Category Archives: South Africa

SA: Sex-Work In Lieu of Opportunity

Prostitution is not often a career choice, but an unfortunate opportunity. Seeking opportunity, people travel

Sex-workers travel and oftentimes foreigners come to dominate the local sex-markets. The issue of prostitution and the mitigation of AIDS in Southern Africa can’t be solved by any one country alone, when the issues cross borders. Thus far, an ‘international effort’ has failed to satisfactorily redress the root cause: opportunity. (borders?).


Namibian prostitutes fall short of earnings compared to their foreign counterparts

According to findings, Zimbabwean and Zambian street sex workers, with well-paying clients fare much better. A Zimbabwean sex worker, Violet Chigari (26): “It’s a fact that foreign girls make all the money in this country while Namibian girls simply don’t know how to.” All her fellow foreigners make good money because they deal with the ‘right clientele’ mostly comprised of high-profile personalities, such as local and international businessmen, as well as politicians.

When it comes to day-to-day operations, Violet points out foreign sex workers do not only run the streets but they own them. In her view, foreign prostitutes have better advantage because they are highly experienced and find it a lot easier to be prostitutes in a foreign country rather than back home: they do not worry about bumping into anyone they know.


This clip gives good coverage:


The Tropic of Capricorn 2 of 20 – Namibia – BBC Travel

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SA/ZIM: Platinum Lined Land Issue

It’s more than just diamonds.

Platinum mining in South Africa accounts for three-quarters of the world’s platinum reserves.

Zimbabwe ranks third, after Russia.

Futures analysis/GRAPH

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The Diamond Deal: ZANU-PF & DeBeers

Zimbabwe:
Since 1980, ZANU-PF has managed a country rife with poverty.

Land is regarded as a chance at prosperity. Mugabe has long-promised land to the rural poor as part of his political platform. In 1998, he allowed for the hostile takeover of thousands of smallholder white-owned farms by ‘war veterans’ and squatters. This was in response to physical threats against him and the regime by a large mob which demanded land and recompense for their service to the party and the revolution. A payout of $222 million dollars was granted, but the President declared his hands tied on the subject of land.

Curiously, the largest white-owned plots, such as the Oppenheimer Estate—often referred to as “the size of Belgium” and owned by DeBeers heirs—received state protection. (BBC News, 2001) In the course of political navigation, President Mugabe allowed the Oppenheimers and Anglo American, (the parent company of DeBeers) to keep its properties in 2002. The mining conglomerate, operated out of South Africa, manages a complete monopoly on the global diamond trade.

The Oppenheimer’s also own large tracts of land that aren’t mined, and like their family estate in Zimbabwe, they negotiated to have their land ‘protected’ as nature preserves, where they offer safaris and game hunting to Western tourists. But for all purposes, they control the land they claim to conserve only because they are diamond rich, and it is in this manner, the Oppenheimers, DeBeers, and Anglo American control the supply and price of diamonds on the global market.

Nicky-Oppenheimer

Nicky Oppenheimer

The landholding is the result of buying out competition which could potentially introduce their diamonds into the global market. The myth of diamonds as ‘rare’ is DeBeers created, and it is well understood that there are alluvial diamond fields throughout southern Africa, and anywhere there is dormant volcanoes and superheated carbon. However, flooding the market would depress their bottom line. (Reynolds, 1994)

With the find of the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, Mugabe has found a means of leverage against Anglo American. If Zimbabwe were to nationalize their diamond industry, in a manner similar to neighboring Botswana, it could lead to revenue for the country, theoretically, to apply to public education, infrastructure, and health. Given the abundance of diamonds in the Zimbabwean soil, this action would depress the value of Anglo American’s diamonds.

ZANU-PF supervised “diamond rushes” in the region where hundreds of panners dig in competition, selling their finds to the government, before those methods received international sanction.  More recently, ZANU-PF has also contracted Chinese companies for more professional digs. To avoid sanctions and the label of “black market” or “blood diamonds,” the Zimbabwean diamond effort is forced to negotiate within a framework of trade controlled by DeBeers.

