Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top tweeters 2011

This is Simon's very unofficial list of the favourite people he followed on Twitter this year. I originally wanted to have my top ten twitter accounts I followed ever, but the list was around 50-odd people. I tried then limiting this to people I began following in 2011, which for the most part is true. Except some people I really couldn't leave off.

The demographics of this list of 29 or 30 people (I keep counting and get a different number), according to my unofficial census, indicate a bias toward male tweeters. Of the 29 (or 30), 16 are men, 12 are women and I don't know the gender of one (or two) person.

But here goes. The people I think you should follow, and why you should follow them. They are in no particular order by the way, the numbers are there so I know how far I have to go.

29. @RanjeniM: I have been following Ranjeni for quite some time, and she really interested me when someone else on twitter, whom we mutually followed, threatened suicide, then disappeared. She was found a few days later under circumstances I didn't really understand. But Ranjeni's calm and measured reaction to it, which I agreed with 100%, set her apart from the plethora of "I AM UNFOLLOWING THAT BITCH" etc. So I started following her more closely - you'll see, she's on my "mass-debate" list, and I realised just how intelligent she is.

28. @Ghost1609 This chap is one of the football extraordinaires on Twitter, but I think we started following each other during the Cricket World Cup (let's not talk about it). Now we discuss anything, all the time, and both have opinions on just about everything, from Ricoffy to footy to US politics. Like me, I get the impression that Mr Ghost1609 is a jack of all trades. Also enjoys a scotch which makes him a good oke.

27. @Mthombothi, Editor of Financial Mail: Some people are just awesome to follow. Barney Mthombothi is just a great passer of opinion, from international and domestic politics, to football and cricket. Whatever it is, it's interesting. Some people just have it (there's also a few of these on my list).

26. @sboshmafu: The funniest person on Twitter. I shit you not. Hands down. If you're South African you'll find her even funnier. Absolutely awesballs.

25. @helenzille Probably the next funniest person on Twitter. Ideally, you'll catch her during an aggressive meltdown, or during a fat argument with someone. Then just sit back and enjoy.

24. @AltCricket is my favourite account dedicated to the world's greatest sport. A lot of people have wit when it comes to the sport. AltCricket has more wit than the others, and a deep understanding of the game, which only those who are lucky enough to be obsessed can understand. If you are a cricket fan in the remotest sense, follow right now. The World Cup, when I discovered the account, was far more enjoyable due to AltCricket. I won't go through a Test series without them now.

23. @paulyberk: Also lank funny, and a cricket enthusiast. But fucking sharply intelligent. Watching Berkowitz argue with someone is a treat, as it is done with ace precision. He is also one of those writers with a fairly rare ability to deal with complicated things (in his case, electoral statistics) and turn them into something we can all understand. Well, not me. I don't need it. I am clever. Ask him to write you a limerick, too.

22. @murrayingram: I can't remember how I found Murray Ingram's account, but we started DMing once when we realised we had a mutual friend, and this turned into a conversation about politics. I think our political backgrounds are quite similar, and it is now great following someone whose point of view comes out of the same development as my own. While I may not agree with him on everything, I can understand what he means all the time. It's a totally personal favourite, this bloke, but I would expect some universal appeal too.

21. @Keithlevenstein is one of the few business people I follow on Twitter. Like his bio says, he is a believer in transformation, and it's great to see someone explain the principles of affirmative action, and the principles around it, in a practical sense. Interpretations of these laws is often done in a highly opinionated manner. While Keith is also opinionated about it, he explains what he means. Respectable bloke and not scared of his opinion.

20. @KingBiyela: There is no one in Twitter who is more opinionated than Lunga Biyela. No one, I tell you, but he has a great focus on sport which is why I initially started following him, but with opinions ranging to just about anything. He's damn amusing. Just follow him and see. You're totally missing out if you don't.

19. @biobot: This dude is also hilarious, and is the editor of SA Sports Illustrated, so it's not surprising he's not short of wit or sport quips.You don't have to be a sport fan to follow him, there's plenty of humour about everything.

18. @mtyala: I am still quite new to the news profession, and there are a few journalists I really eye with respect - you know, the kind of person you'd like to be. Mr Mtyala has measured responses to everything, and is quite often right. Sometimes biting without getting hysterical. It's kind of awesome.

