Friday, January 16, 2009
Friday, September 08, 2006
08 September 2006 11:47
through employment or education, transformation and affirmative action
strategies have become part of daily life in South Africa, and recent
media attention on the admissions policies of the University of Cape
Town (UCT) has raised some important questions.
are these measures vital to atone for the apartheid past or are they
just another form of discrimination, aimed at a different group of
Following a bout of letters published in Cape Town
newspapers last week, Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon attacked the
university's policies in his column on SA Today, criticising its use of race as a primary admissions requirement to certain medical and law degrees.
assesses its undergraduate applicants based on a points system --
similar to that used by other South African tertiary institutions.
Unlike other institutions, however, UCT's 2007 admission requirements
clearly distinguish between different race groups in stipulating the
number of points required for specific degrees.
A BSc in
physiotherapy, for instance, requires that black and coloured
applicants obtain 34 points in order to be considered, while Indian
applicants need to obtain 41 points and "Open" applicants need to
obtain 43 points.
An almost 10-point advantage for black and
coloured applicants in some cases saw Leon chastising the university
for "cravenly enacting the ANC's [African National Congress's]
obsessive, race-based reclassification of South Africa".
"I think there is a lot of pressure from government," Leon told the Mail & Guardian Online. "UCT goes way beyond … these measures are very extreme."
are UCT's measures. We believe in them," UCT registrar Hugh Amoore
affirmed, "Whether they happen to tie in with the transformation and
affirmative action or agendas of the day is of secondary concern."
37 of the 1997 Higher Education Act states that in their admissions
policies, all South African universities are required to comply with
"appropriate measures for the redress of past inequalities", but they
"may not unfairly discriminate in any way".
"We believe that
they [the admission requirements] pass constitutional muster," said
Amoore, "[and] that the discrimination in them is fair and
Leon wrote, however, that through these
measures "the university is actually carrying out government's
programme with a zeal far in excess of the Act's section 37 (1)".
is the mandate of each individual institution to publish and implement
an admissions policy that is both fair and transparent," said Professor
Duma Malaza, CEO of Higher Education South Africa.
The M&G Online
looked at the admission requirements of medical faculties of similar
institutions and found that although previously disadvantaged race
groups are preferred in most instances, UCT is the only university with
such formal affirmative action measures written into the application
Like UCT, the universities of the Witwatersrand, Free
State and Pretoria also assess applicants based on a points system.
However, at these institutions the same number of points is required
for all applicants, regardless of race. They all maintain that
applicants are judged academically, and no differentiation is made
between racial groups.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal,
however, does work within a quota system. "But there is competition
within the race groups," said admissions officer Deliwe Ikalila, with
black students competing with each other, white students competing with
each other, and so on. Those who reach the highest percentage in their
matric results, in each of the four race groups, are accepted.
well as attaining the required number of points, applicants to UCT's
health sciences faculty are also expected to complete a questionnaire
and take a national placement test that assesses their suitability for
their chosen field of study.
"These selection methods are the
result of conscious policies to ensure, first, that those we admit are
able to succeed and, secondly, that the resulting class will have
significant numbers of African [black] and coloured students.
UCT admissions policy of the year 2007 is an attempt to ensure we move
to such a [equal opportunity] society," Amoore said, to which Leon
responded by saying he "disagree[s] absolutely, profoundly and
"Categorisations using racial difference are very bad news for non-racialism," the DA leader said.
the university's policies a "crude racial system", he questioned
whether children of Cabinet ministers who live in upmarket areas,
attend private schools and happen to be black should qualify for these
rewards. "There should be measures to help the best people who can
benefit from the education system."
