Jy blaai in die argief vir 2010 April.

The letter that made my day, and the article behind it

April 15, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Dear Olivia Rose-Innes and Ilse Salzwedel

On behalf of the Lilly MDR-TB partnership, I teak great pleasure in confirming that your entry “You too could have TB” has won 1st place in the 2010 Lilly MDR-TB/ Red Cross “Speak up to stop TB” Media Award.

The judging panel unanimously agreed that your entry met the various judging criteria which included news value, relevance, ability to stimulate awareness about TB prevention and treatment, significance of the data presented, presentation of new data, research and treatments, clarity and accuracy in describing the science behind the story, effectiveness in communicating the story and creative journalistic approach.

This award recognises outstanding print and online journalism and honours journalists who serve their readers by providing responsible, accurate and timely information on tuberculosis prevention, research, development and treatment. Congratulations to you both on this outstanding achievement.

And a few techical things, amongst others how much money we won.

But hey, the joy of something like this lies both in the honour of winning, as well as the fact that one gets recognised for good work. Being a journalist is a lot of things, but it’s far from glamorous. You slave away behind your PC, hoping that your readers will like what you write. To then know that somebody didn’t only like it, but actually think it was worthy of an award, makes up for all those lonely hours late into the night.

Here’s the article on TB, and, like the title says, you too could have it. DON’T think TB is a poor man’s disease, and remember that it is completely curable if caught in time.

TB: you could have it too

Last updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 Print

 

Today, World TB Day, is celebrated around the globe to raise awareness of this devastating yet curable disease.

Before you read the article below to find out how TB can affect you, take a look at this moving photographic essay of TB in SA, check out these famous TB patients, or see how TB develops drug resistance.

Two-thirds of South Africans are already infected with TB. No one is immune.

 

By OLIVIA ROSE-INNES and ILSE SALZWEDEL

 

“If you want to avoid getting TB, don’t breathe!” says Professor Nulda Beyers, director of clinical research at the Desmond Tutu TB Centre in Cape Town.

She says this only partly in jest. These days tuberculosis is so rife in South Africa that it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure. In fact, according to the South African National Tuberculosis Association (Santa), it’s suspected that at least 66% of our population is infected – but in most cases the bacterium is harboured in a dormant state so the carrier is unaware of the infection.

So two-thirds of South Africans have TB infection – that’s double the already staggering global figure (about one-third). And this includes many people from privileged backgrounds. Although the poverty-stricken TB stereotype persists, says Beyers, no one should think they’re immune to this debilitating and potentially fatal disease. Anyone can get it, as these personal testimonies show:

Rob Erasmus, general manager of Cape Town’s Volunteer Wildfire Services, discovered he had TB when his lung ruptured during a SCUBA diving course in the 1980s:

“I’d undergone the necessary medical examination for the course, which included a chest X-ray.

“I was diving with a large group on the wreck of the Mauri between Hout Bay and Llandudo.

“At the end of the dive, I experienced pain in my chest as I was surfacing, and signalled to the dive master that something wasn’t right. He suggested I descend again and try to come up slower. This we did three or four times, but it didn’t work. When my own air ran out, I had to have the half-empty SCUBA tanks brought down to me from those divers who’d finished their dive.”

Eventually all the air tanks were empty, and Rob was forced to surface. This caused his lung to rupture and he had to be emergency airlifted to hospital.

“The tissue tests confirmed the left lung was badly infected with TB. I tried to get my hands on the original X-ray, but between the dive shop and the doctor it had ‘mysteriously’ vanished.

“I was not very happy with the doctor who’d done my diving medical exam. He’s still a respected doctor in the commercial diving world, but I’m afraid he ranks minus 10 in my book.”

Rob was very surprised by the diagnosis, and doesn’t recall having had symptoms: “I was studying at Cape Tech at the time, and living a typical student life. So the late nights and parties resulted in occasionally feeling exhausted – if the TB was kicking in, it was masked by that.”

“I don’t know where I could’ve got it. I was in the employ of Cape Nature Conservation, and the previous year I’d been in contact with some sick wild animals as part of my work, so I might have picked it up then.

“It was awkward putting family, friends and classmates through the inconvenience of having to go to the clinic for a check. The good news is that no one else in my circle picked it up.”

Apart from this, Rob says he’s always been open about having had the disease. “I’m not embarrassed about it at all – maybe because I’ve been able to do a lot post-TB.”

Rob went on to become a commercial diver and diving instructor, and became skilled in a range of other outdoor activities, from sailing to firefighting. “I’m now primarily in an operations management role with Volunteer Wildfire Services, but I spent a good six seasons fighting fires and don’t think my medical history had any negative impact on my ability.”

Bronwyn Thompson works as a medical technologist in a pathology lab, but again, it’s difficult to determine if that’s where she contracted TB. As she points out: “You can be standing in a supermarket queue and someone coughs, and that might be enough to get infected.”

Bronwyn, in her early twenties and athletic, also didn’t seem “the type” to get TB. She continued to push herself, despite months of respiratory infections and other clues that something was wrong. “It was increasingly difficult to do full exercise routines. My lungs would burn and my legs would feel like lead.”

