#MaritzburgCollege: How Behind the Education Curve Are We?

As problematic as Maritzburg College’s initial response to the students with the placards may have been, we must protect College’s right to its rules — before we tear into the rules it upholds through this right.

Former cricketer and Maritzburg College student, Kevin Pietersen, thrust the establishment and the students supporting the EFF (in school uniform, on school premises) into the public spotlight with a tweet that read, “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?  Total disrespect for a once GREAT school!  Are you joking?!?!”

Advocate Martin Williams responded that the Constitution frees the students to express their political opinions; the school’s code of conduct cannot limit this right.  No less an editor than Peter Bruce also replied, “Well, Kevin, if we as young men stood up to injustice like these guys we would not have become the country you had to leave.”  The freedoms of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion are hard to separate from the freedom of expression.

But once the Constitution trumps the rules of voluntary private clubs like schools, then the “equality clause” should force churches (also private voluntary clubs) to give same-sex couples the same rites they offer opposite-sex couples.  In 2015, Eusebius McKaiser argued that he would rather live in a world where Mmusi Maimane was allowed to think homosexuality is sinful than one where he was not.  I agreed, though I wondered whether children should be kept out of churches in which the preaching and practice deviate from what the Constitution says.

De-toothing schools’ code of conduct on constitutional grounds (even if the Schools Act of 1996 supports those private club rules) could have unexpected ramifications also for businesses that don’t comply with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.  Should private companies’ decisions on this be overridden by the Constitution’s recognition and redress of past injustices through positive discrimination?  Why have an opt-out option?

Even if we preach Constitutional supremacy, there is a danger that when we use it to take away others’ private club freedoms, we jeopardise our own.

Now, let’s criticize Maritzburg College’s initial stance on the placarded students (even if the charges against them were eventually dropped).

Many of our schools were formed under colonialism or apartheid; Maritzburg College has been “directing potential since 1863”.  Back then, a governmental power would have a system in place to educate white students for senior administrative and managerial jobs in the public sector, or for professions in the private sector that had a symbiotic relationship with said government.  Those who received what would later be called Bantu Education were limited to skills just a little more empowering than hewing wood and drawing water.  This system extracted labour from them through the administration of those from “nice” schools — thereby capitalising itself, paying salaries and assuring life-long jobs in the system.

The training and education of that day spoke to securing employment in that context, and rules against challenging educational establishments were how the system legitimized itself in the minds of its obedient children.

Today’s educational needs and economic background are different: the rules must be too.  In the absence of colonial powers extracting and exploiting black labour, entrepreneurialism and autonomous thought are as close to life-long job security with cushy salaries as many students will get.  This requires the antithesis of silence and compliance because the promises tied to “behaving” can no longer be kept any more than America and Maritzburg College can be made “great” again.

Today, managing one’s social media presence is part of self-marketing.  It must be, for the students’ only survival options will be radical entrepreneurship on their own or radical economic transformation engineered by the state.  When we condemn them for being self-expressive and bold, we’re condemning the characteristics that will be required by the liberalism which, if allowed to flourish, would make the EFF unnecessary as a “last hope”.

To avoid being accused of pandering to opinion just because it’s opinion, a school in College’s position could redeem its reputation as a place of relevant learning by challenging opinionated students to defend their views in the public square under the disclaimer that those opinions are not necessarily theirs.  What on earth could our schools possibly teach, today, other than how to think and substantiate thought?

Steven Sidley wrote an article saying our political parties aren’t prepared for the rise of technology and its ramifications.  Jobs will go to robots; financial institutions will be challenged by cryptocurrencies.  Presidents could start World War Three with a single tweet.  In this world, the airing and defending of a students’ views should not be so under-resourced and unexpected that visually, it’s aided only by hand-painted signs and socially, it is responded to with shock.

We cannot just wait until the end of the year to look for students’ names in newspapers, then lament at how the education system underprepares them for the world we condemn them for engaging.

Our youth deserves the benefit of the doubt — and educational challenges that match the world they’re growing in.  Leveraged well, the ability to defend one’s opinions on social media is the currency of tomorrow and one of the few tools we’ll have to shape humanity’s collective destiny.

Failing this, we’re preparing students for a past world, which the party these boys support claims to be dismantling precisely because many of us refuse to let it go.

Thank you

Please comment, retweet and follow: @SKhumalo1987

Book coming courtesy of Kwela, one of NB Publisher’s seven imprints.

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Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Has Upped the Stakes

If the ANC presidential hopeful’s words didn’t startle you like a sharp gunshot above the noise from the Eastern Cape conference, where were you?

We shouldn’t be apologetic.  And I take exception to what Johan Rupert said, that radical economic transformation means — is a code for theft.  I think we should condemn that in the strongest of terms.  Coming from people who took our land?  Coming from people who are monopolising the economy today?  And of course they’d say that because they want to resist.  So they want us to be scared that if we do it we’ll be seen as thieves.  We’re not thieves.  We are not thieves.  Where there are thieves they must be caught and arrested, but we are not thieves, as black people.

This was at the Interfaith Prayer in Phoenix, north of Durban.

As Dlamini-Zuma can be on the few topics she has some conviction on, she was actually presidential: the recklessness of her words legitimised and reined in by a gravitas that surpasses her physique, she commanded a transfixed silence from the audience.  People only interjected to offer fleeting but passionate shouts of approval where approval couldn’t be contained.

We are not thieves, as black people is a lot like black people can’t be racist — grading on the curve, where one merely must appear more innocent than one’s accuser.  This populism strengthens the probability, hitherto diminished among possible future scenarios, that she and the ANC will win this December and 2019 respectively.

