How to pay for an annual Advancement Grant

An Advancement Grant is a once in a lifetime grant intended for every South African citizen to advance their lives through whatever means the grant can purchase. For example, education, training, travel, investment, opening a business, helping to purchase a home. There are no restrictions on how it can be used. It is intended to be the equivalent of paying for a professional tertiary degree (four years of university). In the post There is no such thing as a free lunch Part ll, we postulated an Advancement Grant to satisfy the Fees must fall demands. We indicated that we would sharpen our pencils to determine costs and the means of payment. This is it.

If one assumes an Adult Population of 35 million and a working life of say 47 years (18 to 65) and for the sake of simplicity assume that each year there would be 1/47th of 35 million school leavers qualifying for an advancement grant, that would be 745 000 (say 750 000) school leavers each year. Assuming an advancement grant of R200 000 each that would be R149 Billion a year.

TEAL can fund this as follows.

If we assume a R2.8 Trillion GDP for 2017 that would equal a Total Economic Activity of 2.8 X 30 or R84 Trillion flowing through the banking system. Each Rand of that flow represents both a deposit and a withdrawal from the banking system so the actual Tealable amount would be R168 Trillion. R149 Billion as a percentage of R168 Trillion = 0.089% or about 0.09% (=151.2 Billion)

So, an annual TEAL of about 0.09% on R168 Trillion will pay for a R149 Billion Advancement Grant granted to 750000 school leavers (each school leaver receiving R200 000) each and every successive year.

What of the 34 250 000 who will not receive the Advancement Grant in year one of the scheme (The Left Behinds)?

If each of these ‘Left Behinds’ received R200 000 that would cost R6.825 Trillion. If that were paid out to them evenly over 20 years at an interest rate of say 6% pa, that would be about R10.920 Trillion or R546 Billion per year. Paid out to 34.25 Million each month over 240 months would be 10.92T/240months/ 34.25 Million// per month, or R1328.47 per month per person left behind. R546 Billion as a percentage of R168 Trillion is 0.325% .

So the annual Advancement Grant of R149 Billion and the annual Left Behind Grant of R546 Billion (in total R695 Billion) could be paid annually by a TEAL of 0.09% + 0.325% or 0.415%.

0.415% of R168 Trillion is R697.2 Billion

In Table Form:

Grant

R168 Trillion TEALable amount

TEAL

Total Grant Amount pa

Advancement

‘0.090 % of R168T

R151.2 Billion

R149.00 Billion

Left Behind

‘0.325 % of R168T

R546.0 Billion

R546.00 Billion

Annual Total

‘0.415 % of R168T

R697.2 Billion

R695.00 Billion

NB: This is an exercise. The GDP and the Tealable amount will vary from year to year as will the number of persons qualifying as may the payouts as also will the population, so these numbers are not to be taken as absolutes, merely an indication of what is possible.

Have a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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Endangered Capitalism

In the aftermath of Brexit, but perhaps not so much so for the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA, because he is more probably the archetypical capitalist than not, there is talk of the demise of unfettered capitalism. In an article How Britain fell out of love with the free market, sentiments such as what follows prevail:

The UK Conservative manifesto attacked aggressive asset-stripping” “perverse pricing” ,“exploitative” markets in energy, property, insurance and telecommunications and “the remuneration of some corporate leaders” while the Labour Party offered policies to include – nationalisation, restored trade union rights, restrictions on the City of London – which would undo much of British neo-liberalism. While John McDonnell, a possible contender for Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, lists “generally fermenting the overthrow of capitalism” as an ambition of his, so it seems the possibility that politicians will be interfering in Britain’s and other economies is becoming ever stronger.

Nigel Vinson, who has been a leading player in Britain’s free-market think tanks lists “Wage stagnation, poor GDP growth, crony capitalism in the contracting-out of public services, endless gaming of the system by corporations, a general ennui about the prevailing economic system … ” as criticisms of capitalist practices, culminating in the 2008 crash, resulting from the “deregulation and hubris of the financial markets”.

If you have any doubts about the way capitalists rip value from ordinary people, for their, the capitalist’s own benefit, this article The Real Cost of Regeneration will soon dispel those doubts

The tale from the United States is much the same. In an article How Power Profits from Disaster, Naomi Klein, an outspoken critic of the capitalist excesses, draws a grim picture of these practices in the USA, from which many of the present political leaders of the US profited hugely, which says a lot of the relationship between government and capital in the USA.

In contrast there is the argument that capitalism and the free market system have immeasurably improved the general well-being of the world’s population, particularly during the past century or so, and in particular globalisation has led to the improved life conditions of millions of previously poverty stricken “peasants” in the under-developed countries of the world who have been drawn into the global economy as sources of cheap labour. These improvements are often rooted in exploitative practices of workers abused in sweat shops, for a pittance by western standards, and such-like. Consumers do not always condone these practices in their names, just for cheaper prices, which if only by association may render them complicit in neo-liberal slave labour, and boycotts of certain brands which use these practices break out sporadically throughout the world.

Another downside to globalisation are those left behind by movement of industries from their historic places of operation, to lands with cheaper labour and more exploitative labour practices.

All of this is happening as I write this in 2017. So we have a conflict of outcomes, massively improved life styles for some ironically brought about by abusive capitalist practices and massive losses for others, brought about by the same practices, The only people who seem to benefit consistently are the ruling elite and the big players in the capitalist system.

The point to all of this is that I do not see neo-liberal globalisation as practised currently as a sustainable option. Yes, the rich can continue to get richer and the poor poorer and this can carry on until something gives. Maybe the market place collapses because there are not enough affluent consumers to support it, or maybe the poor just get sick and tired of being poor (a la France (1789-99) and Russia (1917) and Germany (1930-1945)), and history has a way of repeating itself, and the world could slip into another cycle of autocratic despotism. And do we want that to happen? Do we really want democracy and capitalism to collapse to be replaced by autocratic rule? From chaos come autocrats to impose order and that is a distinct possibility.

Is there another way? Is there a way to save capitalism and democracy and to fend off their attackers, whether they are religious fundamentalist (a la radical Islam) or statist autocrats (a la Vladimir Putin)?

I would argue there is.

The only reason either of those or any other extremist versions of society are allowed to gain a foothold is that populations perceive unfairness by existing systems as being unacceptable and will welcome almost anything in their place which promises justice and order, thus allowing extremism to occupy a moral high-ground. “Liberalism has failed”, they will argue. “We (our religion, our autocracy, our order) will restore order and justice to society”, they will argue. And folk, sick and tired of being abused and marginalised will listen, in their misery and hope for something better, forgetting that what comes with the promise of autocratic justice and order is far worse than the limited and imperfect freedoms under a neo-liberal order

What if there were generally order and justice in society? Extremist appeal would be very much diminished. They would have to work harder to destabilise societies to the point where their intervention would be supported even by a disgruntled minority.

Let me explain what I understand by capitalism. Capitalism is the private ownership of wealth and the means of production and distribution of goods and services for profit. I believe that as far as possible, government and bureaucrats should be kept at arms length from capitalism, namely from private ownership of wealth and the means of production and distribution for profit. Can we risk losing that ownership by ceding it to others?  I don’t believe so.  .I believe however that rampant capitalism as practiced by the neo-liberals as evidenced by the examples given above, should not be beyond the scrutiny and censure of society and in particular, capitalists should be accessible to society. That is, there should be in place the means for ordinary people to protect themselves from the excesses of rampant capitalism. How you achieve this last goal is not exclusively part of this discussion.

So, could there be order and justice in a democratic and capitalist society?

I believe there can indeed be such order and justice, one born out of consent of the governed.

Typically, government is run by the political and oligarchic elite, often the same body of people or at least bodies closely associated with one another. There is little or no influence from the electorate except at four or five year intervals for election purposes, and even that is highly manipulated with the same oligarchs and elites controlling media controlling opinion and trends in a manner that is far from objective. We won’t even consider for the moment, the phenomena of false news or propaganda.

If instead there were a senate peopled by ordinary people, through which all legislation and regulation needed to pass for approval, I would argue that such political representation of ordinary people would change the political landscape. It is true that not all the political and oligarchical elite would approve of such a senate, but I believe it would be preferable to any of the revolutionary outcomes cited above.

Such a senate is proposed here for South Africa.

So how does this control the excesses of unbridled capitalism? It would allow the ordinary people of a society to exert their influence on regulation and legislation which may be intended to disempower them or defraud them. I believe that would be a very significant act of empowerment.

So capitalism can otherwise continue making the rich richer and the poor poorer?

One of the primary concerns about rampant capitalism is that tendency. It leaves the poor (the left behinds) poorer and feeling disempowered and helpless and strips wealth and dignity from them. This is a dangerous outcome that needs to be addressed and a very effective way of addressing it is with a Basic Income Grant. Apart from helping to fight poverty, having a basic income will empower people who otherwise may have nothing, not even hope and dignity, and aid others who may not be so impoverished but are borderline cases, with little or no income surplus to their needs.

To those who believe that one should only receive that which is earned, let me suggest that the world is full of capable people equipped and willing to earn but who cannot be employed because the formal labour market is oversupplied. This is not going to get better. This is going to get worse with the advent of automation, computerisation and the gig economy. So how are these people going to survive? A basic income grant will not only provide for basic needs but will give recipients opportunity to invest in themselves, in savings, in education, in training, in businesses and arts and crafts and so on. Whatever you can imagine would be stimulated and advanced by such a grant.

You can think of it like this; a basic income grant paid to your population would be a very effective way of stimulating both the demand and the supply side of any economy and those most in need will spend it on their needs instead of having nothing to spend, and nothing to contribute to the economy. So I believe a basic income grant is a win win solution for many social and economic needs.

A Basic Income Grant is proposed here for South Africa

There are other things one can do to engage your population in your economy. A Sovereign Wealth Fund is one such means, provided that it was owned by each individual of your population, in equal parts, rather than by your government. In turn the sovereign wealth fund invests in your and other’s economies, wherever an investment makes sense and profits are to be made by the fund, and therefore by its owners, your population. In most countries, such a fund would become a very significant part of your economy and give your population a sense that it is engaged in your economy, rather than being divorced from it.

Such a fund is proposed here for South Africa.

Capitalism, which has been so badly managed from a societal perspective as to make it an endangered system, needs to be reinvented to be better managed from a societal perspective, so as to no longer be endangered. What these moves do in effect, is to empower ordinary citizens politically and economically using the tools of capitalism and democracy to help eradicate poverty, and to raise democracy and capitalism to a moral high-ground that radicals of whatever persuasion will find difficult to match let alone challenge.

This post originally posted in John’s Bolg 

Have a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIGand DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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DDF Health Care Policies vindicated

Direct Democracy Forum’s (DDF’s) health care policies have been vindicated by a top South African medical aid expert.

In an article How the government took away the hope of private healthcare from millions of currently uninsured”, Eve Dmochowska, who has made knowledge of the provision of medical aid and medical services her business, slates the ANC government for leaving the public health system in total disarray and promising delivery of a universal public health system only in 14 years time. In the article she points out that “the government is already running a universal healthcare system, and failing miserably. Everybody has access to state healthcare already, and those who cannot afford the healthcare receive it for free.” So, we ask, what is going to change in 14 years time?

Ms Dmochowska also asserts that in the light of their abysmal track record in health care, government should extract themselves from the provision of health care and that “If the (medical aid) schemes were incentivised with R3-billion reasons per month to make private primary healthcare work for 10 million people, I bet you they could. And I bet you they would”.

So what is Ms Dmochowska proposing if not in essence the DDF’s health care policy.

We further quote Ms Dmochowska to make the point:

The government would benefit greatly if the burden of providing primary care to 10-million people was removed from the public system. It could improve the service levels to the remaining 25-million uninsured. Or it could even outsource the entire primary healthcare problem to the private sector: pay the premium and leave the logistics to the private sector. In return, the government would further benefit from lower public hospital admissions levels as good primary care is preventative of long term health problems”

This is almost exactly what the DDF are proposing, except we also propose to privatise nearly all the public health care delivery systems. Not only would it extract government from the invidious position of overseeing a system engaged in an ever downward spiral, but it would also put the patients in the driving seat. It says to the service provider, ‘provide the service and we the patients will support you. Don’t provide the service and we will go elsewhere, because we can’.

This is not just handing over a huge market to the private sector to profiteer from but instead the patients will insist that they must deliver in order to profit from the system. As does Ms Dmochowska, we also bet they could and bet they would, both deliver to their patients and profit from that process.

We at the DDF think this is a good thing and we doubt it would take fourteen years to deliver.

See also how to pay for a basic income grant and take a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Part II

In my last post Is a Basic Income Grant Stealing from the Rich I referenced an article There is a problem with the way we define inequality.

This article made a number of interesting assertions about attitudes on inequality, the principle one to my mind being that we should stop obsessing with the rich and super rich and start obsessing with eliminating poverty, and also, importantly, the assertion that peoples’ attitudes were less angry about wealth and more angry about unfairness. As was stated the public perception of wealth inequality itself being aversive to most people is incorrect, and that instead, what people are truly concerned about is unfairness” and also that “People typically prefer fair inequality to unfair equality”, and, as we are beginning to see in South Africa, what really gets folk going is unfair inequality, a la the Zuptas state capture and wealth grabs.

So we all need the right to work harder and earn more and be wealthier than our neighbours, that is fair and acceptable. Just reward for just gainful employment is acceptable. But if you cheat in order to be wealthier, that is just not on.

This got me thinking about the Fees Must Fall movement and protests (see here) because it really is unfair that certain sectors of our society perhaps have little or no access to higher education. Let me be very clear, it is not the access of those who have access that is unfair, but the lack of access by those who don’t have access that is unfair. This is a major argument in the article There is a problem, the issue of unfairness.

A major conclusion of the article is that “the solution lies in addressing the fact that poverty and unfairness exist.”

This set me to thinking about the conflicting unfairness inherent in the fees must fall campaign; the unfairness of the poor being unable to access higher education just because they were poor, and the unfairness of the same poor, expecting those who do not benefit from higher education, to have to pay for the higher education of the same poor. Something simply does not add up.

You cannot fix a wrong inflicted on anyone or group by inflicting another wrong on another one or group. That is simply wrong and unfair and will be perceived as wrong and unfair and is probably why most people object to paying for the education of others who are seen to be unwilling to pay for their own education.

To reiterate, at the risk of being boring, “what people are truly concerned about is unfairness” and “People typically prefer fair inequality to unfair equality”.

So the problem is how to fix one wrong without creating another wrong?

The Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) believe that the Universal Basic Income Grant goes a long way to relieving poverty in a fair and equitable way, Thus all in society contribute to the system in an equally proportional manner and all benefit from the system equally. Is this fair and equitable? Some would say no and others, the DDF included, would argue that imperfect as it may be, it is fair and equitable, and is a lot better than what we have.

But, and here is the big BUT, could all higher education students afford to pay for their education (fees and accommodation) exclusively with a BIG? Of course, students can supplement their income by working full and part-time in internships or apprenticeships or articles, and there is nothing wrong about that, in fact many qualifications require it of you in order to qualify you as a professional fit to administer to (for example) your patients if you are a doctor or your clients if you are an accountant or lawyer. But what if a Basic Income Grant simply isn’t enough because fees and or accommodation have escalated out of all proportions.

Education throughout the world is becoming almost prohibitively expensive. Privatisation of funding is making it even more unaffordable and the level of debt that graduates are left with is making them wonder if education is even worth it, and some of the schemes are just there to make finance providers rich at the expense of society in general and the graduate population in particular. And yes, there are calls all over the world for fee free education, so South Africa is not alone. Indeed there are countries where tertiary education is free, but the much lauded fee free system of Germany is branded by some as being unsustainable. Others are saying the opposite, that fees are becoming, like the dinosaur, extinct, So everyone has a point of view and is looking for a solution.

Maybe then we need a different mechanism

The DDF believe that such a mechanism could exist which may be imperfect, but might none the less be better than what we have. But again there is the question of fairness..

But to address the issue of fairness, it would need to be a mechanism that benefits all equally, maybe a universal education grant. But what about those to whom a higher education is unsuited. How would they benefit from such a scheme? The short answer is that they would not benefit, and we would be back to a situation of unfairness.

Perhaps, as has been suggested about wealth and income inequalities taking our attention away from the real issue of poverty (see There is a problem), we are focussing on the wrong thing. Instead of just focussing on education for the poor we should instead be focussing on the bigger issue of how to better the lot of all. So what the DDF are now considering is the possibility of a once in a lifetime “Universal Advancement Grant”. I can hear the groans – “not another grant!” and “this is a slippery slope?” and “What a daft idea!” – I can just imagine the moans and groans and yes, you have a right to be sceptical. Indeed the DDF still rest on their assertion that there is no such thing as a free lunch so the means to pay for this needs to be found.

But consider this in the light of fees must fall and the issue of fairness; What if everyone had this once in a lifetime “Advancement Grant” and could use it to pay for their tertiary education or as a down-payment on a house or as a business investment or to travel abroad with, or indeed, just to fritter it away on trivia. What if?

And what if this could be substantially paid for by the savings made from shrinking the size and cost of government? What if?

Wouldn’t that solve the issue of fees must fall and fairness at the same time? It possibly would for this and future generations of beneficiaries, but those of us who have already missed that boat would not think of it as fair and to to pay such a grant to all the rest of the county’s citizens would probably be impossible, but could we compensate them somehow? Perhaps an enhanced BIG granted over time (say over 20 years) to compensate those who didn’t receive the advancement grant might work and be affordable?

So maybe a universal once In a lifetime “Advancement Grant” is not so daft an idea after all, and is worth considering.

The DDF have some pencil sharpening to do to figure out how to pay for it all. But that is part of the process.

Have a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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Is a Basic Income Grant stealing from the rich?

An interesting article from BBC Future (There is a problem with the way we look at inequality) looks at the wealth gap and some publications on the subject and concluded that there were actually three different elements that one should distinguish between in order to understand what needs to be done to rectify an obviously unjust situation. The issue, they say, is not the existence of a gap between rich and poor, but the existence of unfairness”.

So the trick is to understand what of the wealth gap is just and what of it is unjust. We would paraphrase the situation thus, we need to deliver justice without destroying that which is just and desirable, because, if we destroy that which is good in an attempt to destroy that which is bad, what is left for those of us who want the good? Perhaps only the bad. This is reflected in the law of unintended consequences.

English is full of pithy little sayings and a very pertinent one for this topic is; “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”. In other words, be careful of the baby (the economy). You don’t wish to destroy the economy.

A point highlighted in the article was that one study argued that the public perception of wealth inequality itself being aversive to most people is incorrect, and that instead, what people are truly concerned about is unfairness” and that “People typically prefer fair inequality to unfair equality”. Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University arguing against a world of absolute equality, observed “why would I work for 50 hours a week if everything I’m given is free?”. Indeed, why work at all if you receive the same as Joe Blogs who works 50 hours a week, when you get the same for not working at all?

The three ideas we need to grasp about equality are 1) People should have equal opportunity in society, regardless of their background, race, sexuality, gender and so on. 2) Fair distribution says that benefits or rewards should be distributed fairly based on merit. 3) Equality of outcome says that all in society should earn the same rewards irrespective of their input into society.

Most of us would agree with points 1 and 2 but many would disagree with point 3 (see Bloom (above)).

Many economist interviewed for the article agree that too much attention is paid to the fact that the 1%, and the super-rich exist. Instead, they argue, we need to concentrate more on helping those less fortunate, who via a lack of fairness, are unable to improve their situation.

Harry G Frankfurt, emeritus professor of philosophy at Princeton University argues in his book On Inequality that “the moral obligation should be on eliminating poverty, not achieving equality, and striving to make sure everyone has the means to lead a good life”.

Experts say the solution to poverty lies in addressing the fact that poverty and unfairness exist because addressing that should be the real moral obligation.

While we at the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) agree with all of this, our approach is more pragmatic than moral. We suggest it is in fact in the interests of all of society, including the rich and the super rich, that poverty be eradicated, and that it is also in the interest of the market economy that poverty be eliminated. After all, the poor cannot afford to buy cars and washing machines and dishwashers and clothing and medical services and education and housing and recreation and food and travel and electricity and swimming pools and stereo sets and computers and video equipment and so on and so on and so on, while even the modestly affluent, the sort of lower middle class (financially speaking), can, over time, buy all these goods and services. By making the demand side of the economy stronger, we all, even the rich and the super rich, grow richer.

If we use a slightly different analogy, every farmer knows he has to sow the seeds of his prosperity by investing in his land and his livestock. Similarly every person who relies on the economy for his prosperity, both the rich and the poor, needs to sow the seeds of this prosperity by investing not only in the means of production, but also the means of consumption.

So we at the DDF argue that a Basic Income Grant (BIG), funded at first by the economy through the application of a BIG TEAL, will sow the seeds of that prosperity, and should not be viewed as stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but as an investment in the demand side of the economy, and if at the same time, a BIG makes the lives of countless of individuals better and makes ”sure everyone has the means to lead a good life”, to quote Harry G Frankfurt, so much the better.

In addition, it should be remembered that TEAL collects in equal proportion from everyone. While the rich may contribute more than the poor, that is only because the rich are more economically active than the poor. But they all contribute in equal proportions.

So, in answer to the question, is a BIG stealing from the rich, we would answer emphatically and resoundingly, NO! It is an investment in their own and everyone else’s prosperity.

For those who wonder how we could pay for a Basic Income Grant, see how to pay for a basic income grant and take a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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Mental Health Subsidy Crises? Dial BIG for Help!

Remember the Esidimeni crises when a mental health care facility was closed and patients transferred willy-nilly to other ill-equipped facilities. A health ombudsman report suggests that as many as 80 (others say more and still counting) patients may have died as a result of that fiasco and not just 36 as originally reported.

Could things get worse? Apparently they can.

The San Michele Home, a flagship facility for mental health care, faces being closed because the Gauteng Health Department is withdrawing the R3400.00 per patient per month subsidy, because, the department claims, the facility does not comply with the regulations for such an establishment. These regulations were recently changed and, it is claimed, are excessively stringent and, in any event, the home has not been given a reasonable opportunity to comply with the new regulations.

Forget the San Michele Home for a moment. It appears that as many as 160 (one hundred and sixty) mental care facilities face closure for the same reasons. San Michele Home has about 200 patients in its care, so let us assume that each of the 160 homes have on average100 patients in their care. That means that some 16 000 patients (or more) are at risk, something that reduces the Esidimeni crises to a level of insignificance that is truly frightening.

It seems that the Gauteng Health Department are trying to discard their subsidy obligations to the mentally ill community and, quite callously, do not care much about the risk of a few more deaths here and there.

One would have thought that they would have learned from the Esidimeni fiasco, but apparently not.

But the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) are not here to berate the Gauteng Health Department for whatever their lapses may be, merely to observe that if a Basic Income Grant of R5000 per month for every adult South African were in place, all sixteen thousand or so patients would not be at risk, because they could provide for their own medical subsidy at the facility of their choice, and would not need to be subsidised by a reluctant province or even an unwilling national government.

For those who would ridicule the idea of a Basic Income Grant, see how to pay for a basic income grant and take a look at DDF policy on the Basic Income Grant (BIG) and DDF policy on the Total Economic Activity Levy (TEAL).

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Recession? Dial BIG for help

Recession? Car sales down? No problem. Dial BIG for help:

South Africa slipped into recession with two successive quarters of negative growth in the GDP and car sales shrinking 13% to 34 956 units, year on year to April 2017.

Imagine there is in place a Basic Income Grant (BIG) of R5000 per month given to every adult South Africa citizen (see here) in 2017, and 0.1% of that population, say 34 400 of them, decided that they would like to buy new cars in 2017 because with the R5000 BIG they could afford to buy a car and pay it off over say the next three years. That would almost double new car sales for 2017 and boost new car sales by maybe R6.2 Billion, or more, in 2017.

I wonder what effect that would have on the motor industry and on SA’s latest recession?

I wonder too, if the remaining R1.5 Trillion pa additional spend by BIG recipients in 2017 (see here) would have any effect on the rest of the economy? I would guess that yes, it would have an enormous and positive effect on the economy.

Bye bye recession. Hello prosperity!

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How to pay for a Basic Income Grant

How can one pay for a Basic Income Grant (BIG)?

The short answer is that a TEAL (a Total Economic Activity Levy) would pay for a BIG. Later, the role of TEAL as a source for a BIG may be taken over by a Sovereign Wealth Fund, in part or in full, depending on the success of the SWF project (see SWF)

Let us explain how:

First what should a basic income grant be set at?

In the UK people who typically use food banks earn less than £320.00 (at R17/£ = R5440) per month and in the US they are thinking of $10 000 pa or about $800 BIG per month (at R13:50/$ = R10 800) while Finland are talking about €800 BIG per month (at R15.50 = R12 400), so the Direct Democracy Forum’s (DDF’s) suggestion of R5 000 BIG per month is quite modest when compared to other countries’ needs and suggestions. But let’s stick with R5 000 per month as a starting point.

What would the monthly and annual BIG bill be at R5 000 per month?

Our best guestimate is that the adult South African population is about 34,4m. That would mean a monthly BIG bill of R5 000 X 34.4m equals R172 Billion or an annual BIG of 12 times that amount (no thirteenth cheque) or R2.064 Trillion.

That’s frightening. Where on earth do we get R2.1 Trillion Rand a year, an amount rising along with the population as we go on in time? That is almost the value of the current GDP (our estimate at R2.8T for 2017).

The DDF reasons as follows.

If there is a relationship of 30 times the GDP to the amount of money flowing through the banking system (a relationship we observed in an earlier TEAL exercise in 2011) , a GDP of R2.8T would equate to R84T passing through the banking system, per year, We call that the TEA or Total Economic Activity. But each Rand of TEA represents a deposit into one bank account and a withdrawal from another bank account (we call this the doubling factor). So the TEALable amount is the TEA doubled, or R84T doubled to R168T.

Suddenly, 2.1 Trillion Rand seems quite small. In fact a 1.2% levy on the Tealable amount of R168T would deliver R2.1 Trillion. Not cheap but also not that expensive when you consider that the R2.1 Trillion will go back into the economy and effect the money velocity and the GDP (more about that later) and generally increase the size of the pie that we are all eating from.

Is a BIG just a thinly disguised wealth redistribution?  Does it not steal from the rich to give to the poor?  

This is not the topic of this post but for those who are thinking along those lines and do not at first see beyond the wealth redistribution element (yes, there is such an element) then we suggest you consider the effect on the economy of boosting the potential spend of the population by a net R1.5 T a year (remember the social welfare grant offset).  That has to boost the demand side of the economy enormously and provide the suply side of the economy with numerous wealth making opportunities, not just for the existing industrial and commercial powerhouses but also for the small trader and industrialists (the SMEs that everyone says should be the backbone of our economic revival) and individuals at large. In addition the socio-economic benefits for the population as a whole probably make it worthwhile.  But this is discussed more fully here and elsewhere in DDF’s current affairs posts,

Are there dangers? Yes, there are:

Will a BIG effect inflation?

Yes, it probably will, but that would need to be countered by 1) easing into a R5 000 BIG over time (say over 5 years) to ease the inflationary pressures on the economy, and 2)  dropping existing social welfare benefits (for example old age pensions) as the BIG matches or betters them (you won’t receive both an old age pension and a BIG together) and 3) increasing the GDP, in short increasing the supply of goods and services to match the increased availability of the R2.1T of BIG money.

Will a BIG effect the money supply and won’t that in itself be inflationary?

The answer to that is probably not a simple yes or no. Yes a BIG of R2.1 will effect the availability of money but not to the extent of R2.1 T.  Remember the social welfare offsets and that TEAL does not create money.  The economy may become more liquid.  A BIG will probably make existing money more accessible, particularly for the poor, and make money circulate more quickly and more often and that could be inflationary (see above on counter measures).  The No side to that is that TEAL does not in itself create money, print money or borrow money.  So the money supply per se should not be effected by a TEAL funded BIG, and that in itself should restrain inflationary tendencies.

Will a BIG of R2.1 Trillion lift the GDP to R4.9 Trillion?

No, probably not: 1) the BIG will substitute for existing social welfare grants, so there will be an offset factor, and 2) any increased demand trend will probably be met by a trend to import more, not produce more (remember we are in a post industrial phase in South Africa and are more a nation of consumers than producers, and I squarely blame the ANC for that).

So how do we move the supply trend to produce more and import less?

This will need a concerted and coordinated effort of the private and public sectors to boost production, maybe even engaging in targeted programs of import substitution and production benefaction, particularly by engaging as many of the BIG recipients as possible to invest as much of their BIG in production capacity, either of their own or through the JSE by investing in corporations which can expand their capacity to compete for the expanding markets for their goods and services, and of course, investments by the Sovereign Wealth Fund in South Africa’s production capacity.

Would a DDF administration have an overarching socio-economic-industrial strategy?

Yes, there would have to be such a strategy. In short, all the damage that successive ANC governments have done and in particular the damage the most recent (2014-19) ANC government has done, would have to be reversed. This is a tall order but when South Africans can stop hating one-another and when even the poorest of the poor has a stake in the economy and has some security and hope for the future, we believe that a united and determined South Africa can do just that, and in fact must do it, because the alternative is an ever downward spiral toward abject misery for most of our population.

So that is how a Total Economic Activity Levy will pay for a Basic Income Grant.

Capisce?

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Unpacking State Capture:

The Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) have produced a report which unpacks the Capture of the South African State by Zupta Inc in a very clear and dispassionate manner that makes sense of and expands on, Thuli Madonsela’s (our ex Public Protector) State of Capture report and details very succinctly the manner in which Denel, Eskom, Transnet, Prassa, to name a few SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) and Treasury were taken over by Gupta surrogates and then milked.

Page 42 of the PARI report Betrayal of The Promise details the modus operandi for milking an SOE. We paraphrase:

New minister (say for energy) changes the SOE board composition

SOE embarks on new capital expenditure projects

The new board support radical economic transformation or has close personal links to bidders

Tender is awarded in circumstances of clear conflict of interest.

This is a process that can take years to put in place and clearly is part of a systemic process of looting compliant state coffers and public and private purses (for example, how much do you pay versus how much should you pay, for electricity?).

To add insult to injury, the DA’s Natasha Mazzone suspects that Eskom engineered the rolling blackouts (remember them?) in order to create a panic filled and compliant market place to ensure that the coal deals of Eskom’s choice and terms and conditions were met, as part of the milking process. Well, the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) pretty much suspected that was behind the rolling blackouts, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Big Power (here and elsewhere) manipulated the market place to their profit. Wherever there is a monopoly these behaviours are pretty much a given.

Then came the email exposé about the extent of the state capture and President Zuma’s planned retirement bolt-hole in Dubai, and further still, the role Bell Pottinger had, (also see here) a UK PR firm contracted by the Gupta’s to run a disinformation campaign aimed at the South African public, duping the nation and creating red herrings to detract from the looting that was happening in front of our very eyes.

It is all pretty sickening, particularly given the state of the economy, wide-spread poverty and the terrible need for social, economic and administrative justice in South Africa.

South Africa is not entirely alone in this sense. If you haven’t heard of Operation Car Wash, a Brazilian equivalent to Zupta-Gate, read all about it, it is very informative. There are lessons to be learned from Brazil’s experience.

There is not much you or I or the DDF can do at the moment but they say that truth is stranger than fiction and there are upcoming elections and, while the DDF having the necessary political clout to do anything substantial about this is unlikely, sometimes the unlikely happens against all odds. We also think that the members of Zupta Inc should contemplate the fact that many in South Africa will be looking forward to seeing justice done when a government of integrity takes power from the ANC.

So, our message to them is, “You can run but you cannot hide”.

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Why DDF policies are relevant

 

Every idea has its time.

Some eminent persons have recently lent weight to the need for three of the four pillars of DDF policy.

Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont, recently observed that he backs governments introducing universal basic income for all citizens to cope with the economic upheaval sweeping the world and that the new economy necessitates giving people time to ”re-skill” themselves see here. The relevant DDF policy is for a Basic Income Grant.

Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan speaking at a University of Johannesburg function, (see here) observed that while there were benefits and winners from globalisation, there were also downsides and losers, creating an instability and unpredictability that has forced “sheer misery” on millions across the globe, who march barefooted from one country to another while at the same time becoming victims of xenophobia and other forms of attack. He adds that all future global policy frameworks should include how to solve this inequality. He gave as examples of losers and what happens when they realise they are losing out, as the outcome of elections in the US, France and Brexit.

He further points out that we have to recontextualise what a social safety net means. We have to put in place, as societies, as economies, new kinds of social safety nets which will ensure that people who are not just poor but who are able, willing, educated, trained, but can’t get a job, can still receive an income.

He also said that “if rich people and big companies are evading or aggressively avoiding tax, or live in multiple jurisdictions as a result of which they pay pay tax nowhere at the end of the day, where is the fiscal capacity going to come from into the future?”

Relevant DDF policies are the Basic Income Grant, Total Economic Activity Levy or TEAL, and Sovereign Wealth Fund .

Adding his weight to the need for change is Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba who quotes the definition of radical economic transformation (see here) as changing the structure, ownership and institutions of our economy to include all South Africans in opportunity and wealth creation, particularly marginalised groups such as black people, women and youth but offers no viable means of achieving these goals.

Relevant DDF policies are the Basic Income Grant, Total Economic Activity Levy or TEAL, and Sovereign Wealth Fund.

On a more esoteric level, Andy Becket examines a philosophy called Acceleration, born of the ever increasing pace of change in the world. In his article Accelerationism, how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in, he observes that “the world is changing at dizzying speed – but for some thinkers, not fast enough”. He asks the question, “Is accelerationism a dangerous idea or does it speak to our troubled times?”

Observing that much of the world has got faster, “that working patterns, political cycles, everyday technologies, communication habits and devices, the redevelopment of cities, the acquisition and disposal of possessions – all of these have accelerated”. The development of the philosophy has gone through stages from the weird to the pragmatic (see the article Accelerationism ) and recent advocates, Nick Srnicek and Mark Fisher founded a new political philosophy derived from Accelerationism: “left accelerationism”.

Srnicek and Fisher’s book “Inventing the Future” 2015, argues for an economy based as far as possible on automation, with the jobs, working hours and wages lost replaced by a universal basic income. Sounds like something out of Science Fiction movie, but if you can get your head past the radical economic transformation which that implies and which Gigaba ostensibly wants, it becomes not just imminently doable but entirely unavoidable.

Again, relevant DDF policies are the Basic Income Grant Total Economic Activity Levy or TEAL and Sovereign Wealth Fund.

These are not the only voices in the debate around a basic income grant. Pilot applications are happening all over the world, from as close to home as Namibia to as far away as Finland. While these schemes are cautious and mostly aimed at supporting the elderly and unemployed, the DDF believe that we should not have a bunch of bureaucrats issuing judgement on their citizens as to who is and is not deserving, but that the BIG should be a universal right applicable to all of a nation’s citizens, irrespective of their health, wealth and the stage of their lives.

The DDF believe that the Basic Income Grant and the Sovereign Wealth Fund in tandem, at first funded by TEAL, will address many of the economic needs of South Africa. If you think of a BIG as being an investment in the demand side of the economy and TEAL as being an affordable and equitable means of funding both the fiscus and a BIG, then what at first appears fanciful becomes viable.

How is this significant for the DDF? It lends weight to the credibility of DDF policies that so much of the rest of the world is engaged in examining the viability of policies similar to those of the DDF. The DDF are not alone. We are not just an isolated band of extreme economic and social theorists. We are pragmatists seeking a working solution to the problems outlined by Johann Rupert, Pravin Gordhan, Malusi Gigaba, Andy Becket, Nick Srnicek, Mark Fisher and many others throughout the world. DDF policies need to be given serious consideration by anyone who is even just a little concerned for the future of South Africa and indeed the world.

While many are saying that yes we need a basic income grant, while agreeing with them, we have determined the means of funding a universal basic income grant through the application of TEAL. That makes the DDF feel just a little special and gives the DDF a sense that its time is coming.

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Molefe Eskom-Tegeta Scam

 

An analysis of the State Capture Timeline of the events from 1st November 2011, when Glencore et al purchased Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH) and Optimum Coal Mines (OCM) to 1st January 2017, when Brain Molefe resigned from Eskom in disgrace, shows four clearly distinct sub-sets.

These are the periods 1) 1st November 2011 to 1st March 2015 2) 1st April 2015 to 8th April 2016 3) from 11th April 2016 to 14th April 2016 and finally 4) from 23rd May 2016 to 5th September 2016.

The first period 01/11/2011 to 01/03/2015 is an approximate three year and four month period during which Glencore and partners purchased Optimum Coal Holdings and found that the pre-existing twenty year Coal Supply Agreement (CSA) with Eskom was a loss-making deal to the tune of some R100M per month, which needed to be re-negotiated. Around 1st March 2015, a draft addendum to the CSA agreeing to sell coal to Eskom at cost through to 2018, was said to be approved by the Eskom Tender and Procurement Committees.

The second period runs from 1st April 2015 when Brian Molefe joins Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, through his stewardship until 11th April 2016, when the Loan Consortium approved the business plan which saw OCH and OCM sold to Tegeta (aka Oakbay/Guptas).

During this period Molefe, (who Eskom assures all of us had no influence over board decisions) appears to have intervened to:

  1. force OCH/OCM into Business Rescue by refusing to approve the addendum to the CSA (see above) needed by OCM who were losing up to R120M per month on the Hendrina CSA, as well as having Eskom impose a R2.1765 Billion penalty on OCM,

  2. quash any hopes of sales to bidders other than Tegeta, and there were a few alternative bidders (any sale required Eskom approval, probably in terms of the extant CSA) as no approval was given except for the Tegeta deal,  and

  3. to force upon the sellers the sale of Optimum Coal Holdings and all subsidiary business assets, including the Koornfontein Mine and the Optimum Coal Terminal Concession (very significantly), as well as Optimum Coal Mines, to Tegeta. (see above – any sale required & etc ….. )

Also during this period,

  1. on 4/03/2016, Tegeta obtained a certainty letter from the Bank of Baroda as cover for the purchase of all shares in OCH, viz the Tegeta share of R2.15B as agreed.

  2. on 30/03/2016, Eskom signed a release on the agreement for OCH and

  3. on 8/04/2016 the Loan Consortium approved the underlying business plan (assuring them they would be repaid the outstandings on the revolving loan granted Glencore et al in January of 2011).

On 11th December 2015 an agreement was struck for the sale of OCH (as above) for R2.55B, payable to the Loan Consortium, R2.15B by Tegeta and R400M by Glencore.

Everything sort of looked ok.

The third period ran from 11th April, 2017 to 14th April 2016:

  1. 11th April 2016 Tegeta defaulted on the sale agreement (they were short R600M) and tried to re-negotiate the deal with the Loan Consortium, which effort the Consortium rejected.

  2. 13th April 2016, Eskom prepays to Tegeta a R659.5M pre-payment on a CSA for Arnot power station, supplied by OCM, but paid to Tegeta at a premium of R1.20 / GJ, being a profit to Tegeta which should have been for account of OCM under management of the BRPs,

    1. At that time OCM was still owned by OCH and managed by the BRPs whose mandate only expired 31st August 2016.

  3. 14th April 2016 Tegeta and Glencore settle their full monetary obligations to the Loan Consortium

The 4th period ran from 23rd May 2016 to 5th September 2016: This period can only be described as raiding the honey pot:

  1. 23rd May 2016 Tegeta transfered R280M from the Koornfontein Rehabilitation Fund to the Bank of Baroda.

  2. 21st June 2016 transfered what is variously reported as R1.4612B or R1.4699B from Optimum Mine Rehabilitation Fund Trust to the Bank of Baroda.

    1. The interest on these funds at 7% pa would amount to R122.5M

  3. 5th September 2016 Oakbay/Tegeta/Guptas sold the Optimum Mines coal export allocation at Richards Bay Coal Terminal to Vitol, an international coal trading firm, for a cool US $250M (R3.68B). The allocation was acquired through the purchase of OCH by Tegeta, paid for on 14th April 2016, a 5 month profit of R1.5B, while still retaining all the remaining assets of OCH.

Then of course, only on 31st August 2016 do the BRP’s relinquish responsibility and obligations for OCM. Until that point the BRP’s were still managing OCM.

The final chapter of this saga was Brian Molefe resigning as CEO of Eskom, in disgrace, having had his fraternisation with the Gupta’s publically exposed.

How to summarise this.

From 1st November 2011 to 1st March 2015 business was amiable between OCM and Eskom with emphasis on securing the coal supply for Eskom to the benefit of both parties.

From 1st April 2015 when Brian Molefe joined Eskom to 8th April 2016, relationships soured and OCM was pushed to the wall by Eskom’s unwillingness to negotiate mutually beneficial business deals with OCM, penalising OCM to the tune of R2.1765 Billion and OCM were forced to sell to the buyers of Eskom’s choice (viz Gupta’s Tegeta) on terms and conditions of Eskom’s choice (the Gupta’s wanted the Coal Concessions at Richards Bay Harbour for a song).

From 11th April 2016 to 14th April 2016 Tegeta tried to re-negotiate the deal as they were short of R600M and having failed to renegotiate, Eskom bailed them out by pre-paying Tegeta R659.5M on a CSA contract that was not even Tegeta’s to have (they had yet to close the OCM/OCH deal).

From 23rd May 2016 to 5th September 2016, even before OCM management had shifted from the Business Rescue Practitioners, the Gupta’s plundered the assets of OCH, including transferring some R1.75 Billion of Rehabilitation Trust Funds into Tegeta business accounts at the Bank of Baroda and selling the Richards Bay Coal Export Concessions at a R1.5 Billion profit.

Was this shrewd business dealings or a monumental multi billion Rand scam involving hundreds of millions of Rands belonging to a state owned public enterprise?

We at the DDF believe Molefe was the Gupta’s inside man at Eskom, and the scam plan from the outset was to defraud Glencore, owners of OCM and OCH, of their assets, in particular the Richards Bay Coal Terminal Concessions, and to profit thereby, because when it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, that’s what it ducking well is, a duck.  So when a deal looks like a scam, there is no alternative conclusion to arrive at than it’s a scam.

Brian Molefe: This is the same man whom having resigned from Eskom in disgrace for fraternising with the Guptas, was offered an ANC seat in parliament, then offered a R30 Million severance package by the Eskom board after only 18 months of service, and when that last piece of chicanery was overturned, re-established as Eskom’s CEO.

This is the land we live in.

South Africa.

A land of infinite opportunities if you know the right Gupta.

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The Failure of BEE

Siya Khumalo lamented HERE at how BEE had been used to benefit the few instead of the many. BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) is a policy of giving preference to those previously excluded from the economy by the Apartheid policies of the Nationalist Governments between 1948 and 1994. While it is true that few benefited from it while many did not, his plea that BEE should be made to work for the many set me to thinking that it was just one of many ANC policies that did not work for South Africa because the ANC simply did not and does not work for South Africa, but for itself.

This was my response to the article:

I am leader of Direct Democracy Forum (DDF), a registered SA political party (http://ddforum.co.za).

Maybe it is just the circles I mix in but I do not and have not, for many years, known any white or black South Africans who are unwilling to share what they have in terms of time, skills, expertise and knowledge, with their fellow South Africans, so I think Siya Khumalo’s analysis of our dilemma is a bit simplistic.

First, BEE has not and will not work because it interferes with our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association.. The only sound economic policy for South Africa is a colour-blind policy that seeks to lift all out of poverty by engaging all, fully, in the South African economy, irrespective of their race, colour or creed. That will allow us all to share our time, skills, expertise and knowledge with our fellow South Africans, irrespective of our race, colour and creed. This would be a multi-directional engagement by and between us all based on the freedom to choose and the freedom of association guaranteed by our constitution. ANC policies, if anything, have stifled that freedom for too long and need to be discarded as soon as possible.

The problem is far more systemic than to bee or not to bee. It is more correctly viewed as the extent to which government should be and has been allowed to intrude into the private, commercial and industrial lives of its citizens.

Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report epitomises the extent of the abuse of that relationship by certain government agents and certain private citizens for the enormous profit of the few and the general expense of the many. In the opinion of the DDF this is criminal, and if not so, it should be.

DDF policies, are intended to address the many problems faced by our country and its citizens, on many levels and in many ways, and to provide our citizens the freedom to engage with one-another free of government restrictions and limitations.

It is our perception that most folk have enormous good will for one-another, and that if allowed to engage with one-another free of restraint, will do so for the betterment of themselves and of all, and, as they do that, South Africa will start healing from the scars of its history.

John Barrington.

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Fake News

The American presidential election stirred a lot of mud in the USA and internationally. There are theories that Russia interfered in that election by hacking democratic party e-mail accounts and leaking the results through wiki leaks and other compliant avenues in an attempt to discredit the democratic campaign and in order to install a pro-Russia candidate in the White House. Sometimes theories can be concocted to match outcomes but in this case, my guess is that there is some credibility to the theory that Russia did its best to discredit Clinton and the Democrats and install a much more malleable candidate, namely, President Donald Trump of the USA.

Since then, there have been lots of reports of fake news, one for instance dubbed pizzagate, where the Democrats were alleged to be running a paedophile ring out of a Washington DC pizza parlour See here. Crazy? Yup! But apparently some idiot took it very seriously and went in there with a gun to check out the story. See here.

Some fake news is just motivated by greed. The more ludicrous the claims the more they are shared the more advertising revenue they generate for the web site reporting the absurd. To these sites and their owners it is just a money game. Many of the sites reporting fake news are allegedly run by East Europeans. See the transcript of this discussion between Craig Silverman of Buzz Feed and David Davies of NPR (US National Public Radio) Fake News Analysis Transcript. Wherever the site is based, the criteria is how many hits and revenue can a story generate and the truth of the matter is that the truth of the matter is of no concern.

So if a fake news story generates conflict between two nations who live on the brink of mutually assured destruction (only a slight exaggeration) as was reported on here between Pakistan and Israel, so much the better for the story. What is the big deal if some idiot shoots some of the staff at a pizza parlour (it didn’t but could’ve happened) or a nuclear conflict is precipitated (it didn’t but could’ve happened)? So what, they will argue, as the till clangs ‘k-ching’?

And in case you imagine for one moment that we in South Africa are immune to these machinations, may I draw your attention to the likes of Dr Eschel Rhoodie and the Information Scandal of the Apartheid era (he had a real PhD) and the current scandal surrounding Hlaudi Motsoeneng (who has a fake or no Matriculation Certificate at all), who, while in charge of the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation, South Africa’s public broadcaster), decreed that there had to be 70% positive news stories broadcast about South Africa by the SABC, and that there would be no coverage of unrest (of which there is a fair amount), and who decreed that SABC should broadcast 90% local content and who ruled the media department at the SABC in what has been described as a reign of terror, all of which demonstrates the relevance to South Africa of the curse of fake news and manipulation of the news and the media by the powers that be, past, present and future. It gets even more complicated when big business takes over government and the media serves their interests

Take the story of Iqbal Surve. Born in Cape Town in 12th February 1963 in poor circumstances he apparently pulled himself up by his own shoelaces and became a medical doctor (the facts are unclear – Cape Town U, or did someone mention Cambridge U, or does he even have a MBChB degree?) and confidant and medical advisor to Nelson Mandela (apparently while still a junior medical student) and a recipient of multiple awards from organisations who have never heard of him. His life appears to be a fabrication (see much posturing, political favour currying, more incredulity). In fact, he seems a bit of a charlatan who has got into bed with the ANC and who managed to con the Public Investment Corporation (or maybe they were complicit) into parting with R900 000 000 (Nine Hundred Million) of public pension funds apparently to buy the Independent Newspapers, which sum is alleged to be non-repayable, whatever that means. One’s head spins. And this person heads up the not so Independent Newspaper Group. The largest group of English language newspapers in South Africa is headed up by this apology for a media mogul and ANC stooge. And that is the relevance of Iqbal Surve to the topic of fake news.

Surve is not the only worm in the can.  If you only concern is how government departments spend your hard earned money, look no further than the new Nielsen report which highlights the Gupta owned New Age rag (I hesitate to imply it has a better status) having hooks into major government departments and parastatals, sucking them dry of their advertising budgets.  Read all about it here and be as appalled as I am..

As if that were not enough to make the average South African nauseous, the ANC has, apparently for years, run a black ops department, specialising in tailoring news and information for public consumption. One of the Black Ops contractors is now suing the ANC for unpaid fees for fake news activities. The ANC of course are claiming this is fake news, which is sort of the point of this entire blog. Who and what to believe.  See Lies will always out.

So when Putin says with a wink and a nod that no Russian regulars are engaged in military activities in the Ukraine, the media, in an effort to be non biased, print the assertion even though the evidence suggests otherwise.

The point of all this is, who in the world do we trust to keep us informed and not to misinform us. On what do we base our decisions on who to elect as future leaders and what if anything can we do to discredit and maybe punish purveyors of fake news? Is it not, after all, a question of fraud? But if you go after the news fraudsters you are bound to damage genuine media outlets as well, who could in self defence engage in self censorship. Dare we publish this or that story? Kind of self-defeating.

Of course, fake news is nothing new.  Britain used it on China to encourage China to Join against Germany in the first world war, Germany used it  in the second world war against the Jews and other non Aryans and against the Allies, Goering was Nazi Germany’s propaganda wizard. Fake news has always been with us.  What has changed is the method of delivery with media like twitter and Face-book and the news media trying to keep abreast of itself.  Fake news that took months or even years to plan and disseminate before now happens in moments on the Internet and has an avid global audience.

But some of the things we can do to protect against fake news are discussed here, here and here, and a good dose of skepticism will go a long way. You can also read up more here and here.  Sadly this is actually never ending. So let me at least end this now.

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The Age of Anger and the Educational Divide

The angst generated by Brexit and the Trump election is still generating much comment with all sorts of views being expressed.

Pankaj Mishra, writing in the Guardian in an article titled “Welcome to the age of anger” asserts that emotions of fear, anxiety and humiliation played a significant part in both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump and asserts further that a rigid contemporary belief that what counts is only what can be counted and what cannot be counted – subjective emotions – therefore do not (count). He points out that these emotions are also what drove Germany into the second world war and are driving anti-western sentiments in China, Russia and India.

He quotes Robert Musil speaking of the critics of Enlightenment rationalism, who observed that the problem was not that we “have too much intellect and too little soul” but that we have “too little intellect in matters of the soul”. This is a statement that resonates with me.

He further observes that seeking the “rational actor” we fail to see the individual as a “deeply unstable entity” particularly prone to ressentiment, a French word describing an emotion “caused by an intense mix of envy, humiliation and powerlessness” and resulting in a sentiment that can be expressed thus, “that it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail”. (Gore Vidal). So ressentiment “is poisoning civil society and undermining political liberty everywhere” which is further exacerbated by the inability of our “grotesquely unequal societies” to satisfy expectations of the equality of social conditions and individual empowerment presented as ideals of modern democracy.

Pankaj Mishra observes that “Never have so many free individuals felt so helpless – so desperate to take back control from anyone they can blame”. He concludes that we need a “radically enlarged understanding of what it means for human beings to pursue the contradictory ideals of freedom, equality and prosperity”.

Mishra says a lot more and is worth a read here.

In a related article, “How the education gap is tearing politics apart” David Runciman, also in the Guardian, observes that the chasm in education between the poorly educated and the well educated elite is ever growing and “has become a fundamental divide in democracy” and “how people vote is being increasingly shaped by how long they spent at school” and to a significant extent, this is what helped shape the Brexit results. Runciman succinctly states the fears that “democracy will mean rule by the poor, who will use their power to steal from the rich” and “rule by the ignorant, who will use their power to do the dumbest things” and that “both these worries go back as far as Plato” (428/427 bce – 348/347 bce) and recur “at times of political crises”.

Walter Lippmann, an American propagandist of the first world war, wrote of democracy that it was impossible to believe “that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart”. Evidence and reasoned argument mean little to the average voter, he argued, and that only specialist experts could rescue politicians from the dubious instincts of the people and direct them to what evidence required.

Runciman argues that to think that 2016 was a return to a democratic norm would be a big mistake. Runciman instead suggests that the educated tend to flock together and share common values and vote one way, and that the uneducated would do much the same but vote another way. Greater freedom tends to produce more social stratification rather than social diversity and this tends to support political choices of both groups, the educated and the less educated, with the divide highlighting alternative values ‘often characterised as opposition between libertarians and authoritarians” and this “represents a gulf in mutual understanding”.

Neither Runciman nor Mishra offer solutions, just analysis. That is more than enough. The solutions must come from those who heed their analysis.

How is this significant for the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF)?

First, the DDF senate proposal permits participation of ordinary citizens in the day to day political process. But the DDF’s Senate is not a legislative body. It is an approval element of a legislative body. So, the Senate cannot approve a law where the poor raid the rich unless the experts (the legislators) actually pass such a bill and send it to the senate for approval. Nor can a DDF Senate legislate something abysmally stupid unless the same legislators pass such a bill and send it to the Senate for approval. One would hope that the DDF Senate, even if presented with such a bill, will have the good sense to reject the bill, because it would have first to debate the pros and cons of such a bill and those presenting those pros and cons would also be part of the ‘learned elite’, who we believe will no doubt seek to alert the Senate members of the pitfalls surrounding such a bill.

Thus meaningful participation in the legislative process would be accessible to anyone who volunteers and is selected to sit. For details of the process and of the proposed Senate, see here. It will be obvious that the senate would have the power to quash any legislation or regulation that it feels was elitist or otherwise undesirable, no questions asked, and would need to be convinced of the desirability of any bill or regulation passed by the legislators or regulators but, importantly, would itself be unable to initiate legislation.

This should address in part, the sense of helplessness felt by so many referred to by Mishra and to enable human beings to pursue the contradictory ideals of freedom, equality and prosperity in a structured, peaceful and democratic manner.

Then there is the sense that society is being divided between the well educated and the not so well educated. The only way to address that is to ensure that all have the opportunity to be adequately educated, according to whatever their intellectual capacity is.

Here the DDF are proposing a number of interlocking policies which will support an education system, paid for from funds made available through a Basic Income Grant and available nationally to all South African citizens. Thus, government would no longer be the primary employer of education resources. Instead the students and the parents would be the employers and educators would, amongst other features, suddenly have their ability to blackmail all of society with threats of nationwide strikes, curtailed, because there would no longer be one service provider but thousands of service providers, all of whom would need to be negotiated with separately. In short, the DDF are proposing a free market solution where freedom of choice is paramount. If you don’t like the choices offered your child at school A, remove the child and the fees he is paying from school A to school B or C, whichever school works best for you.

OK, the solution is not a quick fix. There are no quick fixes in a process with a twenty five year cycle from entry into pre-school to exit from post-graduate school, but improvements to the entire system would be immediately available to scholars and students in the system, from pre-school to post-graduate school, from day one.

Of course, one cannot have education without qualified, competent and enthusiastic educators. So educators would be well paid and education would be a prestige occupation reserved for the competent.

The DDF do not claim that this would remove the education chasm that is growing year by year, but it first would slow the growth and later on, with more and more scholars having access to quality education through the whole process, there would be less of a divide between the highly educated and the not so well educated, and an education would be respected by all of South Africa and would be delivered as a right, not as a privilege.

As to fees must fall, there is no such thing as a free lunch so those receiving the benefit of a tertiary education will have to pay for it, before, during or after receiving their degrees.

All of this is not a perfect solution but is much better than what we currently have in South Africa.

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Junk Status still on the table

Looming credit downgrades are but one symptom of the economic turmoil wrought by political infighting in the ANC. In lock step are market performances which are very much on a downward trend and have been for the past 9 months or so, after a brief period of recovery early in the year. And we are nowhere near being out of trouble with possible junk status ratings in sight as soon as June 2017, unless there are some substantially positive changes in the management of the economy. (time is running out)

Nene-gate, Gordhan-gate, and political leadership hell bent on programs of self-gratification instead of listening to sound fiscal advice from the very people they appoint to watch the economy for them, are all contributing factors to the prospects of an impending junk status.

One wonders if it is the intent of the ANC to actually destroy the economy and whether they realise that in doing so they will also destroy the lives of the tens of millions of South Africans who rely on the economy for their daily bread, and what they, the ANC will do, once they have achieved their goal, how they will appease the poor and starving who have had the wealth of their nation and their communities and their homes smashed and littered at their feet.

The Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) recognise the interdependence of the nation-state and the economy and will use economic indicators as useful benchmarks for measuring their success in governance. DDF policies for Basic Income Grant and a Sovereign Wealth Fund will enable all South African Citizens to share in the fruits of the economy. The DDF believe that a wealthy nation will be a happy nation and gaining and sustaining that wealth for all in the country will be the primary goal of DDF economic policies, where the integrity and acumen of people such as Nene and Gordhan will be respected and supported and harnessed to attain those goals.

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The Capital Punishment Debate

The reality is that there are some crimes that are so heinous and criminals who are so devoid of human conscience, that these criminals are beyond any chance of rehabilitation, redemption or safe detention. Such criminals should be sentenced to the maximum penalty available to the law so society can rid itself of the responsibility of safely imprisoning them for the rest of their lives with the concomitant risk of escape or being inadvertently let loose into society.

In an article “Capital Punishment – …..”, Ruth Hopkins argues in the Daily Maverick, that capital punishment is unacceptable because too many convictions are flawed.

The Direct Democracy Forum (DFF) acknowledge this but, rather than toss out capital punishment as an option for the courts to exercise, would rather introduce meaningful legislation to improve the quality of our judicial system and trial, conviction and penalty processes. This would include the following steps:

1) outlaw admissions of guilt, thus all convictions would need to be evidence based and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

2) eliminate plea bargains or deals between the prosecution and defence admitting guilt to lesser charges in return for lesser sentences, often without a trial

3) all instances of capital punishment would have a statutory three level appeal process, to separately examine a) the trial process for correctness and the evidence for veracity and b) the quality of the defence (was the defence deficient in any way) and c) the appropriateness of the penalty.

These appeals would be heard by higher and separate courts than the trials courts.

4) the state would not defend an accused with public defenders but rather the state would fund the defence by private defence practitioners, selected by the defendant, and deemed competent to mount an adequate and appropriate capital defence. There is in fact an international precedent for this where the defence of Adolf Eichmann was paid for by the state of Israel, to ensure that the defendant was adequately represented, because the defendant could not otherwise afford the counsel of his choice.

5) finally, any verdict involving capital punishment would have to be considered by Parliament, where a statutory bill of clemency would have to be voted on. This would involve all the houses of parliament engaged in the normal legislative process. This would preclude any clemency or concession granted by the State President or any other political figure.

The DDF believe that capital punishment should include sentences exceeding 20 years to life of imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, and of course, the death sentence, but the application of the death sentence would only be administered when the impact of these new prosecutorial limits and the appeal processes were deemed by parliament to have effectively eliminated flawed convictions.

The DDF do not believe that this is all that can be said or should be said about the death penalty and capital crimes and capital punishment, but do however believe, that this is an appropriate position from which to start the debate. The endeavour to ensure that our judicial systems and processes are just and without flaws needs to be an ongoing process of self appraisal and assessment.

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Withdrawal of South Africa from the ICC

South Africa’s and others’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) has seriously undermined the ability of the world to bring needed change to the ICC.

In an article “Going Beyond the ICC Hysteria” – SIYABULELA GEBE argues here that while there are legitimate reasons for and against the participation of South Africa in the ICC a compelling argument for involvement is that without the ICC, there is no institution, neither the stillborn African Court of Justice nor the ICC, that can hold African leaders to account for their plundering of Africa’s people and resources.

In another article “Sticking with the ICC is Africa’s best shot at reform” – Allan Ngari for ISS TODAY argues here that while there are imperfections in the ICC’s agenda, based mainly on the ability of the UN Security Council to indicte ICC member states’ heads of government for committing atrocities, an ability seen as unjust because most of the permanent members of the UNSC are not signatories to the Rome convention of the ICC and thence are beyond the reach themselves of the ICC, there are avenues through which the Rome Statute can be amended, and that in fact, the Southern States have sufficient votes to give effect to desired amendments. Given that that is the case, it makes no sense for African states and, in particular, for South Africa, to withdraw from the ICC. Rather they should engage with the ICC and seek a more just means of bringing indictments through arguments for amendments of the Rome Statute.

Yet another article “African states must not waste a golden opportunity” by Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Adviser and Netsanet Belay, Africa Director of Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International, argue here that the two greatest challenges of the ICC are to also focus its attention on atrocities in other continents than Africa and that the ICC is very much hostage to global politics. Both these failings need to be addressed by an all inclusive ICC and that Amnesty International needs African nations to support their efforts in seeing that these failings are addressed, and that abandoning the ICC in a fit of pique merely weakens the possibilities for meaningful change to the Rome Statute.

The Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) believe that the ANC led government is posturing for the approval of the pan African lobby, saying, “see what great Africans we are”, instead of remaining in the ring and punching above its weight as South Africa has so often done on international stages in the past.

Nothing is gained and everything is lost by this form of grandstanding and is just another example of ANC ineptness.

The DDF are very much in favour of engagement and bringing about change through rational argument amongst equals in the world’s forums.  Abandoning forums like the ICC will never bring about change, instead it will reduce South Africa to the role of an external and helpless observer with no influence on and in world affairs.  The DDF believe that engaging with South Africans and the world at large in a principled manner, will encourage the adoption of principles amongst all in South Africa and in the world, and that conversely, disengaging from the world will encourage the abandonment of principles both nationally and internationally. 

A DDF administration would ensure that South Africa takes its rightful place in international forums and in particular, rejoins the ICC.

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Trumped, Brexited and Where To Go Now.

The US voted Donald Trump in as president elect of the US of A. Maybe the guy confounds us all and becomes the best president in living memory but my hopes are not very high for that to happen. He rode in on an anti-establishment ticket and the democrat’s candidate was Hillary Clinton, an establishment candidate. There were lots things wrong with her candidacy; that she is pro-establishment at a time when the establishment had largely ruined middle America with its globalisation policies, that she has no anti-establishment credentials and Trump claims them instead, that she is seen as deceitful and too political and not principled enough, that she is married to Bill Clinton and I think America has already had enough of the Clintons, so I don’t actually know what she had going for her. Possibly her experience as America’s first lady and as Secretary of State in Obama’s cabinet, and being a trained and probably highly skilled lawyer and negotiator. And then of course, she had Trump as an opponent, which I had thought alone would suffice to block his election. But Clearly that was not enough.

Probably what sealed the election for Trump is that the only effective counter to Trump was Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is another anti-establishment politician, but a Democrat. He was robbed of his candidacy by the Democratic pro-establishment lobby, and I suspect Sanders’ supporters largely stayed at home because their candidate was no longer standing. The pro-establishment lobby really shot themselves in the foot this time.

IMHO Trump is a reckless misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobe and has been described as a snake oil salesman, in other words, a man not to be trusted. One wonders how many of his campaign promises he will keep.

So there was not much to choose between the candidates. America and the world at large probably view this US presidential election as the most disastrous in the history of the USA and maybe in the history of the world. One can only hope that the responsibility of the most powerful office in the world will give Trump pause to think before he speaks or acts, and that he does not set the cause for civil liberties back too far during his term of office.

There is no lack of commentary on Donald Trump’s victory.

Mark Mardell links Trump’s victory to Brexit (Trump and Brexit), and Saul Musker claims that Trump’s victory was not a victory for change but rather a victory for the status quo in response to the loss by middle America of their privileges, (US 2016: This was not a change election), while Kevin Bloom observes that Bob Dylan predicted this event, in general terms, in his 1965 song Tombstone Blues, (Tombstone Blues: On the other side of Trump), and Ben Wright, writing for the BBC ponders whether the age of liberal democracy is imploding (…the end for liberal democracy?) while my personal favourite is a very thoughtful article by Chris Waldburger, (How Trump’s Flaws became Political Strengths.) And those are just the ones that caught my attention.

So the world is in shock, and denialists hope that the US college of electors will rescue the world from Trump the same way that Remainers hope that British Parliamentarians will Rescue Britain from Brexit. Not much chance of either happening, I believe.

So how is this relevant to the DDF  (The Direct Democracy Forum) and why am I even bothering to post this article?

