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WSG to train Commonwealth parliamentarians

- WSG

WSG is proud to announce that it has won the tender to provide certificate programmes to members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

WSG is proud to announce that it has won the tender to provide certificate programmes to members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). Participants will be nominated by national, provincial and State legislatures from 53 Commonwealth countries.

The School is well suited to deliver this training, having provided training and support to parliamentarians across South Africa and Africa. The programmes will run in the first quarter of 2017, and include online as well as contact components to be held at WSG. The training will produce well informed, skilled parliamentary leaders who change their society for the better.

The aim of the CPA is to advance parliamentary democracy by enhancing knowledge and understanding of democratic governance and by building an informed parliamentary community that is able to deepen the Commonwealth’s democratic commitment and further co-operation among its 180 member Parliaments and legislatures.

The outcomes of the training will include:

  • Greater depth of knowledge of parliamentary practice and procedure.
  • Increased practical and useful knowledge based on accepted theories and international good practices, e.g. CPA Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures.
  • Improved individual skill sets as attendees apply acquired knowledge in their own parliamentary setting and apply specific ideas and examples on how to improve their work as parliamentarians.
  • Well informed, skilled parliamentary leaders who change their society for the better and are brand ambassadors for the CPA.

Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center to join WSG

- WSG

Dr Liv Tørres, Executive Director of Nobel Peace Center, has been appointed as a Visiting Adjunct Professor at WSG

Dr Liv Tørres, Executive Director of Nobel Peace Center, has been appointed as a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Wits School of Governance (WSG), bringing years of expertise in the development and humanitarian sectors.

Tørres has a special relationship with South Africa and Wits University. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of Oslo, where she wrote her thesis on the political impact of South African trade unions.

Tørres has lived in South Africa for long periods and was connected to the University of Cape Town and Wits University in the 1980s and 1990s. In the late 1990s she set up and ran the research Center for Applied Social Studies, Fafo, in Johannesburg. She has been closely following the developments in the country ever since and next week she will be speaking at the Annual Labour Law Conference in Johannesburg.

Her professoriate will comprise approximately two teaching weeks per year face to face, publishing research papers and supervising students.

 “Her combination of academic merits and experience from the humanitarian, security and political sector will make her an extraordinary resource for our students”, says Professor David Everatt, Head of WSG.

“I believe Professor Tørres will provide our students with a set of powerful global perspectives on a wide range of issues and add significantly to the quality of teaching and supervision provided by our School, the leading school of governance on the continent,” he adds. 

Tørres says the WSG is acknowledged internationally for its high academic standards and commitment to social justice.

“I am honoured and thrilled to be able to contribute to this renowned institution. I look forward to discussing issues concerning governance, conflict-resolution and social dialogue with motivated, politically conscious and highly qualified students,” she says.

The Mandela Foundation’s verdict on the Mandela era: it failed …

- Professor David Everatt

In a little-heralded move in 2015, the Nelson Mandela Foundation released a “position paper” on race and identity.

In a little-heralded move in 2015, the Nelson Mandela Foundation released a “position paper” on race and identity. It was written by the Foundation’s CEO Sello Hatang and archivist Verne Harris.

Sadly, it triggered little debate, possibly overtaken by #Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall, the subsequent political fallout and rise of Fallist movements. This is ironic, given that the purpose of the paper seemed to be re-positioning the Foundation to be a part of the segment of civil society that regards 1990-1994 as a moment of failure.

The African National Congress (ANC) and other liberation movements were unbanned by the apartheid government in 1990. In 1994 South Africa had its first democratic election, which the ANC won. The four year period came with a number of gains, most obviously formal equality, gender equality and others. There was also defeat for many less savoury proposals such as minority rights and so on.

Inevitably, there were also compromises such as “sunset clauses” that guaranteed the gradual phasing out of white rule rather than one dramatic handover of power. These clauses ensured public service jobs for white people for a period of time. A key compromise protected private property - the latter arguably entrenching existing inequality and appearing later in the Constitution.

For a foundation honouring Nelson Mandela, this revisionist piece was quite a move. Here 1994 is re-imagined as a moment of defeat, in which “white” capital entrenched itself in return for political power for the ANC, and bought off the total defeat of total strategy for 30 pieces of silver.

That a complete military and political victory for the ANC was even on the cards in 1990-1994 is the product of malfunctioning hindsight. But it has become part of a discourse that looks back at 1994 as an opportunity lost, the onset of failure, because the present feels too much like the past and change is slow and uneven.

The paper does three quite remarkable things. It jettisons non-racialism (to which Mandela’s political life was dedicated) in favour of black consciousness. Secondly, it sees the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) macroeconomic strategy, adopted while Mandela was president, as the source of our current malaise by “either setting or being closely aligned to a global neoliberal agenda”. Lastly, it writes off most of Mandela’s reign as comprising “grand symbolic gestures” and reconciliatory moves, which (it argues) failed.

New lingo

The paper ignores non-racialism by seeking to create new terminology. The authors ignore the fact that non-racialism emerged from the 1950s when racists were termed “racialists” and non-racialism was and is, at its core, anti-racist.

The authors drop any mention of non-racialism whatsoever. They fail to grapple with how South Africans get beyond the present other than by appealing to black consciousness and railing against white supremacy. This elision reflects an error in judgement. Non-racialism was born not out of a wishy-washy “can’t we all just get along” set of sentiments. It was, from the outset, the adversary of racialism, in the language of its time.

Graca Machel, the late former South African president Nelson Mandela’s wife at the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in 2016. It is arranged by his Foundation. Cornell Tukiri/EPA

Although Mandela stood by non-racialism through his political life (after flirting with more exclusive Africanism while in the ANC Youth League), the authors argue that South Africans should rather use “non-racism”. To waste the long history and constitutional imperative around non-racialism seems at least poor strategy, compounding questionable history.

The paper adopts similar views to those expressed by various Africanist movements: that non-racialism is an outdated liberal colour blindness, a soft search for a “Kumbaya moment” rather than toughing it out by confronting race. There seems to be a desire to be “relevant” by pandering to a more racially muscular black consciousness.

Emerging from this view of history, the solution is to return to and tear up the compromises that were made. The next step is to organise an “economic Codesa” – the forum where all political formations negotiated the post-apartheid future – and, by destroying the economic underpinnings of white privilege, attain equality.

This is an undeniably attractive proposition. It however ignores context and what practically could be done then, or now. Rather than accepting the compromises that were required and taking the struggle for a just society forward, meeting old and new challenges as they arise, the Foundation’s proposed move is backward, to shred the 1990-1994 compromises and start afresh.

A meeting of equals

South Africa’s best known proponent of black consciousness, Steve Biko, wrote eloquently of the need for integration to be based on full and substantive equality.

This requires a meeting of equals, not the subsuming of black people into white society – a point central to critical race theory and identity politics. But this also applies to non-racialism, which asserts substantive equality as its starting point.

The authors of the “Position Paper” clearly find much to value in Critical Race Theory and black consciousness. But they identify a hierarchy within “race and identity” that is headed by white domination and black un-freedom. No intersectionality here, even though it is core to Critical Race Theory. No integrated approach that regards the challenges of race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity and so on as equally important and fundamentally linked.

No-one walks a single path through life. But the paper shows little appreciation of this. Race – white domination, to be specific – trumps all. Flowing from this logic, xenophobia was tritely rejected as an “unhelpful label”. That provides scant comfort to the victims of xenophobic violence that erupted a month or so after the paper appeared.

According to the authors, race “is still a critical fault line in South Africa’s social landscape”, a point all South Africans agree with. They go on to argue:

Public discourses on race, in our view, are dominated by expressions of denial, alienation, obfuscation and even self-hatred. Listen to the spiteful chattering on social media and radio talk shows, in letters to newspaper editors and at dinner parties. Listen to the often laborious constructions and deconstructions of the academy. Listen to the platitudes of politicians and bureaucrats either papering over or playing fast and loose with the pain and confusion of daily experience.

Few authors like being told, “it is more complicated than that”. But this is glaringly the correct response. The work of civil society, the efforts of individuals, of organised labour and feminist and LGBTIAQ+ movements, of civil and uncivil society, and of those public servants and politicians who try to do their work honestly, are written off in a pastiche designed to conclude that everything is dominated by white racism.

 

The Mandela government had three strategies for transformation: nation-building, interventions geared at redress and longer-term societal restructuring. The authors want these revived – because they have failed and “the state … has had little success in shifting apartheid-era socioeconomic patterns”.

Credited for his ‘grand gestures’, Nelson Mandela hands over the rugby world cup to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar in 1995 Reuters

The authors give Mandela credit for “grand gestures” in the area of reconciliation, but cannot square the circle: Mandela was also the president who ushered in the GEAR macroeconomic policy.

Nation-building was spearheaded by Mandela, for whom national reconciliation was the priority for his presidency.

Nifty footwork

There is also some adroit footwork here. Mandela is given credit for a number of grand symbolic gestures for reconciliation – even though they are regarded as ultimately futile. But then his name is not invoked in relation to GEAR, nor is he criticised for failing to push for “total victory”. The authors see the post-1994 strategies as necessary, but are unsure where to place blame for their failure.

The paper concludes gloomily that the notion that South Africa “belong[s] to all who live in it” – a statement indelibly associated with Mandela – seems to be “an impossible ideal”. Mandela emerges as a reduced figure in this narrative, from the iconic to the initiator of a set of well-meaning but failed interventions. Perhaps some revisionism away from hagiography is not a bad thing. Revisionism however should be based on decent history.

