Letters to the editor: March 13 to 19 2015

Preventable: The Fukushima disaster was found to be man-made, and South Africa should be aware of similar consequences if corruption is allowed to take root in the local nuclear industry. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Preventable: The Fukushima disaster was found to be man-made, and South Africa should be aware of similar consequences if corruption is allowed to take root in the local nuclear industry. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Nuke collusion in the bud

The Japanese panel that investigated the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which followed an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 2011, found that it was a “profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented”. Specifically, the report found that the “accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and [private plant operator] Tepco”, who “manipulated its cosy relationship with regulators to take the teeth out of regulations”.

Shortly after Fukushima, a scandal that involved more than 2 000 forged safety certificates rocked the South Korean nuclear power industry, which was also described as being collusive, with “former nuclear regulatory and industry officials allowed to swap jobs”.

  The Mail & Guardian‘s story on relationships between personnel from the nuclear regulator and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Jobs for pals at state nuclear firm) suggests we may have the same ingredients and conditions that led to the fermentation of corruption elsewhere. If so, the manifestation of such collusion in South Africa is a story waiting to happen.
Velaphi Msimang, head of knowledge economy and scientific advancement at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection


Transformation is ruining SA

  Over the past fortnight I have waded through reports about the state not using enough black advocates, the universities not having enough black academics (Brazen ‘trickery’ in transformation), companies not having enough black directors, the JSE not having enough black shareholders, sports teams not having enough black players, and a private school in Pretoria having too many whites in a single class. Plus, of course, the ongoing whinge about whites owning too much land and blacks not enough, and the fact that we are the most unequal society in the world.

All of the above is ascribed to the lack of “transformation”, and, more specifically, the failure of the whites to “transform”.

Well, I certainly agree that things are not as we need them to be, and I would dearly love to see this country transformed into a better place for all. Transformation, however, cannot be a goal in itself. It can only be a consequence of taking the right steps to make it happen.

Academics, advocates, sportsmen, regardless of their colour, have to prove themselves if they wish to be chosen. Businessmen, farmers and even the owners of spaza shops need to accept that we live in a competitive world.

That is the natural order of things. Nature isn’t going to transform to accommodate anyone. If people wish to advance, then it is up to them to transform.

In 1994, black South Africans assumed control of the most developed country in Africa. They inherited the best “milk cow” of any African country – a sizeable populace of educated people, hard-working, law-abiding and tax-paying.

Was any other new nation ever presented with such a solid foundation? All that was needed was to build on what was already there.

As history now records, the opportunity was spoiled. Essential services – education, health, policing – have not expanded or improved. They have deteriorated. Why? Because of transformation, that’s why.

These services are now in the hands of incompetents, who occupy their positions because of the colour of their skins and their political connections. That’s transformation. And if we apply the same kind of transformation to the companies on the JSE, then they’ll go the same way as Eskom, Telkom and SAA.

It is time for those who bleat about transformation to accept that the problem is not what whites haven’t been doing. It’s what blacks haven’t been doing. – Ron McGregor, Cape Town


House of smoke and mirrors

I had the opportunity to attend a parliamentary session on March 4 2015. The agenda consisted of questions to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the minister of state security. It turned out to be one more illustration of the existence of a de facto one-party state disguising itself in the democratic cloak of parliamentary genuflection and procedural lip service, without real and substantive democratic debate.

The deputy president dodged the questions put to him on a legal technicality, instead embarking on a patronising, selective historical lecture. It was a perfect example of the “smoke and mirrors” approach used by adept politicians.

An opposition member of Parliament, dissatisfied with Ramaphosa’s response to his question, raised a point of order. The speaker, supportive of Ramaphosa’s dodging, refused to rule on it and informed the member to submit his concerns in writing to the deputy president.

  This visit to Parliament was a bitter disappointment in a long line of sociopolitical and economic letdowns since I returned, after more than three decades, to South Africa. The efforts of those of us who actively sought change by opposing the apartheid regime have yet to come to fruition. Until such evils as bribery, corruption, neglect and incompetence are eradicated the country, to paraphrase Alan Paton, will continue to cry. – Errol Horwitz, Cape Town

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