“My boyfriend Tarren suggested I get tested for TB, but I had the ‘I can’t get it’ mindset. Also I’ve had asthma from childhood, so chest infections didn’t seem that unusual. I didn’t have typical symptoms like weight loss, and my cough was fairly mild. But you don’t realise how long you’ve been coughing. In my case, it was easily six months.”

The 2006 Aerobics-Gymnastics National Championships, in which Bronwyn took part, required lung function tests to prove to the Institute for Drug-Free Sports that she legitimately needed asthma medication. The results showed that her lung function was down – an indication of various respiratory conditions, including TB.

Eventually, after her doctors had tried changing her asthma pumps, and courses of antibiotics and hydrocortisone, they did a TB culture and chest X-ray – really, says Bronwyn, just to eliminate it as a possibility.

“When the doctor called with the news – fairly advanced TB, mostly in the left lung – I burst into tears. I was distraught, but also ridiculously ashamed.

“I had to tell my family and the group of interns I’d been working with. I was sure Tarren was infected (he wasn’t) – just before the diagnosis we’d gone camping and spent days together in a tent! In the beginning I was really anxious I’d infect people, and did things like putting bars of disinfectant soap around the house.

“But I was never once made to feel rejected or isolated: when I told people they literally just put their arms around me.

“It’s hard to stick with the treatment. The side effects get you down, as well as the fact of having to take all these drugs; my room looked like a pharmacy. At first you feel like everyone’s staring at you at the clinic, when you head to the – clearly marked – TB section with your sputum bottle. But you get over that!

“These days I’m happy to talk about it – it’s vital to get the word out. It’s so unnecessary people die from what is essentially a curable disease, purely through stigma and lack of knowledge.”

How do you catch TB?
When an infectious person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs or spits, droplets containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacterium that causes TB), spray into the air. People nearby may inhale these bacteria and become infected.

But despite the fact that TB is mainly spread through the very air we breathe, transmission usually only occurs after substantial exposure to someone with active TB. In other words, infectious patients are much more likely to pass the bugs to family members, colleagues or people they interact with daily, than strangers or those they only see occasionally.

After inhaled TB bacteria have settled in your lungs, one of two things can happen:

Either your immune system manages to contain the bacteria and keep them in an inactive state, or they multiply, leading to the development of TB disease.

The bugs versus the body
Most infected people never actually develop active TB. They don’t get sick, aren’t infectious and may not even realise they’re carrying the bacteria.

This is because the immune system controls the infection by forming “walls” around the bacteria: this is called inactive, dormant or latent TB.

But latent TB doesn’t always stay that way. Ten in 100 people with latent TB will develop active TB in their lifetimes – most likely within the first two years of infection.

Active TB can also occur directly after infection if the bacteria overcome the body’s immune defences and multiply. Some people develop TB disease within weeks of becoming infected, because their immune systems are simply too weak to stop the bacterial growth.

Other people with latent TB get sick later, when their immune systems become weakened through, for example, diseases or behaviours that cause immune suppression (most notably HIV, chemotherapy, poor nutrition or drug abuse).

Beyers says that there can also sometimes be a grey area between infection and disease. “Some people get infected and then only develop a very mild form of the disease – often with flu-like symptoms. So they may be unaware that they ever had it.”

How does active TB manifest?
TB usually attacks the lungs and can destroy parts of the tissue, making it difficult to breathe. Less commonly, the bacteria spread to other parts of the body, including the digestive and urogenital tracts, bones, joints, nervous system, lymph nodes and skin.

It can even attack the brain as a deadly form of meningitis, or break down vertebrae, causing sufferers to become humpbacked. A rare form of TB has also been known to disfigure the soft tissue of the face.

Tests, treatments and deterrents
The standard initial diagnostic test for TB infection is the tuberculin skin test: a small amount of testing fluid, called tuberculin, is injected under the skin of the arm and a small lump at the injection site usually indicates TB infection. Diagnosis of TB disease requires further tests such as a chest X-rays and sputum culture.

But TB is a complicated disease that’s often shrouded in shame. One of the biggest myths is that infected people need to be avoided or isolated for months. The result is that many people are afraid to get tested or make their diagnosis known.

“Some people hide their TB status because they think they’ll lose their jobs if they come clean,” says Professor Umesh Lalloo, head of the respiratory unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Nkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

“But if treatment is carried out correctly, a person with active TB will be non-infectious two weeks after starting treatment.”

Yes, TB is a highly dangerous disease, but it can be treated effectively. One caveat: the drug regimen (typically a six- to nine-month course) must be strictly adhered to. Many people stop taking their medication because they start feeling better or experience unpleasant side effects.

Tragically, this results in the development of drug-resistant strains of TB, which are making the epidemic much harder to control.

TB gets extreme
South Africans were shocked to learn of a frightening form of TB called XDR-(extreme drug-resistant) TB. Prof. Lalloo identified the XDR strain through research in the Tugela Ferry area. Further investigation has shown that XDR is cropping up all over South Africa and across the globe.

What makes XDR so virulent? “If you’re extremely resistant to TB drugs, there are very few treatment options,” says Lalloo. “And if someone is HIV-positive as well there’s an almost 100% mortality rate.”

