Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

The Choice (from a New Book by Craig Lock)

December 30, 2012

                      Helicopter Ride Perth Western Australia

This is a helicopter ride over Perth Western Australia on Heli West. It goes over the city up to Hillarys, Scarborough beach, Cottesloe beach

Perth – Australia

Official Video from Western Australia State, showing the wonderful city of Perth. (video from

Move to Australia? – Move to Perth – Views from Kings Park

Move to Australia? – Move to Perth Promo

See what life is like in Perth, Australia. Jobs, climate, houses, schools – a picture says a thousand words! Tessa Steven a UK migrant has filmed


“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

October 29, 2012

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

– anon

The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at

ebooks (digital books)

Paperbacks (see and


All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children –


“When the writer is no more , the value of your purchase will soar! “

“Together, one mind, one heart, one life, one small step at a time, let’s link hands and march into a new tomorrow, a better and brighter future. TOGETHER we can do it”

– c from

TOGETHER, one mind, one heart, one soul, one small step at a time, we can make some difference towards a better world, a brighter tomorrow

A stunning dawn in the beautiful Mother City of South Africa
Picture (great) by my old friend John (“the world’s third worst photographer”, so he calls himself), but whose photographic talents I definitely  do NOT possess)!
web sites:


Great Stories :The Film Searching for Sugarman

October 28, 2012

Great stories :The Film  Searching for Sugarman

“’Searching for Sugar Man’ is the kind of story everyone would like to have made about their own life, a story about how your actions can affect people, people you have never even met, in a positive way, even if you never, ever know about it. And, even if, someday, you do. “

Picture: Lions Head, Cape Town, the beautiful Mother City of South Africa with Table Bay and Robben Island in the distance (where Nelson Mandela, “a true champion of justice, peace and reconciliation” made huge sacrifices being imprisoned all those long years in his pursuit of his cause, his ideals, his dream for a “unified Beloved Country”)


July 28, 2012
My first novel

My first novel



Craig’s various novels on South Africa have led him to this point “on the writing journey”

The End of the Line (South Africa) by Craig Lock (Aug 17, 2011)

The New Rainbow by Craig Lock (Feb 14, 2012)

Angolan Dawn by Craig Lock (Aug 10, 2011)

. OVER THE RAINBOW (RAINBOWS) by Craig Lock (Aug 11, 2011)

Dropped Out in Godzone by Craig Lock and Marie Lock (Apr 4, 1997)

CAPE TOWN: The Beautiful “Mother City” (of South Africa) by craig lock and Gordon Richardson (Dec 26, 2011)

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela (Madiba) (A Tribute to Ayrtion Senna, A tribute to Martin Luther-King) by Craig Lock and craig (Jan 29, 2012)

The Awakened Spirit (A New Dawn and Craig’s Spiritual Books) by Craig Lock (Aug 13, 2004)

Angolan Dawn by Craig Lock (Jan 31, 2012)

The Awakening (Savuka)* (A New Dawn) by craig lock (Dec 29, 2011)

The New Rainbow (Rainbows) by Craig Lock (Aug 12, 2011)

I’ll Do It My Way: My Story by Craig Lock (Aug 10, 2011)

# Return of the Chickens by Craig Lock (Aug 11, 2011)


The End Of The Line (Volume 1) by Craig Lock (Feb 7, 2012)

Paperback: $10.90

The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: and

All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – mine!



Craig’s various novels on South Africa have led him to this point “on the writing journey”

 Angolan Dawn by Craig Lock (Jan 31, 2012)

To the End of the Rainbow

The various books* that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at: and

All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – mine!

My first novel


July 2, 2011



Tags (key words): South Africa, dream, dreams, my young dream, ‘Long Walk to Freedom and Peace’, Craig Lock, hope,  New books, soccer,

Web sites: and


Here is a short extract from ‘Long Walk to Freedom and Peace’ that craig is currently writing (or perhaps “it’s writing itself”)…

I don’t know how the story will end…

But I do know how it all began…

For Lynda and Sharon in “Joey’s”,  and Steve, Glenda, Paula , Dylan and Graham in the beautiful mother city of Cape Town. Also to dearest mom and dad. Thanks for all the support, encouragement and most of all, love.




It was a cold dreary mid-winter evening in 1975, a year before the Soweto riots that started a great upheaval in the “beloved” country.