To stop that, the opposition would have to talk-up an amended version of BEE.  Once the cat of “radical economic transformation” was out its bag, nothing could put it back: not even Bell Pottinger’s fall.

It doesn’t matter, for example, that the money looted by this administration could have accomplished or could still accomplish that: the perception (exacerbated by incidences that increasingly show “reconciliation” to have been a trick of the light, like a rainbow) is that South Africa remains divided and unequal because the ANC-led government skipped reparations.  Dlamini Zuma has demonstrated the ease with which she can promise to fix that and justify looting.

This is where an amended version of BEE could be used by other parties as drawcards.  The DA once suggested lowering the “new entrant” threshold for the ownership element of BEE from R15 million to R10 million; the DTI instead increased it to R50 million.  This threshold is the total asset net worth at which a black business-owner is considered “new” to the economy — R50 million.  For empowering a black person up until he exceeds that net worth in his or her personal capacity, the current BEE code rewards businesses with empowerment points.

Having R50 million in cash or assets when one’s debts are paid (that’s what total asset net worth in personal capacity means) should make BEE unnecessary unless one is giving kick-backs to politicians.  At R50 million, it should be possible to amass further wealth without the aid of a law created to effect redress.  If the new entrant threshold is lowered, the same wealth black billionaires make will, going forward, be less concentrated as a result of BEE; BEE will be accessible to a greater number of black people.

In theory, then, they would be absorbed into the mainstream economy, giving more of them and theirs a vested interest in voting with the economy in mind.  There would be more voters’ eyes keeping a direct line of sight on indicators like the exchange rate, our credit rating status and the like because their lives would be implicated even if it’s indirectly — through relatives and friends who’d have begun climbing the economic ladder.  Standing more firmly behind a thusly-amended BEE would also get the DA out of the land ownership debate because the agricultural BEE sector codes speak to that.

The other thing the official opposition would have to do to stop Dlamini-Zuma and the ANC is repeat its Bell Pottinger victory with other multi-national businesses.  I tweeted my social media friends to direct-message me the names of global companies they see as benefiting from black poverty (thanks, everyone!).

If the Democratic Alliance could drag Bell Pottinger before the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association for taking advantage of South Africa’s situation, then we’re ready to hear wonderful news on all the other exploitative and unethical international companies they’re working to discredit before their respective governing bodies for howsoever those businesses benefitted from the effects of apartheid the way Bell Pottinger did.

This register (titled “Arya Stark’s Kill List”, open for edits and comments) has been compiled from the social media responses.  Won’t it be wonderful to begin compiling evidence that the DA isn’t all the horrible things it’s often accused of being?

A lot of rich and powerful people will assume that our courts’ yet-strong stance against corruption will translate into legal victories for the likes of Johann Rupert against the likes of Dlamini-Zuma.  But our courts have an equally strong hatred of the exploitation or understating of apartheid’s effects.  Our courts are not alone: no statutory or regulatory body anywhere would, upon having the spotlight turned on it, tolerate the abuse of economic power by a firm under its jurisdiction.

The question is whether our official opposition believes enough in the rule of law to do unto other businesses what it did to Bell Pottinger.

Thank you

Please comment, retweet and follow: @SKhumalo1987

Book coming courtesy of Kwela, one of NB Publisher’s seven imprints.

 

If Zuma Becomes Life President, There Won’t Be a Shower Afterwards

Notwithstanding arguments that the Western Cape government could have pre-empted the water crisis (allowing Premier Helen Zille the dignity of her daily shower), we must wonder whether Showerhead-appointed office-bearers would miss daily splashes if their constituents had water crises.  The answer to that is a no that strongly reeks of a third Zuma term.

The ANC’s elective conference could be postponed to let the party regroup regarding the KZN PEC, delaying the end of Zuma’s ANC presidency.  The party could also solve its factionalism the way the IFP keeps a lid on its succession issues — by not changing its leader.  Would Parliament remain above the fray, or would it also vote to change the Constitution and sanction a third Zuma term?

ANC MPs couldn’t stop sinking that low if they were thrown a secret ballot to pull themselves up with.  The DA got 99 problems, but that thief ain’t one.  And the EFF is fighting two enemies who have more a vested interest ganging up on it than in joining it.

At the end of its policy conference, the ANC dished up race-neutral descriptions of an economy cartelised by “monopoly capital”, showing that though Julius Malema EFF-ectively shaped the discourse on inequality, the ANC could still push a centrist, de-racialized, ANC+DA-coalition narrative ahead of 2019.  The local government elections, too, proved relevance more important than ideology.  For it is written: political parties shall not live by conviction alone, but by every voter, parliamentary seat, government position, and tender-for-friends that proceeds from the mouth of the ANC.

This tells me the EFF must trade one of its non-negotiable horses for one the ANC’s.  I more easily foresee it tolerate Zuma than turn down credit for re-centring Section 25 of the Constitution (Property).  The ANC won’t co-vote with the EFF on that motion until it has something worth gaining — or keeping — from voting for land expropriation without expropriation, and that’s Zuma.

A radical leftist could argue that by allowing a Zuma third term (read: life presidency), the EFF would block capitalists like Cyril Ramaphosa from challenging uncompensated land restitution from the Union Buildings.  Come 2019, the EFF can’t get credit for pushing back against capitalist Ramaphosa or the current land/economic situation unless it tolerates Zuma, who seems sympathetic to the EFF’s cause.  And the party won’t grow beyond 6% without the ANC agreeing to share its funders under the table — or its abundance of politically-motivated smear-campaigns and murders to silence uncooperative EFF members.

