Posted by: darrenbergman | April 6, 2015

NDR vs NDP where to next?


“If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.” Nelson Mandela, 1994

Two decades after the birth of our new democracy, the father of our nation’s words resonate loudly. The leader that can lead South-Africa into Africanisation has been born. Infact, he has been in office for a few years now. However, he is hopefully in his last term but so far, he does not have a proud legacy to leave. The only legacy that will save the President’s term of office, in his mind, must be the notion of trying to deliver something special to the majority of South-Africa.

Africanisation, in my own humble opinion, is the abolishment of any colonial trace within a Country and then an attempt to systematically build from a level of ground zero. There is no racist intent, the belief is more that if you are African, regardless of race, you have a place in the Country. The levels of redress become higher albeit false. The most memorable Country to benchmark is Zimbabwe. Two decades into their new found freedom, transformation was not taking place at a rate that the Government appreciated. They introduced aggressive measures and we all remember what happened from then on. Today Zimbabwe still suffers the consequences and the aggressive transition lead to a lose-lose situation for employer and employee. Government might still be claiming victory but the people of Zimbabwe, judging by their influx into South-Africa, maybe disagree.

We have seen in President Mugabe both a vision and drive that makes him a well -respected leader in Africa. He has also told world leaders, of the West, where to get off making his popularity in Africa even more pronounced. He has shown the world what it means to collect taxes for the office and leave the rest for the population. Zimbabwe continues as a shadow of the powerful bread-basket it once was. Freedom comes at a price. Government strives for political freedom whilst the public usually require economic freedom. One would argue that Zimbabwe had economic freedom (although there were still many that had not been redressed). However post the aggressive land reforms and collapse of the economy, Government has now traded economic freedom for a political freedom or plainly put for a legacy of one man. Research will show that this has lead to less redress than had Government pursued an economic agenda. Mutual respect for the tax base and the poor should bring the wealth gap more in line. This is more sustainable than focusing on one side that could widen such gap. However the most fatal mistake that any Country can make is to put a person above his country.

South-Africa is at a cross road at this stage of its new democracy. The person in charge has a choice. He can either drive South-Africa towards the National Development Plan or bulldoze us into the National Democratic Revolution. Two distinct paths that do not cross anymore are laid out before the whole of South-Africa to see. Watching the man amass his wealth; take power over any independent institution and dodge as many bullets as you can fire at the man, makes me think that we are not dealing with a democratic president of South-Africa but rather President Mugabe lite. As we giggle through the 5th Parliament the signs on the path become clearer that we as a nation of Africans, need to either show the President the error in his ways or make plans to live through the period of Africanisation that will befall us.

At the risk of raising alarm, I write this blog to show you that we are still in the game and that, like chess, the definite results can only materialize a few more moves away. However it does require more interest and more involvement of all who stand to lose or benefit from an undesired result.

If you are happy with the path to Africanisation then enjoy the ride. It is not racist in its intention and is well meaning in its implementation. However a bright disclaimer reads – not for the faint hearted. I am sure many people pray that this is not the case and I know many of them exist in the upper echelons of the ruling party. They pray for 2019 very quickly and that a smooth exit with the least amount of damage to the ruling party is preserved.

In Germany, a study was undertaken around the effects of trivial laws that are hard to enforce. The findings were interesting and pertinent to our dear President. The study concluded that if a law exists that outlaws littering, a person that struggles with his conscience to keep the law, will break a seal in his conscience after the first time he disobeys a law. What becomes an acceptance of littering might manifest to an acceptance of smoking in public and then it may progress to worse. There are two reasons for this. The first is the lessening of a conscience everytime an unacceptable act is repeated. The second one being that the lower the chances of being penalized for the act, the more endearing it becomes to repeat.

President Zuma seems to have come to a stage in his life where whatever he touches seems to be protected by a team of ministers elected by him, a party that cannot air its dirty laundry and institutions that are being towed into line through changes in leadership or changes in legislation. Everytime a new low is thought to have been achieved, we are surprised with another.

If you thought Parliament has degenerated into a circus, make no mistake, it is a battlefield. If you thought that opposition parties are doing nothing and the party in power is getting away with everything, make no mistake, a host of petitions, court orders and public action are deployed in many different scenarios on an almost daily basis. We winning some we losing others but time will tell the real score. 2016 will be a good benchmark.

The tug of war is currently hovering around the centre whilst some parties rally towards the National Development Plan and others towards the National Democratic Revolution. Country, expats, investors and politicians are watching. The pieces on the chess board seem to be moving to a more decisive stage of the game. Check.


February is such a blur that if you have to give it a parliamentary recall you might highlight the EFF ejection, signal jamming or the broken man. However we should not move too hastily to forget February 2015.

On the programme time line we had the state of the nation address; the reply to the address; the budget debate and then a vote of no confidence against President Zuma. The fans of channel 408 had lots to watch.The month could have even been called Big Brother month, however, signal jamming and camera jamming limited the full state of affairs.

The worlds worst secret was that security were training for a possible “internal threat” evacuation. Removing members from within the house. Therefore that part of the evening could not be a surprise to anyone.
In our opinion, based on the revalations in the past few months, we would be wearing black. I do not think I need to go into what we were mourning but to us there was no red carpet celebrations in fact we still questioned how we could be spending so much on any celebrations.

The words still fresh in my mind, from the President’s previous radio broadcast, “I am not nervous, I have never been nervous in my life.”