Looking to the future, the paper offers “key insights”, which are sadly pedestrian such as:

  • combating racism will not be easy or speedy;
  • there are no “quick-fix” solutions;
  • inequality must be challenged by economic growth (how growth will diminish inequality is not explained); and

South Africans need to engage in more dialogue.

The key problem with the Foundation’s paper is that it hankers for an opportunity to turn back the clock and rewrite 1994, rather than looking forward and rising to meet the new challenges of a democratic, unequal, racist and stubbornly human South Africa. Attaining formal democracy was a critical first step – but only a first step – in a long struggle to establish a just society. The Foundation should be leading us in the long walk ahead, not looking backwards.

 

David Everatt, Head of Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand. . This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

FeesMustFall: Student Revolt, Decolonisation and Governance in South Africa

- Susan Booysen

WSG and Wits Press are giving 100 free copies to current Wits students who cannot afford to purchase the book.

WSG and Wits Press are giving 100 free copies of FeesMustFall: Student Revolt, Decolonisation and Governance in South Africa to current Wits students who cannot afford to purchase the book. Write to us about your #FeesMustFall experiences  to stand a chance of getting a free copy.

FeesMustFall: Student Revolt, Decolonisation and Governance in South Africa dissects the influence of the days of the 2015 student protests that shook the government and would be repeated in 2016. The book’s reflections represent a snapshot in time, reflecting on a segment of the overall revolt and its impact. In convening the voices to write this book, we at the Wits School of Governance argued that the 2015-2016 voices of revolt deserve scholarly and activist exploration, even while the longer-term impact continues to unfold. The analysis ends in mid-2016, as disillusionment with the implementation of the early gains of #FeesMustFall set in, as rumours of a second cycle of revolt solidified, and as government and university managements worked to persuade a politically diverse (and by now confident in their abilities) student generation that more profound change was on the way.

We forefront students’ primary voices, and let them relate the narratives of what the students did to power in South Africa. This collection of voices within a broad, flat structure and diverse movement speaks the issues and reflects the contradictions of the time. In their writings, this book’s student and activist authors reveal, with no holds barred, how coloniality, race, patriarchy, structural and physical violence alienate, colour and continue to taint life in South African society and its universities. The students write, or co-write with workers, their lived experiences in the section that contains the core narratives on ‘The roots of the revolution’. Students Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (Chapter 3), Omhle Ntshingila (Chapter 4, in conversation with workers Richard Ndebele and Virginia Monageng), activist-academic Gillian Godsell with student Kgotsi Chikane (Chapter 2), and in Chapter 5 with students Refiloe Lepere, Swankie Mofoko and Ayabonga Nase bring the texture of the struggles and the gaping holes in the 1994 ‘rainbow’ into the heart of political praxis and the student revolt.

Why South Africa should undo Mandela’s economic deals

- Patrick Bond

Is South Africa finally maturing to the point that the economic - not just political - compromises of the 1990s democratic transition can be reconsidered?

When engaging student activists, for example, University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen frets that

If [former President Nelson] Mandela gets any mention at all, it is as a sell-out, the man who led South Africa into a soft transition that left white privilege undisturbed and black poverty undiminished.

There has been tough questioning of Mandela’s deals by a diverse range of critics. They include:

Insiders like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and ANC stalwart and former minister Ronnie Kasrils have equally been critical of the compromises Mandela made. In 2013 Kasrils explained how Mandela signed a self-sabotaging “Faustian Pact” with global capital.

In mid-1994 I saw those devils up close when I participated in government policy debates as editor of the Reconstruction and Development Programme White Paper, and again as drafter of the aborted 1996 National Growth and Development Strategy. My view is that there’s a bit of ‘structure’ – externally-imposed necessity – and individual ‘agency’ in answering ‘both’ to the question:

was Mandela pushed, or did he jump?

The crippling economic compromises

In his 2005 book and a more recent article, former Presidency official and now academic Alan Hirsch justifies neoliberal compromises on grounds the new government was “constrained by concerns for economic stability”.

Yet weren’t government’s deals the main cause of subsequent economic instability, including the half-dozen currency crashes between 1996 and 2009 when Trevor Manuel was finance minister?

The neoliberal compromises demonstrably failed the South African society, economy and natural environment, no matter what one thinks of the ethics and politics of these Faustian Pacts. Here are the dozen biggest devils that hobbled Mandela’s economic legacy:

  • The repayment of the US$25 billion apartheid-era foreign debt. This denied Mandela money to pay for basic needs of apartheid’s victims.

  • Giving the South African Reserve Bank formal independence. This resulted in the insulation of the central bank’s officials from democratic accountability. It led to high interest rates and the deregulation of exchange controls.

  • Borrowing $850 million from the International Monetary Fund in December 1993, with tough conditions persisting for years. These included rapid scrapping of import surcharges that had protected local industries, state spending cuts, lower public sector salaries and a decrease in wages across the board.

  • Reappointing apartheid’s finance minister Derek Keys and Reserve Bank governor Chris Stals, who retained neoliberal policies.

  • Joining the World Trade Organisation on adverse terms, as a “transitional”, not developing economy. This led to the destruction of many clothing, textiles, appliances and other labour-intensive firms.

  • Lowering primary corporate taxes from 48% to 29% and maintaining countless white people’s and corporate privileges.

  • Privatising parts of the state, such as Telkom, the state-owned telecommunications company.

  • Relaxing exchange controls. This led to sustained outflows to rich people’s overseas accounts and a persistent current account deficit even during periods of trade surplus, and raising interest rates to unprecedented levels.

  • Adopting the neoliberal macroeconomic policy Gear. This policy not only failed on its own terms, it also caused developmental austerity.

  • Giving property rights dominance in the constitution, thereby limiting its usefulness for redress.

  • Approving the “demutualisation” of the two mega-insurers Old Mutual and Sanlam. It was the privatisation of historic mutual wealth for current share owners.

  • Permitting most of South Africa’s ten biggest companies to move their headquarters and primary listings abroad in the late 1990s. The results are permanent balance of payments deficits and corporate disloyalty to the society.

I believe that this list shows that the ANC leaders were not “constrained” in the 1990s by a desire for economic stability but entered into a pact with Afrikaner nationalists and big business. The constraint was mainly a concern to comply with world economic orthodoxy at a time their prior Moscow sponsors had given up the ghost.

Structural considerations

Consider also the structural dynamic then, and still, in play: capitalism’s “financialisation”. As manufacturing and mining declined, the share of finance in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) soared from 6% in 1994 to 13% by 2010.

Financial liberalisation gave South Africa the appearance of a healthy GDP growth of 5%/year just prior to the 2008 world crisis. Yet given the 1990s deals, this growth was largely froth.

It was whipped up by spending on the 2010 World Cup, by bribery-induced white elephant infrastructure and by the 2002-08 commodity price blip.

In addition, the early 2000s witnessed a consumer debt boom. But by 2008 soaring interest rates made repayment obligations difficult for 70% of borrowers. South Africa’s medium-term interest rates are the fourth highest among the world’s 57 main economies, lagging only Brazil, Turkey and Pakistan.

Financial froth also included what The Economist measured as the fastest-rising speculative real estate bubble on earth from 1997 to 2008.

The froth included insane valuations of the country’s stock market. By late 2015, the market value of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) was 320% higher than GDP, the Buffet Indicator. This was the highest recorded level of any major country’s modern stock exchange, with only Singapore (304%) and Switzerland (281%) close.

Add and stir South Africa’s world-leading inequality, a poverty rate of 63% and an unemployment spike from 16% in 1994 to 26% by 1998 with a plateau since.

What needs to be done

Given the resulting damage, isn’t it time, finally, to honestly confront the dozen devils, and to discuss how to reverse the damage, by undoing the deals?

The ANC is notorious for talking left and walking right. Forced corporate repatriation is one issue. Others include lowering interest rates and, to stop capital flight, re-imposing tougher exchange controls (as the Chinese did last week to slow outflows).

Then a genuine industrial policy could substitute for imports, rebalance the economy and prioritise labour-intensive ecological sustainability. Lower interest rates would also increase policy space to raise state social spending and reorient infrastructure to meet unmet basic needs.

But to adopt such obvious reforms would require radical economic transformation led by an honest government, not just rhetoric from a duplicitous, exhausted-nationalist regime. And most important, it would require a powerful democratic movement from below.The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

What must fall: fees or the South African state?

- David Everatt

The polarising effects of #FeesMustFall are now pervasive in the academy, and probably beyond.

Academics turn on each other, as do their schools and faculties.

Whole universities are pitted against one another – the “Wits option” vs the “UCT option”. Some academics are accused of being blindly supportive of “the innocent students” and parading their colours as the immaculate left; while others are seen as blindly securocrat, unreconstructed racists, or terminally bewildered.

So let’s (try to) agree on a modicum of common ground. Remarkably, there is a lot of it about. No-one can reasonably argue that universities are not underfunded. No-one can reasonably argue that the impact of underfunding has been transferred to fee increases, and that in turn, black (primarily African and coloured) students bear the burden. Given the failure of the post-apartheid economy to sufficiently redistribute wealth and the abject failure of trickle-down economics, “black debt” is a reality.

