Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Paying for our new Austrian "grootbaas" AKA #ETolls

I support the recent statement by our churchleaders on the e-tolls.

In my view, for most of us the problem is not to pay for quality roads and services. We are quite willing to pay and take responsibility. In fact, we do this everyday through VAT, the fuel levy and PAYE. That is the source of revenue for maintenance of our infrastructure and for caring for our people. We do this wholeheartedly.

We are however against the reckless wastage and the abuse of that money - for example for the building of royal palaces (read: Nkandla) and for maintenance of the opulent lifestyles of the current political elite and their cronies on the doorstep of dire poverty and failing health-care systems.

The current e-toll system, operated by an European-based multinational company, based in Austria, Kapsch Traffic-Com (KTC), is not about serving the needs of our country; its about lining the pockets of the shareholders of this company and their lapdogs here in SA.

So, I am not tagged and will not be bullied into paying for the enrichment of a new Austrian "grootbaas" of a government who has sold out her own people.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Egypt rocks it again.

At the beginning of this year I presented a keynote paper on the new youth (social) movements, as represented by waves of new activism in North Africa and the Middle East - and how it not only challenges powerful elites, but also our way of thinking about youth ministry research, globally. For me, these are signs of hope, signs of people rising up against authoritarian regimes and this will continue. I don't think that paper went down too well. Most members of that audience perhaps felt that this kind of talk and interest are not "youth ministry" proper - most wanted to hear what we can do to get youth back into their church programs (perhaps that's a bit harsh, I concede).
Well, these restless Africans are at it again and, even-though the military in ‎#Egyptare certainly not the long-term solution to Egypt 's deeper challenges, yet the removal of Morsi, is certainly a significant sign of the times. The quest for inclusive governance and communities, justice and peace for minorities and the vulnerable (the poor, women, gays and lesbians, religious minorities, etc.) continues.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Mandela's World Class.

Robin Sharma tweets, 'When you leave the "Crowd of Average and start playing at world-class, you'll face laughter and cynicism. Know that's the price of leadership.'

I don't know much of Sharma - whether he's a guru, prophet or world-class mountain biker. Perhaps he simply excelled in writing (these slogans), or perhaps he is like David Molapo - an excellent motivational preacher. That seems to be more or less what Wikipedia thinks of him.

In the world of Facebook and YouTube, I suppose all of this doesn't matter. What matters is that I 'like' (and RT'ed) that tweet. In my view, this kind of thing does happens. Perhaps this is the reason why most of us stay in the 'crowd'. That crowd. For most of us its a social thing - who wants to be the object of ridicule and cynicism anyway. So, perhaps it would be critical to look deeper into the psychology and validity of this tweet, but also, better to continue to ask the questions about the notion of 'world-class'. We must ask who decide, who sets the standards, but then also, does 'world-class' matter when you stand to risk your credibility? Or, should we ask the prior question: does 'laughter and cynicism' point to you loosing credibility? Why does 'world-class' matter?

It seems that at face level. Sharma equates 'leadership' with 'world-class'. Is that the thing ('world-class') that drives some-one like Nelson Mandela, specifically when he was standing up for justice and incarcerated for that? Surely there was something else. World approval or validation can be very precarious and dangerous. It may even degenerates into a popularity contest or becomes the product of savvy marketing. Beyonce is 'world-class' World-class can also mean dancing to the tunes of a First World market, so, if Apple's latest gadget sells, then its 'world-class'.

What would it mean when Nelson Mandela is called a world icon? Can we say, he is 'world-class'? Of course, he is not facing laughter and cynicism today (especially not today). He certainly faced many dangers and incarceration back in the days-indeed that is the price of leadership. The question then remains what happened the last few years of his life. Did he lose that leadership edge, as 'the world' started to idolize him-as he became a saint of sorts. If laughter and cynicism is the acid test, then he failed it- especially in a time when the political party he lead, degenerated into a den of robbers and haven for political ideologues. Or, perhaps he was way out their league. Perhaps, he consciously started to focus on all the 'charities' and mobilizing the world's stars to make philanthropy sexy. Perhaps this was a new 'world-class' he edged out-to bring us back to each other, to value compassion, care, and the concern for justice. So, in that world-class you will face ridicule and cynicism - so in this sense, Sharma has a point.    

Friday, June 21, 2013

Let's move on from the Kleinfontein churches and get on with the work.

Can I just say this about the Freestate NG Kerk and Belhar Confession? They're like the people of Kleinfontein- just a little bit more savvy and sophisticated.