The ruling party’s continued existence depends not on “organizational renewal” but its playing dirtier than ever before.  Ramaphosa can’t become party president without causing fatal splits; Dr. Mkhize can’t without being a fatality; Dr. Dlamini-Zuma can’t without collapsing under the party’s sin because patriarchy empowers men to abuse while punishing women for behaving like men.  Mondli Zondo recently wrote articles on debates about whether South Africa is “ready for a female president” and the double-standards that disadvantage woman presidential candidates.

Besides misogyny, there are personality issues: Rebecca Davis has observed that Dlamini-Zuma less resembles “a revolutionary leader and more a rather strict headmistress addressing an unruly school”, so she doesn’t have “that thing” (*makes Hlaudi Motsoeneng gestures*).  Her school principal demeanour makes her more likely to be made Higher Education Minister to announce free education, in accordance with the rumoured prophecies.

If Zuma knows we know he’ll get amnesty or flee, he knows his enemies are already ahead of those strategies.  What we should have learned with the cabinet reshuffles is he tends towards the reckless and unexpected — where nobody is waiting to meet him.  The raw power of unending endurance is consistent with the patronage system, where a change in leadership is more consistent with actual “organizational renewal” — which the ANC is incapable of.

It’s easier to follow patrons than to negotiate systems.  Having fed the demon of tribalism the fodder of patronage, the ANC’s stability has become permanently dependent on its Prime Minister (to the Guptas, or whoever else is buying the country from him).  As August 8 2017 showed, the ANC no longer exists apart from JZ, for he has fashioned that century-old liberation movement into his personal concubinal slave.  “No, the ANC MPs were just letting him finish his term, not allowing a third one — let alone life presidency!” many say.  But how will they draw the line at a third term if they couldn’t say, “Thus far and no further!” on prior scandals?  The unmoved Duduzile Cynthia Myeni is an omen; just as pigs (not French airbuses) will fly before she steps down, Zuma’s likely to stay put.

Two prophetesses warned us: Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo (“Khwezi”) by alleging Showerhead was a rapist, and Unshowered Zille by alleging he facilitates state capture through patronage.  By saying no to them, we (like Zuma’s appointees) said a stinky yes to these last two terms being just the courtship.  Remember Cersei Lannister’s words: “Today?  You’re not going to die today.  You’re not going to die for quite a while.”

It was just the courtship!  We mustn’t be surprised to find ourselves at a KPMG-sponsored wedding kissing our freedoms goodbye.  The oft-married Zuma won’t be.

His name is ambusher, not ambushed Jacob, not Esau; Gedleyihlekisa, not Gedleyinhlekiso; Zuma, not Zunyiwe.  And it will be a long time before anyone gets to shower.

Thank you

Please comment, retweet and follow: @SKhumalo1987

Book coming courtesy of Kwela, one of NB Publisher’s seven imprints.

Last Week I Agreed with the DA On One and a Half Issues.  But Will I Vote for Them?

Most opposition parties’ arguments against the DA’s motion to dissolve parliament were political.  But the motion was a philosophical extension of what those parties had been doing alongside the DA anyway.  By claiming a political reason not to join in this time, they were imitating the ANC’s defence of its leader in the previous motions they’d supported.

The DA’s argument was: government is broken; therefore, let parliament no longer prop it up at taxpayers’ expense by continuing with the charade that it works when that pretence adds a veneer of legitimacy to the sham it exacerbates.  Shockingly, the other parties were so fixated on protecting their political brands, they handed the title deed for the moral high ground over to the DA on a silver platter, scorning and then defeating the motion.

This could have been the DA’s plan, knowing that politically we can’t have fresh elections but morally, we can’t not have them.  That kind of opportunism is political stock-in-trade.  Francois de La Rochefoucauld described hypocrisy as the tribute vice pays to virtue.  Describing the DA’s motion as grandstanding without refuting it on its philosophical terms (playing the ball) instead of political terms (playing the man) is refusing pay the tribute because you’re tired of the face collecting it.

It would have been enough for the other opposition parties to abstain, or emphasise the debate’s moral necessity more than its source’s political opportunism, and then vote against it for obviously political reasons.  I think I would have understood.  That they voted for their political interests while underplaying the philosophical obligation the DA had introduced speaks to the rising cynicism of South African politics.  There was a time when ANC politicians had the decency to lie about respecting Public Protector remedial action and Constitutional Court findings thereon.  Today, they openly contradict the Constitutional Court.  It appears some of the opposition parties are taking the ANC’s lead.

A distinction will appear, however faint it is now, between parties that lower politics to what’s pragmatic, what’s possible — Machiavellianism — and those that make it about what’s principled.  In the face of our political fatalism, the DA has a track record of saying crazy and truthful things like, “Jacob Zuma must be stopped!”; MP Zakhele Mbhele’s speech reminded me how the DA often plays the prophetic role of Noah warning people about the coming Flood (the EFF does this, too, sometimes).

The mystery of iniquity at work here is that (black) South Africans refuse the truth, intending to assert their autonomy, only to later recognise they’re trapped in that autonomy and need the “oppressor” to liberate them.  Or as a friend said, “White people have been going to courts and fighting our battles, and now we’re in an embarrassing situation where if we agree with them on anything, everything is undone.”

This has a self-fulfilling power to it.  If “the whites” really do want to bring back white rule, they simply have propose obvious solutions to situations faced by “the blacks”, which they’ll refuse because ego, until one day we are truly trapped and have no choice but to be rescued by “the whites”.  My English teacher used to tell the girls in our class, “Run from a man until you catch him”.  Perhaps South Africans are running from the DA because…well…

You may say it was never the DA that defined “right versus wrong” as “white versus black” but if we shift our gaze to the Bell Pottinger saga, we see the effects of apartheid glossed over and minimised.  The simplest explanation (which is then read back on everything else the DA does, including its parliamentary motions) is that while the DA cares to have black voters, it doesn’t care about black people.  This description fits the ANC too, of course.  I’ll be forgiven if I’m wrong, but for every hundred things on why BP’s PR was “unethical”, from various sources echoing or describing the DA’s role, there’s been barely a whisper in the direction of, “BP’s PR strategy was dangerous not only because it broke the rules, but because it had a grain of truth to it”.

