We are deep down the rabbit-hole

There is a lot happening in the country and the political animal in me is tempted to write some of my reflections on the political lawfare that has gripped our politics in recent months.

On second thought I took an unlikely solace on the realization that our country has fallen down the rabbit hole. We are too far down the hole to hear each other talking let alone hear oneself thinking even if only in self reflection.

I have instead opted to wallow in self reflexion of a different kind – I bet you can spot the twist. Today I celebrate a great milestone. It’s been a year since the blog Sipho’s reflexions hit the scene.

The blog is really an unexpected gift of the universe to me as it was literally born from the Ashes of a fire that literally devoured some of the properties on our homestead.

The blog Sipho’s reflexions is a potpourri of articles and I guess the medley of topics reflect my eclectic approach to life be it its politics, religion and even the arts. The topics have a way of choosing themselves.

The first article posted on this blog – exactly on this day a year earlier – that came under the heading snakes and ladders, was born simultaneously as the fire that raged through our homestead sending all of us running helter skelter.

The article was a reflection on the Ying and Yang that characterize the contradictions that define our lives. This is a testimony to the duality of the nature of our being. Good and indeed evil resides in us and not external to us as we would like to believe.

For our sins, we are gifted with blessing of the power of free will to make the choice which parts of us we want to nurture and manifest in our lives. We can choose to be the poisonous snake that destroys or the ladder that builds and uplifts lives.

The poem ‘Wa thint’a Bafazi, Wa thint’imbokoto, posted on 9th August – on Women’s day- pays tribute to the powerhouse that is the women of the country as are all the underestimated women of the world.

The third article was a reflexion on the misguided notion that is the so-called “Black Tax” that has now almost become part of everyday lexicon. The article calls for a rejection of this unsavory notion that misrepresents African values.

Phoenix rising contextualises the fires that burn in ourselves seemingly leaving devastation in their wake and threatening our lives with hopelessness. Little do we understand their purpose and meaning of renewal. They burn out the old and dying in us to allow new shoots of renewal and growth.

These were some of the first offerings from the blog. They are my first babies, and I hold them dear to my heart. They are part of a life changing event that leaves an indelible emotional footprint in ones’ life.

There are a few others that I still go back to from time to time as I question some of my assertions more so on things political. They remain my reflexions and still continue to be a reference point as I evolve as a being.

A year and twenty four posts later, ranging from the political, religious history and inspirational poetry, I am grateful to the first year and honored that there are souls out there that have made time to read and share this journey of reflexion with me.

Indeed we are very deep down the rabbit hole. No amount of shouting or texting can save us. The vulgarity of post truth has taken centre stage. The most obnoxious have become the new cyber revolutionaries pandering to the equally addicted and those intoxicated by the morality of street justice and instant gratification, yearning for their daily fix.

We need a tsunami to flush us out of the hole and back to sobriety. We need to reject this new normal, even though in reality we have not known this thing called normalcy.

I don’t know where this journey will take me, I just know I will take my reflexions along. Let’s keep on walking.

Stay blessed

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Love and hate of the lowly lynch-mob

Whomsoever toils and prays for us and for our cause,

Be it in your quite spaces when the rest of us may have lost faith,

Those who dare foray into lonely trails of the seemingly unbeaten paths of the spooky forests,

just so the rest of us can find their way home.

Those who brave the dark smelly trenches where it is difficult to breath,

When the rest of us retreat to the solace of known but bearable discomforts.

Those who hang on to the slippery pole

and brave the beating of icy sea waters,

when the rest of us have jumped ship or fallen by the wayside

Those who risk it all

to stand tall and exposed in the nakedness of their truths.

Those who dare to catch the cold winds and blinding dust of hatred of detractors for their beliefs,

buoyed only by the faith of their knowing

and the courage of the convictions

Those who endure the stinky spit and the heavy beatings of a lowly lynch-mob,

Stayed only by their sense of justice

Rest assured that you are doing a great job and you epitomize greateness.

You are on the rocky path of righteousness

Your contemporaries will not acknowledge you

Nor will they sing your praises but instead crucify you

The universe always catches on your heart’s vibrations

and will always remember you.

Even as your human frailties set in and you begin to doubt yourself

Even as you interpret your experiences as being dealt an unkind hand by the devil himself.

Stay true to your convictions in the face of adversity.

Stay true to the cause for the lonely voice of your soul inside you is your only true compass, Your only true north

History will judge your fairly. It will hate you as much as it will favour you

All is fair in love and war

Descendants of the lowly lynch-mob will raise you

They will build a monument to you and some may worship you

Only to tear it down again in the name of their cause, Whatever the cause.

Even beyond your grave you shall not escape the hatred and crucifixion of the lowly lynch-mob

Nor evade the love and resurrection by their descendants.