The young man was very excited as he caught the bus to the soccer ground in Observatory to see a historic football match between the Greek-based side Hellenic (from the other side of the beautiful mother city) and the black team from Soweto outside Johannesburg (Egoli, the city of gold). Watching his team Cape Town City play at Hartleyvale was his usual Friday night entertainment during the long rainy winter at the Southern tip of the vast “dark” continent.


Even though it was a friendly soccer match , this was to be the first time a black team had played against a white team in the racially divided and rigidly repressed country. The game went off without incident; in spite of prior apprehension by many and was played in a great spirit. The young man marvelled at the exceptional ball skills displayed by the black players, their creativity, flair and finesse; but he also greatly valued the discipline in defence, self control and the stategic and tactical ‘nous’ of the white players in the opposing teams. It was a great contrast in styles, yet both added greatly to the spectacle through different and yet diverse sets of skills. It was as if the whole was greater than the whole.


Though relaxed, that night the blonde-haired man had difficulty getting to sleep … as the thoughts kept swirling around in his head. It hadn’t mattered who had won the game (though he thinks it may have been a draw). And these thoughts began to germinate in the days following. He always expressed himself far better in writing than the spoken word, so the next day he “penned” a letter to his beautiful girlfriend with the jet-black hair, Lynda … in which he shared a vision of the future…of what his “beloved” country could perhaps one day become through encompassing the best of both white and black cultures.

Sport for unity… as a tool in advancement for equality and freedom.


And a celebration of diversity… two worlds in one country…and one at peace with itself…at long last!


That was the young man’s dream in the dark days of the year nineteen seventy five


And that night as he lay in bed,  “young whitey” recalled the words of former US senator, Robert Kennedy who had visited South Africa about eight years earlier:

“ Look at things not as they are, but what can they can perhaps one day become”

Then he fell into a deep sleep, peacefully, blissfully…


“Few (of us) will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (she or) he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
— the powerful and greatly inspiring words of Robert F. Kennedy (with my little insertions in brackets)


“In the midst of darkness, light exists”

from and


My vision is of a free democratic South Africa… at long last. Then the country will fulfil its great potential, internally and internationally, as well as in Africa

Never ever give up on your dreams. Sometimes they and fairy-tales DO come true!

August  1989



November 10, 2010


The story of South Africa’s transformation.



Category/Subject/Tags (Key Words): Book Reviews: South Africa, books, good books, ‘Beyond the Miracle‘, Allister Sparks

Allister Sparks.

Reviewed by

Sourced from : Copyright © 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved.

Taking Stock of the Transition

With the publication of Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa, journalist Allister Sparks completes the trilogy he began with The Mind of South Africa and Tomorrow is Another Country. In the first book, Sparks examined the history of South Africa since colonization.[1] The second offered an intimate look at the secret negotiations that paved the way for South Africa’s peaceful transformation from pariah state to multi-racial democracy.[2] In Beyond the Miracle, Sparks identifies many reasons to celebrate his native country’s rebirth, yet he does more than revel. This book is a sober assessment of the many problems and challenges still facing South Africa and a highly accessible overview of “the transition.”

There is now a burgeoning literature on this subject. Readers will agree that Beyond the Miracle offers a more optimistic view than Patrick Bond’s Elite Transitions, which argues that elites, not the poor, have been the true beneficiaries of democracy and neo-liberalism in South Africa.[3] Although Sparks covers much of the same territory in a chapter called “The Great U-Turn,” he also provides his audience with a more wide-ranging and readable narrative than Hein Marais’s Limits to Change, a policy-oriented chronology of the African National Congress’s embrace of free-trade principles in the 1990s.[4]

Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is its author’s use of interview material and anecdotal evidence to show how everyone from high-ranking politicians to small business owners, pensioners to Pentecostals, are trying to make sense of the dramatic changes they have witnessed, helped to bring about, and, at times, resisted. This is exactly what one would expect from Sparks, a former editor of the Rand Daily Mail and a journalist with a lifetime of experience writing from the frontlines of South Africa’s political battlefields.