Amoore said the university
weighs past educational adversity at the level of racial groups as
opposed to individuals, and its policies are based on this. Different
requirements are set for applicants of different backgrounds "to
compensate for generations of educational and socio-economic
"It is too easy in the constitutional state in
which we live to forget the ravages caused by the educational
provisions of native affairs, bantu education and the Department of
Education and care training, or of coloured affairs," Amoore said, "too
easy to forget that even today most township schools and many rural
schools still reflect this legacy in provision, in the qualifications
and experience of the teachers, and in the socio-economic conditions
[poverty] of their communities."
was adamant in his weekly column that "not only does UCT's current
approach to admissions not recognise individual worth, it [also]
insults the gifted black student by negating her high marks and
insisting that her place is not dependent on her particular effort or
"Without these policies, the MBChB class, for
example, would be predominantly white and Indian; there would be very
few black men and women doctors in the graduating class," Amoore said.
these measures in place, black students accounted for 72% of UCT's
MBChB classes last year, but Amoore said that "institutionally we
believe we need to do more".
"It's not the job of a university to churn out exact proportions of the population," Leon told the M&G Online.
The university "reinforces the baleful notion that some race groups are
innately inferior to others, because they require special treatment",
he wrote on SA Today.
"Access to higher education is
invariably controversial and politically fraught in contexts such as
South Africa where parity in educational provision has not yet been
achieved," Higher Education South Africa's Malaza explained.
"Extraordinary measures are needed to achieve the kind of equity
targets that will reflect … the demographics of our society."
Numerous attempts to contact the Department of Education for comment on this matter failed.
Comment: They might as well put up a big sign that reads: "Blacks only".
08/09/2006 11:36 - (SA)
Wellington - New Zealand's foreign ministry stepped up warnings
about travel to South Africa on Friday, saying crime was a serious
issue with muggings and hijackings prevalent.
The ministry's travel advisory on its website said there was "some
risk" in travelling to South Africa and advised visitors to be vigilant
at all times, especially at bus stations and airports where organised
It specifically mentioned the key cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.
It also warned of the danger of hiackings on roads leading to Kruger
Park and said visitors should only go to Table Mountain in groups to
minimise the risk of attack. - Sapa-dpa
Saturday, September 02, 2006
01 September 2006 08:16
South African support for Iran held firm this week as a United Nations deadline for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme expired, potentially triggering sanctions by the UN Security Council or the United States and its allies.
A flurry of diplomatic activity followed last week’s visit to Pretoria by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottak, and the renewed insistence by South Africa on Iran’s “inalienable right” to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Iran is high on the agenda of President Thabo Mbeki’s meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced this week.
Russia is the major supplier to Iran’s nuclear programme and is eager to broker a diplomatic solution to the crisis. It is part of the “P5+1” coalition of permanent members of the Security Council -- plus Germany, which has offered Iran economic incentives to halt its enrichment activities, but is hesitant about sanctions.
As the crisis escalated last week top US nuclear diplomat James Schulte met South Africa’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Abdul Minty, in Pretoria. He was followed this week by representatives of the EU 3 -- the British, French and German component of the P5+1. No details of either meeting have been released, but during his trip Schulte publicly called on the South African government to bring its influence to bear on Iran.
Citing South Africa’s 1991 decision to end its nuclear weapons programme he told University of Pretoria’s Centre for International Political Studies: “South Africa’s example and leadership position you to help Iran’s leaders to think hard about Iran’s future and to consider two different models: the first, North Korea -- nuclear-armed, but impoverished, isolated, insignificant; the second, South Africa -- nuclear weapons-free, but secure, dynamic and a respected player in your region and the world.
“The choice should be clear. You can help Iran’s leaders make the right one.”
South Africa’s response, guided by complex domestic and geopolitical considerations, contained little to please the US. Local officials stress that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) decision to report its concerns about Iran’s programme to the UN Security Council was -- in a departure from precedent -- reached by majority vote, not consensus. They say Iran has no legal obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in further “confidence-building measures”.
Writing in the latest issue of ANC journal Umrabulo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad argues that the nuclear weapons states (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China) are undermining the “balance of rights and obligations” underpinning the treaty.
South Africa played a leading role during the 1995 negotiations that lead to the treaty’s extension. The major Western powers argued for it to remain in force indefinitely, while non-aligned countries, led by Indonesia, wanted it scrapped unless the nuclear powers agreed to disarm.
