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Thread: Scottish News Article on SA

  1. #1
    Bronze Member Alan's Avatar
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    Scottish News Article on SA

    SUNDAY HERALD


    Scotland's Award Winning Independent Newspaper


    February 24th, 2008


    Wounded Nation


    The lights are literally and figuratively going out all over
    South Africa as crime, corruption
    and mismanagement push the rainbow country towards becoming
    another failed african state. By
    Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg


    AFTER BATHING in the warm, fuzzy glow of the Mandela years, South
    Africans today are deeply
    demoralised people. The lights are going out in homes, mines,
    factories and shopping malls as
    the national power authority, Eskom - suffering from
    mismanagement, lack of foresight, a
    failure to maintain power stations and a flight of skilled
    engineers to other countries -
    implements rolling power cuts that plunge towns and cities into
    daily chaos.


    Major industrial projects are on hold. The only healthy
    enterprise now worth being involved in
    is the sale of small diesel generators to powerless households
    but even this business has run
    out of supplies and spare parts from China.


    The currency, the rand, has entered freefall. Crime, much of it
    gratuitously violent, is
    rampant, and the national police chief faces trial for corruption
    and defeating the ends of
    justice as a result of his alleged deals with a local mafia
    kingpin and dealer in hard drugs.


    Newly elected African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma,
    the state
    president-in-waiting, narrowly escaped being jailed for raping an
    HIV-positive woman last year,
    and faces trial later this year for soliciting and accepting
    bribes in connection with South
    Africa's shady multi-billion-pound arms deal with British, German
    and French weapons
    manufacturers.


    One local newspaper columnist suggests that Zuma has done for
    South Africa's international
    image what Borat has done for Kazakhstan. ANC leaders in 2008
    still speak in the spiritually
    dead jargon they learned in exile in pre-1989 Moscow, East Berlin
    and Sofia while promiscuously
    embracing capitalist icons - Mercedes 4x4s, Hugo Boss suits,
    Bruno Magli shoes and Louis
    Vuitton bags which they swing, packed with money passed to them
    under countless tables - as
    they wing their way to their houses in the south of France.


    It all adds up to a hydra-headed crisis of huge proportions - a
    perfect storm as the Rainbow
    Nation slides off the end of the rainbow and descends in the
    direction of the massed ranks of
    failed African states. Eskom has warned foreign investors with
    millions to sink into big
    industrial and mining projects: we don't want you here until at
    least 2013, when new power
    stations will be built.


    In the first month of this year, the rand fell 12% against the
    world's major currencies and
    foreign investors sold off more than £600 million worth of South
    African stocks, the biggest
    sell-off for more than seven years.


    "There will be further outflows this month, because there won't
    be any news that will convince
    investors the local growth picture is going to change for the
    better," said Rudi van der Merwe,
    a fund manager at South Africa's Standard Bank.


    Commenting on the massive power cuts, Trevor Gaunt, professor of
    electrical engineering at the
    University of Cape Town, who warned the government eight years
    ago of the impending crisis,
    said: "The damage is huge, and now South Africa looks just like
    the rest of Africa. Maybe it
    will take 20 years to recover."


    The power cuts have hit the country's platinum, gold, manganese
    and high-quality export coal
    mines particularly hard, with no production on some days and only
    40% to 60% on others.


    "The shutdown of the mining industry is an extraordinary,
    unprecedented event," said Anton
    Eberhard, a leading energy expert and professor of business
    studies at the University of Cape
    Town.


    "That's a powerful message, massively damaging to South Africa's
    reputation for new investment.
    Our country was built on the mines."


    To examine how the country, widely hailed as Africa's last best
    chance, arrived at this parlous
    state, the particular troubles engulfing the Scorpions (the
    popular name of the National
    Prosecuting Authority) offers a useful starting point.


    The elite unit, modelled on America's FBI and operating in close
    co-operation with Britain's
    Serious Fraud Office (SFO), is one of the big successes of
    post-apartheid South Africa. An
    independent institution, separate from the slipshod South African
    Police Service, the Scorpions
    enjoy massive public support.


    The unit's edict is to focus on people "who commit and profit
    from organised crime", and it has
    been hugely successful in carrying out its mandate. It has
    pursued and pinned down thousands of
    high-profile and complex networks of national and international
    corporate and public
    fraudsters.


    Drug kingpins, smugglers and racketeers have felt the Scorpions'
    sting. A major gang that
    smuggle platinum, South Africa's biggest foreign exchange earner,
    to a corrupt English smelting
    plant has been bust as the result of a huge joint operation
    between the SFO and the Scorpions.
    But the Scorpions, whose top men were trained by Scotland Yard,
    have been too successful for
    their own good.