Let’s also accept that for many students, much of the academy is an alienating, overwhelmingly white, Eurocentric space and experience. Students arrive and are expected to meet imported norms, seminar room sarcasm, unknown customs, foreign authors, hard marking and plain hard slog of tertiary education, while being young and going through their own life transitions, and doing so in “othered” spaces, out of vernacular, and so on.

Let us also agree that virtually no university or further education college has genuinely grappled (institutionally, not at the level of the individual) with what it means to decolonise, beyond (at best) looking around quickly for some black/African authors. This is not true at school level, where many advances have been made – but these are islands in an ocean. Students swim in the ocean.

Let’s also accept the dangers of commodified knowledge and universities, and the fact that the system is slowly becoming a sausage machine for lawyers, accountants, MBAs and others deemed economically necessary for the economy. Those schools and faculties seen to add no “dollar value” are discriminated against locally and globally.

I say “let’s agree” because these issues have all been agreed to by both protesters and university management. There may be quibbles over the severity of this or that issue in this or that part of the sector, but the central issues are undisputed.

Divided we fall

So what divides us, and with such vehemence? For the immaculate left, it is ultimately a capitalist state that has no interest in the poor emerging from poverty; overlapping with black people in a society dominated by whiteliness; creating an unreconstructed racial capitalism that needs to be toppled. Students in this view lack agency, and are in every context victims of external forces. Every action is the response of victim to oppressor.

“Senior management” is seen to lead with security, follow up with more security, and have no interest in negotiation or compromise. Students just want a free, decolonised education in a transformed institution and are shot for daring to ask for it – and they remain innocent, brutalised “black bodies”.

For those who are not in this group, there is a basic commitment to teach, and to getting students to complete the academic year. They are disregarded as “liberals”, the ultimate South African insult. Security is regarded as a necessary evil – but since many academics have personally been assaulted and/or abused and/or disrupted, and many targeted for hiding students desperate to learn and/or shielding them from protesters, security seems a basic necessity. The pleas from students for support to finish the year have been incessant.

Returning to class

What is at fault with all these views is the assumption that if protesters win enough compromises – such as sector-wide agreement on free, quality, decolonised education and the need to plan, design and cost it so that it can be an implementable reality not a slogan (being self-evidently not swiftly realised) – they will return to class. And they will do so as victors. We know that the vast majority of non-protesters also want to be back in class - and a great many are there already. But this core assumption is wrong.

It is increasingly difficult to retreat from the notion that this is an incipient insurrection. While some protesters are undoubtedly idealistic and brave fighters for free quality education, the movement of 2015 has been colonised by political parties and anarchist movements in 2016. A movement without prominent leaders of 2015 has become leaderless in 2016.

Acts of bravery and camaraderie in 2015 have become acts of racist abuse and thuggish violence in 2016. Burning has replaced marching; destruction of university infrastructure is a key goal. This is no longer #FeesMustFall as we knew it – it has become #StateMustFall.

Universities are being used for testing the potential for broader insurrection –- if you can bring down universities you can bring down cities, if you can bring down cities, you can collapse and take control of the state. No compromise will get the core protesters back into class, or satisfy their academic or political mentors, because their goal is so much larger: state capture. It has allegedly been done once under democracy, so why not again?

Who is to blame?

Politics hates a vacuum, more than nature. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is morally compromised on every front. Seemingly all courts in the land are packed with lawyers attempting to stop good governance and allow uninterrupted bingeing at the trough. The brazen moves to cover various political derrieres are breathtaking – but create space for any other party to claim the moral high ground.

In 1976 during the Soweto youth uprising, protesting students were given political education by mainly the Black Consciousness Movement. Those students went into exile got their education from the liberation movement organisations, the ANC and the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC). Whether they were Africanist – closer to the PAC – or Charterist – aligned with the ANC – they were taught about the democratic state that had to be built and the principles on which it was to be built. Who now provides political education for protesting students?

The ANC is utterly compromised and cannot claim the moral authority to “lead”. The Democratic Alliance and ANC student wings, DASO and Sasco respectively, were loud in proclaiming their various Student Representative Council victories earlier in the year but have vanished from the scene. The prominence of Economic Freedom Fighters leaders – at national and student level – may or may not be relevant. So too the various incarnations of Black First Land First, pan-Africanist student movements and others. We are reduced to using student leaders of the 1980s as mediators, still on the faulty assumption that protesters want to return to class. They don’t. They are far more ambitious than that.

We have to call the bluff of those who keep moving the goalposts. Universities have agreed to free, quality, decolonised education in a transformed institution. Exam dates have been changed. Exam content is being modified to accommodate lost classes. But then the demands shift – we want this fully legislated now, or we won’t return to class. Or, we want amnesty for students suspended after due process regardless of what they did. Or, we want students arrested by police released. And so on and so on. These are patently not demands that the academy has the legal mandate to meet, even if we assume it had the will so to do.

If we do not call this for what it is, we face the danger of realising apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd’s dream – the man who advised us:

There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd.

If, as seems likely, for the second year in a row, university students in South Africa are going to complete only part of their annual curriculum, and will be examined on only part of their curriculum, the result is that every subsequent year is divided between “catching up” on what was missed and squeezing a year of teaching into less time – we face the danger of ensuring that no student will receive even a quality colonised education (an oxymoron for some, of course). We are not educating our students to compete locally or globally. We are crippling them. They are being sacrificed for the few who see state capture as tantalisingly close.The Conversation

David Everatt, Head of Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Finance Minister juggles both the books and the politics

- David Everatt

South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered his medium-term budget with a lot more than balancing the books on his mind.

The Conversation Africa’s Charles Leonard asked David Everatt how well the beleaguered minister scored on managing the political sums.

Pravin Gordhan went to talk to the protesting #FeesMustFall students outside Parliament before delivering his medium-term budget speech. Was it clever politics or political grandstanding?

Both. Plus one thing otherwise completely lacking – leadership. He also called on students to stop burning and return to class and exams - another missing message. Leadership and courage – going out to meet the students, face to face, which has been one of their key demands. One wonders: why is he the only minister willing to do so?

Clever politics. Sure, he’s showing that he has broad-based support, which I suspect will have grown as a result of meeting the students, and basically saying to others, “come get me if you dare”. That message of course goes to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams and the police unit, the Hawks, who have laid rather spurious charges of fraud and theft against him, as well as President Jacob Zuma and his political allies in the African National Congress. They see Gordhan as an obstacle to their alleged attempts at state capture.

What does the medium-term budget tell you about South Africa’s political landscape?

The fact that Gordhan kept mentioning the risk environment, and kept repeating the dangers posed by state-owned enterprises, speaks volumes about the crony capitalist environment in which he is operating, and by which he is constrained.

In his speech Gordhan said: “What we seek - and more - can be done. If we collectively make the right choices; support confidence and investment in our economy; create a predictable and stable policy and political environment; and put the national interest first. It’s up to us.” Is this a plea for his numerous enemies to back off?

Quite clearly, at a political level, he was saying pretty much that. But I think at base he is caught between a desire to grow the economy and meet his government’s National Development Plan’s goals, and those of his cabinet colleagues who seem to ignore the plan and have little interest in economic growth.

What is missing is the need for the private sector to come to the table without preconditions so that the R500 billion - R600 billion “cash pile” they are said to be holding onto can be mobilised to stimulate domestic investment.

Second, while it is important to be sensitive to the ratings agencies criticisms, South Africans cannot allow them and the country’s old capital to determine and drive economic policy. It’s time for Gordhan and the government in general to lead, rather than follow, on economic policy.

Gordhan has to balance between development and growth – did he pull it off?

He did not. We have neither growth nor development. The social development indicators, for example for health and education, are appalling especially in terms of access and quality for the poor. This is particularly true for people who live outside the cities. There is no clear policy to address social and economic inequality – or the implications of inequality for growth and development.

The minister allocated a massive R17.6 billion more than projected for post-school education and training over three years. This is in addition to the R16 billion added in February. The money will be used to subsidise the fee increases for poor households. Do you think he would have pleased the students?

No, because the demand has escalated to free post-school education for all. But there is a need to be sensitive to the broader ramifications of this increase. South Africa’s economy is not growing, and is not expected to grow in the short to medium terms. On top of this there are no tax increases (yet…). Increased funding for post-school education therefore means less for others – such as schooling, health, housing – further contributing to inequalities.

Gordhan has indicated a cut in spending on civil servants. Are we heading for a clash with the powerful public sector unions come wage negotiations?

I think he was talking about a freeze on posts – already in place in many departments – and not replacing retirees. The real challenge will be meeting the goals of the National Development Plan with a depleted civil service, and one disheartened by our current, unpleasant politics.The Conversation

David Everatt, Head of Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South Africa’s ruling ANC is facing its sternest test. From the inside

- David Everatt

The old world as South Africa knew it, of ANC majorities and policy certainty, seems to be at an end – and all does not seem fine, within the ANC at least.

South Africa is in the aftermath of the 2016 local government elections. Math has been the order of the day as parties have fought for local councils in “anyone but the ANC” coalitions, claiming an electoral “mandate to govern” by a single coalitionist seat in many cases.

The governing ANC lost most major cities. It lost many small towns and rural municipalities to fragile, ideologically incoherent coalitions of the power-hungry, the forgotten, the almost forgotten, the preferably forgotten, the far right, the rearguard and the downright loony.

The identity and ideology of the ANC are up for grabs as power blocs battle for control. And the fight is going to be both ugly and entertaining.

