Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com Africa's Top Liberal Commentary Site Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:51:12 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 https://i2.wp.com/rationalstandard.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/cropped-RS-Logo.png?fit=32%2C32 Rational Standard https://rationalstandard.com 32 32 94510741 A New Mfecane: South Africa is at the Brink https://rationalstandard.com/a-new-mfecane-south-africa-is-at-the-brink/ https://rationalstandard.com/a-new-mfecane-south-africa-is-at-the-brink/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 23:51:12 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7971 South Africa is a country governed by chaos, violence and malice. There is no rule of law. Just a bunch of civil societies and weak-wine intellectuals pretending that everything is okay – when it really isn’t. We pretend that things are okay now that Jacob Zuma is no longer the President; that Cyril Ramaphosa will […]

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South Africa is a country governed by chaos, violence and malice. There is no rule of law. Just a bunch of civil societies and weak-wine intellectuals pretending that everything is okay – when it really isn’t. We pretend that things are okay now that Jacob Zuma is no longer the President; that Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver us peace and prosperity. We tell ourselves this more from desperation than real belief.

Any half-way observant South African should know that things aren’t getting better. Zuma is gone, but he was just a symptom of a far greater disease. A symptom of a rotten ideology that has beset this country with violence again and again.

South Africa faces a time of strife that we would like to ignore. A time perhaps not as brutal as the original Mfecane, where untold numbers of people were slain in brutal conquest, but potentially just as disruptive.

Since the 1990s, we have faced veritable civil war-levels of violent crime. The so-called People’s War is one such poignant example of how this country does not fulfil the necessary categories to be deemed a functioning state – much less a prosperous and peaceful one.

To this day, all South Africans are beset by violent crime. Even if one isn’t a direct victim, everyone has someone who they know or love that has been a victim – and that trauma spreads. We lie awake at night, startled by every single noise, barking dog or misfired car alarm. This isn’t some baseless paranoia, but necessary vigilance against a country that contains monsters.

The Mfecane of the past was a great upheaval, where many peoples migrated to avoid violence and chaos. Today, the only migrations are from the failed tribal trust lands to the city centres. But where do we run from there? South Africans have their back up against the wall, and the marauders are closing in.

On all levels, South Africa is collapsing.

Our already shockingly incompetent electricity supplier, Eskom, is facing mass illegal strike action as the already overpaid, bloated and useless staff demand more and more. Eskom shouldn’t exist in the first place, as its monopoly position allows it to strangle South Africans who need its essential service. Now, its workers destroy the life-blood of industry and commerce because of their own petulance and greed.

South Africa’s protest culture is just more than petty entitlement, however. It is fuelled by an intense malice and monstrous greed. Protesters, if we can even appropriately call them that anymore, don’t just voice their concerns – they actively destroy, loot and pillage.

Hospitals have been sacked. Major infrastructure blocked. Small towns, guilty of nothing, looted and gutted. Protesters are reported to be bussed in from far and wide to raid and pillage small and defenceless towns. In the cities, gangs are the de facto rulers of city blocks, not at all dissimilar from Somali warlords. Poor South Africans don’t know peace in the fiefdoms of crime lords. The mountains and nature walks, the bastion of recreation for all South Africans, is now a life-risking endeavour as muggers rove the forests and mountainsides, raping and murdering. In the leafy suburbs, where middle class South Africans pretend everything is okay, home invaders, thieves and murderers constantly strike at our delusions of safety. Alarms, ADT and high-walls can only keep us so safe.

When asked “Why? Why destroy so much? Why hurt so many people?” the looters respond that they want houses or services. That they were promised these things by the African National Congress. That they have a right to hurt to get what they want. But the question remains: Why destroy? Why hurt? Why loot? How does burning down a library build a school? How does pillaging a town get you houses? How does your feeling of indignation justify theft, assault and murder?

It doesn’t. And South Africans who follow this creed are monsters. Their looting and genuine feeling of entitlement to other people’s stuff is a part of the same disease that makes South Africa one of the most violent countries in the world.

They say that violent protest is the only way to be heard. But has it solved anything? Has burning down libraries built schools? Has mugging and assaulting paramedics in the townships brought hospitals? Has sacking universities brought free education?

A country where thieves murder and rape as a rule, and not the exception; where loot and wealth isn’t the only priority, but the mutilation and death of innocent victims.

While South Africa continues to descend down into the dark crevasses of chaos and madness, the government fails to do anything. The essential feature of any government is not welfare, or a ministry of sports or regulations; it is the defence and security of its people. And South Africa’s government fails at even that.

We live in a country where our police are robbed of their own firearms in their own stations. A country with a hierarchy of corrupt criminals themselves in government and the police force. A country which only remains seemingly peaceful because of the brave men and women of our private security forces.

But even that won’t be enough.

South Africa is a disease. A crime-ridden disease filled with entitled delinquents who think that their avarice gives them pardon to become beasts.

South Africa is sick. And the malicious and ignorant intellectuals at the helm distract us from its real problems with mystical calls of privilege and post-modern nonsense. We are a country that tolerates the likes of Malema, who openly calls for war and purging.

South Africa’s problem isn’t just a hierarchy of elites sacking the treasury. It is a people that don’t understand how to be people. A society built on pillaging. On hate.

I predicted once that South Africa was approaching either civil war or Soviet-style dictatorship. I add to that: South Africa will continue down the path of a failed state. The African road. Not the blasting immediacy of civil war. Not the long grey death of dictatorship. But the fevered rot of a country that shouldn’t exist.

And through this all, I look at the father who threw his own child off a roof, and I can’t help but realise that South Africa deserves to die. We will soon approach a crossroads where we will need to collectively decide whether to embrace this desert – by continuing down our current path – or whether to veer rightwards and adopt voluntarism, freedom, peace, humility, and productivity as our new defining features.

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Arguments Are Everything, Identity and Emotions Are Nothing https://rationalstandard.com/arguments-are-everything-identity-and-emotions-are-nothing/ https://rationalstandard.com/arguments-are-everything-identity-and-emotions-are-nothing/#respond Thu, 14 Jun 2018 22:37:58 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7703 Written by: Ryan Rutherford Not long ago I had an all too dishearteningly common online interaction, one that provides as good an entry as any into a discussion attempting to contrast those elements constitutive of ideal discourse with the ignoble forces militating against its realisation. More importantly, these starkly discrepant approaches possess ramifications beyond what might […]

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Written by: Ryan Rutherford

Not long ago I had an all too dishearteningly common online interaction, one that provides as good an entry as any into a discussion attempting to contrast those elements constitutive of ideal discourse with the ignoble forces militating against its realisation.

More importantly, these starkly discrepant approaches possess ramifications beyond what might at first blush appear to be an academic exercise in the etiquette of intellectual engagement.  This extended reflection was prompted by the fallout from an article I posted on Facebook by a British legal scholar critiquing the ANC’s intention to expropriate land without compensation as a means to redress historical injustice.

The piece made mention of the importance of private property and the ANC’s binding commitments to various international statutes protecting this fundamental right.  The debate that subsequently ensued, involving a personage with whom I was “friends” solely on that social media platform, was thoroughly unpleasant, to write the least.  His initial salvo was to claim that whites lose all neutrality when discussing the land issue, and went on to accuse me of indulging in “white supremacist” thinking.  Throughout our exchange, this self-proclaimed academic never once addressed the substance of any of the points made by the legal scholar, nor any of those I volunteered to elaborate upon my views in furtherance of trying to have a meaningful debate.

Instead, I was subject to increasingly deranged vituperative abuse and the repeated imputation that my worldview stemmed entirely from my racial identity. 

This deeply frustrating exercise represents in microcosm what is the increasing norm in South African political discourse, with the land issue often providing the emotive spark facilitating the sharp slide into racialist degeneration.  When Alf Lees of the Democratic Alliance denounced bank nationalisation as a “mad idea” in Parliament, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi took umbrage at being criticised by a white man.

The demagogic leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, launched a campaign to unseat Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Athol Trollip, because the DA refused to support expropriation without compensation, consistently emphasising that he is targeting Trollip because he is a white man, and declaring in a speech that he wants to “cut the throat of whiteness.”