    The ANC government never anticipated the crack crimebusters would
    take their constitutional
    independence seriously and investigate the top ranks of the
    former liberation movement itself.


    The Scorpions have probed into, and successfully prosecuted, ANC
    MPs who falsified their
    parliamentary expenses. They secured a jail sentence for the
    ANC's chief whip, who took bribes
    from the German weapons manufacturer that sold frigates and
    submarines to the South African
    Defence Force. They sent to jail for 15 years a businessman who
    paid hundreds of bribes to then
    state vice-president Jacob Zuma in connection with the arms deal.
    Zuma was found by the judge
    to have a corrupt relationship with the businessman, and now the
    Scorpions have charged Zuma
    himself with fraud, corruption, tax evasion, racketeering and
    defeating the ends of justice.
    His trial will begin in August.


    The Scorpions last month charged Jackie Selebi, the national
    police chief, a close friend of
    state president Thabo Mbeki, with corruption and defeating the
    ends of justice. Commissioner
    Selebi, who infamously called a white police sergeant a "f***ing
    chimpanzee" when she failed to
    recognise him during an unannounced visit to her Pretoria
    station, has stepped down pending his
    trial.


    But now both wings of the venomously divided ANC - ANC-Mbeki and
    ANC-Zuma - want the Scorpions
    crushed, ideally by June this year. The message this will send to
    the outside world is that
    South Africa's rulers want only certain categories of crime
    investigated, while leaving
    government ministers and other politicians free to stuff their
    already heavily lined pockets.


    No good reason for emasculating the Scorpions has been put
    forward. "That's because there isn't
    one," said Peter Bruce, editor of the influential Business Day,
    South Africa's equivalent of,
    and part-owned by, The Financial Times, in his weekly column.


    "The Scorpions are being killed off because they investigate too
    much corruption that involves
    ANC leaders. It is as simple and ugly as that," he added.


    The demise of the Scorpions can only exacerbate South Africa's
    out-of-control crime situation,
    ranked for its scale and violence only behind Colombia. Everyone
    has friends and acquaintances
    who have had guns held to their heads by gangsters, who also blow
    up ATM machines and hijack
    security trucks, sawing off their roofs to get at the cash.


    In the past few days my next-door neighbour, John Matshikiza, a
    distinguished actor who trained
    at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is the son of the composer
    of the South African musical
    King Kong, had been violently attacked, and friends visiting from
    Zimbabwe had their car stolen
    outside my front window in broad daylight.
    Remember the Ark was built by Amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.
    Business isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.

    Marine Aquariums SA

  2. #2
    Bronze Member Alan's Avatar
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    Part 2[too long to fit into 1 post]

    My friends flew home to Zimbabwe without their car and the tinned
    food supplies they had bought
    to help withstand their country's dire political and food crisis
    and 27,000% inflation.
    Matshikiza, a former member of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre
    company, was held up by three
    gunmen as he drove his car into his garage late at night. He gave
    them his car keys, wallet,
    cellphone and luxury watch and begged them not to harm his
    partner, who was inside the house.


    As one gunman drove the car away, the other two beat Matshikiza
    unconscious with broken
    bottles, and now his head is so comprehensively stitched that it
    looks like a map of the London
    Underground.


    These assaults were personal, but mild compared with much
    commonplace crime.


    Last week, for example, 18-year-old Razelle Botha, who passed all
    her A-levels with marks of
    more than 90% and was about to train as a doctor, returned home
    with her father, Professor
    Willem Botha, founder of the geophysics department at the
    University of Pretoria, from buying
    pizzas for the family. Inside the house, armed gunmen confronted
    them. They shot Professor
    Botha in the leg and pumped bullets into Razelle.


    One severed her spine. Now she is fighting for her life and will
    never walk again, and may
    never become a doctor. The gunmen stole a laptop computer and a
    camera.


    Feeding the perfect storm are the two centres of ANC power in the
    country at the moment. On the
    one hand, there is the ANC in parliament, led by President Mbeki,
    who last Friday gave a
    state-of-the-nation address and apologised to the country for the
    power crisis.


    Mbeki made only the briefest of mentions of the national Aids
    crisis, with more than six
    million people HIV-positive. He did not address the Scorpions
    crisis The collapsing public
    hospital system, under his eccentric health minister Manto
    Tshabalala-Msimang, an alcoholic who
    recently jumped the public queue for a liver transplant, received
    no attention. And the name
    Jacob Zuma did not pass his lips.