By illuminating what the transition has meant for white and black South Africans on a psychological and symbolic level, Sparks distinguishes his book from others like it. He draws on discussions with African National Congress (ANC) leaders to explain some of their initial missteps when they first occupied the offices of their former enemies. He reflects on the hidden significance of seemingly unimportant events, such as when one bureaucrat at the Ministry of Finance refused to take down the portraits of apartheid-era officials adorning the Ministry walls. Along with such snap shots of individual intransigence, we learn of the symbolic importance of Mandela’s decision to don a Springbok jersey after South Africa’s rugby victory in 1995 over New Zealand–rugby being a sport traditionally supported only by whites, especially Afrikaners. Mandela’s gesture constituted a step towards national reconciliation and racial inclusiveness.

Also setting this book apart is Sparks’s journalistic sensitivity to his informants’ words. Sparks quotes a Mrs. Malala, whose life, he suggests, was dramatically transformed by the delivery of electricity and indoor plumbing to her community. Instead of trekking miles to collect firewood and water, Mrs. Malala now enjoys television, refrigerated food, fewer chores, and, most importantly, leisure time. “I have got time to rest and I’ve got more time for my church work,” she says (p. 52). Sparks offers his readers inspirational (perhaps instructional?) stories of committed South Africans facing up to the problems of poverty and inequality and working for a better future. For instance, he recounts the story of a young white man who, having packed his bags to emigrate to the United States, decided not to “be a sheep following the others,” but to stay home (p. 235). He then went on to open the world’s lowest-cost university.

Lest the reader feel overly encouraged by these vignettes, Sparks unflinchingly describes the conundrums still facing post-apartheid South Africa. (This is familiar material for anyone versed in the transition literature.) He devotes one chapter to South Africa’s faulty educational system and high crime rates, presenting both as legacies of apartheid. The reader finds descriptive snippets and smatterings of statistics on rates of unemployment, vehicle hijackings, brain drain, mismanagement of government offices, and the difficulties of turning an economy previously geared towards self-sufficiency into a global manufacturing exporter. We are told, for instance, that more than 30% of South Africa’s police force is illiterate and an astonishing 11,000 officers do not have drivers’ licenses (p. 231).

Not surprisingly, the media provide the author with some of his best material. Sparks recounts a debate waged in the pages of an Afrikaans newspaper set off by journalist Chris Louw. Louw claimed to speak for young Afrikaners when he wrote an open letter to former President F. W. De Klerk that accused De Klerk of brainwashing his people into fighting against the ANC. The changing structure of the country’s news organizations also provides Sparks with a window into some of the unresolved tensions inhabiting South African news offices everywhere. Sparks draws on his own personal experience with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) when describing recent turf wars between a power-hungry older regime and a hastily-trained group of younger journalists.

After casting Nelson Mandela as a vanishing saint and a towering figure of moral authority, Sparks devotes much of the book to exploring the mind of his successor, Thabo Mbeki. We learn of the current president’s seemingly loveless childhood, his discomfort in crowds, his controlling administrative style, his poetic eloquence, and the paranoia he suffers after spending years in exile (pp. 253-259). Sparks effectively summarizes Mbeki’s perplexing relationship with AIDS dissidents between 1999 and 2002. Is this a man in desperate denial, or is Mbeki asserting “an African intellectual independence, to show that he is not simply a captive of Western thought systems” (p. 291)?

Sparks touches on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), a pan-African scheme formulated largely by Mbeki. Nepad signatories hope to promote economic development in Africa by securing international aid in exchange for self-enforced good-governance. For Sparks, the crisis in Zimbabwe has become “Nepad’s credibility test.” By refusing to put pressure on his former comrade, Robert Mugabe, Mbeki has, thus far, failed to pass the test, leaving the legitimacy of Nepad hanging in the balance (p. 326).

In his introductory and concluding remarks, Sparks makes three analytic choices that some readers might find problematic. First, he seems overly concerned to make his story compelling to an American policy audience. This is perhaps because Sparks completed his book in Washington D.C. during the soul-searching months that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The message he attempts to convey is that “the Third World does matter” and “you can’t ignore your neighbor in a global village” (p. xii). South Africa is made to serve as an example of the need for the First World to acknowledge and address the growing anger of the Third World.

Second, the author preaches. Speaking from the position of an observer who has seen the potential for massive conflict avoided through acts of forgiveness and reconciliation, Sparks wants the world to heed the lesson. He introduces some of his chapters with biblical quotations reminding us that “we are our brothers’ keepers” and “the meek shall inherit the earth.” By choosing to do this, Sparks gives his book an emphatic, emotional tone, rather than a dispassionate, scholarly one.