The President took to the podium, having just come through a public barrage of protest around someone jamming the signal, and without a sent of nerves began his state of the nation. Broadcast to more than just the interested folk, tonight had many people watching for the entertainment factor. They were cheated. The EFF disruption was swift. Security people, maybe even police, maybe even armed, stormed the chambers, with scant regard for the separation of powers and did what they had been training to do. They ejected the EFF. The DA tried to restore calm and dignity to the house and requested information. Information was not forthcoming as with the signal jamming incident and therefore a serious decision was taken to walk out. Other opposition parties joined us in the same vein of protest. The President continued. Again with no emotion. I would not be surprised if he gave one of those trademark giggles.

The very same giggle he gave when leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane told him that he was a broken man, presiding over a broken Parliament in a breaking society.

The President replied with the preverbial olive branch. Deflecting all blame and responsibility with the perfect cover drive. Leaving a stain on the image of South-Africa for all to see. However not without his trademark giggle.

The budget debate could be described as dry and bitter. Nothing innovative and nothing memorable. If you are rich you might feel a little more milked and if you are poor you might believe that the Minister was more interested in getting your vote than stimulating an economy. Many options lay open to the Minister. Ideas such as an increase in VAT or a sin-tax on fast foods would have given a bit more gravy to the occasion. Benchmarked against other sub-saharan African countries, I would offer that our projected growth rate was also dull.

This week in the house was interesting if you looked beyond the hot air and rhetoric. MP David Maynier called on minister of state security David Mahlobo to resign. In my opinion, the answers given by the minister, was living proof that he was out of his depth. The minister first indicated that he would not be able to answer when he tried the “sub judice” excuse. Then it seemed that the Minister was quoting the wrong legislation and finally he said that he was not aware of the signal jamming device. The President chooses his executive and this choice is a reflection on his own judgement.

The final interesting debate of the week was the “vote of no confidence against President Zuma”. I have always believed that the ANC welcome these motions because it galvanises the caucus behind the targetted politician. At this stage there are many opinions and the ANC do not enjoy a fully united caucus but when it comes to this type of motion, they all stand together. I was proven right when the motion was withdrawn. The theatrics from the ANC and the lack of control of the situation, showed me I was correct. If you are serious about the motion you would welcome the dropping of such a motion if it was against your number one. However in this instance it seemed like the lights had been switched off from a well rehearsed show that was just about to start.

Given the summary of the last few weeks, I would believe that we are bringing an unwelcome and unneccessary image upon our Parliament and our politicians. It seems the executive are becoming more evasive and defensive in their replies. There is more politics and less delivery which is sad because I believe if the executive were more productive and more intent on making a positive change to their portfolio there would be less politics. However it seems like they have been elected to protect one man and that their productivity is judged on how well they do that job. Everything else becomes secondary and everyone else becomes a lesser priority. It is almost like the next five years will be dedicated to ensuring a smooth landing for Number 1 and rallying around him to protect him. Any character assassinations; counter ideas; debating of their proposals are all seen as attacks and not constructive input.

Number 1 the fearless, charismatic and persuasive has charmed his executive. He has charmed many of the public institutions and where he has not, they have surprisingly had scandals and the heads of these institutions have been replaced with what we call members of Zuma Inc. No magic here, just plain determination. A determination to control everything that needs to be controlled. A determination to introduce the national democratic revolution and a determination to protect one man and his space at all costs.

South-Africans will come to appreciate that they cannot rely on their executive if they carry on this trajectory but I hope the executive realise that they cannot disregard the South-Africans. The repercussions could be more costly than the cost of protecting just one man. Giggles the President…

Posted by: darrenbergman | February 9, 2015

Zuma and the nerves of Steal


Yesterday President Zuma hosted some of the Countries top editors for lunch. This was an open question and answer session and apparently no holds barred. One may be suspicious that it was being hosted so close to the state of the nation address, but lets give the President the benefit of the doubt.

The topics ranged from state of the nation, Nkandla, electricity and service delivery. Some answers were fresh and some were expected. Based on reports in the media, it seems that some editors felt charmed and comforted at this rare occasion.

However I heard a clip that has left me cold. So cold that I think I have finally cracked the code of President Zuma. President Zuma states (in response to a question about the EFF threat),”I am not nervous. I have never been nervous in my life”.

He then gives a chilling laugh. The signature laugh.

Lets understand what it means to be nervous. A person gets nervous when they are worried about something or they have an apprehensive anxiety about something they about to do. This could be a bomb disposal expert being nervous about cutting wire red or wire black. This could be an employee giving a company presentation feeling nervous because they just want it to go well. Most people in this world have been nervous before. You could be almost thought of as heartless or soulless if you have never been nervous in your life.

On the other hand, people would say that the best person to lead a movement out of the mud is a leader that has nerves of steel. Sure that would be a comfort but I would assume that a person that has no nerves in this case probably has a lower level of empathy. In my own opinion, within a current South-African context, we need a leader of empathy more than a leader with nerves of steel.

The only animal in the animal kingdom that I can personally identify with this characteristic would be a jellyfish. You can poke and prod a jellyfish and you can try and trap a jelly fish but the jelly fish will give a cold and instinctive reaction. I don’t think a jellyfish has ever been nervous in its existence. I know plants have. I know all animals have. However a jellyfish is soulless and heartless. It cannot feel and it cannot get nervous but it can deliver a deadly sting.

