“I want to come home, but what about Zuma?”

I just recently got a mail from a buddy currently living on the grey, dreary, alcoholic and muddy island they call the United Kingdom:

“Im […] wanting to come back to SA permanently quite soon but I’m not so sure about it anymore with Zuma being voted in! What is your opinion? Do you think the country is going to go to ruins?”

I provide, for your interest, my response – and please note this is by no means a complete argument, but I thought it may be of interest to some:


Zuma has been voted in as president of the ANC. Mbeki remains President of the country and will be until 2009.

In order for Zuma to take over as President of South Africa (something which does not actually scare me that much), he has to be cleared of all criminal charges currently pending. He has fraud, corruption and racketeering charges laid against him and will be going to court in August 2008 to try clear his name.

The way I see it, if he is convicted of the above, then, well, he goes to prison. If he is cleared, then it is important because we would not want a State President with such a cloud over his head. Fact is Zuma is a popular, practical man. He’s a little stupid, but he knows he is no rocket scientist and to my mind that could well be a benefit – he’ll focus on what he can do and delegate the rest. This is certainly in line with everything I have read of the guy. I’ll tell you that I believe Zuma would do much more about the crime problem in South Africa than Mbeki has.

South Africa is not a Zimbabwe in the making and there are several reasons for this, but they are best explained in an article by a M&G journalist Jonty Fisher and my response (backing him up) to his position.

Take a look at my blog at http://www.warwickchapman.com/ and read: “M&G’s DG Report Summary” and “Response to the comments to Jonty Fisher’s ‘South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe’”. I would urge you to read as well Jonty Fisher’s original article at ThoughLeader, “South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe

The long and the short of it goes like this. This is the 21st century – the world over wants Africa to work. There are enough examples over the past 50+ year of what NOT to do in an African country. Priority number 1 is not to let any one lead become a leader for life. Unlike Zimbabwe, we have a population united around the limitation that our State President can serve a maximum of two terms (5 years each) as stipulated in our Constitution. Nobody is marching and toyi-toying to have Mbeki run for a third term as State President. Aside from being wildly unpopular for protecting people like Selebi and Manto, this is why Mbeki cannot be State President beyond 2009.

Priority number 2 (or even more important that 1) is an independent judiciary. Ie. Are your judges free from political interference. Again, unlike Zimbabwe, this is still the case. So our courts are free to judge against Zuma without fear of recrimination.

The way I see it, the future of South Africa is like the potential for shark attack when swimming out at backline. We all know that the chances of getting killed on the way to the beach are much higher than that of being attacked by a Shark, but nonetheless, thanks to Jaws, Jaws II, Jaws 2849 (ie. Zimbabwe and other shockers), we have this graphic image in our minds of the horror of being attacked, even though we know the chances are next to nothing.

South Africa is the 18th (out of 200+) most attractive destination in the world for foreign direct investment (read my blog “Excerpts from Manuel’s Mid-term Budget Speech (Delivered yesterday)”), we’ve made massive progress over the past 14 years (even if it is hard to see from day to day). We’re not going to throw that all away. Even the most communist of communist idealists in South Africa cannot deny massive progress has been made since then…

Come home kid. Rather take part in what’s happening here than rot on that sad, grey, muddy-ass island wishing you were here in the sun and fun.

K, shooting to the beach for a swim.

Ciao, Warwick

[Update: I came back from the swim and sent him another mail]

“Ok, I made the swim without getting attacked by a shark. It is ok for you to come home now.”

M&G’s DG Report Summary

The Mail&Guardian remains on of the most laudable publications in the South African media. M&G publish an annual report card for government departmental directors general (DGs) and today released the 2007 Directors General (DGs) Report Card. I have summarised the ratings below and highlighted some notable cases.

In summary, there are 14 DGs upgraded to or retaining a good rating, 2 who have been downgraded but retained a good rating and 9 who have been downgraded and have a poor to bugger off rating.  I regard as a good sign the four DGs who cannot be rated as they have not been in the job long enough – with any luck they have replaced someone who was not making the grade.

So, in my opinion, the above show progress is being made in ensuring that we weed out those DGs who are not getting results. Of great concern would be the 14 DGs who M&G rated as poor, and most especially the five of those who should be fired immediately. Let’s hope 2008’s rating card shows this figure decrease.