Like with the people of "Kleinfontein", I am therefore more and more convinced that those of us who are guided and inspired by this understanding of God's word for time (the Belhar Confession), simply need to move on and get on with the work. I pray to God that I say this not triumphantly or with a vindictive spirit-however, I say this to remind our leaders of the dire needs and pain in our communities. Irrespective of how this will be read by the Kleinfonteiners, there is work to be done.

There's been a season for us to try to convince people to "accept" the Belhar Confession. I think that season was crucial. I also think that God wanted all of us to pursue that quest with all of our energies. We also (inspired by the Belhar Confession) searched for unity- structural unification between the various racially apart Dutch Reformed churches. However, I think that the season of intense concentration on this structural unification, is over. By persuing that, we run the risk of missing what we need to do now and within the next decade or so. There are pressing (life and death) concerns that calls for our attention as the broader Belhar Community. Let me mention a few, even though this is not a exhaustive list. Much more serious research need to be done within the next few years, if not decades.

Whether we speak of drug addiction, the influx of refugees from Zimbabwe or Somalia, unemployment or lack of sanitation services because of contractors and counselors "eating" the money, God calls us now to simply stand where He stands - with the poor and needy; to call for justice and restitution and to follow Him, even when powers are against it. These concerns points to a deeper cancerous malaise, which might destroy our communities. Should we continue to seek out people who simply doesn't want us- or should we start to love the people who begs and cries out for our attention- here on our doorsteps? My sense is that faith communities need to allow these concerns to start to impact and influence the way we do and live out the good news of God. We must stop to go over land and sea to hope for the love and respect of people, who see your presence as an irritation or worse, as a criminal who wants to steal their property. Of course, the doors must remain open for whoever wants to join and we must remain open for invitations towards serving together, but, for goodness sake, lets not get stuck on Kleinfontein and for the next 20 years, try to convince them to join the Tswane Metro Council. Its time for us to get on with the work - with our responsibility. Let's get up and clean up our streets, our communities, let's love our children, strengthen our families, enjoy the fun-times as communities... (you know what I mean) and for goodness sake, let's take care of our own calling. No-one else can do that.

Smoke and mirrors... our new political voices.

Let me put it on record: Kenny Kunene and his ilk, doesn't speak on my behalf. Yes, they might be savvy when it comes to how to manipulate publicity, but something's smelly.

I just had to say this and yes, I don't mind that this is my small contribution to him trending. At least my position in the debate is one of caution and serious concern. Of course, I could have opted to keep quiet. But the moment friends and colleagues on my timeline, start to hail him and put in an effort to share his stuff, i.e., the moment we allow womanizers and shady characters to become our social commentators and political voices then I fear, we sliding towards becoming a banana republic- a parody of democracy. A joke!

Please folks, I guess everyone has a voice, but to the media, my plea is: stop giving these characters so much publicity. The last time you did this was, of course, with Juju. Remember him? In Afrikaans media, the agenda is set at some point by Dan Roodt, Ernst Roets and Afriforum, whilst here in the English media anything goes: from Kenny Kunene and his associate Gayton McKenzy (my spelling is shady, ja). But the issue is broader. These characters have an agenda and media helps pushing that agenda. Let me explain: This kind of thing also happens in our community meetings, where the merchant and druglord speaks the loudest when it comes for community policing issues. We must remember, this is a strategy where these characters infiltrate the structures where key decisions are made and try to influence decisions to suit their 'business interests'. It is the blurring of the lines between public interests and shady business, between the underworld and the centers of public policy making. I am very concerned in the way these character use public forums, a hype hungry media and to push his agenda.

So, please be reminded of this moment in our political history. The question is of course: where did you stand?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sacrifice the black child.

