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AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 4

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REGISTER TO VOTE AND RECLAIM YOUR POWER

This weekend polling stations will be opened for Voter Registration. AZAPO urges all eligible voters to go and register so that they are able to vote in the forthcoming General Elections expected in May this year.

The highest figures of voter apathy are found among young people. As little as 16% of the youth who should have registered to vote have actually registered. Voter apathy is an indication of the lack of confidence in the political system.

There are real factors contributing to the lack of confidence in our politics. The youth are bearing the brunt of economic mismanagement in the country. Unemployment is the highest among young people. Hundreds of thousands of graduates – with university degrees and national diplomas – are sitting at home without work, and more importantly without hope.

Their working class parents have struggled to put them through tertiary education, hoping that once they have acquired the university qualifications they would get employment to improve their lives and those of their families in general. But it was not to be for many of these graduates. Even in the fields of medicine, where we are told that there is a dire shortage of medical doctors and nurses, employment for newly qualified graduates is no longer guaranteed. In fact, there are hundreds of doctors and nurses without jobs, despite the fact that the State had paid for their training following an assessment that their skills were required in the public service.

When somebody has no skill or qualification, they perhaps can rationalise and understand why they are unemployed. It should be extremely frustrating to somebody who remains unemployed while armed with a qualification and a skill. This is why many of the young people have very little confidence in the political system.

In addition to those who cannot get jobs because the economy is actually not growing – the growth is less than the population growth – there are thousands of young people who drop out of school each year. Close to half of learners who start Grade 1 fail to reach Matric. They join the ever-growing queue of unemployment. This is a ticking time-bomb.

There are no short-cuts to jobs creation. But some of the major reasons why the job market has been shrinking is poor leadership by those in government. To that you may add lack of a vision, corruption, nepotism, maladministration, lack of qualifications, theft of public funds combined with a form of a toxic concoction which stifles economic growth and arrests development.

If you are not happy with the current government, you should register so that you can express your frustration by voting for another party. Throughout its existence, AZAPO has been the champion of the aspirations of Black People (and by Black we mean the so-called Natives, the so-called Indians and the so-called Coloureds). It is AZAPO’s mission to restore the dignity of Black People. The power is in our hands to bring about change and get a government that will respect Black People.

But the first step is to register as a voter.


STOP PAYING LIP-SERVICE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

The most shocking aspect of the revelations at the Zondo Commission on State Capture is not that senior politicians of the ruling party were getting bribes from Bosasa, or the huge amounts of the bribes, or that a huge number of the top politicians were on the payroll of the corrupt company. No. What is really shocking is that nobody is being prosecuted for this grand scale corruption.

What are the law-enforcement agencies – the Hawks, South African Police Service and the various intelligence units – doing? Why is it that such revelations are made but there is absolute silence from those entrusted to uphold the law?

Maybe we should not look too far for an explanation of why nobody has been arrested. According to the testimony submitted to the Zondo Commission, senior officials at the NPA were on the payroll of Bosasa to ensure that the company officials are free from prosecution. Does this mean that even the current crop of officials at the NPA are part of the corruption? If not, why are they not acting?

The other shocking revelation was that some of the bribes that Bosasa paid went to the ruling party. The ruling party has always maintained that leaders of the party that were implicated in State Capture corruption were implicated in their individual capacity. In other words, the party did not sanction their corrupt activities. Fair point. But the essence of State Capture is about politicians using their proximity to State power to influence the Cabinet appointments, allocation of tenders and other benefits to private companies and individuals.

The abuse of political office is at the centre of State Capture corruption. So when this corruption has benefited the individual, the party can afford to wash its hands and say, “Comrade, face the music on your own.” But what happens when the beneficiary of the corruption is the ruling party, as alleged by Angelo Agrizzi to the Commission?

Corruption that involves the party has various levels. It is an open secret that private companies donate funds to the ruling party. Most of these “donations” are not declared publicly. But in business, there is no free lunch. So when a company donates to the ruling party, it is “investing”. There is a link between those companies that make huge donations to the ruling party, and those that get big State tenders.

So, if this country is serious about fighting corruption, it should first do the basics. Even though it took time, it should be welcome that the President finally signed into law the legislation that forces political parties to make their funders public.  That should be combined with the culture and principle of the law enforcement agencies to do their work without fear or favour. It is a scandal that the Zondo Commission hears so much detail of corruption but there is nobody who is being prosecuted for it.

For the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system, the law should be applied against those who are corrupt. It is not enough that we just shake our heads in disbelief each time we hear a bombshell of corruption being dropped by the likes of Angelo Agrizzi.