It is relevant because whatever the promises of Brexiteers and Trump are and whether or not they will put their money where their mouths are, they were enabled by the failure of the neo-liberals and the elites of the world to look to the plight of their own nationals and to respect the national sovereignty of their own countries and to assume that for as long as they were delivering profits to their own shareholders and themselves, they could do no wrong. Nothing is farther from the truth. And Occupy Wall Street, Brexit, Trump’s win and the rise of the far right elements in the Europe and the possible demise of the EU, are all symptoms of the same malaise.

The elites and the neo-liberals and the corporatists and the oligarchs (just different names for the same group of misguided technocrats) have failed their own people and have acted in total disregard for their welfare, and the worm is turning.

The Ruling Elites of all nations need to find another formula that will not neglect middle America, middle Europe, Africa and Asia and South America, will not neglect the “left behinds”. And by the way, the terms “middle” and “left behinds” embrace all elements of societies that find themselves excluded from the benefits of prosperity and social justice enjoyed by the privileged few.

It needs to be a formula that embraces the positives of the world’s two greatest systems, Democracy and Capitalism, and discards as much as possible, the means by which these systems are captured by the oligarchs for their own and exclusive profit and well being. It needs to restore sovereignty to citizens and nations through meaningful access to and participation in democracy. It needs to restore economic security through meaningful access to and participation in the capitalist market places as envisioned by Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations and Milton Friedman in his book Free to Choose. It needs to restore hope and dignity to all in the world.

In fact, what that formula should seek to address is a way to share some in order not to lose all. I say “lose all” because the disenfranchised, who have nothing to lose, are quite prepared to destroy all in retaliation for what they see as the injustices of a society that doesn’t even register them as a blip on the horizon, let alone as a significant force for change.

So let’s not get bogged down in arguments of conservative Judeo-Christian ethics where one reaps what one sows and only the deserving profit from life (although both are pretty much truisms), for who then are the undeserving? Today you may not be part of that group but tomorrow, perhaps quite unexpectedly, you may join them for any one of an endless number of possible reasons. And if one of life’s fickle jokes leaves you in that predicament, how will you cope in a society which will not even see you as a blip on the horizon?

If you are wondering how Brexit and Trump were possible, the reason is simple. Too many have been disenfranchised by the neo-liberal movement and they, the disenfranchised, the left behinds, just want to tell the establishment to go and “take a hike”.  In the USA, the 1% pretty much destroyed the American Dream for the 99%, and now they, the 1%, are pretty much trumped. That is no way to run a world. 

To get back to the relevance of all of this to the DDF – the DDF are proposing one such formula for the resolution of society’s woes. We are not saying of the disenfranchised that we have to be responsible for them. What we are saying, however, is that we need to invest in the disenfranchised so that they can become empowered and enfranchised members of society, who contribute to society’s welfare and sustainability, who are in fact, responsible for themselves, and who are working to strengthen society instead of seeking to destroy it.

We are arguing that none should be excluded from that socio-economic-political system for to do so would merely be creating enemies, who, if they are large enough in number (maybe 99% of the world’s population), will overwhelm all, good and evil included. What we are also saying to the neo-liberals is that if they want wealth, if that is their goal in life, they are more likely to attain and retain that wealth in a prosperous society than in a society based on poverty for the many and wealth for the few.

If the neo-liberals had not turned their back on the “left behinds” of the world, we would not have had movements like Occupy Wall Street, Brexit and people like Trump and religious elements like militant Islam, all occupying the moral high ground in a world seeking change. There would be no moral justification for their existence and no need for that kind of change.

The DDF are pragmatists, not moralists. We seek solutions for society’s problems, and we believe that our vision of Democracy and Capitalism in a society that embraces both for all, is one such solution.

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Suck It Up – Integrity in Government?

SA’s ladies javelin champion Sunette Viljoen (33) who earned a silver medal for SA at this year’s Rio Games, has an expectation of some prize money from the SA Government (aka SASCOC aka South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee). It was reported here and here that Silver Medalists can expect R250 000 from SASCOC, to be shared between the athlete and the coach. Yet Sunette seems to be short of R70 000 in prize money, which, if the inferences drawn from tweets by and between South African Minister of Sport, Mbalula Fikile and Sunette (see here) are true, there was a reasonable expectation of a reward of the R70 000 prize money from SASCOC.

The SASCOC’s response, as witnessed by Minister Fikile’s tweet, was that he believed that Sunette had said she did not need the money and therefore would not be paid it.

What sort of response is that? It is the sort of response that even the lowliest government functionary can be expected to deliver in the face of someone demanding that government do their job or pay their debt. Suck it up.

A few personal experiences trying to recover over-payments and over billings indicate these are almost impossible hurdles to overcome. Officials refer one from pillar to post and then back again until one runs out of possibilities.

The point I wish to make here, is that the Ministerial attitude seems to be the same as that of a lowly municipal servant’s attitude. It is an attitude that seem to filter from the top down, indeed, Minister Fikile’s response seems to very much reflect his boss’s attitude to various acts of alleged malfeasance, including but not limited to the Nkandla fiasco. Suck it up.

In the Nkandla matter, eventually the DA was forced to go to the constitutional court to get some respite for the nation, although we suspect it was only a token respite. But where do Sunette and others go for their claims? The last I heard you needed to put up R300 000 before an attorney will go anywhere near a court on your behalf, and some R3 000 000 to approach the constitutional court.

That leaves Sunette and others without those resources, out in the cold, and people like Minister Fikile and his boss and the general functionaries of municipalities and government departments count on it, to protect their own disinterest, incompetence or unwillingness to fulfill their obligations with any integrity.

My last observation on the question of Minister Fikile and Sunette’s exchange, is that the Minister accuses Sunette of arrogance. Anyone reading the interchange will be able to judge for themselves just who is being arrogant and who is being humble.

The purpose of these blogs is to compare DDF ethic and policy with the ANC experience. So here goes.

The above illustrates what you can expect from an ANC led government, pretty much from top to bottom. Under a DDF administration, all of government, from the top to bottom, whether central, municipal or local, will all have to acknowledge that they are firstly public servants who are there to serve the public, not themselves.  They will be expected to serve with integrity and honour, in all exchanges, from repaying state moneys used for personal enrichment (a la Nkandla) to paying out prize money to our champion athletes, to sorting out queries and honouring agreements with their consumers and their suppliers, to providing excellent services.  Under a DDF administration, failure to do so would be a punishable offence.

Suck that up if you will.

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Carpet Bombing South Africa

Ian Von Memerty laments in the Daily Maverick, (here, High Speed Politics), about the onslaught on our senses of all the divisive and contentious issues that South Africa is being lambasted with. Hawks playing politics, SAA, Eskom, NPA, SABC, Guptas, SARS, issues that flood our media like a barrage of artillery designed to confuse and subdue, put one off balance and disable and dishearten one.

What is this, part of a sinister campaign intended to render South Africa’s opposition to the ANC impotent and shell shocked, preparatory to the 2019 general elections? It almost seems like it.

Put more simply, it is the response of a bunch of crooks who have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, trying to discredit anyone and everyone who has the power and the integrity to stand up to them and do anything about it, the Scorpions, Glynnis Breytenbach, Nene, Gordhan and Madonsela, to name a few notables, and that response could well turn into an on-going barrage intended to soften up and weaken the opposition. The military have a term for it. Saturation or Carpet Bombing.

We dare not let this happen. We dare not let the ANC have another go at the cookie jar because when they have finished another round of thievery, there will be even less for all the ordinary folk of South Africa to survive on than at present, which is already hopelessly inadequate.

The DDF will take every issue and deal with it separately, and indicate, by contrasting with DDF policies, just how unacceptable these issues are, and how, this time around, integrity is going to win the day.

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Silent for two years. But we are back.

We haven’t blogged for almost two years. And why was that?

First it was a period running up to municipal elections and we (the DDF) had neither the money nor the feet on the ground with which to do anything about it, and neither did we wish to muddy the waters for those engaged in the local government elections.

A second and very strong factor was that we were pretty well disgusted at the way parliament was being run and while there were plenty of issues we could have responded to they were all too distant from the 2019 elections, which was and still is our goal. In short, we didn’t want to be seen as a party which can only snipe from the sidelines but cannot do anything else.

But times are a-changing. The 2019 elections are closer than we imagine and we wish to have an impact on those elections, so we are embarking on a membership, information and fund raising drive which, taken together, we hope will enable us to make that impact.

Our goals, as we see them, are to enter parliament with sufficient majority so we can apply our policies and empower those with feet on the ground to do their jobs at local government level, and to empower their constituencies so they, the constituents, can hold local government accountable for non performance, there and then, rather than only at the next elections., and to inform the electorate of our policies so they can understand that there are alternatives to the same-old same-old of South African politics, and perhaps have that electorate influence their parties of choice to consider adopting some or all of our policies.  Our primary goal is that South Africans have more and better choices in the future than in the past and we don’t really mind how that is achieved. 

There is much more to our policies than just empowering local government and local communities. Central to DDF policies are the establishment of a  Senate, the replacement over time of the current tax systems with TEAL (Total Economic Activity Levy), implementing a BIG (Basic Income Grant) and establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund, all policies which can only be applied through parliament and by amending the constitution.

The DDF believe these policies will have a profoundly positive and enduring effect upon South Africa’s democracy and on its economy.

Our Current Affairs page will be used to inform South African’s of all our policies by contrasting them with, well, current affairs, and to inform South African voters of the choices the DDF will be presenting them with in 2019.

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Water and the Drought.

South Africa is in a very serious drought.  We have had a little rain but at the best of times we are a water scarce country. Help save water.

Here are some tips:

Check for Dam Water Levels eg Rand Water

Shower rather than bath.  

Don’t run water while brushing your teeth or washing your hands.  Only run water when you need it to rinse before and after washing/brushing.

Collect rain water from down pipes and use for gardens etc.

Collect bath and shower water, use it in the garden and in toilettes.

Collect washing water from the kitchen or scullery and use on your garden or compost heap.

Try to use water more than once in your home.

If you have the funds, redesign your home to be water friendly.  Look into gray water management.

DDF policies will lead to fair government and fair tax and an economy based on prosperity for all. You simply cannot beat that.

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There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

Whatever you take from life, someone has to pay for it. Some will always hope that others pay for it. But by far the many knuckle down and foot their own bills. But what of those without the means to foot the bill themselves?

What is honourable about being so poor that you cannot afford what you need to survive or to prosper or to lift yourself out of poverty, to be denied what others have almost by right? There is no honour to poverty and yes, things have to change. Those rights need to be extended to all.

To address the question of access to education, we need to address the question of poverty, or access to wealth. To continue yelling for free education above all the words of reason is self defeating. To destroy the very institutions of learning that are the means to freeing our society from poverty will not achieve free education, it will merely destroy society’s ability to free itself from poverty and make education in SA inaccessible to all.

Nothing will achieve free education. There is no such thing as free education nor a a free lunch. It is just a question of who gets to pay for it. 

Let’s discuss who pays for the free tertiary education that a minority of students are advocating. First of all, not everyone would qualify for nor succeed at tertiary education. So only a very small part of society receive the benefit. But if society as a whole picks up the tab for the free education, those few who receive the benefit are being paid for by the many who do not receive the benefit. In short, people who don’t get to eat the free lunch pay for the people who do get to eat the free lunch. It is policy like that which earns taxation the sobriquet “legalised theft”.

The DDF have a solution, however. Reform education such that we no longer spend from 18% to 20% of our GDP on education (one of the highest rates of expenditure in the world, delivering education that is likely the worst education in the world), and instead deliver education that is affordable and relevant and successful. We would then be able to afford to fund tertiary education for all who qualify for it and want it. Such beneficiaries could then repay what they had received, by way of a progressive education levy on their post-graduate incomes and or by means of service to the state, all affordable and perfectly honourable and no theft involved.

And how the student protesters demands have changed over time.  Rhodes must Fall, Contract Staff be Directly Employed, Fees Must Fall, De-Colonialise Education (junk millennia of learning), Africanise our education (Study how to strike down your enemies with lightening) and so on and so forth.  What next, we wonder?

But the DDF doubt that a solution is what the protesters want. After all, they are not stupid. They well know all of the above, yet instead on settling for the possible, they continue to protest for the impossible. So what is the motivation for this campaign? Education or the destruction of SA’s education capacity?  Perhaps even the destruction of the fabric of society.  For when they have (if they ever do) achieve their current goal, who says they will stop there?  But maybe they have better sense than that for that would indeed be treason, and sufficient justification for the powers that be to respond in a like manner.  Where would that lead?  The destruction of our constitution and all the civil rights entrenched therein.  But perhaps that is the goal of the fees must fall movement?

See DDF policy on Education and Taxation (TEAL), which are the means to achieve DDF goals for education and the alleviation of poverty through stimulus of the economy.

DDF policies will lead to fair government and fair tax and an economy based on prosperity for all. You simply cannot beat that.

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Minister Nene and the Tax Base

South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is absolutely right, we do need to broaden the tax base, but the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) are streets ahead of his thinking. Imagine a tax system that was all-embracing and set at 1% of economic activity. Sound too simple? Too good to be true? Nope – go to http://ddforum.co..za and look at their proposal for TEAL. Not only is it doable but it is the solution to SA’s tax and National Debt conundrums. It follows the KISS principle. What can be better than simple?

But the DDF are about more than just TEAL. DDF policies will lead to fair government and fair tax and an economy based on prosperity, not poverty. You simply cannot beat that.

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Constitutional Reform

The South African parliamentary model is loosely patterned after the Westminster Model with an elected legislature and a second house intended to moderate the acts of the legislature (in UK a House of Lords and in SA a House of Provinces)

The Westminster model has largely been regarded with some respect and has been more or less emulated around the world.  Ok this is probably because Britain was a prolific colonizer and left its stamp on many aspects of the life and politics of its former colonies.  But the Westminster model is under scrutiny, indeed perhaps even under attack, particularly from those who want devolution from a centrist authority.  The most recent attack on Westminster itself came from the Scottish referendum of September 18 2014 on the issue of Scottish independence from Britain, but was defeated by a 10% margin (45% for and 55% against secession).  

None the less, the vote has sparked a great deal of debate about the Westminster style of government.  The sentiment for a greater and closer say in the process of government is developing a groundswell in Britain and elsewhere in the world.  A recent manifestation of this groundswell comes from a group of the world’s mayors, who are pushing for a parliament of mayors.  See Will mayors one day rule the world?

The Direct Democracy Forum might support such a move provided the mayors were directly elected but wonder if mayors would then have the time to also act as members of a national or international legislative body and how would that work?

The idea is interesting but DDF believe that any parliamentary model that does not include elements of direct democracy in it would basically usurp the rights recognized by the DDF, for a population to approve all laws and regulations by which it is governed.  

This is the core of the DDF‘s Senate model, that a legislature can be appointed in any manner provided it is directly answerable either to the electorate as a whole, by referendum, or to a senate representing that electorate, such as suggested in the DDF‘s proposal for a Senate.

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Property valuations and Unintended Consequences

The quickest and most effective way to redistribute land is to apply the willing seller willing buyer principle.

Given that I have a plot of land that someone else wants and is prepared to pay a price that satisfies my estimate of worth, the deal is a done deal.

Given, alternatively, that the state forces a price for my land that does not satisfy my estimate of worth, I am likely to resist the deal to the fullest extent of the law.  The deal is not a done deal and could take decades to be realised, if at all, through the Land Claims Court, this because if all the anticipated land claims were adjudicated by the Land Claims Court, and that does not presuppose all claims would be approved by the court, that august body might be sitting for the next three hundred years.

For a dose of realism, check out the Daily Maverick’s article on the new  Property Valuation Act and the law of unintended consequences.

By contrast, a Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) administration would apply the willing buyer and willing seller principle with enthusiasm, energy and alacrity, to every claim it felt warranted state intervention in the land redistribution process.  Everyone would be a winner, including the tax-payer, because there would be fewer disputed restitution transactions and more satisfied buyers and sellers and lower costs overall, and it would all happen within decades rather than within centuries. 

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Budget Debates or Rubber Stamps

The fortnight covering 15th to 24th July 2014 saw a perfunctory parliamentary program of budget debates, 24 debates in 5 parliamentary days over the period.  See here and here.

That would work out at roughly 5 debates a day or 24 debates in a 40 hour week, an average of 1 hour 40 minutes per debate.

Do you think that is adequate to properly debate any single portfolio?  We don’t think so.  It is a thinly disguised rubber stamp and smacks of indecent haste.  Makes one wonder what the ANC don’t want to be revealed by adequate debate and disclosure.  No wonder the Nkandla fiasco was possible.  Nkandla in itself warranted a 40 hour debate (and then needed to be thrown out), let alone the time needed to properly investigate and sign off on the rest of public works and or the president’s budget.

The Direct Democracy Forum doesn’t have a specific policy on budget debates but would expect all budget debates to be allocated an adequate time for proper assimilation, debate and approval by both the legislative assembly and the Senate.  That would not be less than the time needed for adequate debate in committee and in a plenary session of the legislative assembly, for each budget, at the very least a two day process, and then each budget would have to go forward to the Senate for its approval.  That would be nothing like the indecent haste of the rubber stamps dished out by the current ANC led parliament.  Those minimum requirements would be Constitutional requirements.

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Back To Basics Economics

Sometimes the list of issues demanding comment is depressing at best.

Four such issues and a consequence illustrate the need for a radical re-alignment of government in the economy of the country.

IssuesPolitical interfere in medical matters,   Politics dash education hopes,  Politics fail health care,  Politics fail parastatals

Consequence:  Stagflation

There was a time when South Africa had a thriving economy and was largely self-sufficient in all but the needs of the highest technological level, and then not always.  In some fields South Africa led the world.  Today we are largely dependent on the world at large for most of our needs and we have moved from being a nation of producers to a nation of consumers, fed off by many nations whose only goal is to profit from their commercial and technological involvement with no care of how their dealings strip South Africa of its wealth and it’s capacity to be self-sufficient.  In fact it is this very lack of self-sufficiency that these nations wish to cultivate and the very wealth that they deliberately strip so South Africa can become a vassal state.

What nonsense this is?   How does one link the above issues to the above consequence?  I can just imagine the apologists outrage.

The truth is that while no one of those issues led to that single consequence, these four issues are symptomatic of the way the entire economy is run, into the ground.  Wherever you look, incompetent ANC appointees are making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons, about everything you can imagine from animal welfare, through education, health care, public enterprise  to youth development

The Direct Democracy Forum have an integrated plan for the economic upliftment of every South African and it’s goal is to convert this ANC socialist vision of dependency into a South African vision of independence and pride. Under a DDF administration South Africa will become a nation of producers which employs South Africans and puts them first and the ambitions of the rest of the world back where they belong – that is back wherever they came from.  Look to DDF policies for evidence of the plan and the political will.  DDF policies consist of a back to basics for education, training, skills, employment and reward.

On the question of reward, the South African economy will handsomely reward every South African who merits reward, through diligence, persistence, creativity, endeavour and honesty and the state will not tax anyone beyond the application of TEAL.  

On the question of TEAL, TEAL will enable South Africa to achieve all its economic, industrial and social goals without recourse to unaffordable debt or dubious forms of taxation, such as but not limited to E-Tolls.

Then the naysayers will say that policy is worth nothing, but the truth is it is worth a world of achievement, because achievement can be measured against policy.  A government with no policy has no plan and without a plan there can be no achievement.  Policy and achievement are thus linked indivisibly.

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Expropriation by any other name is expropriation

Successive South African governments have been hacking away at the rights enshrined in the constitution. Not the least of this constant hacking is the new Protection of Investments Bill. The bill supposedly seeks to present a uniform protection for foreign investors equal to that enjoyed by local investors but coincidentally attacks protection of property rights granted by the constitution, and thus seeks to circumvent South Africa’s  constitution.

The ANC are playing with semantics. ‘Semantics is the study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, like words, phrases, signs, and symbols (eg expropriation) and what they stand for, their denotation (eg separation from one’s property)’.

This is how the game is played: Expropriation ‘occurs when a public agency …. takes private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest’. The constitution clearly lays out the manner and consequences of expropriation (basically there must be exchange of value).

The protection of investment bill, however, sets out that property may be taken by the state provided the state does so, not as owner, but rather as ‘ custodian ’ for the disadvantaged (IRR @Liberty on Protection Of Investment Bill) and that people who’s property is taken in this manner could end up receiving zero compensation on the loss of their property, first because the state can determine the amount and manner and timing of any compensation, grounds for a sort of never-never compensation system, and second, because the constitutional court has already ruled that where ownership has not changed hands (viz the original owner is not deprived of ownership even when deprived of access or control) there is no expropriation (IRR @Liberty on Protection Of Investment Bill).

If depriving people of the rights of ownership with or without a change of ownership is not expropriation, then what is expropriation?  This has to be playing with semantics.  It is obfuscation, prevarication and spurious – in short it is plain dishonest and amounts to little more than legalised theft – and that the constitutional court should find in that manner raises a serious question mark on their own honesty, integrity and impartiality. 

Non expropriation removal of access to one’s property means that such deprivation does not enjoy the protection of the constitution regarding expropriation. So, the state could move 20 vagrants into your home (say designed for 4 people) and say it is for the public good.  So you are deprived of the right to use your home as you see fit, a home you may still be paying for, and the state will not be obliged to compensate you because no expropriation has occurred.

This sort of duplicity by the ANC-led government is not unusual. They did it with the state secrecy act, the general intelligence laws amendment bill and the Protection of State Information Bill to mention a few statutes that come to mind. Clearly the ANC view the constitution as a hindrance to their ambitions and are doing all they can to circumvent the constitution.

The slippery slopes for property rights has just got steeper and more slippery.

By contrast, a Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) administration would view property rights as a cornerstone of the state and its obligation to all South Africans. A DDF approach to all South Africans who were not enjoying property ownership would be to engage them in property ownership and protect that ownership unambiguously and with fervour, through the rights enshrined in the constitution. This would involve empowerment through education, training, employment and wealth creation, in a state whose duty is to serve its citizens, not feed off them.

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WEF: SA’s Education Saga Continues, unabated.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2014 slated South Africa on a number of issues which were mostly ICT (information and communication technologies) related.

Some key issues were the ranking of South Africa on
                                                                                        RANK:
The quality of SA’s education system                            146 0f 148
The quality of SA’s Maths and science education         148 of 148
Internet access in schools (3.1 of a possible 7)            116 of 148

The importance of ICT to government                           116 of 148

Admittedly these rankings are not the result of scientific or academic testing (such as from standardised tests) but are from surveys reported in the WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey. So these are opinions and not facts. But they are pretty damning opinions since they come from the market place that the education system is supposed to serve and worse still are born out by various other surveys and rankings of performance of SA school children in academic test situations such as discussed here at education again in the spotlight and here at maths in crises again and here at why low education standards, indicating that these opinions seem to be born out in more objective measurements going back some years and are even acknowledged by a ministerial task team (see here) – yet government glibly deny the nature and the extent of the problem, as reported here. Yet again, the ANC government is in denial

This report puts SA’s Maths and Science reports pretty much into perspective and coincidentally also more than less supports the WEF survey results.

There is nothing like a bit of first-hand experience to illustrate the effect of our weak maths education system, so here is a gem. Customer to till supervisor when claiming 5% discount on R200 purchased at a major retail grocery chain store – “I have R100 cash and a card. Can I purchase R100 for cash and take my 5% discount on that and purchase the other R100 on my card and take 5% discount on that?”. (Note: 5% discount is a standard arrangement for the store). Supervisor to customer “No. You can’t do that because then you would be getting 10% and we only give 5%”. True story.

One needed to remember that the quality of the supervisor’s maths education was not the supervisor’s fault but was the fault of the ANC government’s education system, which had left her badly misinformed.

The point is that for all government’s rationalisation, our maths and science and indeed many of our humanities education systems are inadequate for the task set them, that is, to educate. Things are not getting better as government asserts, but are sliding. Improved results are not a function of improved performance but of sliding standards and the till supervisor who thinks that 5% of R100 + 5% of another R100 is equal to 10% of R200, will become the norm. Not their fault. It’s the system’s fault and ultimately government’s fault, because the ANC  government have hijacked the education system for the sake of political expediency.

A Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) administration will have to undo perhaps as much as a quarter century of educational political expediency. The DDF have a structured policy to address the education crises at all levels from pre-school to post-graduate. Having said that, that education cycle is at least a twenty five year cycle and only those entering the education cycle in year one of a DDF administration will feel the full benefits of being properly educated throughout their academic career.  Those already in the cycle at that time will have to play catch-up for the remainder of their academic careers. That is not ideal but at least is better than not playing catch-up, and at least a DDF administration will be supporting them in the process. See DDF eduction policies.

There will be an enormous cost attached to this enormous effort but fortunately a DDF administration, through the application of TEAL, will have the means of paying for it without further destituting the nation. See DDF Tax policies

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Net1 and CPS – Collusion to rip-off social security recipients.

This M & G report “Cashing In on social grants” depicts another form of gate-keeping and piracy, aided and abetted by the ANC led government.

A Direct Democracy Forum will not permit such activities.  No government contractor or supplier would be permitted to use their control of any non-competitive activity to profit from that privileged activity, as seems to be the case of Net1 and CPS control of the social grants payment system.  Abuse was predicted by every critic of the social grants payment tender and sure enough, abuse is rampant.

The DDF would legislate so micro-lenders would not be able to gain super profits from their activities, on the one hand, nor would they be permitted to leverage a privileged position to provide for-profit services to what is in effect a captive market.

This is just another form of gate-keeping we are committed to eradicate.

We are not there to do that now but we will be there in the future and we will do exactly what we say. 

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Gordhan and Nene

Gordhan’s ousting and his replacement by Nene are not entirely unexpected.  Gordhan has often been outspoken, as were his predecessors, who all wielded considerable power by virtue of their public declarations on financial mismanagement in the ANC led government, declarations uttered with predictable results.

It is probable that Nene has been groomed for this move and one wonders if he is going to be compliant member of cabinet who endorses the excesses of government, remains silent on them, or will he continue the slightly maverick course of his predecessors? One hopes for the latter but fears for the former.

As for Gordhan – why not just fire him from cabinet instead of demoting him to the circumcision and sangoma affairs portfolio, as described by one South African tweeter?  Perhaps Gordhan’s position is a backstop, in case the appointment of Nene does not work out as planned?   Also, perhaps, out of cabinet all together Goprdhan could pose some sort of a threat?  Just keeping him close and available could be keeping the stopper on a genie’s lamp?

What isn’t speculation is that the finance ministry has always been a zone of calm, rationality and realism in otherwise questionable seas.  Let us hope that Nene continues that tradition.   

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will certainly include the likes of Gordhan and his predecessors and their predilection for rationality and the sensible use of taxpayers money, and with the application of TEAL in place of the hodge-podge of existing taxes, they will have a much more plentiful and reliable source of funds for them to realise their visions.

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Children’s Rights locked out of the election

South Africa should be in tears that the the Direct Democracy Forum failed to gain entry to the 2014 election race.

There are many reasons for this, not the least of which are the DDF’s education policies, youth development policies and social welfare policies, driven by TEAL, the SENATE and LOCAL GOVERNMENT policies, which would have ushered a new era of advancement and development across the whole of South Africa.

This article “Children’s rights forgotten” actually got it wrong.  There is at least one party in South Africa who have not forgotten the children.  It’s just that the DDF don’t have an election manifest because the DDF weren’t allowed into the election.  But the DDF are the only party in South Africa with a clear vision for the country and its children and clear and accessible policies that can me measured against DDF actions and the political will to implement those policies, yet the the DDF are locked out of the 2014 election race.  That is a crying shame.

At the DDF we believe locking out the DDF and other parties from the elections is unconstitutional and if we have the opportunity to argue that case before the Constitutional Court, we will embrace it with all our hearts and minds.

In the meanwhile, shed a tear or two for our ailing nation as it faces another five-year cycle of abuse.

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No Spoilt Votes

It’s very frustrating when a senior member of the political establishment urges disaffected ANC supporters to spoil their votes.  The message appears to be a mixed one.  If you are unhappy with the ANC, vote in the opposition or, if you don’t fancy any opposition party, go to the polls and spoil your vote.  What a waste that last option is.

Ronnie Kasrils must be grandstanding in the hope that some sense of concern is conveyed to the ANC over their poor and sometimes dishonest dealings with South Africans because if he really wanted to send a message to the ANC stalwarts he would be urging them to vote for the opposition, because that is the only action the ANC establishment will understand.

We have said this before – every vote for the opposition is another vote the ANC need to get in order to stay in power.  Spoiling your vote is one less vote the ANC need to get in order to stay in power.  By spoiling your vote you are actually helping the ANC to stay in power.  Is that what you really want to do?  

The Direct Democracy Forum urge everyone who is unhappy with the ANC to vote the opposition into power.

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DDF Out of 2014 Race – what now?

Sadly for all of those who wanted us in the race – we were unable to raise the R200 000 that we needed to get onto the National Assembly Ballot – so for the time being we are not there for our supporters.  Another time, we promise.

We are being asked who to vote for in our absence.  The answer is simple – vote for your conscience.  If you were going to support us you were going to cast an opposition vote.  That should not change.  We hear story after story about spoiling votes, drawing a DDF logo on the ballot and putting a cross alongside it also spoils the vote – so please don’t do that.  Too many people fought for what they believed was the right road to democracy.  People of all races and political persuasions died for democracy in South Africa.  To spoil or withhold your vote is to say that what they fought for wasn’t worth the sacrifice.  Please don’t do that.

Instead, find a party which most closely fits your ideals, or the ideals of the DDF, and vote for them, even if the fit is less than perfect.  Every vote cast for the opposition is one vote more the ANC needs to get back into power.  As members of the opposition we should be making each vote count against the ANC.  You can’t help the DDF get back into the race for 2014 but you can help diminish the ANC presence in parliament.  This is a DDF goal that we all need to aim for.

Use your vote to do that.

Meanwhile, the fight goes on.  There are other elections and one will be a victorious election for the DDF.  It’s more a question of when than if.

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Separation of National from Local Political Power

Dividing political power between national and local governments seems to be an essential for a functioning South Africa:

Members of the Direct Democracy Forum have been thinking about having the same political party in power in local government as is in power in national government. “Too much power concentrated in one party” seems to be the conclusion. The effect is painfully obvious to see when considering the abysmal state of local government in South Africa.

This thinking expanded outside of the party when debating the 2016 local government elections and was further focussed on by some parties approaching the DDF with this proposal; “if the DDF support them in their local government elections, they would support the DDF in National Elections”.  This we agreed to with some conditions (see below).

This really set the focus on DDF discomfort at having the same parties contesting local and national elections. The truth is that the DDF are focussed on National Government. The DDF want to fix things from the top down. The DDF want to empower those whose business is local government to get on with the job of local government, effectively and efficiently. The DDF don’t believe that any one organisation can deliver at both levels adequately with equal effectiveness and competency. Something always seems to fail in the name of political expediency.

From this debate comes a DDF Policy which says this will be one of the constitutional issues up for discussion when the DDF enter government. A DDF administration will seek to change the constitution such that political parties and politicians engaged in Local Government cannot at the same time engage in National Government. So political parties and politicians will be faced with a choice – do they function and compete at a national and provincial level or at a local level, because they will not be able to function at both levels at the same time.

With this in mind, the DDF have taken a conscious decision not to contest local government elections in 2016 but instead will focus on national and provincial contests. Instead, the DDF will support any party in local elections who 1) have supported or who pledge their support for the DDF in National and Provincial elections and 2) who adopt DDF local government policies.

This is not a walk in the park for anyone taking up this proposal. It can be seen that DDF local government policies are stringent and arduous on those holding power in local government. The DDF will not only empower local governments in their endeavours to deliver to their constituencies but will also empower their constituencies to hold them rigidly to account and fire them if that doesn’t work.

Playtime is over, ladies and gentlemen.

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Elections – DDF Needs Support to get onto Ballot

Deadline for submission of lists for the 2014 elections is nearing – 5pm 12th March 2014.

There are two things the DDF need at this point – 830 Candidates (see list below) and R605 000.

These are both difficult goals to achieve at short notice.

Below is a list of Candidates required from each province and nationally.

