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Category Archives: SOUTH AFRICA: A FAILED SOCIAL ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT

The coat of arms of South Africa adopted on Ap...

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For more than a century, South Africa was the world’s top producer of gold — the undisputed champion of the global gold industry. Much of the country was built on gold mines, including its biggest city, Johannesburg.

But in 2007, for the first time, it lost its leading position. And this year, South Africans are witnessing a humiliating slide in the country’s gold status. A new survey suggests that South Africa has tumbled to an unexpectedly low rank of fifth place in the list of gold producers. The top world producer now is China, followed by Australia, the United States and Russia, according to a report by the precious metals consultancy GFMS.

South Africa still has the world’s largest gold reserves. But the complexity of doing business here — including frequent labor unrest, electricity shortages, black empowerment rules, uncertainties of land tenure, shabby infrastructure and rising costs — has damaged the country’s ability to export gold onto the world market.

The survey by GFMS concluded that South Africa has the highest cash costs per ounce of gold, among all the major gold-producing nations, and it had also experienced the most rapid escalation of its costs.

The decline of South African gold production has triggered an outpouring of angst here. Some observers are blaming the firebrand youth leader, Julius Malema, for his persistent campaign for the nationalization of South Africa’s mining sector — a campaign that has frightened some foreign investors, especially when the ruling African National Congress agreed to consider the nationalization idea. Others blame the government for union-friendly labour laws and affirmative action policies that require a black ownership stake in most companies.

Regardless of the exact reasons, South Africa’s mining stocks are now trading at bigger and bigger discounts, compared to their competitors in North America and West Africa.

The decline of gold has sparked much agonized debate here. When the Canada-based Fraser Institute released its latest survey of the attractiveness of mining regions around the world, there were front-page articles in the South African media, headlining the fact that South Africa had slipped to 67th among the 79 jurisdictions in the survey.

Just two years ago, South Africa ranked 49th out of the 71 surveyed places. This year it has tumbled to the point that it is just barely ahead of Zimbabwe in the list of attractive mining destinations.

South Africa’s mining minister, Susan Shabangu, admitted last year that the Fraser survey had a “profound influence” on investment decisions. She vowed to improve South Africa’s ranking in the survey, so that it could reach the top quartile of the rankings by 2014. Instead it got worse.

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May 24 2011
Suspended Umlazi magistrate Michael Masinga has been found guilty of attempting to murder his now-estranged wife by hitting her on the head with the blunt side of an axe.
But Nompumelelo Masinga, the woman he married 28 years ago and with whom he had three children, said she bore him no malice and hoped he would not go to jail.
“He has never shown any remorse … and he has never contacted our daughters (aged 30, 22 and 15), so they have lost a parent already. But it would not be good for a person like him to go to jail,” she said after Monday’s court hearing.
Nompumelelo now lives in Gauteng where, she says, she feels safe. “I do not feel safe in Durban anymore,” she said.
She is still not divorced from Masinga who, Durban regional court magistrate Anand Maharaj found On Monday, had not only hit her on the head with an axe, but also kicked her, calling her a dog and shouting, “aren’t you dead yet?”
She said divorce proceedings had been delayed because of negotiations over maintenance, and then her funds had run out.
“I think now we will proceed, though,” she said.
The attack on Nompumelelo occurred at the family’s home in Woodlands, Durban, in March 2009.
Evidence before the court was that the couple were living separate lives at the time, and Masinga was occupying the servant’s quarters.
On that evening, he had brought home a woman and Nompumelelo had become enraged, and began throwing potatoes and onions at the window.
She and her daughter, Gugu, testified that they had gone back to the house when Masinga emerged with his axe and attacked Nompumelelo.
A doctor testified that she had sustained three deep wounds to her head.
Denying the charge, Masinga said she was lying and that their daughter was fabricating a story to back up her mother.
He claims Nompumelelo and his daughters had threatened to “kill the prostitute” (to whom he is now engaged) and had assaulted him with sticks.
He managed to disarm his daughter and hit his wife randomly with a stick in self-defence.
At no time did he have an axe and he had not seen any injuries on his wife when the police arrived.
However, magistrate Maharaj rejected his version and said he was a poor and unsatisfactory witness, who was unable to explain how his wife had sustained her injuries.
He said while Nompumelelo was “not the most impressive witness”, most of what she had said had been corroborated by her daughter, who had shown no sign of prejudice or bias against her father.
“She was honest and made concessions. She was candid, for example, about the fact that her mother was angry and had thrown the potatoes and onions. She admitted hitting him with a broomstick to protect her mother.”
The case was adjourned until August for sentencing.