Lalloo says South Africa’s TB infection rate has almost doubled in the last eight years: “In 2000 we reported about 500 new cases in every 100 000 people. This has grown to about 1 000 new cases per 100 000. Even more worrying is the fact that SA’s statistics don’t compare well with those of neighbouring countries, even though we are – on paper at least – one of the best resourced countries in Africa.”

Ideally, Lalloo says, there should be systems in place to identify at least 80% of TB infections. “Of that 80%, we must be able to cure at least 80% of cases if we want to prevent the spread of XDR-TB.”

Should you get tested?
A TB test is strongly recommended in any of the following cases:

  • You’ve spent time recently (i.e. in the last two years) with someone who has TB or you work in an environment where rates of infectious TB are very high (e.g. large healthcare institutions).
  • You are HIV-positive, or have another condition that causes immune suppression. If someone with latent TB contracts HIV, the risk of developing active TB rises from 10% during his or her lifetime to 10% a year.
  • You develop symptoms that suggest TB – such as a persistent cough, coughing up sputum or blood, chest pain, fatigue, unexplained loss of weight or appetite, chills and fever, night sweats and shortness of breath or wheezing.
  • Other less common symptoms include joint pain, diarrhoea, loss of hearing, a persistent lump or lesion and swollen fingers or toes.
  • If you are due to undergo chemotherapy, your doctors may advise a TB test, and treatment for latent TB if you test positive.
  • Children under five are at high risk of developing TB disease once they have been infected. For example, if your child’s teacher or childminder has been diagnosed with TB, it’s a good idea to have your child tested for TB.

In all of these high-risk cases, a positive TB test will require treatment. Even if your diagnosis is latent TB, you should still take a prophylactic course of drugs to prevent the development of active TB.

Testing and treatment for latent TB is not considered necessary for people who do not fall into the risk categories mentioned here.

As always, prevention is better than cure
To help protect yourself from contracting TB you need to follow a healthy lifestyle and support your immune system with good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient rest. To further improve your chances: know your HIV status and don’t smoke.

Tobacco smoke increases the risk of becoming infected in the first place, of latent TB becoming TB disease, and of TB being fatal. To make matters worse, second-hand smoke is also linked to an increased risk of infection in children.

Can you protect your child against TB?
It’s essential that babies receive the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination, because it prevents serious types of TB such as TB meningitis or disseminated TB (which spreads to other organs and limbs) in children under two, says Professor Willem Hanekom, laboratory director of the South African TB Vaccine Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

“This vaccine is 80% successful and is one of the safest vaccines.” Currently BCG is the only TB vaccine in the world for the prevention of the disease.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work for adults, Hanekom says. “It’s also not effective against pulmonary TB, the most common type of TB.”

Tannemys and the blind date

April 14, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

In Afrikaans a blind date is called a toe oë-afspraak. Or, if you translate it literally, a blinde datum. Whatever you prefer to call it, it’s still a very scary thing to do, isn’t it?

One of the drawbacks of being VERY single is to find a date for official occasions such as award dinners, etc. I have taken my friends in the past, but since they are all otherwise engaged this coming weekend, moi jokingly told Afrikaans radio presenter Ian Wessels he should find a date for me.

Man, if only I knew Ian would actually go and do that! Now I am going to this dinner on Friday accompanied by somebody I know nothing about. Zip, zilch, nada. (I was on another call last night when Ian phoned to tell me all about my date. So, I suppose I’ll hear about him today, but for now I’m busy chewing my nails. I’m actually typing this with two stumps – I have gently nibbled off both hands, and are now moving onto my wrists…)

Oh wait, I am lying. Ian did say something in his voicemail about the guy being 6ft 3.

So, not anybody to leave anything to chance, I compiled a wee list of questions (before I started chewing) and mailed it to Ian. Here goes:

1) Is he really 6ft 3?

2) Does he have hair and teeth? Is it his own?

3) What is his mother’s maiden name?

4) Is she coming with on the date?

5) Any crazy ex-wives / ex-husbands I should defend myself against?

6) Does this guy fancy bubblegumflavoured-anything?

7) Should I bring a Black Label or Chivas. Only pick one!

8) Is he going to wear a safari suit?

9) Does his Vespa have a little canopy so that he doesn’t get wet in the rain?

And then, of course, the jackpot question:

10) How much did you have to pay him to agree to accompany me?

I’ll let you know what the answers were.

Huisgodsdiens

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

WAARSKUWING: Hierdie post mag dalk moontlik gesien word as haatspraak teen Engelse…

Ek het al voorheen iets gepost oor kinders se godsdiensflaters. Onthou die een van die seuntjie wat alte sedig gebid het om bewaar te word van die dose? (Regtig, ‘n predikant se kind, nogal.)

Het pas huisgodsdiens gehou, en toe word dit een van daardies wat die Liewe Vader seker ook laat proes het van die lag.

Ek probeer my kinders in elke opsig by die gebruik betrek. Die 8-jarige lees byvoorbeeld ook ‘n stukkie elke aand uit sy eerste eie “groot” Bybel. Hy het dit by die tannies van die gemeente gekry toe hy gedoop is, en toe ek dit nou die dag uithaal na al die jare se veilig wegbêre, het hy dadelik probeer groot woorde lees.