Imagine if we destroyed the inequality Bell Pottinger’s campaign exploited as fast as we destroyed Bell Pottinger; if we reached across to townships as easily as we did across oceans to the UK.  And just as describing the DA’s motion to dissolve parliament as grandstanding doesn’t take a stitch out of their argument, taking Bell Pottinger’s tactics and business down as unethical doesn’t render nonexistent the conditions they exploited.  So, the reasoning that helps the DA on one front, overthrows them on the other.

Their fixation on BP’s technique needs to be halved to make room for the concession that transformation is overdue, followed by a reminder of how the DA would resolve inequality if it were in power.  They missed a golden opportunity to woo the black voter, and it would have cost them nothing they have not lost or paid.

If you think women who have to give their fiancés lobola money have it tough, try writing columns telling the party you want to vote for what it has to do to earn it.  But I am winking in the dark, knowing only a few of this blog’s readers and next to none from any political parties.

Thank you

Please comment, retweet and follow: @SKhumalo1987

Book coming courtesy of Kwela, one of NB Publisher’s seven imprints. 

#MduduziManana: Shocking, Yes; Surprising?  Not So Much

It’s barely Tuesday, and South Africa’s high-drama news diet has already served up Higher Education Deputy Minister, Mduduzi Manana, assaulting Mandisa Duma for calling him gay.  Yet, subsequent discussions and apologies have unpacked neither the homophobia in her using the word as a slur, nor his frame of reference for clearly agreeing it was an insult.

I’ve shared before that in high school, I, too, stumbled upon that girl who used the taunt, “But you are gay” as a weapon.  Such is intended to emasculate you amongst male bystanders.  If you don’t aggressively (read: violently) disprove it, her gender be damned, you’re seen as allowing the taunter to get away with it.  This is as good as saying it’s true that you’re gay.

Gayness is seen as letting others wield power over you (by calling you gay, for example); the idea of being dominated this way has sexual connotations I won’t go into.  Femininity is framed as weakness before others’ insults, which carries the same connotations as gayness is thought to.  The only way a man can shift being feminised (or made gay) off of himself at that point is by feminising others back.  Ergo, violence.

Verbal bullying is more complex than that, of course: the accused is belittled simply in being put on the defensive because he’s likely to become defensive.  The defensiveness is self-evident weakness, making this an instantaneous vicious cycle — a perfect political trap.  The insulted is caught off-guard and already on the back-foot.  Without violence, denialism arouses suspicion amongst bystanders until it’s vindicated through violence.

Is there a choice, besides violence?  Yes, there are two.  One can enter a spiral of helplessness and shame leading to suicide.  Bottled frustration corrodes and putrefies from within.  The other choice takes, not so much inner strength as it does patience; so much so I’m convinced it comes from a higher power.

For after the antidepressants, psychotherapists and good friends have held you back from the pit, and pulled you back again when the depersonalisation, the dissociation and the disjointedness become part of your being, or non-being, this self-exile coming from being convinced your body’s impulses are so much more evil than “normal” teenagers’ that though they still get to date, have first kisses and Matric Dances, you don’t, can’t and shouldn’t.  It all starts blending into the same muffled, colourless procession of events happening on the other side of a kilometre-thick glass separating you from anything and anyone else.

And all you can really do from there is map out the socio-political terrain that produced the teenage quadrilemma of bully/be bullied/kill/be killed.  You calmly, clinically do a post-mortem of who you used to be, the imaginary being who was willed out of existence by years of self-hate, and share the reports as opinion articles for others to read and scrutinise.  You bisect yourself, and invite others to take a look, all the while wondering whether they can really hear you since you’re having some sort of permanent out-of-body experience.

You tell them that the Donald Trump who asserts his masculinity by threatening to bomb everyone is no different from the Donald Trump who brags about molesting women, is no different from the Trump who disparages gay and transgender rights after flip-flopping on them.  The Jacob Zuma who asserts his masculinity through tribalistic othering is not an innocent bystander from the Jacob Zuma who showers after possibly non-consensual sex (otherwise known as rape) with his friend’s daughter, and that this Zuma is not surprised at another Zuma, alien to himself, who goes off-script with gay rights.

Still, the society that made “gay” a slur trusts individuals whose modus operandi is domination to willingly hand over their tax returns and account for their homestead upgrades; it trusts them to do the “honourable thing”.  And you know, you wonder if you’re changing anything or if your sense of disconnectedness derives from society’s paralysis; if your trauma is an expression of theirs.  Except you know about it, and they don’t.

The ANC makes room for Manana’s and Zuma’s behaviour.  If its MPs vote against Zuma in today’s motion of no confidence, it won’t be because of the party’s commitment to respecting the Constitutional Court’s say-so on their parliamentary oath.  Likewise, if the ANC finally caught up on Nkandla, it wasn’t because it respected the Public Protector’s constitutional mandate.  If it’s horrified by State Capture it isn’t because it respects the Constitution’s view of South Africa as a sovereign state whose integrity must be upheld by its office bearers.  If the ANC seemingly champions gay or women’s rights, it isn’t because its president or its deputy ministers fundamentally believe in these causes.  Come to think of it, the ANC doesn’t seem to believe much in the supremacy of the Constitution or the inviolability of human rights.