Exercising the right to vote. Choosing the ballot over the bullet

On 27th April 2019 South Africa entered its Jubilee as a constitutional democracy. In 1994 South Africa chartered new waters with a new dispensation under black majority and stewardship of the ANC after its historic defeat of Apartheid hegemony.

The ascendancy of Mandela to the Union Buildings was an important milestone both symbolically and psychologically. It was a Goosebump moment when Mandela was installed president to a 21 gun salute at the terraces of the seat of the erstwhile apartheid bastion of white domination, the union Building. The defeat of Apartheid was something to behold and celebrate for years to come.

Much has been achieved by the New Democratic state and the lives of the majority seem on the upside but not everything is a bed of roses. Twenty five years later the world is a different place and South Africa is no exception.

The euphoria that came with the novelty of democracy has evaporated. The realities of inequality, unemployment and poverty have surfaced from under and cracks that threaten the very foundations of democracy and democratic order are showing.

The 25th anniversary of the historic elections is subdued by a commission set up to investigate the phenomenon of state capture which has revealed layer upon layer of corruption.

When South Africans stood in the snaky long queues in 1994 to go and vote, it was with a sense of pride. It was more like a right of passage. This after all was a right that the black majority had been denied by Colonialism and Apartheid.

In contrast In this forthcoming election as has shown in the last, people are choosing their democratic rights differently. Many disgruntled South Africans have expressed their intention not to vote to register protests against corruption and poor service delivery in the main.

Indeed voting in the coming elections may not guarantee jobs or success in the combat against poverty. It may not even begin to make a dent in reducing the gap between those who are poor and mainly black and those who are well off and in the main white.

For the workers, voting may not give guarantees that there will be no repeat of Marikana which saw no less than 34 miners killed whilst exercising their right to withhold their labour.

For the students, voting may not give guarantees that there will be smooth registrations and no financial exclusions despite government’s pronouncements on free education.

For the women, voting may not guarantee their safety against abuse and a threat to their person whilst they walk the streets of South Africa merely because they are women an perceived as weak and easy targets for rape.

For the journalist, voting does not guarantee that their cameras will not be snatched or blocked out by overzealous police and politicians alike.It is easy to see why people may find it futile to go and exercise their right to vote.

Some view not voting as a betrayal of the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives in struggle to secure us freedom and the sacrosanct right to vote. It would, however, be disingenuous to reduce the struggle against colonialism and Apartheid to the right to vote. The Struggle against colonialism and Apartheid was not only about enfranchisement of the majority. It was much more than ONE MAN ONE VOTE, it was about reconstruction of our country. It was about transitioning from an undemocratic past to build a new and Just society where everyone can exercise democratic freedoms.

Those who sacrificed their live to usher in a democratic South Africa, stood for freedom of Speech. The Right to choose to VOTE is as important as the Right to Choose Not To Vote. It is in either choice that the people Speak their minds. It is Freedom of Speech. It must be defended with the same vigour as the right to VOTE. However, it will take more to defend the our Democracy. 25 years after our experiment with a democratic dispensation I feel compelled to express my choice to go and VOTE in the next election

South Africa has been in the clutches of Apartheid for about 345 years. Established western democracies such as the US have had more than two hundred years of practice. In comparison our democracy which is a mere 25 years old is a baby that is still finding its feet and needs to be nurtured till it can stand on its own. South Africans and in particular those who were denied their democratic rights are only coming to grips with the culture of Voting and choosing those whom they would like to see representing and leading them.

When things go wrong and we are unhappy we cannot simply sulk and jump ship. To abandon processes such as – voting in a multiparty democracy – a practice that in a young democracy is still is something of a novelty – would be rather premature and ill-advised to boycott the polls because one does not agree with what the system has to offer as the outcome may unwittingly lay the seeds for alternatives that we may not want to fathom.

Since our democracy is still young it may be considered unthinkable for those who are not satisfied with democratic processes to seek alternatives through taking up arms to overthrow governments that they do not favour or agree with since they may find themselves helpless .

The view may seem farfetched but it is only a few years back at the turn of the 20th Century that Africa experienced its own dark ages when our brothers and sisters in Rwanda were butchering each other with pangas and machetes along ethnic lines of Tutsis and Hutus. In the recent past two elections, Democracy in our neighboring Zimbabwe was on tenterhooks and during the previous elections many Zimbabweans were exiled and took refuge here in South Africa. Post the elections there was a news blackout and many were killed and tortured away from the witness of journalist and their cameras.

I believe that these excesses were made possible not because African States are undemocratic or because Africans are not capable of ruling themselves as some may posit. These were made possible by the simple fact we have not had enough time to practice and master western style democracy. We are still fresh out of the womb of colonialism. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut from our colonial past. Western style democratic practices as a legacy of colonialism have not been entrenched on the continent let alone on our psyche.