Vanaand was hy te moeg, en net die oudste lees. Met al die erns van ‘n 11-jarige lees sy toe iets ingewikkelds (hulle mag self die stukkies kies wat hulle wil voorlees) wat gaan oor sonde en hoe dit mens in die doderyk laat beland.

Eerste glips: doderyk word donderryk. Waar ek toe natuurlik aan die lag raak. (Sy gelukkig ook.)

Na ‘n hele paar false starts (ek het toe maar gese sy moet net ASSEBLIEF nie weer daardie woord lees nie om die gegiggel te vermy) lees sy toe sonder ernstige wanuitsprake verder.

Toe bid ons. Sy bid vir dese en gene, arm mense, ryk mense, groot diertjies, klein diertjies en alle ander diertjies, hartseer mense, siek mense, die president, sê dankie vir skool (weird kind, ek weet!) ensovoorts. En ensovoorts. En omdat ek ‘n goeie ma is en haar regtig haar eie pad wil laat stap met die Here, bly ek stil. G’n kritiek oor ‘n ander mens se gebed sal oor my lippe kom nie.  

Ook maar goed so, want toe ek bid, vra ek so byna-byna dat die Here Engelse moet stuur om ons te beskerm… Gelukkig ko ek die –s- net betyds insluk sodat dit darem nog soos engele geklink het.

(By the way, dit was seker die Engelse wat die keer aan diens was toe die kopernommers op my muur gesteel is. En deurieblare ekke sien dit eers vanaand. My broer reken dit het al iewers in laasjaar gebeur.)

Ever wondered what a Ventersdorp Harley looked like? (Funny)

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

My friend Lodewikus Johannesburger sent me this tongue-in-the-cheek pic.

DISCLAIMER: ANY DISCRIMINATION YOU WISH TO READ INTO THIS PIC COMES FROM YOUR OWN TWISTED MIND. Don’t call me a -ist anything!

A joke on municipal workers (in line with the strikes)

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Sorry, not very PC. But too true – at least in some municipal councils around the country.

A bloke goes to the local council to apply for a job in the office.

The interviewer asks him, “Are you allergic to anything?”

He replies, “Yes, caffeine.”

“Have you ever worked for the public service before?”

“Yes, I was in the army.” he says, “I was in  Iraq for two tours.”

The interviewer says, “That will give you 5 extra points toward employment.”

Then he asks, “Are you disabled in any way?”

The guy says, “Yes. A mine exploded near me when I was there and I lost both of my testicles”.

The interviewer grimaces and then says, “O.K. You’ve got enough points for me to take you on right away. Our normal hours are from 8.00am  to 4.00pm…

…but you can start tomorrow at 10.00am – and carry on starting at 10.00am every day.”

The bloke is puzzled and asks, “If the work hours are from 8.00am to 4.00pm, why don’t you want me here until 10.00am? I’m not looking for any special treatment y’know”

“What you have to understand is that this is a council job,” the interviewer says,
“For the first two hours, we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our bollocks. There’s no point in you coming in for that.”

 

 

  

Kader Asmal’s speech on our fragile democracy at Unisa last night

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

It’s quite a long speech, so I took out the beginning and end, mostly to do with Unisa, and highlighted some of his thoughts. I think this is one of the braver stances against the current political climate. Asmal gives a voice to our collective fears of what could go wrong in this country, and of the damage Motormouth Malema is doing with his utterances. And no, it’s not the media’s fault that he is talked about – if the media ignores him, they will be told that they are not reporting what the people are feeling. So, don’t blame Malema being what he is on the media – he is totally responsible for all the feelings about him.

Here goes:

I would contend that the greatest national achievement of our liberation and transition to democracy was the crafting of a constitution and constitutional order that is held as legitimate and just domestically, and viewed internationally with some envy. Because it was actively negotiated, everyone’s needs were taken into account.

Our Constitution is not the obstacle to whatever cherished idea politicians wish to pursue, whether it is land reform or transformation. It is a native-hewed document, not imposed on us but negotiated by South Africans. Let me repeat, for the benefit of some of our leaders today, that it is a national document, the product of collective minds.

But something is now going worryingly wrong with our constitutional order and, in turn, with our democracy. For it simply does not matter how elegant our institutions of democracy are, if they are not cherished, invigorated and protected by all of us, politicians, jurists, academics, the media and the citizenry. It is not acceptable for public leaders to genuflect to constitutionalism while attacking it by stealth. Today I fear we are observing our constitutional order being chiselled away to the point where we risk losing sight of the founding principles and practices of our democracy. One can see it and hear it.


Yet it is the principles of our constitutional project and its core values which have in the past two decades saved us from what could have been cataclysmic events.

Many, on hearing the news of the murder of Eugene TerreBlanche, will have recalled the Easter weekend seventeen years ago when Chris Hani was slain. Both aroused deep-rooted fears, and could have been disastrous; yet they were very different events.

Hani’s murder was truly calamitous: a potential leader of a democratic South Africa cut down, never to see the fruition of a struggle he had helped win. Then, we seemed on a knife’s edge, as if there might be no containment of violence, as if every aggrieved force might be unleashed. But our leaders cautioned restraint, called for calm. If a giant had fallen, there were others to take up his load.