National Assembly                   National           Regional               Provincial            Total

National Assembly                   200                  200                                                  400
Regional                                   200                  200
EC                                                                      26                         63                       89
FS                                                                       11                         30                       41
GT                                                                       48                         73                     121
Kzn                                                                      40                         80                    120
Limpopo                                                              19                         49                       68
Mpl                                                                       15                         30                       45
 NW                                                                     13                         30                       43
 NC                                                                        5                         33                       38
 WC                                                                     23                         42                       65
0
 Total                                       400                                                  430                     830

The way it works is each of those numbers is a list of that many (or fewer) candidates.

There is a list for 200 nationally allocated seats and 9 lists for 200 regionally allocated seats (see above for distribution), together making up the 400 seats in the national assembly.  That is for the elections for the National Assembly.

Then there are 9 lists for the 9 Provincial assemblies, in total 430 seats.  This is for the Provincial Assemblies elections.

The two together total 830 seats.  If we can we would like 830 names, one candidate for each of those 830 seats. 

To qualify for the regional or provincial lists you must reside and vote in one of the 9 provinces and your name can appear on the list for that region/province.  To qualify for the national list, you can reside and vote anywhere in South Africa.  In both cases you must be a registered voter, not have been sentenced to a prison term without the option of a fine or have served such a sentence in the past (we think) 5 years, not be an un-rehabilitated insolvent and be of sound mind.

If you qualify on those counts and wish to be listed as a candidate on our lists then complete and sign an Appendix 5 form (available from the IEC web site or Appendix 5 for  CandidateAcceptance&Undertaking (in .doc format) and return it to the DDF c/o johnadrianbarri at gmail dot com) before Friday  7th March, along with a copy of your ID page with bar-code and photograph and a CV with photograph.   If we receive this after 7th but before 12th, we will try to include you if the lists are still open.

This is a chance to serve society and your fellows in a meaningful way.

Regarding the R605 000 – we hope the Constitutional Court will intervene but none the less are trying to meet that requirement.  So if you or anyone you know has some spare cash lying around – contact us at johnadrianbarri at gmail dot com and we will tell you what to do with it.

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DDF will apply brakes to shifting standards

There seems to be an almost universal strategy to either set standards that are already achieved and then claim the credit for achieving them or to withdraw from battlefields and make like there is no battle.

Three articles in the current M & G on-line edition bring both theses strategies into pretty clear focus. Africa is very much a homophobic continent and however liberal South Africa’s constitution is, support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans gendered people in the streets of our cities is lamentable. So also is the general support for victims of sexual violence and sexual and violent crimes against women and children proliferate. Sadly also, institutionalised violence seems to have been extended from the political arena to the more general criminal arena, and reports of police violence and indifference to criminal acts by their own members, proliferate. These are the three articles; Khayelitshe police incapable, Apartheid culture of violence and universal access.

All of this can be summed into an overriding indifference to the rule of law both by promulgators and administrators, and a general unwillingness to apply the rule of law.

It is denialism at its worst. Wikipedia defines it thus: In human behaviour, denialism is exhibited by individuals choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth.

That is exactly what SAPS did when it removed specialist units dealing with sexual violence cases from its police stations. This was done in the name of cost rationalisation. What the government of the day did was to deny there existed the sorts of problems that demanded those costs be incurred, so as to ignore the uncomfortable truth of sexual violence That is exactly what successive departments of education have done by dumbing-down the nation’s matriculation examination standards. “We have no educational problems – look at the improved matriculation results” they crow. Then there is the question of acceptable standards of water delivery and broadband delivery. Yes-Siree – ‘look at how we have improved access to water and to the internet’, neglecting to point out that the only way they were able to report improved statistics on water and broadband delivery was by shifting the goalposts to levels that required no effort to achieve, indeed to levels that were largely already achieved. They did something very similar to the housing problem in South Africa, exacerbated by opening SA’s borders to everyone who could claim struggle credentials. Instead of responding by building more and adequate housing for the homeless they turned our suburbs into ghettos and the most appalling shanty towns have sprung up in every available corner of every major city in the land, without roads nor even the most basic service delivery.

All of this happens under the banner of a fiction that said of successive post apartheid governments – look at how we are addressing the needs of the nation. And what a fiction that is! 

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would set standards that were meaningful to constituents and would insist they be met. It would insist on the rule of law and would severely censure any officer of the state for not upholding the law. A DDF administration would deliver running water to every household in the land and that would be the standard. It would deliver communities which residents could live in in safety and comfort, that it’s children could go to school in, in safety, and be properly educated and that would be the standard. It would deliver meaningful education standards to the nation. It would return industry and agriculture to the land and create employment. It would restore food security to the land and it would restore South Africa to South Africans, and that would be the standard. We remember when South Africa worked and we will make it work again, with meaningful education, health care, transport, social and community development, only this time without gate-keepers, without racial, sexual or gender discrimination, without nepotism, or cronyism, or patrimony. Only merit will drive South Africa, and South Africa will flourish as never before, and that would be the standard.

Come. Join us.  

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The DA and Glynnis Breytenbach

The Direct Democracy Forum have to admit to more than a touch of envy that the DA and Glynnis Breytenbach have got together.  What a coup for the DA.

We also admit to a touch of sadness.  There is a crying need for people of Ms Breytenbach’s caliber in the corridors of government and it is truly sad that she has left them for the corridors of Parliament.  No doubt she will contribute as meaningfully to the latter as she did to the former, but that is not the point.

The DDF are probably not on Ms Breytenbach’s  nor the DA’s radar, yet, but none the less serve notice to both that if we ever have the opportunity to poach Ms Breytenbach back to the corridors of government, we will, and there will be a position for her as head of the NPA, and an opportunity for her to deal with some unfinished business.

For the moment, though, congratulations to the DA and to Ms Breytenbach.

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Lobbying, Party Funding and Electoral Reform

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would comply with DDF policies. So the DDF would install a Senate which may or may not include peer groups for business people. This would not however be the same as providing business people access to the legislative process, an access needed if you consider that an economy is both driven by businesses and serves as an environment intended to attract business, so there should be a forum where business and government and legislators can engage in dialogue, so government understand the needs of business and business understand the needs of government.

The attached M & G article “Stop the rot of secret party funding” is an appeal for such a forum to replace the present non-system, where influence is peddled to those with the fattest wallets. A DDF administration would take a serious look at what presently happens and develop a forum devoid of peddling for secret party-political funding.

Which leads one to the question of how parties are funded.

The DDF would like to see a system that funds all political parties equally, merely for being registered, having thus satisfied a certain level of public support, and a system that also funds parties proportional to the level of support as evidenced by the number of registered party supporters a party can claim, rather than simply based on the number of seats a party has in parliament, although that also needs to continue to cover party-political parliamentary expenses.

State funding of political parties may or may not preclude private ‘party’ funding.  There could be a common pool of private and corporate donations to the democratic system or private individuals and corporations could continue to donate to parties which will need to declare all or at least all major donations, or some mix of those extremes may be desirable. The matter needs debate and needs to be subjected to the democratic process. But what we have is clearly open to corruption and abuse that will frequently place vested interests above public interests, and the DDF suspect this is what occurred in the E-Tolling debacle.  The DDF are equally convinced that this non-system, where chaos and all sorts of deceits can reign supreme, must be replaced with a more structured and transparent system of public dialogue and party funding.

This in turn leads to the question of the electoral process and the role of the R500 000 hurdle for access to national democratic elections. The DDF are sympathetic to the plight of the EFF (Julie’s party) who need to raise R500 000 to get on the ballot paper nationally for this year’s elections. The DDF are faced with the same problem. 

The DDF would like to see a multi-round electoral system that funds all parties equally at each round of the elections with losing parties dropping out of each successive round until there are clear winners tasked to form the next government, either by a coalition having an electoral majority or by a single party obtaining an absolute electoral majority.

This is a system which will allow nascent political parties entry into the electoral system, and have their policies and goals judged by the electorate, without needing to overcome a potentially debilitating financial hurdle, and will challenge the status quo at each election and prevent stagnation of the political system. The DDF believes such would be a sensible and healthy system although the status quo will not necessarily agree with this view. 

DDF policies repeatedly focus on the need for collaborative government. The need to give business a voice to express its needs and the needs of the economy and the need to give the electorate a meaningful voice in a new electoral system, are merely a continuation of the collaborative theme expressed in the Senate at national level and Municipal Forums at local levels. 

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Plea from the coal-face of education

This considered and impassioned appeal for sanity in the education system comes from a senior school history teacher whose experiences in the classroom do not equate to the results of her pupils in the 2013 Matric examinations and echo the opinions of Professor Jonathan Jansen University of Free State vice chancellor.

The bottom line is what the Direct Democracy Forum have been asserting constantly, that successive ANC governments and in particular their education departments have been perpetuating massive educational fraud upon the hapless and near helpless parents and students trapped in our public education system.  Not only is the message misleading to these unfortunates but also attempts to mislead society as a whole.  These attempts fail because society has its own standards.  They are simple standards.  Are high school graduates sufficiently literate and numerate to make it in the work place or in institutions of higher learning?  The general consensus is that no, the average high school graduate is not sufficiently literate or numerate for those tasks.

Why is this fraud?  Well, if you enter into a contract with a supplier to supply you with a given product of a given quality and function and the supplier supplies you with a dysfunctional product of an inferior quality dressed up as a product of the contract, then the supplier is committing a commercial crime.  He is committing fraud.  The fact that the supplier is government supplying to a captive market who cannot effectively counter government’s claims of functionality and appropriateness of product merely exacerbates and heightens the degree of fraud.

It is the DDF‘s intention that a DDF administration will hold those responsible for this fraud accountable and bring them to account.  And it is a massive fraud, perpetuated on nearly 500 000 scholars per year over a period of nearly twenty years, and nearly that number again of those students who dropped out of the system, and nearly twice that number of parents over the same period of years.  This is clearly an opportunity of a class action of enormous proportions maybe effecting some 40 to 60 million persons over 20 years.  

But it is worse even than that, because the effect of that fraud is felt over the rest of those persons’ lives and by society as a whole who have to accommodate those poor unfortunates.  The lucky ones are those who actually make it to university and are re-educated and then subjected to the rigors of a tertiary education. The unlucky one’s are those who didn’t make it and who will never make it.  The scope and effect of the deceit is mind boggling and inexcusable and the fact that is was perpetuated in the name of political expediency just makes it even more inexcusable.

But this blog is not about retribution.  It may be about restitution but even that is unimportant when compared to the primary purpose, which is to illustrate to South African’s that the DDF is aware of the nature and extent of this deceit and that a DDF administration will stop it in its tracks and heed the pleas of  high school teacher Maryke Bailey and University Rector Professor Jonathan Jansen and so many other largely voiceless and helpless victims.

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Baragwaneth Hospital is in pain

Baragwaneth Hospital, probably the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world, is in pain.  With some 3 200 beds and 6 700 staff members it has one broken X-ray machine that hasn’t been fixed, one broken CT scanner and one other CT scanner that is in the process of failure through work overload,  per this M & G on-line report.  Obviously this has a negative effect on patient care and staff morale.

Why do I have a sense of deja vu?  The reason is that No 1 Military hospital had a similar problem of equipment not being repaired.  These events may be symptomatic of the state of many of our hospitals and the state of their equipment and evidence at the very least, of a systemic functional break-down in some of our major hospitals.  Not very comforting.

The problem should not be one of money but probably is administrative in nature – things not being done, orders not being placed, inadequate follow up from inception to payment.  The CT scanner at Bara apparently is not being fixed because of an overdue account with the suppliers.  Why should they incur the cost of repair when they are not being paid for previous work?  This begs the question; why is the administration not functioning?  Why are accounts not paid?

The Direct Democracy Forum believe that these sorts of failures are top down in nature.  That is; if the minister of health does not expect the director general to do his or her job, who in turn does not expect his or her managers to do their jobs, who do not expect the executives of hospitals they are responsible for to do their jobs, there is no incentive for anyone to do their jobs, to see that accounts are paid correctly and on time.  It is insidious, like a cancer at work in the body of a patient, and the patient, in this case Bara Hospital, is in pain and is seriously dysfunctional.

A DDF administration will ensure that the whole chain of authority, from the minister down to the lowliest worker in every state hospital in the land, knows what is expected of them and will perform and be functional or be fired.  

Patient care cannot suffer from administrative dysfunction, whatever the cause.  A DDF administration will install a system where the patient comes first in the national health service, where equipment is maintained in a functional state, where orders are placed on time and medicines are available for medical staff to prescribe and dispensaries to dispense and where accounts are paid on time and where breakdowns are fixed in time, all for the benefit of the system’s patients.  Because serving the patient base is the only reason for the existence of a national health system any part of that system which does not deliver on that obligation no longer has a reason to be a part of the system.

DDF health policies outline DDF commitment to the National Health System patient base.

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Why low education standards?

It is funny the way pieces of a jigsaw miraculously snap together and the picture you see is not what you expected to see.  That the truth is not what it seemed to be from viewing the pieces separately.

I’m really discussing the death of Nelson Mandela and the empowering effect of that event, taken up by commentators who suddenly seem empowered to look at SA’s and Mandela’s history, with greater clarity, to connect what is happening today with what happened under a cloak of secrecy yesterday.

Let me be explicit:  The struggle was not so much about liberating the suppressed of South Africa as it was about affording the communist empires access to the entire Southern African sub-continent.  This is what gave the West political justification to tolerate successive Nationalist governments and the freedom to remove that implicit support at the end of the ‘Cold War’.  This is what Mandela was really about and if the liberation myth had an ounce of truth to it, we would have had ethical governments over the past 20 years, our public schools system would work, our public health systems would work, our public transport system would work, we would have a thriving industrial and manufacturing sector working for the people of South Africa, we would not have close to 50% of our work-aged population unemployed, we would not import most of what we consume, run current account and balance of payment deficits and massive government debts that our children and their children after them will be paying off decades into the future, unless we do something about it today, and we would have reserved South Africa, if not exclusively for South Africans, at least mainly for South Africans and South Africa would still be the power house of Africa and the gateway to Africa.  But that is not what has happened over the past 20 years.

Why am I expressing this now?  First, the Myth of Improved Matriculation Results debunked as discussed here by Professor Jonathan Jansen, which is testimony to the fact that despite the stats, our standards of education are not improving from a level that is repeatedly judged to be close to the lowest in the world, second, the observation by a caller on a Radio 702 chat show that the only way autocratic government succeeds is by keeping its citizens ignorant (he was also discussing the 2013 Matriculation results) and third, the myth of ANC role in the struggles as discussed in this M&G on-line report, and elsewhere, and what it was really about.  

Change must happen, at the next elections.  Let’s empower a government of the people, for the people, by the people.   A Direct Democracy Forum administration will deliver government of the people , for the people, by the people.

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Professor Jonathan Jansen speaks. Hear, hear.

Professor Jonathan Jansen speaks. Hear, hear.

But who is listening?

The short answer is the Direct Democracy Forum are listening.  We’ve been listening to Professor Jansen since before our formation.  Our very existence is steeped in Professor Jansen’s messages.

A DDF administration will carefully note every word written and spoken by Professor Jansen on the topic of education in South Africa.  Someone needs to hear Professor Jansen.  We do!

See DDF Education Policies.   See how DDF policies can help you.

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SA’s Economy: DDF versus the ANC.

A hard look at the ANC led economy paints a grim picture for 2014.

By contrast a Direct Democracy Forum administration will both liberalise and discipline the economy with emphasis on economic fairness, including but not limited to:

Out the window will go patrimony, nepotism, graft and corruption.  While the DDF cannot guarantee the absence of these practices in the market-place and in the public service, what the DDF can guarantee is that any evidence of such practices will be pursued timeously, diligently and to the full extent of the law, irrespective of whomever is involved.

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Six Reasons for adopting TEAL

  • Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1720-1771) wrote in 1766 in his ‘System des Finanzwessens’ that; given that no state can exist without expenses and that no modern state is completely self-funding, contributions (taxes) from the subjects (taxpayers) become necessary, and that six principles of taxation should always be adhered to.

They are:

  1. Subjects (taxpayers) must be in a position to pay the taxes without depriving themselves of necessities nor taking from their capital and that an authority which deprives taxpayers of the protection of civil societies (viz protection of the necessities of life and of their property or capital) ceases to be a legitimate authority and becomes a tyranny. 
  2. Contributions (taxes) must be levied with complete equality and just proportions. This is rarely achieved with the very rich mostly contributing very little and the very poor nothing, so the bulk of the burden falls on the middle class.
  3. The method of collecting contributions (taxes) should be such that the welfare of the state and the subjects and civil freedom suffer no harm.
  4. Contributions (taxes) should be organised according to the nature of the state and the forms of government. That is, the taxes need to support the institutions of the state and must not be skimmed, for example, by collecting agents and agencies.
  5.  Contributions (taxes) must be certain and honest, fixed definitely and clear to all, so contributors know both the purpose and the amount of the contribution (tax), again adding certainty to the process and discouraging dishonesty in the collection process.
  6. Contributions (taxes) should be collected in the easiest and most convenient way and with as little expense as possible, both to the state and the subjects (taxpayers).

(Source: Early Economic Thought ISBN 0-486-44793-6 (pbk) pp 377 – 399)

Those thoughts were expressed almost 250 years ago and are just as relevant today. 

  • It is clear to the Direct Democracy Forum that current tax systems (including but not limited to E-Tolls) mostly do not satisfy those principles, whereas TEAL (Total Economic Activity Levy) mostly does.
  • If only for that reason, the DDF are determined to do all in their power to introduce TEAL as the only tax in South Africa.

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Sunny Skies SABC Censorship

What amounts to self-censorship by SA’s public broadcaster was reported in this article by the M & G on-line “SABC ‘censors’ Numsa-Zuma reporting“, banning reporting of Numsa’s rejection of the ANC.  

This is not the first time SABC management and, presumably, the ANC, have had a hand in SABC editorial content, having also banned reporting of the booing of president Zuma at the Mandela memorial.  In fact, political influence in SABC broadcast content goes way back to the days of the Nationalist Party’s control of the broadcaster, a tradition ably carried on by their successors, the ANC.  A brief look at the SABC’s history clearly shows the extent of this interference. 

As the primary communicator in SA the SABC needs protection from all political interference. The Direct Democracy Forum communications policy outline’s how the DDF will protect the public broadcaster by affording it the protection of Chapter 9 of the constitution.  See how DDF policies will help you.

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How can someone so stupid or so deceitful be?

So government denies Pres.Zuma had any knowledge of the development or cost implications or the funding of the upgrading of his (Zuma’s) Nkandla compound.  Is that the same as Pres. Zuma denying said knowledge?  Almost?  Nearly?  Well, maybe.

How can this be?  Have a look at the extent of the development traced graphically here and tell anyone  that the owner or primary occupant of that property could not have some awareness of the extent of the development and some  inkling of the cost implications of the project.  No thinking person will believe that assertion.  So the assertion must be an inaccurate rendering of the truth.

But let’s just pause a moment and imagine that the primary occupant was so preoccupied with matters of state that the before and after pictures of the Nkandla compound passed over his head and weren’t noticed.  Two possibilities exist.  He was either very very busy indeed or unusually insensitive to what was going on around him in his own compound.  Not exactly what one might expect of a head of state.  But this is South Africa so perhaps even the most unlikely events become possible.

And it is not as if the expenditure was limited to R200M.  The publicly funded costs of Nkandla and its surrounds broke the R2 Billion mark.

It does beg the question,  how can someone so stupid or so deceitful be……..?  Perhaps they just think South Africans are so stupid that none of this matters?  Well, South Africans are not stupid and it does matter, very much.

See Direct Democracy Forum policies and imagine a  Nkandla happening on a DDF administration’s watch. Beyond unlikely.

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Seas, Coasts, Fisheries and Borders

he  Sekunjalo controversy as reported here is about much more than just possible or probable corruption and the awarding of tenders to the palpably ill equipped.  The tender was to perform highly specialised services in the protection of South Africa’s coastal and deep see fisheries and was obviously rigged so the successful bidder, who admitted it did not have the resources or the capacity to perform, was awarded the tender on the basis that it would pilfer the resources of the unsuccessful bider in order to satisfy the terms of the tender.  How sick is that?  Perhaps the members of the selection committee were influenced to change their original decision from an outright winner in favour of Sekunjalo, perhaps not,  but the bidding process was clearly flawed.  More importantly it is a tale about how badly South African public services are underutilised in the protection of valuable national resources.

The Direct Democracy Forum expressed concerns about the co-ordination of many different elements of crime in the DDF Human and Contraband Trafficking  policy and lamented the underutilisation of the SANDF in protecting South Africa’s borders and the Sekunjalo controversy underscores the very need for that to change.

A DDF administration would form a border co-ordinating body that would co-ordinate the efforts of all agencies involved in the protection of our borders, both inland and at sea, and as stated in DDF Defence and Military policies the Defence Force would be actively involved in the closing down of South Africa’s borders to all forms of illicit traffic, and that includes poaching livestock from South African lands to poaching shellfish from our coastlines and poaching fish stocks within our economic interest zones along South Africa’s coast line.

South Africa’s defence force will keep itself in a state of high alert and competency through these activities while serving the interests of the country it is tasked to defend.  It will be familiar with every secret rout used by criminals in the course of their activities, who will no longer have the advantage of better knowledge of our borders than our own countrymen do.  South Africa will claim back its own and will do so without entering into dubious arrangements as envisaged in the Sekunjalo fiasco.

Under a DDF administration,  South Africa will become a nation proud of itself and jealous of it’s resources, which will no longer be available to all-comers.

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Hawks, Scorpions and the Constitutional Court

This report highlights the weakness of the  South African Police Service Act which in 2011 was found by the Constitutional Court to be unconstitutional and invalid because it failed to give the Hawks the adequate degree of independence they needed to fulfill their duties. The Constitutional Court sent the act back to parliament for them to fox it.  

Last Friday (13th December 2013) the Cape Town High Court found that the fixes were not good enough and still left the Hawks too vulnerable and subject to political interference arising from the ministerial appointment of the head of the Hawks and the lack of parliamentary oversight of their actions.

This is relevant because the High Court’s concerns are similar to the Direct Democratic Forum‘s concerns about the NPA and of what should be our elite investigative unit, the Hawks.

The DDF‘s solution to this would be to make the NPA and the Hawks, or their equivalent, protected by Chapter 9 of the Constitution, as expressed here.  In that post we suggested that the NPA have their own investigative unit and were thinking in terms of the Hawks being that unit, but it may work better for the Hawks (or whatever that unit is) to work independently of the NPA but with the same Chapter 9 protection.  The DDF believe that either option would render the Hawks and the NPA immune from political interference and enable both to pursue their jobs of investigating and prosecuting criminals in the corridors of power, ‘without let or hindrance’ as the saying goes, which is the way it should be.

DDF judicial policies and the DDF security policies, developed from the DDF‘s sense of what is needed for the pursuit of justice, seems to largely reflect the perceptions of the highest courts in South Africa, and the DDF is encouraged by that, to believe they are at least on the correct path with those two policies. 

The DDF are about much more than just the pursuit of justice.  They are about affordable and effective health care, affordable and effective education, affordable and effective transport, to mention just a few elements of DDF Policies, which broadly speaking are about what is needed to make South Africa work for all of its citizens.  How can the  DDF help you?

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Prison Numbers tell all

This M & G on-line report lists numbers in South Africa that are telling.

  • Cost per prisoner per month                                  R9 876.35
  • Cost per prisoner per year                                  R118 516.20
  • prison population (includes remands)                   156 370
  • cost per month                                          R1,544,364,849.50 
  • cost per year                                           R18,532,378,194.00
  • prisons                                                                          243 
  • average cost per prison per year                   R76,264,930.84

These are costs to South Africa’s taxpayers.

Compare this to the cost of a tertiary education in a state sponsored university.

  • Student cost of 1 year’s fees at university range from 30K to 50K (say 40K average)
    depending on the courses.
  • So a three year degree will cost a student about R120 k.
  • The state will contribute about 30% and private sponsorship the balance.
  • Assuming private sponsorship of zero, the R120k = about 70%, so
  • the state will contribute about R51 000 for a three year course.

So, the cost to the state of 1 year’s imprisonment for 1 prisoner will be about R118,5k or equal to state sponsorship for 2.3 three-year degree courses.

 Put another way, three years’ imprisonment for 1 prisoner (R355k) = state sponsorship for 7 three year degree courses (R350k).

Setting aside the fact that 30% or 1/3rd state sponsorship is simply not enough, the fact that you can equate 3 years of imprisonment to 7 three year degree courses speaks volumes of where the state’s funding priorities lie.

Let us say that the state sponsored education 100%, so a three year degree course might cost the state R171k compared to a three year imprisonment cost of R355.5k, even then three years’ imprisonment would equate to two three-year degree courses. Makes you think.

  • By comparison, the R2 Billion spent on President Zuma’s  Nkandla compound and the infrastructure in the surrounds (see here) would have funded
    • 100% of 11, 691 three year degrees or about
    • 40 000 three year degrees at the present level of sponsorship.  
  • Makes you think some more.

It makes Direct Democracy Forum’s education and training policies supported by a TEAL backed fiscus even more relevant, when you consider the impact it would have on the prison population. While not claiming that only the uneducated are criminals (they certainly are not), the DDF are pretty certain that the better educated a person is and the more employable he or she is (the two generally correlate), the less likely he or she will be to resort to crime to survive.

This will result in

  • less crime,
  • fewer prisoners,
  • less pressure on the criminal justice system as a whole (we haven’t even considered those costs in our calculations)
  • less distressed families and individuals,
  • less pressure on the social services funded by the state and civil society

this is just a win-win situation whichever way you look at it.

These are all DDF policy basics. See how the DDF can help you.

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E-TOLL BOTTOM-LINES

This report from the M & G Business should be of interest, not because it reveals shocking manipulation of a flawed tender system but because of all the extraneous financial information it contains, which the Direct Democracy Forum summarise as follows:

A thought provoking look at some e-toll numbers taken from the article:

E-Toll Cost summary: 

2010 estimated  cost per Km for new high grade road 
(allows for 5% pa average escalation over 4 years)                R5.5M
2010 cost estimate for 185km new roads @ R5.5M/Km         R1.1B
2010 cost estimate for 185km refurbishment, say                   R2.2B
2013 OUTA estimate (including e-toll costs), say                  R13.0B

Current cost guestimate (excl finance charges) say             R20.6B 
(an almost tenfold escalation over 2.2B)
Add finance charges over 20 years                                        R20.0B

Total cost over 20 years                                                         R40.6B

Cost per year                                                                            2.03B

Recovered through e-tolls:                         20y                           /y

Capital Costs (% of E-Tolls) 28%               R20.6B                    R1.03B
Debt Service 29%                                        R20.0B                    R1.0B 
Total Capital Cost and
Debt service recovered
over 20 Years (% of E-Tolls) 57%               R40.6B                    R2.03B

Road maintenance 15%                              R10.7B                    R535M

E-Toll Maintenance 17%                                 12.1B                     R605M 

Sanral profit 11%                                              7.8B                     R390M 

Total Cost over 20 Years                          R71.2B                     3.56B

By Scrapping E-Tolls the taxpayer would save

                                Debt service charges              R20.0B
                                E-Toll Maintenance                     12.1B
                                Sanral profit                                  7.8B
                                in total                                     R39.9B   (56% saving)

                                which approximates R2B per year for 20 Years.

Total costs over 20 year without SANRAL, Etoll and Finance charges should be 31.3B.  If you are to believe OUTA that figure should be no more R23.7B (R13B + R10.7B maintenance costs, but that includes e-toll costs).  Who to believe?  If OUTA are anywhere near correct, the R71.2B cost over 20 years represents a 200% hike over the OUTA R23.7B figure.  That from E-Tolls, Finance charges and Sanrall.  That’s a heck of a lot of taxpayer money that South Africa cannot afford.  

E-tolls simply do not make any contributions that a properly run Fiscus cannot make and do not make any financial sense at all except to SANRAL and the Debt Financiers, and that’s if we can believe the numbers in the article.  What we can see is bad enough but what if those numbers are somehow unreliable, as the Sanral experience suggests to us is possible?

The DDF believe they have a clearly superior form of taxation (TEAL), compared to the current methods, which will more than easily absorb the capital costs of the Gauteng and all other roads upgrades in the country, without breaking the bank, and save huge debt service charges, which can instead go toward lowering the costs of our roads development and maintenance and improving the lives of all South Africans.  

Look at DDF policies and see for yourself what the DDF can do for you.

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NKANDLA SLIDE-SHOW

For anyone in doubt as to the extent of the development of the Nkandla presidential compound, this is a slide-show not to be missed:

View the Nkandla Slide-Show, compliments of the M & G On-Line.  

The show speaks for itself but it must be remembered that in addition to the Nkandla development costs there is the development of the Nkandla surrounds, the costs of the complex and the surrounding infrastructure amount to two billion rand or more.  So we are not talking about a trifling R200M, but ten times that amount in taxpayers’ money. 

It seems from this report that President Zuma basically hijacked the public works department’s involvement and inserted contractors of his own choice to deliver the results that he wanted Nkandla to reflect.  Read the report yourself and see what you think.

No wonder Thuli Madonsela is critical.

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SA Education Authorities wear Blinkers

The habit of the ANC government to see only what they wish to see and hear only what they wish to hear is shooting South African children in the foot by denying them a proper education and then expecting them to perform in a competitive manner in a competitive world.  This is just another example of the ANC’s Messiah complex in action.  The Direct Democracy Forum have expressed this sentiment before but will do so again.  This is tantamount to criminal fraud perpetrated on the school children of South Africa and one day those responsible will be held to account, but by then the damage done to millions of South Africans who have passed through the South African education system these past 20 years, will be very difficult to undo.

Two reports on the Annual National Assessment results, ANA results are not comparable and Critics slap down Motshekga’s confidence over ANAs absolutely slate the manner in which the tests were conducted and the Minister’s interpretation of the results.  Either the Minister believes her own propaganda or the Minister is fully aware of the implications of the results and is simply lying to the people.  Both alternatives are totally unacceptable.

DDF education policies, backed by DDF TEAL policies  are the only chance on the current political horizon for South Africa’s crippled education system, and then it will be a long haul over decades to set the matter to rights.

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ANC’s Messiah complex

OK – the Direct Democracy Forum are paraphrasing Verashni Pillay’s words.  She actually wrote about the Government’s Messiah complex, but since the government is mostly the ANC, we don’t feel too bad about that stretch.

So, why are we engaging in ANC bashing again?  Actually no one is ANC bashing.  Instead Ms Pillay is voicing very legitimate concerns that the ANC led government at both local and national level are not listening to the people, and instead are advancing willy nilly along a path which has very little to do with what the people want.  Ms Pillay cites two current examples to illustrate her point and in doing so writes with the same words and concerns with which the DDF have been writing these past years.

We are not claiming that Ms Pillay endorses DDF positions.  In fact, we very much doubt that Ms Pillay is even aware of the existence of the DDF.  But like Ms Pillay, we are aware of South Africa’s opinion on E-Tolling.  A DDF administration would never have implemented E-Tolling and the DDF have undertaken that any DDF administration will dismantle all road tolls because the national roads system will be funded through the fiscus which in turn will be funded by TEAL.  This is not because the DDF are adopting a populist position but because the national roads system is a national asset from which the entire nation benefits and for which the entire nation should pay, not just a few captive users. 

This video elaborates on why e-toling is just plain bad policy.

The DDF also believe that the Johannesburg City Council’s eviction of street traders was the use of a shotgun tactic to counter a situation of lawlessness on the streets resulting from bad management of the streets by the ANC-led council.  Instead a more selective strategy should have been adopted targeting elements on the streets which required proper management.  In short, the ANC-led Johannesburg City Council did not do their jobs properly and instead unnecessarily messed with the livelihood of thousands of honest traders.

Simply put the DDF have the same opinions of the behaviour of the ANC led government at both local and national levels as Ms Pillay has.  The ANC are not prepare to manage the society which misplaced their trust in them and worse still, the ANC no longer even engage in the pretence of consulting with the people,  for when the people speak, even with a single voice, such as on the subject of E-Tolling, the ANC led government simply don’t listen but engage their Messiah complex to do what they believe is good for someone (we don’t know whom) instead of doing what the people believe is good for them.  And that is a charitable view.