The problem with the sting of a jelly fish is that the jelly fish is not even aware it is delivering this painful sting. Without empathy and without nerves you are almost rendered heartless and emotionless. Therefore, in certain chilling situations, you would not be able to “feel” or even empathise with the normal reasonable man.

Our President has been through many occasions where one would assume that a reasonable man would be nervous.
When you are charged with rape, regardless of innocence, would you not be nervous?
When are have a R204m scandal hanging over your head, would you not be nervous?
When the electricity supply becomes unstable, would you not be nervous?
When the biggest response to your input for the state of the nation is – please resign. Would you not be nervous?

In this case, Mr President, I plead to you – start being nervous. Not because you have done wrong but because it could show empathy, heart and soul. It could show you care and worry.

Leave a legacy of a President and not a legacy of jellyfish. This Country deserves it.

Posted by: darrenbergman | January 28, 2015

Who will give who the finger at the State of the Nation


The State of the Nation addres is just around the corner. This will be the most interesting state of the nation yet and will have a far broader audience then ever before. The “new” audience will not be interested in what the President has to say. They will be perversely watching the red party ask the question to the President of when he will pay back the money.

The Democratic Alliance has stated that they will treat this event in a dignified manner out of respect to all citizens of South-Africa but will use every avenue available to them to ensure that the President accounts for a lot of questions that seem to have gone unanswered.

Although in full support of my party and the leadership line drawn, I will secretly hope that the EFF disrupt the state of the Nation address because I believe our President should account for his actions and that his account should be the foundation of the state of our nation.

For far too long, President Zuma has ridden on a ticket of sympathy and the questionable underdog. President Zuma has proven to the world that a man with limited education and many allegations can lead a Country and furthermore can stumble and fall during his leadership but always have overwhelming support.

The question that needs to be asked here, is whether the followers are loyal supporters and believers or whether any person or institution that has dared to question, investigate or enquire about actions or dealings of the President has been shifted, shut down or redeployed before loyalty and support could ever be brought into question.

Like my party, I have respect for the office of the Presidency but I do not have respect for the man we call President Jacob Zuma. I can say this because I have, in my own mind, given this person every opportunity to make right and do right by his people but everytime the opportunity arises, there always seems to be an excuse as to why that opportunity was not taken.

Any political commentator that dares to question the President’s motives is shut down in a series of frantic attacks and labelled racist or counter-revolutionary. The odds as a commentator are highly against you and you are the underdog when you dare demand answers from the President.

The State of the Nation is all about where we are and where we are going. The Commander in Chief is the man to lead us in that direction and the man to inspire confidence in his people. People that live in this Country; people that pay taxes; people that live on hope (and nothing else) and people that have invested blood, sweat and tears – are all deserving of this respect and inspiration. However they are cheated before they get to hear the first word because the man tasked with inspiring us and giving us our hope, has not given his nation any reason to be inspired by him. As he takes to the podium with an air of confidence and entitlement I will be thinking to myself and silently praying that he makes right on one promise, the promise of his forefathers, the promise to account.

I deserve it, we deserve it and South-Africa deserves it. If Government cannot understand what it means to account to its people than they shouldn’t be a Government at all.

Posted by: darrenbergman | January 18, 2015

The RACE Card the most valuable card in the deck


This week saw the attack, by social media, on two high profiled citizens and contributors to South-Africa. Max Du Preez and Zelda Le Grange were both insulted, to such an extent, that if you did not know them and you had only read twitter-feeds, you would come to an unrealistic conclusion, that both were irrational racists that do not belong here.

Their biggest crime was questioning whether whites belong in South-Africa and whether we are welcome in South-Africa.

These questions are both fair and pertinant given the current Government and the rhetorics that are uttered from the President every other day.

It is completely normal and unquestionable for the President to use Apartheid as an excuse for everything regardless of their being no proof or benchmark to make such an accurate assumption. However, banished is the one that dares to challenge the utterances of the President. Racist and unwelcome are they made to feel the moment pen has left the paper.

The President owes his people an explanation. Those who believe that no-one has a right to question the President or hold him accountable has no understanding of our Constitution. You are not racist if you want to know why this is built or why this has not been maintained or why certain people are placed in certain jobs, you are being a model democratic citizen holding your Government to account. You are not racist it is your right.

The problem is Zuma Inc has made people believe that if you dare question the ANC in any shape or form, you are being racist. Post 1994 our Country had come along way in trying to reconcile through the awesome example set by President Mandela. In 2010, one caught glimpse of a resiliant nation again, united through sports it felt like we were heading in the right direction but it is clear that reconcilliation is further away from us then we care to admit.

It is vital that if we want to get this Country on its best and most productive footing we need to ensure that reconcilliation is true and long lasting. No one must ever forget Apartheid because it must never again be repeated in any form. The only way we can achieve true reconcilliation is through understanding each other; accepting each other and then trying to earn real trust from each other. This requires more interaction; more debate and more effort.

The President should be leading by example and not being the divisive one. When citizens of the Country question whether they belong or not people should be explaining why they find the comments or opinion pieces to be racist or insulting rather than being racist and insulting themselves.

Our Country will not ever heal properly unless we truly reconcile. We will never truly reconcile whilst there is a mistrust and the race card holds the highest value. It starts with you making a conscious decision to start within and then challenge those around you.

Lets follow the examples of our real heroes and leaders like President Nelson Mandela and stay away from those that take self interest over group interest. In fact if you were a true democratic citizen you would use the power of your vote to sanction those that wish to keep us divided.

South-Africa belongs to all that love it, live it and contribute to it without fear, favour or prejudice. After all wasn’t that what our new Constitution was all about?


