Letters to the editor: January 12 to 18 2018

US President Donald Trump is determined to undo the policies of his predecessor Barack Obama. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

US President Donald Trump is determined to undo the policies of his predecessor Barack Obama. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Obama stumps Trump

Idowu Omoyele’s comment piece, Vile stain of racism taints the US, struck a chord with me especially because we are about to mark a year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The first year of the Trump presidency has been characterised by his inscrutability. I believe he has been practising deception, as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War recommends: “If you are strong appear weak.” He may appear to be a provocateur but perhaps he is a pacifist. On the campaign trail he posed as an outsider but may actually be, innately, an insider.

The other characteristic is his systematic assault on former president Barack Obama’s legacy — Obamacare, the Paris agreement on climate and so on.  I suppose, in ushering in a successor, the predecessor has to be rubbished. Yet Trump’s denigration of Obama is unending and unprecedented when compared with previous presidencies. Trump’s unveiled and unobjective dislike of Obama is almost an obsession.

I think that, given the US’s racial tensions, Trump can’t give credit where it is due, believing black excellence is an oxymoron. He might not want to admit it but he is having nightmares unstitching some of the beautiful policy tapestries woven by a black president.

There comes a time when the incumbent must have a “stop order” (cut losses and lock in profits) against the past and focus on the future — building his own legacy (let profits run). Surely Trump can’t build his legacy on the ruins of his predecessor’s legacy? The irrational quest to erase Obama from the history books betrays his lack of originality. Perhaps Trump should rather invest his time, power and energy in brainstorming creative ideas on how to make the US great again rather than relentlessly attacking Obama’s legacy. — Mike Idagiza, Katlehong



Ramaphosa must grab the buffalo by the horns

Under Robert Mugabe land distribution in Zimbabwe benefited mainly the Zanu-PF elite, not the peasants. Is the balance of forces in the ANC and the threat of losing votes to the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance in 2019 compelling the party’s president Cyril Ramaphosa to emphasise “expropriation without compensation”?

Slogans, songs and rhetoric to appease the masses have nothing to do with implementation.

At Polokwane in 2007, Jacob Zuma won because he and the left (Blade Nzimande, Zwelinzima Vavi, Julius Malema) duped the nation into believing that Zuma would be more left than Thabo Mbeki and would ban labour brokers and e-tolls, and implement the national democratic revolution (NDR).

There is no such thing as a “radical” or “moderate” NDR, a point Joel Netshitenzhe, Pallo Jordan and Mbeki have emphasised. All Zuma’s “left turns” came to zero when he focused on pick-pocketing the public purse for a “better life for his family”, the Guptas, Roy Moodley, Thoshan Panday and the Russian mafia.

Although Ramaphosa will be a better leader than both Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, he is a black liberal and ideologically not opposed to market forces. When Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela left Aurora mineworkers destitute, Ramaphosa was protecting his profits in Lonmin.

Speaking in Groutville, he praised Chief Albert Luthuli as “father” of the Freedom Charter, which clearly states that “land shall be distributed among those who work it”. In KwaDukuza, ANC-led municipalities have further alienated Africans from the economy by giving land to Vivian Reddy. From Ballito to Zinkwazi not a single African owns a piece of land along the coast. How will Ramaphosa intervene?

The same municipality destroyed Groutville peasant farmers. When Ballito Junction and Lifestyle Malls were upgraded, there was not a single African trading in them.

What will happen to farmers’ debts if there is no compensation for land? What will the ANC do to avoid land being given to the “political class” and not to those who work it? What about mines and banks as per the Freedom Charter? Will the ANC allow workers to have a stake in mining and manufacturing industries? What is Ramaphosa’s take on the Guptas and Cash Paymaster Services?

History will judge Ramaphosa on what he does, not on rhetoric. Under Zuma, he lacked Luthuli’s courageous attribute of holding a buffalo bull by its horns. — Siyanda Mhlongo, KwaDukuza



ANC civil servants are doing South Africa a disservice

Although one can understand, to an extent, that the ANC government wanted to fill most civil service positions with active party loyalists after 1994, it has now become increasingly evident that the chaos and weak links in administration at central, provincial and especially local government level have become the cause of the problems that have led to rampant corruption, inefficiency and stability failure.

One need only be aware of the number of senior staff in acting positions and the frequency of suspensions.  With each suspension it becomes necessary for the new appointee to get to know the ropes and acquaint themselves with the tasks that their new position demands, leading to inevitable delays.

The political infighting in the KwaZulu-Natal ANC and the political murders in that province create a culture of insecurity — especially among staff members. Political appointees are not necessarily the most efficient, experienced and capable public servants, and they constantly have to watch their political backs.

It is high time that civil service staff are appointed according to their professional ability to run an administration effectively — and they should preferably be politically neutral and free from political interference.

If that were the case, the economy would improve, investment would increase, and productive employment would benefit all South Africans. — VA Volker, Pietermaritzburg

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