The rating card is as follows:

A: Take a bow. You are doing an excellent job.
B: Good, but room for improvement.
C: You’re OK, but that’s all we can say for you.
D: Get your act together.
E: Do yourself and the country a favour — resign.
F: You’re fired.

The following DG’s were upgraded or retained a good rating:

Duncan Hindle
Grade: A (2006: A)

Foreign affairs
Ayanda Ntsaluba
Grade: A (2006: A)

Home affairs
Mavuso Msimang
Grade: A

Science and technology
Philip Mjwara
Grade: A (2006: B)

Lesetja Kganyago
Grade: A (2006: A)

Frank Chikane
Grade: A- (2006: B)

Environmental affairs and tourism
Pam Yako
Grade: B+ (2006: B+)

Social development
Vusi Madonsela
Grade: B+ (2006: D+)

Provincial and local government
Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela
Grade: B (2006: B)

Trade and industry
Tshediso Matona
Grade: B (2006: C-)

Masiphula Mbongwa
Grade: B- (2006: C)

Manala Manzini
Grade: C+ (2006: C)

Vanguard Mkhosana
Grade: C (2006: E)

Minerals and energy
Sandile Nogxina
Grade: C (2006: E)

The following were downgraded by retained a good rating:

Public service and administration
Richard Levin
Grade: B (2006: A)

Itumeleng Kotsoane
Grade: C- (2006: C)

The following were downgraded or retained a poor rating:

Public enterprises
Portia Molefe
Grade: D (2006: B-)

Mpumi Mpofu
Grade: D (2006: B-)

Menzi Simelane
Grade: D- (2006: C-)

January Masilela
Grade: E (2006: C)

Lyndall Shope-Mafole
Grade: F (2006: E)

Thami Mseleku
Grade: F (2006: F)

Safety and security
Jackie Selebi
Grade: F (2006: F)

Water affairs and forestry
Jabu Sindane
Grade: F (2006: C+)

Land affairs
Glen Thomas
Grade: Fired (2006: F)

The following are new and cannot be rated as yet:

Arts and culture
Thembinkosi Wakashe
Grade: Too early to tell

Correctional services
Vernie Petersen
Grade: Too early to tell

Public works
Manye Moroka
Grade: Too early to tell

Sport and recreation
Xoliswa Sibeko
Grade: Too early to tell

Excerpts from Manuel’s Mid-term Budget Speech (Delivered yesterday)

On delivery of social services:

“In 1996, just over half our people did not have water in their homes. Today, over 88 per cent of people have access to piped water. In 1996, only 64 per cent of our people lived in formal houses. Today, over 70 per cent enjoy this right. In almost every area of public service delivery, from access to schooling and health care to refuse removal, from electrification to access to computers, from roads and street lights to sport facilities, from telecommunication services to access to public transport – we can point to steady progress in living standards.”

On economic growth:

“South Africa is now entering the ninth year of the longest economic upswing since the national accounts have been recorded. National income has risen by 22 per cent per person since 1999, with increases across all income groups. Employment is rising faster than at any point since the 1960s. Fixed investment has increased sharply since 2002, by over 10 per cent a year.”

On being cautious with respect to the present global economic upswing:

“We need to welcome and take advantage of the opportunities of global growth, but we also need to distinguish temporary prosperity from structural progress; we need to ensure that windfall gains are wisely invested and surplus resources are set aside for when markets turn against us in times ahead.”

On this week’s Standard Bank equity deal with China’s ICBC:

“Last week’s announcement of a R37 billion investment by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in one of our leading banks indicates that international confidence in our economy is high, and perhaps also signals a new place for Africa in the changing patterns of trade and finance flows of the 21st century.”

Response to the comments to Jonty Fisher’s ‘South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe’

This is a response to Jonty Fisher‘s ‘South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe’ posted on the Mail&Guardian‘s ThoughLeader blogging paltform.

I have read with interest the article and most especially the comments over the past few days.

I understand these first comments are not directly related to the topic at hand, but in the context of the debate which has ensued since the article being published, I wish to make a few points.

I, like Jonty, am one of those optimist types and am often accused of being blinkered to the rest of the goings on in this country. I still believe, however, that reading the good news, recognising the positive progress where it exists and being generally optimistic about our future will do more for the country than outright negativity masqueraded as realism or pragmatism.