“When someone shows you who they are,” Dr. Maya Angelou said, “believe them the first time.”  When we hear of people in the ANC behaving as Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana did, we should certainly be shocked and outraged; we should do everything we can to shield their victims from further harm.

But be surprised?  If we’re still surprised, then the emotional putridness has corroded and decayed the last bit of sense from within us.

Siya Khumalo writes about religion, politics and sex.

Please follow and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

Book loading, catch it mid-April 2018

#NoConfidenceVote: Why ANC MPs Should Vote Zuma Out on August the 8th Whatever the Cost

In light of Fikile Mbalula’s description of ANC MPs as “suicide bombers” whose allegiance to the party are absolute, we should ask whether the parliamentary oath is conditional.

We already know there’ll never be a secret ballot: that could have been predicted from after the 2014 elections.  Who are our parliamentarians when there isn’t one, and what did their oath mean back then?  When their lives or jobs are at stake, what legroom do they have to act contrary to the good of the Republic?  Now, were office-bearers like Thuli Mandosela and MPs like Vytjie Mentor and Dr. Makhosi Khoza aware of this latitude?

When I was in the military, I realized that if those who’d served under compulsion had nonetheless served well, then those of us who had joined voluntarily had to exceed them.  If we said before danger, “This is not what I signed up for!” we were wasting opportunities to serve the country that others may have used more courageously.

The price of sovereignty is the same as ending oppression or taking away sins: blood.  MPs elect the president who decides when soldiers go off to risk their lives for the country.  How are the ANC’s MPs not open to facing the same risk to bring that leader to book or atone for his sins, which they covered?  Do they think whoever conceived of the no confidence provision failed to envision the scenarios under which it could be invoked?  Did they take their oath to the country that lightly?  What did they think the “so help me God” part was for?  Dramatic effect?

There is no shame in ceding one’s seat or position to someone more patriotic and less conflicted about what needs to be done.  Not doing so shifts the price to South Africans.  As the Guptas stole state resources, so, too, are pro-Zuma ANC MPs stealing a chance to serve from those who’d act on conscience.

We rightly say, “Nonconformist ANC deployees are being murdered”.  It would be more accurate to say, “A free South Africa is being murdered, and dissenting ANC members are on the front line because they took their vows seriously”.  When power has been corrupted, it is unpatriotic to limit dissent to systems that have been captured and corrupted.

South Africa is in reverse-struggle.  If you could quantify the collective suffering facilitated by the ANC-led government (from AIDS denialism to State Capture denialism) it could surpass the suffering endured by members of the liberation movement under apartheid.  This trend will be perpetuated by ANC’s necromancy this coming 8th: by its MPs’ witchcraft, the high price paid by their martyrs and prisoners will be exacted from the future generations those stalwarts were dying to serve.  I don’t know whether hell is real, but I know there’s a special place in it for people who do that — people who intercept someone’s dying gift to an unborn child, and use it to kill that child as they enrich themselves.  Worse, the ANC will blame that child: when Fezeka Kuzwayo reported that Jacob Zuma had raped her, it was spun into the Mbeki faction planting discord for the Zuma faction.  When Makhosi Khoza speaks up, it’s spun as her getting attention at a cost to the party.  Some reportedly suggested an amnesty deal be given to Zuma to keep the ANC intact.  Message?  ANC elites are the only people intended in the Constitution’s, “We, the people” and the rest of us are their shadows — hollow, empty and destined for the underworld.

Some ANC office-bearers and MPs justify their loyalty by saying they’re “fighting from within”.  Others say they’re using “prescribed channels”, “following protocols” (I wondered whether Zuma “followed protocol” when he forwarded ministerial candidates’ CVs to the Guptas) and “ensuring some service delivery happens”.  But postponing criticism for a more opportune moment is as exhausted as all the excuses for it.  “Doing good from within” simply lends evil a veneer of benevolence that will benefit no one when the bill arrives.

It’s common knowledge the Speaker will have an open ballot, so MPs should state what their consciences say publicly because the Constitutional Court understands their vows to take precedence over their party allegiance and even normal process.  This moral burden is underscored by the ANC’s Policy Conference Discussion Document labelled Strategy and Tactics:

“South Africa’s efforts at fundamental change represent a social experiment which resonates with humanity’s progressive endeavours.  As in the past when it touched the conscience of humanity, South Africa is a giant social laboratory, the success or failure of whose undertakings has global implications.”

ANC MPs vowed to do something much bigger than themselves — and if they don’t live up to their implications no matter the cost, their oaths will haunt them to their deathbeds anyway.  Remember these words by C. S Lewis:

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.  A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions.  Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

The ANC has already said its MPs are suicide bombers.  Doesn’t their oath to the constitution and parliament have a stronger claim to unconditionality?

Siya Khumalo writes on religion, politics and sex. 

Comment, follow and retweet on @SKhumalo1987

Book loading (yes it is so real) for next year April.

#ZilleTradeOff: Why Helen Zille Could Be Found Guilty

To grow substantively in 2019, the DA has to adopt a jurisprudential philosophy that could, unfortunately, be used to hold WC Premier, Helen Zille, responsible for bringing the party into disrepute through her colonialism tweets and defences thereof.

I have glimpsed Helen Zille’s humanity through her political nimbus.  I’m not sure which shines brighter.  So I regret our collective obligation to examine her actions, which needlessly stand in the way of the political realignment our country needs.

Zille apologised unreservedly and then defended her tweets.  Will she also apologise for the confusion this created as to what was unreserved about her first apology, never mind whether her DA can be trusted to say what it means?

She’s made claims on the relationships among causes and effects (colonialism and progress — the benefits of the latter being unevenly distributed and subjective) but those claims are speculative at best and dangerously mistaken at worst.  So people understandably interpret her argument through the cynical lens of the political moment, as well as varying complex motivations imputed to her.  That comes with the territory!