A less charitable view is to follow the money trail of the E-Tolling debacle, to observe who benefits from e-tolling.  And the ANC led government and SANRAL are being remarkably coy about those details.  So the DDF asks itself why should motorists pay what probably amounts to more than double taxation to those invisible beneficiaries?

And the point of this rant is that Ms Pillay and the DDF are on the same page, even if Ms Pillay has never heard of us.  We are even on the same page that government should be consultative and not prescriptive and should suppress any messianic inclinations.  DDF Senate policies and DDF local government policies both use a process of deliberative democracy that should satisfy anyone’s need for a more consultative government.  So the DDF are quite happy that they and Verashni Pillay are on the same page, at least in these matters, and have little doubt that the DDF would be on the same page as Ms Pillay and many other South Africans on many other issues.

What makes the DDF different from any other political party in South Africa is its central theme of formal consultation at local government and national government levels and its ability draw on TEAL to adequately and properly fund all the needs of the country, while at the same time liquidating SA’s national debt and turning South Africa into a debt-free country, at least so far as its government is concerned.  No other political party can come anywhere near that promise.  Then there are all the other DDF policies to consider.

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South Africa’s AIDS Shame.

20 Million tested for aids is certainly an achievement but when you only have a third of your 6 Million aids population receiving ARVs, or medication for aids, that is letting down the other 4 Million aids sufferers.  In 2012 SA had an estimated 370 000 new HIV infections and 240 000 Aids deaths, a net growth of 130 000 aids sufferers.  As some observe, we have little to celebrate on the 25th Annual Aids Day.

Direct Democracy Forum policies will have a significant effect on the fight against aids and the quality of life for all aids sufferers in South Africa.

DDF TEAL policies’ support of DDF Health Policies will ensure that every AIDS sufferer in South Africa receives ARVs, which will allow them to live a largely normal lifestyle and lifespan and DDF job creation policies and DDF education and training policies will uplift the social and economic status of most South Africans, which will significantly reduce the transmission of AIDS between South Africans of all ages.

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Unions, Teaching and Marking

This M & G report highlights one of the biggest problems underpinning education in South Africa.  As can be seen, one survey indicates that as many as 68% of grade 6 maths teachers are inadequately informed on the subject to teach in it at that level.  The Direct Democracy Forum don’t have statistics available for all subjects at all levels but anecdotal evidence suggests that that sort of incompetency may exists across most subjects at most levels.   It follows that if the teachers are unable to teach at any given level they are incompetent to judge the competency of others at that level viz. they are equally incompetent to mark at that level.

Should unions be concerned and what should their position be?

The DDF believe that unions should be concerned, not with the fact that many of their members may not be allowed to mark but rather with the fact that many of these members may be required to perform duties they are incompetent to perform.  We believe that the union position should be that those who are incompetent at any given knowledge level should be encouraged to acquire the required level of knowledge or to teach and mark at a level for which they are fit to do so.  This should involve ongoing competency examinations and testing.

This is not intended to denigrate the dignity of our teachers but rather to equip them professionally for their duties in the classroom and marking rooms so that they can competently deliver a sound education to their pupils.  Far from denigrating the dignity of teachers such a process will empower them and reinforce their dignity.  At the same time it will also deliver to South Africa’s pupils what they have a constitutional and moral right to expect, a competent and meaningful education, which will suitably prepare them for their lives as responsible and contributing members of society.  They too need to be empowered, they too have a dignity which needs to be considered.

The DDF are firmly in favour of the application of merit at all levels and across all activities in society.  This includes the education process.  In fact, the assessment of merit in  academics and teaching skills are fundamental to a functioning education system and a DDF administration will deliver just such levels of merit assessment as are needed in the classrooms of South Africa, and believe they will do so with the support of the unions, who also need to be empowered to perform their duties to their members and to society in a dignified and ethical manner.

DDF education policies are intended to lift all out of the poverty of ignorance and incompetence so that everyone in South Africa can find a fruitful place for themselves in society.

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Don’t believe SANRAL on E-Tolls

Our previous posts on the subject of E-Tolls refer.  Here and here and here, amongst other places, in our policies and FAQs.  SANRAL are ratcheting up the propaganda and the pressure on the public to accept E-Tolls.  Our sense is not to believe anything SANRAL say.  Opposition to E-Tolls is just about universal within South Africa and that isn’t going to change no matter what SANRAL say. 

Mondli Magwaza, entrepreneur, technology professional, an economics student and a patriotic South African, adds his voice “Whose Freeway is it?” to what can only be described as a cacophony of protest.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will end tolling of all South Africa’s roads, and no, roads will not fall apart from neglect,  SA’s roads will be the best maintained road system in Africa and as good as you will find anywhere in the world. 

That is a DDF commitment.  Visit DDF Policies and DDF FAQs

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SA votes No to mining transparency

SA votes No to mining transparency – why we are not surprised?

Isn’t this just typical of the ANC’s battle against transparency and generally for secrecy in its handling of the affairs of South Africa?

Witness the secrecy bill, the battle with the Public Protector, to name but a few attacks on civil liberty.  As for transparency in the mining sector?  Not likely, and no we are not surprised!

Direct Democracy Forum‘s policies on transparency can be found throughout this website, in this DDF blog posts, DDF FAQs and DDF Policies.

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Blame Game in the Security Sector

Government’s concerns over the proliferation of foreign ownership of the major players in the security industry as discussed here, is xenophobic at best and disingenuous at worst.  If the so called security cluster really want to know what is wrong with the security sector, they should look in the mirror a bit more often.

It is true that the government should not be responsible for guarding every household and every private building and  every cash in transit vehicle in the country but it is equally true that government is responsible for adequately policing and prosecuting criminals responsible for the proliferation of crime in the country.  It is government that is responsible for public safety and security and not the private security industry, whether foreign or locally owned.  It is also true that Government is responsible for the abysmal state of our economy, the poorly educated, poorly trained and underemployed masses and the circumstances that make criminality so attractive to these unfortunates thus adding fuel to the fire, as discussed here.

  • A Direct Democracy Forum administration will have the means to properly staff, train, equip and support the South African Police Services so they again become the primary enforcers of public safety and security and an effective force in the detection and prosecution of criminals throughout the land.
  • More importantly the same DDF administration will have the means to skill and employ most of those unfortunates and remove any social justification for their criminality, as discussed here and here

It is a sad reality that what was a highly respected police service was politicised by the Nationalist government of the apartheid era and has been and is politicised by the current ANC regime.   The fiascoes concerning control of the police services and the judiciary and the political interference in the affairs of the criminal justice system, such as discussed here, and here and here and here and here will be history under a DDF administration.

  •  Any attempt to politicise the criminal justice system from whatever source whatsoever, will be dealt with severely by the criminal justice system itself, with the full blessing of the DDF administration.  DDF Safety and Security policies and DDF Judicial Policies speak for themselves on DDF commitment to an independent and apolitical and functioning criminal justice system.

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Uncertain benefits of youth wage subsidy

This article is an analysis of the possible effects of the proposed youth wage subsidy.  The conclusion of the analysis is that the policy may do more harm than good.  

Given that the prime directive of any business is to maximise profits (read also as not to  incur unnecessary expense) the wage subsidy is likely to create a situation where existing employment is shifted from un-subsidised employees to new subsidised employees, with little or no growth in employment except where growth in employment occurs that would have occurred anyway, even without the wage subsidy.  So the state will then pay a double whammy, first for the youth wage subsidy, much of which has little or no effect on new employment, and then also for the unemployment that it creates amongst unsubsidised labour.

 The Direct Democracy Forum‘s approach is to stimulate youth employment by paying the youth to advance their employment prospects through further education and training whilst at the same time stimulating the job market so there are more jobs to employ the newly skilled and more employable youths, and that anyway they are then more desirable as potential employees and as young entrepreneurs.

You will see that DDF policies are all aimed at these sorts of goals rather than at supporting a welfare state with welfare entitlements.

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The Plight of the Poor and Socialism

This M & G on-line article tells a tale of the poor driven by uncaring administrations to levels of social disobedience which are as unacceptable as is the behaviour of the uncaring administrations, the whole spiraling into a mess of oppression characterised by politically sanctioned evictions, beatings, torture, shootings and murder.

Because the Direct Democracy Forum care about the plight of the poor and believe that there is a place in the sun for every South African citizen and bemoan the plight of the communities written of in that article, and anticipate that that caring will tempt some to label the DDF as  socialist or communist, we will examine the nature of socialism, to dispel any such ideas.

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines socialism as “a system or condition of society or group living in which there is no private property and in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state”.  Caring for the poor is not a feature of socialism. (see full definition here)

Since the DDF advocate the private ownership of capital and private ownership of the means of production, the DDF cannot be labeled socialist.  In the FAQ “Are the DDF thinly disguised Communists?” the DDF describes itself as “libertarians with a social conscience”.  The DDF are proud of being libertarian and having a social conscience and of championing individual empowerment and responsibility through education, training and encouraging economic opportunity. 

By contrast, the African National Congress (black African National Socialists) want to corner both the means of production and the market-place through its cadres and follow in the steps of the avowed National Socialists of Germany (the Nazis) and white Afrikaner National Socialists of South Africa (the Nationalist Party or the Nats).  As a consequence the ANC led South Africa is a great deal more socialist than a DDF led South Africa will ever be.

All of this is a preface to stating that a DDF administration will ensure that every poor South African is properly housed and skilled and in gainful employment (see DDF policies).  This may take some years or even decades to achieve but never the less the process will commence from day 1 of a DDF administration’s term of office.  The DDF will break the cycle of corruption, poverty and social disobedience that has led to depths of oppression and politically sanctioned evictions, beatings, torture, shootings and murder written of in this article, and that does not make the DDF socialist by any means, it just makes us responsible members of the human race.

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Non-compliance with Building Codes

The deadly Tongaat roof collapse has riveted one’s attention on the total contempt many builders and developers have for the municipal and national building codes and authorities.

In Yeoville & Belleview in Gauteng we see this contempt being exercised daily and we see the inability or unwillingness of municipal authorities to enforce codes and even when obliged by community pressure to issue stop orders, we see the unwillingness of municipalities to enforce these stop orders.

A case in point is a building in Yeoville, being erected without plans being submitted and therefor without approval.  According to the plans we have seen, the building is intended to house perhaps 300 children in approximately 20 M x 4 M on two floors, or perhaps 450 children on three floors (about 150 children per floor, or about 0.6M² per child), at least that is what the plans indicate.

The Direct Democracy Forum are are horrified at the potential for disaster effecting perhaps as many as 450 children in a building built without local authority oversight, in spite of the municipality having been warned of the illegal building activity and indeed even acknowledging the problem and issuing stop orders.  As with the Tongaat Mall case, the builder / developer simply ignores the stop orders and presses ahead with the building.  In the Yeoville case the developer also ignored the protests and objections of the surrounding neighbours.  

As with Tongaat, the local municipality failed to enforce the stop orders and presumably believe they have done their duty and a long and slow legal process begins, perhaps extending over years, which they see as their only ongoing obligation.  

The DDF believe that these acts are little better than piracy by developers and it might even be argued that the municipalities’ inaction is in effect their colluding in these acts.

Why do we have building codes which are ignored, bylaws which are ignored and stop orders which are ignored?  Why indeed do we have municipalities who cannot or simply will not do their jobs?  Just as with the Johannesburg street vendor fiasco, the municipalities are simply not managing the environs which is their duty to manage,  Once again they are not delivering the services which they are mandated to deliver.  Indeed, are they even mandated to deliver services except by virtue of empty promises uttered at the beginning of each election cycle?  

The Tongaat disaster is a tragic consequence of one example of that sort of neglect.

The DDF have a solution for this dilemma.  Visit DDF local government policies and see how municipalities can be forced to deliver services and do their duties or be forced out of office and possibly even face criminal charges for neglect and dereliction of duty.

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Employment Equity Versus Merit

The Direct Democracy Forum are absolutely against any form of racial profiling or quota based selection.  The DDF believe that by skewing expectations through social engineering based on race, apart from being racist and probably unconstitutional, South Africa is shooting itself in the foot.

By applying racial profiling or indeed any form of profiling other than merit, in any employment selection criteria, you are denying yourself access to the best available candidates who might otherwise be selected.  And what will they do?  They will find employment elsewhere. South Africa cannot afford any of this and the DDF will have none of it.  

So the DDF are against the Employment Equity Bill in any form and are for the meritocracy espoused by DDF Policies, DDF Goals and DDF FAQs and a DDF administration would rather focus on job creation and education and skills development to empower everyone rather than on racial discrimination to only empower some.

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Evicted Street Vendors’ Plight

The Direct Democracy Forum believe they understand the objectives of both the Johannesburg Municipality (cleanliness and orderly conduct in Johannesburg’s Streets) and Johannesburg’s street vendor community (right to securely earn a living) but believe that indiscriminate removal of vendors from the streets is not the way to go about realizing either of these objectives.

What is needed in place of such draconian measures and the obvious costly legal challenges in response, is proper and ongoing management of the streets in which vendor activities are allowed.

In the view of the DDF, proper management of our streets does not seem to be happening, perhaps this is deemed too costly in terms of manpower and budget.  But that is what managing a city is about, the proper allocation of manpower and budget to see that agreements between the city and its residents are complied with, not indiscriminate raids and confiscation of goods and property when the agreements break down, which lower the city authorities to the level of pirates and brigands themselves.  All that to clean up a mess created by poor management, amounting in effect to poor service delivery.

If the job of managing the streets was done properly in the first place, this questionable behaviour would not have occurred and street vendors would be secure as productive members of Johannesburg’s streets and structures.

DDF local government policies will make for accountable and transparent government and, amongst other things, for proper service delivery and the proper management of the streets of all the country’s settlements, villages, towns and cities.

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Secrecy Bill attacks Chapter 9 integrity

Protection of State Information Bill – the so-called secrecy Bill – attacks the integrity of Chapter 9 of the constitution and is probably unconstitutional and therefor in itself, illegal.  Chapter 9 institutions are intended to strengthen and support the democratic process of South Africa.  An attack on a Chapter 9 institution is an attack on democracy in South Africa and therefor an attack on the constitution and whatever doubts one has had about the intention of the ANC in that regard are pretty much dispelled by the actions of government against against Thuli Madonsela.

No act of parliament can overturn the constitution or any provision thereof except and if it is also a constitutional amendment, and the ANC do not have the necessary parliamentary support for that.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration  will restore the integrity of Chapter 9 institutions, and restore their invulnerability and superiority to all agents of government, as was patently the intent of the drafters of the constitution, and may well bring criminal action against those involved in this attack on the constitution, if that is appropriate.

See DDF judicial policies and judge for yourself the DDF‘s intent to uphold the constitution.

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Strathyre Home for Girls at risk of closing

The Strathyre home has been a refuge for abandoned and abused girls for over 50 years, but is in danger of closing through lack of funds.

No doubt their’s is not a unique story and the same danger applies to any institution catering for the needs of boys and girls, who otherwise will fall through the cracks of society, and indeed for institutions addressing the many other charitable needs of society.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will have the means, through the application of DDF Social Welfare policies and TEAL, to adequately fund all such institutions, and the DDF have the political will to ensure that no child in South Africa need ever feel abandoned and without hope.

What the DDF need, however, is the support of South Africans at the upcoming elections, to enable us to enable institutions such as the Strathyre Home for Girls and any other institution engaged in similar activities.

Visit DDF Policies and DDF Goals pages to see what the DDF is about

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The dangers of protectionism

The South African Motor Manufacturing Industry is a case in point.  Do subsidies work? Apparently not that well.

As part of DDF transport and economic policies, a Direct Democracy Forum administration will be looking carefully at the way it applies subsidies and will endeavour to do so such that the basic needs of the economy are met as a result of any subsidies, and industry will be weaned off subsidies which do not directly benefit the economy.  In the case of the SAMMI, how does the economy benefit from the considerable subsidies it receives.  Has employment in the sector risen?  Apparently not.  Have exports risen? Also apparently not.  So why are we continuing to subsidize these industries?

The DDF do not pretend to be expert economists but a DDF administration will be asking these sorts of questions of people who count themselves expert economists, and we will be applying common sense to their answers.

The DDF are not scared of spending in order to stimulate the economy.  We would just rather spend wisely than unwisely.

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More heroic acts from the Public Protector

It has become a truism that almost the only breath of fresh air and hope in South Africa today, comes from the office of the Public Protector.

Her long awaited report on Nkandla Gate is being repressed by every male in the so-called security cluster, all in the name of security, and in a manner which is patently unconstitutional and illegal.  This is not the first time Thuli Madonsela has stood against the united fire-power of government and the ANC.

So, our wish for her is that she continues to stand in defiance of yet another assault on her integrity, the integrity of her office, the integrity of the constitution and the very fibre of freedom and transparency in South Africa.

There is little we can do except add our voice and opinion to all those other voices and opinions that have come out in support of her, yet again.  However, it goes without saying that a Direct Democracy Forum administration will do all in its power to strengthen her independence, and support and co-operate with her wherever her duties lead her.  A skim through DDF policies and other posts on this site will affirm our commitment to the ongoing success of the office of the Public Protector and our support of the very concept of the protection afforded by Chapter 9 of the constitution.

The DDF has identified as heroes and heroines just three people we regarded as inspirational in the struggle for justice in South Africa. Thuli Madonsela was one of them.  That was not an empty accolade.  Ms. Madonsela earns it over and over again.

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Employment Services Bill goes too far

The Employment Services Bill goes too far in regulating the labour market, as reported in this M & G report.

The Direct Democracy Forum see no wrong in government agencies running a job exchange for those wishing to make use of its services but never the less object to the mandated involvement of the private sector in the scheme.  From a DDF perspective this looks to be unconstitutional as it seem to breach freedom of association provisions of the constitution. The DDF also see nothing wrong in a South African first employment policy provided competitiveness prevails.  That is, the DDF does not approve of using a South African first policy as protectionism in the labour market.

A DDF alternative would be to provide a job exchange, free of charge, but purely on a voluntary basis, so prospective employers could list vacancies and prospective employees could list their CVs and the exchange would merrily play mix and match.  However, the DDF would not mandate private sector involvement in that job exchange.  Such an exchange could be developed and run by the private sector. for an agreed price.

Regarding a South African first employment policy,  a DDF administration would have the department of labour respond to complaints of foreigners being unfairly employed in place of suitably skilled and available local labour.  It would be left to the courts to enforce a South African first employment policy on a case by case basis.  

The DDF idea of labour broking would be that it is acceptable provided the employer pays whatever fees are involved and there be a set limit on those fees (say not more than 2.5% of a wage).  The DDF would define a broker is one who employs on behalf of another but who may not do so exclusively, that brokering is an arrangement of agency, so the broker acts as the agent of the employer (the principal) and the employer and the broker are bound to meet all the minimum requirements set out in law for the employment of persons, as if the employed were in the employ of the principal.  So a broker’s arrangement could not be used to shield an employer from compliance with labour law.  Regarding payment of wages, the employer (the principal) must pay the agreed wages directly to the employee, without deduction.  The broker will also have to guarantee the payment of wages by the employer to the employee.

Labour brokers should not be confused with providers of specialist services to the public and private sectors.  So the local catering, cleaning or guarding companies, for example, are not labour brokers. 

The DDF‘s view of employment agencies is that they are members of the private sector, free to bring together employers and job seekers, free of interference from government, but whose income, while not limited except by agreement between the employer and the agency, is paid for by the employer to the agency.  So the employee gets paid the agreed wage or salary by the employer,  without deduction.   

In short, DDF policies will bolster the free market system, provide a voluntary job exchange for use by all, including employers, employment agents and job seekers, and protect workers rights, all of this with minimum administrative requirements and giving a nod to employment of South African labour in preference to foreign labour..  

DDF policies are aimed at supporting a convenient and accessible job market in the simplest possible manner, with government involvement limited to ensuring fairness for all.

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McBride and the IPID

Having Robert McBride as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is not something that would happen in a country that has real respect for the law and meaningful consideration for public sensibilities, so the Direct Democracy Forum believe.

Mr McBride’s history has been described as controversial, checkered and doubtful.  This article outlines why that is so.  It does however seem to fit the profile of ANC cadres pretty well and that speaks more loudly about what can only be seen as a cadre appointment to one of the most sensitive positions in South Africa.

Our opinion on the overturn of McBride’s criminal convictions on appeal, including convictions for drunken driving and subversion of justice, which overturn we questioned the propriety of at the time, are stated here, and the public record of his behaviour in that incident speaks louder than this dismissal did, as to his lack of respect for the law.  So we ask, how can anyone, however well qualified in other areas, be appointed to a position that should be saturated in respect for the law?

But this is typical of ANC strategy for cadre appointments at all levels of government – it is what suits the ANC rather than what is best for the country which matters, and loyalty to the ANC is paramount in that.  We have spoken on the failures of cadre appointments and resulting failure in service delivery in DDF local government policies.  We have no doubt this appointment will not buck the trend and is just another reason for a much needed change in government.

A DDF administration would immediately terminate any appointment of McBride to such a sensitive position, if only because we believe such an appointment would to be morally indefensible in a responsive and sensitive democracy.  DDF security policies outline the DDF approach in these matters, which will develop maximum professionalism and will tolerate no political interference in the criminal justice system.

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The Horrors of Diepsloot

Diepsloot face a new horror with a neglect related death of a seven month old toddler.

It is easy to express rage but not so easy to see a way forward for the many South African communities that are so distressed, such as is Diepsloot, that they simply are dysfunctional and almost anything can happen, as this tragic story relates.

Any Direct Democracy Forum administration will have tangible and doable DDF policies backed by sound fiscal means derived from TEAL, that will enable the upliftment of South Africa’s poor communities, through education, training, skills development, employment opportunities all engaged in community development.  There is so much under-delivery of services and so much scope for employment, that efforts to play catch-up on twenty years of neglect will result in a great deal of wealth creation for the next twenty years at least, most of which will be retained in the communities themselves.

The goal is that dysfunctional communities become functional, with sufficient wealth  and populated by sufficiently skilled and employed individuals that there will be fewer disenfranchised individuals behaving like predators.  More community members will engage responsibly with their communities, local economies and their families, instead of in questionable activities that leave unfortunate children at risk.  It won’t be an easy task but every step in reconstructing communities will be a step in the right direction and will be felt by all as they happen, and each success will encourage more successes.

These are the DDF’s goals and DDF policies are the means.

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How Much Tax is in Your Petrol Tank?

This is a really useful graphic representation of tax in your fuel tank.

The bottom line, according to this representation, is that the government takes 27.9% by value of the fuel you put in your tank, the suppliers 53.1% and the retailers and distributors 19%.

HOWEVER – that 53.1% includes a state levy, that no one really knows the value of, at least those who know are not sharing the secret.  So, this is what we think is happening 

                              Given case            Best case            Worse case

Landed cost               53.1%                    38%                        28%

Retail & Distr.             19%                       19%                       19% 

Taxes*                         27.9%                    43%                       53%

*Includes State Levy      ?                          15%                       25%   

The worse case shows what amounts to a nearly 100% state levy on landed costs or 25% of the cost at the pumps.

Then, to add insult to injury, the state adds a Fuel Levy, and a Road Accident Fund Levy and Custom and Excise Duties, that is what makes up the 27.9% taxes, which, when adjusted by the worse case state levy, could amount to 53% of the cost at the pumps.

To add further insult they, the state, intend that E-Tolls be mandatory for all users of the national freeway system.  We have written on e-tolling here, for example, but what interests us here and now is another bit of information contained in the graphic representation, that of the percentage of the average daily wage spent on a litre of petrol.  This figure is a whopping 6.6%.  So, if you are an average road user, commuting say 10 kilometres a day at 10L/100 km, you will consume 1 litre or 6.6% of your average daily wage every day (to use the article’s example 6.6% of R203.00 = R13.40).

E-tolls cost for a similar trip, at say 30c/km, is R3:00.  

  • Add the two and you reach R16.40 or R1.64 per kilometre, about 8% of your average daily income. 
  • If the commute is a round trip of 10km/leg, that equals R33 per day or 16% of your average daily income.  
  • If you reside somewhere in Johannesburg and need to commute to Pretoria, that could cost you more than say R1.64 X 140 = R230 per day, or more than the average daily income, and I think that is being conservative.

BUT a 60 L tank at 10L/100km or 10km/l equals some 600km per tank.  At 30c/km E-Toll that would be R180.00. Add to that the actual tax in the tank at 53% of 60L at R13.02R/L  = R414. you get as follows:

Tax content of 600km freeway commute on a 60 L tank of petrol = 

  • E-Toll            R180, 
  • Fuel Taxes    R414
  • Total Tax       R594

That is almost R1.00 per kilometer or 75% of the cost of 60L at the pump at R13.02/L or R781.20 (prices at today, 7th October 2013).  

This computation is at the newly declared e-toll rate of 30c per Kilometer (26/10/2013) probably intended to sweeten the pill with no guarantees as to how long the rate will remain at 30c.  The ANC and SANRAL are making much hay about the rate of 30c (they listened to the public, they say).  It was previously set at some 65c / K where the tax per tank was R804.00, so while the new rate seems generous by comparison to the old, it does not negate the generally held opinion that the state should not be tolling the roads at all as it amounts to a double taxation because petrol levies were intended to fund road construction and maintenance.  This is something neither government nor SANRAL want to hear.  

I can only think of a few phrases to adequately describe this phenomena.  One is Highway Robbery, the other is Piracy.  In the good old days, they hung highway robbers and pirates.  Today we can’t do that.  Instead we seem to give them the right to rob and pillage.  Something is definitely wrong.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would replace all taxes, including but not limited to all fuel levies and taxes and all Toll charges (including E-Tolls) with a 1% levy on all the economic activity in the country (see TEAL). This would mean R3.67 TEAL instead of be R594 road tax.  

This would be a saving of R590.33  on a 60L tank of petrol at 30c / Km E-toll

(it was a saving of R800.33 at 65c / Km E-toll)

Think of what that would do to the cost of transportation, the cost of getting to work, the cost of goods on the shelves, the cost of food on the table, for everyone in South Africa.

This alone is something worth sharing with all of South Africa, something worth voting for in 2014, not to ignore all the other DDF policies that are also worth sharing and voting for.

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Cop vs Cop

Read a concise account of South Africa’s own Cop vs Cop.

Meanwhile township vigilantes take matters into their own hands

When eventually the dust settles one hopes that heads will roll.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will not tolerate this abysmal behaviour from it’s senior police officers.  Under a DDF administration all of this will be subjected to a timeous judicial enquiry so that proper order could be established in our criminal justice system, without delay, and our police can revert to the business of policing South Africa and protecting South Africans from criminal behaviour wherever it is found.

DDF policies call for an NPA which is a chapter 9  institution with it’s own investigating unit.  The NPA would report to the constitutional court and thence to parliament and as such would be the supreme prosecuting and investigating body in South Africa.

Political interference in the work of the NPA or of the Constitutional Court would require an act of parliament which would be tantamount to a constitutional amendment, and then only for a specific purpose and for a specific time. 

See also related posts Police In-Fighting – political interference at work? and Criminal Cops in a Criminal Government?

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South Africa’s Hospitals from Hell

We made the point in our gender equality post that political equality was worth nothing if you die early from poverty and ignorance.

Just how serious the situation is, particularly for our rural women, is brought home by this alarming report in the M & G on-line about maternal mortality in Mpumalanga hospitals.

The Direct Democracy Forum have comprehensive health care policies that will broaden access to health care throughout the land and institutions and practitioners who failed to provide appropriate and effective health care for their patients will not be allowed to continue their practices, while institutions and practitioners who did provide such care would flourish and prosper.  DDF health care policies will provide affordable and quality health care for everyone in South Africa, irrespective of their wealth or lack of it, or their position in society.

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New BEE regulations add nails to South Africa’s economic coffin

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  That is certainly the case with South Africa’s BEE, or is it now  BBBEE, per the new requirements of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

Far from stimulating economic empowerment, these requirements cause the success rates of new business to slip to dismal levels and the cost of startups to rocket, with the only winners being the BEE consultants and big businesses which have the knowledge to navigate and comply with bureaucratic BBBEE requirements of multiple government agencies engaged in the transformation process.  Read all about it in this M&G 0n-line report.

The net effect of all this is that everything a South African consumes costs more than it should, fueling inflation and inefficiencies across the whole spectrum of South African society.  

By contrast Direct Democracy Forum policies will do away with as much bureaucratic bumf as possible, focus on that which is absolutely essential for the successful survival of fledgling enterprises, and skill, encourage and free-up the whole of our economy to succeed.  

Correction of imbalances in the economy, namely all those goals hoped for by implementation of BBBEE legislation, will be addressed by market forces being given the freedom to assert themselves.  What business in a  free market South Africa could possibly succeed as well as one which wholeheartedly embraces the black community both as entrepreneurs and as consumers, and the purpose of all business is to succeed as best as possible. But South Africa is both a black based country and a country of diversity that will do better working together than separate.  This is something we should have learned from the mistakes and injustices of the apartheid era.  

Transformational success is all but a given if the right infrastructure, incentives and freedoms are provided for businesses and enterprises to succeed.  A DDF administration will guarantee those conditions.  Alternatively, transformational success in a failed economy will be a hollow victory 

In short, more carrot will succeed where more stick will continue to fail.

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And we thought Anene’s was an isolated case.

While Anene Booysen’s rape and murder horrified South Africa and the world, the rape and murder of Letty Wapad some time in 2010, a 24-year-old mother at the time, brutally raped and murdered in a similar fashion to Anene, went almost unreported.

In this blog, the Direct Democracy Forum have spoken often of the ills of our society such as here and here, and again, some poor unfortunate woman is a victim, not just of an isolated group of disassociated thugs, but because they are the product of a dysfunctional and disassociated society, they, Anene and Letty, were victims if this, our dysfunctional and disassociated society, and we have to fix it before it becomes endemic.

The DDF have policies which will raise the poor and the destitute out of their cycles of poverty, restore the role of families and communities to be the foundations of our society, restore respect and care for our women by our men, and return South Africa to sanity.

But to do all that the DDF need support from all who want those good things to happen.

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SA 17th most gender-equal country.

This BBC report indicates that according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), South Africa is the 17th most gender equal country in the world. I guess South Africa should be proud of that, that is, until you look at the details.

On a range of 1 (most equal) to 4 (least equal), South Africa scores a 1 overall; a 4 (least equal) for health and survival, a 2 (mostly equal) for education, a 3 (mostly unequal) for economic participation and a 1 (equal) for political empowerment. So let’s not get too proud, we have a long way to go for all categories but for political empowerment, and political empowerment is just not that important if you are going to die young, probably from a combination of poverty and ignorance.

Direct Democracy Forum policies clearly indicate their commitment to gender equality, the best possible education, health care and economic opportunities for all. The DDF are committed to at least a score of 1 on each of those categories.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Police In-Fighting – political interference at work?

It seems that if you are prepared to be a professional bureaucrat at whatever level in whatever field, that is, you are prepared to do your duty without picking sides and indulging in favouritism, you are going to be attacked by people whose political agendas you threaten by simply doing your job.  This happens wherever you are.  It happened and is happening to Glynnis Breytenbach, it happened to Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela and now it seems to be happening to Shadrack Sibiya and Anwa Dramat of the Hawks (our elite crime fighting unit), for apparently doing too good a job and endangering politically protected persons.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would empower the likes of Breytenbach, Ndleli, Sibiya and Dramat and anyone else who is doing their jobs without fear or favour and however possible would free them from unjustified political interference.  DDF policies speak for themselves, particularly those on the Judiciary, Security and Local Government.

The buck stops at the ballot box

1 Military Hospital

What image does one have when 1 Military Hospital is mentioned? Top rate medial facility, probably the best in the country.  That’s what I would have thought, until I read this Mail and Guardian report on 1 Military Hospital.   Now I wonder?  Is the country’s flagship hospital in the same state of disrepair as the rest of the country?  What a shame.

The Direct Democracy Forum cannot imagine the circumstances under which an emergency communications system in an elite hospital escapes repair over two years but that would not happen under a DDF administration.  The DDF would make sure that the skills and resources needed are made available to make every state medical facility fully functional.  View the DDF health care policies for a glimpse of what is possible. 