17. @Thabo99: Thabo is undoubtedly one of the most argumentative people I have come across on Twitter, but what some people perceive as annoying, I view as an ability to learn stuff. Thabo is very well read and very very thoughtful. One can choose to bat what he says, or listen when he explains why he thinks it.

16. @BrazilFinance: The name is pretty self-explanatory, and is another of the very few finance people I follow, but intersperses financial quips with news, opinions and whatnot. It's nice to see another developing economy's ups and downs so succinctly listed. Certainly worth a follow.

15. @NomalangaZA: Undoubtedly one of the smartest people on Twitter with an amazing scope of knowledge on all things South African, and always up for a debate over what she feels strongly. I am certainly brighter for following.

14. @UnathiKondile: Earlier I mentioned @Thabo99 as being argumentative, but there is no one on Twitter who is up and ready to defend (or attack with) his point of view like Unathi Kondile. A lot of people might find Unathi difficult to take in because he's quite (well, very) brash, and it's doubtful that a consensus will agree with him, but you are seriously missing out if you don't follow him. In terms of South Africans, we would do well to expose ourselves to those whose points of view come from a place completely different to ours - particular people my age who had a half-apartheid upbringing. Unathi Kondile is a case in point. Says a lot of things that many people need to hear, and a hell of a lot more on top of that.

13. @GugsM: Some people are just cool. It's hard to work out what the most appealing aspect of Gugulethu Mhlungu is. She is just awesome. Rapier wit, dinkum South African, just bloody awesome. It's hard to sum her up in a few words. Just follow.

12. @mandyldewaal: This is another journalist I have buckets of respect for: fearless, thoughtful and I have an immense amount of affection for her. Fearless is an odd term, because Mandy doesn't get ridiculous: fearless with immense brainpower would be a more accurate description. The kind of journo I would like to grow up into.

11. @yxspacemonkeyxy: It's weird - I have no idea who this tweeter is. I do not know if they are male or female (I actually found out recently but now I can't remember), black, white, coloured or Asian, old, young, nada. But uber-smart, and well-thought out responses to issues with a good dose of humour. Again, it's that mixture I find so appealing.

10. @joshjordaan: Another argumentative type, but listens as well as dishing it out, proving that not all people in their early twenties are stupid. If my recollection is correct, we sparred first over the African Union's involvement in Libya, and since then I am very glad I followed. Opinions flow from his BlackBerry keyboard like wine does in my house, but I get the impression there has been thought added to them, even when I disagree. From a vocal DA supporter, it's quite refreshing. Can also be bitch funny.

9. @Karenjeynes: A master of the English language. As it is the only one I speak with any effectiveness I play with it often, and Karen Jeynes is the ideal foil. She's very smart, a stunning writer and knows a lot of things that go on currently, and not so currently. She's one of the folks that just "gets it". Although she's also oddish, which makes her even more attractive to me.

8. @mspr1nt: I started following mspr1nt because of our mutual obsession with cricket. But she is 1,000 times more than that, although primarily a sports fan. She's also an Arsenal fan, for her sins, but I have forgiven her this due to, well, Arsenal. She is an animal lover too, and we have had one or two convos on Twitter where we both leapt to the defence of someone. My timeline is far happier with her in it, even if she's whining.

7. @becsplanb: Another one with rapier wit, and a fiery temperament. Let's be honest, that's a pretty hot combination, isn't it? I only came across Rebecca when we started working together on iMaverick but I have a total and severe Twitter crush on her because she's awesome all the time.

6. @TOMolefe: To be honest I have a feeling I have known him for way longer than 2011, but if I pulled his name out now I would end this list at 2. I do so heart Mr Molefe who is, without a doubt, one of the smartest political (and other) interest people I know, and isn't scared to mouth off, although he remains quite polite, at people who have dumb ideas. I think he very clever, enjoy his articles, and the amount of crap he talks. He's also great company over wine, by the way.

5. @Mabine_Seabe: I am not quite old enough to view younger people as the future, but I do anyway. SA will be in great hands when Mr Seabe is in some kind of leadership position. He is on top of politics in all sectors, and is happy to shit out one party as happily as he is the next. He's wonderful, actually. He will be in the cabinet of @Zamantungwa_K when she's the president.

4. @amaeryllis: The top US tweeter in the whole country. On top of every issue, and BITING BITING BITING criticisms of those who are stupid and/or wrong. Happy to nail both sides, is 100% frank, believes what she says and knows a hell of a lot about everything. If you follow US news in any fashion, you are missing out by not following her. She's awesome. Of of my absolute favourite Twitter accounts in the world.