When people get married they sometimes make the mistake of putting all their effort into the wedding and forget about the lifetime of marriage ahead. This is similar to sprinting to the starting line when you have a marathon ahead of you. Many people treat New Years the same way.

Who has not had a new years resolution?
Who has stuck to their new years resolutions weeks onwards?

A good new years celebration includes lots of people; lots of company and if successful, a party well into the early hours of the next morning. This would mean that the 1st of the 1st starts off tired;a few extra kilos and a major hangover.

I have been fortunate enough to have experienced enough blue new years to not give the day too much prominence. I can, off the top of my head, recall the time my travel agent convinced me to return from a Cape-Town trip and that she would make it worth my while. We clearly had two different ideas of “worth my while” and by 21:45 I was watching CNN. My friends in Cape-Town of course were kindly and generously giving me a running commentary on how awesome their night was going.

Another memory was in Cape-Town after going through a trying break-up, my ex deemed it fine to come and sit with me on a rock stifling any chance I had of actually having any party. Friends of mine carted me off to the one place I would never feel at home and that was a rave. Not because of the drugs mind you but more because I cannot dance normally so the thought of being stuck on a dance floor for hours on end whilst everyone was happy was not the ingredients for welcoming in a new year.

I learnt to appreciate that a successful New-Years would be drinking enough alcohol to be really happy; eating enough braai meat to feed a small Country and socialising face to face, electronically and physically. The resolutions would be a cherry on the top. My no-smoking resolutions usually lasted a little longer than my diet resolutions but the truth is no resolution ever made it past 6 weeks. I was honoured to have a few of these wonderful new years parties but when I look back now my better New Year celebrations took place when I spent it quietly with people I enjoy. If I do not make it to midnight even better.

However the true spirit of the day captures me when I wake up on the 1st of the 1st and I then celebrate the start of a new year. A traditional braai with friends and family a few visits here and there and the catching up with people that message you that one time a year make the 1st of the 1st the real party for me and not being drunk and not feeling over indulged gives me the right spring board to kick off from the starting gates and start what is the 365 day marathon. Ups and downs; wrongs and rights; loves and hates characterise the path ahead for all the participants running the marathon called LIFE.

I have also found it productive to use the last day of the year as a reflection board and time for introspection. It seems to bring perspective and allows for a benchmark going into the next year. Resolutions are short term but when you reflect and bench mark, you seem to have a better chance of improving whatever it is you want improving year on year.

Facebook, sms, whatsapp and all other forms of social media can influence the type of new years you have and therefore for me it is a good time to have downtime from all these value-adds. Considering I switched on my computer today to see an ex-colleague of mine, who still owes me well over $1000-00 for lending my mobile, living it up on holiday in Australia – yet cries to me that he cannot pay me even $50-00 to show some form of intent. Another ex-friend of mine is quoting the good Lord and all messages of kindness and giving yet she forgets to add on her page how she has taken me for a ride this year that took a major chunk of my turnover. When it comes to messages, that is even worse, because ultimately you end up leaving out one person who takes it highly personally or you have the text police that make a whole new years eve night out of figuring out if all is okay because you sign it with your name and maybe not with you and your wife. The whole spirit of the messages become redundant and you end up being better off quiet and appreciative rather than the instigator.

Hoping not to sound like the New Year grinch, I merely offer that we give closure to the previous year through reflection and that on the first day of the new year we are fresh enough to welcome it in and celebrate it with the ones we love.

Start the marathon on the start off line, fresh and ready to go, rather then starting your year drunk, full and sleep deprived. The side effects of this approach could lead to less fire-crackers; less drunk drivers on the road and more positive people entering the year ahead. What better way to start a marathon then to be fresh and alive.

I take all the bad that happened to me in 2014, as listed above, and choose to close the accounts and start off fresh. I take all the good that happened and remain grateful and appreciative for those moments. With the finish line passed and the next start off gun having just gone off, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you for reading my blog as always and to wish you and your loved ones everything of the best for 2015!

Posted by: darrenbergman | December 26, 2014

Tis the season to be jolly but?


My FACEBOOK post sparked abit of a debate the other day when I suggested that on Christmas a certain airline had given more than substandard service.

It started at the check-in counter which is meant to be your first point of contact and a good start to the journey. Inexperienced staff is anticipated but unfriendly staff suggests more than just people being forced to work on their holy day.

Once on the aeroplane (in all my hundreds of flights) I would say that this had to be one of the top three ranked in unfriendliness and lack of accommodation. I was not upset that the airline ran out of a meal, that happens all the time. I was upset that the airline knowing it was a day that would cater more for certain sections of our community would have at least enough culturally-friendly meals to last more than the 7th row. This would give the consumer the scant satisfaction that their business was somewhat appreciated on that day. In a world of low-cost airlines and premier service the choice of a ticket can run down to the meal offered on the plane.

A regular commentator on my facebook page suggested that it was anti-spirit of Christmas to have staff working on such a holy day. I agree 100% with this. However I also believe that if the company opens on the day a consumer can and should expect a product or service in line with the company standard.

The rest of the comments seemed to highlight a major triangle in customer service, on holy days, around consumer, employer and employee.
1. Should employers open on a Christmas day if they don’t have enough non-celebratory staff manning the deck?
2. Should a consumer expect a fair service or shopping experience on the day?
3. Should employees have the protected right to decline working on a holy day?