Former ANC Secretary General, and current Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, told a conference gathering that some white farmers were “greedy” because they were opportunistically buying up land when it became available.  How dare they?!  This is just a very limited summary of the kind of race-inflected sentiments regularly spewed forth from major politicians, with Malema being the worst offender by some margin, but certainly not alone in his race-baiting antics.

What my experience with that Facebook fanatic and the vile pronouncements of these political figures have in common, is that they are engaging in a classical logical fallacy known as an ad hominem.  They are directly attacking a person, that is, rather than the substance of their ideas.  Considering the explicit racial dimension to these attacks, and the general tenor of hateful vitriol directed against whites that appears ever more pervasive in this country, Malema and co are in addition peddling the kind of imbecilically vicious racist pabulum that purveyors of identity politics have so insidiously perfected.

While the identity politics brigade are particularly prone to subverting even the minimal standards conducive to meaningful discourse, they are certainly not alone, thus it is perhaps worth tarrying a moment on the basic template that should underpin good argumentational form.

An elementary point of departure in this regard is the notion that one either has good reasons for believing something, or one doesn’t.  Therefore, screaming that one’s interlocutor is a racist or a sexist or an ignoramus because they may hold contrary beliefs, or even for simply asking one to justify one’s beliefs, is not providing reasons, nor presenting anything that can even charitably be described as an argument.  And yet this is so often exactly how “conversations” proceed on the Internet, a medium of ostensibly unparalleled world-inclusive communication, whether referring to Facebook, Twitter, or any other cyber locale where large numbers of people digitally congregate. To reiterate, and taking only a random sampling, if one believes in god, the wonders of the free market, that 9/11 was an inside job, that women are smarter than men, that Trump is the best president ever, that Richard Dawkins is a racist, simply stating so, no matter how heartfelt one’s commitment to any of these views, is simply never good enough.

The onus is always and everywhere on the person making a claim to buttress it with evidence and logical reasoning.  To consider it rude or offensive to be expected to provide justification for one’s views is at best hopelessly oversensitive and, at worst, not understanding the rudiments of sound argumentation.

But as my afore-detailed experience makes clear, often something far less innocent is at play in derailing potentially fruitful exchanges.  The pernicious ulterior motive I have in mind is rooted in identity politics, a worldview that admittedly allows for a range of differing interpretations, but can usefully be defined as a perspective holding that a person’s essential characteristics, or indeed the most important traits defining them, are inextricably bound up with membership in some collective.

That we are all members of multiple groups, in the present author’s case those with a Y chromosome, the cis-gendered club, and the Caucasian fraternity, among others, creates some obvious problems, but intersectionality has thankfully stepped into the breach to provide a kind of arithmetic to calculate what combination of groupings renders someone the winner in the victimology Olympics.

But I digress.

Identity politics can be, and is, employed by members of both dominant and previously marginalised groups, whether referring, in the American context, to the white identity politics that helped propel Trump to the White House, or the black nationalism promoted by the Black Panthers.  In South Africa, the AWB and EFF are both ardent proponents of identitarianism, although obviously from different ends of the racial spectrum.  Giving such salient credence to group identity, whether as a defence mechanism for the one making claims or deflecting those made by others, is the surest way to reduce conversations to mere unhinged mudslinging contests where someone’s statements are not seen as a good faith attempt at putting forward legitimate reasons for thinking in a certain way, but instead as intrinsically tied to their race, gender, national identity, sexual orientation, or any other perceived identity marker.

As my own aggravating encounter with that putative academic so vividly showcased, one of the most poisonous aspects of adopting identity politics as a guiding epistemological principle is that it reduces everyone else to the same lowly level of unthinking anti-intellectualism.  To such beings, it is quite inconceivable that anyone could see the world differently, and might genuinely be interested in conducting a good faith discussion about ideas.  I, too, simply had to be motivated primarily by my identity, and to perceive all others as similarly inspired, as this was how he monomaniacally navigated the world.  The intellectual and moral corruption, not to mention outright totalitarianism, entailed by this outlook can hardly be overstated.

Subscribing to an identitarian prism is not just intellectually lazy, dishonest, unfair, inhumane, regressive, and reactionary, among other deplorable attributes, but has potentially far-ranging social ramifications.  This is particularly problematic in South Africa where centuries of stringent racial categorisation, the most pernicious form of identity politics, was used to justify egregiously oppressive policies directed against the majority black population.  After this shameful history, for such a society to again reduce everyone to their membership in a racial group is to seriously court repeating, if not in important respects risk dangerously emulating, the mistakes of the Apartheid government, from which nothing good can follow.  Trafficking in identitarianism is not just dangerously reductive, a sure-fire way to atrophy one’s capacity for critical thinking and self-reflection, the cornerstone of thinking in any meaningful sense, but is liable to engender an irrational and overarching hatred of the other that will almost inevitably culminate in violence or physical oppression, possibly on a vast scale.  Witness the sickeningly destructive antics of Fees Must Fall, the outrageous acts of vandalism and land occupations and looting stoked by the EFF in the last few months, or, further afield, the stomach-churning carnage witnessed in Charlottesville last year when white supremacists, the ideological mirror image of the FMF/EFF types in this country, went on a brutal rampage, leading to the death of a young woman and injuring many others.  These actions were not mere aberrations, but stem inescapably from an underlying weltanschauung positing the primacy of some kind of collective identity over a commitment to appraising everyone as an individual.

If South Africa is ever to transcend its seemingly intractable fixation on racial collectivism, the same conceptual scaffolding that has for so long brought so much grief and suffering, not to mention warped the moral sensibilities of all those beholden to this toxic identitarian strain, a thoroughgoing commitment to evaluating a person’s arguments and intellect will have to be vigorously pursued and consistently upheld.  In short, we should ardently and unapologetically advocate for a culture where the content of someone’s character means everything and their melanin quotient means absolutely nothing.

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How To Loot A Municipality https://rationalstandard.com/how-to-loot-a-municipality/ https://rationalstandard.com/how-to-loot-a-municipality/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 12:24:39 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7936 “Provincially, the Western Cape has maintained its leading position for the second year in a row, after taking the top spot from KwaZulu Natal in 2016/17. KZN was the only other province to score above 50. The Free State was the worst performer – a position it has held since 2013/14.” The best and worst […]

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“Provincially, the Western Cape has maintained its leading position for the second year in a row, after taking the top spot from KwaZulu Natal in 2016/17. KZN was the only other province to score above 50. The Free State was the worst performer – a position it has held since 2013/14.”
The best and worst municipalities in every province in South Africa Business Tech 18/5/2018

“What is it like to live in a municipality that is dysfunctional? I would not know because I am fortunate to live in a suburb of Cape Town where my rubbish is collected every Monday like clockwork. Any disruption in services in my area is dealt with from the comfort of our homes; we phone in and services are restored. Interestingly, services are restored very quickly without us needing to take our anger on to the streets.”
The shocking and sad state of local government should be a national outrage, Nomvula Dlamini Daily Maverick 6/6/2018

With the 2019 election probably scheduled for May next year and President Cyril Ramaphosa canvassing for votes in Cape Town, this is an apposite time to reflect on the period – 2003 to 2006 – when the African National Congress controlled the Cape Town municipality and the province.

I have two perspectives on this, one as an SABC reporter who asked for early retirement at the end of 2005 because of pervasive news and general corruption and unaddressed concerns about the abusive way staff members were being treated  at the ANC-controlled state broadcaster and the second as someone employed as a consultant in the media department of the Cape Town municipality from 2007 – 2009.

Immediately the ANC took control of the Cape Town Civic Centre in 2003 it closed down all public meetings, the most important of which, for them, were the tender meetings. Thereafter followed an orgy of looting which saw the municipality lose an estimated R2 billion. This was preceded by a pre-planned purge of senior white officials because they were perceived to be gatekeepers who might prevent the tender scams which were to follow.

Senior white municipal managers were simply told that ‘in the interests of transformation’ they were to be replaced by their juniors who were not white. They could however, accept a very generous retrenchment package that was on offer – funded of course by rates and tax payers. That alone cost the municipality R80 million and lost untold centuries of corporate memory and institutional knowledge as about 100 senior managers saw what was inevitably coming and left.

Floor crossing

The ANC gained control of the Cape Town municipality as a result of floor crossing. Marthinus van Schalkwyk took the rump of the National Party into the ANC where they were welcomed as long lost brothers and sisters and immediately felt at home. Some of them are still there. He was rewarded with a cabinet post and was then made our ambassador in Greece.