THE ICC ACQUITS GBAGBO AFTER 8 YEARS IN CUSTODY

In what could easily be regarded as the justice of the jungle, on 15 January 2019, the International Criminal Court (ICC) acquitted the former President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo (73), after 8 years in jail and facing trial for “war crimes”.  Those alleged crimes included counts like murder, rape and persecution.

Gbagbo was raided and arrested on 11 April 2011 and removed from power by the French Licorne forces after a disputed 2010 presidential election whose first round was won by Gbagbo by 38% to the 32% of Alassane Ouattara (77).  After the second round, Ouattara was declared the winner by the Independent Elections Commission.  However, the Constitutional Council called that into question based on what it identified as irregularities, and declared Gbagbo the winner by 51%.  That caused Gbagbo, who had the support of the army, to dig in his heels and be sworn in as the President of the Ivory Coast.

Meanwhile, Ouattara who had the support of the so-called international community and the rebel troops in control of the northern part of the country, also sworn himself in as the President of the Ivory Coast.  That became a stalemate that degenerated into a civil war.  That was made easier by the fact that the country was already divided into north and south, where Gbagbo controlled the south, and Ouattara the north.

The north-south divide had its seeds planted throughout the era of the French colonial rule over the Ivory Coast.  France’s colonial rule was based on the policies of assimilation and association.  Assimilation meant that a country colonised by France had to see and use the French culture, language, law, etc. as supreme.  Association meant that the former colonies of France had to treat France as a superior partner.  France officially became the coloniser of the Ivory Coast in 1893.

Ouattara experienced difficulties to enter the politics of the Ivory Coast because of a constitutional clause that required a candidate to be born of parents who are both born in the Ivory Coast.  Ouattara had one of his parents born in Burkina Faso.  He made things worse for himself by holding a dual citizenship of the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.  He spent the better part of his professional life as an economist and bureaucrat of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The imperialist world thought this experience would have been handy for Ouattara to run the mineral-rich Ivory Coast in their favour.

The death in 1993 of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny who had ruled the Ivory Coast since independence for 33 years, brought successor challenges.  Ouattara had thought he could take over, but was outpaced by the constitutionally deserving Henri Konan Bédié.  The law that stipulated that a Presidential candidate had to have both parents born in the Ivory Coast proved to be the catalyst to the civil war.  That law was endorsed by a Referendum just before Gbagbo could win the 2000 elections.  Ouattara was excluded by that law.  That led to an attempted coup in 2002.   A considerable number of soldiers in the national army were from the north part of the country.  The north part was Muslim strong, and the south predominantly Christian.  Ouattara was based in the north where the French quickly came to his rescue and housed him in its embassy in the wake of the civil war.  With soldiers from the north deserting the national army and joining the rebel-north, the north became stronger, also with help from France and Burkina Faso which also had an interest in the conflict.  The government controlled the south.

France and other superpowers managed to put pressure for the removal of the clause in the constitution which excluded Ouattara, who was able to contest the disputed 2010 elections.  As we explained earlier, Ouattara was able to rule after the French soldiers attacked Gbagbo’s hideout and arrested him.  Gbagbo’s attendance of the ICC trial under custody in the past 8 years helped Ouattara to consolidate his rule without Gbagbo’s threat.  And Gbagbo has now been acquitted of the war crimes he was accused of after 8 years.  The African Union (AU) was conspicuous by its silence throughout the destabilisation of the minerals-rich Ivory Coast by the western nations.


AZAPO VOICE EXTENDS A WORD OF THANKS TO ITS READERS

 The AZAPO Voice Editorial Collective takes this opportunity to thank all our Readers for continuing to read our weekly Issues.  Just like there is no football team that can perform to its best without spectators, or a choir that can sing to its best without an audience; there is similarly no publication that can derive encouragement without readers.

We appreciate even more the critical feedback most of you have given us.  The feedback has generally been positive.  Some of you have advised us on issues you would like us to entertain, while others have critically engaged us on some of our political, ideological and cultural views.

It should be right to remind our Readers about the mission of AZAPO Voice. We bring the public up to speed with AZAPO‘s perspective on various political, social, economic and ideological issues that affect Black people and society at large. We deal with those issues at the local, regional and international levels. But we will be biased to the local level where we operate.

We are upfront about the fact that our perspective will be coloured by the Black Consciousness philosophy.

We hope to hear more from our Readers in terms of critical feedback with regards to content, style, quality and impression. Your critical feedback is sincerely appreciated. We invite you to keep it coming.


To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 4
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