What SADTU (COSATU) is doing to the education of black children, today in South Africa is immoral. Walking out of the class to fight political battles with ANC (Tripartite Alliance Partner) and using the education and future of black children as a bargaining chip, cannot be justified.
Why would I say this? Two reasons: 1) There are other strategies for addressing political differences. The same SADTU (COSATU) is in alliance with the ANC. As ruling tripartite alliance (with SACP) they have a direct influence on who appoints Ministers and DGs. They COSATU leadership were at Mangaung and some were elected on the ANC NEC. What we see today is part of a political battle within the alliance. They know that there are various avenues to exercise their rights within the alliance structures, as well as parliament. Of course, whilst there were no political avenues before 1994, because of the systematic exclusion of black people from formal parliamentary political processes, there was the political and moral imperative for extra-parliamentary protest. Today things are fundamentally different. Those who don't like the way the ANC rule can re-organise themselves and either form a different party or they can vote for a different party. The strategy of sacrificing education and the future of black children today, is politically and morally unjustified.
2) It will only be the poor, black child who is sacrificed. The SADTU membership is predominantly in majority black schools, in townships and rural areas. A minuscule percentage is in the so-called model-C schools. The consequence of this is simple: It is only black, poor learners who will suffer today. SADTU argues that they can sacrifice black poor children, because there will not be a public outcry. What they are saying is this: who cares in any case for the education of black poor children?  
Don't be fooled by the argument that the aim of today's action (to remove the minister and her DG) will ultimately benefit the black learner. There is no guarantee that a new ANC minister or DG will do any better. The question is what will benefit the black learner (any learner!). My view is simply that learners benefit from competent teachers who are in class to teach. Ultimately, it will be the office-bearers of today's march who will benefit. They will show their strength in the numbers, put on their struggle T-shirt and beret for the day, make some radical statements and as a reward, they will become ANC MP's, some DG's and perhaps Ministers. They will sit where Angie and Bobby sit today. By then, a new generation will again flood the streets, whilst in the meantime the new DG's and Ministers, now with suits and ties, will drink their fine whiskey and might sometimes (through the darkened windows of their German sedans and SUV's) scoff and laugh at the poor sods, those the black children in the townships, who will still roam the streets. 
But ultimately, we should be blamed. Yes, we should be blamed for keeping quiet about this. We knew what was happening, yet we kept quiet. We kept quiet because SADTU was mos "our people". Well, they're not anymore. They're in it for the fine whiskey and the German sedans. But those children in the streets, the ones who are drunk and high on weed, who run riot in the streets... they are the chickens that will come home to roost. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

On believing in 'our potential for greatness' Mamphela Ramphele rollsup her slieve ...

Finally, some sort of political move that inspires me to blog again. No, I'm not referring to our very own JayZee's latest dance move, nor to the 'Koekie-Loekie' hit down in the Western Cape. I'm referring to the speech by Dr Mamphela Ramphele today, called Rekindling the South African dream

Without going in to any indepth political analysis, my surface reading of the speech suggests that Mamphela Ramphele is doing a Barack Obama on us. And I love it. She is an impressive leader. She commands worldwide respect for her public leadership role, yet she is also inspiring. (Some boardsitters are simply boring - many driven by fear of an ANC backlash or worse, redeployment - no names mentioned, Mr Prez). We are currently in a position where most of the prominent thoughtleaders of our time, have sold their souls - their heard-earned integrity at cut-down prizes for positions, money and favour with the current lot of looters. Not so with Mamphela Ramphele. She remained dignified yet scathing in her critique of the current looting of public funds at the expense of the poor. Speaking of the poor ...

Of course, one have to be careful. No-one is an angel and immune to the lure of power and money. Dr Ramphele is no socialist. She certainly is no stranger to the inner-workings of notorious institutions like the World Bank.Ideologically she will face an uphill battle amongst die-hard opponents to neo-liberal globalisation and to explain its devastating impact on poor countries. Key questions migh be, how we find a healthy tension and relationship within the various, very powerful forces shaping global trade? This is going to be a key performance area for the good doctor. If our economy is to be a up for some radical transformation, through skills development and the creation of opportunities, how will she communicate the fact that these proposals are any different from the policy proposals of the (proudly liberal) DA. Given her legacy, Dr Ramphele might be wise to pick up the scrambles from the PAC and Azapo and then with perhaps a 5-7% gain at the polls next year, push for a leadership role amongst the opposition. Those political parties carrying some sort of legacy of Black Consciousness are dead. However, Mamphela Ramphele have the opportunity to salvage something of the Biko legacy. They key question will be, whether she has the political clout, organisational machinery and the money to turn that legacy into a vibrant, imaginative dream. Will she be able to bridge the gap?

It would take more than inspiration to dig ourselfes out of the hole that we as a nation finds ourselves. I am however hopeful that it can be done and I hope with initiatives live the one of Dr Mamphela Ramphele. This was just something I wondered about: is there anything that can take us beyond the kind of crash cynicism that is so evident in the kind of nasty tweets and comments that flooded our timelines the last few hours? Perhaps we need more than inspiration, we need hard work and people committed to give their best. Yet, let us also be real here: the kind of work and effort to reverse the damage that was done the last few years under JayZee misrule, need inspiration, the courage to dream and the hope to through yourself at this task. Perhaps the words that sums up this kind of hope-filled courage comes from Dr Ramphele herself.

I have no illusions about the difficult road ahead. Bridges get trampled on. But I trust my fellow South Africans’ capacity to come together at critical times to do what others believe is impossible. I believe in our potential for greatness.
We don't need to dance and sing on this... let's get to work.