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Archive for the tag “elections”

So who do I vote for now?

Put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them, says the Psalmist.

So we should know by now that one can never trust a politician. Entrust them with the government of the country, yes. But don’t trust them. So one is always looking for the least of many evils to vote for.

I was beginning to think that the least of many evils might be the EFF, but, as they say in the clickbait cliches, nobody expected this, South Africa’s Julius Malema warns Zuma government – AJE News:

South African politician Julius Malema says the opposition “will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun” if the ruling African National Congress (ANC) continues to respond violently to peaceful protests.

Malema is the commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters, an opposition party he founded in 2013 after being expelled from the ANC, where he had served as president of the Youth League.

We fought for democracy all those years, only to abandon it now? Come off it, Juju!

Julius Malema Launches EFFBut then who can one vote for? What are the alternatives?

For a long time now I’ve never considered voting for the UDM because its leader, Bantu Holomisa, actually did what Julius Malema is only talking about — he staged a coup in the former Transkei “homeland”.

There’s the DA, born of crosstitution, whose former leader, Tony Leon, was urging us to “fight back” against democracy only five years after it had been introduced.

There’s Agang, which staged a coup against its own leader so a couple of non-entities could get parliamentary emoluments and pensions even if no one ever voted for them again. I suspect that a lot of people voted for Agang because they thought that its founder, Mamphela Ramphele, had things to say that needed to be heard in parliament. Well, we can see how that worked out, and perhaps that’s something that the people now saying “Thuli Madonsela for president” need to bear in mind.

Neither Mamphela Ramphele nor Thuli Madonsela have what it takes to be a successful political leader — the infighting, the backstabbing, the wheeling and dealing. Jake the Fake has that in spades, and comes out of the same mould as P.W. Botha — something worth remembering when people blame our electoral system of  proportional representation for the calibre of political leaders who rise to the top. We didn’t have proportional representation in P.W.’s time, but we still got him, even though the media voted for the other Botha, Pik.

One of the great theoretical advantages of proportional representation  is that if gives one a wider choice, and every vote counts equally. You are not disenfranchised because you happen to live in a constituency that sends the same unopposed member back to parliament year after year.

But even under proportional representation, once you’ve crossed off all the people you don’t want to vote for, there’s not much left. I think I’ll just have to learn to COPE with that.

Better the Congress of the People party than the Congress of the Guptas party.

Removing a bad president

Since the Constitutional Court has officially declared that we have a bad president, how does one get him to go? As that terror of the football field, Mosiuoa Lekota, put it, he has been given a red card, and it is time for him to leave the field. But he shows no signs of going.

According to the constitution, the National Assembly can vote to remove the president by a 2/3 majority. That’s unlikely to happen. The DA is muttering about impeaching him. I’m not sure what that means, but I think that’s unlikely to work either.

But there is a precedent.

Thabo Mbeki was removed as president by the ANC leadership, without consulting the country, the National Assembly or anyone else. So why can’t they do the same to Jake the Fake?

ANCflagThey can’t do that with Jake because he has done precisely what they accused Thabo Mbeki of doing (with less justification) — filled the top positions in the ANC with his cronies and sycophants. They owe their positions to him, so they are unlikely to vote for his removal.

Removing Jake is not like removing Verwoerd, or Vorster, or any of that lot. It’s much easier, as easy as removing Thabo Mbeki. All it needs is for the ANC to have the political will to do so.

And what will give the ANC the political will to do so?

Not burning tyres.
Not toyitoying students.
Not service delivery protests.

Votes.

Think about it.

We fought for democracy, for votes for all, for years, decades, centuries even.

So why not use it.

Vote.

Vote for anyone but the ANC.

And think about this.

In every municipality where the ANC loses control, the tenderpreneurs and those who benefit from them will be hit where it hurts most.

If that happens in a lot of places the parasites will of course desert the ANC and try to influence the new rulers, but they’ll have to bribe a whole bunch of new people to do that, and if a lot of municipalities are governed by a UDM-EFF-DA coalition they’ll be watching each other like hawks and stinging each other like scorpions if they catch anyone engaged in bribery and corruption. That’ll make it harder and more expensive for the tenderpreneurs. And by the time the parasites have managed to infiltrate, the ANC will be purified and fit to govern again.