3. @khadijapatel: I started following Khadija when the Arab Spring kicked off, and have never looked back. By complete fluke she became a colleague and it meant I spoke more and more to her. Not only is she one of the top writers in South Africa, she has a knowledge of what is going on in the Middle East and international relations that must be one of the top in the developing world. Also a cricket fan, incidentally. She's incredibly intelligent, speaks 100 languages and cooks wonderfully. For an excellent news source, you should follow her immediately.

2. @USEmbPretoria: Not only is USEmbPretoria the greatest twitter account for news from various sources about the African continent, it has also, directly, helped loads of people. I am not going into detail I am afraid, but I fucking adore him/her.

1. @JoziGoddess: One of the most respectable people I have ever come across, and another arguer who is prepared to fight her very well-thought out corner. She is an amazing writer, although you have to pinch her until she'll admit it, and a superb conversationalist. It's not all intense though, JoziGoddess has a wonderful sense of humour - well, I find her funny - and discusses hair and weightloss as easily as she discusses racism and politically contentious topics.

(See I fucked the numbers up) 0. @phillipdewet: I will happily confess to Phillip de Wet being one of my idols - my favourite journalist in South Africa, and I am very appreciative that it is him who has taught me, directly and indirectly, most of the stuff I know. Phillip was one of the first journos to live-tweet press conferences in SA, which was when I started following him, and progressed to live-tweeting his experiences at township protests, slums and so on. He doesn't cover these sorts of events from afar, getting properly stuck in so that we, who read his stuff, get it virtually first hand. He's obviously a lot more than a Twitter account: most of his real classy work is in article form, but for the purposes of this post, we'll limit it. I am so heart for him.

There were others who got close, or who would have been on this list last year (but I didn't do one). @comradesipho is a colleague and drinking buddy, @lesterkk is one of my favourite people, @6000 is my best blogger in SA, @Lihle_Z is my partner-in-crime in New York City, as is @NadiaNeophytou. As I mentioned earlier, @Zamantungwa_K is going to be president one day. @KevinMcCallum is king of sports. There are obviously people I have forgotten.

And @magicmike1313 gets a special mention because he provides me with goods and services that you don't.

Who are your favourites?

EDIT: There was always a chance I was going to forget someone, and MvelaseP has been a staple on my timeline. I am quite sorry I didn't mention him - he's a class act and you should totally follow him. Oke loves bacon: respect.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Crunching some primary numbers, Gingrich leading

I am currently coming to terms with the intricacies of the Republican primary, the process which will determine which candidate will take on President Barack Obama in the November 2012 elections.

Now, one of the first things worth noting is that the first four primaries/caucuses (I am just going to use primaries from now on to mean both) in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida don't on their own mean an immense amount. Florida, the most important of those four contains 50 delegate votes. California, for example, contains 172 delegate votes. What these primaries do mean, however, is momentum. The press is likely to go nuts with the results of the first four primaries, and so focus its attention on those who are leading. This is not a precise science: often early leaders in the race, such as Mike Huckabee in 2008, fall out to stronger candidates who perform in more important states. However, a strategy of concentrating solely on the big states can also be a banana skin, as ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani discovered in 2008.

However, this year, former House speaker Newt Gingrich is leading in the Iowa, South Carolina and Florida polls, while Mitt Romney leads in New Hampshire. At the end of January, when these four polls are done, I predict a massive amount of attention on Gingrich because of the way things will look. Remember, perspective is important, but often thrown out the window.

The first three states which hold primaries (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina), award their delegate votes proportionally. Florida, however, is a winner-takes-all deal. If current polling, which I nipped from Real Clear Politics remains the same as it does now (which it won't, as polling still includes Herman Cain who only dropped out on Saturday), Newt will be far ahead of former Massachusetts governor come the end of January.

In Iowa (28 delegate votes), Gingrich is polling at 26%, Romney at 16% and Texas congressman Ron Paul at 14%. Roughly, this would mean that Gingrich would snag seven votes, Romney four and Paul three.

In New Hampshire (12 delegate votes), Romney leads at 37%, Gingrich 21% and Paul 14%. This translates to five votes for Romney, two for Gingrich and one for Paul.

In South Carolina (25 delegate votes), Gingrich polls at 27%, Romney at 18% and ex-candidate Herman Cain at 18%. This translates to eight votes for Gingrich, five for Romney and four for Cain.