Now, there is no knife’s edge. No giant has fallen and there is no political conspiracy at play to undo our democracy and provoke widespread violence. It is altogether much more banal. A man was brutally slain in the course of a labour dispute, the brutality of his killing perhaps prompted by the brutality this man had long owned as his personal political ideology. Although threats of retaliation were initially made, they were quickly withdrawn. Good sense prevailed – though the cynic might hold that there aren’t the forces to make good on the threat: the AWB is a spent political force.

And yet if there is no apocalyptic frame for this murder, still its fact must worry us. Writing in the Makwanyane judgment, finding the death penalty cruel, inhuman and degrading and a violation of the right to life, Judge Chaskalson wrote: “It is only if there is a willingness to protect the worst and the weakest amongst us, that all of us can be secure that our own rights will be protected.”

Chaskalson was writing about the Constitution and why a state should be willing to protect the rights of minorities but his reasoning should resonate in the manner of our treatment of each other: if TerreBlanche, of the worst among us, could live free in South Africa then it seemed that we might all reasonably expect the same.

Most of us will not be mourning the passing of this man, yet the scenes of jubilation and approbation that greeted his suspected killers outside the courthouse must unsettle us. So too, the remnants of the AWB thronged outside the courthouse, intent on provoking and intimidating.

 

And it is this – the politics of intimidation, of bullying – that seems so much today the style of our political engagement: a style, I am sorry to say, very much favoured by our political superiors.

 

The examples are plentiful: a police chief gotten up in military insignia, a presidential bodyguard runs amok, attacks on individual judges for not delivering favourable verdicts, academic freedom (the heart of life as an academic) dangerously dismissed as the vehicle for counter-revolutionaries; appointments to judicial and quasi-judicial offices that appear deliberately to change the nature of these organs; threats by the ANCYL against “gangsta journalists” for daring to report on the business interests of Julius Malema,

Let me turn for a minute to that young man, of whom it may be the less said the better, but who happens to be the lightning rod for much of this politics of intimidation. Asked over the weekend about an order by the judiciary – one of the three central branches of government – prohibiting the singing of the “Kill the Boer”’ song, he responded: “The order was granted by an untransformed judicial system, which is the same one that was operating during the apartheid system. It [the judiciary] was defeated.” Attacks on our judiciary, and personalised attacks at that, are now standard notes in our political discourse and it should go without saying that these ad hominem attacks, from authorities within the ruling party, do little to inspire confidence in the constitutional project of co-operative governance that the ruling party as largest partner in this project is constitutionally enjoined to uphold.

And what of another dimension to these remarks, to which less attention has been paid – that they were made in Zimbabwe, after tribute had been paid to President Mugabe and ZANU-PF, without respect for the role of mediator that our government has assumed, trying to bring parties together to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.

And what of the song? At present there is a court order in place which, like it or not, we must respect. I am not certain though that the song itself falls foul of South African law or that the law under which it is ostensibly prohibited is not itself constitutionally suspect. Many of us may think that the furore over the song is a rather hysterical overreaction; yet if it creates genuine fear among some South Africans, whether or not we believe that fear is well-founded, doesn’t that compel our leaders to exercise some reflection, issue some recognition of the fear caused and not require a court order before doing so?

The politics of fear, of intimidation, is anathema to our constitutional project. By “constitutional project” I refer to something broader than the constitution’s text. What I want to suggest tonight is, I realise, somewhat paradoxical and perhaps even counterintuitive, given that so many in South Africa go without even the most basic necessities. But here it is: that the constitution is sometimes too much and sometimes too little for what is required of the constitutional project.

Take the song. Even assuming it is protected under our constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression – that anyone singing it is well within their rights to do so — is it wise for the governing party to endorse it when it so obviously breeds fear, however unfounded we believe that fear may be? If we define the constitutional project as the realisation of a politics in which all South Africans believe that their lives and aspirations are best secured under a constitutional democracy, overseen not only by a judiciary but by the executive and legislature too, then surely we should not insist on the realisation of the outer reaches of the rights. Here, in these specific circumstances, it may appear that the Constitution may offer too much.

But when is it too little? I spoke earlier of co-operative governance – a central, animating concept of our constitution and the constitutional project – and made reference to the extent it was undermined by persons in powerful political positions proclaiming that they would refuse to adhere to court rulings. These are pretty unambiguous instances in which co-operative governance is compromised. But the undermining of the government’s role as mediator in Zimbabwe, the low-level executive decision-making steering our police force towards remilitarisation, these are less clear illustrations of violations of co-operative governance principles. Because co-operative governance is a broad and fairly amorphous concept, and although the Constitution enumerates some fairly terse principles of co-operative governance, the constitutional injunctions alone cannot be exhaustive of what the concept means.

I am not advocating amendments to the Constitution. What I am advocating is both easier and harder: what the constitutional project requires is discipline, measure, reflection, depth, self-restraint and forbearance on the part of our political leaders. And I don’t mean this only within the ruling party. The carping, scolding tone that is so often the opposition is also lacking in these qualities.