Apart from these considerations, her tweets are nothing that’s never been said before.  It’s when you start asking, “Why her?  Why this medium?  Why now?  What’s her intention?  What taste does she want to leave in people’s mouths?” — questions she would have asked as a journalist — that you start wondering whether a mind as analytical as hers spent so many years studying how news works “from the inside” that her subconscious could seize this opportunity for a perfect storm.  So what scores is she settling?

Why shouldn’t people find that line of questioning more relevant than her claim that “the legacy of colonialism wasn’t all evil”?

Just as her post-apology behaviour is not consistent with apologising, her tweets aren’t coherent among themselves as to her beliefs on the immorality of colonialism.  And how many of the countries she compares ours to had the former beneficiaries of oppression stay without having to make reparations?

When there is an injured party and a party implicated with injuring (or indirectly benefiting from the injury), it is the injured’s prerogative to rank the pros and cons of the situation — not the injurer’s or beneficiary’s.  I use this analogy because sexual violence was a sub-legacy of colonialism: what if a rapist’s family said to one of his victims, “But what our son did to you gave you this beautiful child, so the rape’s legacy wasn’t only evil”?

Wouldn’t it be more respectful (dignity is constitutional!) for the rapist’s family to wait for the survivor to frame the story?  Everyone frames stories because just as there is no objective fact-book against which to test Zille’s posited relationships among causes and effects (apart from the more immediate contextual considerations of who she is and what her intentions could have been when she pursued this path), no story dropped down from heaven fully-formed.  No court would say her tweets were “correct”, for then it would have to exonerate tweets on how today’s Jews benefitted from scientific advances made during the Holocaust.  It could be easier for a court to condemn Zille’s tweets than rule them “factually correct.”

Even if Zille’s voicing her opinion is constitutionally sustainable on the basis of her right to freedom of expression, the tastelessness with which she exercises it right conflicts with others’ right to dignity (which includes the aggrieved’s right to frame the story) and will be the reason neither the DA’s nor South Africa’s constitution will be supported by voters come 2019: those legal frameworks fail to endow black persons with equality.  The failure happens when those interpreting them don’t impress contextual equity into disputes.  No constitution or constitutional right was ever formed or ever operated in a vacuum.

The justice framework we inherited came about because former President Nelson Mandela, among others, backed down from implementing what would have been seen as perfectly justifiable measures in 1994.  His reticence about justifying that version of justice was prior to and made possible Zille’s rush to justify her interpretation of the rules.  If we’d applied her approach to law during Mandela’s moment, there would have been no Zille moment.

Prior to her self-justification should be mindfulness that a negotiated settlement is negotiated, as opposed to meeting all the needs of every party, let alone the aggrieved who could make the greatest claims.  It’s a settlement as opposed to being an ideal and perfect ending.  From its beginning, “We, the people of South Africa, Recognize the injustices of our past”, the letter of our law decidedly points beyond a threadbare reading of itself towards restoring dignity; towards spirit, not letter.  The constitutions ultimately answerable to the Constitutional Court are signposts guiding us to interpretations that allow aggrieved parties to frame for themselves, to their own equity and dignity, their stories of how they came to be aggrieved.

We’re stuck in 1994 until we outgrow the ANC.  The DA must grow, come Helen or high water.  That the announcement on her possible suspension was mishandled may discredit the DA, but it doesn’t re-credit her.

The DA could be the ANC of the 21st century if it does what the ANC never did — liberate, not tax money, but black people and all South Africans.  But that would depend on the jurisprudential philosophy it segues into.

Thank you.  Please follow, retweet, share and comment: @SKhumalo1987

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#FICABill: The Myth of Economic Policy Stability

President Jacob Zuma has finally signed the Financial Intelligence Centre Act Bill.  This could mean one of three things.  If the first, we owe him an apology; if the second, we can relax a little; if the third, we must brace ourselves because winter is coming and it’s cold outside the ANC.

I once read a book.  It was a difficult experience for me — not because it was the only time I’d read a book, but because of a story it told.

A father was out with his young son.  The kid wanted to run around and play.  “Sure,” his father said, “but don’t run on the bank.”  The kid nodded, excited, before he took off to frolic on the forbidden bank.  His dad yelled, “No running on the bank!”  The kid nodded, but kept at it.  Eventually, his father dragged him off the grass and spanked him.  “What part of, ‘No running on the bank!’ didn’t you understand?”

His teary baby eyes blinking up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a bank?”

That’s how tragically wrong the conspiracy theories around President Jacob Zuma could turn out to be.  He’s signed FICA, after all.

The second possibility is that the conspiracy theories are true but he’s changing his ways or losing ground.  This would make sense, when you look, also, at the Western Cape High Court ruling on behalf of NGOs Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute: the run-up to nuclear energy deal was unconstitutional, the court said.

The third possibility is that as in rhetoric where a debater would concede a point in order to strengthen his initial position, Jacob Gedliyehlekisa Zuma is living up to his names — supplanter, mocker and ambusher: conceding only to lure into a trap.

He’s neither innocent kid being punished for a crime he doesn’t understand, nor short-sighted ruler who, “going out to encounter another king in war” embarrasses himself by not first deliberating “whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand”.  If he’d realized the error of his ways he’d be asking for amnesty.  His plan is not to shield the shady transactions that will be exposed to further-reaching investigations of FICA, but to threaten retaliation through said FICA.

