Daily Archives: August 3, 2016

South Africa: You Can Guess Who I Voted for – Mbeki

Former president Thabo Mbeki, who arrived at the Holy Family College in Killarney to vote just after noon, said his vote was still a secret but “you can guess what it is”.

Mbeki, who met this week with EFF leader, Julius Malema, as well as with Johannesburg mayor, Parks Tau, said the reason he insisted his vote was a secret was “to ensure the integrity of the system – the electoral system.”

He said it was also “to make sure that people can vote freely with their conscience and not feel intimidated”.

“That is why I’m raising it, not necessarily that my vote is a secret, you can guess what it is, but I feel it is important to communicate this message so that everybody should be assured that what we should have done here is that nobody will come down from the street and ask why did you vote for so and so and so and so because you see that is a very important thing. So it’s still secret,” he laughed.

Asked about elections violence Mbeki said it was true that these elections were “hotly contested,” but he felt South Africa’s democracy was strong.

“The constitutional democracy has been tested many times already since 1994, and I think we have survived that.

“But the question that you raise about the absence of violence is very important. Hopefully nothing will happen. Because I’m quite sure all of us are very deeply concerned about what happened before in terms of reports of the media of so many candidate councillors being killed,” he said.

Very disturbing

“That was very disturbing and I’m sure I have seen now the police service say they are investigating and they will take action if they find the people responsible, but it is very important and I hope that by the time we finish today this situation of peace will continue to prevail.”

Asked about what lessons Africa could learn from South Africa’s elections, Mbeki smiled and chose his words carefully.

“I think there are many many countries on the continent that hold elections. In the past we have had our electoral commission intervene in some countries at their request, for instance the elections in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) in 2006, and they have done this in other countries,” he said.

“But I think that we also probably have got a lot to learn from other countries on the continent.”

Mbeki said South Africa should set an example of non-violence. “I really think the example that all of us should set ourselves is to ensure that you have genuinely free and fair elections, no intimidation, no violence, no fraud, no ballot fixing, stolen boxes and lost ballot papers and all that.

“All of us need to demonstrate that it is possible for us as a continent to fully respect this notion so that you make sure the process does indeed allow the people to do the governing.”

Celebration of the struggle

Asked how it felt to cast his vote 22 years into democracy, Mbeki said: “Well you know we were involved in [the] struggle for a long time… and you know the Freedom Charter says the people shall govern.

“So this issue of the capacity of the people to choose their own government to participate in the process of determining policy has been very central for many many decades of our lives and therefore when you come to exercise that vote it really is in a sense a celebration of that struggle.

“It is a celebration of that victory because as I said the matter of one person one vote and the capacity of people to govern was such an central purpose of the struggle. And therefore to come vote is really to salute a victory.”

There was an initial mix-up with his voting station, with journalists being told that he would vote at the Killarney Country Club, about 3km from the college.

Mbeki updated his address details with the IEC shortly after casting his ballot in front of a large group of journalists.

Photographers and journalists had to be shooed away from the voting booth by electoral officials where Mbeki was making his mark.

Source: News24Wire.

South Africa: Two Die While Waiting to Vote in KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape

Voting was disrupted at stations in Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday after two voters died.

The IEC in KwaZulu-Natal confirmed that a woman died at a voting station in Bulwer earlier in the day.

It is understood that the woman collapsed while waiting in line. Further details were not immediately available.

In Strydenberg, Northern Cape, a voter died of “natural causes”.

“We understrand that this may have been a death of natural causes, but our staff are not medically trained,” IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya told reporters at the national results centre.

Police were on the scene dealing with the incident.

Source: News24Wire.

South Africans Head to the Polls in Key Municipal Elections

Polling stations will open shortly in hotly-contested South African municipal elections. The polls are regarded a key barometer on the nation’s mood ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Opinion polls suggest that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party could lose in some major cities for the first time since it came to power with the end of apartheid rule 22 years ago. South Africa’s economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital city of Pretoria and the coastal town of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province (also known as Nelson Mandela Bay) are all predicted to be highly contested battlegrounds in the polls.

The country’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has been gaining ground in many areas due to disappointment in President Jacob Zuma’s leadership. The radical leftwing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) under the leadership of one of Zuma’s former close allies, Julius Malema, is also expected to challenge the ANC’s absolute majority held in many parts of the country.

A portion of voters say they have turned on Zuma out of frustration, who among other things has been accused with about 800 counts of corruption – including the scandal surrounding the spending of public funds on lavish upgrades to his Nkandla family homestead. Others are disappointed in zero growth in the economy, while more than a quarter of South Africans remain unemployed, with the national currency, the Rand, likely to be downgraded to junk status by the end of the year.

More than 26 million eligible voters are registered to take part in the local elections.

End of the honeymoon phase for the ANC

Millions of voters still feel a strong sense of loyalty to the ANC, which after it had been banned as a liberation movement for decades, reinvented itself in the early 1990s as the leading party for black South Africans under anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

More than 20 years since the end of apartheid, South Africa continues to deal with issues it inherited from the previous regime. Racial tensions keep simmering and flaring up episodically, with many previously disadvantaged black voters insisting on restitution for decades of oppression via a land reform deal that would see the white minority forfeit much of their land to the black majority.

After years of corruption under ANC leadership, especially since Nelson Mandela gave up the presidency in 1999, a growing number of people have started looking at other parties, as basic service delivery has slowed down to a halt in certain areas.

Addressing basic needs such as adequate housing, water and electricity supply still remain key concerns for the majority of people in Africa’s most developed nation, as they take to the polling stations.

A key moment for the Democratic Alliance

Under the leadership of Helen Zille, the DA continuously managed to expand its sphere of influence, keeping a majority for the Western Cape Province since 2009 and occupying the mayor’s seat in Cape Town since 2006.

With a new leader at the helm of the DA, Mmusi Maimane, the party hopes to attract more black votes, while fighting against a reputation of not being a fully inclusive, sometimes elitist movement that primarily serves the interest of white middle-class South Africans. However, as both upward and downward social mobility changes across all races in the country so do views on parties like the DA.

“The Democratic Alliance is on the cusp of achieving something incredible and historic,” Mmusi Maimane said on the eve of voting. “The ANC has drifted from our original democratic project. They are venal, corrupt and flashy.”

The DA also faces stark opposition by the EFF, which is driven by a far more aggressive policy of black empowerment than any of the other major parties. Its firebrand leader, former head of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and Jacob Zuma’s erstwhile protege, Julius Malema, advocates land reform following the model practiced in Zimbabwe, where thousands of white farmers have been driven from their lands into poverty. In stark contrast to other major parties, Malema’s EFF manages to attract a high proportion of young voters, raising questions about South Africa’s future direction.

Meanwhile the ANC is highly likely to still draw support in many rural areas, particularly in the Easter Cape, KwaZula Natal, Limpopo and Orange Free State provinces, with older black South Africans set to prove their loyalty to the party despite its problems.

Voting against the President on a local level

The run to the election has seen some deadly fighting on streets across the country, resulting I at least 12 deaths ahead of the vote. Most of the violence occurred in KwaZulu-Natal Province as well as in the capital Pretoria. President Zuma’s office has urged voters to take part in peaceful municipal elections.

People have, however, vowed to retaliate in certain parts of the country if the ANC wins a majority, accusing the party also of cronyism in a shake-up of mayoral candidates, particularly in the capital Pretoria. The ANC meanwhile believes that it will keep control of all major municipalities it currently holds. An independent opinion poll by Ipsos agreed that the ANC is likely to stay in place in Pretoria and Johannesburg despite growing opposition; however, it did predict that it would lose Port Elizabeth.

Even if the election only goes to confirm the status quo for the ANC, many are already questioning that the ANC could survive on the long run under Zuma’s leadership style, which will come to an end in 2019 under a constitutional two-term limit.

Source: Deutsche Welle.

Reimagining NSW: five ways to future-proof NSW’s innovation ecosystem

There’s been no shortage of talk about innovation recently, with the federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda calling for new ideas in innovation and science to:

harness new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia.

Delivering economic prosperity for all Australians will require an inclusive and collaborative approach across all parts of society, whether near or far from its cities and research hubs. But what would that look like in practice – and how can it help bolster the future of NSW?

Here are five ways to strengthen innovation in NSW, so that all the talk of “being innovative” translates to “doing innovation” into the future.

1. We have enough reports on innovation

One thing connecting the 60 reports produced on innovation in Australia between 1999 and 2016, is the fundamental idea that innovation is generated in an ecosystem – a network of relationships across business, small to medium enterprise, governments, universities, and people in the community.

NSW needs to better align incentives to improve research productivity. That could take the form of, for example, making it easier for entrepreneurs to access university research expertise and equipment.

We also need to develop new incentives to encourage research teams to work on industry and community problems for small to medium enterprises, instead of a silo-based approach. Those incentives could include things like increasing the focus on research impact and engagement, making funds available for collaborative research teams, and industry outcomes to be reflected in university research performance frameworks.

We also need to ease the process of commercialisation of our research and research institutes into the market where all are fairly compensated. The people of NSW could derive substantial benefit from processes whereby industry partners commercialise the intellectual property of researchers under agreements that are fair, timely, and mutually beneficial.

2. We need a longer term approach to funding

A longer-term approach to funding could incentivise collaboration, reduce the risk of wasting time, money, and effort for all involved, attract investment and international talent, and bolster business confidence.

Smart specialisation generates a depth of expertise in specific areas of science and research. It can be difficult to “pick winners” in terms of areas of research for investment but the depth of specialisation needed to develop new knowledge in a competitive market requires us to focus our limited resources.

Establishing a model of longer term cooperative research between universities, public research organisations and private companies – one that is oriented towards the common state and national good – needs to be supported with a guaranteed level of funding over the longer term (as much as 10 or 20 years).

3. We need everyone

As well as thinking about the innovation “big picture”, NSW also has to think about differing levels of access and digital literacy.

Addressing inequity in access to the internet will be vital, with almost three in ten Australian households in the lowest income group not having home broadband.

Boosting digital literacy among all NSW citizens – including its most vulnerable – will put the state in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities brought by the innovation era. In a practical sense, that could include improving access to access to evolving “e-health” developments such as telehealth and the My Health Record services in Australia.

4. We need to create spaces for innovation to occur

The internet allows for collaborations and innovations to be nurtured and developed over vast distances.

However, we also need to create physical spaces where innovation can take place. As Sydney’s Fishburners (a co-working space aimed at nurturing startups) and incubators like ATP Innovations demonstrate, the physical spaces provided by proximity are important infrastructure supporting innovation.

Governments – local and state – have a role to play in attracting and inspiring such physical spaces for collaboration. Incentives could include planning for such spaces in urban design, making data available to the public, and offering supportive digital infrastructure.

These could also be provided in regional areas, where hubs could be clustered close to large agribusinesses, rural health organisations, and universities.

5. We need agility, preparation, and leadership

NSW may look to the US for inspiration on how to plan a whole-of-government approach to a digital future.

There, in 2015, US President Barack Obama established the National Strategic Computing Initiative to accelerate development of high performance computing technology.

By combining the expertise of government, industry, and academia, the aim is to plan ahead for oncoming threats and opportunities, and invest appropriate resources towards innovation in rapidly changing environments.

Similarly, NSW will need to increase the capacity of business and research teams to plan for both expected and unknown futures. That will include developing managers and management styles that can respond to and incorporate innovation as it develops.

By strengthening NSW’s innovation ecosystem, we bolster the state’s overall ability to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Source: The Conversation

South Africa: I Might Change My Vote, Mpumalanga ANC Member Threatens

A 35-year-old Thulamahashe resident hopes to wake up in a new municipality on Thursday, as he is sick and tired of what he describes as nepotism in his municipality.

Frank Mathebula was gravely concerned about the “nepotism-filled” administration currently running the municipality, he told a New24 correspondent on Wednesday.

He claimed senior local government officials employed people they knew.

“Here things are done for certain people, contrary to what the Constitution requires. The government is for everyone, regardless of their political affiliation or ideology or what they stand for, but it seems that that vital principle of the Constitution is forgotten,” Mathebula said.

He claimed that his bid to tender for a road tarring project earlier this year had simply been ignored.

“I own a close corporation and when I found out about a tar paving opportunity, I approached the municipality about it. The official paid no attention to my request. All he did was to ask if I am a member of the ruling party. He did not bother to even evaluate the viability of my proposal. These people are greedy and want to benefit alone and that is degrading to the ruling party,” Mathebula said.

Although he was an ANC member, he said the actions of municipal leaders had changed his thinking about the party dramatically.

“I will vote, but I should not be blamed when I change my mind on my way to the polls. I love the ANC, but the attitudes must change,” he said.

The Bushbuckridge municipality denied the claims of nepotism and said this was not how any municipality should conduct itself.

Spokesperson Aubrey Mnisi said they adhered to supply chain management policies and practiced sound financial management.

“We do not practice nepotism, but instead look for bidders with relevant documentation and expertise,” Mnisi said.

Source: News24Wire.