Much of this municipal corruption in Cape Town occurred during my final years in the Sea Point news office of the SABC. Every morning during the 9 am news conference we would have a surreal experience. The front pages of the local morning newspapers, the Cape Times and Die Burger would be devoted to articles about the latest corruption story emanating from the ANC-controlled Cape Town municipality – which we were forbidden to cover. We would then be told by the regional editor, Jeffrey Twala and his deputy Kenneth Makatees, that we would be, for example, covering the opening of a ‘new’ housing development by mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo that day. We would then point out that that housing development had, in fact, been officially opened a year before when the municipality was controlled by the Democratic Alliance. We would be told to do the story anyway. This blatant and brazen news corruption became the norm when the state broadcaster was under the control of the ANC’s deployed news enforcers – people like Snuki Zikalala and Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Jimi (the door or the window) Matthews.

When I joined the Cape Town municipality in 2007 I was told that shortly after the ANC gained control in 2003, deployed cadres were parachuted in from around the country and they all knew one another. Within hours they were roaming the corridors of the Civic Centre claiming the best paintings for their offices and within days they were ordering bespoke furniture – rosewood was the preferred choice. Within weeks they were flying all over South Africa to ‘attend conferences’ – always flying first class and always staying at the best hotels, of course. Within months they were attending conferences all over the world.

The moment it became known after the March 2006  municipal elections that the Democratic Alliance had regained control of the municipality, they hit the ground running, heading for the exit and pausing briefly at the office of the then City Manager, Wallace Mgoqui – a brazen ANC acolyte – to request the obligatory – in ANC terms – golden handshakes. He happily acceded only to be told by the municipal legal department that the law did not provide for this.

Pervasive ANC graft

When I joined the municipality in 2007 the illegally-deployed cadres had just left and so I started asking questions about the previously-pervasive ANC graft. I was told that Helen Zille, upon becoming mayor in 2006, had asked for a forensic audit of all the ANC tender scams, Big Bay 1 & 2, Jewellery City and the N2 Gateway/ Thubelisha Homes housing project to name just three. A bulging dossier was handed to the SAPS Commercial Crime Unit – nothing happened and they never received an acknowledgement from the CCU, let alone a response …

A perfect example of this deliberate ANC policy of non-prosecution was when I read that the police were looking for Thabo Mokoena in connection with the Jewellery City scam which saw him gifted R3 million for effectively doing nothing. I Googled his name and found that he was working for a company in Johannesburg which was named. Using Google hardly makes one Sherlock Holmes but it does indicate just how hard an ANC-controlled police force was trying to not bring to justice the deployed snouters who had ‘chowed’ hundreds of millions of rands during this period.

Forensic investigations also showed that the project to drive senior white managers out of the municipality was somewhat, shall we say, dodgy.

As former President Jacob Zuma has said, it’s cold outside the ANC and the post-2006 careers of former Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo and Thabo Mokoena indicate that it’s very cosy if you are part of the inner circle. As an apparent reward for the largesse she dispensed when she was mayor, Mfeketo now lives in an R8 million mansion even though her own perfectly-habitable house where she previously lived is only 9 kms away from her current taxpayer-funded luxury abode. To emphasise the point, Mokoena was then appointed as her parliamentary adviser because of his “expertise”.

Close links

The ANC is now desperate to return to the halcyon days when Cape Town provided the most succulent low-hanging fruit for the party’s rent seekers and tenderpreneurs – who can forget the attempted sale of the Somerset Hospital site?

While Marius Fransman has been temporarily expelled from the party, the ANC has shown that it values institutional knowledge and it has accordingly appointed Ebrahim (Brown Envelope) Rasool to co-ordinate its 2019 election program in the Western Cape.

Ramaphoria is fading fast with the news that our economy shrank by 2.2% in the first quarter of 2018.

You have to read Crispian Olver’s How to Steal a City to understand how the ANC’s deployed cadre system works at municipal level but we do know the outcome of the system – the effective collapse of municipalities under ANC control and the result of that collapse – ‘The smoke that calls’.

“We are tired of taking crumbs from the white man’s table” was then  Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo’s explanation of how Tokyo Sexwale had got the Big Bay tender despite it being R37 million less than the offer of Irish philanthropist Niall Mellon who had a proven track record of building houses for the poor.

The tender stipulated that the winning consortium had to build homes for the poor.

When I joined the municipality in 2007 I asked officials in the housing department how many dwellings for the indigent had been built as a result of the Big Bay tender. Not unexpectedly, the answer was none.

That’s how the ANC rolls, but will it get a chance to repeat this looting of the Cape Town municipality after next year’s election?

It’s an important question because ANC municipal corruption just goes on and on and on and on and never stops.

As the anchor quotes to this article indicate, Capetonians enjoy better than average service delivery.

Will they, in next year’s election seek a return to the era when the ANC looted the municipality with impunity and drove out some of its finest talents because they were white?

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Cape Party Takes Land Issue to Human Rights Commission https://rationalstandard.com/cape-party-takes-land-issue-to-human-rights-commission/ https://rationalstandard.com/cape-party-takes-land-issue-to-human-rights-commission/#respond Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:51:27 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7953 Press release by the Cape Party The Cape Party has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to have the parliament resolution on land expropriation declared a violation of basic human rights. While South Africa is signatory to numerous international treaties which safeguard property rights, parliament hopes to amend the constitution […]

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Press release by the Cape Party

The Cape Party has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to have the parliament resolution on land expropriation declared a violation of basic human rights.

While South Africa is signatory to numerous international treaties which safeguard property rights, parliament hopes to amend the constitution to give the government powers to confiscate land without compensating the current owners.

Standing in front of the SAHRC offices in Cape Town, leader of the Cape Party, Jack Miller said: “There is another word for state expropriation without compensation, it is quite simply theft in the most criminal sense.”

The Cape Party believes that the resolution is in contravention of international law and cited such examples as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 17 (2): “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property.”

However, some in the ANC feel that Section 25 of the South African Constitution that deals with land expropriation has not been properly tested in law.

Ronald Lamola, of the ANC National Executive Committee said “The ANC must pass the Expropriation Bill now and insert a clause that says ‘without compensation’.”

Lamola also went on to say, “We must look into the possibility of the President taking the bill to the courts to test out its constitutionality.”

However, Miller rejected the ANC’s claims, calling the government’s proposal a “crime against humanity”, and an attempt to “enrich the political elite.”

Advocate Lloyd Lotz of the SAHRC acknowledged receipt of the submission, saying “this matter is of particular interest in the country,” and that “we will be deliberating internally on our position, based on our mandate.”

Lotz added that in spite of the heated political debate, the Cape Party submission had been the only official complaint over land expropriation that the SAHRC had received to date.

The deadline for the parliamentary committee to announce its decision to amend the Constitution will be this August 30th.

Read more:

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An Open Letter to President Ramaphosa https://rationalstandard.com/an-open-letter-to-president-ramaphosa/ https://rationalstandard.com/an-open-letter-to-president-ramaphosa/#respond Tue, 12 Jun 2018 19:22:00 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7938 Written by: Hügo Krüger Dear President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa Last Thursday you gave a very reasonable speech to the Afrikanerbond in Cape Town. It was a breath of fresh air to listen to you. I sincerely hope that the call for unity and cooperation will lead to action and that it will not cause further […]

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Written by: Hügo Krüger

Dear President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa

Last Thursday you gave a very reasonable speech to the Afrikanerbond in Cape Town. It was a breath of fresh air to listen to you. I sincerely hope that the call for unity and cooperation will lead to action and that it will not cause further mistrust in our government.

I am an Afrikaner that grew up during the 1990s in a time of enormous change in our society. South Africa is a multi-cultural, -ethnic, -tribal and –linguistic society that always has the risk of falling back into tyranny. Very often this risk does not appear because of deliberate government policies, but rather because of a failure to act. This has been my assessment of the ANC in the last eight years. I hope that your leadership will not be a repetition. South Africa simply cannot afford another Jacob Zuma.

You were right last night to cite the Broederbond as the essential vehicle that the Afrikaners used to uplift themselves after the scourge of the Anglo-Boer War. You were right to mention that the Afrikaner elites at the time did not want to give black South Africans the same rights that they demanded from the British. You were also right to mention that the Broederbond laid the essential philosophic ideas behind Apartheid and that they were eventually forced to give it up during the 1980s.