Third, the author wholeheartedly adopts “globalization” as an explanatory device. Drawing heavily on Milton Friedman, Sparks defines globalization as something creating “exciting new vistas of opportunities,” but also causing “rising inequality and perilous instability”

Despite these limitations, Beyond the Miracle offers an eminently readable set of reflections on South Africa since 1994. The book is packed with stories that succinctly capture South Africa’s current complexities and contradictions. Sparks also does a good job of reminding us that the past haunts the present. Practically all of the people we hear from in this book carry with them heavy burdens from the past, burdens now publicly discussed in the form of confessional memoirs, or brought to light by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While some of Sparks’s informants appear embittered, others are chagrined, others triumphant.

The unsettled and conflicting ways in which South Africans now think about themselves as a people; the dilemmas of how to create jobs in a questionable investment environment; and the impossibility of ever shedding the weight of history are all issues poignantly raised by Beyond the Miracle. Although this reviewer wished that Sparks had delved more deeply into a select few of the issues at hand, instead of trying to cover all the bases and collapsing much of his fascinating subject matter into the framework of globalization theory, he has nevertheless given his readers (particularly non-specialists) an informative overview of “the transition,” judiciously spiced with personal reflections, telling anecdotes, and evocative quotations.


[1]. Allister Sparks, The Mind of South Africa (New York: Knopf, 1992).

[2]. Allister Sparks, Tomorrow is Another Country: The Inside Story of South Africa’s Road to Change (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

[3]. Patrick Bond, Elite Transitions: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa (London: Pluto Press, 2000).

[4]. Hein Marais, South Africa: Limits to Change: The Political Economy of Transition (New York: Zed Books, 2001). On the transition, also see Ashwin Desai, We Are The Poors: Community Struggle in Post-Apartheid South Africa (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2002); Gillian Hart, Disabling Globalization: Places of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 2002); and Sampie Terreblanche, A History of Inequality in South Africa, 1652-2002 (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 2002).


Sourced from : Copyright © 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at

* *

Mandela, Mbeki and the future

Allister Sparks’s forensic study of South Africa today, Beyond the Miracle, is compelling, says Anthony Sampson

Anthony Sampson


The Observer, Sunday 14 September 2003


Article history

Buy Beyond the Miracle at

Beyond the Miracle

‘You poor fellow, after all you have done, it must be terrible to see what is happening to your country.’ Allister Sparks recalls hearing that often when he travelled abroad. And he quotes his fellow South African writer, Nadine Gordimer, who kept being asked in Europe and America: ‘What is happening to whites?’ ‘They identify only with whites whether consciously or unconsciously,’ Gordimer protested. ‘Because I am white, they assume I do the same.’

Sparks is a doyen of South African journalism, the author of one of the best histories of his country and a former correspondent for The Observer. But he does not automatically identify with whites: he worked closely with black writers and broadcasters before and after the Mandela government came to power in 1994, and he is well-placed to assess what has happened to his country since, among all the races.

He has some unease about calling his book Beyond the Miracle, for the change that has taken place in South Africa, he says, was not really a miracle. It ‘was brought about not by some Damascus Road revelation , but by ordinary, fallible human beings who ultimately recognised that they had been cast together by the forces of history’.

But having witnessed the transformation at close quarters, and having lived in the midst of it, he has no doubts about the extent of the achievement. As he writes: ‘An equivalent settlement in the Middle East would see Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip consolidated into a single secular state which, before long, would be ruled over by a Palestinian majority government and in which Jews could live in peace and security as a minority group.’

He provides vivid accounts of different aspects of the reconciliation process, most notably the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was able to put the truth of past atrocities on record ‘to a degree unequalled by any post-conflict inquiry’. And he describes how South Africa has survived the extraordinary economic problems, including the dwindling of gold production on which much of its wealth was based.

He is fiercely critical of sectarian white politicians and businessmen who refuse to adjust to a multiracial country, including Tony Leon, the leader of the supposedly liberal Democratic Party who launched a campaign ‘aimed blatantly at winning over the white conservative vote’. He points out how few white businessmen have an understanding of politics: ‘The South African economy has always been dominated by the English-speaking white community, who have been on the political sidelines for a hundred years.’

