The politics of politics

June 17, 2009

By Craig Wynn

For this column I could talk about Thabo Mbeki’s visit, but it’s still Saturday as I write this, so there’s no knowing whether he pitched or not (See: Julius Malema). Time travel would be a cool topic, actually, but nah. How about torture? Now there is a change of subject from South African politics (arguably). Before I sound too random, this idea comes from both the current drama in the States surrounding Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay – and the congress’ disagreement with this – as well as from my awesome English tut about J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians.

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Zapiro gives Zuma a break

June 17, 2009

By Jessica Edgson & Craig Wynn

From edgy satire cartoons to ‘God-Zille’s’ angry ratings and accusations, our nation’s new President, Jacob Zuma, must be getting used to bad, or at least controversial, publicity. It therefore must have come as quite a shock when a little weight was taken off his head recently.

South African cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro, otherwise known as Zapiro, removed the controversial showerhead from President Zuma’s head in his cartoon for The Times on Tuesday, 12 May. Zapiro, who was awarded with an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University last year, attached the showerhead for his depiction of Zuma for the first time in 2006, after the latter’s infamous HIV/Aids comment at his rape trial.

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Starting off on the wrong foot?

June 17, 2009

By Camagwini Dolweni

Just over a week after President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration, Minister of Transport, Sbu Ndebele, became caught up in what nearly became another corruption scandal for South African politics.

On 16 May, Ndebele accepted a Mercedes Benz S500 from Vukuzakhe road contractors, worth R1.1 million. Ndebele had been transport MEC for KwaZulu Natal from 1994 to 2004 and in that time, he established the contractors programme, Vukuzakhe. This received contracts amounting to over R400 million. The contractors held a celebratory function in his honour in Pietermaritzburg, where they gave him the car and two cattle.

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Zuma’s inauguration costs nation millions

June 17, 2009

By Lauren Rawlins

On Saturday, 9 May 2009, Jacob Zuma was inaugurated as the country’s fourth democratically elected president.

Huge crowds gathered at the Union buildings to celebrate the historic event. Various VIPs came from around the world to wish Zuma well and each received a complimentary umbrella and blanket. Meanwhile, those citizens who came to watch were treated to a Nandos meal and a concert afterwards. Sounds great, but then there’s no such thing as a free inauguration.

By the end of it all, expenses reportedly came to R75 million, excluding the security costs. Of course, as usual, this fortune came out of the South African taxpayers’ pockets. Considering the recent revelation that South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world, this sort of money is no spare change. Raising concern over the cost of the event during the week running up to it, the Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed that the R75 million put towards the inauguration could also have bought 1 900 low-cost houses, 25 000 bullet-proof vests or a new 75-bed hospital.

Zuma included in his inauguration speech the fact that “we must acknowledge that we find ourselves in difficult economic times.” Such a statement could only have been expected but, in light of the heavy costs behind this very speech, questions arise as to whether we are really in a position to be spending such vast amounts of money at any point. It is, of course, important to celebrate our new president’s inauguration correctly, but perhaps greater frugality would have been beneficial.

The DA, who came second in the polls in April, agreed and expressed concerns about the high cost of the event. The DA has been reported as saying they felt it was inappropriate in the country’s present state, and the economic crisis the whole world is in, to be spending this sort of money on the inauguration.

Less than a week after the inauguration, the Rand fell by 3%. While currency change cannot be attributed to the likes of a large party, it is still important to note the instability of the nation’s economy and to highlight the significance of the cost of event. The ANC did say they had decided to have the event on a Saturday and not during the week, so to prevent another public holiday, therefore cutting expenses. Other measures taken, however, have not been publicised, leaving the nation uninformed as to where their taxes have been going.

Where did Trevor go?

June 17, 2009

By Jane Rosen

South Africa entered its second phase in limbo this week. The first stage was waiting to see if Jacob Zuma would get his two thirds majority. The second phase has been waiting to see who Zuma was going to elect as his cabinet. There has been much venom injected into the judgements of the president’s choices of ministers. For many of them, the appointments seem to be a reward for loyal support in the past, the first sign of agenda being put before competence. What has caused the most stress, however, was whether or not Trevor Manuel was going to keep his 13-year-long position as Minister of Finance, and if not, whether he would still be a part of Zuma’s cabinet.

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Zuma’s bold new Cabinet

June 17, 2009

By Jamaine Chiwaye

President Jacob Zuma has stayed true to his word and hit the ground running implementing a wave of change through the South African Cabinet. He announced the ministers and their deputies on 10 May this year. There were several changes, with only nine ministers previously of Thabo Mbeki’s 28-strong 2004 cabinet remaining in the now 34 member selection. With these adjustments, there has been restructuring with the renaming, creation and splitting of various departments.

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Second to a war zone

June 17, 2009

By Tessa Trafford

Pic by: Simone Armer

South Africa, it has been revealed, has the third highest unemployment rate in the world. The two countries who have higher unemployment rates are West Bank Gaza and Macedonia, both of which are currently war zones.

According to the most recently released statistics, South Africa has an unemployment rate of a shocking 23.5%. Added to this is the horrifying revelation that South Africa has approximately 1.2% of the world’s labour force, but makes up for about 5.3% of unemployed people in the world. These statistics were revealed in a survey conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO makes up a specialised agency in the United Nations (UN) and recently set out to survey 73 countries and their unemployment rates. Mike Schussler, a prominent economist, called these latest statistics “shocking” adding, “We have been over a 20% unemployment [rate] for 12 years.”

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