You asked us to reflect on our history and the Broederbond as an organisation. I hope to do so with this letter. I hope to start a dialogue.

Much has been said in South Africa about the minds of the oppressed people, but few words have been written about the minds of the oppressor. Why can human beings be swept up by emotion, into nationalism, and eventually commit atrocities while remaining good people? A reflective insight into our own human nature is needed for all South Africans if we are ever going to draw any conclusions from our complex and difficult history. Afrikaners, as you said, in particular, have to reflect on their past, but I hold that all South Africans should listen.

We need to understand that oppression is not committed by evil men, rather by good men who believe sincerely in bad ideas. Oppression is often supported by powerful quasi-religious benevolent ideologies. The Nazis, for example, had a view of a final solution, the British carried a white man’s burden, the French were on a mission to civilize the natives, the Russians wanted an egalitarians society, America is spreading democracy in the Middle East, China is spreading development throughout the world, and the Afrikaners imposed Apartheid as a tool to give self-determination to all South Africa’s tribes while priding themselves on their victory against British colonialism. Atrocities of this nature are almost always committed by a victim mentality and as late as the 1990s when I was in school you should see how the painful memory of the Anglo-Boer War was still used to further nationalistic ideals.

This was how the Afrikaner elites tried to justify their policy to their people. The Broederbond used high school teachers, the Dutch Reformed Church, the universities and all institutions of authority to further their indoctrination. The ideology of Apartheid was a powerful one that still carries its ramifications in modern South Africa. Segregation was not a unique experience to South Africa, but the doctrine of Apartheid was a form of segregation of a particular kind – a segregation of the minds of South Africans. It was a social engineering that affected our society on a deep psychological level. The mind is the most power tool that humans have and very often, as Steve Biko said, it is the tool of oppression. Today, most Afrikaners will admit that Apartheid was morally wrong, but in retrospect, I probably would have supported it had I been subjected to the same strong indoctrination of the Broederbond.

Since the days of the Frontier Wars, the Afrikaners have always seen themselves as a persecuted minority and this group psychology is what has influenced the decisions of its leaders. It was, therefore, no coincidence that the Afrikaners selected those who they did during the Apartheid era. It was a response to the decision of the colonial government to take them to fight for Britain in the 1st and 2nd World Wars, to put down the Rand Rebellion, the memory of the concentration camps, Amajuba, the Great Trek, Slagtersnek and, yes, it was also furthered by a belief in racial superiority combined with a deep Calvinist religion and a global fear of communism. Combine this with the reality of how whites were chased out of post-colonial Kenya, Mozambique, Angola and later Rhodesia and you have the perfect recipe for strong ideologies to take hold. I should be very clear that an explanation for Apartheid cannot ever justify its crimes and the injustices that non-white South Africans and blacks in particular faced.

The Afrikaners throughout our history have had essentially two fears, as Alan Paton described it: The fear of the native and the fear of the British. To put in in modern terms, the Afrikaners are scared of losing their land and their language. If the ANC does not take these legitimate fears into account, then they will find even more resentment from the Afrikaners.

The Afrikaners’ strategy to deal with these matters has always been to go into the laager mentality. This was the symbolism at Blood River. This is the strategy behind Solidariteit and AfriForum. It explains why Afrikaner students will fight tooth and nail to not have Afrikaans removed from universities. Or why they are so angry when their monuments are vandalised, their history criminalized, or when there is a perception of unequal application of the law. Many Afrikaners held these sentiments to one degree or another during the last 24 years. If we make a cynical extrapolation from these events, then it is not difficult to see how some Afrikaners can still see themselves as victims despite having economic success.

This is not a unique to Afrikaners. Most minorities in the world will have this phenomenon to some degree, be it the Kurds in Turkey and Iran, the Jews in Israel, Catalans in Spain, the Scots in the UK or the Pashtos in Afghanistan. Put a minority under stress and you will always find a tribal laager reaction. It is a group survival mechanism. This is why a movement like Solidariteit exists. They have almost half a million members at this stage, and it will only grow if the ANC does not negotiate.

The Afrikanerbond no longer plays a meaningful role in our society. They lost their legitimacy in the eyes of the Afrikaners in 1994. The reason for this is not so obvious among the Afrikanerbond and the NG Kerk. They are still living in denial of their own irrelevance. Most Afrikaners of my father’s era have deep resentment for the Broederbond. They essentially asked his generation to serve South Africa by implementing conscription. Their own sons were sent to safe locations in the country or had the opportunity to study overseas and thus avoiding military service all together. You will find few names of Broederbond soldiers written at the Border War memorials at the Voortrekker Monument. The soldiers on the wall are from families who had no significant political influence. They are often poor and from working-class white areas. After 1994, the Broederbond apologized to black South Africans for the crimes of Apartheid, but they, until today, never had the guts to look their own people in the eyes and tell them that they misled them. You can see the resentment by looking at how the numbers of the Dutch Reformed Church has declined.

My suggestion is that you negotiate with Solidariteit. The Secretary General, Flip Buys, is a decent and reasonable human being. The existence of Solidariteit did not simply come into play by accident. They came from a labour movement of poor and lower-middle class Afrikaners who were replaced as the government pursued their transformation goals. The organisation is well-positioned today in most sectors of Afrikaner society. They might also have the recipe for black South Africans to get out of the dying and unsustainable poverty that they find themselves in.

Since 1994, the life of many Afrikaners has significantly changed. Many Afrikaners are well-off and all estimates show that our wealth has skyrocketed after 1994. Afrikaner kids are no longer encouraged to go into the military or public service. They are, instead, encouraged to go out and start their own businesses, study mathematics and science or to get experience outside of South Africa. They are encouraged to work hard to not be a victim of BEE and as a result entrepreneurial ventures have sprung up.

Yet, despite the wealth, we are still complaining ‘met ‘n witbrood onder die arm’. The reason is that Afrikaners feel culturally isolated from South Africa. They feel that the government does not give them recognition for their contribution to building up the country. This is especially true when city names are changed, history books are written and recognition is given by government only for individual achievements. In short, the Afrikaners feel left out of the national narrative. The Afrikaners have, like most South Africans, a culture of honour – they value recognition. The ANC is quick to rightfully point out black achievement, but it constantly debates away white achievement as nothing more than ‘privilege’. Is it no surprise then that white South Africans and Afrikaners in particular do not want to cooperate with the government?

On the economic front, the Afrikaners do not need any special treatment from the government; all that they are asking for is fair treatment in theory and in practice.  If the Afrikaners are honest to ourselves then we will admit that Transnet, Iscor, Sasol, the Post Office and even the old Defence Force were essentially affirmative action schemes to advance Afrikaners during the last century. These were never wealth-creating professions, but they did offer protection against the deep cracks of our society. Black South Africans deserve the same, but they need to realize that true wealth creation will only occur once we get a scientific, mathematical and business culture going. This is where most of our energy should be going to.

The Afrikaans language was part of the vehicle that led to the technological development of many Afrikaners. It made the scientific and mathematical terms culturally relevant and took the culture from essential poverty in the beginning of the last century to a culture that developed nuclear weapons and petrochemicals within just one generation. The ANC has to reflect on their attitude to language. It has been the elephant in the room when it comes to South Africa’s bad mathematical and scientific results during the past 24 years. We can’t have all 11 languages at our universities, but a solid foundation in the home language, based on scientific and not ideological reasoning is required to develop the culture. Black South Africans have a rightful and justified fear that language can be used to segregate society, but the benefits of mother tongue education during the foundational phase remains scientifically valid. They owe it to their children.

Many Afrikaners are prepared to acknowledge that our wealth came about as a result of Apartheid and that black people were unjustly excluded from many endeavours of life, but I cannot personally accept the principle that the benefit of one necessarily has to come at the cost of another. The annals of history have shown that this can only lead to moral mutual destruction. We cannot leave our children to inherent a country where the history of another generation will be written in the bloody ink of our own spite.

I am not opposed to affirmative action if it is done in a non-racial and decent way. You will find much support among Afrikaners for it. Many of them are prepared to use their skills to contribute to the upliftment of black South Africans, but they would want for it to be done in the right way. They do not want future policies to exclude their children from active participation in society. The current approach does.