This does not begin to argue that Africa is not democratic in comparison to the West or even the East. Rather, i would argue that democratic practices, flawed as they may be are intricately entwined in their psyche and with their way of life such that even when an election is stolen as was the case with the second instalment of Bush when he defeated or cheated Al Gore in the US, their democracy was not threatened.

Centuries of practicing in democracy has seen them through. It was more an irritation on the stock markets than a threat to people’s lives. Not for a moment did any political commentator hint possible bloodshed in the US. Bush had stolen the election and that was that. What do you think would be the outcome in post-colonial Africa.

Africans need to reacquaint themselves with African practices of democracy and redefine democracy for themselves. Until then I will keep on going to the polls until I am old and not able to walk unaided. It is a responsibility that I believe every compatriot must undertake if its only about the exercise in democracy for its own sake. Equally I will defend the right of those who choose not to Vote.

It is for that reason that we should respect all institutions of democracy such as the Public Protector and the equality court among others. It is for the same reason that we should jealously protect our Judiciary when under attack by Politicians. Any alternative to democracy is too grim to ponder.

This coming elections on May 8th I will be VOTING for Democracy. We can think of alternatives the day Human Beings no longer need governments and are capable of self-government. When we have attained a world order without rules. That will be the day we may stop worrying about democracy being under threat.

Lets go and Vote and protect our young democracy

Notre Dame – Humanity’s legacy of consecration and desecration

On Monday the iconic Notre Dame cathedral caught fire that destroyed its wooden spire – not for the first time. Notre Dame is undoubtedly a monumental cathedral. The Notre dame does not rank the same as the Basilica of St Peters at the Vatican but in gothic architectural aesthetics it holds its own. The Notre Dame gothic architecture is symbolised by its grotesques and gargoyles. Even more grotesque than its imposing gothic architecture is its history of consecration and desecration – Notre Dame is French for “Our lady” in reference to the virgin Mary.

It had to take the destructive force of fire to reminds us, the modern people, of the ever-present battle of the opposites of consecration and desecration in the struggle for hegemony of Ideas and culture. The dominant and victorious culture of the day consecrates its symbols and desecrates symbols of the vanquished people and their cultures and ideas. The Notre Dame is iconic not only because of its gothic architecture. That it took more than two hundred years to build and still standing well over 800 years later is no mean feat of human endeavour. It is an embodiment of a what human vision can achieve. It is a true legacy project outliving those who conceptualised it for the marvel of succession of generations.

It is believed the Notre Dame was first built by a catholic bishop in 1163. The date of its construction is of significance as Europe then was in its medieval ages. This is the period of Europe’s dark ages following the decline of the Roman Empire before it entered its Renaissance. Parts of Europe such as Spain were colonised by African moors and Muslims who brought their cultural influences and knowledge systems into Europe. Until then the world did not know colonialism of the European type and certainly not racism as we know it today. Much of the gothic architecture of the time – epitomised in the Notre Dame grotesques and gargoyles – are an undeniable imprint of the influences of the African moors and the Muslims as well as the eastern and Mediterranean basin cultures.

With the Notre Dame built as a consecration to the Virgin Mary and given the timing of its built, it is evident that the original statue of the virgin Mary that adorned the Notre Dame and many other European cathedrals were the Black Madonna and child. The black Madonna and child statues consecrated to the virgin Mary are symbolic of the union of the goddess ISIS and OSIRIS and their offspring HORUS. The Black Madonna and child statues, located in many cathedrals and shrines across Europe, demonstrated the hegemony of the culture of African moors on Europe during medieval times. The popularity of the Black Madonna in Europe not only tell a story of African cultural origins of Christianity but African and Mediterranean influences on European civilisation itself.

In its more than 800 years of existence the Notre Dame has seen several consecrations. It has also seen several desecrations. In the period after the medieval ages named the age of reason, the Notre dame was dedicated to the cult of reason. It was in this period and the following period of the so-called enlightenment that Europeans were determined to remove any traces of cultural influences of the moors and the Muslims.

Across Europe many of the symbols of moor culture and Muslim culture were destroyed. Statues of the Black Madonna in the Notre dame were beheaded. The healing powers of the Black Madonna remain acknowledged and continue to be revered and observed by the catholic church, albeit in hidden shrines. Post the age of Reason and the Enlightenment, the Black Madonna in many catholic churches, not less in the Notre dame, has given way to the European version we are mostly familiar with. One cannot escape the coincidence of the rise of racism in the modern world of the post enlightenment age that gave us the hegemony of western civilisation.