Since the beginning of “legal” Zimbabwean diamonds, ZANU-PF has managed this “Kimberly Process” under the eye of Obert Mpofu. From the Matabeleland region, a place where most supported the ZAPU party at independence, Mpofu changed his support to ZANU-PF in the 1980s. He entered politics, eventually being appointed Governor of Matabeleland by Mugabe in 2000.  Mpofu acquired transport and safari tour companies—facing accusations of smuggling and unsanctioned digging—and then land and banks, creating himself a diamond trade path similar to the origins of DeBeers, over a hundred years earlier.

Obert-Mpofu1-1

Obert Mpofu “The King of Matabeleland”

Since acquiring his position, Mpofu has himself become rich, investing in land. In western Zimbabwe, his holdings come second only to the Oppenheimer family, making him easily one of the top five landowners in the country. “Like many of his ZANU brethren…” Partnership Africa Canada notes “Mpofu built much of his wealth through “vulture capitalism”—a money for nothing appropriation of profitable businesses and/or assets that are later “legitimized” through normal business activity.” (Taylor, 2012)

Could this be a ploy of ZANU-PF to settle the land matter, by purchasing it with illegal diamond profits? It looks to be one man’s attempt at patronage, power, and riches. Mpofu is often described as owning half of Matabeleland , referring to himself as the “King of Matabeleland.” In addition to his land holdings, he is said to have the largest cattle herd in the country, and a “patronage network unparalleled by any of his political peers.” His wealth and ego began to intensify after the international sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds were removed. He was appointed Minister of the Mines in 2009.

As guardian of the Marange diamond fields, Mpofu’s new wealth has been viewed with suspicion, as revenues to the state consistently fall short of projection, profoundly impacting national budget planning. Revenue transparency is practically non-existent in regards to this national resource. Missing money means breaks in that “breaks in that country’s internal controls, including the reality that there is an illegal, parallel trade underway.” (Taylor, 2012)

anglo-american-191b4a9fbb36c026f80c84dcbe81837bZANU-PF was allowed to reenter the global diamond market because they developed a Kimberly/DeBeers approved program to sell their diamonds.

However, this process does not protect against shrinkage and ‘shortfall’. ZANU-PF has also accumulated massive amounts of surplus, strong-arming the diamond industry into negotiations and contractual favors, as well as bribes.


The Oppenheimers maintain their millions of acres around southern Africa, a legacy of the family’s history in the global diamond empire. Mugabe remains President of Zimbabwe, and Mpofu, the King of Matabeleland.

A status quo. “There is a process of discussion between Nicky Oppenheimer and the Zimbabwean government,” according to an Oppenheimer family spokesman. “We don’t believe the seizure of land is imminent or on the agenda.” (Taylor, 2012) If confiscation were on the agenda, it would be high ranking ZANU-PF biting the hand that feeds them. It remains to be seen if Mugabe’s rhetoric will remain racialized, blaming the white farmer, when in fact, the issue lies with the multinational.

As a need for land exists, much of it goes fallow, and the farmworker unemployed. Coercion and violence by the gang-like organization managing the country has ruined the nation, as ZANU & DeBeers profit on a racist half-true fiction: the mythical land issue. 

REFERENCES:

BBC News. (2001, November 9). Zimbabwe clash with oppenheimer dynasty. BBC News. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1646977.stm

Chenault, K. (1998, February 15). A move to grab white owned land..may land mugabe in deep trouble. Bloomberg Businessweek, Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1998-02-15/a-move-to-grab-white-owned-land-dot-dot-dot-may-land-mugabe-in-deep-trouble-intl-edition

Reynolds, B. (Producer) (1994). The diamond empire [Television series episode]. In PBS Frontline. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4c1p_DMkIw

Martin, Alan and Bernard Taylor. (2012, November). Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields. Partnership Africa Canada. Retrieved from http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/Reap%20What%20Sow%20a.pdf

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Rashida Manjoo: Advice for Africa

Dr. Rashida Manjoo, lawyer and international advocate to advance women’s rights makes points in her conversation with University of Connecticut students which have relevance to the issue of African nationalism and independence.

