Tag Archives: media

Cowardly big business is failing our democracy

Democracy is an ecosystem. Its survival is dependent on many things: a sound legislative framework, an independent judiciary, a vibrant parliament and a responsive government. Beyond this, it also needs a vigilant, proactive civil society, engaged voters and a free media: three elements that ensure government is held accountable for its actions, transparent about what it does and goaded into serving the best of interests of the people – not of those in power.

The Protection of Information bill is one of the gravest threats to this ecosystem. It will critically undermine the ability for parliament, the media and civil society to ensure accountability and transparency in government. The ANC claims this law is to protect state security but, as many before me have pointed out, its wide-ranging mandate means it can easily be used to cover up wrongdoing, severely punishing those who dare to expose it.

Earlier this week, Pick n Pay’s chairman, Gareth Ackerman, spoke out against the bill. He provided a calm and clear explanation of its potential to damage the economy and deter foreign investment. Financial information could be concealed, as could corruption – thereby severely stymieing the economic freedom needed to foster entrepreneurship and attract investors – both essential ingredients required to combat poverty and narrow the vast gulf between rich and poor.

While the dangers of the Info Bill seem self evident, it is startling that so far Ackerman is the only significant businessman who has criticised it. The silence from the rest of business is as deafening as it is inexcusable.

When the prosperity of our economy, our democracy and our country’s future is being put at risk, you would have thought there would have been a cacophony of outrage from businesses – it is in their interest that the bill does not become law, after all. But no. Two of our biggest and most important business groupings, Business Leadership South Africa and Business Unity South Africa have not said a word. Neither have our largest companies.

What can explain this gutless behaviour: is business hoping this is a battle that will be fought by others? Or that the ANC will suddenly override its totalitarian instincts and dump the legislation at the last minute?

Perhaps a more plausible explanation is that many businesses are simply too afraid to stand up to government because they are reliant upon political goodwill to operate freely. Many businesses unquestioningly and sycophantically signed up to Black Economic Empowerment. This was despite them knowing that BEE had little to with empowering blacks and everything to do with consolidating the ANC’s economic clout: a system designed to massively enrich a tiny yet powerful elite.

Big business thought it would get an easy ride if it cosied up to the ANC. And indeed, with loyal ANC cadres dotting the boards of some of South Africa’s largest companies, business has largely been left alone to get on with making money.

Now they’re really caught in a fix. Even if they are conscious of the long-term dangers of a law like the Info Bill, they are too entrenched in the ANC’s patronage network to speak out about it lest they incur the wrath of the party’s titans and lose business deals and political support as a result.

Our nation’s corporations should have been more careful when they made this Faustian pact with the ANC in the Nineties. In the afterglow of the first democratic elections it must have seemed pragmatic and sensible to cuddle up to the new snouts at the trough. But with the ANC’s non-racial values long squandered by the craven despots that call the shots in the movement now, the folly of such an approach has been exposed.

If the Info Bill is thwarted, it will certainly not be thanks to big business. It will be in spite of it: in spite of a group of companies that have cosily conspired with the ANC to maintain a status quo of wealth in the hands of a few, at the expense of the countless millions who remain economically oppressed.



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Jon Qwelane: what are you hiding, sista?

A lot of people — the decadent amoral bourgeoisie, mostly — have got awfully upset over Jon Qwelane’s latest tirade. Why the fuss? The Sunday Sun is gutter press and Qwelane’s equally contemptible opinions are part and parcel of a paper that believes that stoking xenophobia and perpetuating intolerance is a prerequisite in speaking to the “blue-collar man”.

As the furore rages, let’s not forget that Qwelane is the lovelorn admirer of Mugabe, once describing that despot as a “true revolutionary” who had been made the “villain of the piece” by the “racist” West. In that same Sunday Smut article, Qwelane said that he dreaded Morgan Tsvangirai ever becoming the president of Zimbabwe (despite the nation choosing him in the March election) because:

Zimbabwe will be recolonised all over again, and Tsvangirai will be a latter-day Abel Muzorewa — a bantustan puppet “leader”, with the real puppet masters in Britain and South Africa (read DA, chiefly).