Officials from the Magistrates’ Commission were in court on Monday, monitoring the proceedings. It is believed Masinga will face an internal misconduct inquiry today

Western Cape provincial building, Cape Town.

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Political parties were scrambling for control of hung councils in the Western Cape on Wednesday, with the DA confirming an agreement with independents in three councils, while the ANC’s coalition with the Independent Civics Association of SA (Icosa) could bring in convicted rapist Jeffrey Donson as mayor in Kannaland when that council sits on Friday.
Last week’s local government elections provided only 17 clear majorities at local government, or municipal, level in the Western Cape, 16 going to the DA, with Beaufort West the sole ANC-controlled municipality. The battle for the remaining 13 councils is under way.
On Wednesday night, DA provincial leader Theuns Botha confirmed that the party had come to an agreement with independent councillors in Langeberg, Witzenberg and Matsikama.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ANC announced it had entered into coalitions that would give it a hand in the running of Oudtshoorn, Cape Agulhas and Kannaland.
Kannaland is one of the province’s worst-performing municipalities, burdened with a R30 million debt and charges that former officials, including Donson, had looted municipal coffers over several years. 
Donson was convicted in 2008 on one count of indecent assault and seven of statutory rape, following an affair with a 15-year-old girl while he was mayor of Kannaland in 2004. 
The Western Cape High Court reduced his five-year jail term to a suspended period of imprisonment, correctional supervision, a R20 000 fine and a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders. 
In 2004, Donson, also known as DJ Fantastic, was forced to step down as Kannaland mayor by then Local Government MEC Marius Fransman after allegations that he had abused his mayoral fund to purchase equipment for his mobile disco.
The ANC was previously a minority partner in Kannaland, which has been plagued by allegations of corruption and maladministration, leaving the R30m debt, which Auditor-General Terrence Nombembe has refused to write off.
At the end of 2008, Donson, who had by then joined Badih Chabaan’s National People’s Party, was fired as a councillor, but he stood as an independent in a subsequent by-election and won his seat. He later rejoined Icosa.
At the end of 2009, he was again dismissed, this time by Local Government MEC Anton Bredell after a disciplinary inquiry found him guilty of interfering in the council’s administration by putting pressure on officials and misappropriating mayoral funds. 
Donson and several former officials at the Kannaland municipality are subjects of a police investigation into corruption at the municipality. 
Shortly after last week’s elections Botha publicly ruled out a coalition with Icosa or the Karoo Gemeenskaps Party, which is the largest party in Prince Albert but lacks enough councillors to form a majority.
Donson said local DA officials had sought to discuss an agreement soon after the elections but this had been abandoned because they didn’t have proper authority.
“We decided to go with the ANC before the elections and consulted with our supporters to look at which party would best help us achieve the goals set out in our manifesto,” said Donson in a joint media briefing with the ANC on Wednesday.
Asked about Kannaland’s financial state and its management, Donson said problems were exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure. He claimed the national government was not helping to fund infrastructure projects there.
On the issue of use of the mayoral fund, Donson said it was his prerogative to use it as he pleased and that he had not stolen any money. 
“I used the mayoral fund, like any other mayor in South Africa. They (police) should come for me if they want to. I’m the people’s choice,” he said.
At Wednesday’s briefing it was also announced that in Oudtshoorn the ANC would also govern with Icosa, while independent Dirk Jantjies agreed to side with four ANC councillors in the nine-seat Cape Agulhas municipality where he said he would become deputy mayor.
Jantjies said the decision to co-operate with the ANC was not difficult since he had roots in the party.
“I come from the ANC, the ANC is a party for the poor who wants to bring them out of poverty. Even before people went to the polls, they knew where I stood,” said Jantjies.
ANC provincial treasurer Fezile Calana, announcing the deal with Icosa and Jantjies, said the party still hoped to form a coalition with the ACDP in Swellendam.
“After the elections, and after the ANC pooled its numbers … it became necessary for us to talk to various political parties,” said Calana.
He said the agreement with Icosa and Jantjies would run until the next local government elections.
“There’s been no positions promised and there’s been no exchange of money.”
While the DA was still banking on a coalition with Cope in the Bitou municipality, in Cederberg – another hung council – the ANC was hoping to conclude a deal with the Pan Africanist Congress which would give it a one-seat majority on the 11-member council where it has five councillors.