By knowing your struggle—becoming educated on it, and the means of changing it—you can overcome it. Becoming familiar with barriers oppression, one will quickly find legal grounds in policy, and “having a law degree helps you understand the world in a way.”

Having an understanding of policy and the means to change it was a path traveled by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah obtained a Western education, and used this to assist his advocacy for Pan-Africanism, by organizing supporters and leading conferences on the matter. He was then able to apply his understanding of Western legal systems and political navigation to help Ghana (then the Gold Coast) achieve self-rule from the UK, by the ballot in February of 1951, and ultimately, independence in March of 1957.

Dr. Manjoo also conveyed an approach to measure the effectiveness of issue advocacy. If “what people were demanding in the past, they are demanding today,” then the issue is still in need of advocacy. This relates well to the land issues of Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically, that of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Their freedom struggles were grounded in the return of the land for majority use from the minority white settler populations. Since independence, the black majority is still landless, and the bulk of the land remains in white, Western, and now “Eastern” hands. In many cases, choice properties have become the private estates of leaders in government, or political gifts to their supporters.

There are many examples between the two countries that of land that once was fertile, now fallow and no longer productive. Fear is the issue making the trained agriculturalist a refugee to neighboring Botswana or Mozambique. Land equity has not been effectively addressed “on the ground,” and the issue remains just as pressing as it did at independence and fifty years prior. The need for discussion and resolution persists.

UCONN’s: Violence Against Women Conference
IMAGE and recent Manjoo news: UN expert heads to UK to investigate violence against women

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African Youth Leagues: Pawns In Struggle

Before the fall of Apartheid, teenagers faced violence from their former schoolyard mates over the color of a tee-shirt or voiced support for competing political ideologies. Homes are torched, supporters ‘necklaced’, and rival youth gangs held power in the classroom.

The struggle of the adults filtered down to the children, when the liberation movement created ‘youth leagues’, aiming to draft their supporters younger and younger. The children are seduced by free clothing and promise of money, and filled with wild notions, which in their youth, they have not fully understood.

The children are told–and they believe–that the ANC will grant them land and equity. Their rivals claim to see though it, and hold out for something better. Neither side is clearly right or wrong.

The best position for anyone to take to take isn’t entirely clear. But adults have compelled these young men to pick, and wait for violence to finally reach them.

Contemporary: Supporters of the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema, gather during clashes with police forces

Contemporary: Supporters of the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema gather during clashes with police forces.

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SA:’Race-Based’ Rations & Radicalization

Apartheid era menu showing the racialization of food rations.

Apartheid era menu showing the racialization of food rations.

During Apartheid, the political prisoners of South Africa’s Robben Island would frequently go on hunger strike over the quantity and quality of their rations.  Dietitians in the service of the state’s racial system determined ‘racial diets’, according to the Western determined ‘tastes’, with little input from the races themselves. Taste differs from individual to individual.

When prisoners complain, wardens would often respond, “like it,” or “I eat no better at home.” The food would then be quickly traded among the prisoners, until that activity found out and suspended; it later resumes.  There is no need for a racial structure of rations, except but to make detention efforts more backwards and cumbersome. Why should they go through such an effort?

It seems to me that a diet of hunger and frustration only serves to radicalize.

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SA TRC: What Truth & Reconciliation?

Tutu_TRC-1From the onset, declared in the constitution, amnesty for past atrocities was proscribed to all parties of South Africa’s Apartheid era conflicts. Initially, it was commonly represented that amnesty was granted for the crimes of the Boer. Men of all colors lost their hands, their lives, or bore indefinite detention, prison sentences or fire-bombings.

Yes, it is true that the state system of apartheid was an injustice. Anyone who did not recognize it long ago, realizes it now. Many whites might long for standard of living they once enjoyed, but all of us now know the great moral cost it inflicted.

It’s “a new beginning…not about skin color, culture, or language, but about people.” The international press would do well to recognize that, and not characterize the Afrikaner as the stereotypical villain. There are villains enough on all sides, regardless of color.