He recognises that many of the Ministers in Mandela’s government failed to grapple with their departments, and he points to the danger of black racists who can use the charge of racism to demolish white competitors for jobs. He quotes the black political journalist Mondli Makhanya, who describes how the new elite ‘wield blackness like a weapon as they climb the ladder of privilege’.

He describes candidly the shortcomings of President Mbeki. He analyses his obdurate denials and fatal delays in facing up to the menace of Aids, and he argues vigorously with him about his failure to confront President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Mbeki tells him that whites are only concerned about Zimbabwe because some whites are being killed: ‘The extraordinary preoccupation with what is going on in Zimbabwe,’ says Mbeki, ‘in reality has got to do with white fears in South Africa.’ Sparks agrees that whites are too preoccupied with their fellow-whites, but he insists that ‘what is happening in Zimbabwe is a major African tragedy in the making’.

What makes this book unusual and important is the wide overview, across the different racial communities, against a background of the author’s international experience. He does not try to ignore the economic problems of South Africa, the high unemployment and floods of immigrants, the harsh industrial competition from other countries, the lack of necessary skills. South Africa, he recognises, faces a double whammy as a country at the bottom of the most marginalised continent.

But he has a long historical perspective, a respect for his own countrymen and their resilience. He has watched his country enduring far more dangerous predicaments, from which there appeared no way out. ‘When you have just escaped Armageddon,’ he concludes, ‘that is no time to become a pessimist.’


 Publisher Description

It is the dramatic story of how a handful of rookie politicians came ‘out of the bush’ – to use Mandela’s own phrase – to take over the running of a complex and deeply troubled country that they thought was richly endowed but in fact was almost bankrupt; of how they struggled to come to terms with an often hostile bureaucracy; and how above all they found themselves struggling not only with the complexities of their own society but also with the bewildering and often destabilizing forces of the new globalized economy. It is the story of singular triumphs and some distressing failures. South Africa still faces many problems, but it is also one of the most vibrant and exciting places on earth – and, as Sparks suggests, a microcosm of the world. For this is a country not only of white and black, but one where the impoverished meet the rich everyday, where Christians and Jews and Muslims and Hindus, sophisticated urbanites and tribal traditionalists, Zulus and Xhosas, English and Afrikaners, must all surmount their historical conflicts and find a common national identity. Mandela’s dream was of a nonracial democracy, and this book is a realistic assessment of the status of that dream as the new South Africa nears the end of its first decade. But Sparks also suggests that it is much more than that. South Africa also represents a unique negotiated resolution to a historical conflict that had its roots in rival claims to sovereignty over the same piece of national territory. Whose country is it? Both white Afrikaners and black Africans laid claim to South African sovereignty – one as a God-ordained right, the other by indigenous birthright. This is a conflict that repeats itself in many of the world’s most intractable trouble spots – between Israelis and Palestinians, Protestants and Catholics in Northern Island, Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. In that respect particularly, Sparks suggests that the great South African experiment is of abiding global importance.

 PPS: As Sparks writes: ‘An equivalent settlement in the Middle East would see Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip consolidated into a single secular state which, before long, would be ruled over by a Palestinian majority government and in which Jews could live in peace and security as a minority group.’ 

!!!! ??????

Anthony Sampson is the author of Mandela: the Authorised Biography 

by Allister Sparks
Profile Books £14.99, pp288 (p. 218). The all-encompassing G-word prevents Sparks from considering the myriad ways in which South Africa’s recent troubles cannot be explained by reference to mobile capital and out-sourcing (and other things taken to define globalization). Even if South Africa is now being shaped by economic forces that are global in nature, does it not still behoove us to pay careful attention to the ways in which South Africa is quite different from other countries where, to use Sparks’s words, there is a widening gap between “the stinking rich and the dirt poor” (p. x)? Grace Davie (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at San Diego)
Published on H-SAfrica (March, 2005) Beyond the Miracle: Inside the New South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. xiv + 384 pp. $32.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-226-76858-8.


October 23, 2010


The final chapters of this compelling and passionate book cover the lives of on Neil and Creina Alcock, who lived among the Zulu.  Theirs is a gripping story that embodies the whole book — but so do most of the stories . The book sobers; it stuns; it reminds one of what lies deep in the heart of the heart throughout the world: fear of the other, white fear of black and black fear of white. Probably no country on planet earth dramatizes that story more than South Africa.