The gothic architecture of Notre Dame, symbolised in its grotesques and gargoyles side by side with the angels captures a world of contrasts. They depict the ever-present coincidence of our dark side and our good side. They depict our holy and our profane nature.

At Notre Dame it would seem it is the grotesque gargoyles that occupy the vantage point peering down on the Angels below. Life’s ironic twist of fate.

The fire of Notre Dame – It is not the first and I predict will not be the last – symbolises humanity’s everlasting legacy of consecration and desecration raging in the battle for domination of culture and ideas.

The smooth and the rough of it

This morning I woke up lazy. I was lazy to wake up to go to church just as I was lazy to read let alone write anything the previous night. I have been feeling fatigued lately and as late as it was for a morning jog ( I don’t like jogging in the heat) I forced myself to go for a lazy run. I can’t even remember when was the last time I ran but I needed to defeat this laziness and the attendant fatigue creeping in my bones.

This write up is not about that anyway. It is a post triggered by a Facebook post I read yesterday morning. It propelled me back in time to a post I had put on my Facebook wall sometime back before I started this blog. I thought I should revisit the post. I guess joggers will identify more with this but this message resonates with all of us

Have you noticed the difference between jogging on a smooth tarmac as compared to the rough uneven ground on the edges of the tar road. Sometimes the tar road is not designed to accommodate both cars and pedestrians or joggers and in that instance as a jogger you are safer on the rough edges of the road.

Due to our nature we prefer things being smoother and from time to time joggers will steal time on the tarmac when there are no oncoming cars in a reasonable distance. You keep your head up and lookout for cars in a distance but aside from that you could not be bothered by much. You enjoy the run and the sound of your feet pounding on the tarmac and the fresh morning breeze caressing your face. You only care to wipe the sweat on your brows from invading your eye from time to time. Otherwise it’s a smooth sail. You look up at the your timer and your concern is only about when will you get there. You are in control.

When it’s time to avoid oncoming cars and you have to get back to the rough edges of the road, things may really get challenging. Suddenly you have to be more vigilant.

You still have to be on the lookout for oncoming cars in case some driver was careless. You now have to negotiate your path between rocks and smooth pebbles that allow a soft landing of the feet.

You have to watch out for slippery earth and avoid protruding grass edging and encroaching in your path that could cut you. You are at your most alert and with time you get to know every rock, every loose stone and are aware of every single blade of grass. Vigilance is everything otherwise you may slip up or you may suffer a nasty cut.

Running on a smooth tarmac is like having a smooth sail in life. Often when your job is secure, you business is firing and family life happy, you don’t worry about much. You do what you do by default without being bothered by much around you. You look forward to pay day or that deal and live your life without much care. You got your house, your beautiful car.You enjoy the warmth of family and always have your friends a phone call or a glass of wine’s distance from you. You bob along to the sound of the melody. Life is what it’s supposed to be and you are the centre of the universe

But then the running on the rough edge is something else. You may have lost your job or your loved one. Your health may be compromised or your Business contract may have come to an end and your business has folded. Suddenly you notice that your friends don’t call you as frequently or don’t even return your calls. If they do pick up they are always in a hurry and will call you back and never do. It’s not their fault that you find yourself in this fix. They have been caught up by happenings in their lives, only this time it’s a life without you in it. You experience disappointments after disappointment may sulk or even break into depression

You avoid coming into contact with those gossipmongers. Those who are dying to hear your juicy story and can’t wait to tell the rest of the world about how your business is failing, or that you have been fired, dumped or even about your depression – Imagine the centre of the universe suffering a depression.

Everything is unreal. Those people you thought are your friends who always called you for a hangout and now talk to everyone about your slippery slope are really themselves like the slippery stones on your jogging paths ready to see you tumbling

You confide in your closest confidants. Those who really care and call you to ask how are things. They pay you a visit when you permit and still respect your privacy to ask if it’s okay to come over or even invite you out. They reassure you that things will be fine even when they don’t really know for real. They are like the sure footing. They are the smooth pebble that make for a smooth landing. Your true family. Your brothers keeper. They are the path between the rock and the protruding blade of grass.

Sometimes when we are on a smooth tarmac we don’t take too much notice of who or what is propelling us. We tend to think we are our own masters. We think we control our destiny and mistake the smoothness of the tarmac for our own strength.

We think the people that surround us want to be with us because they love us for us. The truth is people are attracted to success. Not you. They are attracted to the power of your position, not you. They are attracted by the power of your money and your possessions. Get that right, it’s never about you. They will “like” all your Facebook posts. Lose your business contract, the job and lose the power and that powerful car and see how many likes and responses you amass with your facebook posts. Remember facebook is the fakebook. Everybody is living a lit life. Yes this is a generalisation but don’t miss the message in it

We tend to take for granted the loyal colleagues and friends, the dutiful wife or husband by your side and even family members whom you promise to call back and never do for you always think they are calling for money. So what If they asking for your help? We forget that life is a blessing from God and never take stock to appreciate where we are and how we got there. We think we deserve it for we earned it through our hard sweat and intelligence. We don’t for a second think of God’s favour to connect your know how with opportunity.