The young leaders who claim the mantle of the revolution often seem to lack the qualities of reflection, of restraint, of control. And in their fervour, they would likely claim that moderation, measure and reflection are the very opposite of the revolutionary impulse. But they would be wrong. There are none who embody these qualities – none who knew what it was to be restrained, disciplined, measured – so much as those who led the struggle to defeat apartheid and usher in a democratic constitutional order.

For all the sense of polarisation that pervades South Africa right now, there is nonetheless something positive to be taken from recent events. TerreBlanche’s murder triggered a collective memory, not a polarised one – the killing of Chris Hani and its response, and the forbearance and discipline and restraint by those who had every reason to want to avenge his death. Outside of the framework of our Constitution – the interim Constitution was still a year from being enacted – it was nonetheless one of the fundamental moments of our constitutional project. It established a precedent of greatness, a measure by which those who swore vengeance in the aftermath of the TerreBlanche killing could only be diminished. Its memory reminds us of the keynotes of our constitutional project: of grace, of generosity, of measure, of dignity, of depth and of discipline.

NO grace, No reticence, no measure, no dignity, no depth, no limitation is accepted.

Recently, a researcher collared me at a cocktail party and asked, “Professor Asmal, where is the new generation of you? People who care for and are prepared to speak out in protection of our constitution and its rights?” I told him that there are such people out there and that they are coming through into public life and I know that some are counted amongst you. But the researcher has a point. In the past our youth was often in the van of our struggle, stoking our debates and changing our discourse, but today, I see too many youth chasing material wealth and bling, without giving questions of social justice a second thought. Indeed increasingly, political activism is becoming synonymous with or an excuse for personal position, access and wealth. This is corruption of the most corrosive kind and must be tackled at root.

 (The rest of the speech mostly dealt with Unisa matters, but it’s available on http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article400246.ece/Kader-Asmals-speaks-on-the-constitution

I see in the news…

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

…that Steve Hofmeyr is being protected by members of the police’s VIP-protection services, and it’s costing us taxpayers money. Apparently his life is in danger after recently gaaning af about Malema.

Hoe nou? 

I wouldn’t say it’s only because of his letter to Malema. (Then almost everybody I know will need police protection, myself included.)

No Steve, I would say it’s getting up at ET’s funeral saying that you promised ET you’ll take his cause further.  Sorry if I misunderstood you, but if you take ET’s cause up, it means you side yourself with the AWB. Or am I naive to see it that way?

Anyhoe, I wonder if Steve has thought this one through. A political career is a whole different cup of tea from being best selling Afrikaans artist saying something political every now and again. I know Steve as a man who speaks up for what he believes in, but this is a bit rich, even for him.

Other news is that a few mediahouses, amongst others Beeld and e.tv, has requested Mr Dario Milo from Webber Wentzel to start legal proceedings to ensure that the media can cover the trial of ET’s alleged murderers. At this stage, it looks the trial will be held in camera because of the youngest suspect’s age.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see why this should be held in camera. We see news coverage almost daily in which minors are being trialed. Then the media simply reports that the minor can’t be identified. Why not treat this crime in exactly the same way?

I see in the news…

April 13, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

…that Steve Hofmeyr is being protected by members of the police’s VIP-protection services, and it’s costing us taxpayers money. Apparently his life is in danger after recently gaaning af about Malema.

Hoe nou? 

I wouldn’t say it’s only because of his letter to Malema. (Then almost everybody I know will need police protection, myself included.)

No Steve, I would say it’s getting up at ET’s funeral saying that you promised ET you’ll take his cause further.  Sorry if I misunderstood you, but if you take ET’s cause up, it means you side yourself with the AWB. Or am I naive to see it that way?

Anyhoe, I wonder if Steve has thought this one through. A political career is a whole different cup of tea from being best selling Afrikaans artist saying something political every now and again. I know Steve as a man who speaks up for what he believes in, but this is a bit rich, even for him.

Other news is that a few mediahouses, amongst others Beeld and e.tv, has requested Mr Dario Milo from Webber Wentzel to start legal proceedings to ensure that the media can cover the trial of ET’s alleged murderers. At this stage, it looks the trial will be held in camera because of the youngest suspect’s age.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see why this should be held in camera. We see news coverage almost daily in which minors are being trialed. Then the media simply reports that the minor can’t be identified. Why not treat this crime in exactly the same way?

This is what we need! Pole dancing lessons!!

April 12, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

News just in: Cambridge students are getting pole dancing lessons to destress during their summer exams. (See full story below.)

I say this is what we need in South Africa. Just think: we have so many street lights that are out of order, that their is definitely a pole for every stressed South African! Their are also many unused stop signs that can come in real handy, and many traffic lights that seem to be confused daily with Xmas lights. I say we break the lights right off, arange them in a circle around the pole, and make all agro BMW drivers dance away in peak traffic. (Or, for that matter, any driver who just shows the merest little hint of road rage. And some intersection beggars too – especially those that one can clearly see is high on something other than life.)

And even those of us who can’t afford high heels (or falls over wearing high heals, or who can’t get high heels to go with their rugbyshorts, long socks and hairy chests) can partake, as Cambridge students are encouraged to do it barefoot. (Poledancing, that is. What were YOU thinking, pervert?)