South African representatives crafted a compromise extending the treaty indefinitely in exchange for a commitment from the nuclear powers to disarmament measures, including the implementation of a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a deal on the handling of fissile material, and systematic efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. Further revisions in 2000 added undertakings.
“There has been limited, if not minimal, progress,” Pahad writes. “In some areas there was, in fact, a reversal of these undertakings.”
During a treaty review last year South Africa sought a text balancing criticism of the nuclear weapons states’ failures with concerns about proliferation, particularly the contribution of “non-state actors” like the AQ Kahn smuggling network to the illegal spread of weapons technology.
Instead, Pahad stresses in apparent reference to George W Bush’s administration, proposals were made “to impose restrictions on the inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes [including] a cap on new enrichment and reprocessing facilities”.
South Africa’s sensitive diplomatic moves dovetail with the development of plans to expand the capacity of the local nuclear industry.
The timing of Friday’s announcement by Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica that South Africa was considering restarting uranium enrichment has not escaped Western diplomats. But the government insists that there is no connection between backing for Iran, activism around the Non-Proliferation Treaty and South Africa’s plans to expand its nuclear energy capability.
“We believe in multilateralism; that is the principle we are defending here,” one official said. But others in the government are privately irritated by US-led attempts to limit the use of highly enriched uranium for civil purposes and to further cap enrichment by non-nuclear weapons states.
Security of supply will become increasingly important as the proportion of nuclear power in the energy mix grows. Brazil, the South Africans point out, recently began enriching uranium.
Briefing editors in Pretoria this week, Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin said a study was being conducted into the “full uranium value chain”, from fuel production to medical research.
Erwin stressed that enrichment would be for peaceful purposes. “South Africa has said unequivocally that we have withdrawn our capacity for weapons-grade enrichment. Whether we should now go back to enrichment for civilian uses is a matter we are going to have to study very carefully,” he said.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
August 28, 2006 10:00 AM EST
What makes a human being choose a specific course of action when faced with a moral choice? To give an example; what impels a man in Austria to fastidiously separate plastic from paper rubbish before disposal, and what impels a man in South Africa to rape and murder a baby? The cynicism of the world-weary will now raise its paw and state that all moral behavior is based on the avoidance of pain. This is true, for the most part. The fear of physical pain certainly still tops the list in ensuring compliance with socio-cultural norms and values. A person will definitely think twice about transgressing when faced with severe pain in the form of whipping or, ultimate pain in the form of being 'drawn and quartered'. The threat of physical pain surely goes a long way in ensuring moral compliance in primitive societies.
When this threat is gone, all hell breaks loose. This can be witnessed in South Africa where more people have been murdered (250 000+) after 1994, than all the people who met violent deaths in the whole of the country's 20th century history. South Africa boasts a staggering 50 murders and 43 child-rapes per day. Similar break-downs of law and order are evident when African dictators are toppled by new ones. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans also showed similar patterns of behavior.
The second, more civilized, inducement not to transgress is the fear of psycho-social and socio-cultural humiliation in front of one's peers. For example, the Austrian man's efforts (separating waste) are motivated by his assurance of not being humiliated by his peers when accused of being environmentally-unfriendly. Having always regarded themselves as Westerners, white South Africans ended Apartheid because they just couldn't stand the humiliation by their peers in the West anymore. In short: the West demanded adherence to human rights, and they complied.
It goes without saying that the peers in one civilization are not necessarily the same peers in another. China, for example, doesn't give a damn about democracy or human rights, but they enjoy favored trade nation status in America. Different strokes for different folks, it would seem. Thabo Mbeki's refusal to believe that AIDS is caused by a virus is a very good example of a non-existent fear of peer humiliation across cultures. Being African (Xhosa), the socio-cultural matrix of his society's belief-systems have zero relation to the high status the scientific world-view has in more advanced civilizations. In other words, he certainly has no fear of being humiliated in the West when postulating similar idiocies.