In Florida (50 delegate votes), Gingrich leads with 36% of the poll compared to 20% for Romney, his closest challenger. This means Gingrich will scoop 50 delegate votes (winner takes all, remember?).

In total, after the first four primaries, Gingrich will have 67 delegate votes, Romney 14, and Paul and Cain will have four each.

So don't be surprised to see the media follow Gingrich around post-Florida, and for the ex-House speaker to maximise the attention on him.

To put it in perspective though, one requires around 1,200-odd delegate votes to win.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The basics of a US election

The American political system is structured somewhat oddly. As you probably know, it boils down to a vote between two parties – Republicans (Bush, Nixon, Eisenhower) and Democrats (Obama, JFK, Clinton) – and this vote is done per state. Now, each state has its own smaller election, and whoever wins this state gets ALL of the electoral votes belonging to that state. Whomsoever wins the most electoral votes becomes president. Get it?

 (image from

This means that a few states matter more than others during election time. For example, it is highly unlikely that conservative states such as Texas and Mississippi will vote Democrat in this upcoming election. The converse applies to California and Illinois who are unlikely to vote for a Republican in 2012. The other factor to take into account is the population of the state, which determines how influential the state is in picking the president. For example, in a race to 270 electoral votes, California offers candidates 55 votes, Texas 38, and New York and Florida with 29. States with a smaller population, such as North Dakota have three electoral votes. A win in a state gets the party all of the electoral votes; meaning that even a 51% vote for a Republican in a state gives the Republican ALL of the state's electoral votes. (The exception in this case is Nebraska, which only has five votes, but they are awarded proportionally).  

Now, if we take the 2008 election as an indication of which states might swing and determine the result of the election, it is no surprise that current President Barack Obama has been visiting Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio recently. These are states he needs to win in order to maintain the presidency, as they have been known to change their minds – kind of like Mitt Romney. Most of them also have enough gravitas to decide the presidency.

Today Barack Obama is in Pennsylvania to bang on about extending payroll tax cuts to the working classes, and getting the wealthy to pay for them. While mostly working class Pennsylvania has usually swung Democrat, it voted the other way in the 2010 midterms which is one of the reasons the House of Representatives fell under Republican control. In 2012, Pennsylvania will carry 20 electoral votes. In the race to 270, that’s a rather nice chunk. Its neighbour, Ohio, will carry 18, and its neighbour Virginia has 13.

It’s also no surprise that on this trip the president is also visiting Florida, which holds 29 electoral votes. You’ll all remember Florida’s influence that robbed the world of the presidency of Al Gore in 2000 and heaved The Inconvenient Truth down the pipes of our televisions ever since. This is the impact that a swing state has.

So while the candidates for the presidency are appreciative of the support they will get from their bankable states, the real election will be contested in the swing states. Expect to see candidates and media all over Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Nevada.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Rick Perry might not yet be down and out

Of the Republican candidates in the race, there's only a few we need to take seriously.

We can discount Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and ex-Senator Rick Santorum because they are both too extreme to appeal to independent voters - not all Republicans belong to the (modern definition of the) tea party, after all. Congressman Ron Paul, while easily the most intelligent and skeleton- and hypocrisy-free candidate, will not win the nomination because he is just far too extreme, and his libertarianism wouldn't permit Republicans to ban women's right to decide what to do with their bodies, and would defile Jesus by telling the government to get out of deciding who can get married. While his dedicated supporters will follow him around the country, they can still only vote once. John Huntsman, another candidate who suffers from being able to think outside popular rhetoric, is just not being taken seriously at all.

It is going to be a showdown between ex-Massachusetts governor and flip-flopper extraordinaire, Mitt Romney, Uz-busi-busi-busi-businessman Herman Cain, controversial ex-House speaker Newt Gingrich and erm, uh, hmmmm, erm, who's the last one? Oops. Oh yes, Texas governor Rick Perry

Romney's unpopularity is fairly well-known and easy to identify.
1) He was governor of a blue state.
2) He, on record, backed a woman's right to choose whether she wanted to terminate her pregnancy (but has since changed his mind).
3) He backed Massachusetts' relatively restrictive gun control laws (but has since changed his mind).
4) He said he would fight for equality for homosexual people (he now supports the defence of marriage act which would ultimately ban gay marriage).
5a) He had a statewide healthcare plan for Massachusetts from which, according to numerous sources, Barack Obama pinched ideas his own healthcare reform which is, ironically, causing more heart attacks within the Republican base than no healthcare would. (He professes a distaste for Obama's healthcare bill now, on the grounds that states should decide their own fortunes.)
5b) Under the healthcare bill which he signed in 2006, illegal immigrants could get medical attention.