We don’t even bother to ask how our neighbor or colleague is doing and to reassure them when the chips are down. We never have time from our busy schedule to visit the sick even when we are at our favourite hangout week in week out. Let alone how the indigent are coping. It’s not our concern.

When the going is tough and we live life on the rough edge of the tarmac we get to know our true friends from the pretenders and the backstabbers. We tend to notice those facebook friends that pass you in a mall without recognizing you. Better still those you don’t recognize sitting across the same table. Don’t fret, don’t frown, it was all about the social media status, they were never your true friends. They were always your Facebook friends. They needed to be seen to be connected with the right people. You met them via the cyberspace of twitter, Facebook and Instagram .The mall is the mall and Facebook is just that, Facebook. Don’t confuse the two . It is what it is.

When running on the rough side of the road, we learn to know the meaning of the lyrics to the song and not merely sing along with the melody. We get to know the meaning of life. Our strengths and more importantly our weaknesses. We learn to kneel down and pray. We learn to humble ourselves. It can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Life on the rough edge can be tough but it has its lessons. After all we all want a smooth life. It’s even better when we know what it is like on the rough side.

ESKOM blackouts, we are back to the future

When Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic, announced in his second State of the nation address that government was going to split ESKOM into three separate state-owned entities organised around generation, transmission and distribution, he unleashed some shockwaves among various stakeholders.

The announcement has largely been welcomed by big business and economists. Expectedly the announcement has raised the ire of the labour movement who are reading the split of ESKOM as nothing but privatisation of the energy producer. The metal workers union, NUMSA’s Irving Jim, is spitting fire with anger and COSATU, the largest worker federation, has vowed to fight the move and has already taken to the streets to protest privatisation and looming job losses.

Since his ascendency, to the ANC Presidency and the highest office in the state as President of the Republic, Cyril has turned the Ramaphoria charm offensive that has seen him crisscross many platforms hosted by business formations locally and abroad, notably the World Economic Forum at Davos, to win over the confidence of global capitalism that the ANC government was friendly to private capital and that South Africa was open for business.

He has gone to the world cap in hand to raise a 100 Billion dollars in foreign capital investments in five years. However, there are no freebees in global capitalism. South Africa will pay a heavy price for the trade-offs. Global merchants have been eyeing ESKOM for some time and the time has never been more opportune for them to claim their coveted prize, the goose that lays that golden eggs, ESKOM.

Depending on where one stands on the ideological divide, Ramaphosa’s announcement on the unbundling of ESKOM is the clearest indication yet to merchants of global capitalism that indeed South Africa is back on track. After “the nine wasted years” with Zuma at the helm, the Ramaphosa administration is picking up where Mbeki’s GEAR left off. We are back to the ‘96 class project. We are back to the Future. The future of a capitalist south African state driven by neoliberal economic policies of global capitalism. We can see where the country is headed but where did it all begin?

The roots of privatisation of state assets extend beyond the democratic ANC government and can be traced back to the Apartheid government.

The great industrialisation of the country that was buoyed by the mineral revolution was also to prove its undoing. According to the research report, “The State, Privatisation and the Public Sector in South Africa” by Stephen Greenberg (2006), with the dropping of gold and rapidly increasing world trade liberalisation and the diminished role of gold as a store of value, “the price of gold drifted downwards and with-it South Africa’s economic fortunes.” This according to the Research, coupled with the intensified black struggle against apartheid precipitated an organic crisis in the Apartheid economy and the fracturing of the white hegemonic block made up of Afrikaner business, the farmers and the white workers.

The Apartheid government was facing increasing pressure from Afrikaans Capital to reduce state ownership and control of key state assets, leading to the partial privatisation of SASOL in 1981. According to the research, “the 1987 White Paper on Privatisation and Deregulation set out the case for privatisation”. The Ministry of Public Enterprises was set up in the late 1980s to oversee the commercialisation program. In the footsteps of partial privatisation of SASOL, ISKOR was to follow. The report claims that the apartheid government had laid a plan to privatise ESKOM, the National Parks, State owned forests, the South African Transport Service, the Post Office and Telecommunications.

The Apartheid government’s motivations for privatisation were not purely economic. Facing increasing political upheavals from the black majority and a hostile international pressure for democratisation, the end of Apartheid rule was on the horizon. The Apartheid government’s move towards privatisation was also about stripping the incoming black majority government of strategic state assets and to keep economic power in the hands of the hegemonic white block.