This also applies to moral sanctioning in Africa. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and innumerable other African dictators have no compunction whatsoever to trample on western-induced norms and values (e.g. human rights) because these moral imperatives have never been part of their socio-cultural belief-systems. One cannot compare apples to pears, and African leaders certainly don't fear humiliation by those in the West who they do not regard as peers. Mandela's dismal failure to humiliate Mugabe is but one example of Africans looking at the same bearings on the same moral compass.
The West has always been the fiercest in safeguarding its most preciously held moral convictions. And given the West's soul-piercing introspection after moral regressions, it is no wonder that this civilization has, for the most part, progressed past the phase where fear of physical pain is the only guarantee of moral rectitude. "There can be no more poetry after Auswitsch", these words by the philosopher Theodor Adorno encapsulate the hell the West's conscience went though after the horrors of WWII. We instinctively cringe when we hear about rumors of torture like in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. This is not so in other civilizations.
Getting back to Africa; has any African intellectual or political leader ever displayed the depth of moral anguish of an Adorno, when confronted with African horrors like, for example, the genocide in Rwanda, the mutilations in Liberia and the 2.4 million people who have been slaughtered in the Congo in the past 10 years? No. Having only the fear of physical pain to guide them, African dictators will only start criticizing their peers once their own physical security is threatened. This is the reason why African dictators cling to power with all their might; they will suffer physical pain (mostly death) when losing power.
This is not a problem in the West. It suffices to say that Western morality has never played a major part in any of the careers of 99% of African leaders and their people. Whether the morality of the West is the best, is obviously another story. Today's terrorist is tomorrow's freedom fighter (e.g. Mandela and Nazrallah), and the moral 'axis of evil' and 'coalition of the good' certainly stays in tune with the flux of time and the will of the powerful. But, the fortitude of the individual conscience will always be the cornerstone of all civilized behavior.
It is this entity which guarantees that the individual will think of the welfare of his fellow man, even if the consequences of his/her actions cannot be traced back to him/her. To give an example; why not rape a baby if you know the police will not catch you. South Africa has a 10% conviction rate for murder and a 4.3% conviction rate for rape. And why not partake in the mind-boggling corruption and graft that is part and parcel of Africa's mind-set? In short; why stop when you have no fear of physical pain or psychosocial and socio-cultural humiliation?
The third, and even more advanced, regulator of individual moral behavior is the fear of divine retribution – i.e. I'll suffer eternal pain when I join the after-life. This uniquely religious impulse is the motivating factor behind singularly self-less and self-sacrificing moral behavior. The individual with this conscience fears neither physical pain, nor public humiliation. And in combination with the Christian idea of brotherly love, this conscience is the stuff of legends, to put it bluntly.
The 'formation' of the Western conscience has a very long history. It started with the Biblical Adam and continued with Noah's righteousness, Socrates' refusal to bow to the non-questionable norm, Jesus' brotherly love, Luther's reaffirmation of human choice, the French Revolution, the abolition of slavery, de-colonization and the demolishing of Apartheid. All these paradigmatic moments have resulted in a conscience which is the most self-regulatory existence has ever seen. It is the reason why Hitler was defeated, it is the reason why white South Africans abolished Apartheid and it is the reason why whites didn't loot and shoot after hurricane Katrina.
The humanism of the liberal will now raise its hind-leg and state that human beings are inherently good (innocent) and that the fear of punishment actually causes morally 'bad' behavior. To give an example; liberal educators and psychologists firmly believe that a good smack on the bottom of a child who is sticking his fingers into a live power-socket, will lead to the child becoming a violent human being when he grows up. It suffices to say that all of recorded history has shown that human beings are not inherently good, and can therefore not be trusted do the 'right' (and sane) thing without some or other fear of pain to regulate their behavior. Yes Mbeki, AIDS is caused by a virus!