Which ANC?

The ANC is a massive and highly nuanced organisation so what follows is unavoidably reductionist. Nonetheless, it would appear that the party is deeply divided between those who see a rural, conservative future and the urban modernisers.

The rural-based future is based on tradition and loyalty, where the true African lives on the land where his (yes, his) ancestors lived, is in touch with his roots, and symbolises the “clean”, pure “son of the soil”. This stands in contrast with the “clever black” as President Jacob Zuma infamously called them, seduced by modern life and its sins, by whites and their fickle ways, and “dirtied” by a rootless urban life.

The conservative group – an extremely powerful force in the Zuma-led ANC – is deeply suspicious of a modern, sophisticated world where urbanisation is an unstoppable demographic force. The modernisers want the ANC to remain true to its principles but simultaneously to embrace an urban, complex, globally competitive Afropolitan future, where old certainties have gone, forever.

Will the centre hold?

A collision is imminent, reflected in the recent call from the ANC Youth League for an early elective conference to hold to account

people who taint the name of the organisation busy drinking champagne and expensive whisky whilst they taint the name of our glorious movement.

The ANC may feel partially vindicated by the fact that it lost many of its majorities – but no-one else won them. South African voters have ringside seats to see if a series of locale-specific coalitions involving a free-market Democratic Alliance (DA), an avowedly Marxist-Leninist-Fanonist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Zulu traditionalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), tiny United Democratic Movement (UDM) and ideologically unknown African Independent Congress (AIC) - with others too small to recall - can hold themselves together long enough to occupy the centre.

A sympathetic author would note that the ANC made major compromises to allow South Africa to overcome the barbarity of apartheid and a global sea-change. In this view, the ANC consciously took a series of body blows – ongoing white racism and free market capitalism conspicuous among them – in return for stability and avoiding a racialised civil war. This narrative at least recalls the context in which transition from apartheid occurred.

Another, given a major fillip by the EFF, is more caustic and almost entirely a-historical. In this version, the ANC deliberately made a “Faustian pact” with “white monopoly capital” and ANC leaders were soon hell bent on a craven pursuit of personal wealth regardless of consequence, and sold the poor for 30 pieces of silver (or a 4x4 or a home built at taxpayers' expense). The racialised civil war had merely been postponed, not avoided, in this narrative.

End of the rainbow

As such, it is unsurprising that a key issue of contestation is race. The 1994 ANC leadership talked of non-racialism, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke of the “Rainbow Nation”, and for a while all seemed possible. But as the economy got tougher, whiteliness continued its arrogant posturing and institutional dominance, no sufficiently broad-based economic or social transformation took place. Getting a toilet that flushes is scarcely to feel “transformed”, let alone equal.

Race, undergirded by inequality, has come back to haunt the country. The EFF and its followers speak with scorn of selling out to white supremacy, and Africanist essentialism is the order of the day for many.

Within the ANC its Youth League can usually be relied on to bring into play the worst elements of the party as this recent statement displays:

The enemy of the White Supremacy Liberal agenda is the ANC and the enemy of the ANC is the White Supremacy Liberal.

Playing with race is not restricted to the Youth League. When former President Thabo Mbeki spoke of “two nations”, it was predictably met with howls of hostility from the white chattering classes, but secure with a 70% majority in 2004, few felt he was vote-chasing. However, when Zuma was reported to have said of the city of Cape Town

In China, the Chinese rule, in India, the Indians are in power; it is only here in South Africa that we allow other people to govern

the country saw the awful spectacle of the ANC playing race.

ANC regeneration

Successive generations of ANC leaders during its 104-year-long existence who fell into apathy (or worse) and were successively radicalised or removed. These include the challenge of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union in the 1930s to the United Democratic Front and the formation of the trade union federation Cosatu in the 1980s. In each case, the ANC was shaken from torpor to often progressive responsiveness, often shedding leaders on the way.

However, the post-2016 election ANC seems hellbent on becoming a conservative, rural movement. It fears complexity, fluid social identities, uppity student movements and the like. It is retreating into a revanchist rump of self-congratulatory leaders.

It is a dangerous path: the ANC shed hundreds of thousands of rural votes between 2014 and 2016 elections. The party will search for a pure rural base at its own peril, as the population at large is becoming better educated, more Afropolitan and cosmopolitan, demanding high quality services and choice in everything from politics to personal trainers.

The ANC has always managed, with pushing and shoving, to modernise and adapt. But this was driven by progressive activists, not sleaze-tainted politicians.

Communist purge ahead?

The ANC Youth League was once the catalyst of progressive reform in the ANC. In the youth league of founder Anton Lembede, this radicalising perspective turned on two key issues. The first was the need to remove the ANC from the thrall of “white bearers of foreign ideologies” - white communists. The same seems set to happen in 2016 – a threatened cabinet reshuffle to remove Communists has been widely shared, not least by the South African Communist Party. Many communists such as Blade Nzimande, Gwede Mantashe and others are black, but no mind: power is at stake.

The second key item on the reformist agenda of the old youth league was the need to radicalise – to move the ANC under the leader AB Xuma from a party that sought to recruit “distinguished university graduates” and turn to extra-parliamentary opposition. The current ANC Youth League prefers “congratulating” the conservative bastions of the current ANC – the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and Mpumalanga. But while the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal may have held a majority in local elections (2011-2016) at 58%, it dropped 10% in the Free State and 8% in Mpumalanga.

The ANC Youth League has demanded a conference to clear the decks. Its position is clear: those who oppose Zuma and his traditionalist dreams are “opportunistic and lack thinking capacity” while the man himself is blameless.

If Zuma is innocent, communist and moderniser Mantashe, the ANC Secretary-General, is guilty. He is closely followed by the “selfish” ANC rebels in South Africa’s wealthiest province of Gauteng, who must also be expelled if the ANC Youth League have their way.

The ANC is facing its sternest test, and it is now almost entirely internal. Votes in 2016 suggest that if the traditionalist rural rump of the ANC wins out, the party is on an irredeemably downward spiral. Whether the ANC is capable of cleansing itself, re-energising its base, refurbishing its moral and ethical standards and adopting policies that suit a modern state, remains to be seen.The Conversation

David Everatt, Head of Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Message to white South African voters: Keep calm … and shut up!

- David Everatt

We the South African voters have spoken in the local government election, and we said many different things.

Let’s give votes and cities (in part or whole) to the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Let’s give some votes and the municipality where President Jacob Zuma’s homestead of Nkandla is situated to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Also, let’s give some votes but no cities to the militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and small parcels of votes to many, many others.

We as voters have embraced pluralism and competition. It seems to have come as something of a shock to the leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), for some reason. Perhaps the hefty R1 billion the ANC used for campaigning would be better spent on some decent polling.

We also said, as an electorate, let’s take votes – and cities – away from the ANC. Whether the various parties of the opposition attracted our votes, or the ANC leadership repelled us and our votes through their arrogance and brazen corruption, remains a key research question facing academics and politicians.

For local governments in the country’s wealthiest province of Gauteng, in particular, where delivery has been way above the national average, this is a gloomy question. Where did all that hard work go? Was it simply insufficient for a 21st-century “world-class” set of cities?

Why did national credit downgrading matter so much to everyone, but city upgrading by the same agencies of Johannesburg to AA1 status mattered not a jot?

Bluntly, did the rot from the centre suppurate through to voters who may otherwise have rated the metropole of Johannesburg, its mayor Parks Tau and members of the mayoral committee (MMCs) as working well for us? Did we throw out the Tau with the bathwater, in anger and frustration at his ANC overlords?

This question – of blame, simply put – is likely to be at the heart of post-election ANC manoeuvring. Whether the interests of voters will be taken into account is an open question.

Free and fair and (too) fast

To add hubris to the mess, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was brazen enough to host an end-of-election event, declaring the entire endeavour free and fair. This, even while the vote for the economic and provincial capital, Johannesburg, remained incomplete and subject to dispute in multiple wards. Really?

The audacity of the IEC was breathtaking. It would be rather like the Brexit vote being declared while still counting the London votes.

Twitterati breathlessly told us that the IEC emerged from the election well, with its reputation regained after its own tango with corruption and maladministration. Apparently our appetite for a clean institution is so large and urgent that we are willing to allow such incidents to occur, relieved that at least most of the vote had been free and fair, and the IEC seemed to smell of roses.

Then the young women of the EFF stood in mute protest as Zuma spoke at the IEC election centre after the polls in Pretoria. They reminded us of the rape charge and trial of the president a decade ago (he was acquitted), asking profound questions about the moral basis of leadership – and did so just metres away from Zuma, while he bumbled through the usual pleasantries of a captain watching his ship sinking while trying to keep the passengers calm.

Zuma’s security detail – presumably gobsmacked that these young women completely outmanoeuvred their assumed tactical astuteness and training and little plastic ear wires and big guns – were rather less presidential in their handling of the young women.

Strong men shoving around young women – the tableaux acted out exactly what the women were protesting. The women are university students, doing what students do best – cocking a snoop at authority in pursuit of their beliefs. Setting a rather presidential example, it may be noted.

Since then, the social media landscape has been alight with awkward camera angles, muffled sound and snippets of gossip – did female ANC cabinet ministers really round on one of their own for the lapse in security? Was Zuma heard shouting his anger? Who were the women? Why were they screaming when led away? Did the rest of the EFF contingent know of the protest, as they hastily made for the door, apparently refusing to listen to Zuma?