Isn’t democracy marvellous?

demonsAnd while everyone is talking about the Guptas at the national level, remember that this year we are due to have local government elections, and it is the small-town Guptas who offer people positions in local party branches who are just as bad as the big-time ones. I think C.S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape letters, referred to one of the tasty dishes on the demonic menu as “municipal official with graft sauce.”

We all (those of us over 18 anyway) have the vote now, so we do have the power to remove that dish from the menu of some demons, at least. And if we have the power, why not use it?

And, while we’re about it, can’t we bring back the civic associations of the 1980s, and keep local government local? And clean.

<./political rant>

 

US politics in a nutshell

Someone posted this on Facebook, and for those living outside the USA it says it all. It tells you all you need to know about both main parties in the current US election, and the other parties don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected anyway.

Yes, I know it’s simplistic, and it over-simplifies complex issues, but unless you’re a professional political fundi, it tells you all you need to know.

Hat-tip to Daniel Lieuwen, who shared it on Facebook.

I never drove white voters away: Malema

The Yanks have Sarah Palin; we have Julius Malema. I don’t know which is worse. I know that there are political loose cannons in every country, but, as someone once said, the trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.

I never drove white voters away: Malema: City Press: Politics: News:

Malema told delegates that it was not true that he drove whites away from the ANC, saying only that white voters never voted for the governing party even during former president Nelson Mandela’s leadership.

“They (whites) never voted for Mandela in 1994 and they never voted for (president) Thabo Mbeki,” he said.

Malema said whites had not voted for Mandela even when he was involved in reconciliation.

I’ve got news for you, my china.

I’m white, and I voted for Mandela in 1994.

I voted for Mbeki in 1999, though not in 2004.

In 2004 and 2009 I voted for Patricia de Lille and the ID, because I thought voices like Patricia de Lille’s needed to be heard in parliament.

I didn’t vote in the local government elections last month. I don’t get to vote for the mayor of Cape Town, and I didn’t even know who the candidates were in our ward. But the main reason was not ideological. I happened to be away on holiday (and you can see our best holiday pics here — I think they’re quite cool, even though I say so myself).

And more and more I’m seeing the truth of what G.K. Chesterton wrote:

When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world as it is.” Thus, at least, venerable and philanthropic old men now in their honoured graves used to talk to me when I was a boy.

But since then I have grown up and have discovered that these philanthropic old men were telling lies. What has really happened is exactly the opposite of what they said would happen. They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.

Or, as Jeremy Taylor used to sing:

One fine day I’ll make my way to 10 Downing Street
“Good day,” I’ll say, “I’ve come a long way excuse my naked feet.
But I lack, you see, the energy to buy a pair of shoes
I lose my zest to look my best when I read the daily news,
’cause it appears you’ve got an atom bomb
that’ll blow us all to hell and gone
I’ve I’ve gotta die then why should I
give a damn if my boots aren’t on.”

And the death of Albertina Sisulu last week rubs it in.

It’s not the atom bomb that threatens us now, but when I read the daily news it’s all about a bottomless sea of greed and mediocrity.

Politicians of Albertina Sisulu’s generation stood for something and they fought for something, and one could admire them.

If we had a General Election today I wouldn’t know who to vote for.

As someone else said, How do politicians resemble a bunch of bananas?

The answer: They’re all yellow, they hang together, and there’s not a straght one among them.

Actually there’s one guy left I might be prepared to take seriously.

That’s Zwelinzima Vavi, the trade union leader.

In today’s paper he was quoted as saying

You cannot tell the workers and the poor that your real ambition is accumulation and more and more (of an) expensive bourgeois lifestyle and opulence; you have to talk their language even though everything you are is about accumulation and self-centredness. Tenderpreneurs present themselves as mMessiahs to advance their narrow economic agenda.

At least he sees the problem, or part of it.

Trouble is, as long as the tripartite alliance lasts, there’s no chance of voting for him.