Qwelane is no stranger to controversy — but that’s hardly surprising when his vitriolic rantings, littered with factual inaccuracies and with a paucity of substantive evidence to back his wild arguments, reveal an endless bigotry and prejudiced posturing more in keeping with the previous regime.

The question is whether he’s gone too far on this one. I suppose that all depends on whether Media24 believes its advertising revenues to be threatened through potential boycotts of its various outlets (after all, that was what gave Deon Maas the shove).

Instead of firing him, perhaps the media giant should find the repressed little columnist a therapist — as one can’t help wondering whether his views reflect a certain desire to vent about deeply personal issues that he can’t quite put to bed (literally, it would seem, in the case of his latest column).

But help is surely at hand. Qwelane’s pal, Zuma, has let slip his stance on gays before (fondly reminiscing how, as a youth, he would “strike the unqili”); so perhaps dear old umshini will be the politician that can muster, as Qwelane urges, “the balls to rewrite the Constitution of this country, to excise those sections which give licence to men ‘marrying’ other men, and ditto women”.

Qwelane will never know if Zuma will become his point-man on anti-moffie morality unless he gets together with him. They should have a macho man-to-man shower session and put their heads together to discuss things.

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Jon Qwelane’s gay-bashing column

After the furore surrounding Jon Qwelane’s gay-bashing column in the Sunday Sun Smut, News24.com apparently decided not to publish it – as they usually do with Qwelane’s muck. As it turns out, a UCT blog called Media Flaws has a copy which has been reproduced below. So, if you’re curious as to see what the fuss was about, read on….

Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…

Oh dear, here we go yet again. The Anglican Church is heading for a split in its ranks, and homosexuals are the reason. The church faces the first real schism since the day Henry VIII walked angrily out of the Catholic community to lead his own faction, because Rome would not sanction his marriage to Anne Boleyn, his brother’s widow. This time some leftists among the Anglican Communion want not only more homosexuals ordained as bishops, but women as well.

The real problem, as I see it, is the rapid degradation of values and traditions by the so-called liberal influences of nowadays; you regularly see men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamelessly flaunting what are misleadingly termed their “lifestyle” and “sexual preferences”. There could be a few things I could take issue with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, but his unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals is definitely not among those. Why, only this very month – you’d better believe this – a man, in a homosexual relationship with another man, gave birth to a child!

At least the so-called husband in that relationship hit the jackpot, making me wonder what it is these people have against the natural order of things. And by the way, please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views. I will write no letters to the commission either, explaining my thoughts.

Trouble in the Anglican Communion began when the Episcopalian fraternity in America (where else?) decided to ordain a homosexual as bishop of the flock. Here in South Africa we had a senior officer of the church in Cape Town parading his “gay lifestyle” openly. The 10-yearly Lambeth Conference in England – the gathering is the world “synod” of the church – will deliberate the delicate matter of women and homosexual bishops, among other things.

Homosexuals and their backers will call me names, printable and not, for stating as I have always done my serious reservations about their “lifestyle and sexual preferences”, but quite frankly I don’t give a damn: wrong is wrong! I do pray that some day a bunch of politicians with their heads affixed firmly to their necks will muster the balls to rewrite the constitution of this country, to excise those sections which give licence to men “marrying” other men, and ditto women. Otherwise, at this rate, how soon before some idiot demands to “marry” an animal, and argues that this constitution “allows” it? – by Jon Qwelane.

–end of article


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Morgan pulls out

MDC presidential contender Morgan Tsvangirai has pulled out of Friday’s election, citing the wave of violence and intimidation of opposition supporters at the hands of Zanu PF-affiliated thugs. It’s disappointing, in one respect, but wholly understandable – especially considering that Mugabe has made it quite clear that whatever the result of the vote, he will not be relinquishing power.

The big question is what will happen now? At least the international community and media – after what seems like years of virtually ignoring Zimbabwe – are focusing their attentions on the beleaguered nation. Finally the human rights abuses are receiving widespread coverage and condemnation. Zimbabwe can be swept under the carpet no longer, in part due to the courageous role ordinary citizens are playing in recording abuses, and disseminating the information into the blogosphere and mainstream media.

Let’s hope a solution can be found before any more innocent lives are lost.

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