The buck stops at the ballot box

 

Responsibility and Accountability in the Economy

This M & G report highlights the failure of the major players in our economy to play nicely together and the effect it has on ordinary citizens, such as Busisiwe and her commute companions, and on you and I and every citizen in South Africa. 

The Direct Democracy Forum have every intention of making the players play nicely together so that capital and labour and society at large, benefit from a functioning economy.  Contrast the picture portrayed in the above report with the prospects of a stable and thriving economy where all players are winners as reflected by DDF policies on education and training, job creation, the economy and so on, and in previous posts in the blog, notably here and here  and in our goals.

The buck stops at the ballot box

IEC Impartiality?

The Direct Democracy Forum have always chosen to believe in the impartiality of the Independent Electoral Commission in the electoral processes of South Africa.  The DDF have always willed that impartiality into the forefront of its consciousness in the belief that if we cannot depend on IEC impartiality we cannot depend on the entire political process in South Africa.   Sadly, it seems we were naive in that belief and guilty of some wishful thinking.  It seems that even the IEC are capable of politically manipulating the electoral process, this according to the M&G on-line report IEC credibility questioned after Tlokwe judgment.

In a nutshell, an IEC official, John Mokodi, disqualified independent candidates for a number of Tlokwe by-elections without just cause.  They met the minimum requirements and should have been registered without question, instead they were disqualified, presumably because they were ANC opponents in highly controversial by-elections.  The Electoral Court found for the independent candidates who took the matter before the court. So far as we know there is a process involving a number of IEC officials in registration decisions.  How can they all have agreed on this matter?

Clearly there needs to be an urgent investigation into the facts of the disqualifications and in the registration verification process, and any involved in deliberate wrongdoing need to be removed from the registration process, indeed from the IEC itself.  That the IEC should investigate this publicly and urgently should go without saying, but it needs to be said.  The IEC need to act swiftly and unambiguously to restore the confidence of both the electorate and the political establishment, in the institution and its processes.  Surely heads must role and fixes be made.

A DDF administration would ensure that all the activities of the IEC are beyond reproach and that any incidents that damage its credibility would be responded to impartially and swiftly, in line with the DDF‘s approach to all administrative matters in South Africa.  The DDF believe in constitutionality, within the party and within South Africa as a whole.  This belief is reflected in DDF policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Criminal Cops in a Criminal Government?

What does it say about a State which employs 1448 policemen with criminal records, some of them very senior policemen, and which does all in its power to block and obstruct the prosecution of Richard Mdluli, charged in 2011 with  murder, and suspended as crime intelligence chief; and charged with corruption relating to the alleged abuse of the secret services account and subjected to disciplinary investigation by police management?

The Direct Democracy Forum believes that successful prosecution would set yet another precedent in the challenge to the reigning political elite,  that even the most senior of them can be held accountable for their actions and abuses.  The DDF believe the government of the day are avoiding this precedent at all costs so as to avoid a domino effect that could bring down the highest of the high in the corridors of power.  

Does this mean the scrabble to avoid that domino effect arises from widespread criminality in the corridors of power?  The DDF suspect as much.  What other reason can there be for such telling  and panic induced behaviour?  The alternative of letting justice prevail and letting the truth out is certainly being avoided, almost at any cost.

DDF administration would stand back and allow the full prosecution of criminals in government, no matter who they were, nor the manner of their criminality.

The state must be above reproach in all matters to engage the trust of its citizens.  This is something DDF policies will ensure at all levels of government.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Sunny South Africa – SABC Style

South Africa will be 70% cloudless with sunny skies regardless of the storms in our back yards, the hail, the snow, the storm-clouds on the horizon, the odd tsunami and hurricane and floods, droughts and assorted mayhem.  This according to acting chief operations officer at the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Where do the ANC get their puppets from?  Next they will be believing their own propaganda.

The Direct Democracy Forum promise a hands-off policy regarding its relations with the news industry.  The news and media industries will be expected to reflect the truth, not as the DDF hope for it but as it is, warts and all.  If we live in denial about our problems how will we ever fix them?

Look at DDF Communications Policies and DDF Security Policies to gauge or intentions.

The buck ends at the ballot box.

SA Borderline Psychotic?

Traumatized by the events of the past decade or so, a glib prescription, take two prozac and read on.  This for South Africa in her time of illness.  The implication, it could get worse, you may need the prozac.

There was a time, not so long ago, when violence was such an everyday occurrence in SA that our nation was in a state of shock, where each act was considered to be something of the norm, where we were numbed by it and existed almost in a state if disbelief.  We seem to be headed that way again, this time it is violence against the nation as a whole perpetrated by those in whom we place our trust.  As one person put it, ‘something has to change’.

The Direct Democracy Forum can bring about that change, restore a sense of decency and reality to the affairs of the nation, where those guilty of violence and greed and sedition are judged accordingly and dealt with appropriately and her citizens can walk the streets of the nation free of fear and go about their business without let or hindrance and know that their economic security will not be undermined by the acts of by those in whom we place our trust.  Look at DDF policies and judge for yourself.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

No More Player Referees

This tale of self-enrichment will not occur under a Direct Democracy Forum administration.

The DDF understand that people in government who see opportunity to enter into business dealings with Government are tempted to do just that, and there should be clear cut and reasonable rules which permit freedom of association and freedom of trade without compromising the integrity of either the government, the service provider or the transaction itself.

The only way this can happen is for the government employee/service provider, to completely disassociate himself from government (resign) and tender (get in the queue) along with all the other bidders, and that all the other bidders should be privy to the same information available to the most privileged bidder.

The penalty for not disengaging in this manner should be an all expenses paid sojourn in one of our prestigious places of incarceration.  In short, deal-rigging, should be a criminal matter with meaningful consequences.

The DDF are committed to this sort of transparency and corruption busting.  DDF policies speak for themselves.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Something is rotten in the State…..

Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.  Shakespeare could have been writing about South Africa:

All involve politicians diverting or stonewalling investigations into their activities.  There is indeed something rotten in the state of South Africa that a Direct Democracy Forum administration will take the wraps off and let the law prevail.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Just when you thought it couldn’t be worse

Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly be worse you discover that indeed it could be and is worse for some.  This is a sad tale of a sad school that can only have been unforgivably ignored.  Try visuallising that for your child!

It is easy to utter platitudes about the failure of South Africa’s public school system (said to be almost the worst system in the world) and easy for the ANC to complain about underinvestment in black education under apartheid, but come on, zero percent pass rates when we are formally 2 decades out of apartheid and segregation, and formal discrimination in education is some 3 decades past.  The Direct Democracy Forum are convinced that these failures are symptoms of present failures to deliver to our beleaguered youth and bad policy decisions right from the start of the post-apartheid era and are not symptoms of apartheid neglect.  The neglect is in not identifying every at-risk school in the land (what would that be, most schools?) and deal with them on a worst-case-first rotation.

It requires some out-of-the-box thinking and the political and fiscal will to turn these disasters around and the DDF are not being glib and populist and mouthing off in the expectation that they will never be required to put their money where the mouths are.  A DDF administration will exercise the necessary political will and allocate the necessary funds to end these tales of despair.  What else could we do?  Let this state continue?  Not a chance.  A DDF administration would be too ashamed to allow that to happen, as should any administration.  DDF education policies reflect DDF determination to put an end to this sorry misery.    

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Secrecy and lip-service to the PAIA

The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (or PAIA; Act No. 2 of 2000) is a South African freedom of information law intended to impose compliance with section 32 of SA’s Constitution. It allows access to any information held by the State or by private bodies required for the exercise and protection of any rights. 

Why is it, then, that requests for information in accordance with the act are so often met with silence, obfuscation and delaying tactics that force committed appellants to court in order to obtain compliance?  This behaviour is so endemic and systemic that clearly government can only  be trying to impose a general acceptance of secrecy regarding its affairs so when it acts unlawfully or unwisely it’s misbehaviour is simply buried amongst all other of its dealings.  In short, civilians must simply “put up and shut up”.  What SA’s government and politicians get up to is simply not any of our business.  This tale, “finding-truth-in-a-culture-of-secrecy” expresses the frustration experienced by anyone trying to obtain information from government, particularly about contentious events, such as but not limited to Nkandlagate.

The Direct Democracy Forum have news for anyone taking advantage of this sort of behaviour.  As a body which respects constitutional compliance, the DDF  find this sort of behaviour unacceptable from government institutions and  undertake to enforce strict compliance with the constitution by all branches of government and to prosecute recalcitrants to the full extent of the law.  That should bring about a sea-change in bureaucratic attitudes and probably also in bureaucratic behaviour.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Health Care – Getting it Wrong

Here is a sorry tale about Eastern Cape’ medicine non-delivery system.

What is it about South Africa and the the Eastern Cape in particular, that we can’t get our act together?  We previously posted on the poor delivery of education in the EC , Teachers Without Jobs, Children Without Teachers, to mention just a few topics, and now, since May 2013, medicine delivery is also failing in the Eastern Cape.

It does not seem to matter enough that children are not being educated and the sick are not being medicated that they tolerate delivery systems that don’t work.  It is all a sad and shocking state of affairs that suggest the country is falling apart at the seams while the vultures circle and pick up choice profits that are going for doing business with government and not being held accountable.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would not tolerate any of this, not for one moment.  We could not in all consciousness tolerate such poor delivery results and such sad consequences.  The DDF can only point to DDF policies and stress that when we say we will deliver, we mean exactly that.

The buck stops at the ballot box. 

Athletics SA victim of power grabs

Our bureaucrats are not the only people subjected to power grabs and interference in their jobs.  It seems South African athletes are subjected to similar attacks.  The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), a body designated by the Minister of Sports and Recreation as mandated by the National Sports and Recreation Act No.110 of 1998 to act as an umbrella body for multiple sport activities, such as the Olympics and Commonwealth games, is trying to assume overriding authority over SA’s sports federations.  

The act does not state that the body allotted that task (currently Sascoc) has the right to interfere in or with the various national sports federations, either in their leadership, management or selection processes, yet this is exactly what Sascoc seem to be attempting with Athletics SA (ASA) by inserting Sascoc choices into ASA (at least one of which apparently resulted in financial mismanagement at ASA). 

This is apparently a similar pattern of interference experienced by other national sports federations.  In terms of the new companies act, to which both Sascoc and ASA are subject, you cannot have control of one non profit company vested in another and this seems to be what Sascoc is attempting to achieve. ASA would not play ball and Sascoc suspended ASA from Sascoc. (do Sascoc even have the right to do that?). Sascoc also seem to be usurping the reporting channels of national sports federations to Parliament by inserting themselves into that line of authority and accountability.  This doesn’t look good for Parliament or South African sports or SA sports federations. 

The practical effect for South African athletes is they no longer have representation at the IOC or the Commonwealth Games and are no longer recipients of any funding that is normally channeled through Sascoc.  A ray of light is that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recognise ASA and not Sascoc as the controlling body of athletics in SA and continue normal relations with ASA and athletic events under IAAF auspices continue. 

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will ensure that power grabs by Sascoc will cease and the authority, accountability and responsibility of national sports federations to their members and Parliament will be reinstated and reinforced.  Sascoc will have to limit their activities to that of mediator and coordinator of multiple sports activities, as envisaged by the act. Then our national sports federations can get on with doing what they do best – seeing that our sports men and sports women continue winning on international playing fields and bring honour to our country.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

If Only

In our previous post we bemoaned the lack of adequate funding for our educators and the education system.  The topic is a huge one which begins with the appropriate application of existing funding and proceeds to appropriate funding for all academia.  We mention this because South Africa actually spends a high proportion of its GDP (about 18%) on education.  But we simply are not getting the results. 

  • Step one is to apply the funds that are needed where and when they are needed (books on time, teachers where there are pupils) and so on.
  •  Step two is to identify areas of need that are not adequately funded and see that these areas are properly funded, without stealing from existing recipients.
  • Application of TEAL by the Direct Democracy Forum will ensure such theft is not needed

Two critical areas of need are adequate funding for tertiary education and for research and development.  Imagine, only 1.5% of our working population are employed in Research and Development.  A gifted person obtains an advanced degree in research and development and can’t find employment.  That should not be.

Yet South Africans are a resolute people.  In spite of the sad state of support for R & D and for Tertiary Education, our youngsters still acquit themselves on international platforms, as good as any and better than most, and in this particular case, as the best in the world.

If only we supported all our achievers in all areas of endeavour with the same resolve as we support our sportsmen and sportswomen.  Imagine then what we would accomplish.

Well, dreams precede accomplishments and a DDF dream is that South Africans are counted as amongst the best in the world wherever they compete.  A DDF administration will empower and enable everyone to be their best at whatever they doDDF policies will turn that “if only” wish into reality.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Varsity Cash Crunch

You cannot have adequate education without adequate funding.  The dilemma faced by South African varsities is not uncommon in the world although there are probably some local elements that complicate SA’s situation.  This dilemma is discussed in the M & G on-line article ‘Varsities buckle under cash crunch’.

South Africa enjoyed a mostly admirable if short history in education and our varsities and school systems could stand proud in the world of education.   That many were excluded from those systems was a fault of the politicians and not the educators.  The Direct Democracy Forum are dedicated to the support of educators and the education system from pre-school to post-graduate education.  DDF education policies reflect that dedication and  DDF tax and TEAL policies reflect our ability to give effect to those policies.  The DDF intend to see that South African education and educators are recognised as amongst the best in the world.

The buck stops at the ballot box

SA Government Surveillance of South Africans

An article in the M & G states that compared to South Africans, Americans have nothing to worry about regarding communications surveillance.  In South Africa, the RICA system is designed specifically to intrude into the communications between South Africans and anyone else in the world,  indeed, between South Africans in South Africa.  Big Brother is Watching Us.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will severely limit the ability of South African security services to access communications between South Africans and other persons without due cause and due process.  The due process will involve the state convincing the judiciary that there is cause to intercept and interrogate specific communications and any such communications obtained without that due process and without the issuing of a specific warrant will be inadmissible in court and in itself will constitute a criminal act.  Security services will be expected to respect the law in the conduct of their intelligence gathering and if not could well find themselves on the other side of the law, facing charges and possible imprisonment.

This is just another facet of the DDF‘s comprehensive policies on the Judiciary and Security.  This does not mean that the DDF administration will be weak on security, merely that a DDF administration will be tough on the rule of law and support for the constitution and for the protections afforded South Africans by South Africa’s constitution.  The message will always be, do it right or don’t do it at all.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Our way (part 3) SAMRC Cancels funding for Cancer Research

This is difficult to comprehend.  This blog has posted before on some of ‘Our Ways’ of doing things (see here and here) We surely have some strange ways of doing business and here is a lulu.

There are many different types of cancer, which collectively is a significant killer in South Africa (in 2000, about 42 000 deaths or about 3500 deaths a month or about 115 deaths a day in that year and you can be sure the numbers are far greater today (June 2013) than then).  Cancer is a killer that has probably touched everyone in South Africa.  An aunt, sibling, parent, child, a friend or acquaintance.  It doesn’t just switch off someones life but does so in an agonising and torturous process of slowly progressing and debilitating illness and distress.  It effects all ages and all communities from the rich to the poor.  It probably effects poor communities disproportionately because some cancer is life-style related (tobacco use contributes to lung and other respiratory tract cancers) and gender related (female sexual promiscuity and widespread rape contribute to cervical cancers).  These behaviour patters are endemic in poorer communities.  You can find the 2000 cancer stats on the SA Medical Research Council web site  By way of comparison, road deaths in South Africa amounted to about 18 000 for 2010 (SA Against Drunk Driving estimate) which is less than half the acknowledged cancer deaths for 2000.

Nobody is talking about cutting research into road deaths yet funding for cancer research at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) comes to an end at the end of the year because of an SAMRC management decision, apparently based on interpretations of the facts that deaths from any particular sub-set of cancer does not warrant the expense of research, whereas AIDS is the record holder for disease related mortality (a whopping 133 000 in 2000).  But, we ask, aren’t many aids related deaths due to cancer arising from failure of the immune system?   We believe this to be so.

When South Africa was in denial about AIDS it was very popular to fudge the statistics for aids related deaths by attributing them to cancer or TB or whatever the ultimate cause of death was  It seems now we are fudging the statistics again.  It now seems that some are re-defining deaths from lung cancer as respiratory tract failure or such-like but not cancer, or death from ovarian cancer as death from disease of the ovaries, but not cancer.  Then, conveniently, these events are excluded from statistics on cancer.   It also seems that deaths from the various sub-sets of cancer (lung, bladder etc) are not regarded as ‘cancer’ per se but rather are viewed as discrete diseases unrelated to one another, thus rendering them statistically insignificant.

So what are the true statistics for cancer?  If you take the 2000 statistics for causes of death in SA, 133 000 deaths are attributed to AIDS and 42 000 deaths to cancer.  If you identify cancer deaths hidden under the AIDS banner as cancer deaths, you could probably argue that death from all types of cancer, aids related or not, were in the region of 142 000.  Deaths from all AIDS related diseases would remain at 133 000 (as they probably should) and deaths from AIDS related diseases other than cancer, might then have been only 33 000.  And then you could say that cancer was the leading cause of death, followed by AIDS, and so on. 

But you can only say that if you can trust the statistics on AIDS and cancer and on deaths in general. Unfortunately the politicians and bureaucrats have been fudging these definitions and numbers for so long (we believe largely to suite the politics of the day) that these statistics are so unreliable as to almost be useless.  So who knows what the actual statistics are?  We certainly don’t.

Why then is cancer research being axed if this is not based on reliable stats?  One theory put forward is that Professor Salim Karin, currently president of the SAMRC, is exercising a personal bias in favour of AIDS research, something he is particularly familiar with and generally favours and for which he can more readily obtain funding than for cancer research.  Is this taking the path of least resistance to the most funding?   It’s as good a theory as any and the Direct Democracy Forum (DDF) can’t think of any other rational motivation for the strategy.

How can this be a management policy of a South African para-statal and how does this advance the stated aims of the SAMRC viz.  To improve the nation’s health status and quality of life through relevant and excellent health research aimed at promoting equity and development?  By cutting cancer research SAMRC management are clearly saying that cancer research is irrelevant to the health of the nation.  How can that be?  142 000 or even 42 000 deaths in 2000 say this can’t be so.    Surely government cannot condone this?

Under a DDF administration there is no possibility that the cancer research will ever be cut.  If anything, research in science, technology and social sciences will increase, significantly.  If you do not clearly understand the nature of a problem how can you possibly find its solution?  Not only do the DDF have the political will to ensure South Africa’s relevance in the world’s scientific forums and the political will to fix South Africa’s health-care woes, the DDF will also have the fiscal means and the science & technology policies and the health-care policies with which to do so.

The buck stops at the ballot box

E-Tolls

This article in M & G on-line gives a quite comprehensive account of tolling and e-tolls in South Africa.

The Direct Democracy Forum‘s transport policy includes the assertion that a DDF administration will scrap all road tolls.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  •  All national roads are just that, they are national.  The entire economy benefits from a well planned and maintained national roads system, so the entire economy should pay for the system.
  • To have only direct users pay for a freeway system places the burden of cost on a very few users instead of sharing the costs amongst all the beneficiaries. This is patently unfair and unsustainable.
  • Tolling is a tax but instead of calling it a tax, the tolling system dresses it up as private enterprise with related income and expenditure confined and visible only to the private enterprises engaged in the system, thus a large portion of national expenditure can escape public scrutiny.
  • Recent experiences with SANRAL illustrate this point graphically.
  • Tolling and in particular E-Tolling is a very expensive form of taxation, adding a very expensive and unnecessary layer of cost to the use of freeways, which must be paid for by hapless and helpless road users.
  • E-Tolling will be computer dependent and anyone who has ever had any serious experiences with computers will know just how badly that can go wrong click go wrong click go wrong……
  • Toll concessionaires are not accountable for their business methods or structures.  All they are obliged to do is to deliver an acceptable product.
  • While concessionaires will likely deliver this acceptable product, there is nothing that obliges them to deliver the product at the best possible price to the road user.
  • The concessions are for periods in the region of 20 to 30 years.  This does not encourage competition but in fact encourages monopolies.

For all the above reasons a DDF administration will replace all toll roads with road development and maintenance paid for from the fiscus, funded in turn by TEAL, and controlled through a rigorous public tender system.  Teal is probably one of the most cost effective tax systems possible and a well run tender system will deliver the best possible price for road development and maintenance, with none of the administrative overheads imposed by tolling and e-tolling.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Limpopo Textbook Saga Continues

This M & G report ‘Textbook saga smacks of meddling‘ seems more like graft and corruption to the Direct Democracy Forum.

There is an expression – organised chaos.  The DDF interpret that to mean chaos organised so as to obscure truth.  That is what the Limpopo textbook saga seems to be,  that the system was manipulated and abused in order to allow a series of competing service organisations some with connections to bureaucrats involved in the ‘consumer-side’ of the operation to profit from the chaos, and to confuse and obscure what actually took place.

Reading the M & G report is not that enlightening, not because the M & G are particularly incompetent, indeed they are not, but the report attempts to bring to order this state of organised chaos and to the extent that it illustrates that chaos quite successfully the M & G succeeded in their efforts, if not in their intentions.

A DDF administration’s response to such a situation would be to remove all those involved in the chaos and start afresh – take control of the textbooks and the delivery system, place all of that in the hands of someone competent, and effect delivery within the shortest possible time.  30 days for those books already printed and bound, 60 days for those still requiring printing.  It would at the same time point forensic investigators at the original problem, determine the causes, and prosecute, criminally and civilly, all involved in the fiasco, and whatever clever little boytjies were involved in and profited from the chaos would live to regret their involvement and their profit.

This is the only response possible – fix the problem and punish those responsible for the problem, as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

We’ve posted on this topic before at ‘textbooks should be a given‘ and each time this issue is raised we become a little more enraged and determined to stop these debacles and incompetences and to deliver what is needed on time and for ever.  See DDF Education Policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Political Hands on the NPA

There is hope.  Sometimes when the outlook seems bleak there is a ray of sunshine, if only momentary, until it is hidden by yet another cloud.

What am I rambling on about?  The last post on this ‘blog’ was all about politicians manipulating and corrupting the civil service and interfering in the management of the Mandela Bay Metropolis.  At the same time another story of political interference hits the headlines.  This time politicians interfering in the National Prosecuting Authority.

Glynnis Breytenbach is a prosecutor in the employ of the NPA.  At the time of posting she has been suspended from her job.  Ms Breytenbach’s cases included prosecution of former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on fraud and other charges.  Her boss instructed her to close down the prosecution of Mdluli and Ms Breytenbach refused.  Unable to get her collusion her boss, acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, then initiated charges against Ms Breytenbach for, amongst other things, failing to act impartially in a case, improper relationships with opposition attorneys whose clients were under investigation by Breytenbach, breaches of confidentiality and insubordination (in all, 15 separate charges). The NPA brought these charges against Breytenbach and then their own disciplinary hearing threw all the charges out as ‘guilt …. on this plethora of charges …. has not been established’, this according to the hearing’s chairperson Selby Mbenenge SC.  That was the ray of sunshine.  

Breytenbach claims Jiba suspended her to prevent her pursuing the investigation against Mdluli, a view encouraged by the response of the NPA to their own findings.

Dismissing the findings of their own disciplinary hearing (they maintain “the findings are factually incorrect and legally unsustainable”) the NPA are now taking this to a review court.  That is the next dark cloud

What does this all mean?  Probably, just for starters that:

  • Facts are what the NPA’s political masters say they are and believe are expedient, even in the face of the NPA’s own expert’s opinion to the contrary.
  • The NPA really really don’t want Breytenbach to continue investigating Mdluli for fraud & etc.
  • The fallout of a continued Ndluli investigation and other issues under investigation may touch other political luminaries.
  • The pressure to close down the Mdluli investigation is most probably political (don’t touch the president’s men), in spite of ANC assertions to the contrary.

The truth of the matter probably follows the old saw, ‘if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, it probably is a duck’.  So, if it looks like political interference in the judicial process and the affairs of the NPA, it probably is political interference.

What makes this so depressing is that this seems to be part of a bigger pattern.  The pattern at Nelson Mandela Metro looks just like the pattern at the NPA, or, are we just imagining this?

A Direct Democracy Forum administration’s response to this would be to ensure that Ms Breytenbach is fully restored, with all powers necessary to do her job, whatever she deems that to be, and to go where the facts of her investigations lead her, without any political interference.  If you think we are not serious about this follow the link to DDF policies on the judiciary.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Oh to be wrong! :={

Anyone reading these post could be forgiven for thinking the Direct Democracy Forum relish the opportunity to trash government.  The truth is that being right about the abysmal state of our government gives the DDF no pleasure.  The DDF would prefer to be wrong,  to sit back and enjoy the fruits of living in a well run society.  What pleasure and joy that would give the DDF.

What set this of was the M&G on-line report ‘Threatened Metro Manager‘.  The report demoralizes and uplifts at the same time.  

  • The degree of political interference in the administration of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality just beggars belief.  The nature of the threats against a municipal manager, if not explicitly so then obviously and by deliberate innuendo, are violent and border on criminal assault.  The whole is simply demoralizing.

The report however does contain hope and upliftment.  

  • A senior member of the municipal management, the metro manager herself, has had the courage to challenge the outrageous behaviour of her political bosses.  In short she has blown the whistle.  Hats off to Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela.  What Lindiwe is doing requires courage, determination and strength of character.

The DDF‘s approach to undue influence and bullying tactics imposed by anyone on civil servants would be to treat it as criminal and ensure that prosecution in the courts follows as a natural consequence, so, in common with all other criminal behaviour, it will be rendered too unprofitable to pursue.  The DDF will also fully support efforts of civil servants like Lindiwe to pursue their career goals, professionally, ethically and honourably, without let or hindrance.  Anyone who doubts the intent of the DDF should visit the DDF Local Government policy page which  illustrates the seriousness with which the DDF view local government and service delivery issues.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Don’t dare express frustration at bad road manners

Expressing frustration at bad road manners can get you a night in prison, particularly if the bad manners came from the president’s blue light convoy.

If I were lawfully using a public road and some one or other behaved like a road hog, and in my frustration I flashed them the finger, to express my outrage, I would not expect to be unlawfully accosted by them, bound, blindfolded, kidnapped, detained against my will and have my political affiliations questioned by a bunch of thugs over a 24 hour period, but that apparently is what happened to a Cape Town jogger.  His tale can be read about at the above link ( bad manners & etc).  This apparently happened some three years back.

Now (3rd June 2013) the student is trying to sue the state for R1.4M (wrongful arrest and all the bad things that went with it) and the state are doing all in their power to keep the case out of court, obfuscate, offer to settle out of court (which is little better than a bribe so as to avoid the legal consequences of their misdeeds).  The DDF hope the student persists and prevails although that will need determination, a very cool head and plenty of courage, of which few of us are overly blessed with.

Under a Direct Democracy Forum administration, any of the above behaviour by officers of the state would result in criminal action being brought against the officers concerned. The first rule of the road will always be, obey the law, whether you are on the road or off the road.  Any officer of the state who could not obey that simple rule would be deemed unfit for public service.

As to blue light convoys – they would be a thing of the past.  We may be a part of Africa but even our president is not above the law.  In fact, our president would have to be the first to obey the law, for if he doesn’t obey the law, why should everybody else have to obey the law?  As far as the DDF are concerned, observance of the law begins at the top.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Teaching Bureaucracy at its worst

This report is of an educational bureaucratic nightmare

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will:

  • See that ill teachers are treated with the respect that is their due.
  • ‘Board’ teachers who are medically unfit for duty, without undue delay.
  • Insist that teachers redundant in one school find employment where they are needed in another school.
  • Insist that teachers accept reasonable transfers or are dismissed.
  • Insist that administrators support the teachers in the schools and teachers who are too ill to teach.
  • Administrators who are unwilling or unable to fulfill their duties will also face dismissal.

Teachers and administrators who are unreasonably unwilling to perform their duties in the manner required of them, take note:  Do not vote for the DDF.

Teachers and administrators who are willing to do their duty, they can vote for us without doubt, if they wish, for we will turn their  lives around.  Under a DDF administration their  profession will be amongst the most respected and rewarding and rewarded professions in the land.  But these are rewards that need to be earned.  They are not entitlements.  Have a look at DDF Education policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box

 

Textbooks should be a given

It is simply astounding that official policy is not that every child has the necessary textbooks needed for their education, today and every day of their school career, but is something else, as revealed here by the Mail & Guardian – viz. that the department of Basic Education only planned to provide every child with a textbook by 2014.

The Direct Democracy Forum believe this is simply untenable, particularly as a promise in this country is just a promise and delivery often falls short.  It is all too easy to promise for the future in order to appease for today.  You are never accountable today for promises for tomorrow.

A DDF administration will never substitute unaccountable promises for the future for accountable acts of the day and are prepared to be held accountable for that committal, particularly when it comes down to children’s education and the resourcing that needs, which is possibly the single most important need for the country’s future. See DDF eduction policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box

 

Deflation – Gupta Style

Deflation Gupta Style means having your R16.8 Million property valued at R490 000 in the municipal valuation roll.  The municipal valuation roll is the basis for municipal property taxes.  That’s less than 1/32 or about 3% of the valuation of their neighbour’s property.   Let’s see, my home treated in the same manner would be valued at about R14 000 in the municipal valuation rolls and my monthly rates would be about R4.50.  Now that’s smoking!

But seriously, if ever there were arguments for taking the tax process away from corrupt municipal agencies and changing from other manipulable processes, this has to be one of the more compelling arguments, namely that the process is so susceptible to manipulation.  The Gupta example is just an extreme example of what can and does occur.

Have a look at the Direct Democracy Forum tax policies and ask yourself how nice would it be to know exactly what taxes you paid and know, without any shadow of doubt, that your neighbour and his neighbour and his neighbour’s neighbour would all pay exactly the same proportional level of tax that you pay, even if your neighbour’s neighbour was a Gupta.  A DDF administration will deliver TEAL and that absolute certainty.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Gangsterism in South Africa

It seems there are no bounds to the extremes criminals will go to in order to fleece the vulnerable , those who work to earn an honest living, and you and I, the taxpayers, who have to fund criminals’ illegal activities.

But we don’t fund their activities!  Do I hear you protest?

Have a look at this signal example of how crime and nepotism hits the pockets of every South African in the country.

The Direct Democracy Forum have asserted elsewhere on this web-site that the DDF  will not tolerate crime, that the DDF will shift the cost of crime to the criminal, to such an extent, that no one will indulge in crime of any sort, for fear of the consequences.  Crime will simply be too expensive for the criminal to indulge in.

But to do that, to impose draconian punishment on criminals, the DDF have to make crime an unnecessary  activity for survival and ensure that our criminal justice system is beyond reproach so that convictions are justly and truly arrived at and the innocent are not even unjustly accused, let alone convicted, and that activities such as but not limited to administrative infractions of the law are not classified as criminal and that the law is not used to further the interests of influential and unscrupulous individuals.  So the DDF have a long way to go because none of those conditions exist in South Africa at the present time.   See DDF policies on the Judiciary, Social Services, Education, Job Creation and Local Government for examples of DDF policies which will impact on this topic.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Politicians and the Public Protector

The current spat over the jurisdiction of the Public Protector and Parliament’s influence over the Public Protector raises some difficult questions with no easy answers.

The problems can probably be summarised by asking the question, “who watches the watch dogs?”.  In a constitutional context, the short answer is, everybody watches them.

South Africa has a constitution that makes specific provision for various institutions to promote and further the cause of democracy under the protection of the Constitution.  The Direct Democracy Forum feel that the Constitutional Court should fall under those provisions, viz, the Constitutional Court should be a chapter 9 institution, tasked with protecting the Constitution, Democracy and the Rule of Law.  It should be the senior constitutional body in the land and particularly it should watch over Parliament, which, if some of the legislation Parliament produces is anything to go by, would dearly like to subvert the constitution and democracy.  