    Last December Mbeki and Zuma stood against each other for the
    leadership of the ANC at the
    party's five-yearly electoral congress. Mbeki, who cannot stand
    again as state president beyond
    next year's parliamentary and presidential elections, hoped to
    remain the power behind the
    throne of a new state president of his choosing.


    Zuma, a Zulu populist with some 20 children by various wives and
    mistresses, hoped to prove
    that last year's rape case, and the trial he faces this year for
    corruption and other charges,
    were part of a plot by Mbeki to use state institutions to
    discredit him. Mbeki assumed that the
    notion of Zuma assuming next year the mantle worn by Nelson
    Mandela as South Africa's first
    black state president would be so appalling to delegates, a
    deeply sad and precipitous decline,
    that his own re-election as ANC leader was a shoo-in.


    But Mbeki completely miscalculated his own unpopularity - his
    perceived arrogance, failure to
    solve health and crime problems, his failure to deliver to the
    poor - and he lost. Now Zuma
    insists that he is the leader of the country and ANC MPs in
    parliament must take its orders
    from him, while Mbeki soldiers on until next year as state
    president, ordering MPs to toe his
    line.


    Greatly understated, it is a mess. Its scale will be dramatically
    illustrated if South Africa's
    hosting of the 2010 World Cup is withdrawn by Fifa, the world
    football body.


    Already South African premier league football evening games are
    being played after midnight
    because power for floodlights cannot be guaranteed before that
    time. Justice Malala, one of the
    country's top newspaper columnists, has called on Fifa to end the
    agony quickly.


    "I don't want South Africa to host the football World Cup because
    there is no culture of
    responsibility in this country," he wrote in Johannesburg's
    bestselling Sunday Times.


    "The most outrageous behaviour and incompetence is glossed over.
    No-one is fired. I have had
    enough of this nonsense, of keeping quiet and ignoring the fact
    that the train is about to run
    us over.


    "It is increasingly clear that our leaders are incapable of
    making a success of it. Scrap the
    thing and give it to Australia, Germany or whoever will spare us
    the ignominy of watching
    things fall apart here - football tourists being held up and
    shot, the lights going out, while
    our politicians tell us everything is all right."
    Remember the Ark was built by Amateurs and the Titanic was built by professionals.
    Business isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.

    Marine Aquariums SA

  3. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I don't know if I'd call this objective journalism - but that's quite a litany of problems back to back.
    foreign investors sold off more than £600 million worth of South
    African stocks, the biggest
    sell-off for more than seven years.
    I didn't know that.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  4. #4
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    As people here, do you really experience the country in the same way that it is being described?

    I experience it quite differently. Yes, there are challenges (there always are, even in the most developed countries), but many are ones which will pass (such as the energy crisis). Yes, there are looming challenges (water comes to mind).

    There are only two things that bother me, and only one is a realised issue. Firstly, crime (and the particularly violent and abusive kind we seem to experience). Second is freedom of expression, particularly for the media (there are threats to that freedom, but so far they have not materialised - and I don't believe they will). Those are the two issues that I watch closely.

    Painting the whole country with the "deepest darkest Africa" brush is really just quite boring - we have a far more interesting and diverse personality than that.
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  5. #5
    Gold Member twinscythe12332's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan View Post
    the national power authority, Eskom - suffering from
    mismanagement, lack of foresight, a
    failure to maintain power stations and a flight of skilled
    engineers to other countries -
    implements rolling power cuts that plunge towns and cities into
    daily chaos.
    one of the guys I work with used to work for the city. Eskom's engineers and foreplanners said 10 years ago "in 10 years we are going to need a new power plant, infrastructure, etc." the government supposedly took over, saying it would turn it into a BEE deal. just never happened. now governement is trying to look the hero.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Yeah. This part in particular really killed the credibility as objective journalism for me.
    Zuma, a Zulu populist with some 20 children by various wives and
    mistresses, hoped to prove
    that last year's rape case, and the trial he faces this year for
    corruption and other charges,
    were part of a plot by Mbeki to use state institutions to
    discredit him. Mbeki assumed that the
    notion of Zuma assuming next year the mantle worn by Nelson
    Mandela as South Africa's first
    black state president would be so appalling to delegates, a
    deeply sad and precipitous decline,
    that his own re-election as ANC leader was a shoo-in.
    Definitely a very coloured view.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  7. #7
    Gold Member twinscythe12332's Avatar
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    well, let's face it, the writer went out to try injure the pride of SA (or the little we have left). the worse it could sound, the better.

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