Snide, rude and arrogant

But perhaps the worst thing to happen is that someone told DA former party leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille she could stop hiding and start tweeting again. Life is tough enough for whiteys without her assuming to insert snide, often rude and arrogant tweets into whatever debate she feels needs her special attention.

Universities have been literally aflame for almost a year, but this did not stop Zille from tweeting to a #feesmustfall group that:

If this woke bunch hate being UCT students so much, pls help them out of their misery and withdraw their funding.

Political writer Richard Poplak has already eviscerated the tweet and the twit who wrote it. Just what we need – stupid, snide, entirely lacking in compassion, suggesting a flatlined learning curve. And unassailably white on the scale of snottiness and lack of empathy.

Not that anyone asked, but if they did I’d say to fellow white voters, “Stay Calm – but (not just you Helen Zille) please shut up!” The massive change we have witnessed; the “new narrative” that has welcomed pluralism and jettisoned the much-peddled factoid of 2014’s national election, that we were all heading to doom, death and decay – or, worse, Zimbabwean basket-case status; these things have not been done by white people, though we may have been part of the change.

Elections are not a racial census

We do not bear “the white man’s [sic] burden” of being the gatekeeper of liberal democracy, even though various commentators over the last 22 years have told us that black people vote blindly for ANC governments – that elections are a racial census.

These supposed political scientists argued for years that the black vote – that key item lying at the heart of the struggle for democracy – was actually the biggest threat to democracy, because the “natives” kept electing ANC governments. If anyone wanted a better example of why the academy needs a dramatic post-colonial overhaul, read 22 years of election analysis, and weep quietly.

But now these have been debunked by us voters. The academics trotting out these tropes have been shown to write utter tosh; and one can only hope that we all accept – and all will accept us – as part of a massive social revolution that began in 1990 and is still taking shape, unravelling from the violence and racism and psychological scarring of the past and moving restlessly into an unknown future.

It cannot do so where whites or blacks silence one another – but it also cannot thrive where black or white claim credit for the victories of democracy.

We – all of us, in our resplendent variety as voters – we did this. Whites did it. Blacks did it. Coloureds did it. Indians did it. Gay and straight, LGBTIAQ+ and staunchly religious conservatives and atheists, surfers and tiddly-winks players, we all did it.

So let’s own it as a collective victory against those who sit in power and disregard us as voting fodder. The only winner in the local elections of 2016 is the only winner that matters – you and I, the South African voter.

The Conversation

David Everatt, Head of Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Flight of corporate profits poses biggest threat to South Africa’s economy

- Patrick Bond

Foreign corporations are drawing away profits far faster than they are reinvesting or than local firms bring home offsetting profits from abroad.

The South African Reserve Bank’s latest Quarterly Bulletin confirms that they are milking South Africa. Can anything be done to stop the haemorrhaging?

First, the appalling numbers. The country’s current account deficit fell to a dangerous -5% of gross domestic product (GDP) because the “balance of payments” (mainly profit outflows) suffered rapid decay. The other component of the current account, the trade deficit (imports minus exports) is trivial in comparison.

The net outflow paid to owners of foreign capital reached R174 billion (about US$11.9 billion at current rates) in the first quarter of 2016 (measured on an annualised basis), 30% higher than the equivalent 2015 level. The quarter’s trade deficit was just R38 billion.

Hitting a 5% current account deficit is often a signal that speculative investors will start a currency run, as occurred even in strong East Asian exporters in 1998. Today only one other country (Colombia) among the 60 largest economies has a higher than 5% current account deficit.

Source: SA Reserve Bank Quarterly Bulletin.

Another destructive signal is foreign debt. Because repatriating profits must be done with hard currency (not rands), South Africa’s external debt has soared to about R2 trillion (39% of GDP), from less than R100 billion (16% of GDP) in 1994.

Who’s to blame?

The metabolism of destructive economics is quickening. Since the commodity slump began in 2011, South Africa’s income has been squeezed out ever faster, especially by transnational mining and smelting corporations, including Lonmin, Anglo American and Glencore. Anglo American and Glencore lost three quarters of their share value in 2015 alone, and Lonmin was down 99% in value from its 2011 peak to 2015 trough.

Source: SA Reserve Bank Quarterly Bulletin.

Thus more desperate to please their furious foreign shareholders, such firms have recently been exporting profits more rapidly in comparison with the overseas-generated profits that local corporations pay to local shareholders. (The ratio is about two to one.)

Political commmentator Moeletsi Mbeki once joked that “big companies taking their capital out of South Africa are a bigger threat to economic freedom than [Economic Freedom Fighters leader] Julius Malema.”

Who let the capital out? African National Congress Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe admitted last year:

At the time when neoliberalism was on the ascendancy as an ideology, it became fashionable to allow companies to migrate and list in the stock exchanges of developed economies.

Exchange control liberalisation began in 1995 with the Financial Rand’s abolition. The process was sped up thanks to permission granted in 1999-2000 by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni, allowing the country’s largest firms to delist from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This allowed them to shift profit and dividend flows abroad.

Since 1994 exchange controls have been relaxed on dozens of occasions. In early 2015, for example, then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene allowed the wealthy to take R10 million offshore annually, a 2.5 times rise over prior years.

Meanwhile, institutional investors – representing the savings, pension funds and insurance accounts of the mass of small investors – are compelled to keep 75% of their assets in local investments. Thank goodness. By all accounts, such controls prevented the 2008 world crisis from melting South Africa’s finances. But the big institutions have avoided reinvestment here.

Local companies on ‘capital strike’

The corporate outflow is all the more frustrating because of a local “capital strike”. According to the Reserve Bank, corporate fixed investment is down nearly 7% in recent months, at a time government investment is also down 12%.

This trend isn’t peculiar to South Africa. The worsening world economic slump has limited new “greenfield investment” in many places, according to the United Nations.

The only major new fixed investment in South Africa is coming from parastatals: Eskom’s over-priced and ecologically destructive Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power plants. Even more dubious Transnet mega-projects lie ahead: the export of 18 billion tonnes of coal through Richards Bay and the eightfold increase in South Durban’s port-petrochemical capacity.

Source: SA Reserve Bank Quarterly Bulletin.

Illicit financial flows

But even worse, some of the same firms removed from South Africa an additional R330 billion offshore annually as “illicit financial flows” through tax-dodging techniques from 2004-13, according to the Washington NGO Global Financial Integrity.

These outflows exceed $80 billion annually across the continent, reports Thabo Mbeki’s African Union panel.

Several spectacular local cases have been documented in recent years: misinvoicing by the biggest platinum companies, especially Lonmin with its Bermuda “marketing” arm, De Beers with its R45 billion in misinvoicing over seven years, and MTN Mauritius profit diversions from several African countries.

Information from the Panama Papers recently revealed how Fidentia fraudster J Arthur Brown and Foxwhelp’s Khulubuse Zuma set up profit hideouts offshore, along with 1,700 other South Africans.

Notwithstanding a recent get-tough South African Revenue Service announcement following the Panama Papers’ jolt, the authorities’ inability to uncover such crime, prosecute it and put criminals in jail is no secret.

More than two-thirds of 232 South African respondents in a PricewaterhouseCoopers 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey believe Pretoria lacks the regulatory will or capacity to deal with the miscreants, in the country that continues to lead the world in corporate corruption.

Solutions

The only short-term solution is a radical tightening of exchange controls against corporations and wealthy individuals, much as John Maynard Keynes advised more than 80 years ago.

The whole management of the domestic economy depends upon being free to have the appropriate interest rate without reference to the rates prevailing in the rest of the world. Capital controls is a corollary to this.

Tightened exchange controls would compel profits made locally to circulate locally. This would solve the balance of payments crisis and in the process allow for lower local interest rates by halting the resulting capital flight. Exchange controls have been advocated by Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, the metalworkers’ union and some academics. But a highly adverse balance of forces has made the policy demand impossible to win in practice.

However, last week’s news of the extremely adverse balance of payments may force the issue before long, unless corporates and ratings agencies continue wielding their destructive power over the supine South African state.The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The harsh realities about South Africa that the World Bank dare not speak

- Patrick Bond

A great deal of detail about poverty and inequality in South Africa remains unspoken.

Sometimes silences speak volumes.

In his seminal book The Anti-Politics Machine Stanford University anthropologist James Ferguson criticised the World Bank’s 1980s understanding of Lesotho as a “traditional subsistence peasant society.” Apartheid’s migrant labour system was explicitly ignored by the bank, yet remittances from Basotho workers toiling in mines, factories and farms across the Caledon River accounted for 60% of rural people’s income:

Acknowledging the extent of Lesotho’s long-standing involvement in the modern capitalist economy of South Africa would not provide a convincing justification for the “development” agencies to “introduce” roads, markets and credit.

Using Michel Foucault’s discourse theory, Ferguson showed why some things cannot be named. To do so would violate the bank’s foundational dogma, that the central problems of poverty can be solved by applying market logic. Yet the most important of Lesotho’s market relationships – exploited labour – was what caused so much misery.

Three decades on, not much has changed. Today, the bank’s main South Africa research team reveals a similar ‘Voldemort’ problem.