The Constitutional Court protects the constitution from the machinations of parliament quite effectively.  It also watches over government and its tendencies to subvert or ignore constitutional demands and does that quite well, too. But the DDF feel there would be a clearer line of accountability if the Constitutional Court were only subject to the dictates of the constitution and were protected from political influence in the same manner as chapter 9 institutions.  In a DDF wish-list, that sort of accountability is just about tops, followed closely by all other chapter 9 institutions being responsible to the constitution, through the offices of the Constitutional Court.  So the Public Protector would not be directly accountable to Parliament, which could then only be able to interfere with the Public Protector’s actions and investigations and modus operandi by means of a constitutional amendment with all the high profile effort and political support needed to achieve that.  It would not be easy for parliamentarians or members of government to interfere in the affairs of any section 9 institution, and that would be the aim.

For anyone interested, the Judiciary would continue to be accountable to the Constitutional Court.  Lower, but not much lower on the wish list, would be the removal of the president or any other political person or institution from the process of appointments of any judicial officer, from the highest to the lowest appointment.  We need a better system than we have at present, a system which makes the constitution, the Constitutional Court, all chapter 9 institutions and all lower courts practically invulnerable to the whims of the body politic.

The DDF think that is a good thing to wish for and any DDF administration would do all in its power to achieve those ends.

As a caveat, the DDF believe that the Public Protector must investigate where and how it feels it should, without interference from parliament.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Teachers Without Jobs, Children Without Teachers

What are we worried about?  This should be as simple as matching puzzle blocks for children.  But we forget, we are in South Africa and we are talking about education in the Eastern Cape, yet again.

This is a tale of despair that has been simmering for almost a decade.  Contrast that story to this story about BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world, with over 100 000 employees, which includes in its endeavours, a pre-primary and primary school system  that educates 1.25 million children, mostly the poorest of the poor.   If an NGO in Bangladesh can do it, why can’t a National and Provincial Government department in South Africa do it?  Clearly we are getting something wrong in South Africa.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would empower every willing educator and student in the country and such tales of despair would become a thing of the past.  See DDF Education Policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Indians for Free

In an article “money-for-nothing-and-your-indians-for-free“,  Verashni Pillay of the M & G points out that “The issue among the ANC is that the wrong people were bankrolling and influencing our politicians, of which the ruling party sees nothing untoward” and “a much larger issue that continues to be ignored by the ANC: (is) their corrupt and problematic relationship with certain business people”.

So, if Ms Pillay is right, the ANC rank and file see nothing wrong with SA’s government being bought and paid for by wealthy South African oligarchs, they just have a problem when the oligarchs are foreign.

Of course, the idea that ‘Indians’ are for free is entirely false.  Indians, or for that matter, Africans, Asians, Europeans or Americans who buy and pay for you, are definitely not for free.  There will always be a day of reckoning and that day could be a very expensive day indeed.

The Direct Democracy Forum‘s take on influence is that all sectors of the economy have a stake in the country.  Business, small and large, labour, collective and individual, consumers, the employed and the unemployed, and students, and so on, ad infinitum, all have a stake in this land, which is why the DDF are proposing a Senate which is drawn from the streets, the foundation of which will be a process of Deliberative Democracy engaging a cross-section of society rather than only the political elite and those who have privileged access to that elite.  With similar systems at municipal levels, our national and local politicians will forever be grounded in the needs of the people, the needs of society at large and the needs of its environs.

These are not populist moves designed to attract popular votes, although they may well have that effect, but are an acknowledgement that no one has a better idea of a citizen’s needs than does that citizen himself, and that the DDF believe that those needs must be acknowledged and responded to with the same concern and alacrity as were the concerns and needs of the Gupta wedding party under an ANC administration.  Under a DDF administration, government and access to government will never be the exclusive privilege of an exclusive club but rather will be in response to the needs of the people.  DDF Policies are geared toward serving the economy and all those in it, rich and poor alike.

The buck stops at the ballot box

More Idiot Laws to burden South Africa

The Licensing of Businesses Bill 2013, has to be one of the worse pieces of imagined legislation to come out of an ANC dominated parliament.  This is reported on here on the ‘Half Hatched Law’.  Every business in the country will be required to be licenced and to pay licence fees to their municipalities.  The Direct Democracy Forum see this as just another taxation and justification for more heavy handed and unnecessary regulation on the citizens of the country.  It is estimated that some Six Million business will be effected.  How will that work other than to further empower and embolden petty officialdom in their efforts to engage in questionable activities instead of serving their employers, that is, those living, working and trading within the boundaries of their municipalities  Some seem to  have strange agendas.

The DDF‘s take on business licences is that all businesses which employ staff in a building or a work-space or serve the public from a building or a work-space would require to be licenced, which licence would be issued free of charge to any such businesses which satisfy the health and safety requirements related to those premises.  Simple – health and safety are a given.  Unnecessary taxes and regulation are not.  Municipalities will not be funded by layers and layers of local taxes and the state will not be funded by layers and layers of national taxes.  Instead all levels of government will be funded through TEAL, a transparent single-tax tax system.

So where does that leave the street vendor?  The DDF will leave the street vendor free to earn a living from selling wares and fruits and vegetables from street-sides and pavements, provided they comply with local by-laws, including health, sanitation and environmental requirements, but otherwise free from harassment based on bureaucratic requirements dreamed up by overpaid and under employed parliamentarians and officials.

DDF policies are intended to enable the economy and empower all in the economy, not unnecessarily enable petty bureaucracies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

How to render private GP’s ineffective!

How to render private GP’s ineffective!  Make them work in an already dysfunctional system.

In contrast, the Direct Democracy Forum envisions a system which allows patients of  public health systems, be they NHI patients or whatever, to be attended by private practitioners and institutions at their normal rooms, clinics or hospitals.  That way a lot of pressure will be removed from otherwise overstressed public health institutions and access to medical care will become much easier for public health patients. 

That being said, it will also encourage the public health system to improve its service delivery, which it will need to do because it would effectively be competing with private sector health services for patients.  This is exactly what the DDF would like to see happen, with only effective institutions surviving.  See DDF Health Policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

 

Outrage at Gupta Indulgence

This is actually trivia.  This is not something that the Direct Democracy Forum would want to sully it’s hands with.  There are more important issues to deal with in South Africa, such as the abysmal state of our public sector education, health care and service delivery, yet the indulgence and patronage displayed by someone (everyone in government is playing ‘pass the parcel’ as convincingly as possible, and denying responsibility) is simply unacceptable and trivia or not, needs to be dealt with.

Even the ANC are crying foul and someone’s head no doubt will role but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will not be the head of anyone really responsible for this outrage.  For a pretty good summary of events, see here.

How would a DDF administration react to this?  

  • For starters, this would never occur under a DDF administration.  No business person or organisation would ever get that close to a DDF administration that they could pull the necessary strings to pull off that stunt.  
  • The DDF would let the law take its course
  • Those implicit in the disgrace would face dismissal and criminal and military justice.
  • Those who entered South Africa illegally would have been held in detention and been deported in disgrace, wedding or not, and be declared personae non gratae.
  • Those who impersonated official police escorts for the Gupta entourage while traveling from Waterkloof to Sun City  would all face criminal prosecution and, if they were also members of the police, internal disciplinary action and dismissal.  

For once we must agree with Jeremy Cronan, deputy general secretary of the SA Communist Party, when he said, ‘We are not a playground for rich foreigners’.  So lastly, the Gupta’s would be seriously censured and, if need be and appropriate, would also face criminal prosecution.

This is an invasion of South African sovereignty and trivial or not that makes it a very serious issue and would evoke a very serious response.  The real outrage is that this trivia should have been allowed to happen and divert SA’s attention away from the really important issues of the day.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Low Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence according to the FNB/BER CCI hit a low of -7 for the first quarter of 2013 (down 4 points from the -3 index rating of the last quarter of 2012).  This article on the current CCI reading is not encouraging and the index is actually symptomatic of the State-capitalism, cronyism and protectionist policies of the current regime, policies a Direct Democracy Forum administration will terminate with extreme prejudice.

Contrast this with DDF policies on agriculture, energy, transport, communications, tax, local government, national government , amongst other policies, which generally are about disabling monopolies and cartels and removing government from the excessive involvement it has in the economy and freeing up private industry to serve the needs of the economy.  

This does not mean that a DDF administration will not be involved in the economy where necessary but it will only do so in support of the private sector and not to entrench state involvement in commerce and industry.  A DDF administration will be an enabling administration and the DDF believes that its hands-off approach will create an active, vibrant and competitive free-market economy from which all will benefit.

If you believe the DDF are crying wolf, and that there really are not the problems the DDF see, read this report on corruption and the billions of Rands it costs the economy and the ordinary citizens of our country.  There are very real challenges out there for any administration prepared to pick up the challenge.   And this the DDF are willing and eager to do.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Unhealthy Health System

In February 2013 the Direct Democracy Forum was told that the Yeoville Clinic had been without power or water since 14th December 2012.  The DDF was also told that the municipality had obtained a quotation for some R50 000 to rectify the matter but did not have the budget for that expenditure.  As recently as a month back the the DDF were told that the Hillbrow clinic was unable to supply risperdal and generics, commonly prescribed anti-psychotics, and other commonly needed drugs, because the municipality had not paid the suppliers.  Although the DDF tried to alert the press that there seemed to be something systemically wrong with the finances of the municipal health services, that effort seemed to be like pouring water into a bottomless well.

Then came this report “Why has Gauteng run out of ARVs?”.  The report is so shameful on so many levels as to be unbelievable.  But sadly it seems to be believable and to vindicate DDF concerns about the possible systemic collapse of Johannesburg municipal health service finances. 

As with the DDF post on the R100 Million Deals,  the DDF have multifaceted policies to bring municipal finances under control through the application of DDF policies on TEAL and to make municipalities more accountable to their constituents through  DDF Local Government Policies.  In addition, comprehensive DDF Health Care policies will broaden access for everyone to quality health care,  so patients will never be turned away from the provision of adequate care, anti-retroviral drugs and other desperately needed medications.

The buck stops at the ballot box

R100 Million deals and no statements for customers

It is very hard not to get personal about maladministration, nepotism, incompetence and graft because it effects us all in a very personal manner.

Some 15 years ago my family bought a house.  The house was modest, the down-payment was equally modest, the monthly bond repayments excessive but just bearable and the utilities bill was not cheap but was also just bearable, and we had regular statements of account from the Johannesburg municipality.

15 years down the line the monthly municipal utilities and rates and taxes bills far exceed the bond repayments we have had to make, we have not had municipal statements of account mailed to us in almost twelve months even although the municipality was able to mail notice of municipal property evaluations to us (it took two months to reach us, by the way) and during the 2011/2012 financial year  the Johannesburg municipality did business with its own and other state employees and office bearers to the tune of R100 000 000 (100 Million Rands).

So it’s very difficult not to get personal about maladministration, nepotism, incompetence and graft.  It effects everyone so personally.

The Direct Democracy Forum intend fixing these problems through application of DDF Policies, particularly with regard to the way municipalities behave and run their affairs, through DDF local government policies and the way municipalities fund those affairs through DDF tax policies and the application of TEAL.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

McBride and the Justice System

McBride won his appeal against his convictions for drunken driving and obstruction of the justice system.  How can that be?

Given that he was returning from a Christmas party at the time of the incident and he crashed his car, clearly he was in no state to drive, whatever the cause.  Eyewitnesses reported McBride smelling of alcohol and his and the behaviour of his co-workers bullying witnesses, and McBride removing himself from the scene of the accident ensuring that a blood alcohol test was not taken, and McBride traveling to Durban to get a supportive medical report on his condition.  Surely this all suggests obstruction of justice, at the very least.  Yet the high court in Pretoria on Thursday concluded he was not guilty on all charges.  That is all very strange.

The Direct Democracy Forum‘s  concern is not so much with the high court decision, as with the fact that the blood alcohol test was not taken and that in itself should have been evidence of obstruction of justice sufficient to attract a criminal conviction and jail time.  At the very least this is evidence of a failure of the entire justice system, as involved in this case, to do its job in a professional manner and to provide clear and incontestable evidence, so there is no doubt as to the state of McBride at the time of the accident.  This entire incident leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

If this can happen once, particularly with a highly stationed police officer, it can happen again, and points to the need for a total overhaul of the justice system, top-down.  This is something that DDF policies on the judicial system will ensure

The buck stops at the ballot box.

SANDF & CAR

What are South African troops doing in the Central African Republic?

More to the point, assuming a legitimate reason for being there, what idiot sends 200 (or is it 400?) troops into what is essentially a war zone, without adequate logistical support, including a workable exit strategy in case the wheels fall off?  Must be a politician who did that.  No self respecting military leader who had ever heard of Hitler or Napoleon would do it.

Then there is the question of whether a legitimate reason even exists and whether the requirements of the constitution have been met regarding the deployment of SA troops on foreign soil.  The debate continues here.  The ANC are doing their best to justify this exercise but not, we think, to the satisfaction of South Africa’s citizens, and certainly not to the Direct Democracy Forum’s satisfaction.  Just another thing to be answered for.

A DDF administration would be happy to train the military of any democratic country with a legitimate government in place, but it would do so on South African soil, not foreign soil, and if we ever sent advisors to a foreign country they would be just that, advisors, few in number and without a gun between them, not combat troops numbered in their hundreds. 

See DDF policy on defence and the military

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Human Rights Day

Thursday 21st March was Human Rights Day in South Africa primarily to remember the dead of the Sharpville massacre back in 1960. The ANC made as much political hay as they could of that and other Apartheid human rights violations, instead of focusing on the ways in which the current administration is obstructing and removing human rights from South African citizens. Lots of ways; the ‘Secrecy Act”, the “General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill”, the failure of successive ANC governments to deliver basic services, to deliver credible education, to deliver credible health care, and various acts of police brutality under the ANC’s watch, just to mention a few major issues. 

It is sad that successive ANC governments hide behind the transgressions of apartheid governments, which were many and inexcusable, instead of facing square-on their own transgressions and the genuine challenges faced by all in South Africa today. Very Sad.  Of course, the ANC were not the only party making political hay, as the above link shows.

The truly sad thing is that when the ANC are voted out of power they will leave a terrible mess to be cleaned up.  The Direct Democracy Forum hope it will be a DDF vote that makes the difference but the ANC’s successors, whomever they may be, are going to have to face those challenges head-on, and that will be no easy task.  The DDF have the courage, the political will and the policies to do just that.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

‘Our way’ Part 2 Support for Sensible Policies

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) are reported to have expressed the view that they will not support any policies adopted by both the Democratic Alliance (DA) (South Africa’s official opposition party) and by the ANC-endorsed national development plan (NDP).  Why?  Because the DA support the policies.

So, if the NDP and the DA both supported free education to tertiary level (arguably something that would benefit every student in the land),  or “Increase infrastructure investment to 10% of gross domestic product” (an actual NDP proposal supported by the DA) Numsa would not support the policy because the DA also support the policy.  That is truly doing it  ‘Our Way’.  Increasingly, doing it our way seems to be like shooting ourselves in the foot.

Sometimes there are policies and objectives that are so self evidently necessary that it is absolutely essential that even the most rabidly opposed parties simply must agree on, even when it sticks in the throat to do so.  The best interests of the nation and its people demand it of us all to do so.  That is a Direct Democracy Forum Policy that should be stated somewhere, that the best interests of the nation and its people come first in our lives.  It is not part of our policy but it is evident from a reading of the DDF’s goals.

See here for a report on Numsa’s position on the DA’s position.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

‘Our way’ Part 1 Medical Costs

Why does South Africa always seem to get it back to front?  Why is that when our society invest fortunes in critical sectors of the economy (such as medicine and education) outcomes are always so dismal?

Part of the reason is that we insist on doing it our way instead of adopting best possible practices.

To illustrate the point, take the high medical costs we have to bear.  Government’s response is to introduce legislation that will effectively allow government to regulate prices that medical practitioners can charge.  No cognisance is given to the costs medical practitioners face and have to cover in order to practice, from the costs of education and training to the costs of premises and labour and equipment and supplies.  “No No No – that is unfair criticism” government would argue.

The point the Direct Democracy Forum wish to make here is that by selectively applying price control without controlling prices of the entire supply chain we will merely drive even more of South Africa’s practitioners to foreign lands than we already have.  Just what we most need when the high costs of medical services are a result of the under-supply of medical resources.

Contrast that with the DDF‘s approach. 

  • The DDF will actively encourage members of the profession to remain in South Africa and encourage those practicing elsewhere to return to the country.
  • The DDF will ensure the supply chain is properly resourced so the medical profession can practice their profession properly, professionally and profitably, to the maximum benefit of their patients.  
  • The DDF will target an optimal balance of resources and personnel so as to benefit both the supply side and the demand side for the profession.
  • The DDF will encourage the integration of the public and private health care service providers so as to raise the standards of the public health care sector to those available in the private  sector, without penalising  the private health care sector.
  • DDF Health Care Policies will make it profitable for the private sector to become actively and voluntarily involved in the public health care sector.

Additionally, and as a matter of urgency, the DDF will stop the practice of renewing patents on medical drugs and supplies beyond that reasonably necessary to protect the genuine commercial interests and cover genuine development costs of drug and supplies developers.  In that respect, the DDF will adopt the best practices adopted internationally.

Taken together these policies will have the effect of opening the market to fair competition and provide more practitioners, generic drugs and supplies than are presently available and significantly reduce the costs of medical treatment to all sectors of society.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill

If passed into law, this bill will enable South African intelligence agencies almost unrestricted and unaccountable access to the private communications of South African citizens, under the guise that communications (most of them) are foreign in nature because they are routed through foreign servers.  So, if you use Skype or G-mail or almost any other electronic media system, your most private thoughts, all your most critical opinions (of your family, Government, the Public Service, the local Boy Scouts) are suddenly the property of South African security services.  Comforting.  Not so?  Big brother is indeed watching you.  This is not only the Direct Democracy Forum‘s opinion. See here and here.

Our whinging and moaning and groaning is not going to change this any, so we will simply wait until a DDF administration is in government.  When that happens there will be no communications surveillance without specific judicial oversight.  See DDF policy on Security.  So the spooks won’t like it but they too are servants of the people and subject to the constitutional requirements of the Republic of South Africa and they will simply have to bite the bullet and become more ethical and professional in the way they conduct their business.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Audits, Financial Mismanagement and Accountability

These two reports go hand in glove – the Auditor Generals’ reports on government institutions (Only 22% of the 536 entities examined received clean audits) and the M & G report on Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s efforts to make the public service more accountable for their shortcomings and the DA’s efforts to pass a bill that would prohibit public servants doing business with government.

Here all the players calling for better controls are all on the same page, sort of, realising that it is essential to have clean government.  They just differ on the means of achieving that common goal.

The Direct Democracy Forum have their own opinions as to how clean government can be achieved.  Here are some of those ideas:

  • An upper house of parliament (the Senate) drawn from the streets that the governing party, viz. the majority in parliament, and the cabinet itself, must answer to.
  • A similar arrangement at local government level where elected councils and councilors are answerable to a representative body of ordinary citizens.
  • Directly elected representatives to all legislative chambers rather than the list based electoral system.
  • Shorter terms of office (4 years for Parliament and the President) with their terms of office overlapping.
  • Shorter terms for local government (Councilors, mayors and other top office bearers required to resign and stand for re-election each year).
  • Constituency power of recall of all directly elected officials and representatives.

These national and local senates would have similarly short terms of office with 50% of each body being replaced each year and 100% replaced over any two year cycle.

All of this is outlined in the DDF policies in the DDF website.

We are almost prepared to guarantee that such scrutiny and regulation would hold the attention of everyone intent on remaining in office, and encourage them to cooperate with their constituents to identify and meet their needs, and fulfill electioneering promises.  Without meeting those needs and fulfilling those promises their terms of office will be even briefer than expected.  No more 5 year terms of office and unfulfilled promises.   

And just for the record, no DDF administration will ever permit public servants, elected or appointed, to do business with government, nor to hold shares or non executive or executive or management positions in nor to receive rewards or remuneration of any sorts whatsoever from any business doing business with government.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Children’s rights and education

Dependent children have no rights.  Is this the reason for this, the forgotten schools of the Eastern Cape????  After all, the common denominator between the opinion and the state of Eastern Cape Schools seems to be one person, The Eastern Cape’s minister of education Mandla Makupula.  Admittedly he has only been the MEC for education since November 2010 but surely he would have had the opportunity in the two years or so to focus on those poor forgotten schools.  It’s difficult not to connect the dots.

The EC Department of Education have defended the minister, saying the remarks were taken out of context, but even a liberal reading of this explanation isn’t enough to vindicate the remarks.  Children have rights, in the home in the school and in society at large.  They also have duties, such as to learn to be responsible citizens, responsible pupils and responsible family members, responsible friends and  community members, but to say they have no rights, in any context at all, is unforgivable, and indicates a particular mindset that some adults have, a mindset that is unacceptable  and worrying in a minister of government who is as influential and responsible for the rights of children as is the E.C.  minister of education.

In many countries, a remark like that would have signaled the end of a political career.  But in South Africa, government and party members rush to his defense.

More and more Direct Democracy Forum strategists see the need for a bottom up approach.  As a priority but not to the exclusion of all else, fix the worst schools, the worst clinics, the worst hospitals in the land and when they are working as they should, then give some attention to improving the lot of better run institutions.  But the picture painted by the forgotten schools report clearly cannot continue.  See DDF education policies.

Painting the economy into a corner

It seems the ANC government are painting themselves and us into a corner.  They are relying on small and medium enterprises to provide 90% of future job growth, yet at the same time their labour polices and regulatory red tape, both of which SMEs regard as being prejudicial at best and outright harmful at worse, are making it difficult for SMEs to provide  growth.

The Direct Democracy Forum would seek to support workers in the workplace while at the same time support employers’ needs to trade profitably.  These two goals are not mutually exclusive.  Indeed they are indivisibly bound together. For employers to view workers as enemies or workers to view employers as enemies is stupid and short-sighted. They are mutually dependent upon one another.  They should be supportive of one another so they both benefit.

There are parallels in nature that are worth considering.  The parasite / host relationship of many life forms is worthy of note. The parasite that destroys its host is doomed to extinction.  The predator that destroys all its prey instead of just that which it needs for survival, will soon go hungry and die.  What makes labour and employers think they are immune to these simple truths, that somehow they can rise above nature and act simply out of greed without suffering similar consequences.

Somehow the adversarial stances of both labour and employers needs to be turned around to one of mutual cooperation, respect and benefit.

The DDF will work to enable that change to every one’s benefit, including the benefit of the economy as a whole.

DDF policies are comprehensive and holistic in nature.  We understand that treating symptoms of an ailment is not likely to cure the ailment.  We will engage in policies which will address the causes of poverty and the high cost of living that makes so many lives in South Africa miserable and unbearable and act as catalysts for social despair and unrest.  It is no good dealing with unrest with a firm hand.  Rather deal with our failures with a firm hand.  When we start getting it right the poverty and unrest will become a thing of the past and we can all get on with our lives.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Getting it right and ANC Bashing

The Direct Democracy Forum are often accused of ANC bashing.

Getting it right should be par for the course.  When the wheels start falling off, everyone in the country should be crying ‘danger, stop the bus’.  So, the DDF appear to bash the ANC.  If the DA were in power and produced the results that the ANC are producing the DDF would be DA bashing and when a DDF administration is in power, we would expect others to do to the DDF what the DDF did to them when the wheels started falling off.  In fact, if they did not do that they would not be doing their jobs and if they did and the DDF ignored the warnings, the DDF would not be doing its job.  That is how politics work.  Everyone has a role to play. Indeed, that’s also how governments are won and lost.

But it is refreshing that at least one ANC government minister expects government employees to do their jobs.  More strength to your arms Ms Sisulu.

They say, however, that one swallow does not make a summer.  For that you need whole flocks of swallows, which the DDF undertake to deliver.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

R48M for Freestate Government Website

Wow!  Will someone please pay the developers of this (DDF) website R48 Million.  Pleeeas.

In a more serious vein, the Freestate government paid R48 Million for their website.  We didn’t know web-site development was quite so lucrative, but perhaps that only works when government is the client and the tender process is not followed.

Admittedly the web-site is a bit more sophisticated than the DDF web-site but is that difference worth an additional R48 Million?  We don’t think so.  But even if it was worth R48 Million what legislature could possibly justify that sort of expenditure?  Just adds to the list of ANC extravagances documented elsewhere in this site. 

Needless to say, a Direct Democracy Forum administration would not permit that sort of expenditure in any provincial government web site.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Police Brutality

Police tend to go over the top in almost every country in the world, it could be argued, but that does not excuse the ethos of violence in the South African police services.  Marikana,  Vaalwater 2011, Mido Macia and let us not forget the 900 deaths in police custody between 2011 and 2012.

That we live in a violent society does not justify any of these acts of violence or statistics.  In fact, because we live in a violent society our police need to be setting the example that violence is not a solution but can only be resorted to when all else fails and violence is the only option available to counter violence.  This may seem to be glib but an ethos of non violence needs to be encouraged throughout our society across all cultures and at all levels and that the measure of a man, and even of a woman, is taken from how he or she treats his or her fellows.  It should be a matter of pride that violence is not necessary to live a fulfilled and successful life.  This culture of consideration and respect for others is already instilled in African Culture through the idea of Ubuntu.  Just where has Ubuntu gone?  And it certainly does not help when the people who are supposed to keep the peace resort to unnecessary violence. 

Police violence can come down to the exercise of poor judgement in the field which in turn is probably underpinned by poor and inadequate training, poor and inadequate resourcing and poor and inadequate leadership.  That is the bottom line.  It is no good blaming the rookie in the field for getting it wrong when there is nothing there to support him getting it right.  The whole structure and ethos of our policing needs to be overhauled, top-down and bottom-up.  This the Direct Democracy Forum intend doing.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

2013 Budget – Business as usual

The Direct Democracy Forum, as an aspirant political party, has to comment on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s  budget speech.  Regrettably there seems to be little that is worthy of comment, but we will try.

  • No tax increases but the 15% hike in the fuel levy, with hikes in sin taxes and investment taxes effectively nail everyone to the ground.  It is sleight of hand stuff – smoke and mirrors – no less. 
  • Gordhan’s assertions that government must cut its coat to fit its cloth is scant comfort.  Since when has an ANC government been able to do that?
  • No effort is made to address the National Debt.
  • No effort is made to address how the NHI (National Health Insurance) plan is to be funded.  A surprise over the hill for taxpayers, no doubt.

No – the DDF are not impressed.

See what others think of it all – M & G: Don’t smile, your being mugged.

Consider the DDF‘s vision of TEAL in contrast with layered versions of taxation presently imposed on South Africans and the DDF‘s proposed Senate and plans for local government as a means of controlling the excesses of National and Local Government.  It’s not that the ANC have lost the plot, by comparison with the DDF, the ANC never had a plot.  This budget simply reinforces that reality.  Business as normal.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Gender Based Violence – Cabinet don’t care.

If you are a victim of gender based violence you may not be surprised know that Cabinet Don’t Care about gender based violence, at least not enough to attend a parliamentary debate on the issue.  Just another reason not to vote the ANC back into government at the next general elections.

Fortunately there are other parties who do care.   The Direct Democracy Forum are committed to establishing a gender equal society through the application of DDF policies.

Politics Trumps Justice – Again!

Sadly, this report is believable and is simply about business as usual.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will find ways to make political interference in policing matters impossible.  The DDF will ensure that by including the NPA as a constitutionally protected Chapter 9 institution, and ensuring that the only consequence for political interference in police matters is criminal prosecution.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Gender Violence

Our post title follows the title of this M&G article on Gender Violence.

There are two compelling aspects to this article.  The first is the admission by a South African man who raped at the age of 15 and subsequently saw the error of his ways and now works for gender equality.  His observations are informative and help us understand some of the culture behind South African gender violence.  The other is the assertion of a senior person in S.A. academics, University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen who said that the solution lay in addressing “how we raise our boys and teach them to socialise” and “how we equip parents to be parents”.

As usual, Professor Jansen speaks with an economy of words which can be detailed in volumes and whole life-times of experience.  In doing so he basically summarises Direct Democracy Forum policies.

We expand upon that summary but only briefly. The DDF plan to;

  • educate, train and empower every willing body in the country, so they can be gainfully employed and live their lives with dignity.
  • engage every able bodied person not otherwise occupied, in building communities, from scratch if necessary, so that none in the SA need live in squalor and poverty but instead can live with hope and  dignity and with prospects of a better life each day of their lives
  • enable every family to survive comfortably on the proceeds of a single income earner, if they so choose, or at least to earn an income from home industries or activities, that enable a stay-at-home parent of either gender, during child rearing, allowing children to know who their parents are and who their siblings are, and parents to engage in the lives of their children so they all can learn to respect one-another and others in their communities.
  • engage all communities in the arts and skills of successfully raising children.
  • normalise family life in South Africa.

The DDF regard the family as the most essential body required for the stability of communities, society and the nation as a whole and will do all in its power to nurture and defend family life.  When that stability becomes the norm the country will see a reduction in crime of all sorts but particularly in gender based crime, fewer social problems, fewer accused in our courts, and fewer convicted and in our prisons, and fewer in conflict with society.  We look forward to that day.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Nkandla Again – 2 Billion and Counting

The ministry of defence have announced further extensions to Nkandla compound.  The total cost of the entire development for that compound and surrounds is not a mere R200M which commentators speak of but instead is close to R2 Billion (see here).  Just where will it end?

And later – the M & G reports their report was in error, that the upgrades are intended to make the presidential clinic at Nkandla available to the general community.  This somehow justifies what?  Perhaps they hope to sweeten the R2 Billion pill.

A Direct Democracy Forum administration will ensure that such profligate expenditure ends and that expenditure to date is recovered, as much as is possible.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Reeva, Oscar and Guns

The police are obliged to open a murder docket in the event of an unnatural death such as that of Reeva Steenkamp, but they are not obliged to charge anyone with murder unless they believe there is a case for such a charge.  So the police must believe there is such a case to be made.  This now has to play itself out in the courts, which will decide if the police are correct or not in their beliefs.

We at the Direct Democracy Forum share  the empathy and sympathy felt by probably everybody in South Africa for the families involved in this tragic event but we also find the state of mind of Oscar PIstorius, that he should surround himself with guns (so rumour has it) and be almost paranoid about his own safety in his own home, terribly disturbing.  This is not being judgmental of Oscar Pistorius so much as being judgmental of the society in which we all find ourselves. 

As with Anene,  The DDF cannot undo what has already been done.  Oscar and Reeva’s tragedy is not the first and likely will not be the last of its kind. But the DDF will try to limit the incidence of such tragedies. 

What the DDF will attempt is to steer South Africa toward being a gun-free society.

This requires some explanation.  Every gun-owner in the land will howl in anger at the very concept, so let’s step back from the statement a bit and look at the motivation for gun ownership.  There are probably a few different and distinct motives for owning a gun.  There are the sportsmen, the lovers of guns for their historic roles and the elegance and beauty of their construction and presentation (some would argue that some guns are works of art) and there are those who fear for their safety and, I suppose lastly, those who wish to use them as offensive weapons.

The latter would likely be possessors of unlicensed weapons.  Let us say at the outset that under a DDF administration  there will be no place in South African society for such persons. To gun-lovers and collectors and sportsmen, the DDF are not directing this sentiment toward you.  What the DDF wish to address is the the fear and paranoia which drives people to try and protect themselves by possessing weapons they are not trained to use.  The way to remove that fear and paranoia is to make South Africa a society in which there is very little or even no need to fear crimes of violence.

To achieve that the DDF will embark in a determined and consistent effort to improve policing in terms of quality, quantity, skills and use of technology, both to prevent violent crime from occurring and to improve the reaction time of police to acts of violence in progress.  The DDF will see to it that courts severely punish those guilty of crimes of violence or possessing unlicensed weapons.  The DDF will also make the possession of licensed weapons subject to very onerous conditions, including regular training and counseling, particularly for those keeping weapons in their homes, and for their families.  The DDF will also ensure that any inappropriate use of licensed weapons is severely punished.

In that way the DDF hope to diminish the occurrence of crimes of violence and the need for ordinary members of the public to feel compelled to protect themselves with guns.  In time that could see guns being possessed only by enthusiasts and never being needed to use in fear or in anger.  Too late for Reeva and Oscar but perhaps in time for others. 

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Anene

We don’t know what sort of a person Anene was and frankly it doesn’t matter, she simply did not deserve to die.  She did not deserve to be a rape victim.  This should never have happened to her.  This should never happen to any girl, any woman, to any person, ever.