I’ve spent much time, energy and frustration trying to convince South Africans abroad that South Africa is worth being positive about. I have found that by-in-large the South Africans abroad that trash the country at braais, dinner parties and the like do so because of a need to justify their decision to leave South Africa.

We live in (legally) one of the free countries in the world. If someone feels like South Africa is not for them now, or too risky, or the economic interventions affect them too much, or crime is too much to deal or any other valid reasons, they are free to leave South Africa and venture abroad. Indeed, were it not for my business here in South Africa, I am sure I would’ve spent a few years here and there already myself.

Any South African choosing to leave South Africa, either temporarily or through emigration, should not feel they need to justify their decision by convincing themselves, as well as the people around them, that South Africa is a Zimbabwe in the making and that it is indeed a matter of time. Surely you can be a South African living abroad and still be PROUD of where you come from and of the positive progress being made back home. www.southafrica.info, www.sagoodnews.co.za, www.sarocks.co.za and the like will all give these people the information they need to be proud of the advancement everyday in this country.

Then to the not-so-good: we have a young baby of a democracy and a whole lot of growing up lies ahead of us. Right now we’re teething, and it hurts. The sagas around Selebi, Pikoli, Hlope, Manto and the like are all extremely difficult pills for us to swallow but these scandals are not insurmountable. Our media is still free and can (within the limitations of the law) ensure truth is demanded of those in the highest echelons of government. If the Sunday Times broke the law in getting the Health Minister’s Health Records, then, unfortunately, they need to be prosecuted. Nobody should be exempt from the law and the leadership challenge during this time of teething will be for President Mbeki to show us that nobody is immune from investigation and prosecution; not the editor of a national newspaper, not the Chief Justice, not the Minister of Health, not the Commissioner of Police and so on.

As to the topic at hand, both sides of my family tree arrived in South Africa with the 1820 settlers. Both sides then moved to Rhodesia and both sides returned to South Africa by the middle of the 80’s. It was clear to them then, only a few years into democracy, that the effects of the debilitating civil war coupled with the rushed and flawed Lancaster House Agreement which led to the farce that saw Robert Mugabe take power was a recipe for yet another African National Disaster.

No doubt when our time came CODESA, the GNU and indeed our own constitution all took into account the lessons learned in the rest of Africa. CODESA started negotiations in December 1991, the GNU took over national governance in 1994 and only in February 1997 when the constitution was finalized, was power handed directly to the ANC. The process of handing control of the country from the NP to the ANC took nearly five and a half years.

By comparison, Zimbabwe saw hostilities end with the signing of Lancaster House just before Christmas in 1979 and by April 1980 Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF had control of the country.

Compare 5 months for Zimbabwe and 5 years for South Africa. We did it properly.

South Africa will not go the way of the rest of Africa. Zimbabwe is the quoted example at present because it is in such a shocking state right now. Have no misconceptions that most Africans states have not been where they are now. By-in-large, the rest of Africa have been to the lowest low and are now rebuilding. Zambia, Mozambique, Angola are regional examples. They are building their economies, attracting investors, focusing on agriculture (thanks in no small part to ex-Zimbabwean farmers), building competence as responsible democratic leaders and generally trying to ensure their countries move only forward.

South Africa cannot and will not go the way of the rest of Africa. We have enough examples to learn from, enough education, modernity and intelligence in our leadership and enough goodwill from our neighbours and the rest of the world to ensure we never forget what we’re working toward.

We live a miracle every day in this country, but like most things these days, that miracle is dynamic and changing. In 1994 the miracle was democracy without civil war, through the nineties it was Madiba and his capacity to reconcile and in the new millennium the miracle is the rapid progress and integration we see taking place every day in this country. We’re moving forward. We sing the national anthem like we don’t remember the old one. We get angry when some idiot pulls out the old flag. We have black South Africans in France supporting the Bokke alongside white. We have roads, water, electricity, telephones, clinics, houses and schools where there were never any before – the places white generally don’t go and thus progress whites aren’t seeing.

We have a long, long way to go and a very many challenges to deal with along that road. We will succeed and of that I am absolutely certain. How can I be so certain?

“All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

The very fact that every single one of us, whether living in South Africa or not, is engaged in this conversation right here is testament to the sheer volume of resource, goodwill and hope behind the desire to see South Africa succeed.

I thank you all for your passion for our wonderful country.