Like the wicked villain whose name Harry Potter dared not utter, some hard-to-hear facts evaporate into pregnant silences within the bank’s new South African Poverty and Inequality Assessment Discussion Note. Bank staff and consultants are resorting to extreme evasion tactics worthy of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The bank’s point of view

From the bank’s viewpoint:

South Africa spent more than other countries on its social programs, with this expenditure successfully lifting around 3.6 million individuals out of poverty (based on US$2.5 a day on a purchasing power parity basis) and reducing the Gini coefficient from 0.76 to 0.596 in 2011.

This is worth unpacking.

1) “Spent more than other countries”? Of the world’s 40 largest countries, only four - South Korea, China, Mexico and India - had lower social spending than South Africa, measured in 2011 as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

2) “Millions lifted out of poverty?” In fact many millions have been pushed down into poverty since 1994. Unmentioned is poverty that can be traced to neoliberal policies such as the failed 1996-2001 Growth, Employment and Distribution plan co-authored by two bank economists. This made South Africa far more vulnerable to global capitalist crises.

The bank’s South Africa poverty line is $2.5/day, which was R15.75/day (R473/month) in 2011, the date of the last poverty census. In contrast, StatsSA found that food plus survival essentials cost R779/month that year, and the percentage of South Africans below that line was 53%. University of Cape Town economists led by Josh Budlender argue that StatsSA was too conservative and the ratio of poor South Africans is actually 63%.

For a net 3.6 million people, more than 7% of South Africans, to have been “lifted out of poverty” is plausible only if the bank’s much lower R473/month line is used. But by local standards, the number of poor people has soared by around 10 million given the 15 million population rise since 1994.

3) The bank adjusts the Gini Coefficient (measuring income inequality on a 0-to-1 scale) “from 0.76 to 0.596” by including state social spending that benefits poor households. But here another silence screams out. The bank dare not calculate pro-corporate subsidies and other state spending that raise rich people’s effective income through capital gains.

Such wealth accruing through rising corporate share prices is enjoyed mainly by richer people when companies benefit from new, state-built infrastructure in their vicinity. Also ignored by the bank, radically lower corporate taxes mainly benefit the rich in the same way. South Africa’s after-tax profits have been among the world’s highest, according to the International Monetary Fund in 2013.

Indeed the Treasury’s single biggest fiscal policy choice has been to condone “illicit financial flows.” These escape through bogus invoicing and other tax avoidance strategies. The Washington NGO Global Financial Integrity estimates they cost South Africa an annual $21 billion from 2004-13, peaking in 2009 at $29 billion. The bank dare not mention these flows or the resulting capital gains enjoyed by South African shareholders.

4) The Bank was most impressed by government’s

provision of free basic services (mainly water, sanitation, electricity, and refuse removal), and social protection mainly in the form of social grants, primary health care, education (specifically no-fee paying schools), enhancing access to productive assets by the poor (e.g. housing and land), as well as job creation through the Expanded Public Works Program.

But the bank evades vital details, such as how “free basic water” was piloted in Durban in 1999 before becoming national policy in 2001. After a tokenistic 6 free kiloliters (kl) per month, the price of the second block of the water within the tariff increased dramatically. Overall by 2004 the price had doubled. In response, the lowest-income third of households lowered monthly consumption from 22kl to 15kl, while the highest-income third cut back by just 3kl/month, from 35kl to 32kl.

5) Another unmentionable concerns the bank’s largest-ever project loan: $3.75 billion granted in 2010 for the corruption-riddled, oft-delayed Medupi coal-fired power plant. Eskom’s repayment of that loan plus other financing has hiked the price of electricity to poor people by more than 250% since 2007. But neither the loan, the borrower, the project nor the soaring price of electricity are mentioned. Nor are Eskom’s special pricing agreements with BHP Billiton and Anglo that lower electricity prices to a tenth as much as poor households pay.

6) The bank applauds a grant that

now reaches 11.7 million children. Grant payments have risen from 2.9% of GDP and now amount to 3.1%.

But a meagre 0.2% of GDP suggests the amounts provided are tokenistic. The child grant of just R340/month is about a third of today’s StatsSA after-inflation poverty line.

The South Africans who cannot be named

The bank endorses government’s “apparently sound policy” on redistribution because its researchers cannot grapple with the core problem that best explains why South African capitalism causes poverty and inequality: extreme exploitation systems amplified after apartheid by neoliberal policies. The most cited scholarly research about post-apartheid exploitation is by local political economists like Sampie Terreblanche, Hein Marais, William Gumede and Gillian Hart – but the bank dare not reference these books.

To truly tackle poverty and inequality, only one force in society has unequivocally succeeded since 1994. That force is the social activist. Their successes include raising life expectancy from 52 to 62 over the past decade, reversing municipal services privatisation, cutting pollution and raising apartheid wages. But the organisations responsible – such as the Treatment Action Campaign, Anti-Privatisation Forum, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and trade unions – are also, from the bank’s viewpoint, South Africans who cannot be named.

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand.This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Trump’s isolationism: threats and opportunities for Africa

- Patrick Bond

Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the US presidential polls stunned many across the globe.

The Conversation Africa’s business and economy editor Sibonelo Radebe asked Patrick Bond to unpack the implications for Africa:

What does a Trump victory mean for Africa?

The most catastrophic long-term consequence is climate change. This is because Trump is a denialist. He will give the green light to widespread fracking, coal and oil exploration. Africa will be the most adversely affected continent.

United Nations scientists estimate that nine out of 10 small-scale farmers are unlikely to farm by 2100 because of drying soils. Global warming plus extreme weather will also cause 180 million unnecessary African deaths by then, according to Christian Aid.

Under Trump, we can safely predict that Washington will no longer seek to control United Nations climate negotiations, as Barack Obama’s administration did. The WikiLeaks Hillary Clinton emails and State Department cables revealed blatant manipulation of the Copenhagen and Durban climate summits. Instead, Trump will simply pull the US out of the 2015 Paris agreement, as did George W. Bush from the Kyoto Protocol.

By good fortune, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change annual summit is underway this week in Morocco. The only logical move, if the delegates have any spine, is to expel the US State Department and establish the machinery for a major carbon tax applied to products associated with countries – the US especially – which raise emissions and threaten the survival of many species across the globe.

Trump also heralds a rise in US racism and xenophobia, parallel to the Brexit vote by the British white working class. Local solutions won’t be effective in either case for the simple reason that neither Trump nor Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, are interested in the income redistribution required to benefit their economies.

And African elites who have – with a few exceptions – climbed over each other to please Washington, won’t find themselves welcome in the White House.

Hopefully the contagion of Trump’s racism – which will make life for Africans much harder – will be met by a major resistance movement including Africans from all walks of life in solidarity with various groups that stand to be oppressed of the US: women, African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, environmentalists, progressives of all sorts. This movement can shape up in the same spirit as those that gave solidarity during the fight against apartheid.

What are the likely economic consequences?

Consistent with his isolationism, world trade stagnation will continue. In the case of Africa, Trump is likely to retract benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and reduce US aid.

That isolationism, in turn, could give Africans a chance to recalibrate what is now an excessive, self-destructive reliance on the export of oil and gas, minerals and cash crops. Africa must focus on localising its economies to be able to meet basic needs.

Trump’s hatred of what he terms the “globalists” is probably just hot electioneering rhetoric. It’s fair to predict that pro-corporate candidates will come forward as Trump allies to calm the crashing stock markets.

The “neoliberal” group of policy wonks who expressed disgust with Trump and favoured Hillary Clinton will quickly make inroads into the new administration. They will ensure that the continuing US dominance in Western-leaning multilateral institutions is not disturbed.

We can simply anticipate more brazen US self-interest, as witnessed during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush regimes, with less of the confusing rhetoric promoted by Obama and his allies.

What US policies on Africa are likely to change? With what impact?

To be frank, we can only offer guesses. Trump said literally nothing about Africa during his campaign. He wants to “rebuild US military power,” which might include strengthening the Pentagon’s controversial Africa Command, known as Africom.

Economically, it is worth noting Trump’s close relations to the oil and gas industry which comes via Vice President Mike Pence. This suggests that multinational corporations in the extractive industries who desire more explicit imperial support for African adventurism will be served well by Trump’s bully-boy mentality.

What does this mean for multilateral institutions and how will this affect Africa?

The US’s role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will become nastier given the veto power it enjoys, holding more than 15% of the voting shares. Trump will probably hire a brutal neoliberal as his IMF executive director, someone who will tighten the screws on Africa using Washington’s veto power. The leaders of two big African economies are desperate for IMF credits: Nigeria ($29 billion) and Egypt ($12 billion).

In relation to the United Nations, an interesting question comes to mind: should the UN leadership now sitting in Trump’s Manhattan East Side neighbourhood not develop a contingency plan to move UN headquarters out of the US? Trump promises to make life very hard for visitors who are Muslims, Libyans, Syrians and Mexicans – amongst others – so holding multilateral events in the US may soon be impossible.

The period ahead demands a very different multilateralism due to a number of expectations. The first is that Trump will sabotage the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and similar strategies to solve global problems, and wreck nuclear non-proliferation strategies such as the agreement that Obama painstakingly reached with Iran.

And the second is that three of the BRICS’ nationalistic leaders – Vladimir Putin in Russia, Nahendra Modi in India and Michel Temer in Brazil – can be expected to establish much closer ties to Trump. This is likely to affect the balance of power between geographical regions, added to which are the drift of Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines away from Washington. Trump’s hatred of China is another indeterminate factor.