Sadly it happens to too many.

So what to do?  Why does it happen? How can we stop it happening again, or at least, happening as often as it does?  Everyone in South Africa, every chat show host, every columnist, every blogger, ourselves included, is asking this question of one another and of ourselves.  We cannot help but ask these questions.  And a rape every four minutes, which we believe reflects the real incidence of this outrage, compels us to ask them.

We are not psychologists.  We cannot get into the mind of a rapist and we wouldn’t want to go there anyway.  But we are convinced that the fragmented society we live in must have something to do with Anene’s pain and fate.

We have a theory; that men do not grow to learn to respect women because they often grow up in the streets, or nearly so, reflecting the attitudes of cohorts who have no respect for anyone.  Meaning they do not have the benefits of growing up in a nurturing family, learning to respect and cherish one another, that the ethic of violence and bullying and lack of respect for one-another and for women in particular, is learned in our streets and in our schools and in our gangs, and is just a catalyst for the mind-set that says of Anene and others like her, that they are just a toy, there for some one’s momentary pleasure, to be used, abused and discarded for dead like so much trash.  And somehow this mind-set has to end.

We believe that if our society were different, if we had affordable government we would have an affordable society made up of affordable communities made up of affordable families, nurturing families who would teach us all to respect and love and care for one another and protect one another, particularly the vulnerable, as Anene was.  And we pledge ourselves to that end.  But we have a long way to go.   

We are realists.  We understand that it cannot end rapes, and sadly, it cannot return Anene’s life to her nor her gifts to her loved ones but perhaps it will save some of her sisters from similar indignities and fates.  We can only do our best.

1 plus 1 = less than two

It seems that math is not only a problem in our schools but also a problem at Stats SA.  This is illustrated by the furore over the 2011 statistical census.  See here.

It has long been a Direct Democracy Forum concern that much of SA’s statistics are a result of wishful thinking rather than hard-nosed assessments.  In short, we believe, although we have no direct evidence of this, that the powers that be effectively collude with Stats SA to obtain the results desired by the powers that be.

The DDF gut feel is that there is no ways that SA’s population has languished over the past 17 years and that systemic under-reporting effectively understates the population pressures faced by the country and therefor the problems faced by the country and also, therefor, the degree of investment needed to address the needs of the population. In short, we believe that this allows the present government to ignore or downplay many of SA’s problems.  Thus they can claim to be doing an OK job when in reality they are far from doing an OK job.  They simply ignore the bigger part of the problem and Stat’s SA empowers them in that denial.  The DDF have previously commented on the 2011 census and our opinions are just further strengthened by this latest spat.  Nothing has changed and everything remains the same, and will continue to do so until we have a change of government, a change at the top.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Piece by piece

One day an unbiased judge will look at the evidence surrounding the arms deal and many other commercial deals involving government in the post apartheid era, an era dominated by the ANC in their political heyday, a time when the ANC and its cohorts believed they were untouchable and unaccountable, and then they will be held to account.

It is not just the Maharaj’s whose secrets will unravel piece by piece, but many more will be caught up in what will amount to a perfect storm for the corrupt and greedy and their ilk.  The truth will out and justice will prevail.

Any Direct Democracy Forum administration will, through DDF policies, be at the forefront of moves to uncover the secrets of those years.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Anti Corruption Agency

In a really interesting article entitled “South Africa needs to establish an anti-corruption agency”,  Cobus de Swardt and Chantal Uwimana of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation, argue for the establishment of such an agency and for laws that prevent those holding public office from benefiting from business dealings with government.

The Direct Democracy Forum endorse the latter with enthusiasm but would argue that we mostly already have the mechanisms for dealing with corruption.  We just don’t have the necessary laws nor the political will to enforce them.

The DDF have previously argued that the NPA should be a Chapter 9 institution (Chapter 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa), which will afford them the same constitutional protection as the Public Protector enjoys, and that it should also have it’s own investigations division, a situation we came very close to with the advent of the Scorpions and lost with their disbandment,  and that these two (maybe three) bodies together, would have the autonomy the authority and the professional expertise needed to to successfully detect, investigate and prosecute corruption in whatever form it manifests itself in S.A..

What we are short of are clear and unambiguous laws that make corruption a criminal offence and prohibit it’s more obvious and perhaps even less obvious manifestations, which we see in the daily relationships between politics and business and even between business and business, at all levels in South Africa, and render prosecution for these offenses obligatory and punishment severe and inescapable.  That would curb the seeming free-for-all attitude toward corrupt practices.

A DDF administration will make all of these goals achievable through the application of DDF policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Shut Up Yo Mouf Man

First National Bank embarked on a campaign probably intended to raise their profile as a concerned corporate citizen.  In series of internet based videos they went to the youth and allowed them to voice their angst about SA’s political and socio-economic problems.

Amazement.  The ANC responded with accusations of treason and treachery.  This is not unlike Advocate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe’s opinion that e-tolling protest was tantamount to subversion and an attack on SA’s democratically elected government (also a theme of the ANC’s in this spat). 

FNB’s response to these accusations was to fold the campaign.

The short version of all this is that civil and civic society seem to no longer have the right to express any contrary views or criticisms about government’s failures for fear of being called treasonous.  How far are we from having those accusations manifest themselves in more serious action every time someone criticizes government? That is what Advocate Muofhe and South Africa should be worried about.

The very, very short version of this is “Shut up yo mouf man!

By way of contrast, a Direct Democracy Forum administration would welcome the work of the media and other social commentators as a means of drawing the DDF‘s attention to matters that need it’s attention.  The DDF would function in partnership with civil society in the belief that every failure requires the attention of society in general and government in particular and nothing should be swept under the carpet.

Check out DDF policies and in particular DDF policies on communications and local government and service delivery.  All DDF policies are aimed at engaging all of society in fixing the ills of our country.  

The buck stops at the ballot box.

E-tolling Protests Subversive???

In an e-mail headed “Integrity of courts threatened by e-toll civil disobedience threats” TimesLIVE is quoted as reporting on Advocate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe’s opinion that protests against e-tolling is “tantamount to urging citizens to make our democracy ungovernable. A call by anyone to disregard a valid legal court order should be a cause for concern”.  The email comes from the Johan Joubert Community, a South African advocacy group.

So far as we know the court ruled that OUTA’s claims against e-tolling were without merit, not that drivers should be obliged to support or otherwise use a system they find unacceptable.  It is our democratic right to protest against what we feel is unacceptable and un-democratic behaviour by our elected leaders.  Perhaps  Advocate Muofhe should go back to law school or take more informed instructions from his masters.  

We are not obliged to like nor support what government do and, in fact, the Direct Democracy Forum‘s intention is, through use of DDF policies, to ensure that many of the decisions and acts of past governments will not be repeated nor be implementable in the future.  Our purpose is to empower ordinary citizens to say no to the unacceptable.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Self Congratulatory Education Issue Dodging

Government lauded their achievements in education by lowering standards yet not lowering them enough to even scratch the surface of satisfactory statistics.  Really – 26% matriculation exemptions for the class of 2012, which in reality translates into a 13% matric exemption rate for the school entrants of 2001, 50% of whom dropped out on the way to grade 12.  It is nothing less than a disgrace.

Here are three M & G reports on various education issues:

  • Celebrating Failure deals with the 2012 results and the issue of what a poor education means to the economy and society at large.
  • Matrics want universities deals with another failure, the failure to provide adequate tertiary education facilities even for that poor misled 13%
  • A Slap in the Face for School Norms documents government making a mockery of the efforts of Section27 and Equal Education (two activist bodies) who took the education ministry to court over various issues, and indeed a slap in the face for the courts who ruled in the favour of the activists on these issues.

What does all this illustrate?  In our opinion the following is obvious:

  • Government is not serious about education
  • Government has scant respect for civil society
  • Government has scant regard for the courts

One would be forgiven for wondering if what government does to educate the majority of our population is nothing better than lip-service, going through the motions of satisfying the need for education, while in reality, denying those masses their constitutional right to be educated, either through government incompetence or as part of a deliberate strategy intended to divest themselves of the reality of their constitutional obligations.

For those of you who are not aware of it, our constitution states in section 29 in CHAPTER 2  the BILL OF RIGHTS that :

  • (1) Everyone has the right- 
    • (a) to a basic education, including adult basic education; and
    • (b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, 
      must make progressively available and accessible.

It is the DDF’s firm belief that, for whatever reason, government is failing in their constitutional duties and they are in denial about this failure.

The Direct Democracy Forum undertake to engage with every educator in the country to resolve these issues and to fulfill government’s constitutional obligation to the students of South Africa.  We will have the means through adequately controlling existing education budgets so as to deliver quality to every school room in the land, and if those budgets are not enough, which is unlikely because as a % of our GDP, we spend more on education than almost any other country in Africa, but if those budgets are not enough, we will have enough through accessing TEAL to double those budgets, if necessary.

We are at a loss for words to adequately describe our response to what post ’94 governments have done to the education system and to the student body.  But through use of DDF education policies, we will fix it, whatever the cost.  Education will be one of our most important priorities.

 The buck stops at the ballot box

Why we need an indipendent judiciary

The recent ruling of certain sections of the Sexual Offences Act unconstitutional as related to consensual sex between minors, by Judge Pierre Rabie, illustrates the need for independence for our judiciary.

Imagine a situation where a child in need could not go to a nurse or doctor or counselor or even a parent, without their contact of choice being obliged to report their sexual activity to the police because not to do so is a criminal act.  That is almost unimaginable yet that was the situation under the Sexual Offences Act.  It took a cool look from a member of the judiciary to understand that this was untenable and unconstitutional.

Why do we need this independence?  If our judiciary were mere servants of our politicians and were unable to toss out bad legislation or reverse bad or illegal convictions, your daughter found kissing the boy next door could end up in a prison cell.  The habit of judicial conflict with legislators is not unheard of in South Africa.  Even in the apartheid era, judiciary had a habit of overturning bad convictions obtained by overzealous prosecutors in lower courts based on bad law written by overzealous ideologues.  

This tradition of judicial independence is a tradition we need to encourage and applaud. 

The Direct Democracy Forum support this judicial independence with DDF judicial policy.  Not to have that skilled and thoughtful check and balance on the side of sanity and social justice is simply unthinkable.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

For the wages of sin is death

Taking that out of its biblical context it has a literal equivalent and says something about South Africa’s current direction and prospects.

SA is often labeled the powerhouse of Africa, the gateway to Africa for the industrialised world, yet ….

Marikana, De Dooms, Amplats.  These and others are names which should evoke at best a sense of doom and fear for some of our major industries and industrial communities and their down-stream dependents, in short, for the whole of our society, because we are all interconnected.  When one industry fails a bit of South Africa dies, for the wages of sin is death.  Taken literally or metaphorically it has a ring of truth to it.

The Direct Democracy Forum believe that the post ’94 economic policies of the country have been viewed through ideological blinkers and that is the sin of the intervening years for which we are now collecting the wages.

The DDF do not believe we have all the answers or a magic wand to fix all our economic woes but we do understand that all in South Africa have to take off our ideological blinkers.  BEE has to go.  Our industries have to be restored.  Our trade and labour policies need to be reviewed so as to create employment for South Africans.  We have to build a skilled and educated population to take these policies forward.  We have to encourage a sense of justice and fair play and fair reward for all the players, capital, labour and expertise,  in our many industries and businesses,.  We have also to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with wild-cat strikes and acts of violence and gatherings that tempt the unruly and unscrupulous.  We have to re-define the roles of unions and unionisation so that these institutions look to the best needs and outcomes possible for their members, rather than blackmailing and bullying employers and the economy in general, which, while they may serve to strengthen the unions and their leaders in the short term, actually undermine the economy and employment and income opportunities for their members in the long term.  If we don’t do all those things then we live in sin.  And the wages of sin is death.

In a major move by a major player, Amplats plan to downsize because many of their operations are becoming unprofitable and unsustainable.  14 000 employees stand to lose their jobs.  This is just one example of that death.

Then everyone complains – unfair, foul, you did not consult with government, you did not consult with labour – well, labour and government have been consulting with Amplats over the years and months and Amplats have concluded that the situation is no longer profitable and sustainable and have taken the only course open to them.  This sort of response, whatever it’s specifics, is the only logical response to those sorts of circumstances.

So what is the solution – that labour should just bow to employers and live off pittances in gratitude for employment?  The DDF do not believe that.  We do not believe the relationship between capital and labour is that simple.  We believe instead that our society is more generally sick than we realise and that unless we fix it, relationships between employer and employee will for ever be at risk, because whatever either does in a sick society, it will not satisfy the aspirations either party.  

Unlike Mr Ramaphosa, we believe that government should fix society so labour and business can function symbiotically and happily together.  Business on its own cannot fix society.  It can only contribute it’s expertise and capital and profits to society and it will only do so when the experience is to it’s advantage. 

Put another way, if nobody is making the bed, no one is going to sleep comfortably in it.  Making the bed is the role of government, not of business.  Business, employers and employees just sleep in the same economic and social bed, and all will find it uncomfortable if nobody makes the bed.  Eventually somebody doesn’t want to use the bed, which is what has happened at Amplats.

The DDF believe that DDF policies will make a meaningful difference to trade, industry and investment and therefor to employment and the health of the economy.  We will not please all.  In fact, all will feel the changes and not all will be happy, but we would rather get the economy right and displease some so everyone has the opportunity to be happy.  What the players then do with that opportunity is for them to decide.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Road Accident Prevention

In Passing The Buck we lamented the lack of on-the-road rule of the road enforcement. Our comments had nothing to do with this analysis but it is really interesting that a number of prominent persons in the transport sector are saying the same things we are saying.

 What is lacking is enforcement, enforcement and more enforcement, and it starts with the small stuff, the small infringements, and drivers need to be made aware that a licence to drive a vehicle on a public road is not a right but a privilege, that can be denied if it is abused.  We need to do a lot more than we are doing to prevent the more than a thousand deaths on our roads each month at a cost to the nation of some R160 billion rand a year.

 We don’t need more official prevarication, more denialism, more toll roads, we just need sensible traffic measures applied universally and consistently throughout our land.

The Direct Democracy Forum‘s Transport policies will go a long way to addressing those needs.

The buck stops at the ballot box

2012 Matriculation Results

 The National Department of Education apply a single standard for Matriculation Pass levels.

For those of you who are bemused by the assertions that a 30% pass level is adequate for Matriculation, the reality is slightly different, but not so much different.

As related by the IEB, the requirements are:

  • 40% for one official language (usually the student’s home language)
  • 40% for two other subjects
  • 30% for three other subjects

Whereas university entrance requires minimally that four of the above subjects be passed at 50% or more.

The IEB results were the first of the year.

They had more than 8700 candidates of whom 98.2% passed (up from the 98.15 of the previous year’s rate). All those who passed qualified for tertiary education and 83.6% qualified for university degree courses (up from the 81.67% of the previous year).

So by all accounts, the IEB are steadily gaining ground.

Information on the National Senior Certificate results is less encouraging.

The national pass rate is up from 70.2% in 2011 to 73.9%. This seems pretty good but so far the DDF have not found any meaningful analysis of the results and feel that a great deal more detail should be released. We do know that only 22% of the Matric passes qualified for university entrance. Compare that with the 84% of the IEB passes qualifying and there is a marked disparity.

64% of the NSC candidates passed maths, but at what level was that, 30% or 40%? At a 30% or 40% bar one should expect pass rates in the nineties. The same question needs to be asked about the 61% pass rate for science. True the results show improvements on the 2011 results but at what cost. There is talk of adjustments to the results to “mitigate fluctuations in learner performance that are a result of factors within the examination processes themselves rather than the knowledge, aptitude or abilities of learners” What exactly does that mean?

The press are going on about the inequalities evident from the results. Unequal access to resources, funding, school books, competent teachers, administrative support. All these topics are being bandied about as being critical to performance and results. Is there somehow a connection between those adjustments and those inequalities? We don’t know. We aren’t being told. 

There are other disparities, perhaps the largest, almost the elephant in the room, is that there are about 78 times the number if IEB candidates doing NSC exams. 8700 IEB candidates versus 623 897 NSC candidates. We think the point is that not all schools whose candidates write IEB are wealthy urban schools. Some are quite rural and quite poor, they just don’t follow the same path as their NSC fellows. Put another way, the IEB schools are getting it right far more often than the NSC schools, so there should be something to be learned from what the IEB schools are doing.

The other factor of concern is the drop-out rate. We don’t know what the IEB drop-out rate is (that is, what proportion of Grade one pupils reach and pass their Matric year) but it is generally agreed that only 50% of entry level students reach the NSC matric, and even then that only 50% of grade 11 students go forward to grade 12. Why is that? What is it about grade 12 that makes it almost unattainable to 50% of grade 11 students? Or is that the wrong question to ask? Perhaps it is simply that the average Grade 11 is not prepared adequately for Grade 12 and is not encouraged to go forward? We speculate here because one of the classic ways of ensuring an acceptable pass rate is to deny those likely to fail the opportunity to sit the exam. Put another way, if every Grade 11 was compelled to enter Grade 12 and sit the NSC exams, the pass rate might seem quite alarmingly low. So what is the reality?

Yet another factor is the success rate of the graduates of the different systems. The IEB university entrants have a +/- 90% chance of completing their degree course in the required minimum time-frame. We don’t know what the current statistics are for NSC graduates, but of the average 1st year entrants, only a very small percentage (perhaps as little as 10%) were said even to enter the last year of study, let alone graduate. This we relate from earlier years experiences. We would like to be wrong about this because it is a very alarming prospect, that so few graduate when the country is in dire need of educated and skilled graduates.

We know that the same pass rate is applied to both the IEB and the NSC exams but are we comparing apples with apples or apples with pears? The exams are not the same, the questions are not the same, markers and the standards are not the same. How can we compare these two systems?

This is the Direct Democracy Forum‘s principle gripe, that we don’t believe we can compare the two systems and the two sets of results so the impression that the NSC results are not lagging that far behind the IEB results is not verifiable from information provided and does not warrant an assumption of equivalence between the two systems.

The upshot of all this is that the DDF would like there to be a single set of national exams with a single set of questions for IEB and NSC students alike and a single syllabus underpinning those exams with any adjustments to the results “in order to mitigate fluctuations in learner performance” being applied equally and transparently to candidates for IEB and NSC exams alike. Then, we believe, we will have a basis of comparison that is meaningful and we can start addressing any educational deficiencies that are evident from an informed position. This is the DDF‘s starting position. 

How we get from where we are to where we need to be is a question that needs to be addressed by the education experts of our country rather than by the country’s politicians. The role of the politicians is to enable students and educators in their endeavours, nothing more and certainly nothing less. That basically is the DDF‘s position as stated in DDF education policies.

The buck stops at the ballot box

South African Angels:

The Direct Democracy Forum sprout much about getting South Africa to work the way it should.  Well, Chris Mann penned a tribute to those who make their little islands of sanity work  in South Africa’s otherwise general state of chaos.  He focuses on these largely unacknowledged heroes of our country who are probably the butt of the clever boytjies who will consider them too dumb to profit from the wealth of opportunities to scam, to skim and to manipulate, but instead, steadily go about their jobs, largely unseen and un-thanked. If only there were more of these nameless blameless souls.  Our lives would be much richer for them.

 We have to say thanks to Chris Mann for recognising them and join him in his praise.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

 

 

Passing The Buck

SA Roads Authority passes the buck for the over 1200 road deaths in December 2012.  We have yet to see what happens in January to know the real toll of the festive season.

It is certainly true that road users are at fault but to simply say that is the cause of the carnage on our roads is being simplistic and indulging in denialism.

To put it in the words of a popular radio commentator, if we had law enforcement officers who are not corrupt and enforce the law, particularly the rules of the road, we would have many fewer deaths and injuries on our roads.  He quoted our December road deaths as being greater than the road deaths of New Zealand for the entire 2012.  Granted that NZ is smaller and has fewer kilometers of roads and fewer vehicles and fewer drivers, but if they had the same levels of non-compliance and non-enforcement as South Africa has, they too would have similar levels of accidents, injuries and fatalities.

So it all comes down to enforcement and compliance, starting at the lowest levels.  We should have much more stringent levels of compliance before issuing a new driver with an unrestricted licence, much higher levels of enforcement, less graft and corruption, at all levels of the transport system.  I’m old enough to remember when stopping on the line of a stop street instead of behind the line or worse still not coming to a full stop at a stop street, or crossing a solid white line or entering an intersection against an amber or red traffic light or even jay-walking, would result in an official rebuke, from a warning to a minor or significant fine, even to serious prison time and or a loss of licence, depending on the offence, yet today I see all these offences on a daily basis without any sort of official response.  And our record of death and injury on our roads shows that habitual non-enforcement and habitual non-compliance has consequences that go way beyond those seemingly petty offences.  The sad thing is we are given the same lesson every year and we do not seem to learn from it.

As drivers, we should know that there are consequences to breaking the law and those consequences should be visible on our roads every day.  Then maybe we would behave in a manner that would not result in all that death and injury because our road traffic authorities would be doing their job.  There would be less carnage on our roads and no need for our Roads Authority to pass the buck.  A Direct Democracy Forum administration would see to it, through the application of DDF policies,  that every road user respects the rules of the road, or suffers the consequences, before causing damage, death or injury to other road users. 

The buck stops at the ballot box

Another 5 years

JZ as president of the ANC?  Good on you pres.  

The Direct Democracy Forum believe the decision to appoint JZ president of the ANC for the next five years, is the best possible outcome for South Africa’s opposition parties and the worse possible outcome for the ANC.  But clearly the ANC disagree and good for them.  Heaven forbid that someone of the stature of Kgalema Motlanthe should ever be elected president of the ANC.  Then the opposition parties would have real and serious problems in the 2014 elections.  As it is …………………….

JZ as the next president of South Africa?  That remains to be seen.

The buck stops at the ballot box

The Land of The Free

“And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  So ends the United States of America’s national anthem.

On Friday 14th December 2012 in Newtown Connecticut, a lone gunman, a 20 year old, probably deranged individual,  having first shot his own mother, entered a school and shot and killed 20 elementary school children (average age about 6 years), seven school employees, and then himself, with semi-automatic weapons which the NRA and the gun lobby in America fight tooth and nail to ensure are freely available to US citizens , even over the counter in a Walmart store.  Just how free are Americans? 

Our hearts go out to America and Americans in general and those in particular who lost their children in this and other similar incidents.  Something is not right in the home of the brave.

Far be it for anyone to tell that mighty nation how to run it’s affairs but we all would be foolish not to learn from their experiences.  Some of what we can take from this tragedy are:

  • that corporates and others should not be allowed to heedlessly pursue profit at tragic cost to the nation they operate in,
  • that corporates and others should not be allowed undue access to nor be allowed to exert undue influence on, the political systems they operate in 
  • that gun ownership is not a right but a privilege, given only to those adjudged worthy of it, 
  • that assault weapons, aka ‘weapons of war’,  are not included in that privilege.

South Africa is not without blemish.  We had Marikana, we have children entering our schools with weapons and extracting revenge for real or imagined wrongs.  We have little to be proud of other than our sporting achievements, and we really need to learn from both our own experiences and from the experiences of others.  The more tragic are those experiences the more urgent is our need to learn from them.

The Direct Democracy Forum are willing to learn from our own and others’ experiences.  We just wish we they were not so tragic.

Heaven forbid free thought or opinion

The SABC are engaging in a pogrom against free thought and expression.  The SABC is the closest we have to a public broadcasting service and as such should be supporting the goals of section 16 of the constitution which provides inter alia, that,

  • “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes-  
    (a) freedom of the press and other media;
    (b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
    (c) freedom of artistic creativity; and
    (d) academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.”

This is about as close as you get to a constitutional guarantee of free speech and the SABC is clearly engaged in censorship of any ideas that might tarnish the image of the ruling elite and clearly are doing so in breach of section 16 of the constitution.

The DDF would also argue that the SABC’s actions are flagrant violations of other constitutionally guaranteed rights, namely  sections 18 and 19 which guarantee freedom of association and the political rights of our citizens.  By denying free exchange of ideas, by association, the SABC are denying citizens their rights in terms of section 18 and 19 of the constitution.

 Heaven forbid that thinkers be allowed to express their thoughts to the masses.  The masses might get the wrong ideas.  Heaven forbid free thought or opinion.

The Direct Democracy Forum have some ideas about how to guarantee freedom of expression – see the DDF policies on communications.

The solution to this is change at the top of the SABC which requires a change of government, so the solution is in your hands, which you can deliver to the nation in the 2014 elections.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Education again in the spotlight

South Africa has again disgraced itself.  The M & G report on South Africa’s ranking in the world’s education scales per the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) refers.

These two studies, if the M & G report is to be believed, and the Direct Democracy Forum believe it is to be believed (we have looked at the TIMSS results) show SA’s education to be in just about the worst possible place.  If you feel really brave you can download and read the TIMSS Maths, and Science and the PIRLS Reading studies yourselves, so long as you have the bandwidth and disk space needed.  These are pretty hefty reports.

The DDF off-the-cuff response is that while our educators’ seem quite positive and upbeat about the studies that attitude hardly reflects the reality of the study results.  So, while we acknowledge the comment about negativity and about some of the gains reflected between 2006 and 2011 (comments contained in the M & G report) we believe our educators are not really getting the message.  We really do have to come to terms with the reality of South African education but while being kind and understanding about our circumstances and limitations might be the politically correct response, the DDF believe that will not dig us out of this quagmire.  Read the study results yourselves and see what you think.

Our education system should be considered a national disaster and require that the resources of a national state of emergency be applied to it’s fixing.  We need a graded escalation of endeavour aimed at all levels of the education system, applied consistently over the twelve year education cycle.  Maybe even then we may not have got it all right.  But at least at the end of such a consistent effort we should be seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

The DDF believe that DDF education policies are the very least response that needs to be applied to this disaster, and furthermore, that SA get on board and match the generic TIMSS study parameters (grade four and grade eight) instead of using the South African study of grades 6 and 9.  That way we can at least compare apples and apples and grade our performance against clear and unambiguous international benchmarks.

The buck stops at the ballot box

 

Added meaning to the term ‘Cash-Flow’

One day I will read all these reports but frankly, just reading the titles is enough to turn the stomach:

There will be a reckoning.  One day.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Break up Eskom

Dirk de Vos, writing in a M & G Business Energy section in an article titled ‘Break up Eskom, for all our sakes‘, basically adds weight to the Direct Democracy Forum’s energy policy.  We don’t wish to preen but it is nice when industry experts have similar opinions to ours.  We feel a little less lonely, a little more justified in our stands.  Look at the DDF energy policy.  See what you think.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Maths in crises, again

The Annual National Assessment results show grade nine pupils scoring on average, 13% in maths, with Limpopo grade nines scoring an average of 9%.  So says this report ‘we’re facing a national crisis‘.  The really scary thing is that the results that point to some improvement seem to show the best levels of achievement at levels which should be the very worst levels acceptable.  So, we’re elated at a minority who are scoring 50% or an average that crept from 17% to 36% of grade threes who scored 50% when the majority should be scoring at least 50% + and a significant minority should be up there in the nineties.  This is grasping at straws.  This is kidding ourselves.

 Let’s hear it for the grade threes and grade three teachers, but the grade three teachers are not going to be promoted to grade 4, so these little rays of sunshine are going to be switched off by teachers of grade 4 and above, who clearly are not coping. 

 We are looking for reasons to claim that something we are doing in the classrooms must be right and that somehow that ameliorates the results of other grades.  We are rationalising our failure to come to grips with the problems in our education system.  If we were really doing something significant for the schooling system as a whole we would be seeing significant improvements across all grades for all subject, and the DDF don’t see those sorts of results, so, as with our previous perceptions of previous assessments, we have to conclude that it is not just the grade nine maths that is in crises but the whole public school system that is in crises. 

Why are we not surprised?

By way of contrast, visit the Direct Democracy Forum’s eduction policies and see how we can help.

 The buck stops at the ballot box.

Would you want this for your children?

Some stories are just heart breaking.  Read this story about the Moshesh Senior Secondary School near Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and ask yourselves if you would want that experience for you or your children and even, how could such an appalling state of affairs be allowed to occur let alone persist?

The Direct Democracy Forum view this sort of circumstance as absolutely unacceptable. View DDF education policies to see what we would do about education.

It is amazing that in one country we can have two education systems that are so disparate.  One works, even in the rural areas, the other system barely works anywhere.  Something has to change and the best change that can possibly happen to the South African education system is for voters to resoundingly defeat the incumbent government in the 2014 elections.  The DDF obviously believe they are the logical choice as a replacement administration because not only do they have the resolve and the policies they also have the means to bring about meaningful change.  But whatever your support for change is, express it in 2014.

The buck stops at the ballot box

New Deal Needed for S A’s Ailing Economy

The outlook for South Africa is not very cheerful.  South Africa was the power house of Africa and a leading economy in the world.  Granted that was built on the backs of cheap migrant labour and seemingly boundless natural resources and an archaic and disgraceful system of economic and political suppression, all unsustainable even in the short term – well – the system and cheap migrant labour are history and our resources are not limitless and need to be used wisely.

The Direct Democracy Forum are determined that through the application of  DDF policies, South Africa’s future will be firmly anchored in an economy based on clever use of an empowered, skilled and intelligent labour force, who are using their intellectual and skills capacities profitably and constructively.  Lots of big words but what it boils down to is empowering everyone in South Africa through education and skills acquisition, opportunity creation and the productive employment of those skills in the economy, for the benefit of all who engage in those activities.

The DDF believe that South Africa has the capacity to be a world leader and to stabilise and develop its economy and that everyone can share in the wealth of South Africa, with pride. South African’s need not be second class citizens but can take their place in the world along with the best, because we are the best.  We just need to prove it to ourselves and to the world.  We can do that and the DDF are determined to make that happen.

The buck stops at the ballot box.

Civil Society playing foul????

In an article “Yes, NGOs seek publicity and recourse to law“,  eminent legal academic and activist, Bonita Meyersfeld, pleads “guilty as charged” for doing their jobs.

Where government is decrying the activities of the media and civil society, a Direct Democracy Forum administration would welcome the media and civil society’s revelations about what is going wrong with our country.  The DDF would welcome their insights and alarum bells and respond to them timeously and appropriately, and, over time, hope they become less strident and less urgent because the DDF are dealing effectively with their concerns.

Look at DDF policies and tell us what we are missing.  We are willing partners with all  and are willing to take directions from all, to make South Africa a better place for all, not just a better place for the privileged few. 

 The buck stops at the ballot box.

Disgraceful Garnishee Industry

The report Ghastly garnishee abuse exposed in the M & G on-line, reveals a national horror story – freely available credit for life at interest rates that cannot possibly be serviced with debts that can never be repaid, often fictitious debts at that.

The Direct Democracy Forum do not have a specific policy for the control of the garnishee industry but in the FAQ page we address some of those concerns in our response to the question “SECURITISATION AND DERIVATIVE TRADING: Where does the DDF stand on these practices?“.  

We moot the adoption of principles such as the “do no harm” principle (expressed variously but including “do anything you want but do not harm the life, limb or property of another without risking legal and social consequences” )  and the Quid Pro Quo principle of Roman Dutch law, which law is historically a root of South African law,  be applied to all laws and contracts.

We would argue that we should take whatever is good from the past and combine it with whatever is good and innovation for the future, with equal vigour, and that we should not be hind-bound by our history nor by our ideologies.

The DDF believe that applying those two principles to our laws and our contracts will effectively counter unscrupulous and predatory behaviour, without burdening society with excessive layers of new and detailed law.  There are those who will argue that this approach is simplistic to a fault, to which the DDF will counter that as one of the goals of the DDF is to make life in South Africa as simple as possible, applying these principles is an effective way of advancing that goal and the pursuit of justice.  The DDF are quite comfortable with both those positions.

The buck stops at the ballot box

Job creation

In an article labeled collaboration is needed to create jobs David Fine, a director at McKinsey South Africa is reported to have highlighted the need for skills development and the removal of regulations that obstruct growth and development in South Africa, and the need for infrastructural development.

A reading of the Direct Democracy Forum‘s policies will illustrate how that ca