At every one point in time, he has been on the wrong side of a very strong electoral issue with the members of his party. However, Romney remains the fancied candidate because of the sheer screw-ups his competitors seem to be making. While there is a far larger faction which doesn't want Romney, it is split between Cain, Perry and Gingrich. Which should present them with a fair few opportunities.

And in my humble opinion, Perry is best-placed to take advantage of this.

Herman Cain can't seem to stop messing up. Even if we remove the sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against the man, of which we still don't yet have conclusive proof, Cain seems to make a daily cock-up which the media pounces on. It started with the piss-taking of Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan which is actually quite an important nation when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. He moved onto China attempting to test nukes. Weird, as they were also doing that in the 1950s, and launched their first nuclear missile in 1966. He seized up on a fairly simple question about Libya, and then dropped the same answer he'd given at a Republican debate about Afghanistan, and then blamed the questioner for being out to make him look bad. He asked what the Cuban word for "delicious" was. His 999 plan is an absolute fiscal disaster, no matter how much voters may dislike the current tax plan.

Gingrich's rise in the polls will in all likelihood come to an end. Bear in mind every poll you see within the next 24 hours will not take into account the revelation that Gingrich was paid a $1.6 million consulting fee by Freddie Mac, a pretty hated government institution which is often blamed for the housing bubble which preceded the financial crisis in 2008. In theory, it is anathema to voter wanting smaller government to vote for someone who was complicit in a large one (full disclosure: many Democrats and other Republicans are guilty of precisely the same thing). This is on top of some of the more socially conservative voters' qualms about his exploits outside his marriage. While I think the latter is a rather low priority when it comes to selecting leaders, it IS an issue for many (Republicans and Democrats, by the way). Gingrich also has a history aligned with a shut-down congress during his term as House speaker (from 1995 to 1999), which isn't so hot to have on your CV when Congressional approval ratings, according to polls, sit below that of almost everyone except Cuba.

This leaves us with only Rick Perry who may have been as effective during debates as a condom with air vents, but has had a storming week since he hashed the name of the third government department he would shut down if he was president. Perry started by dealing with the fallout thereof, self-deprecating with his Texan drawl on David Letterman and numerous press conferences afterwards. He has one of the largest donor bases and is abusing the hell out of it, with adverts lambasting President Barack Obama, and staying consistent with his message of sorting out Washington and social conservatism. All of Perry's dirt has been in the open and is old news: his in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants so as not to have extra unemployed mouths for the state to feed, holidays at a farm called Niggerhead etc etc. Although Perry was once a Democrat in the 1980s, it was a hell of a long time before Romney's pro-Democrat leanings, and a Texan Democrat is still a conservative, pro-business politician. Perry is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-Don't Ask Don't Tell, loves guns and has a history running Texas.

Finally, with his dirt out in the open, Perry is beginning to talk about the things he wants to talk about: Texas' marvellous run in creating jobs while the rest of the country's unemployment rate has increased. There are two views about whether this was beneficial to most Texans or not, but hell, he is bragging and in a presidential campaign he damn well should be. Perry also didn't flub foreign policy at last week's other debate, coming through largely unscathed. While others also made it through alright, Cain's repeated dribble relating to anything outside the border continues to plague him (hell, if I was Hawaii I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him). Perry's other big idea is shake up how Washington DC runs. While he would actually be seeking constitutional amendments, and is unlikely to ever get them, he has concrete plans to go along with his rhetoric, such as reduced hours for Congress so they can work in states, reduced terms for justices (which currently run for life) to 18 years, staggered so that a new judge is elected every two years. Gingrich is the only other non-Romney Republican in the race and for reasons I expressed earlier, I don't think his bounce in the polls will last long. An invitation for a debate with minority House leader Nancy Pelosi was a good show of confidence, and his bluff remained in tact as she declined.

Perry's huge advertising budget goes hand in hand with his ability to campaign. He is known as a master on-the-ground campaigner. Add to this a solid set of socially conservative policies, a state which has created more jobs than any other (and by quite some margin), pro-business speak, and the fact that he's never lost an election, and, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you someone who can break up the non-committal poll results we consistently see.