When the State of Capture report emerged last year, the ANC Women’s League responded, “Any investigation which excludes white monopoly capital is an advancement of white supremacy and serves a racial political agenda that hinders the building of a non-racial society.”  Once you deepen investigations into relationships between high-profile political persons and big money, who decides that banking transactions flagged only yesteryear should be looked into?  Did something happen in, say, 1994, that expunged the sinfulness of all state-capital relationships until then?  Gotcha!  Unless the Bill explicitly carries a statue of limitations around how far back anyone can investigate (something Zuma could have highlighted) he will use it now that he has been forced to adopt it.

The moment the ANC stole bragging rights for our liberation, it became our Saviour and then our Lord.  Jesus can’t come back to save us from the ANC because we’ve made the ANC into our Jesus, our golden calf.  “These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  President Zuma is banking on the idea that once you turn on the lights on illicit state-capital relations, you stumble upon an explanation for the economic inequality the ANC promised to rescue the black electorate from in 1994.  It would suddenly appear the apartheid State subsidized whiteness in a way that can only be rectified by the “radical economic transformation” the President will whet his MPs to vote for in June if not sooner.  ZumaTradeOff: A bigger reshuffle is on the cards sought to explain why President Zuma wants to keep his finger close to that trigger.  Therefore, he is not afraid of the FICA Bill and if he were, Minister Gigaba could delay its gazetting.

While we’re on Minister Gigaba, someone should warn him that he’s starting to look and sound like Pontius Pilate.  Until eternity’s last day, Pilate will boast an ecclesiastical honour known to no human save for Mother Mary: he’s one of the only two individuals named as having interacted with Jesus in the Christian Nicene Creed chanted by millions of believers weekly around the world.  Unlike the Virgin, however, Gigaba and Pilate will be caught in history’s spotlight denuded of core, conviction and character.  Both suffer from what Turkish historian Kenneth Weisbrode calls the “problems and pleasures of having it both ways.”  Is Gigaba about “radical economic transformation” (which is dog-whistle politics for another thing altogether) or “inclusive economic growth” (that whistle is deafening)?  Or will he not really know until he’s caught between a spear and a machine gun?

For he evades — look at the spin around the credit ratings downgrade.  He equivocates — “The views expressed in [Professor Chris Malikane’s] opinion piece [on land expropriation without compensation] are not necessarily government policy.”  He enables — guilty by association with the Gupta family.  Already he buckles under the weight of making the call to choose between crucifying South Africa’s economic Barabbases and Jesuses.

Not knowing who or what he is, media and markets will squeeze him to see what comes out of his slim frame until, finally, he will be squeezed by the 32, 000-pound bus Zuma will throw him under.

President Jacob Zuma, The Unburnt Chief of Nkandla’s Fire Pools, Maker of Chains, Father of Draconian state brutalities and Not-First of Unspeakable Names, signed FICA into law.

Those winds we’re hearing could be the winds of change but if we change nothing, they signal that winter is coming.

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#ZumaTradeOff: A Bigger Reshuffle on the Cards

 

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s economic adviser, Professor Chris Malikane, says government should scrap Black Economic Empowerment. He feels it’s worsened inequality among black people. I think his words herald another financial reshuffle — but not the kind we’d expect.

The first article on the #ZumaTradeOff said the louder people call for Jacob Zuma to fall without offering the trade-off of economic transformation, the more Zuma will paint those calling for his fall as racists who are unconcerned with the financial challenges facing black South Africans.

I am certain the ANC’s 62% is very close to voting with the EFF’s 6% on Section 25 of the Constitution. The EFF made the ANC a standing offer on agreeing around land expropriation without compensation. That is what Zuma said the ANC MPs should have voted for earlier this year in Parliament. Now, if ANC MPs can’t agree on voting by conscience on whether Zuma should remain President, in which world will they resist Zuma’s stance on land forever?

Whether you and I believe “white monopoly capital” exists or not is irrelevant. The debate on land ownership is a red herring. At its lowest, politics is never distracted by stats and facts; it focuses on what the greatest number of people will support whether it’s sensible or necessary.

In the eyes of supporters who have defended him thus far, there isn’t a sin Jacob Zuma can commit that won’t be covered by land reform in his term, nor will they fail to reward him with eternal presidency should he bring about “radical economic transformation”. Human nature hasn’t changed since Zimbabwe or many of the other African countries. And history’s shortest summary is that people don’t learn from history.

The issue of economic inequality is the deadliest weapon in Zuma’s considerable arsenal. On the one hand, if he isn’t backed into a corner where he has to force his MPs to vote on land in order to strengthen himself, it means he’s feeling strong enough to overcome resistance to the nuclear energy deal without effecting this financial “reshuffle”.

On the other hand, if he is feeling threatened by calls to step down, he will pull the land and God knows what else out from under white people to re-entrench his power.

Either way, the price for underestimating him is much too high.

Zuma does not hate his life, freedom, family and power so much that he would watch ANC MPs consider voting for him to leave office, but not use all manners of threats to effect a financial “reshuffle” that the finance portfolio reshuffles were mere dress rehearsals for.  Indeed, the cabinet reshuffle has shown he and the ANC will juggle office-bearers who can’t be bought to keep Zuma in power.

We are hanging by a thread no thicker than a spider’s web over a bed of really sharp, really long nails. Those nails are nuclear debt, junk status, a battle over land and being shunned by the global financial community for not signing the new FICA Bill.  This isn’t touching on how we may have unconditionally accepted responsibility for nuclear accidents connected with our power stations even if they happen outside our borders at someone else’s hand.

Professor Malikane is correct that the current Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment exacerbates inequality amongst black people. This is why Lee du Preez at BEE Novation argued that the “New Entrant” threshold — the amount of wealth a black person has to be under to be considered a new participant in the economy worth more BEE points for ownership — is too high at R50 million. It’s basically saying, “I won’t see to the needs of other black people until I’ve made my closest friends multi-millionaires.”