My view is influenced by that the late Dr. Neville Alexander who spent time with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. He held that the reason why Rwanda spiraled into genocide was because they essentially continued classifying people in the same fashion as their colonial masters did. He warned that South Africa’s then-affirmative action policy will create divisions and that it had ‘genocide potential’. This view is also held by Judge Chris Greenland of Zimbabwe, who was the first black judge in all of Southern Africa, and a personal friend. I recommend that you also hear his views on land reform. He is prepared to assist South Africa with a legal model so that we can prevent the calamity that destroyed his home country.

There are other historical examples of where classification-based policies can rip a country apart. The most notable examples are the high support for Hitler in the Sudetenland when Czech citizens were offered beneficial treatment in then-Czechoslovakia, the inequality in Malaysia between the Chinese and Malay, the treatment of the Ibos in Nigeria, the situation of the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria and, of course, the genocide of Rwanda. I can even add Donald Trump’s rise in America to the list. In all these examples, the victim mentality arrived with people who were economically better off. They felt targeted by race-based policies, even as inequality grew in their favour.

The idea that the whole society can be divided into four categories was at the heart of the Apartheid ideology and the ANC has in the last 25 years perpetuated this notion.  Namibia, a country that also experienced Apartheid, has far fewer racial problems than we do, because they decided to get rid of this unjust categorisation from the onset of their democracy. France, my country of residence, outlaws raced-based categories in in their constitution and so does Germany. Their children are raised as Namibian, French and German respectively – regardless of their skin colour. It is not that racism doesn’t exist in these societies; it is simply that government policies take a principled stance against classification while it can still implement affirmative action.

Forcing black, Indian, Coloured and white South Africans to classify themselves is simply morally wrong. It is an injustice that might even have legal grounds in our constitution and, more importantly, it is perpetuated through the ANC’s vision for South Africa.

My request to your, Mr. President, is that you also reflect deeply on the ANC’s fanatical pursuit of transformation, and ask if it is not at the heart of the failings of our government and social services, mainly because it is based on the premise that redress can only be done by using the same categorisation that Apartheid policy was built on. We owe it to our children to find another more humane way.

If dialogue leads to action and if our policies are based on humanistic, reasonable and scientific principles, then I can assure you that you will find support from even the most conservative Afrikaners. I am also prepared to talk to you as we go into the next election cycle. You opened the door to a historical opportunity; let’s walk through it together.

Yours sincerely,

Hügo Krüger

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An Open Letter to Men https://rationalstandard.com/an-open-letter-to-men/ https://rationalstandard.com/an-open-letter-to-men/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 14:55:33 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7521 Dear Men, Today I urge you to, instead of reacting defensively like the alpha male you aspire to be, to just read and contemplate. Listen to what I’m going to tell you, and then take a day or two to think about it. Take some time to ruminate over how patriarchal cultural stereotypes of men […]

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Dear Men,

Today I urge you to, instead of reacting defensively like the alpha male you aspire to be, to just read and contemplate. Listen to what I’m going to tell you, and then take a day or two to think about it. Take some time to ruminate over how patriarchal cultural stereotypes of men are busy killing us. We are busy killing each other without realising it.

I’ve always been a staunch proponent of the view that patriarchal cultural stereotypes of men lead to a deterioration of men’s mental health and can subsequently cause us to take our own lives. From a young age, the vast majority of men are taught that they’re not allowed to show emotion, that it is not okay to not be okay, and that the alpha stereotype should be strengthened through our behaviour at all costs. A recent report by Africa Check stated that, in 2012, 14 men on average killed themselves each day in South Africa. The male death rate for suicide was 21 per 100 000 people. That is a rate five times higher than the female death rate by suicide of 4 per 100 000 people.

research report by Samaritan puts the factors contributing to male suicide into the following categories: psychological and personality factors; masculinities; relationship breakdown; and emotional lives and social (dis)connectedness. Some factors related to cultural patriarchal expectations that increase the risk of male suicide are, in my opinion, the following:

Social perfectionism (psychological factor)

Men must always meet the expectations of others.

This is quite telling.

Men are expected to always be emotionally resilient and unemotional, and that we cannot bulge under pressure. These expectations based on male cultural stereotypes are not only perpetuated by men, but also by women.

Perceived burdensomeness (psychological factor)

The expectation of men to be the perfect alpha males leads to men feeling inadequate because they feel incapable of meeting such expectations, in my opinion.

Hegemonic masculinity (masculinities)

This refers to the current form of masculinity held in highest regard by society. Again, we deal with societal expectations of men.

This form is characterised by traits such as striving for power and dominance, aggressiveness, courage, independence, rationality, competitiveness, not perceiving or admitting anxiety, just to name a few.

Hegemonic masculinity is associated with emotional control and power, and men who fail to gain such control actually allegedly use suicide as a way of expressing or regaining control. Men use more lethal methods of suicide than women, and it is hypothesised that this can be an expression of masculinity.

Providing for the family (masculinities)

Men are still expected, in many societies, to be the breadwinner in their family. Hands-on caring for children is seen as non-masculine, and women generally enjoy higher societal recognition accorded to their role as mother.

This specific factor is not only harmful to men, but also harmful to women, as men are expected to be the head of the household as well, and that wives are supposed to be subservient to them.

Bodily expressions of masculinity (masculinities)

A lot of expectations regarding bodily expressions of masculinity include risky behaviour.

Uneasy about talking about emotions (emotional lives)

We live in an era of a changing emotions culture, which is a good thing. However, a lot of men in their mid-life phase are struggling to adjust to this change. While they know that talking is good, they struggle to adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Men are, in general, much less likely than women to hold a positive view of accessing formal support for emotional difficulties. Many men do not describe relationships based primarily on talking about their feelings. Men seek unconditional acceptance or, put another way, seek a no-questions-asked type of relationship. I think you can see how this can be very problematic

One thing that is as clear as day when considering the above-mentioned factors is that men are expected to act in a certain manner that is almost devoid of engaging with their emotions constructively. Society has created the typical male stereotype, hegemonic masculinity, that holds men to a certain unrealistic and unhealthy standard.

This is what is meant by patriarchy having a detrimental effect not just on women, but on men as well. These standards are ironically being upheld by men themselves, and to a certain degree by a lot of women as well. In the words of Jane Powell, head of the male suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM.):

“The simple, numerical fact of the matter is that men are dying by their own hand far more than women. We need to tackle that immediately.”

Prevention is the only solution to suicide, and the only way we can prevent more men from feeling inadequate and unworthy is to stop expecting stereotypical cavemen attributes from them. Yes, the typical alpha male characteristics evolved as an evolutionary survival mechanism, but these traits have become redundant in the modern age. We also developed critical reasoning abilities, and we should use them to identify characteristics that are now more harmful than beneficial. We also need to stop with the bullshit narrative that men aren’t allowed to not be okay, but more specifically, that men aren’t allowed to show to others that they’re not okay.

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For An African Renaissance the State Must Die https://rationalstandard.com/for-an-african-renaissance-the-state-must-die/ https://rationalstandard.com/for-an-african-renaissance-the-state-must-die/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 17:34:41 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7921 Written by: Simon Venter A common belief amongst the elite of the continent seems to be the creation (present or future) of a period fondly termed the ‘African Renaissance’. The fanciful notion of an African renaissance is arguably a laudable and attainable goal. However, for such a goal to be realised, there ought to first […]

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Written by: Simon Venter

A common belief amongst the elite of the continent seems to be the creation (present or future) of a period fondly termed the ‘African Renaissance’. The fanciful notion of an African renaissance is arguably a laudable and attainable goal. However, for such a goal to be realised, there ought to first be an examination of how the Renaissance came about, and what its legacy was. This is to ascertain whether, in fact, this is truly a worthwhile goal and not merely the idealistic ramblings of mere mortals’ intent on leaving some form of legacy worthy of remembering.

Contrary to the provocative nature of the title, this piece shan’t advocate for the death of the state but rather for the death of the myth of the state or central planning – although one might argue that that is a distinction without a difference. The aim of this is to illustrate the notion that for an African renaissance, one does not need a strong state or a massive superstate in the form of the African Union (AU), as seems to be the conventional wisdom, but rather one could do perfectly well with a small, decentralised, and near-pointless state. But first there needs to be a foundation laid as to what a renaissance would be and what the Renaissance was.