With the advent of democracy and the coming into power by the ANC government, privatisation has been ruled out at least on paper. However, the reality remains that the ANC took over power in a climate of shifting sands in world geopolitics.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, communism was on the backfoot and global capitalism on the rise. Just like their predecessors in the Nationalist Apartheid government, the incoming democratic ANC government was not immune to unfolding developments in global geopolitics. Greenberg claims that the IMF had been supporting the Apartheid government since the beginning of the economic crisis from as far back as the early seventies. In return the Nationalist government would ease the transition towards less state control and a more liberalisation of the economy.

As the saying goes the future is held hostage by our past. The ANC government is paying the price for the trade-offs agreed as far back as the transition Government of National Unity (GNU) with the IMF. We are paying for the agreements of CODESA and the transition government. Despite its public posture, the ANC government has long nailed its colours to the mast on the issue of privatisation.

In 1995 Cabinet adopted a discussion document on the restructuring of state asset with possibilities of privatisation. In 1996 the three Labour Federations, COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU together with government, signed the National Framework Agreement on the Restructuring of State Assets. The understanding was that State Owned Entities with a clear public policy to provide basic services such as ESKOM, SPOORNET, TELKOM, SABC, ACSA etc would not be privatised.

The framework made commitments not to reduce the involvement of the state in economic activity. However, the Mbeki Administration had other plans. Mbeki morphed the consolidation of the Restructuring and Privatisation strategy into the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR), much to the irritation of Labour. In the language of GEAR, restructuring would allow for the selling of non-strategic state assets. It is here that accusations of the ’96 Class project came to the fore.

Mbeki was to become sworn enemy number one of the labour movement. Six years later in 2002, Mbeki followed through with the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGI). Government was to increase Fixed Investment and utilise state owned enterprises to drive investment but also encouraging disposal of non-core state assets.

According to the 2006 research, a decade into power, the ANC government had sold close on to R 32 billion state assets. These included six SABC radio stations, the partial privatisation of Telkom, SAA, ACSA and the sale of government stake in MTN. The greatest irony with the privatisation drive – despite continued denials by the ANC – is the fact that the ANC government has presided over a privatisation program conceptualised by the Apartheid government to emasculate the post-Apartheid ANC government and deny it a base to bolster any economic development by the previously disadvantaged black majority.

Whereas the Whites in South Africa are tone deaf to any talk of Radical Economic Transformation, the Apartheid government leveraged the construction of state monopolies to bolster Afrikaner Economic Empowerment. In stark contrast, the new aristocrats in the ANC government have been selling off state assets to benefit politically connected individuals and not the black majority.

In 2007 Mbeki was ousted at the bruising Polokwane elective conference. Zuma was elected President of the ANC. The Zuma Presidency put breaks on the ’96 project. The Zuma years have interrupted a program hatched and commenced in the Apartheid era and whose implementation continued in the democratic epoch. Instead of continuing with the selling off program, under watch of the Zuma administration state capture took a different trajectory. Zuma repurposed the State-Owned Entities. The new capturers of the state were not interested in selling off the pieces. They set themselves up for lucrative state contracts from the State-Owned Entities.

It is in this context that we should understand the “nine wasted years”. Just as Polokwane had to see Mbeki off, big business could not afford another day with Zuma in office. He has proven a tough customer, a cat with nine lives. With Zuma out of the way, albeit “nine wasted years” later, the ’96 Class project is back on track. With Cyril, the alleged protégé of the Oppenheimers, in the highest office, the privatisation program has been reinstalled. As they say in broadband speak, we should see privatisation rolled out at LTE speeds.

The Vultures have been circling the carcass way too long. It is time to recover lost ground. The regulators are back in town. They mean business and there is no more time to waste. SAA is already in ICU and is likely to go first. Eskom is ripe for the taking. Cyril has long shown his hand. No sooner than he was installed than were the IPP agreements signed. According to Engineering news of 4th April 2008, IPP projects, with a combined investment value of R 56- billion and a combined capacity of 2 300 Megawatts were signed by 4th April, barely over a month with Cyril in Office.

With the political infighting that characterised his first twelve months as ANC President seemingly neutralised, it is now time for the bounty hunters to stake their claim. The unbundling of Eskom is the first step. In the meantime, brace yourself for more blackouts and enjoy the ride into the future. The template of a manufactured crisis in the game of capitalist state takeover is in full swing.