Having come from the emergency services sector, I respectfully omit them from this debate and salute every man and woman that sacrifices their religion on these days to protect and serve others.

The third question is the easiest to answer. I believe strongly that an employee who practices a certain religion should be protected in their right not to have to work where it is a high holy day provided it is a non-essential service. If there was a worldwide boycott to fight for the rights of these individuals, I would participate and not buy items on that day. However whilst it is the norm and an acceptable practice I am free to indulge in the services and products offered on those days.

I believe that in our quest to focus on maximing productivity and profitabilaty for the corporate world we have sacrificed from the employee in favour of consumer. In my opinion, a more stable balance between the two would yield even better productivty and profitability. Imagine a world where you were forced to close shop for 2 hours during the day and were forced to have one day off a week. I gaurantee that people would be less stressed, more motivated and more productive. Families would be more intact due to more family interaction and trading peaks and troughs would become naturally more congruent. This would be a win for all three areas of the triangle. Show me a satisfied customer and an enthusiastic employee and I will show you a company that cares.

The fact that employees do not have a right to chose on these days is sad and does not just effect them but also families and friends around them.

The second question of whether a company should open on high holy days is then partially covered by the above if introduced. However in the current climate it is clear that a company that does not operate on that day will lose out to companies that do. You are at an advantage if you can ensure enough staff that do not celebrate the high holy days but at a disadvantage if you cannot and you cannot afford to outsource that position on those days. Where it becomes a sin of a company is when the company cannot offer at least fair service on the day and yet they remain open giving the consumer the expectation that they can. This is when corners are cut and possibly safety compromised. This is a blatant lose-lose situation to both company, employee and consumer. In airlines, restuarants and entertainment venues this could not only lead to loss of revenue, retention and long term customers but can risk injury or life in severe circumstances. The employer has the responsibility to both consumer and employee not to compromise on this and one should question their loyalty to a company that has not proven their loyalty to consumers and employees.

My flight yesterday was one of many flights I have undertaken on a public holiday or religious holiday. I know what to expect but when employees are down and broken and the experience is more frustrating than tolerated, I question the empathy that company has to both employee and customer. This was in direct constrast to another facebook commentator that stated how his loca grocer remains open and the service is great because both employer and employee are present and the company cares about its consumers and employees and the morale and loyalty shines through.

Am I wrong as a consumer to complain on such a day about such service?

I personally think consumers need to be consistent and fair in their approach. They provide the revenue and in return deserve a service or a product. Be empathetic and understand by all means but do not be scared to complain where a service could compromise comfort and/or safety. My finger pointing exercise yesterday was at the company because if they do not have staff that can display some form of respect to the consumer (who had nothing to do with their employer getting them to work that day) and takes the frustration out on the consumer rather than the employer then it is high time that company considers suspending its service on high holy days and that the company introspects as to the low levels of morale within their staff compliment. However whilst the company is open and employees are there to offer the service or product, I as a consumer on that day, should be more tolerating and empathetic towards the staffs predicament but I should not have to suffer a loss because that company stayed open as a service provider and I gave custom to it as a consumer.

Posted by: darrenbergman | December 14, 2014

INEPTOCRACY


The Farlex community dictionary defines the word ineptocracy as a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Following on my last blog about our broken Country, this definition was sent to me by a friend. I read the definition and thought if I wrote about this, I would be called racist from people without an understanding of who I was. Especially in a season whereby white racism seems to be hitting headlines daily. I then thought that surely I cannot be called racist because there are members of all races and most religions in the executive of Government at the moment and the class of voter I refer to have no racial barrier attached to it. However the word confiscated wealth could be seen as problematic and in the end I decided to dedicate a whole blog to the definition and understanding of a definition that might sum up the current Government of our Country.

The question, which will remain a question, is can South-Africa be defined as an ineptocracy?

LEAST CAPABLE TO LEAD

Leadership is defined my too many variables to bring it down to one sentence. However when you lead in Government in a democracy, one requires leadership to be open, transparent and accountable. The penalty for non-performance in this regard is being voted out. We have had too few Presidents in our new democracy to be able to actively gauge but we can look at the parties and the various stakeholder sectors to understand where we have had the right people in leadership and where we do not.

Under Madiba’s leadership, Minister’s were not only just chosen on merit, the cabinet was also inclusive of other parties and people who were from various factions within the ANC. In fairness to the current Government there were fewer factions then, in fact, it seemed to be limited to ethnicity and even then it was not polarised groupings, they were just used more as voting blocks. President Mbeki was also credited with appointing specialists in their fields to run within his cabinet. There were some blaring wrong choices or choices that once their term had been served should have been redeployed. President Mbeki remained loyal to most at the expense of public opinion. In most cases, public opinion, based on future performance and investigation, called it correct. In the first Zuma term, I think people were willing to give some of the Minister’s the benefit of the doubt. Mostly, because a lot of people had not heard of some of the Ministers. It was a definitive departure from the status quo in the previous terms – post Apartheid. Obvious choices were side-lined or redeployed to other portfolios and worst of all more portfolios were introduced at a time when South-Africa would do better to have less portfolios but more productivity. In the second term of the Zuma administration, one cannot help but suggest that President Zuma and the power’s that be made choices in their Ministers on loyalty in many cases over the specialisation that these portfolios require. I for one, respect many ministers in the cabinet, yet I find that they have been promoted to a level of inefficiency given the portfolio that they head. I also know of some glaring omissions that could have done well to stabilise a ship on rough seas. Therefore whilst I do not paint every Minister with the same brush and I do not say we have the least capable team in town, I do suggest that we have a team that could easily been improved by placement of other individuals that exist within the ANC and even inside the National Assembly. Furthermore we have many portfolios that could be cut down to one department saving this Country much-needed waste and expenditure. In terms of the definition of being voted in, our current cabinet is appointed by the President which means that people who had already bore witness to President Zuma’s first term of office were instrumental as an electorate in voting for them a second time around.