This is all on the proviso, however, that he doesn't screw up anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


 (Image from the Huffington Post)

Rick Perry's screw up during the Republican presidential debate last week was bad. In case you forgot, Perry announced that he would do away with three government departments and then promptly forgot the third one (the department of energy).

As covered in Daily Maverick's First Thing:
"It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone – commerce, education and the um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see. Oh five – commerce, education and the um, um” It wasn’t five. It was three. Ron Paul suggested the environmental protection agency, which Perry agreed to, and then backtracked on it and fumbled around again. We discovered later that he meant the department of energy.

It was cringeworthy. We all laughed.

His mistake, though, is very different from Sunday's somewhat bizarre Herman Cain answer on Libya, while being interviewed by the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. Start watching about 40 seconds in.

While Perry actually does know the name of the department of energy, Herman Cain's answer to this somewhat gentle question about a very recent high-profile issue was pathetic. Especially for someone who is looking to become commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful army showed a severe lack of understanding. In fact, Cain had no idea what he was talking about. Initially I was prepared to accept his reasoning that he would have tried to understand the opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (whom he did not mention by name) more thoroughly until I realised he gave precisely the same answer relating to Afghanistan in an earlier Republican presidential debate.

In an answer to one question, Cain showed he didn't know what the US approach to Libya was, nor was he able to answer a foreign policy question differently to when he was last asked about US-involved conflict in an Arab nation. Quite simply, AFGHANISTAN IS NOT LIBYA.

This is different to people saying North Korea when they mean South Korea, which is a mere slip of the tongue, and far closer to people who think that Saddam Hussein flew planes into the World Trade Centre which is an unfounded claim.

While I still think Rick Perry would make a terrible candidate for president, his gaffe is nowhere near as significant as Herman Cain's.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Republican presidential debate drinking bingo

There's a Republican presidential debate on the economy tonight on NBC. We like to make these rather painful events more interesting, hence the creation of Republican Presidential Candidate Debate Drinking Bingo. 

It goes like this. Assign each Republican presidential candidate a bingo word. We used this:

Michele Bachmann: Obamacare
Rick Santorum: Family
Rick Perry: Texas
Herman Cain: 999
Jon Huntsman: China
Mitt Romney: Private sector
Ron Paul: Federal reserve (Fed, if you are feeling strong)

If any of them say the bingo word, drink. 

Newt Gingrich is a wild card. If he says any of the aforementioned, you drink.

And if any of the candidates say "Ronald Reagan", drink.

PS make sure you preemptively call in sick for work tomorrow. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


On Friday President Barack Obama announced that all US troops in Iraq would be withdrawn by the end of the year. As the Americans like to say, "home for the holidays". The end of 2011 was an "aspirational" deadline set by the Bush administration (which, if you remember, started the nonsensical war while hunting for non-existent weapons of mass destruction) in 2008 - Obama only took office at the beginning of 2009.

Obama has been accused once every 13 seconds (according to stats I projected from people whining on the plethora of news channels in the US) of this being a political decision rather than one which is militarily justified. Basically, Obama is ending the war to increase his popularity rather than because it is a justified decision. You know, because there is an election coming up.

Well, "analysts" are forgetting that there is actually quite a lot of time before the next election. It is only in November next year - that's over a year since Obama made the withdrawal announcement (which was 21 October 2011). These experts who are screaming that it is only in Obama's interest, and not in the national interest are missing a fairly sizeable point.

Firstly, it is worth remembering that the Obama has far more access to information and background than any mainstream and a lot of localised media. Basically, his decision is based on far more facts to which anyone sitting outside Baghdad, and many sitting within it, has access. While the senior commander in charge of the mission, General Lloyd J. Austin III (a rather large dissenter of the withdrawal),  would also have access to large amounts of information as well, by virtue of leading a mission, there is a bucket-load of diplomatic data which he, most likely, has not seen.

There would be huge risks in withdrawing troops to boost his poll ratings if the situation in Iraq goes tits-up. If the rate of violence in Baghdad begins to spike again (recent events have gone against more medium-term gains in stemming violence) or if US national security (which is what they call foreign policy a lot of the time here) is compromised in any way. In fact, if troops are withdrawn from one of the countries in which the US is responsible for security, and then something happens on US soil, Obama is finished. The US takes national security incredibly seriously - as would a nation who has faced attacks like 9-11 and chats about domestic safety with BFF Israel. If Obama makes a decision which weakens the US' defence of its borders, he will be collecting unemployment from November next year. No question.