What regulates moral behavior in one civilization definitely does not regulate moral behavior in another. Does China really want to give universal suffrage and human right to its citizens, does India really want to uplift its lower classes and do African leaders really give a damn about the individual fates of their people? We would like to say yes, but that is only because we have the conscience of the West. And this conscience will also be our downfall.
Having stripped the God part from the true meaning of life ' Love God, and love your neighbor', we are stuck with the insecurities of a conscience solely motivated by loving our neighbor – i.e. the existential-humanism of postmodernism. Have we ever seriously asked ourselves the question whether our neighbor is also doing his utmost to love us as well? Even a cursory glance at the moral anarchy in post-1994 South Africa, clearly illustrates what is in store for the West in the next 50 -100 years. The loss of the regulatory power of the civilized conscience will cause such societal degeneration that serious inter-civilization and inter-racial conflict would be inevitable.
The individuals of other civilizations, Africans in particular, should seriously start asking themselves the question whether they are treating their neighbor, like they want to be treated themselves? The way Africans treat each other makes one ashamed to be human being. It is an open sore in the conscience of all that is civilized. And milking the conscience of the West for every tear that's is worth because Africans are slaughtering Africans on a daily basis, can never suffice as an excuse for the fact that Africa's conscience refuses to progress past the phase of fear of physical pain. What about moral pain? That pain which Africa causes the civilized world every time one switches on the TV and is forced to witness the horrors of primitive behavior unleashed. Grow up! Real pain comes from within. It is called a conscience.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
11 August 2006 03:31
The University of Pretoria's management and the Pan Africanist Movement of Azania (Pasma) refused to budge from their respective positions on Friday.
The student body said they would continue with their protest, while management said it would not reopen the campus unless violent protests came to end.
"The students have contravened the agreement we had with them on Tuesday, that there [would] be no violent protest on Thursday," said campus director Edwin Smith.
Pasma provincial spokesperson Vusi Mahlangu said the violence seen on campus on Thursday will be like a picnic if management continue with their arrogance and do not respond positively to its demands.
"We are prepared to meet them on the battlefield and allow blood to flow, should there be a need," Mahlangu said in a statement on Friday.
The university reported damage worth R40 000 caused when students threw stones and broke windows on campus on Thursday, said Smith.
Issues raised by students could not be resolved overnight, but management will continue holding talks with them, Smith said.
Pasma is protesting against the mid-year academic exclusion of more than 30% of students.
"We are not prepared to go back to the table until the University of Pretoria agrees that all excluded are brought back to the system while the negotiations continue," Mahlangu said.
The university must also reverse the decision of changing the campus into a community centre.
Smith responded: "Academic exclusions are instruments to ensure that the university is not bloated with undeserving students, but students who perform well.
"The students who are academically excluded are afforded a fair hearing to explain their performance to the university," said Smith. -- Sapa
*Original source: Mail and Guardian Online
Monday, August 07, 2006
Congratulations on the new campaign. May it be a huge success and a turning point in South Africa's history.
You have taken the first steps in the fight against South Africa's huge crime epidemic. Recent initiatives, such as your own, have done a lot to expose SA's staggering crime levels to the international community. However, merely writing about the problem and signing one or two petitions will neither be efficient enough to persuade the SA government to act decisively against crime, nor to cause an international outcry against the murders. The SA government will only get it's act together once it is forced to do so... and the international community will only start to support your efforts once they see that you are "seriously fighting for your lives".
We suggest that you take the following steps:
- Hold a nationwide strike against crime. Special emphasis should be placed on big corporations such as ESKOM and SASOL.
- March through Pretoria and stop at every embassy to hand over a declaration against crime and other media (such as documentaries) to the appropriate ambassadors. Include a request for diplomatic assistance with each of the handovers. Get local celebrities, that support the cause, to join in.
- If the above do not yield the desired effects, increase the frequency and duration of such actions until you are satisfied that you have succeeded.
Such strikes should be held regardless of whether you have the appropriate permissions/clearances or not. What kind of message will it send to the outside world when the SA government is unwilling to act against crime, but willing to act against normal citizens?
