Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Two stories from southern Africa

My grief grows.

Robert Mugabe's recent 85th birthday bash cost an estimated £105K, while his country suffers hyperinflation of an order that recently saw the release of a 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note! This after lopping 3 zeros off the end of all denominations in attempt to curb the spiralling figures. It is to be noted that the country's unemployment level is estimated at 94%. Of course, this presumably means taxpaying employment. No doubt there is a great deal of informal employment going on, with services being paid for in kind. Many Zimbabwean businesses no longer accept their own national currency, and instead demand South African Rands, US dollars or British Pounds.

If you have an interest in the story that is unfolding in the country once called the breadbasket of Africa - get it first hand from an insider.

Moving just across the river to my own homeland, we learn that a campaign of violence has been initiated by the ruling African National Congress against opposition parties ahead of next month's election.

Ahead of the 1994 elections, observers around the world predicted bloodshed. But the churches of all colours took to their knees and prayed. The people from all communities determined that they would prove the world wrong. And so they did. Standing in line to vote together for the first time, Black, Indian Coloured and White (for those were the racial classifications within the country) people were peaceable. They elected an ANC which was led by Nelson Mandela, a man of noble grace respected the world over.

But the age of Nelson Mandela is past. The man who now leads the African National Congress is a man without even a complete primary school education. A man who will assure a group of Afrikaans farmers in Bloemfontein that the Afrikaner heritage will remain and that their contribution to the economy and the future of the country is held in high regard. Shortly thereafter, that same man will assure a fulminating group of young activists that land redistribution in South Africa will follow his election as surely as night follows day. Many have taken delight in pointing out that Zuma has several wives. To me, this is an irrelevant matter - a legacy of his culture. Without looking it up, I would hazard a guess that there are other national leaders with more than one wife. What bothers me far more is that this is a man skilled in the art of saying exactly what people want to hear in order to secure the presidency for himself. Frighteningly, he seems to have no personal values which he holds sacrosanct.

No charges brought against him appear to stick, and one wonders, once he occupies the office of president, whether it will still be possible to level criticisms and/or accusations against him at all!

The southern African subcontinent appears to be going to hell in a handcart. More than once, ex-patriots have been heard to express the view that, had Zimbabwe had even a drop of oil, the US would have invaded them long since in order to depose the dictator and restore democracy.

Well, South Africa has several drops of oil - much of it produced from coal, not to mention gold, diamonds, steel, uranium, platinum and a plethora of endangered fauna and flora. So you never know!

4 comments:

Monomatapa263 said...

What qualification exactly is needed for the presidency? You omit to mention that Zuma led the ANC's intelligence wing. Not quite the ignoramus you portray.

As for the land; it wil be redistributed. This to avoid a repeat of the Zimbabwe situation.

Karyn Romeis said...

@monomatapa263 I simply related a well-known fact about Zuma's lack of education. You choose to read into that an implication of ignorance. However, I did call him unprincipled and untrustworthy. I also said that he was mounting violent attacks on his opposition. Rather tellingly, you chose not to defend or refute any of those points.

I have no idea what you are trying to say with your second point. Land redistribution would be a repeat of the Zimbabwe situation, since that is how the problems in that country began.

I cannot see how it can solve anything to take land away from people who are using it to feed the country and contribute to the economy, without compensating them for the enormous investment they have made in that land through years of blood, sweat and tears.

I recognise that this is an emotive issue, and I by no means applaud the actions of past governments, but the present and future government have an opportunity to rise above the past and find an equitable solution that will secure the future of all their people.

Monomatapa263 said...

Land redistribution became an issue because the White lanndowners fought the government for ten years. They insisted on inflated prices for their farms, thus sabotaging the whole willing buyer willing seller program. The same thing is happening here in south Africa.

You talk of Southern Africa gowing down hard. As hard as the western economies? Please. Deal with your plank first.

As for Zuma and violence, it did not deserve a response.

Karyn Romeis said...

@monomataoa263 Southern Africa is my 'own plank' uyaqonda?