Yet still a miracle that apartheid could be dismantled without even more bloodshed…

from epic injustice to epic reconciliation!

“Trust can never be a fortress, a safe enclosure against life. Trusting is dangerous. But without trust there is no hope for love, and love is all we have to hold against the dark.”

– Creina Alcock

There is, of course, a problem with love. On the one hand it seems to promise us everything, happiness, pleasure, a sense of security and well-being which nothing else on earth can provide; on the other hand it can let us down so easily and to such an extent that life becomes miserable and hardly worth living. Love can promise the world, but it can also be the cause of great unhappiness if its expectations are not met. Creina Alcock expresses well how she felt betrayed by her expectations of love, or rather by what she had been led to expect of love.

“I felt utterly betrayed by loving. All the things I had ever been told about love just weren’t true. It was full of false promises. I understood that love was a safety and a protection, and that if you loved you would be rewarded by someone loving you back, or at least not wanting to damage you. But it wasn’t true, any of it. I knew that if I stayed, this was how it was going to be: It would never get any better; it would stay the same or get worse. I thought if you’re really going to live in Africa, you have to be able to look at it and say, This is the way of love, down this road: Look at it hard. This is where it is going to lead you”

(Quoted in Rian Malan’s My Traitor’s Heart, Vintage International, 1991, p 409) 

You could say that is precisely what Jesus did with his disciples when he told them that they must love. He made them take a good hard look at what it really means to love. In no uncertain terms he (Jesus) spells out for them what true love is all about. “I say to you that hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you, …” There is certainly nothing soft or sentimental about that; they must love in the same way as God loves, who “is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish”. This is not a self-seeking love, nor a love which promises comfort.

Creina Alcock discovered that the hard way – “The path of love is not a path of comfort. It means going forward into the unknown with no guarantee of safety, even though you’re afraid. Trusting is dangerous, but without trust there is no hope for love, and love is all we ever have to hold against the dark.

(ibid p 423) 

As adapted from


sarainbow (

South African rainbow

 There is also an excellent blog on My Traitor’s Heart at


Sir Anthony O’Reilly: Keep believing in the new South Africa

March 8, 2010

Sir Anthony O’Reilly: Keep believing in the new South Africa

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Sourced from:

Tags: South Africa, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Independent, hope

Those who put their faith in the new multiracial democracy should not start giving up now, argues Sir Anthony O’Reilly