LEAST CAPABLE OF PRODUCING

I believe that in our current climate there are voters that are still not free to vote. I still get stories of how people were told they better vote otherwise they will lose their house, water or electricity. Worse people get told if they vote for other parties the other party will bring back Apartheid. Some get educated that the only party to be able to deliver grants to the elderly are the current Government. Lots of people cannot afford to take the risk of voting elsewhere and end up voting for a party on fear and not on merit. If one looks at voter turnout in the last few elections we are also seeing a mass number of voter’s that are rather staying away from the polls then voting. In the voting district of Greenstone, Johannesburg, the DA polled over 80%. If you walked the polling station queues you would have to admit that nearly half of the voters there were not white. This is a far greater percentage than any traditional “township” or the rural areas of our Country. This translates into an idea that a high number of poor and unemployed people still vote and yet continue to vote for a party or Government that has not managed to transform their fortunes. Least capable of producing is a harsh line but if it is understood in the context that people who have yet to have a lucky break and yet remain loyal to a party that has not been successful in improving their lot under their watch, then it can be understood that if the majority of SA is unemployed or make up the lower LSM groups and that the current major party receive over 60% of the votes, then we can assume that a lot of our poor and unemployed population are still voting for the ANC. It is a comment of fact and not meant to be offensive or derogatory to any race, gender or religion and therefore it is meant that people that are currently in an unfortunate position of not being able to or the least abled to contribute or produce.

MEMBERS OF SOCIETY LEAST LIKELY TO SUSTAIN THEMSELVES OR SUCCEED, ARE REWARDED WITH GOODS AND SERVICES PAID FOR BY THE CONFISCATED WEALTH OF A DIMINISHING NUMBER OF PRODUCERS

In terms of the above elaboration I think it is fair to say that a good equation for success is to keep people rewarded for their loyalty to you at all costs. I would argue based on some of the wasteful expenditure I have been witness to that Government tends to want to try to claim easy victories and tap into a vault of obscene taxation and accounting. However I would argue given the current climate of load shedding; water outages; housing backlogs; hospital traumas, crime and unemployment that not many rewards are being passed around except for those closely investing in keeping its current leaders in their positions for personal gain. It is through no lack of trying to abuse the current tax base into more and more sacrifice that our Government has failed to make these credible inroads it has been more around maladministration, bloated departments, lack of expertise, failing infrastructure and corruption that a lot of the rewards to the voters have been unrealised. E-tolls, service rate hikes and other introduced taxes across the current tax base has still not been met with the same respect from officials and politicians in trying to curb wasteful expenditure and stop corruption. The net effect is that whilst more and more money is being paid into the large Government pipeline the bigger the drain at the bottom is steering the sewerage into the wrong channels and the rightful recipients are not only not benefiting in entirety but they are also contributing to the pipe line themselves. I think it is fair to state that not many people are seeing a return on their rates and taxes at this stage. In the crux of the question of whether our Country can be described as an ineptocracy or not, we need to ask ourselves is it members of our society least likely to succeed that are currently being rewarded? I would suggest not. I think people with the correct surnames and the correct family ties are the ones that are benefiting and the voters that currently vote under loyal practice have been successfully led into believing that they are indeed rewarded recipients. Confiscated wealth sounds like theft and in no way do I believe in the harshness of these terms but if you take the mentioned logic above and the fact that it is not just our tax base that is diminishing but there is also a brain drain, we could argue that this constitutes a diminishing number of producers.

VERDICT

I would say that, in loose terms, our current situation in South-Africa could be considered bordering ineptocracy. However this is not to say there is no hope. This is to say that we need to take cognisance of the signs and make changes, not just active changes but rather productive changes. We move forward by empowering those around us; we move forward by educating voters within and around on how best to use their vote and we move forward by holding Government accountable to the voters. Government should be working for its people and not our people working for Government.

Posted by: darrenbergman | December 4, 2014

Our Country is broken – Madiba’s legacy


When people of high standing dare make public comments about the state of our Country, they are shouted down, called into meetings and if not retracted they are publicly humiliated. These stunts in itself point to a Country that is broken. However I think South-African’s are at a point where they know South-Africa is broken but they dare not say that South-Africa is broken because this could cause social distancing.

The best thing South-Africa has going for it is that it is a Country populated with resilient people. The cliché “South-Africa is not for sissies” comes to mind on a continual basis. Therefore this blog is actually optimistic in approach but also honest.

The ANC is a party that can be credited as the liberation party. Bringing the people of South-Africa through trying times and depositing us in unknown territory known as Post-Apartheid. I have often said before that this Country could have been a totally different place had the national government of unity lasted more than one term. I think South-Africa needed it. President Nelson Mandela spent considerable time putting South-Africa back on a world stage and making us a desirable proposition. President’s to follow spent considerable time trying to make sure they could fill big shoes in their own right and set about creating their own legacy. President Mbeki would go down as one of the most loyal people of the struggle in his leading of South-Africa. Minister Tshabalala Msimang and President Mugabe were great benefactors of his loyalty. A clever man and a man with good taste he would go down in history as the under-rated President. President Mbeki chose to lead an organisation publicly rather than a Country outside his organisation and for that he paid the ultimate price.