Cyril’s trout rules

On February 14, Valentine’s day, of 2018 Jacob Zuma resigned as President of the Republic following his recall by the ANC NEC.  Zuma‘s recall by the ANC, just as it had happened to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, paved the way for Ramaphosa to ascend to become President of the Republic. Not unlike Ramaphosa, Zuma had already been President of the ANC when Mbeki was recalled. Ramaphosa was confirmed as President of the ANC at the 2017 electoral conference just months before Zuma’s equally dramatic recall. It is now a year since Matamela rose to the highest seat in the country and it has been an uneasy year for the former head of the NUM and former Secretary General of the ANC and now a billionaire businessman.  Cyril is a formidable negotiator having led the NUM and CODESA, but he is still to prove his mettle as a credible leader of the monolith that is the ANC.

 

The 107-year-old liberation movement and now the ruling party since the advent of democracy still proudly wears the badge of a broad church. It is this badge that has seen competing interests in the party pulling in different directions on critical policy positions almost rendering the ANC lethargic.  Diehard supporters of the party argue that the party is bigger than any single individual or faction. The truth is thatorganisational culture defines how organisations express themselves. It does not subscribe to sober articulations of what its members would like others to believe about themselves or their organisations. Not unlike any organisation, the ANC culture is rather an incontrovertible definition and an articulation of what the party represents beyond the facade of public relations it would like to portray. The organisational culture is the best measure of what the ANC represents. Neither the policies and not even the ANC constitution can do that. They are just documents. It is in the practice of ANC culture that they come alive or lie dormant

It Is no surprise that it has taken strong personalities and almost cult like figures to harness the monolithic ANC into a coherent unit.  From since the time of the liberation struggle, strong leaders such as Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela have emerged and imposed their personality into the culture of the ANC.  In the liberation years it has not been any different. Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma have certainly been synonymous with the ANC during their tenure.  One could not separate the ANC from its leader. It may very well be that contestation of interests have always been a feature of the ANC and even more pronounced in the context of the tripartite alliance. However, the ANC has always as a party closed ranks rallying behind, the leader. In recent years, under the Zuma Presidency the cracks have started to show, and the differences have been pushed to the surface. Cyril is yet to stamp his insignia on a party that in the Zuma years has been ravaged by factional battles.

The Mandela era has imposed its persona into the culture of the ANC  I would like to confine this to the post Robben Island and Victor Vester era as, hitherto and perhaps with the exception of his close Youth leaguers and Robben Island comrades, Mandela to many of us was more of an enigma  –though that image of him never really detached from him in life beyond. It was characterized by a dignified and magnanimous persona and an imagery of the Mandela Magic that was to be the spirit that propelled the Reconciliation andNation Building Project. Whilst the Mandela Magic and the euphoria of “Liberation” managed to inspire hope for the country, it was founded on a thematic and delicate foundation and not on concrete reality of the South African situation. Notwithstanding the shortcomings, Mandela managed to narrow the gulf manufactured by over three hundred and fifty years of racial segregation between blacks and whites. The Mandela approach whilst welcomed by many, most certainly a large chunk of the white community, was frustrating to Africans who wanted things to move and change faster. There is no doubt Mandela confounded reactionary verkrampte whites on the fringes of right-wing politics, who would rather have a blood bath than concede political power to Blacks,whose patience was wearing thin.

Enter the Mbeki Presidency, he of the “I am an African” fame. Whist everybody accepted that Mbeki was not a Mandela,there was a silent scepticism that his feet were too short to fill Mandela’s big shoes. Mbeki had no intentions of doing any of that. He had other ideas, maybe grander Ideas than Reconciliation and Nation Building. Instead of continuing where Mandela left off, he looked to the continent and took us on an odyssey into the African Renaissance. Africa loved him,and the world certainly took notice. Mbeki’s persona was embroidered into the cultural life and workings of the ANC and not less on the cultural life of the country. He was somewhat threatening to the whites who were more comfortable with the Mandela magic and his signature dance that helped allayed their fears. They were not too trusting of this short pipe smoking intellectual Blackman. When he made the “I am African” speech, they breathed a sigh of relief until the “Two Nations speech”, which then saw campaign after campaign to vilify him and undermine his leadership

 

Once he had his African Renaissance in top gear it was not going to be enough.  Mbeki had his sights on the world stage. His drive to put the African agenda on the table of global geopolitics saw him gate crush the corridors of the then G7. But this was to come at a price. Captains of Capital were not going to give him a free pass and roll him the red carpet without exerting their pound of flesh. He had to shed the ANC  its image of a radical socialist formation and embrace neoliberal macroeconomic policies.

He abandoned the Reconstruction and Development project and bulldozed GEAR much to the chagrin of the Communists and organized labour. Throughout this, the ANC was a hapless spectator. Mbeki was bigger than the party or so he thought. The Polokwane conference saw a push back, however, this pushback was not orchestrated by the ANC and its structures more than it was driven by his nemesis in the Alliance partners. Mbeki had managed to shift power from Luthuli to the Union buildings. He was aloof to party dictates. There is no doubt Mbeki’s persona typified the ANC cultureof his times. 