Any volunteers to teach us lot? Please don’t ask Jewels the Joefleader. After his little chair-throwing-demonstration on Saturday, I shudder to think what he will want to do with a pole.

Pole dancing is also a brilliant tool in the peace process. You can’t hold a placard or a Vierkleur while hanging onto a pole for dear life. As for singing Bobbejaan klim die berg, that will then refer to all of us wannabe gymnasts, so it can’t be used to insult anybody either!

Pole dance class /PA

Cambridge University students are to be offered pole dancing classes to help relieve summer exam stress.

Lessons will take place in the Blue Room of the Union building, better known as the venue for debates among the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It will be the first time private pole dancing lessons have been offered by a Cambridge University society, and will cost just £2 an hour for Union members, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Four ‘pole-fitness’ sessions, starting on April 25 at 6pm, are currently confirmed and advertised as being for women only, with no experience necessary.

Juan de Francisco, the Union Ents Officer responsible for arranging the dance classes, admitted they could attract controversy, but were intended as “harmless fun”.

He said: “The classes are for fitness and well-being, and are not intended to be sexual.

“High heels are actually discouraged – the instructor has told me that attendees should wear trainers or go bare-foot.

“The idea actually wasn’t mine – it was suggested to me by a female member of the Union who takes classes by the same instructor.

“I then went to the Ents Committee and asked for their opinions. I only received responses from the female members of the Committee.”

Newly-elected Juan, promised “to turn the Union into a fun refuge during a tough exam term” and said the classes could help with work-related stress.

By the way, this is a true story.

(Acknowledgement: www.ananova.com)

This guy has guts

April 12, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

On his facebook page he not only has a petition for the removal of Julius Malema as ANCYL-leader (see www.mypetition.co.za/index.php?pa…) but he also sent this e-mail into the world. (Incidentally, the petition was launched in March already, long before the rubbish of the last ten days).

Before I get crucified again, this is a COPY AND PASTE post of a letter by Marumo Lekwankwa, e-mailed on Saturday. I got it via e-mail from a friend:

 