Are we about to witness an ideological shift in the ANC? I don’t think so

There seems suddenly to be a rash of commentators predicting that the South African miracle is over. They point to what is undoubtedly going to be a bumpy succession when President Thabo Mbeki goes, citing anecdotal evidence of a worsening crime situation in recent months.
My reply is that those who believed in South Africa a decade and more ago should not get cold feet now. When I became the first major investor in the new South Africa back in 1993 with the purchase of Argus Newspapers and the creation of Independent News and Media SA, I never thought it was going to be an easy ride.
But I had fundamental faith in the country’s leaders, its people and their commitment to building a decent democratic system out of the ruins of apartheid. The doomsday artists predicted we would quit when the going got tough, but 13 years later we are still there, our investment has been an excellent one, and I have never regretted a moment of it.
I still regard South Africa as a modern-day miracle, thanks to the inspirational leadership of Nelson Mandela and the leadership and management skills of his successor, President Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki steps down in 2009 after 15 years as president and deputy president, and there is a great deal of debate about his successor and the direction he will take the country. The ruling ANC meets in December next year to select a new leader who, in the nature of things, would be expected to succeed to the presidency 18 months later. I have no doubt that South Africans will choose the right leader to oversee the next phase of their development when the time comes.
Already a rigorous and healthy debate is taking place about the country’s future, and how to ensure that the excellent base built by the founding leaders for long-term political stability and sound macroeconomic management survives.
South Africa’s exemplary transition to democracy was called a miracle because few outside observers thought it would work. Expectations were low and, even when the pessimists were proved wrong, there was a tendency to say that South Africa was lucky because it had Nelson Mandela, implying that without him things would have been different.
I love Nelson Mandela and would count myself among his greatest admirers, but he would be the first to do justice to all those others who made sacrifices for a just and democratic system. Mbeki’s government contains many highly talented and focused ministers: Trevor Manuel, for instance, has now been Finance Minister for 10 years and is regarded by his peers as one of the best in the world. He is not the only one. It is to take nothing away from Mandela’s stature as one of the towering figures of our age to say that, among South Africans, he is no anomaly. To the contrary, he is the quintessential South African. That is why it is always a mistake to sell South Africa short.
The achievements of the past dozen or so years have been remarkable by any standard. As the UN secretary general Kofi Annan has said, South Africa today, with its robust economy, stable democracy and commitment to the rule of law, points the way to the African continent and the world as a “beacon of tolerance and mutual respect”. This is not a miracle, but a testament to the calibre of the country and its leadership.
It is important to remember how easy it would have been for the first post-apartheid government to throw macroeconomic sense to the wind in seeking to redress the imbalances left by apartheid. Instead, the collective wisdom of the African National Congress as it settled into office was that imbalances created over generations of white rule could not be fixed overnight and that the first order of business must be create the conditions for sustained economic growth – a tall order given the sclerotic state of the economy in 1994.
Today, we are starting to see the payoff, with growth in the past year of more than 5 per cent, a rapidly reducing budget deficit, a growing tax base, an emerging black middle class, a housing boom in areas such as Soweto and other former townships, and a steadily deepening social cohesion.
With growth, however, comes growing pains. It has been clear over the past year that South Africa has outgrown its infrastructure and its supply of skills. Booming car sales have exacerbated traffic jams. Demand for electricity outpaces capacity. Infrastructural projects are running behind schedules, and government departments have often not been efficient enough to spend their allocated budgets. Service delivery has faltered in many areas. Immigration from the neighbouring (and poorer) African countries, plus a major drift off the land and into the cities, has swelled shanty towns despite the government’s priority on building houses. The rising economic tide has lifted many boats, but too many remain mired in poverty. Unemployment remains stubbornly at 25 per cent, and is falling only very slowly. Poverty in the midst of conspicuous wealth incubates crime.
Yet when South Africans put their minds to something, they usually succeed. Tourism, for instance, has been a great success: last year South Africa comfortably accommodated a record 7.5 million visitors, the vast majority of whom went home glad they came. Before 1994, the number was less than 1 million.
The government is all too aware of its problems and is intensely focused on overcoming them. The new Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative, and associated $60bn (£32bn) capital expenditure programme, is aimed at raising growth to 6 per cent by 2010, and halving poverty and unemployment by 2014. I am a member of the President’s International Advisory Board, which includes figures from world business such as Ratan Tata, Jurgen Schremp, George Soros and Lakshmi Mittal, and to a man we are enthusiastic about what we see as a new and vibrant South Africa, which in turn has huge implications for the rest of Africa.
South Africa’s HIV/Aids programme gets serious and uninformed criticism around the world, but from what I have observed the government is very serious about HIV/AIDS. It is spending billions of dollars on prevention, care and antiretroviral drugs, more than any equivalent country.
There is no doubt that race to succeed President Mbeki has unnerved a number of observers, but the truth is that it is not so much a presidential succession battle as a leadership contest, not all that unlike in the United States or even Britain where both leaders, like Mbeki, are drawing towards the end of their periods in office. The members of the governing alliance are thrashing out their differences in public, via a free and energetic media, which is the democratic thing to do. Last week, Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, one of the political giants of the past two decades and a man with immense influence among the Zulu population (the biggest in South Africa), eloquently outlined his support for the constitution and the democratic process – a very important intervention at this particular time. To be sure, there is a fair amount of name-calling and challenging of democratic credentials. But who said democracy had to be polite?
Are we about to witness an ideological shift in the ANC? I don’t think so. The only “ism” that reliably applies to the governing party is pragmatism – a principled pragmatism in pursuit of an ambitious agenda to redress poverty, unequal opportunity and the other legacies of the country’s history. That is unlikely to change whoever is chosen as the ANC’s presidential candidate next year.
The agenda will remain the same – actually, it is in effect mandated by the constitution – and so will the realities that constrain the options for implementing it. One of the strengths of South African society, and one of the great sources of its stability, is a political culture of consultation and consensus, time-consuming though it often is. This remains an important feature of the ANC ethos.
To call South Africa an “unqualified miracle” is to assert that the people who were responsible for what was called a miracle have somehow changed or gone away. Last time I looked, South Africans were still South Africans and still very much there. And it would still be wrong to underestimate them.

The author is the chief executive of Independent News & Media

Sourced from:

%d bloggers like this: