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LIMPOPO NELSON MANDELA LECTURE, 10 JULY 2012

President Jacob Zuma delivers the Lecture

Departure for Vhembe
A colleague and I left Polokwane some two hours before midday to beat the scheduled midday deadline for accreditation. We were in good spirits and spoke in animated tones all the way to Thohoyandou in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province.

There was no way we couldn’t be excited. This was the day President Jacob Zuma was to deliver the Centinnial Commemorative Lecture on Nelson Mandela. Only 4,000 places were available at the venue of the lecture, Worship House Church Centre in the Shayandima Township, Thohoyandou. My colleague and I fell among the luck 4,000 – hence our uncontrollable excitement.

The Media was equally excited, and had for almost a month hedged bets that President Jacob Zuma would not enter his no go area of Limpopo. The ANC Youth League in the province added fuel to these rumours of possible annarchy by hosting their expelled president Julius Malema and making beligerent statements against President Zuma.

Accreditation

On arrival in Thohoyandou, we reported to the Accreditation Centre for screening and issuance of the tags and the wristbands coloured to suit your category of guests. Without both the tag and the band entry to the venue of the lecture would be denied.

Security was tight at the centre too. Our accreditation as special guests went smoothly. Two hours remained before the lecture. We resorted to go for a bite before leaving for the lecture.

At The Venue

At the venue security was even tighter with the police, MK veterans and ANC Marshalls complementing one another to ensure that guests are safe and secure. There was lso a razor-wire belt around the church centre.

Thanks to our tags, arm-bands and early arrival, our entrance was with ease and without incident. We were ushered to prime seats not far from the exquisitely decorated stage. This gave me a good vantage point to take photographs as I had brought along a  to immortalise the day.
Confrontation

Over time the massive arena-like hall started to fill up as guests started to arrive. There was however concern that accreditation was slow and would see many still being processed when the lecture starts.

Whilst waiting for President Jacob Zuma and other leaders, the Church Choir and Band kept us entertained.

It was in the midst of the musical interludes that the ANC Youth League provincial secretary Jacob Lebogo walked in with his provincial chairperson Rudzani Ludere and Jossi Butane. They arrogantly made the rolling hands gesture of change in leadership. Lebogo was joined by Ludere and Bhutane in these provocative gestures. Their dance and song didn’t go very far as the Umkhonto-we-Sizwe Veterans Association (MKVA) were soon on them boots and all.

In this melee pepper spray was released, throwing everyone  within inhaling distance to cough and have itchy eyes.

Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture

It was after an hour that the President of the ANC and the Republic of South Africa took to the podium to deliver a moving lecture that put the icon of the country’s struggle for freedom, Nelson Mandela, into the context of the struggle for liberation in the country and elsewhere in the world.

I was mightily enriched and motivated when I left the venue at the end of the lecture.

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Thabo Made Us Do It

September 7, 2009 2 comments
Former President Thabo Mbeki

Former President Thabo Mbeki

For the functionaries of the new regime under President Jacob Zuma, everything that goes wrong in the country gets blamed on former President Thabo Mbeki.

It all started with  Mbeki being written out of history by those who took control of the party machinery after the watershed ANC national conference held in 2007 in polokwane, Limpopo province.

After his election as President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma neglected to mention Mbeki in his acceptance speech. It was only at his inaugration as the fourth President of the Republic of South Africa that Zuma acknowldged and spoke in glowing terms of Mbeki.

In this address Zuma had the following to say about Mbeki:

“In June 1999, former President Thabo Mbeki came to this podium to take the oath of office, as the second President of the Republic. He took the country forward as true statesman.

“He made a remarkable contribution towards strengthening democracy, and laid a firm foundation for economic growth and development.

“He made our contry an integral part of the continent and worked tirelessly for an African rebirth. Through his leadership, South Africa`s stature grew in the continet and globally.

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

In his last address as Head of State in September last year, he demonstrated his patriotism, and put the interests of the country above his personal interests.

Thank you Zizi for demonstrating a charecter that the ANC had always embodied since 1912.”

Of late former President Mbeki has once more come under heavy attack from the organisation that he has served with unmatched distinction over many years.

The first salvo in recent times was fired by Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, who blamed the recent spate of service delivery riots on the past administration of Mbeki.

Then there was little Julius Malema himself. In his most recent public outburst, Malema said Mbeki had taught young people bad manners and should therefore be taken to court for having violated the rights of women.

The ANC has conveniently remained quite about these attacks like it did in the past. This is obviously a cause for real concern when an organisation such as the ANC can allow one of its own to be violated such as former President Mbeki has been.

ANC Brooks No Dissent

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

manuelmhThere is little publicised fact about the ruling African National Congress – intolerance of dissenting voices which throws the party in the same league of the National party of our apartheid days.

This little publicised fact came back to mind when I read of the party reporting the City Press and Sunday Times newspapers to the Press Ombudsman for “publishing articles that illustrate the abuse of press freedom.’

The crimes of the two newspapers being to dare highlight the troubles playing themselves out within the leading organs of the ruling party – this  really has nothing to do at all with a journalism that reports truthfully, accurately and fairly.

What has today become the ANC`s defining charecter of intolerance goes as far back as the founding of Robert Sobukwe`s Pan Africanist Congress.

During its earlier days the PAC gave big brother ANC a run for its money by upstaging it at any given opportunity starting with Sharpeville and Langa.

In exile the ANC did all it could to project itself as the sole and authentic voice of the South African struggle for liberation. So successful was the ANC in this regard that the gullible international community came to equate the party with the freedom struggle. Neither did Steve Biko`s Black Conciousness Movement escape the mighty wrath and intolerance of the ANC who cast the former as agents of Western imperialism.

Internal struggle initiatives such as June 16, UDF, COSATU, and SADTU were passed as the grand work of the then exiled ANC. This arrogance and intolerance carried the ANC through the negotiations that gifted us 1994.

During Thabo Mbeki`s tenure as president dissent, internal and external was not tolerated. Whatever little room for healthy dissent which survived then disappeared in the wake of the watershed 2007 Polokwane conference which also passed a resolution declaring the ANC`s intention to form a media appeals tribunal to obviously manage and manipulate media content.

Then came president Jacob Zuma`s world famous lawsuits against the media.

It now remains to be seen what awaits the country beyond the ANC leadership`s sabre-rattling, lawsuits and complaints to the Ombudsman.

On the foot-steps of president Zuma

August 18, 2009 2 comments
The Prez and Deputy Minister Phaahla flanking Premier Mathale

The Prez and Deputy Minister Phaahla flanking Premier Mathale

Yesterday I took day from the hustle and bustle of work and followed the Limpopo crowds to the hitherto corner of South Africa called Muyexe. The attraction being that president Jacob Zuma was in the village of Muyexe to officially launch government`s rural development and land reform programme.

The village of Muyexe is found in the equally unknown town of Giyani in the Mopani district of the Limpopo province. I am wondering whether many know or ever heard of this current flavour of the moment that Muyexe is. Or even the town of Giyani, our Mopani ditrict and better still the Limpopo province.

At times I become delusional and think I am  more well-known than all these entities put together!

That was the case until our intrepid president saw Nkandla in Muyexe and declared during his maiden state of the nation address:

“Working together with our people in the rural areas, we will ensure a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security as our third priority…While having drawn the necessary lessons from earlier rural development initiatives, we have choosen the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality as the first of the pilot projects for the campaign.”

The Mister, the Prez and the Premier
The Minister, the Prez and the Premier

As a result we came to know that the town of Giyani is found in the province of Limpopo and that it was once the capital of the Gazankulu bantustan. Today Giyani is the administrative centre of the Mopani ditrict municipality.

It was in my quest to be where the president and almost everybody in Limpopo was that I found myself in Giyani. I never made to the obviously overcrowded Muyexe village. As for the launch, I would catch it all leisure through the mass media.
As I waited for news to start filtering through I kept myself busy at a local watering-hole, appropriately named Oasis. Some time after lunch the from Muyexe crowd dropped in to shake off the dust from the now famous village.
President and his battery of eminents never made it my way though. No tear, I`ll catch them some other day.
When everybody who matter headed home, I also followed suit. We left behind a hitherto rural community whose dream for a better life for life had been rekindled. Let us now wait and see.

Happy 100 Days Mr President!

August 17, 2009 4 comments
President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

Today marks Jacob Zuma`s first 100 days since his inaugration as the fourth post-apartheid president. From what I could gather from our provincial movers and shakers the president will spend the best part of today in the village of Muyexe outside the town of Giyani in the province of Limpopo.

President Zuma will be presiding over the official launch of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. This is an intiative to ensure that rural development takes place at the required depth and scope.

What this will mean on his first 100 days and his first term on the hot seat will only be laid bare in the fullness of time.

As for the first 100 first hundred days, it is said to be an American media concept meant to give a new leader time to show the nation what stuff he is made of. Our Jacob Zuma is also subjected to this ritual.

How has he fared?

Me thinks that beyond the appointment of cabinet and many other appointments, there hasn`t been much to write home about his first 100 days in government. Moreso when he has been conspicous in his absence as a leader when the country was crying out for his leadership to show the way.

The least we can be grateful for is that the heavens haven`t fallen over us! We can no look forward to some serious business of government to take the nation out of its current confusion.

On His Master`s Service

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

_1625788_leon150The failed former leader of the official opposition Tony Leon has accepted a diplomatic posting to the Latin American country of Argentina – this appointment brings to three leading members of the rightwing Democratic Alliance who are In His Master, Jacob Zuma`s Service.

Tony Leon and the current DA leader Helen Zille have expressed unreserved happiness and satisfaction at this turn of developents.

Leon is the same fellow who over the years has cultivated the ANC and its leadership as enemies. What deepened this hatred was his preception that the former president and ANC leader Thabo Mbeki did accord him the respect he, Leon, deserved as the leader of the official opposition in parliament.

The political liquidation of former president Thabo Mbeki who he likes referring to as the now-vanquished president  has been a matter that Leon has never lost an opportunity to celebrate. This went to a point where he became an overnight praise-singer to Jacob Zuma in a move that marked a departure from the traditional DA stance on the the ANC.

Argentina is instrumental in building SA`s growing links with countries of Latin. Leon therefore has not been handed an insignificant diplomatic posting.

It now remains to be seen how Leon will serve his master, Jacob Zuma