Regardless of the geopolitical manoeuvres, it’s time for “multilateralism-from-below” in which traditional progressive movements in civil society find common cause. This is the most serious threat to humanity, the world economy and environment we’ve seen in living memory.The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Protests surge as gap widens between reality and the ‘Africa rising’ narrative

- Patrick Bond

Self-congratulatory rhetoric keeps springing from the lips of World Economic Forum elites – at the expense of reality.

Software executive Brett Parker claims that “Africa will probably remain natural resources-driven for the next two decades at least.” African Leadership University’s Fred Swaniker says, “the Africa Rising narrative presents the most compelling argument for the continent’s prosperity.”

Their statements come at a time when commodity prices have crashed to record lows. This has left societies like Nigeria in profound crisis. And in spite of petroleum falling below US$30 per barrel earlier this year and hovering at $40 today, Standard Chartered Bank economist Razia Khan argues that Uganda should keep pumping scarce investment funds into oil exploration. Production in the country will cost an estimated $70 per barrel.

The 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, hosted in Kigali, claimed the “fourth industrial revolution“ – the use of “cyberphysical systems” like artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and biotech – as Africa’s future. This is because the continent is “the world’s fastest-growing digital consumer market”. Yet fewer than a third of sub-Saharan Africans have electricity in their homes. The summit merely reinforced extractive-industry and high-tech myths.

But there is widespread social resistance under way in Africa. Grassroots protesters are questioning the logic of export-led “growth” and renewed fiscal austerity. They are demanding that policies meet their basic needs instead.

Since 2011 the continent has witnessed a dramatic spike in social protests, as recorded by the African Development Bank. The wave has not receded. The bank said in its 2015 “African Economic Outlook” that there were five times more protests annually between 2011 and 2014 than in 2000. And after the dramatic “Arab Spring” – the 2011 North African democratic uprising that was especially acute in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco – protesters picked up the pace in Algeria, Angola, Chad, Gabon, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and many other countries.

The power of protests

Press reports collated by the bank confirm that almost all protests since 2011 have been about inadequate wages and working conditions, the low quality of public service delivery, social divides, state repression and a lack of political reform. A few examples illustrate the impressive results of recent protests.

  • In Mozambique, water and food price hikes in September 2010 catalysed consumers. Text messages proposed a mass “strike”. This paralysed Maputo for a weekend. The protesters were met by lethal police violence. But they won: a price freeze was imposed and new state service subsidies were introduced.

  • In Senegal, sustained demonstrations in 2011-12 prevented authoritarian neoliberal president Abdoulaye Wade from serving a third term.

  • In Nigeria, the International Monetary Fund imposed the doubling of local petrol prices in January 2012. This caused an uprising that, in the subsequent fortnight, nearly overthrew the government before the increase was reversed.

  • In 2014 the most spectacular protest was in Burkina Faso. In the spirit of 1980s revolutionary Thomas Sankara, mass demonstrations overthrew president Blaise Compaoré. The protests had begun in 2011 with vigorous Burkinabé food riots. These were put down by lethal police force that left more than a dozen people dead. Compaoré’s attempt at a comeback in 2015 was similarly foiled.

  • In October 2015 South African students and low-paid university workers won the battle for a 0% fee increase for 2016 and “insourcing” of casual employment.

Some social turmoil is localised, taking place in the vicinity of mines and oil wealth. This is correlated in recent mappings by the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research, based on data gathered by University of Sussex researchers, and on more than 200 studies in the Environmental Justice Liabilities and Trade research project’s “EJ Atlas”.

Labour also regularly protests in Africa. The WEF’s “Global Competitiveness Report” authors ask businesses in 140 countries each year how they rate labour-employer relations in terms of cooperation versus confrontation. Of the third most militant countries in the world, African countries typically account for 40%, far higher than any other region.

Since 2012 – the year in which 34 miners were killed in the “Marikana Massacre” – the South African working class has been ranked angriest. The 2015 WEF rankings for the other most “confrontational” workers include those from Algeria, Tunisia, Mozambique, Guinea, Chad, Liberia, Mauritania, Lesotho, Morocco, Cape Verde, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon and Gabon.

Financial outflows

The pressures on many African societies relate to the continent’s fiscal stresses, since declining commodity prices lower state revenues. These stresses also reflect the massive outflow of funds by multinational corporations via tax dodges and other illicit routes. The African Union Panel on Illicit Financial Flows last month raised the estimate to $80 billion lost each year.

There is also the matter of licit financial outflows: the profits and dividends taken offshore legally by multinationals thanks to deregulated exchange controls, which must be paid in hard currency. In South Africa, these have driven the past 15 years of current account deficits – the trade deficit plus the outflow of profits – which in turn led to a huge increase in the country’s foreign debt: from $32 billion in 2000 to $140 billion today.

What to do next? The IMF’s April 2016 “Regional Economic Outlook for Africa” suggests that

a substantial policy reset is critical in many cases … Because the reduction in revenue from the extractive sector is expected to persist, many affected countries also critically need to contain fiscal deficits and build a sustainable tax base from the rest of the economy.

Precisely this neoliberalism – a policy “reset” that in reality is more of the same – is one reason for what US academics Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly term “Africa Uprising”.

Even if it is ignored in Kigali, or repressed on the ground, the popular risings against the WEF’s dubious “Africa Rising” rhetoric await the solidarity of those with a more patriotic perspective on the continent’s prospects.The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South Africa needs tougher exchange controls before junk status hits

- Patrick Bond

There was nothing radical or transformative in the medium-term budget announced by Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan last month.

During this interminable period of economic stagnation, with no prospects of an upturn in sight thanks in part to Donald Trump’s victory, South Africa desperately needs the “radical economic transformation” repeatedly promised by the ANC.

Gordhan’s budget revealed how the foreign credit rating agencies’ threat of a “junk” rating was reaching maximum power just before they follow through with a dreaded downgrade. Under the agencies’ thumb, Gordhan felt compelled to adopt a deficit target for 2018 of just 2.5% (down from 3.9% last year and 3.4% this year).

Yet, within the next month rating agency Standard & Poor’s Konrad Reuss recently hinted, his firm is likely to be first to announce a downgrade, especially if Gordhan faces more unfounded state prosecution.

South Africa is, in any case, already suffering de facto junk bond status, measured by the interest rate paid to international investors on major countries’ state bonds now nearly the highest in the world at 9%. Only Brazil, Venezuela and Turkey are slightly worse.

The South African Reserve Bank could urgently lower local interest rates and insulate the rand from further financial chaos by imposing tighter capital controls. These will ‘delink’ the economy from the most destructive global circuits of capital.

Where the global economic rules are unfair or malicious, the delinking strategy is the only alternative. There’s plenty of evidence that the rules are unfair. For example, denying world pharmaceutical monopolies a patent monopoly on vital medicines has raised life expectancy from 52 to 62 over the past decade thanks to generic, locally-made replacements.

Financial delinking

Financial delinking is most important. Intense capital outflows, which can be triggered, for example, by threats of a downgrade, lead to higher interest rates. This affects local borrowing costs.

Prior to the 2008 crash, the last such major South African episode was in 1997-98 when crises in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Brazil and Russia caused investor flight from rand investments. This forced the South African Reserve Bank governor Chris Stals to raise interest rates by 7% within two weeks, amid a 40% Johannesburg Stock Exchange crash.

For bankers, an even more frightening episode was in August 1985 when short-term foreign debt of $13 billion came due for repayment. The President, PW Botha’s ‘Rubicon Speech’ caused international lenders like Chase Manhattan’s Willard Butcher to cut off new loans. Botha’s response was to temporarily shut the stock market and default on foreign debt repayments. He also imposed capital controls – most famously the financial rand (FinRand) as a parallel currency to the commercial rand – to keep funds from escaping using a monetary penalty.

The FinRand stayed in place until March 1995. South Africa still has prudential regulations in place that limit how much financial institutions can invest overseas. For example, most insurance companies and pension funds must keep 75% of their funds invested in local assets. Such controls prevented far worse damage in 2008 than transpired, it is acknowledged by people as different as Johann Rupert and Jeremy Cronin.

The South African rand is now one of the most volatile major currencies in the world (with the Mexican peso obviously a victim of Trumpism). Gordhan and the South African Reserve Bank should consider tightening capital controls to reduce the currency’s vulnerability. This could include immediately halting outflows to foreign corporations, and rolling back generous (R10 million/year) offshore allowances enjoyed by the richest South Africans.

A mountain of foreign debt

One reason for tougher capital controls is the country’s dangerously high foreign debt. Just before Botha’s 1985 crisis, debt owed to overseas lenders hit 42% of GDP. Today it is around 40%, a modern national record.

With foreign debt of $135 billion and hard currency reserves of less than $50 billion, an emergency loan may be needed from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the closely-related BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement. This could well mean extreme austerity.

The most important outflows are to foreign shareholders of multinational corporations. Those regularly amount to more than R150 billion per year in licit (legal) profits and dividends, plus an average of R300 billion in illicit financial flows (during the 2004-13 period measured by the Washington NGO Global Financial Integrity). Paying these profit outflows requires yet more foreign borrowing. (In contrast to such payments outflows, South Africa’s trade deficit from January-September 2016 was only $75 million.)

Delinking needs to be on the agenda

Acclaimed Indian political economist Prabhat Patnaik, who delivered the 2016 Wolpe Lecture last month, is an advocate of countries like South Africa ‘delinking’ from the global economy. The objective would be to insulate them from world financial chaos through imposing tighter capital controls.