Spanning the period of the 14th to 17th centuries in Europe, the Renaissance left an indelible mark on Western civilization, and the world at large.

The Renaissance ushered in an age of innovation and tremendous wealth creation. The city-states of Italy provide a perfect example of the benefits of decentralised power, be it in the banking ‘empire’ of the Medicis or the trade ‘empire’ of the Genoese, Italy was a region of great innovation and progress despite political turmoil. Quite often the ‘Afrocentrist’ who speaks of the glorious African Renaissance fails to see the flaw in his advocacy for a golden age and the policies for which he advocates to attain said golden age; namely the creation of a massive African quasi-superstate (the AU on steroids, one might say) based upon some of the most anti-liberty notions known to man.

If ‘Afrocentrists’ were truly intent on an age of renewal, they would follow the example set by the Ancient Greeks and Renaissance Italians. Although their societies do not mirror ours, at least at face value; at their core, the pursuit of liberty for which they stood (however flawed the result may have been in the respective eras) is a universal principle worth pursuing. The inevitable retort to this proposition may be that liberty, as conceived as the free market, natural rights and decentralised power, are ‘Western’ concepts alien to the African context. From the perspective of the ‘Afrocentrist’, this would be a fair retort; however, it is not only hypocritical but so too is it ignorant.

On the point of hypocrisy: it is common (to the point of nausea) for the ‘Afrocentrist’ to expound notions – regardless of their semantic costume – that are themselves Western in origin, namely, Marxism, communism and socialism. The charge of ignorance rests upon points made by the Ghanaian economist George Ayittey, who argues that it is in fact socialism (in all its guises) that is alien to Africa – and one might say all of humanity – and that it is the free market and individual liberty that could better be described as positions more suited and natural to the African context – if not the world. A second and just as cogent point made by Ayittey in a speech on the failures of African socialism was the unironic replacement of the European monarchical portraits with those of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

The African Renaissance Monument that overlooks Dakar in Senegal is an unfortunate symbol of the farce that is the ‘Afrocentric’ view of an African renaissance. On the one hand you have a noble ideal illustrated in a majestic statue that promises so much: a strong family reaching for the stars uplifting the youth. On the other hand, you have the reality that the statue was built by the North Korean company, Mansudae Overseas Projects. The contrast of the ideal with the reality, as represented by using a North Korean company and all that that symbolises (in a word, oppression) is almost too unfortunate to be amusing. For an elite intent on doing it the African way, it is a shame that the African way seems to be the same folly of Europe, Asia and South America (to speak in broad terms).

In summation, I think we should take heed of the wise words of Carl Jung from his book The Undiscovered Self on the dangers of the centralised ‘omnipresent’ state.

“The goal and meaning of individual life (which is the only real life) no longer lie in individual development but in the policy of the State, which is thrust upon the individual from outside and consists in the execution of an abstract idea which ultimately tends to attract all life to itself. The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed and educated as a social unit”

For there to be an African renaissance, the individual African must thrive; but not as a “social unit”.

Author: Simon Venter is a young artist and student currently studying a BA MCC at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. Simon’s main intellectual influence is Thomas Sowell.

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Ethical Journalism: Significant Moments in SA Media History https://rationalstandard.com/ethical-journalism-significant-moments-in-sa-media-history/ https://rationalstandard.com/ethical-journalism-significant-moments-in-sa-media-history/#respond Sat, 02 Jun 2018 13:12:41 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7885 “To publish such a story about a sister company required rare courage, professionalism and principle from News24 editor Adriaan Basson and his team. They had informed their boss, Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman, that this bombshell was coming and no attempt was made to dissuade them from doing so.” Anton Harber Daily Maverick 24/11/2017 “There has […]

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“To publish such a story about a sister company required rare courage, professionalism and principle from News24 editor Adriaan Basson and his team. They had informed their boss, Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman, that this bombshell was coming and no attempt was made to dissuade them from doing so.”
Anton Harber Daily Maverick 24/11/2017

“There has been a gradual but systemic assault on journalism at Independent since Survé took over the group. There are good journalists and editors who are left quite helpless as their proprietor rides roughshod over any semblance of editorial independence. And there are good journalists and editors who have aided and abetted Survé. And although some of those editors and journalists have been able to reconstruct themselves outside of Indy, it is the staff of the Independent’s newsrooms right now that emerge worst off.

Because it’s not just about the credibility of Independent titles. It is about the credibility of the news media as an institution. And such wanton disregard for editorial independence severely damages the practice of journalism in South Africa.”
Editorial Mail & Guardian 26/4/2018

In September 1996, Naspers faced a significant ethical and generational crisis.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had announced its intention to investigate the role of the media in supporting apartheid.

Matters came to a head on Friday 25 July 1997 when Ton Vosloo, the Executive Chairman of Naspers, formally declined an invitation from Denzil Potgieter, Chairman of the TRC’s Media and Communication Committee, to make a submission in this regard.

In his letter to Potgieter, Vosloo said that he saw no reason for Naspers to participate in the TRC media investigation because the company had never been guilty of any contravention of human rights or other abuses and therefore had no reason to confess or apologise.

In his letter he also said that Naspers, as a company, could not respond on behalf of its newspapers and their editors because they were independent and, should they respond, they would need to do so individually.

Enormous tension

This created enormous tension within the company’s publications which culminated in 127 Naspers journalists – in their individual capacity – from both newspapers and magazines, making a submission to the TRC in which they retrospectively apologised for the supportive role that Naspers publications in the past had played in the evolution of apartheid.

Their submission was welcomed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on behalf of the TRC.

Tim du Plessis was one of the Naspers journalists who signed a submission to the TRC and both he and Vosloo have contributed chapters to the definitive book on modern Naspers history ‘n Konstante Revolusie: Naspers, Media 24 en Oorgange (Tafelberg, 2015) which was collated by Professor Lizette Rabe, head of the Department of Journalism at the University of Stellenbosch.

In his chapter, Du Plessis strongly emphasises that Naspers never retaliated in the slightest way against the signatories and, from then on and as always, their upward progression within the company depended purely and entirely on merit.

This is my translation from Afrikaans of what du Plessis wrote:

“A very important point to be made, is that these ‘rebels’ never suffered any retribution. In fact, no one has any knowledge of signatories who were victimised. Three years later, Kruger and Rossouw became editors of Beeld and Die Burger respectively. Four years later I was appointed as editor of Rapport, and later also became editor of Beeld. Esmaré Weideman, then co-editor of Drum, not only became chief editor of Media24 family magazines, but is the chief executive of Media24 now. Michelle van Breda became editor of Sarie. Many of the rest were promoted to important positions, such as deputy editor, assistant editor and news editor. Landman was later appointed as a director of Media24.”

That commitment to ethical journalism is further emphasised in one of the anchor quotes to this article where Anton Harber points out that this approach encompasses  even those who, as both whistle-blower and journalist, broke a story which caused their employer significant embarrassment. He was referring to the article which revealed, for the first time, details about the alleged collusion between Naspers and the Gupta-owned ANN7.

The fact that they could do this without fear of retribution, tells you everything about the Naspers commitment to ethical journalism.

Without government funding

Naspers was started without government funding in 1915 and in the ensuing 103 years no editor was dismissed.

Tony Heard‘s departure from the Cape Times in 1987 was widely perceived to be because his political views were at odds with those of his employer’s management team.

Sekunjalo Independent Media started in 2013 when, with the help of initially-clandestine and widely-questioned Public Investment Corporation funding, a self-acknowledged Zuma-faction acolyte and confidante of the late Brett Kebble, Iqbal Survé, was given control of the largest group of English newspapers in the country.  In the following five years, two editors, Alide Dasnois (Cape Times) and Wally Mbhele (Sunday Independent) were dismissed. In each case the dismissals were devoid of ethical merit.

Furthermore, in that time another ten senior news executives have terminated their association with Survé: Janet Heard, Martine Barker, Chris Whitfield, Moshoeshoe Monare, Makhudu Sefara, Philani Mgwaba, Karima Brown, Vukani Mde, Steve Motale and Kevin Ritchie.

The exodus continues unabated.