Amnesty, it turns out, has come to shield the new government from their crimes against humanity. The average individual did not engage in criminality. That was the doing of our government, and one set of tyrants has been traded for another.

Reconciliation will happen in the future, but not now. The wounds are too fresh. The villains have negotiated a compromise, and given themselves immunity from their actions. They will rule for another generation, and then maybe the tree will be cleansed from root to branch.

Image source & Additional TRC coverage: http://www.sthp.saha.org.za/memorial/articles/the_truth_and_reconciliation_commission.htm

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SA: Homeland of the ‘Migrant Labourer’

65-254-E6-168-overcoming_apartheid-a0a7h5-a_3272Blacks came to be considered ‘migrant labor’; never ‘indigenous’ in South Africa. If you were not able-bodied, you were a ‘superfluous appendage’ and subject to removal and criminal penalty.

White children could play in the park, supervised by their black nannies. Black children played in the street, unsupervised. The nanny feeds her charge but her children are malnourished back home. She is lucky, even, if she gets to see them. If the father also lucky, if he gets to play any part in raising the children, because the law forbids their cohabitation. Families are separated, consigned to hostel living, and state barriers to intermingling. 

‘Family’ reached new definitions under apartheid.

Whites, Coloureds, Asians, and ‘honorary whites’ have their own sit-down restaurants. Blacks are made by law to stand and eat the fast-food on their local corner.   Because of this, ALL people in SA are still forced to look over their shoulders in fear. Could policy makers not see how this builds resentments? Did they blindly believe these policies would stand in perpetuity?

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Amnesty Gives Power to ANC Criminals

The extent of the crimes is well known…
and the government is full of perpetrators…
can amnesty really be the mechanism of reconciliation?

1990: Namibian Independence: Winnie & Nelson Mandela with Joe Slovo at the Namibian Independence celebrations.

Winnie & Nelson Mandela with Joe Slovo at the Namibian Independence celebrations.

The many crimes of the ANC have been absolved by amnesty.

It’s hard to hear the name ‘Mandela’ without also recalling ‘Mandela United’ (football club) or the South African Communist Party. While the man himself may or may not be a Saint, he endorsed something which became so barbarous and wild. Near the end of his revolution, children were killing children. Who could know the number killed or maimed by land mines. Not to mention, conscionable dissenters, ‘rehabilitated’ at Camp Quatro. Is this how they will steward this new nation? the How could anyone, black or white, sleep safe.

If one was lucky to survive a revolution (which has the color of klepto-communism), must they now face a ring of violent conspirators and tortuous murderers as their newly elected ministers. Is this an improved South Africa; for everyone, black or white? Can the media be trusted to examine the corruption, or will they look over the scandal? Are they willing to challenge the ANC on behalf of their readers or viewership? Time will tell if this new nation will be victims, again, unless the rotten are purged.

The Party of a violent Revolution should not be the party of the people and state.

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SA: Land ‘Protection’ Racket

Horse safaris are popular in Bhangazi, SA

Horse safaris are popular in Bhangazi, SA

The Bhangazi’s claim on the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia is currently the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.  It has been labeled a World Heritage Site of ‘international importance’.  Is it important to protect these lands? Does international need trump local need? Were these lands protected to keep them from the Zulu in the first place? How much weight does the titanium of its dunes hold in the negotiation?

In 1998, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) asked people if they would rather a monetary payout than land and “the overwhelming majority” chose money. Would money solve their problems? Is a payoff in their best interest? Would it solve squalor, hunger, and HIV? Does it make sense to allow the disruption of productive white-owned farms for the newly enfranchised black novice? The government needs to sponsor holistic solutions.

What about the mines? Will Anglo-American extract the resource and export them as it suits their bottom line? Diamonds are plentiful here, yet most are poor. The mines should be African ran and should suffer no want of employment or lull in production. South African diamonds on the open market, for all purposes, beyond Western jewelry, could better the lives of people throughout the world.

image via https://www.facebook.com/kznhorsesafaris

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