Prabhat cites the 1933 Yale Review endorsement of capital controls by John Maynard Keynes, often regarded as capitalism’s greatest economist. Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau expressed concern that Keynes’ lessons have been forgotten:

The point is to prevent hot money flowing in during the good times, and to stop it from draining out in the bad times. This is not yet a subject of polite conversation among policymakers.

Diverse countries have successfully re-imposed exchange controls. These include Malaysia (1998), Argentina (2001), Venezuela (2003), Cyprus (2013) and China (2016).

‘Delinking’ alone isn’t enough, Patnaik argues: “It must be accompanied by an expansion of the home market through redistributive policies. Otherwise it could become merely a kind of ‘beggar-my-neighbour’ policy.”

According to a new World Bank study, the top 1% of South Africans increased their share of national income by nearly 10% over the last quarter-century.

But even more urgently, before finance flows out even faster next month, South Africa desperately needs a discussion about capital controls – even in polite company.The Conversation

Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Electoral tremors are shaking South Africa’s ANC. How will it respond?

- Susan Booysen

For the first time in the country’s democratic era since 1994, the governing ANC has ceased being an untouchable liberation movement.

South Africa’s election 2016 local election signals change. In this 10th major electoral event, the ANC is facing the prospects of losing its dominance in several strategically important centres.

This occurrence – irrespective of whether the ANC loses or hangs on by the skin of its teeth – will confront it with a crucial choice: does the former juggernaut change tack, in humility, to acknowledge and correct the problems that have caused the decline? Or does it march on, relying on leadership that has failed it, and use more state resources to compensate for its lapses, pretending that the ANC of 2016 is the political movement of 1994?

The threat of losing enclaves of valued power is continuous. The advance is quite subtle, yet relentless. There are no tsunamis, for now, but two tectonic plates of political change are moving past each other, causing electoral tremors.

Struggle credentials v good governance

The one plate represents the strong link between the ANC, the struggle against apartheid, and liberation consciousness. The other reflects eroded trust in the ANC and its government and the recognition that, despite its liberation roots, the ANC is facing post-liberation demands for accountability. The ANC of 2016 has ceased being an untouchable liberation movement turned political party. Voters are judging it increasingly on its modern status and sojourn in government.

The ANC has faced an inexorable, gradual decline since 2004 - first at national-provincial levels and in 2006 at local level. There is no evidence that the party has been able to reverse the declining trends. Should this continue it will be under definitive opposition siege in just over a decade.

The incremental pace of electoral change is now reaching new benchmarks. The ANC risks losing its outright majorities in the metropolitan heartland of Gauteng (Tshwane and Johannesburg) and the Eastern Cape, besides ceding power in some smaller municipalities. It will emerge as a more vulnerable organisation whether it wins, loses or hangs on to power through multi-party coalitions.

There are, nevertheless, no guarantees that the post-election ANC will be more accountable, more truthful about its leadership and organisational caveats, more forthcoming about its faction-wide capture of state resources, less dependent on public information apparatuses, and more accountable to the voters.

Despite change being in the air, the denouement of the story of the ANC and local elections 2016 remains ambiguous. Three sets of changes in the campaign period are the best available indicators of the road ahead. These are:

  • the ANC’s internal organisational trauma,

  • its hate relationship with opposition parties, and

  • its habit of drawing on the state and its resources during the campaign.

Behemoth in decline

The ANC is not in a growth phase. For the last decade its trajectory has been downhill. Apart from growth trends in KwaZulu-Natal in the past decade (and this has stopped too) or in select by-elections or municipalities, the ANC has not gained support in a long electoral time.

And its pace of decline might accelerate this time around given that it is fending off assaults on more fronts than ever before from, for example, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and independents.

There have been times of electoral uncertainty in South Africa before. In the Western Cape the ANC ceded power after the new DA took shape. The difference is that on that occasion the ANC was not losing power that it had systematically built. Rather, the shift in power was driven by the fact that the National Party’s support base realigned itself with the then Democratic Party (now the DA).

In KwaZulu-Natal electoral change came in the form of the ANC gradually capturing the Inkatha Freedom Party support base.

Circa 2016 therefore is a new game for the ANC. It is the first time it risks losing methodically acquired, treasured majorities. The vehemence of its “fightback” against the DA highlights the ANC’s disbelief that black (in the sense of black-African) voters could possibly discard it for the DA, or for the EFF, in scale-tipping numbers.

In the best of election result scenarios the ANC might (only just) escape coalition governments with its nemeses. The ANC is, however, readying itself for coalition governance. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirms that leadership at all levels will assist if negotiations to constitute municipal coalitions become necessary.

Debilitating factionalism

In perhaps the most debilitating of all of its battles, the ANC is fighting against itself. Public rioting in Tshwane and multiple killings of candidates and rival politicians have captured much of 2016’s electoral terrain. The ANC conducted a de facto pre-election election in Tshwane in which local factions within the broader Zuma faction embarked on an internal war to secure privileged positions and benefits.

In Cape Town one ANC Khayelitsha ward-level nomination rebellion brought a major freeway to a standstill. In KwaZulu-Natal a regional-level challenge to a provincial conference result (which in turn has had an impact on local nominations) threatens to uproot the provincial government.

ANC branch nomination wars at multiple sites, and notably in KwaZulu-Natal’s Ethekwini in particular and the Northwest, unleashed a new phalanx of independent candidates who are splitting the ANC vote. The recent violent revolt over ward demarcation in Vuwani revealed a case of ANC factions battling for domination over a rearranged, emerging local state. Many of these internal battles have a bearing precisely on efforts to capture opportunities and benefits from ANC-controlled councils.

Managing coalitions

This raises the question more broadly of how the ANC in coalition with opposition parties might react to cooperative governance and sharing of state power. Would the ANC in government try to co-opt opposition parties into sharing the spoils of power? Would it work to hoodwink new partners into ensuring the ANC has power, but not giving them access to the spoils of power? Would king-making opposition parties be slaves of power-hungry factions?

Coalition governance is just one instance of post-election power politics. Across the board, the bound-to-be more vulnerable ANC has stark choices to make. There is the option of being truly humble again, listening to people and voters, and finding a way to return to those good roots that were at the base of the election campaign messages.

Alternatively, it can chose to bamboozle alliance partners, or use state power to further extremes to launch a campaign for the 2019 national-provincial elections from the base of continuous access to local state power.The Conversation

Susan Booysen, Professor in the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Fantastic time for election

- Polity.org.za

David Everatt says for the first time the question is being asked: Is the ANC going to lose (certain municipalities/metros)?

He was speaking at a seminar, titled: After the party: 21 Years of Electoral Democracy – What Do South Africa’s 2016 Local Government Elections Hold?, held by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

Creamer Media’s Polity.org.za – an online platform with free access to South African legislation, policy documents and daily political news – covered the seminar and put together this video and story.

More about Polity.org.za.

Check out the #WitsVotes – 2016 Municipal Elections website for more #WitsExpert commentary, analysis and opinions on the elections.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Wits join forces

- Wits University

Thabo Mbeki Foundation and Wits University have joined forces to address Africa’s biggest challenges.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) and the University of the Witwatersrand have signed a memorandum of agreement that will advance peace, conflict resolution and security in the continent by establishing the African Centre for Conflict Management.

The African Centre for Conflict Management (ACCM), to be hosted in the Wits School of Governance, will serve as the foundation and hub for the development of African focused research, whilst lessons are drawn to avoid future occurrences.

It is reported that 78% of global conflicts take place in Africa. Conflict and insecurity remain some of the major challenges confronting the continent, leading to the curtailing of growth and the reversal of substantial gains that would have otherwise been made in various African countries. It is therefore important to ensure that conflicts are averted and, where they have occurred, are managed as expeditiously as possible in order to minimise damage.

“The ACCM will contribute to Africa’s renewal by undertaking research and analysis on African conflict management, democracy and governance and by building a generation of policy analysts and practitioners. Its strategic vision is to support the creation of a culture of democracy and peace on the continent,” says Professor Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

Furthermore, it is envisioned that the ACCM will contribute to the academic conversion of the TMF assignments by facilitating the theoretical knowledge that will facilitate the production and dissemination of knowledge relating to the promotion of peace and security, democracy and governance regionally, continentally in Africa, and globally.

Students will also benefit. “Doctoral and postdoctoral students will be able to help with preparation for missions and may accompany Mr Mbeki in his work,” says Professor David Everatt, Head of the Wits School of Governance. “This will be unique access for students of peace, security and governance in Africa”.

“For the TMF, this presents a unique opportunity to advance the Foundation’s mission of making the necessary interventions in the continent to advance its renaissance.  Africa which is at peace with its self, respecting the rule of how and good governance is an essential aspect of this ideal. This partnership provides in a practical sense the ability to make the necessary interventions in the interest of Africa’s people,” says Dr Brigalia Bam, Chairperson of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

About the Thabo Mbeki Foundation

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation is a non-profit organisation launched by former President Thabo Mbeki at the end of his service to the South African Government in 2008. The Foundation was established to support Mbeki’s continuing engagements with efforts aimed at achieving the African Renaissance.

The Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

The Wits School of Governance is the leading African institution in the arena of governance, policy and development management for the public sector. Since its inception in 1993, it has been at the forefront of an international movement to transform public and development management, and currently produces the largest number of postgraduates in its field in southern Africa.

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