Gasant Abarder, who absconded from his post at Primedia at the invitation of Iqbal Survé to become the replacement editor for the dismissed Alide Dasnois, is working out his notice in his current position as executive editor: new media at ANA Publishing, a magazine division of Independent Media. He will then join the communications department at the University of the Western Cape

The editor of the Sunday edition of Weekend Argus, Yunus Kemp, has already left to join a public relations company in Cape Town.

The editor of the Saturday edition of Weekend Argus, Chiara Carter, has also tendered her resignation and will be joining the Daily Dispatch in East London as deputy editor.

That’s three senior news executives based at Newspaper House in Cape Town’s CBD, severing their ties with Iqbal Survé within a matter of weeks, and two are leaving their primary vocation – journalism.

Nothing remotely like this is happening or has happened a kilometre away at Die Burger.

Seminal moment

A seminal moment in South African journalism was reached when, in strong contrast to the ethical approach towards editor independence adopted by Ton Vosloo during the TRC hearings, Iqbal Survé’s editors were recently forced to publish articles attacking Sam Sole, Tim Cohen and Ann Crotty as ‘Stratcom journalists’. All three are esteemed journalists with impeccable career records stretching over decades yet they were reprehensibly equated with journalists who betrayed their colleagues during the apartheid era by working with the security police.

Inevitably, because the African National Congress plays off a 52-race card deck, the headline on the Cape Times front page lead on 23 April read:

“Sekunjalo, Indy, Survé subjected to racism

STRATCOM-ESQUE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES

LAST week, Independent Media journalists reported on an apartheid-era-style dirty tricks operation aimed at Independent Media, Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, Sagarmatha Technologies, AYO Technology Solutions (AYO) and Dr Iqbal Survé.

This disinformation campaign, originating from journalists at competitor media houses (Ann Crotty of Tiso Blackstar, publisher of the Sunday Times, Business Day, Financial Mail, etc and Sam Sole, from amaBhungane) has similar patterns to Stratcom.

Stratcom was a media strategy run by apartheid securocrats using journalists in mainstream media to discredit prominent individuals and organisations that fought against apartheid, thereby undermining the legitimate fight for freedom and democracy.”

What is unsurprising with such propaganda attacks is that the article carried no byline – not even the anodyne ‘Staff Reporter’.

Defamatory and disgusting

SANEF, the South African National Editor’s Forum, condemned these attacks on Sole, Cohen and Crotty:

“SANEF believes to equate this unlawful and corrupt institution with the work of critical journalists, playing their watchdog role in investigating private sector irregularities, is not only defamatory, but disgusting. This is a sad day for South African journalism.”

In Surve’s defence, Adri Senekal de Wet risibly called for fake news to be ‘criminalised’.

Nothing remotely like this has happened in the 103-year history of Naspers.

In summary, the supposedly independent editors of the SIM newspapers were side-lined and the company owner took control, abusing his media influence and authority in order to defend and promote himself. Is this not ironic given the statement made by Survé in December 2013 that he guaranteed the independence of his editors.

In a letter to his staff he wrote:

“I want to assure all staff of my sincere commitment to the editorial independence of this group and the right of its journalist to do their work without fear or favour. This means no journalist has to fear when writing a story if one or more of the companies in Sekunjalo Group is involved.”

Do least harm

One of the basic tenets of ethical journalism is ‘do least harm’ and, with the clear approval of Iqbal Survé, the editor of the Cape Times Aneez Salie has used his editorial influence to target white South Africans, particularly the farming community and has weaponised the newspaper in this cause.

I call them ‘Headlines of Hate’, the routine Cape Times front page leads which seek to create the impression that white South Africans are innately racist and I have photographed many examples.

Salie’s former co-workers say this is in reprisal for the way he and his former wife, Shirley Gunn, were treated when they were arrested as MK operatives on the watch of National Party police minister, Adrian Vlok.

Let me give you an example of two white South Africans, entirely innocent of any crime, whose lives were shattered when they were falsely accused of racism by Sekunjalo Independent Media’s answer to the New Age.

I broke the news of Chad de Matos who was incarcerated in one of the world’s most dangerous prisons, Pollsmoor, without ever having spoken to or touched his lying accuser. De Matos was targeted by reporter Carlo Petersen not only because he is white but because he was studying at  the University of Cape Town which became the target of a venomous campaign by Petersen and his editor Aneez Salie – a campaign that carried the imprimatur of Iqbal Survé. That nefarious campaign has been made a matter of record by Jonathan Jansen, Rhoda Kadalie and UCT honours student Ricky Stoch.

More than a dozen fake news articles about the alleged racist assault by De Matos remain on the IOL website and they will be the first thing that any prospective employer will pick up in a due diligence Google search about him.

The second person to suffer as a result of the white-baiting campaign by the Cape Times to ratchet up ethnic hatred was a dentist in the Defence Force, Dr Jan van Tonder. As always the article was by Carlo Petersen and the intro read:

“The case of a vicious assault on a gardener with a sjambok is but one of 10 recent “race related” attacks in Cape Town suburbs, district prosecutor Nathan Johnson told the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.”

After these initial articles, nothing further was heard, either from Petersen, the SANDF which would have taken the matter further had Petersen’s articles been true or the Chief Public Prosecutor in the Western Cape.

Weeks and then months went by without any further news of this shock/horror ‘racist attack’ and, when enquiries were made, the truth emerged.  These articles by Petersen about Dr Van Tonder were as devoid of truth as his articles about Chad de Matos.

What is relevant however, in the basic tenet of ethic journalism – Do least harm – is that the falsehoods about Dr van Tonder, like the falsehoods about De Matos, remain a permanent record on the IOL website. Iqbal Survé subsequently promoted Carlo Petersen from reporter to senior editor for his sterling contribution to ethical journalism in this country.

What is ironic is that the people who abused their power and influence to persecute De Matos and Van Tonder and to demonise institutions like UCT also claim to be admirers of Nelson Mandela while undermining one of his goals and ideals – nation building through reconciliation.

Nothing like this has ever happened at Naspers and does the difference not come down to the leadership of the two companies? In the afore-mentioned book compiled by Professor Lizette Rabe, two stalwarts of ethical journalism, Raymond Louw and Tony Heard, praise the role that the Naspers newspapers played in bringing universal franchise democracy to this country. In his chapter, Heard writes:

“Finally, Naspers’s evolving actions and attitudes in that era helped to lead to that rarest of things in history: It nudged an important section of the public, in the spirit of Mandela, to rise above perceived immediate interests, and to go for real long term goals.

‘May we all build on that as Naspers passes its century mark.’”

Survé routinely lashes out at Naspers despite the fact that Sekunjalo is less transformed than the Afrikaans company but I leave you with two telling sentences in the current debate about the attempts to get the PIC to invest civil servant pension money in the Sagarmatha African Intergalactic Unicorn Highway and associated business ventures:

Sam Sole – amaBhungane

“That does not alter the fact that the PIC investment was going to increase Ayo’s net asset value by more than 8000% and its projected earnings by more than 800%”.

Dewald van RensburgCity Press

“Ayo shares this week crashed 40% to R25 each, meaning the PIC has lost R1.8 billion on the deal, unless the share price recovers.”

Iqbal Survé would no doubt categorise both Sole and van Rensburg using the pejorative ‘Stratcom’ but, in the end, it all comes down to how you define ‘ethical journalism’ doesn’t it?

In closing: As I write this article on 3 May – World Press Freedom Day – I am reminded of the nefarious and sordid fake news front page lead in the Sunday Independent with which Sekunjalo Independent Media sought to undermine Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign by portraying him as a serial adulterer who preyed on financially-vulnerable woman students.

The process I have seen evolving at the Cape Times is the same process I watched evolve at the SABC under the likes of people like Snuki Zikalala, Jeffrey Twala, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Jimi (the door or the window) Matthews – incumbent staff are persecuted and ethical news gathering and dissemination is abandoned as is investigative reporting. Since Iqbal Survé took control of the Indy newspapers, reporters from this company have not featured in the annual Taco Kuiper awards, a competition now dominated by Naspers reporters.

I am also reminded, on World Press Freedom Day, of how Iqbal Survé articulated his inviolate principles of ethical journalism in a letter to his newly acquired staff who, in December 2013, numbered a lot more than they do now:

“All our stories must adhere to the highest standards required.”

“This means they have to be balanced, fair and accurate. What they can’t be is one sided, inaccurate and prejudicial. I have always valued the principles of transparency, fairness and independence.”