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SHOCKED: Tankiso Ngidi, a film and media student at UCT, reacts with shock to footage of Andries Tatane being beaten to the ground by police before being shot in the chest. The footage was screened at a gathering organised by the SRC.

The incident in which Ficksburg resident Andries Tatane was killed by police during a service protest is dangerous for South Africa.

These were the words of UCT deputy vice-chancellor Professor Crain Soudien. He was speaking at an SRC-organised meeting to protest against police brutality following the murder of Tatane, an engineering student at UCT in 1998.

“We were deeply shocked and saddened by what all of us saw on television. At an emotional level we are saddened because Andries Tatane was one of our own. But whether he was a student here or not should not determine whether and how we express ourselves on this matter,” Soudien said.

“The police as a public service, as a public institution, is fundamentally about preserving these rights. What it did was not only implicate itself in the taking of a life but in the taking of an idea, the idea of a democracy, the idea of trust.”

About 100 students had gathered at the Molly Blackburn Hall where footage of the incident was shown. CCTV footage of a raid at a Stellenbosch nightclub where students had been assaulted by police three years was also screened.

SRC president Amanda Ngwenya said that the incident in Ficksburg was not isolated as police claimed.

“By no means was (Andries Tatane) the first victim of police brutality,” Ngwenya said.

She made reference to the Stellenbosch raid and said cases of police brutality occurred countrywide without consequence.

Chumani Maxwele who last year was arrested for making a hand gesture at President Jacob Zuma’s convoy while jogging along De Waal Drive in Rondebosch, spoke out about the incident.

He was taken first to the Rondebosch police station, then to the one in Mowbray. He was kept in the holding cells for 24 hours and was forced to write an apology to Zuma.

“For a long time I had not spoken in public about what had happened to me. But in the last two weeks I’ve been propelled to stand up in the spirit of Andries Tatane and speak out about police brutality in our country. I think it’s important for us to stand up and say enough is enough,” Maxwele said.

Maxwele was charged with crimen injuria, but the case was thrown out of court. He said that he had taken his case to the Human Rights Commission but chairman Lawrence Mushwana said they could not investigate because there was a case pending.

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Jan van Riebeeck arrives in Table Bay in April...

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CAPE TOWN, 11 May 2011 (IRIN) – Instead of providing much needed opportunities, South Africa’s ailing education system is keeping children from poor households at the back of the job queue and locking families into poverty for another generation.

By the age of eight, school children from the most affluent 20 percent of South Africa’s population are already significantly out-performing children from poorer backgrounds, according to new research by the Social Policy Research Group at Stellenbosch University.