The Orange Revolution, Peeled

The Orange Revolution, Peeled by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com:

To recall the media hype that accompanied Ukraine’s ‘Orange Revolution’ of 2004, which propelled Viktor Yushchenko, a former central banker and alleged liberal democrat, into power, is like remembering a fever-dream in the morning: the memory of the details are blurred, and all that really remains is the sense that something strenuous, and ultimately unreal, has been passed through. The disputed election of 2004 – eventually decided in Yushchenko’s favor on account of mass street protests – ended with the defeat of Viktor Yanukovich, the candidate of the Russian-speaking eastern section of the country – the man whose comeback in Sunday’s election represented a stunning repudiation of the Orange Revolution and the regime that was born in its wake. How that ‘revolution’ came to be, and what it really represented, is about to undergo a major revision, one in striking contrast to the instant narrative provided by the Western media six years ago.

Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace

And now it appears that Yanukovich, the candidate the Western media wanted us all to hate, has won the election. Is it just that I’m getting more cynical as I’m getting older, or is the media hype getting worse?

Ukraine seems to exist as a case-study for Samuel Huntington’s Clash of civilizations thesis, with the fault line between Western and Orthodox civilisations running right through the country. If anything can confirm Huntington’s thesis, the Western media spin does.

Another commentator comments on the spin in this article: News Analysis – For Kremlin, Ukraine Election Cuts Two Ways – NYTimes.com

On Monday, for example, European election monitors praised the election that was held Sunday, calling it an impressive display of democracy. Ukraines election, in other words, did not follow the Kremlin blueprint…

What a bizarre statement. A Russian-favored candidate wins in a fair election, and somehow that is supposed to be evidence that Russia is in favor of unfair elections. In fact, their candidate winning in a fair election is the best possible blueprint for Russia.
Imagine what the NY Times would be saying if the election had been unfair!

In the short term, the Kremlin may have benefited from the election. Relations were tense under the incumbent president, Viktor A. Yushchenko, an Orange leader who wanted to pull Ukraine away from Moscows orbit by joining NATO.

Mr. Yanukovich does not support NATO membership and has indicated that he will abandon some other initiatives opposed by Russia. This is the only real news in the whole NY Times story. This was a major geopolitical / energy-politics victory for Russia. Once again a CIA-engineered Colored Revolution has been turned back. The NY Times does its best to bury this news near the bottom of their story, and even then they downplay it by saying the Kremlin ‘may’ have benefitted, but only in the ‘short term’.

What is lost in all this rhetoric about whether “the West” or “the Kremlin” benefited is what is surely more important: whether the people of Ukraine benefited.

Worship al fresco

We arrived at Zakhele School in Mamelodi this morning for the Hours and Readers Service. The burglar alarm was going off in the school media centre, so Val phoned the security company, but they said the client had been suspended. The classroom we usually use was locked, so we found a desk, propped up the ikons against a tree, and had our service there, to the intermittent accompaniment of the burglar alarm, the shouting Zionist man who usually has the classroom next to ours (theirs was open) and the neopentecostal amplifier at the other end of the school yard.

On the way home afterwards we noticed blooming election posters, now that the date of the general election has been announced, mostly ANC and Democratic Alliance at this stage. I’ve heard that there are 114 parties contesting the election this time, so no one can say we don’t have a choice. One result is certain, a politician weill be elected.

What’s wrong with power sharing in Zimbabwe?

Ever since the disputed results of the last Zimbabwean elections, South Africa and other countries have been trying to broker a power-sharing agreement between the major parties, ZANU-PF and the MDC. The impasse has been caused because ex-President Robert Mugabe refuses to become ex, and has become El Caudillo; Der Führer of Zimbabwe.

Why is it that the South African government, and other concerned countries in the region, think that the solution to the problems caused by this putsch is a power-sharing agreement between winners and losers of the election?

In one way, it can seem a very African solution to the problem. In the idealised African worldview of ubuntu, consensus is deemed better than competion. Politics should not be a zero-sum game, with winners and losers, but rather a win-win solution should be sought, in which everyone can be kept happy.

One of the best examples of this is South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. Though the ANC won a majority in the election, it did not rule alone, but formed a government of national unity with its most bitter rivals, the National Party and the IFP. The Democratic Party, though it would have been welcome to join, preferred to stay out, partly because it had no sympathy with the African idea of consensus, and preferred to be self-consciously Western, and espouse confrontation to cooperation. It saw itself as the Opposition with a capital O, and saw its task as to Oppose everything the government did, good or bad.

Under National Party rule, South African government had been as authoritarian as that of Zimbabwe under Mugabe, yet the ANC still agreed to form a Government of National Unity with their former enemies, so why should a similar solution not work in Zimbabwe today?