It’s why I said that Zuma’s fall can only happen if enough black and white people agree on a “trade-off” in which white people fight to have the threshold decreased to, say, R10 million (a number the DA has suggested) and fight so that black people whose net asset worth is over R10 million not count as black for ownership purposes under BEE. The opportunities must move on to those who need them — and those who have the most economic power have to make the opportunities available.

Given that white people seldom march for economic issues that affect black people, it will sound disingenuous if they now say they’re marching for Zuma to fall so he’ll stop abusing BEE.  They should instead lobby to have BEE less amenable to abuse, ensure transformation and equity happen, and play a supportive role towards political reformation.  That is black people’s fight, and they’ll show up if they have a meaningful stake in the economy to defend.

Professor Malikane overplays his hand is where he says BEE should be scrapped.  Socially and economically, it makes more sense to fix it so it stops enriching super-rich black elites, and starts aiding broad-based black economic transformation like it says on the label.

Unless you strongly disagree with this analysis, I urge you to please look up the #ZumaTradeOff hashtag and get everyone you know engaging it.

We’re going about the Zuma thing all wrong, and the price to pay for that will be greater than we can afford.

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The hashtag is #ZumaTradeOff

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#ZumaTradeOff: One Sitting Away From Constitutional Change

Today I had a conversation that picked up from where we’d left off on the #ZumaTradeOff series. It was about why white people have a vested interest in ensuring Black Economic Empowerment works.

BEE was created to protect white people from more radical means of accomplishing redress for historical injustices like apartheid and colonialism. But for BEE to continue doing that, it has to bring about restitution, not postpone it.

[And yes, on this blog we refer to people by the racial classification apartheid would have assigned to them because that’s how political parties and advertisers gain power over us. To take that power back, we need to anticipate their thoughts, not avoid them.]

The conversation reached a point where I started explaining that even white people who do not or cannot have BEE in their businesses need to ensure that where there is a BEE scorecard, whosever’s it is, it must be real and really help with transformation. One way to ensure this would be to lobby for the lowering of the “new entrant” threshold as I’ve advocated in previous posts in the #ZumaTradeOff series. But it’s not the only way to skin this cat.

What happens if white people don’t ensure the integrity and power of existing legislation?

The EFF and the ANC will egg each other towards changing the Constitution, that’s what.

And that change can look or sound like anything. We saw this in late Feb/early March this year — that because existing legislation has not delivered transformation but has enriched an elite few, we are potentially one Parliamentary sitting away from the most radical alteration of the Constitution in recent history. Once someone touches Section 25 of the Constitution, everything comes into question.

It’s that easy to reverse the effects of apartheid and level racial inequality — the EFF’s 6% and the ANC 62% would just have to agree on it.

And nothing could stop it. God wouldn’t stop it. Other countries wouldn’t intervene beyond speaking against it. This is a democratically elected government. Nothing, do you understand me, nothing would stop it. The whole thing dangles by a thread no stronger than a cobweb.

The louder white people call for Jacob Zuma to fall without offering the trade-off of economic transformation, the more desperate Jacob Zuma becomes to sacrifice something to appease the agitated crowds. White people it is; their votes don’t amount to much. Because, as explained in previous posts, unaccompanied by a white-backed call for economic transformation, those calls for his resignation can easily be construed as being horrendously self-occupied with whiteness’s interests at best, and racist at worst.

Again, only way to contest this is if white people lobby and march more for transformation than they do for political reformation, leaving the political reformation to black people who would then have a vested interest in protecting the economy they’d be let in on.

After the ANC refused to vote with the EFF on land expropriation without compensation, Zuma openly said the ANC MPs should have voted with the EFF. The only thing that stopped ANC MPs from voting with the EFF was political ego; at least, that’s what Zuma said when he lambasted [his! I emphasise: his, not their on consciences’; his] MPs.

But now that he’s effected the cabinet reshuffle, everyone in there fears him more than before. If they didn’t, they’d vote for him to go. So if he said yes to land reform, then, why shouldn’t they listen now?

Also, the ANC’s need for a scapegoat is greater now than it was in early March. Whether you and I believe “white monopoly capital” exists or not is completely irrelevant; all that matters is that all protocol considered, we are potentially. One. House. Sitting. Away. From. The. Most. Radical. Change. To. The. Constitution. One. Uno. Like, one take. The real thing. No dry run, no dress rehearsal.

Let this sink in because I don’t think people understand. Everything can change in one blink of an eye. In one sitting.

Think you that State and ANC President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma hates his life, hates his freedom, hates his family so much; think you that he so despises power that he’ll watch his MPs vote for him to leave office to appease white calls for him to step down, but won’t throw dust in everyone’s eyes by pulling the rug out from under white people’s feet?

Do you think he is that much of a saint? That much of a push-over?

The same Jacob who collected Cyril Ramaphosa’s and Gwede Mantashe’s spines after they openly criticised him? A whole Jacob Zuma?

Why do you think he’s been screaming, “These marchers are racist!” if not to prepare the country for his response to their calls for him to step down?

Did we learn nothing from the cabinet reshuffle?

The less power the current Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment codes have to transform the economy, the less resistance the EFF and ANC would encounter from their respective constituencies if they changed the Constitution in this way.

The more power existing codes have, the more resistance these parties would encounter from their respective constituencies.

That’s why, quite simply, white people have a vested interest in what I’ve been discussing in the #ZumaTradeOff.

This is all assuming that they want to keep their assets. I don’t know. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with altering the Constitution if the people affected don’t mind, I guess.
Thank you. Please share, comment and retweet: @SKhumalo1987

The hashtag is #ZumaTradeOff: please send questions, make comments, share and tell your friends.

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