“As executive chair, I will uphold these values and expect all of our journalists and editors to do the same regardless of which story it is they cover.”

And, in an interview with Mandy de Waal for Daily Maverick shortly after the news broke that, with the assistance of civil servant pension money, he had as an overt supporter of the ANC bought the largest group of English newspapers in the country, he memorably said:

“If you know anything about me you know that I operate with incredible integrity.”

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Winnie and Post-Truth https://rationalstandard.com/winnie-and-post-truth/ https://rationalstandard.com/winnie-and-post-truth/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 22:21:05 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7812 The Cambridge Dictionary defines the phenomenon of post-truth as “relating to a situation in which people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than one based on facts”. It is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm since the advent to power of the current President […]

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The Cambridge Dictionary defines the phenomenon of post-truth as “relating to a situation in which people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than one based on facts”. It is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm since the advent to power of the current President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

Sadly, the phenomenon of post-truth is not confined to the USA or the West. It has also permeated Africa and South Africa in particular. Take the case of the late struggle icon, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who passed away several weeks ago.

Just like the rest of us, the late Madikizela-Mandela was not a saint and did not pretend to be one. One thing that we need to acknowledge about her is that she had a complex life that none of us would wish even on our worst enemies. To have been married at a tender age of 23 and to have the joy of living with your spouse snatched from you is an unwelcome prospect. Add to that the constant harassment from the security police, arrest, detention and being sent to unfamiliar territory (Brandfort in the Free State) where the people talk a different language from yours.

Quite amazingly, Mama Winnie was able to bear all of this with remarkable equanimity. Not only that, she was able to move around and do her duties as a former deputy minister and a Member of Parliament with hardly a chip on her shoulder.

From the day that she passed on print, broadcast and social media has been inundated with opinions about her as a person and her putative ‘bad character’. Reams of columns and a myriad of posts on Facebook and on Twitter have been written about her role in the Stompie Seipei murder, the activities of the infamous Mandela football club, her infamous incendiary statement of liberating the country with “tyres and boxes of matches” and her marital infidelities. This has been done by people who know full well that our culture frowns upon speaking ill of the dead when they cannot vindicate their words and actions.

The recent revelations by erstwhile police commissioner, George Fivaz, that there was no evidence linking the late Mother of the Nation to the murder of Stompie Seipei, should have not only shocked us but made us to realize the power of propaganda. Also, former police “dirty tricks” operative Paul Erasmus admitted on national television (eNCA) that police conducted a relentless campaign or operation of besmirching the name of Mama Winnie.

In an operation, sanctioned at police security branch headquarters level or higher, a mixture of fact and fiction was leaked to local and international media on her alleged marital infidelity, on criminal activities of her ‘football club’, and on the death of Seipei. These are the ‘facts’ that most of us swallowed hook, line and sinker when they were reported.

Now that they have shown to been nothing but fiction, we are in cognitive dissonance. Our minds have an image of Mama Winnie as the ‘devil incarnate’ and cannot associate her with any good. We have been ‘socialized’ by the propaganda of the Security Branch to see the late Mama Winnie as an epitome of evil. Indeed, as pointed out elsewhere in this article, Mama Winnie was never a saint but we need to cut her some slack. Mama Winnie was fighting against a system that had been declared by the United Nations as a crime against humanity and its proponents were prepared to go to great lengths in order to defend it. Killings, banning, torture, propaganda and even death were par for the course.

The confessions made by Fivas and Erasmus though belated, especially that of Fivas, are underwhelming. One begins to ask several questions, particularly on the Fivas confession: why now? Would it not have been better to have made that ‘confession’ when Mama Winnie was still alive? What about the damage that has been done to her reputation?

Whereas society in general puts much emphasis on reputation, philosophers advise that character is more important. Reputation is conferred on an individual by media and society from achievements whereas character is a result of upbringing and lived experience and is generally inbred. Reputation can be short lived but character sticks with the person until he or she shuffles off this mortal coil. Character is revealed in crisis situations and it is not determined by them but honed by experiences. Mama Winnie revealed a remarkable character in the face of a concerted onslaught against her and her family that not many of us would have been able to do.

Her death has revealed our hypocrisy in smiling back at her while she was alive and opening a Pandora’s Box of her misdemeanours when she is late. We have religiously clung to the belief that she was evil despite not having empirical evidence of that.

She never climbed rooftops to declare her goodness but the poor and downtrodden among whom she lived know of her role in their lives. Whenever there would be fires in shack dwellings she would be the first to arrive and last to leave. She embodied social responsibility as she assisted many a destitute individual as evidenced by clips played on national television. Maybe we would do well to emulate her selflessness and spirit of sacrifice as we move on to construct a better society. As a flawed individual, she did her part and was not much concerned with her reputation. Someone once said: “sometimes people try to expose what’s wrong with you, because they can’t handle what’s right about you”.

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Apartheid: The Best Friend the ANC and the EFF Ever Had https://rationalstandard.com/apartheid-the-best-friend-the-anc-and-the-eff-ever-had/ https://rationalstandard.com/apartheid-the-best-friend-the-anc-and-the-eff-ever-had/#respond Tue, 29 May 2018 01:04:17 +0000 https://rationalstandard.com/?p=7807 Written by: Mark Del Back in the middle of the 20th century, the Reunited National Party (NP) had the misguided idea to implement the policy of Apartheid. This would doom the country to countless deaths, generations of racial tension, and make it a pariah on the world stage. The party’s short-sightedness failed to grasp the […]

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Written by: Mark Del

Back in the middle of the 20th century, the Reunited National Party (NP) had the misguided idea to implement the policy of Apartheid. This would doom the country to countless deaths, generations of racial tension, and make it a pariah on the world stage. The party’s short-sightedness failed to grasp the magnitude of such a policy in a post-World War II environment, especially as the proverbial “winds of change” swept across the African continent. But in perhaps the ultimate irony, they especially couldn’t have foreseen that this racist policy meant to benefit a white minority would one day be co-opted by their adversaries.

Apartheid is just as useful today to the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as it was to the NP years ago. It’s still designed to benefit a small elite. It may not be official policy, but its memory is invoked on a frequent basis to justify all manner of exploitative behavior.

Take, for example, Zapiro’s cartoon of Shaun Abrahams, or the Zuma Must Fall display in Cape Town and its subsequent nationwide march. What was the immediate reaction? To shout “racist”, of course, despite the fact that none of these incidents at any time mentioned skin colour or ethnicity and were supported by South Africans of all backgrounds.

The EFF is no better. Their blatantly-obvious, ugly struggle for power is frequently justified by a desire to disenfranchise other ethnic groups as penance for Apartheid. The only difference is that they make no pretense of respecting democracy or freedom of the press. Ask yourself this: would Julius Malema have any argument, or any purpose for that matter, if he wasn’t driven by racist rhetoric? Would his party be anything but rudderless in a post-Zuma South Africa?

Racism is a very real social issue in South Africa. It needs to be addressed, and we need to figure out ways to coexist peacefully. Maybe even learn to respect each other’s beliefs and worldviews, without necessarily agreeing with them. But we’ll never accomplish this when the ANC and the EFF are more concerned with punishing racists and robbing the term of all validity by shouting “racist” at every criticism, real or imaginary.

It’s particularly astonishing in a culture that praises martyrdom. Why isn’t there more outrage over what these parties are doing? They are essentially dancing on the graves of all the victims of Apartheid by using their deaths as an excuse for self-enrichment and power grabs. Did children like Hector Pieterson really die just so Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema could one day own luxurious gifts and amass personal fortunes at the taxpayer’s expense? I’ve no doubt that if either party’s apparatchiks were to read this, they wouldn’t address any of its points and merely label me as a “racist” in an ironic sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Apartheid isn’t dead. And it won’t die any time soon. Not with the ANC and EFF still benefiting handsomely from it and the power its memory affords them. Once these parties understand it as a catastrophe and not a cheap political tactic, we can move on from it and truly honour the innocent who were murdered in its name.

Author: Mark Del, born in 1981 as Delano Cuzzucoli in the US city of Richmond, Virginia, currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He works in IT and has written articles for tech and gaming magazines, both local and abroad. Mark has a passion for history, politics, philosophy, sociology, writing, and the arts.

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