Kgalema Motlanthe was the one most people were hoping would lead us post the Mbeki age but that was to be a short duration of long disappointment. A man that took instruction far better than giving instruction found himself sliding down the organogram for not taking a stand. He showed weak leadership when he sailed on automatic pilot through the ANC presidential elections and even weaker leadership when he chose to allow others to bid for him rather than take the bull by the horns. This is a mistake that I think the population regret more than he does sitting in his back office as the dean of ANC political school.

To speak about our current President is just too easy and one can go to town with insults ridicule and very little praise however that is not the point of this blog. In my opinion the problem is not just the President in our current scenario but rather the other beneficiaries in line to make either political or corporate gains. If truth be told we could refer to the Zuma administration as one big pyramid scheme. Some Ministers would never make it past the tier of lower management in a corporate model but because of their loyalty to one man and his friends, they occupy one of the most important executive positions of our land. We hear of daughters and sons; brothers and sisters; uncles and aunts and any other groupings occupying vital positions in both the public and private sector to such an extent that fake CV’s, under qualification and lack of experience are no longer headlines they are now criteria.

Our brain drain has become more tolerable as we accept that where we cannot perform we just lower the quality or the standard. Bandages and band aids make up the bulk of our daily operations rather than maintenance, upgrading and new capital projects. Tenders are not necessarily won on price and delivery time frames are not a necessity. Based on just one sentence of this paragraph anyone would be forgiven for saying that SA is broken. However we are all too scared to actually say it but it in fact becomes liberating the more you say it. SA is broken.

I battled for years to find some convincing leadership, vision and delivery from the pyramid scheme but I finally found it in the last few weeks. Make no mistake the Zumamachine can operate when it wants to. Try attack the President or the Speaker verbally and watch the wheels grind into motion. Mention Israel or Middle East, you will see and smell the productivity. However when it comes to delivery, crime and corruption the machine shuts down again. Evil are they? No. There are a group within the pyramid that have shown political resilience and need to be commended for empowering people with in a party that had no chance of ever being in executive positions. Their heart in the right place; their loyalty intact and maybe even great intention to serve but we all know how dangerous life can be when you don’t know what it is that you really don’t know.

Parliament is the ultimate institution tasked with defending the Constitution and ensuring that the Country runs. I shudder to think of how the electorate would describe this institution today and the “soldiers” elected to protect it. Not our proudest year was 2014 but definitely productive. South-Africa has hit a point in its young democracy where the next few weeks will lay the foundation for the crucial positioning of our Country and its future. Do we choose to make the National Development plan work or do we abandon the foetus before it can ever show its true potential?

South-Africa is broken but not destroyed. Our politicians cannot be trusted alone to deliver us. It requires people to get a copy of the National Development plan and hold our Government to account every step of the way. We have a plan; we have a map and us resilient people have hope now what we need is participation and accountability.

I watched the release of President Mandela on TV, I had the pleasure of shaking his hand for the first time when he came to make an address at Houghton Primary before the 1994 elections and I had the honour of being part of the City delegation to visit Madiba lying in state. The vision of Madiba was to see a rainbow nation embracing each other’s culture through true reconciliation and to deliver to everyone a slice of the Country to correct the injustices of the past. If any party does not subscribe to those principles I would strongly suggest they are not the party of the future. A reality check on where the parties stand a year after Madiba’s passing is worth the investigation.

South-Africa had promise, South-Africa is broken but like the father of our nation taught us…South-Africa has a world of hope. Long live South-Africa – Long live…

Posted by: darrenbergman | December 1, 2014

Do we need the South African sports awards?


South African Sports Awards 2014

I heard about the Sports Awards (SASA) way before I ever attended the event. The sports awards in my opinion has always been clouded in negativity especially around cost and selection criteria.

It was thus important in my mind that I attended the awards last night so that I could go and see for myself just how bad the situation really is.

Minister Fikile Mbalula has been at the crease for a few years now and has from the start stated his legacy would be transformation. I remember Fikile from the youth and regard him as a show-politician rather than an academic politician. He is versatile in any of the departments because he is a politician rather than a specialist. Lastly, in understanding the man one needs to understand that he is a fore-front politician. These politician love the lime light, always involve themselves in the high profiled meetings and usually never use a spokesperson as they are media mad. If you expect policies and technical analysis from this Minister than you will always judge him low. If you judge the man on the amount of times he communicates on his portfolio or is seen at the glitz and glamour events you will judge him high. It is no secret that he has been given the name Minister Razzmataz but it is also no secret that he enjoys the name.

The Sports Awards is a novel idea in principle and one that should be embraced if the main objective is to recognize our sports heroes and to thank all sportsmen/women for the valuable contribution they make in keeping South-Africans passionate and enthused around the various sporting codes.

PLEASE SEE THE END for my witness account.

I went to the awards wanting to hate it and find fault with everything because I felt that the mechanism to this event was flawed. Knowing the characters in the story and the history I was sure that things would be visibly wrong in all facets of the awards. However I was certain to the core that we need to recognise our coaches, teams, sportsmen and support staff and as Government we need to thank them for the work they do on behalf of our Country.

It is hard to cost how much the awards really cost because we can never get a straight and basic answer. If you take television rights, cellphone subscription and voting lines, prizes, venues and catering. Apparently the whole package could be costed at R71m according to representation made at our committee. However Government themselves are in for apparently around R6,5m of this. This is not from any written documentation but only verbal confirmation and therefore these figures are subject to further questioning.