 

Polokwane delivered Jacob Zuma whose style was very different to his predecessor When Mbeki focused on internationalism, Zuma was to ride on the back of the Mandela mould of politics, albeit very much in his own style.  He was to ingratiate himself to the grassroots and gave attention and prominence to the traditional leaders and the ordinary man. He charmed the masses with his singing anddancing and seemingly made light of the professionalism of governance that was the hallmark of the Mbeki Administration.   In his singing and dancing he was no Mandela and obviously not Mbeki. He seemed to be a listening president but did pretty much what he wanted.  Gedleyihkekisa, lived true to his name. As the man who defeated Mbeki he was now a powerhouse and he knew how to navigate ANC grassroot politics. With the ANC weakened by the Mbeki era it became easier for Zuma to weave his persona into the ANC culture. He gave hope to the rank and file and promoted many to strategic positions. This was to earn him a lot of support and favour with the ANC supporters. 

 

Zuma was very much his own man but with his increasing power he was soon to forget the lessons of Polokwane. His biggest albatross was the need to repay those who secured his ascendancy.  He began to isolate those who secured him the number one seat in the country. He made the same mistake as Mbeki to think he could ride roughshod on the ANC alliance partners in the SACP and COSATU and confine them to the side-lines as he increasingly reduced the ANC into his personal fiefdom. However, as he was embroiled in scandal after scandal he found himself playing his famous chess game with his detractors in the opposition parties and within the ANC. He showed the ruthlessness that belies his ever-present smile. He could be a true smiling assassin when he needed to. He was very calculative and played unbelievable moves in the dead of night, to his supporters delight and to the disbelief of those who subscribe to the wisdom of common sense. Zuma subscribed to a different set of rules, his own. He was predictable in an unpredictable manner. He would play the very card that pundits would have bet their lives he would notdare play. We knew what he was likely to do yet we would all fret when he did. That was the Zuma enigma and it hadpermeated ANC life as could easily be seen in the machinations of his loyal cohort of Ministers beholden to his power.  His biggest downfall was his inability to heed the warning signs and his failure to see the enemy and the danger lurking beyond the chessboard. His eyes were firmly fixated on the pieces on the chessboard.

December 2017 has come to pass and delivered us Cyril Ramaphosa. It is a year later yet in ANC speak it is still earlydays. The hangover of the Zuma presidency is still looming large, but the Zuma era has come to an end. There is a new sheriff in town. In the past year Cyril has shed the image of the invisible Deputy. The Deputy has now assumed position of the Sheriff We have seen the lawlessness of the Zuma years. We expect Cyril to pull his fast guns and signal he is now the new lawman. But he is not a Mandela the Reconciliation man, neither is he an Mbeki the Renaissance man, nor is he a Zuma the shuffling chess player. He is a constitution man. He wants a name to live beyond the ANC presidency. He will not be defined by the rules of the Zuma Culture. For him this is not a game of poker. It is not about winner takes all. He knows he needs to pull the ANC from the cesspool of factions. He needs to break the feeding trough of faction politics. His intentions are written in the message that the ANC needs “to handle the transition carefully and not humiliate Zuma”. He knew that if he was to go for Zuma’s throat the hyenas would be gunning for his heels to get him off balance from the onset. They have been waiting all year long with sharpened teeth.  He is not known for his chess moves but he is an astute negotiator. He has learnt that good deals are neither made in the smoke-filled rooms nor on the open streets of the Wild West where the hyenas thrive, but in the tranquil clear waters of trout fishing rivers.

It has been a year and Cyril has been playing a very patient game. He has taken his time much to the frustration of both allies and foes. Zuma is not his target. In trout fishing you do not play to kill. Once you reel it in you toss it back again to catch another day. He has demonstrated that he has no intentions to send Zuma to fry. At least not yet. He may not be Zuma the chess-player, but he is nevertheless a player. He plays his game off the chessboard.  He is the constitution man and he has patiently given the constitutional structures time and space to do what they need to do. His ultimate prize is the ANC. Cyril will put his own signature to the ANC culture and to SA politics. South Africans of various persuasions from ideological foes in the union left including his detractors in the opposition’s benches and not less the business world may be frustrated by what they perceive as a slow approach. We are out of murky deep-sea shark waters and in for the clear trout fishing waters and here we play by trout rules. Will Cyril invoke the strict trout rules to shed the ANC of its image of a party engulfed by a sea of corruption into a formidable political party in the 21st century. Will the former unionist take south Africa back where he left off by giving us a new constitution flawed as it may be, or will he just show up as yet another bounty hunter. Is Cyril his own man or a mere proxy of global capitalism.