Archive for June, 2007

Just what I was looking for…

June 27, 2007

helpful translations. Well, it looks like I will have to do the translations myself, they just tell you what words are similar.





The ‘Black Curse’ of Africa is not skin colour but something cruder.

June 20, 2007

Yeah, brothers I speak of the devil itself, which rises from the bowels of the earth to destroy our people, to lay waste to our efforts, to mock our Ubuntu. The devil, indeed, moves in mysterious ways. From the very bowels, I say, the very bowels, it comes to the wretched of the earth. And it spreads among them greed and lust. It speaks evil to their hearts. It makes them ache for power. Do not embrace it, my brothers. For it is not of us, it is not for us. For how long will our people dig, sweat, and die, or kill; only to give to others the meat off the bones?

Send it back, I say! Send it back before it is too late. Before it runs through your hands mixed with the blood of your brothers. It is a curse. It is crude. It is Oil!

“Ghanaians were on Tuesday torn between excitement and apprehension over a major oil find in the West African nation…”


My Father’s Day / Mein Vater’s Tag

June 19, 2007

Naturally, I fathered. No breakfast in bed for me. Instead, I made breakfast for everyone.

Is it something I’ve done?

Here were the presents I received:


I had to buy those socks myself (I actually bought two, I’m wearing the other pair).

Oh, yes, plus a cuddle from Noah and Jody.

And I did get the afternoon off to hang out with Sasha at a coffee shoppe opposite Mouille Point lighthouse, and go to the V&A to buy socks.

All in all, not a bad day’s takings.

Is the ‘G8’ really a ‘Jihad’?

June 14, 2007

I mean, they do sound the same. Can the Illuminati illuminate this, please?

Hey! don’t launch any crusades on me, I’m only asking.

Never-before-seen pictures

June 12, 2007

Well, it’s not exactly from outta space, but I was kinda spaced out, I suppose. I wonder if I’ll ever go to that space again…

The world outside my window: the white building in front is the cafeteria, source of five star meals, and long-time lounging, coffee and smoke breaks around the corner. The rain reminded me of home.


Here is the passing shot: the taxi to the airport stopped for me to take a final look from the hills into the bowl of the city.


Incomes and Outcomes

June 7, 2007

Ok, so this blog is not my original work, but at least the catchy title is. It should reflect the clash/interface between current strike and the Outcomes based education system. 


Margaret Legum Vol. 7, No. 14, 4 June 2007

What decides who gets paid what? If people’s income is decided without an integrated plan, then incomes policy becomes a matter of personal or collective power, wrangling and argument. There is nothing so practical as a good theory, if only because it helps conversation around who gets what.

Is it supply and demand – market forces – that decide pay-packets? Is it about government’s income? Or is it something ethical: about ‘fairness’ or compassion? Or a vision for society? Is there an underlying idea of entitlement to a living income, or is it about obligations to deliver? How are these criteria linked?

The ANC’s Economic policy documents suggest a mixture of these, probably because it seems to reconcile different tendencies in the movement. That is characteristic of all democratic movements; the trouble is that it leads to repeated unresolved conflict like strikes. So it is worth noticing where each criterion is being used.

Market forces are usually given as the reason to raise top civil servants’ incomes. That makes practical sense. The corporate sector’s BEE-fuelled search for Black strategists, managers and scarce technicians with an existing track record – in a skills legacy of the evil Bantu Education Act – becomes a magnet for government-experienced Black people.

To keep them, we need to match corporate salaries. It is not about fairness but about market necessity. But top political positions are surely different. Is there a shortage of people wanting Cabinet positions? Wanting to be President? Even of those wanting to be MPs or Chairpeople of Portfolio Committees? Surely not, because those jobs carry status, capacity and influence that motivate people interested in politics in a democracy. Indeed anyone asking to be highly paid to do those jobs is suspect. I certainly do not want them representing me. So MPs who make market referenced cases for improving their salaries are simply abusing their power to set their own salaries.

Pay for others on the civil service payroll is justified not by supply and demand but by government budgets. But we know that teachers and nurses and technical experts are deserting their posts as soon as others offer them better conditions. They leave posts in which their daily grind includes the work of unfilled posts, and their pay is a fraction of that offered elsewhere. This applies to practically every profession in the civil service – whether teaching, nursing, police, judicial it The result is to hollow out the very instrument the government needs to carry out the vital systems for its rationale – the developmental state with a bias to poor people. The immediate victims are poor people – those who most need state service and support – not only because of the paucity of the service, but because the people giving it suffer the humiliation of taking home poverty wages and the contrast with top incomes.

But in the long run it is the government itself and its legacy that must suffer. Of course government budgets must come into it – as they do when we decide to fund 2010, conciliation processes in Africa, a new embassy, free education. We are often told government has plenty of money: capacity to spend is the problem. Undermining that capacity seems irrational.

Latterly, encouraging professional competence has been offered as the basis of new pay scales of striking civil servants. But such criteria are not linked to the improved pay of policy-makers: perhaps there are reasons around defining their output. So how do you judge the output of teachers and nurses working in understaffed institutions in poor areas, where their clients are desperate, sometimes violent, often unsupported children. In a school I know every staff member has informally adopted at least one child in the school – out of sheer pity. They are paid R7,000 a month.

I want to suggest there is actually an implied theory that in fact underlies incomes policy. It links the discredited theory that wealth filters down, to the new distinction between first and second economies. It is sometimes preceded by a semi-mystical claim – ‘speaking from a place of abundance’. And goes on to suggest that ‘it’s OK to be rich; we should attack poverty, not wealth.’ Being rich means having access not to high bank balances but to the large quantities of the resources that money entitles you to consume – food, accommodation, energy, transport, communication technology, health care, manifold education, beautiful living space, service, chunks of wilderness for holidays, sports facilities and whatever else the luxury business can dream up. If you believe that ‘ a place of abundance’ means there is no limit to the availability of those resources – that the planet can produce enough of them to enable wealth for all – then you are right to set a good example by being rich. But if you think there is a limit to those resources, then your large consumption must imply others’ much small access.

If there is a limit to resources, then your wealth is a function of others’ poverty; and you cannot diminish poverty while supporting unlimited wealth. The success of the ‘first’ economy – partial as it is for all but the top 20% – is linked to the fact that we ‘cannot afford’ to give everyone a living wage, despite our wealth. I suggest government’s confusion over rationale arises from the culture at the top – whether in or out of government circles – that wealth at the top is top priority, and that it will help eliminate poverty. It is a global belief. It helps rich people feel good. It is disconnected from the evidence.