The study, “Low Quality Education as Poverty Trap”, [http://mg.co.za/uploads/2011/03/29/low-quality-educ-as-poverty-trap-report.pdf] found that the schooling available to children in poor communities is reinforcing rather than challenging the racial and economic inequities created by South Africa’s apartheid-era policies.

Using newly available data sets, including those linking information on income with numeracy skills, the report analyzed how low-quality tuition in the post-apartheid education system is perpetuating “exclusion and marginalization”.

The government allocated R190 billion (US$28 billion) or 21 percent of its 2011/12 budget to education, but 80 percent is spent on personnel and the remainder is not enough to supply thousands of schools in mainly poor areas with basic requirements like electricity and textbooks.

Yet the top 20 percent of state schools – which largely correspond to historically white schools and charge fees to compensate for insufficient public funding – enjoy adequate facilities and attract the best teachers.

South Africa’s status as one of the wealthiest countries on the continent has not helped its educational performance – the poorest 25 percent of students ranked 14th out of 15 sub-Saharan countries in reading performance, and 12th for mathematics, according to the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality surveys of 2000 and 2007.

“When seen in regional context, South Africa grossly under-performs, given that it has more qualified teachers, lower pupil-to-teacher-ratios and better access to resources,” the report on the study noted.

Nomusa Cembi, spokesperson for the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), whose nearly 250,000 members make it the country’s largest public sector union, said many teachers had received an inferior education as a result of apartheid’s “Bantu” education system, which was deliberately designed to disadvantage black learners and only ended in 1994 when a new democratic government came into power.

There are a host of other problems besetting schools in poor areas. According to Yoliswa Dwane, spokesperson for the education advocacy group, Equal Education, over 2,000 schools had no piped water supply, 3,600 lacked electricity, and over 90 percent were without libraries or a functioning laboratory.

SADTU and other teachers’ unions have opposed national calls for education to become an essential service, which would prevent strike action. In August 2010 a teachers’ strike closed schools across the country for three weeks, contributing to a public perception that SADTU and some of its members did not have learners’ interests at heart.

“The focus needs to be on teachers’ development,” said Cembi. “We’ve had changes in the curriculum since the new [post-apartheid] era, but we find not much focus on training teachers.”

Many teacher training colleges were closed in the late 1990s after new legislation required them to merge with existing higher education institutions. Plans to transform the training colleges into university-level institutions have not materialized, leaving thousands of teachers without any specialized training.

In recent years, SADTU has called for the reopening of training colleges because the shortage of teachers has meant that some schools in poor and rural areas have had to hire individuals who do not meet the official requirement of holding a teaching diploma.

According to the report, insufficient teacher knowledge is a problem, with many teachers scoring poorly in basic reading and mathematics tests.

A large number of changes to the national curriculum, beginning with the 1997 adoption of Outcomes Based Education, many subsequent adjustments, and the final decision -announced in 2010 – to scrap it, have further stressed an already failing system.

Equal Education’s Dwane said the debate needed to move past “blaming teachers” and towards how to achieve a “serious commitment to a national education programme that would spell out what needs to be done over the next 20-30 years”.

Such a plan would have to include an assessment of existing teacher knowledge, followed by a national teacher training programme, but Dwane stressed the need to consider factors beyond teacher knowledge, including teacher motivation, and a lack of community and parental involvement.

Her view was backed up by the Stellenbosch study, which identified the lack of regular and meaningful student assessments and feedback to parents as another major weakness in the education system.
“For the parents to know how their child is performing, and by proxy to know how the teachers are performing, is very helpful,” said Ronelle Burger, one of the study’s lead researchers. “Very few top-down measures can be as effective as getting the people who are affected to act to correct the problems.”

The researchers found that the job prospects of school leavers were determined not only by the number of years of education attained, but the quality of that education.

“The labour market is at the heart of inequality, and central to labour market inequality is the quality of education,” they concluded. “Policies that address inequality by intervening in the labour market will have limited success as long as the considerable pre-labour market inequalities in the form of differential

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