I would suggest that if the Country was financially stable; our sports teams were excelling; Govt contribution to the actual awards was minimal and Government had delivered to Sports and Recreation on a grass-roots level then we would all have something to celebrate and the celebrations should then be parallel to the outcomes.

The danger of trying to host a world-class event on an opulant level, is that you have to keep that pace throughout. The minute you drop the ball any step of the way, you run the risk of that becoming the focus of the evening and the rest falling a long second to it.

This night was no different. SASA was trying to throw it all into a world-class performance and put on a world-class show but they could not move away from glimpses of casualness that plagued the production through out.

Sportsmen are competitive by their nature and would love to throw themselves in contention but would want to know the rules for competing. Sometimes it seems the most obvious of our sportsmen do not stand a chance and then some name is thrown in from out of nowhere in their place. This could give rise to such an event being seen as a mere event on a calendar rather than the ultimate recognition event.

In trying to build an all-star event you also need to work out how many artists and MCs you will require and to ensure that they fill the gaps in the production and are not in actual fact that focus of the event. It seemed during the broadcast we were treated to world-class entertainment and then in the break one of the comedians were brought in and briefed to keep the audience going in Zulu. Perfectly acceptable but a gamble nonetheless.

The Minister was the only one who really looked at home on stage and seemed to do a lot of damage control in many instances and I would not be surprised if a few choice harsh words were shared after the production at some of the people responsible for causing some of these “casual” moments.

The room seemed to be balanced between politicians and sportsmen. I would have thought a night like this would be all about the sportsmen and sponsors with only a handful of politicians. If it was an empty seats issue then I am certain there are many sports teams on school and varsity level that would love to be a part of such a production.

In terms of the prizes and categories, it was innovative to include the media as recipients of awards – you silence them in critique st the very least. However I think the sports awards is vastly exclusive. This is a challenge considering the amount of sporting codes; various criteria for success and being able to host all the federations.

In my opinion the sports awards should be a tournament on its own. Each federation to identify their heroes via their own means and to have an awards evening of their own supported by politicians and sponsors. The culmination of all these winners could be the big production known as the Sports Awards and the winners should not be limited to those recognised and awarded but also through adopting a project annually over and above the SRSA projects in a way which allows Government to not spend as much on such an event but to maximize on the returns of such an event. If you want to make the event world class and professional, by all means, make it TV perfect.

In my summation I can sum up my own belief in the way forward for SASA15 – LESS IS MORE…

MY WITNESS ACCOUNT:

I arrived at the event at around 6pm. It was advertised 5pm for 5:30pm but I knew from experience that this usually meant another hour onto the clock would suffice. Signage was limited and I just followed a group of people to the first floor eventhough the one sign I did see stated the event was on the 5th floor.

On the first floor I was immediately picked up by one of the assistants of Sports and Recreation SA who was able to give me my arm band and escort me through to the VIP holding area away from the cocktail function. I usually hate the holding area because it is equivalent to being stuck in a hotel room while everyone is at the party. However usually there are other people in your hotel room and unless there is a strong host you are left to create your own atmosphere. I had President Gideon Sam and three of his guests from Africa. After a while I suggested to them that I would be going to the cocktail function as I wanted to see the action. Two buffet tables and some trays being walked around the foyer formed the foundation for which hundreds of sportsmen, businessmen and politicians were gathered. A background band played comfortable music and the atmosphere seemed comfortable.

 

At around 7:15pm I returned to the holding area whereby the Minister, his deputy, the Director General and various other Ministers and deputies were now present. After warm and friendly greetings by all we were briefed and then taken to the cocktail area for speeches. It seemed that although they prepared us in the briefing for this, they were unprepared for the amount of dignitaries on the floor. A scurry for chairs and placement took place with people left wondering where and how they should sit. The speeches started but I think the only people who could hear, because of the background crowd noises of those not interested in the speeches, were up to a few rows back. We were welcomed by SASCOC and SRSA and then the President of the Lotto board and then the deputy Minister.

 

The MC then announced the order in which everyone should proceed to the venue. However I found when walking up to the 5th floor it was in chaos anyway. Besides utilizing an arm band system and block,row,seat number ticket, people still managed to get lost once inside the venue.

 

Due to the live broadcast, SABC took over the production and things seemed to work like clock work. Around me, I noticed the name of a few Ministers and deputies that clearly were invited but not present . The four MC got on stage and away we went into a show that went into set cycles of stage act; singer; announcement of hosts to introduce the nominees and then a video of the nominees and then the announcing of the winner and then an acceptance speech of the winner. In between the commercial breaks we were entertained by a comedian that mainly spoke Zulu and sometimes was kicked off mid way through his set for time management.

 

The Minister gave a speech, and Minister Jeff Radebe represented the office of the Presidency and also gave a speech. Our fallen sports heroes were honoured in a moving tribute and some lifetime achievers were recognized and also gave a few words.

 

When it came to the ultimate moment of announcing the sportsman of the year, the previous winner, the Minister and another person got on stage. The third person was then briefly introduced as the man who would be giving away a BMW to the sportsman of the year. The announcement was made and with a blink of the eye and close on midnight the production was over.

 

Nothing left to hear or say, left to our own devices we made our way down to parking. Chaotic and with organisers running out of tickets for everyone, people were delayed at the two parking stations more than at the exits.

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