*This e-mail was sent to Afriforum, the civil rights movement of the Solidarity trade union. You can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Johannesburg, South Africa
06 August 2006
Forensic auditors have uncovered records of more than R25-million listed as having been paid to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its structures by Brett Kebble and companies linked to the slain magnet, the Sunday Independent reported.
However, the ANC says it has not been quizzed about any such alleged funds, according to the report.
The investigations by the auditors -- Umbono Financial Advisory Services and KPMG -- into the pillaging of shares and black economic empowerment (BEE) fraud uncovered details of a range of consultants' fees, loans and bonuses listed as paid by Kebble and his companies to a number of prominent individuals in the ANC and BEE circles, the report added.
Their reports also list apparent payments being made to the ANC totalling more than R25-million, including R5 570 000 to the ANC in the Western Cape, R930 000 to the ANC Youth League and R250 000 to the ANC in the Eastern Cape.
Of these payments, totalling R6 930 000, at least R1,4-million was paid by Consolidated Mining Management Services (CMMS), and investigators are probing whether Kebble also claimed the rest from CMMS.
The ANC also features on a list of payments apparently made at Kebble's instruction from a subsidiary company, Tuscan Mood, that is under close scrutiny by investigators, the Sunday Independent said. Tuscan Mood is listed as having paid the ANC R18 619 296.
ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama told the newspaper the party had not been informed of any such official inquiries into donations made by Kebble or his companies to the party.
Several people who are prominent in ANC and business circles are also listed as having received payments from Kebble and his companies.
The Democratic Alliance has urged the ANC to "come clean" on the allegations that it received millions of rands Kebble and his companies.
DA spokesperson Douglas Gibson said on Sunday many South Africans were impressed last week at President Thabo Mbeki's hard-hitting speech about social values. His condemnation of the "get rich at all costs" sickness was particularly impressive.
However, the ANC government is becoming known for never-ending sleaze, Gibson said.
It has never come clean about the so-called Oilgate scandal, former deputy president Jacob Zuma's problems are well known, the arms deal seems murky to say the least, and now there is the Kebble millions.
"It is time for the ANC to come clean. If they received an improper advantage with money which should have gone to the Kebble creditors, the ANC must pay it back.
"If they do not, President Mbeki's fine words will be revealed as nothing more than pious and pompous platitudes," Gibson said.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Can FIFA honestly say that soccer fans will be safe during the 2010 World Cup?
- has the most rapes (per capita) in the world
- has the most murders with firearms (per capita) in the world
- has the second most murders (per capita) in the world
- has the fourth most robberies (per capita) in the world
- is a transshipment center for illicit drugs and an attractive venue for money launderers due to increasing levels of organized crime and narcotics activity
02 August 2006 12:01
Zimbabwe's ruling party is to set up a political school to train cadres along the lines of China's communist party, it was reported on Wednesday.
Elliot Manyika, Zanu-PF's national commissar, made the announcement following a lecture by visiting academics from the Communist Party of China (CPC), said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
Manyika said Zanu-PF would draw on the experiences from the CPC and the good bilateral relations between the two parties to set up the school, the newspaper reported.
This is the first time there has been talk of a dedicated Zanu-PF party school, although President Robert Mugabe's government in 2001 launched a number of youth training camps he said were meant to teach young people patriotic values.
The camps have been mired in controversy following allegations that graduates were used to intimidate members of the opposition party. Many of them are reported to have closed down because of lack of food and supplies.
Manyika said students and academics had an important role to play in conducting research for Zanu-PF.
The authorities in Zimbabwe are vocal in their admiration of China, specifically following China's recent drive to invest in projects in the Southern African country, particularly mining.
Mugabe has encouraged businessmen and all Zimbabweans to look east for inspiration, instead of turning to former colonial power Britain and other Western powers who are critical of Zimbabwe's human rights record and land-reform programme. -- Sapa-dpa