« MALEMA THE FOOL »
>
> From:
>
> Marumo Lekwankwa
>
> To:
>
> Members of *HELEN ZILLE FOR PRESIDENT*
>
> When:
>
> Today at 02:31
>
> Message:
>
> We are not here to mourn the white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche
,
> whose funeral took place yesterday, but since his name is on the
> world’s lips, let’s face the truth: the saddest thing about his murder
> last weekend is that it obscured an event that casts an infinitely
> darker shadow.
>
> The event took place in Zimbabwe, and involved, as fate would have it
,
> Julius Malema, the ANC Youth League leader whose repeated singing of
> an old struggle song about shooting Boers is viewed by many Afrikaners
> as an incitement towards precisely the sort of violence that claimed
> Terreblanche’s life. Even as an iron bar shattered the old
> right-winger’s skull, Malema was in Harare, feasting with Robert
> Mugabe and picking up tips on how best to destroy the teetering
> remnants of Western influence here in South Africa. Terreblanche’s
> murder was an individual tragedy. Malema’s actions threaten to destroy
> an entire subcontinent.
>
> Julius Malema is a chubby man-child who rose to prominence as Jacob
> Zuma’s attack dog, threatening violence against anyone who sought to
> block the Zulu patriarch’s rise to the state presidency. When Zuma
> emerged triumphant, Malema found himself in the pound seats. A poorly
> educated 28-year-old, he mysteriously acquired two posh houses, a
> fleet of cars and an obscenely expensive Breitling watch – curious
> accessories for a man who positions himself as champion of the poor.
>
> Malema openly professes dislike for “children of the colonialists”, a
> term he insists is not synonymous with white people. At other times,
> he says he doesn’t hate white people, just the quality of “whiteness”.
> In Malema’s circle, this sort of juvenile wordplay passes as
> intellectuality. His utterances are often buffoonish, his politics a
> mix of crude populism and sinister racial demagoguery.
>
> Malema is the vulgarian who dismissed the woman who laid a rape charge
> against Zuma as a slut, arguing that any female who stays for
> breakfast in rape’s aftermath “clearly enjoyed herself”. He levelled
> similar slurs at Opposition leader Helen Zille, calling her “a racist
> little girl” who slept with all her male colleagues. In every case, he
> seemed to relish the resulting outrage, especially if it came from
> whites. But this was a sideshow. In South Africa, the real struggle is
> the struggle between rival ANC factions, eager for power and its
> spoils. It is in this arena that Malema’s behaviour acquires a
> disturbing cast.
>
> When Jacob Zuma came to power a year ago, most observers were
> expecting a sharp turn Leftward, but the Zulu patriarch was at pains
> to allay such concerns. He toured the UK and Europe, assuring
> financiers that their investments were safe in South Africa. A few
> months later, Malema begged to differ: nationalisation is very much on
> the cards, he said. Zuma’s minister of mines, Susan Shabangu, issued a
> stern reprimand, saying that South Africa’s minerals would never be
> nationalised “in my lifetime”. Malema just laughed, accusing Shabangu
> of “sucking up to monopoly capital” and hinting she would soon be out
> of a job.
>
> In African culture, it is shameful to address one’s elders in this
> manner, but Malema got away with it. Emboldened, he took to
> excoriating his superiors for placing key economic ministries in the
> hands of whites and Indians. Then he picked a fight with cabinet
> minister Jeremy Cronin, South Africa’s most visible white Communist,
> who had dared to opine that his enthusiasm for nationalisation had
> much to do with a fondness for bling and nothing to do with the plight
> of the poor. In response, Malema reportedly sent Cronin a threatening
> SMS: “Wait to see what’s coming to you.”
>
> Alarm was mounting, but Malema appeared untouchable. Two weeks ago, he
> made an extraordinary speech at the wedding of Robert Gumede, an IT
> entrepreneur grown rich off government contracts. Grinning
> malevolently, Malema warned Gumede that the masses were coming to take
> his money away. Billionaire Patrice Motsepe and ANC treasurer Mathews
> Phosa were told to expect a similar fate. Zola Skweyiya, South
> Africa’s high commissioner in the UK, was mocked as a coward who had
> become “scared” of foreign capitalists. “Skweyiya is telling investors
> in London that nationalisation of mines will not happen,” said Malema.
> The youth leader clearly had other ideas.
>
> Insulting a man of Skweyiya’s stature is an unspeakable violation of
> African etiquette. Malema’s utterances were also an outrageous
> violation of his party’s standing policy on nationalisation. I assumed
> the ANC’s elders now had no choice other than to put him firmly in his
> place. I was wrong. No one said a word.
>
> It was against this backdrop that Malema set forth for Zimbabwe last
> weekend. In the past, he has always hewed to the ANC line: Mugabe’s
> disastrous policies will not be emulated in South Africa. The rule of
> law will be upheld, the constitution respected. There will be no land
> invasions, no nationalisation of mines or businesses.
>
> But something has clearly changed. On his trip to Harare, Malema was
> met at the airport by a clutch of notorious profiteers whose
> connection to the great dictator enabled them to grow rich even as
> their country died. These “vultures” are said to be slavering at the
> prospect of another killing as Mugabe moves to dismember Zimbabwe’s
> last surviving businesses and mines in the name of “indigenisation”.
>
> By all accounts, Malema was thrilled to make their acquaintance. They
> organised a crowd to sing his controversial song about shooting Boers.
> Then they whisked him off in a presidential Mercedes Benz and put him
> up in Harare’s most expensive hotel. In return, Malema expressed his
> unqualified admiration for the policies that have ruined Zimbabwe and
> vowed to press for their adoption south of the Limpopo River.
>
> “In South Africa, we are just starting,” said Malema. “Here you are
> already very far. We are very happy today that you can account for
> more than 300,000 new farmers, against the 4,000 who used to dominate
> agriculture. We hear you are now going straight to the mines. That’s
> what we are going to be doing in South Africa. We want the mines. They
> have been exploiting our minerals for a long time. Now it’s our turn
> also to enjoy from those minerals…”
>
> On Thursday, Malema reiterated these sentiments at a press conference
> marked by an ugly racial attack on a BBC reporter. There has been no
> repudiation. The silence says something truly ominous: Malema has
> protection. Someone in the ANC – either the president himself, or an
> awesomely powerful faction inside the party – is encouraging him to
> rally the masses for a Zimbabwe-style obliteration of Africa’s only
> viable economy and last surviving hope.
>
> I thought that only the South African Communist Party (SACP) was
> capable of irrationality on such a dumbfounding scale. I was wrong.
> Malema is not a tool of the SACP. In fact, he’s at constant odds with
> the SACP’s leadership. The other day he even resurrected Pretoria’s
> old Red Menace theory, accusing “yellow Communists” – a veiled
> reference to Indians in the party’s leadership – of plotting to
> control the ANC by secret means. Anyone who voices such painful truths
> cannot possibly be an ally of the SACP.
>
> Besides, the Reds are fairly sophisticated, whereas Malema’s every
> utterance is a cringe-inducing embarrassment. Listen to him in Harare
> last Saturday: “They are so bright, so colourful, we refer to them as
> white people. Maybe their colour came as a result of exploiting our
> minerals and perhaps if some of us get opportunities in these minerals
> we can develop a nice colour like them.” This is not a coldly
> scientific Marxist-Leninist. It’s Pere Ubu or Idi Amin.
>
> It could be that President Zuma has simply lost control of the ANC, or
> that Malema is the puppet he uses to mouth ideas too radical to emerge
> from the presidency. If you ask me, Malema is the point-man for a
> powerful ANC faction whose motive is greed and whose chosen weapon is
> racial demagoguery of the most primitive kind.
>
> The trouble is that this card trumps all others. Our underclass is
> huge, poorly educated and desperately poor. They know what happened in
> Zimbabwe, but even so, the prospect of loot is irresistible, and
> that’s Malema’s bait. Mandela gave them free houses. Mbeki gave them
> welfare grants, leading to a situation where five million taxpayers
> support 13 million indigents, with the total rising far more rapidly
> than our ability to pay. Now Malema and the faceless vultures behind
> him are offering them the rest. They are playing the death card, the
> Ace of Spades

 

Certainly a very interesting perspective on Malema, don’t you think?