The difference is that in the 1990s the National Party leaders were becoming increasingly aware that their policies had failed and were politically bankrupt. Though a former foreign minister, Eric Louw, had declared that they would fight to retain power till the blood rose to the horses’ bits, his successor, Pik Botha, said he wasn’t prepared to die to keep “whites only” signs in the lifts. Mugabe’s mindset is far closer to that of Eric Louw than to that of Pik Botha. Under F.W. de Klerk the National Party thought it would be better to lose power than to destroy the country in trying to retain it. Mugabe’s thinking is precisely the opposite.

The irony is that the ANC government in South Africa is not all that wedded to the African idea of consensus leadership and power sharing. The ANC conference at Polokwane a year ago was definitely a winner-takes-all affair.

A question that is often asked is what could the South African government do about the situation in Zimbabwe. And one answer is that it could do what the ANC, when it was in opposition, often asked other countries to do about the National Party regime in South Africa: at the very least, recognise the human rights abuses for what they are and denounce them as such. Instead, it instructed South African election observers in Zimbabwe to declare elections free and fair when they weren’t.[1]

At the government level, those who have been most vigorous in denouncing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe have been western countries, like the US and the UK. Mugabe has dismissed such criticisms as imperialist fabrications. He would not be able to dismiss such criticisms so easily if they came from neighbouring countries in Africa, but it is those countries that have been reluctant to criticise except in the mildest possible way.

The fact is that the longer Mugabe stays in power, the less there will be to salvage from the wreckage when he finally does go.
____

[1] On 1 March 2004 the South African Council of Churches arranged a meeting of South African church leaders to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. Three church leaders from Zimbabwe gave a briefing on what was happening in that country. The questions they were asked were all to the point as was the discussion that followed. Among those who attended the meeting were some who had been observers at the previous elections in Zimbabwe, and they said that with hindsight they regretted that they had been persuaded, against their better judgement, to sign a statement declaring that those elections were free and fair.

McCain not "natural born" citizen after all

It seems that people have been querying the citizenship of both leading candidates for the US presidency — Barack Obama’s father was Kenyan, but he was born in the USA. John McCain, however, was not.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”

The analysis, by Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, focused on a 1937 law that has been largely overlooked in the debate over Mr. McCain’s eligibility to be president. The law conferred citizenship on children of American parents born in the Canal Zone after 1904, and it made John McCain a citizen just before his first birthday. But the law came too late, Professor Chin argued, to make Mr. McCain a natural-born citizen.

“It’s preposterous that a technicality like this can make a difference in an advanced democracy,” Professor Chin said. “But this is the constitutional text that we have.”

blog it

Gerald Ford, the unelected US president

Hearing all the eulogies for Gerald Ford, the only unelected president of the USA, reminds me of what G.K. Chesterton said:

Much vague and sentimental journalism has been poured out to the effect that Christianity is akin to democracy, and most of it is scarcely strong or clear enough to refute the fact that the two things have often quarrelled. The real ground upon which Christianity and democracy are one is very much deeper. The one specially and peculiarly un-Christian idea is the idea of Carlyle–the idea that the man should rule who feels that he can rule. Whatever else is Christian, this is heathen.

If our faith comments on government at all, its comment must be this — that the man should rule who does NOT think that he can rule. Carlyle’s hero may say, “I will be king”; but the Christian saint must say “Nolo episcopari.” If the great paradox of Christianity means anything, it means this — that we must take the crown in our hands, and go hunting in dry places and dark corners of the earth until we find the one man who feels himself unfit to wear it. Carlyle was quite wrong; we have not got to crown the exceptional man who knows he can rule. Rather we must crown the much more exceptional man who knows he can’t.

Perhaps the biggest weakness of democracy is elections. because all the wrong people put themselves forward for election. Maybe what we need is for the leaders of a country to be chosen by lot. Let parliament be drafted by ballot. They would be just as representative of the country as elected politicans, and they would be replaced when their term of office ends, so they wouldn’t be around long enough to establish a bribe-taking system. If Gerald Ford was as good as they are now saying, this would probably be a better system.

Ballots, Balls and Bikes

Encouraging news of the Brit local elections

Ballots, Balls and Bikes

Hope the belligerent Mr Blair will soon be on his bicycle.

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