.

The regulatory aspects can be agreed on with the Medicines Control Council and industry players in the same way as the Chinese and Indians have set their benchmarks.

In these countries, and in the United States as well, the use of "generally regarded as safe" ingredients in a formula may exempt a new product from rigorous clinical trials. – DP Ruhukwa, technical director of a pharmaceutical company

As I said, party politics is not for Ramphele

Helen Zille accuses me of inconsistency in relation to Mamphela Ramphele ("Columnists don't have to answer for calumny", Letters, February 14) but is surprisingly clumsy and inaccurate in quoting selectively from my book, The Zuma Years: South Africa's Changing Face of Power (Zebra, 2013).

It is true that I selected Ramphele as the president of a "dream team" all-women Cabinet to head an emergency coalition "government of national unity", because she "soars above day-to-day politics and the partisanship of party political leadership (and the insurmountable challenges of leading Agang SA that I elsewhere in the book predict she will struggle to rise to)".

Zille chose to omit this sentence from her selective quotation from my book, presumably because it would have shown that, contrary to her assertion, I have been entirely consistent in my commentary on Ramphele. What has subsequently transpired has for once proved me right in my forecast: that Ramphele would prove herself to be unsuited to the particular demands of party politics. The facts speak for themselves, do they not?

Zille has clearly not yet got over her error of judgment on Ramphele, but needs to do so fast if it is not to undermine confidence in her leadership of the Democratic Alliance. – Richard Calland, Cape Town