And I highly doubt the president is only thinking up to this year's holidays. It is unlikely that anyone in Obama's administration, and yes, that includes defence secretary Leon Panetta, would allow the president to do so, in spite of Panetta's recommendation to maintain 3,000-4,000 troops in Iraq. Governments around the world think further than two months - everyone older than five years thinks further than two months. While I can't conclusively prove to you that Obama is thinking past Christmas, he is surrounded by seasoned politicians - think Joe Biden, Panetta and Hillary Clinton - who would mop up any basic mistakes like that. 

The other aspect of this whole deal that Obama is taking in the neck deals with the fact that the president was happy to allow a few thousand troops to remain but decided not to because the Iraqi government would not give them immunity. The Bachmanns and other political figures have claimed that Obama couldn't get them immunity because he was "not committed". I'd love to see them argue for keeping the armed forces, probably the most respected grouping of people in the US after the National Rifle Association, without diplomatic and legal protection. In this sense, if anyone is trying to score political points, it is those public figures lashing Obama's decision.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dilma Rousseff’s anti-corruption struggles

The president of Brazil is having struggles; her cabinet members are dropping like flies as her anti-corruption drive is being manipulated by politicians pushing their own means. 

 Brazil president DIlma Rousseff. Image:

Anti-corruption drives are supposed to be a thing of beauty. But putting corruption above all else might not be the best way to run a state, and this is quite beautifully displayed by the political recession in which President Rousseff finds herself. Brazil’s wiliest, and, to be honest, some of its average, leaders have often used the media to one-up each other, but its complicated system of coalition governance (the current government majority in parliament is made up of ten parties, and the opposition, six) sports so many fingers in the pie that it is often quite hard to work out whose knife-handle happens to stick out of any particular back.

Rousseff happens to have made two honourable calls since taking the reins of the world’s seventh largest economy. The first being to weed out corruption (a huge problem – Transparency International’s corruption index places Brazil in 69th position – South Africa is 54th), and the second to slash $30 million from the state’s expenditure for the year in preparation for a turn in the roaring Brazilian economy’s fortunes. Most of these cuts came from discretionary spending enjoyed by politicians, including niche “pet” projects. This has caused severe strife amongst some leaders, and the procession of cabinet ministers leaving the side of Rousseff because of accusations, proven or otherwise, that have forced them out. The most recent under fire is Orlando Silva, the sports minister, accused of siphoning off funds from a ministry programme intended to bring recreational facilities in poor areas.

Brazil has lost four cabinet ministers during Rousseff’s seven-month presidency, and on Monday the procession began to excise a fifth. When Rousseff began her anti-corruption drive in July, she focussed it on the ministries of transport and tourism – both headed up by officials from outside the Workers Party (of which Rousseff is top member). The growing middle-class of Brazil, much like in South Africa, has far more of an issue with corruption than the poor who care more for things like housing and poverty alleviation schemes. Think Maslow. In fact, under Rousseff’s predecessor, the highly popular Lula da Silva, 36 million people moved into the lowest rung of the middle class (earning between $1,000 and $3,900 per month). Out of an electorate of 135 million, that’s a hefty number of votes. Rousseff therefore took a political opportunity, very publicly clamping down on corruption before the centre-right opposition, who are supposed to cater for middle-class concerns, did (simply, it’s like the ANC getting to a solution to Rondebosch and Randburg voters before Helen Zille wakes up). What looked like a smart political move has gone completely tits-up though, and threatens to spiral out of control. In fact, it looks nowadays as though the president isn’t even running it.

The Brazilian media, most notably the influential weekly, Veja, has whipped up allegations from a surging wave of anonymous sources who claim to be whistleblowers, which Rousseff now has to treat seriously as the drive is her own initiative – in spite of a heft portion of them having as much proof as the Yeti’s recipe for Loch Ness Monster soup.

Aside from the four members who have already left cabinet, Rousseff is due to lose a fifth, has seen 30 transport officials go, and 38 warrants of arrest have been issued for tourism ministry staff.  It’s probably also worth pointing out that her initiative has only initially examined two ministries. The Brazilian cabinet has 37. While the tourism chief has somehow kept his job, chief of staff, Antonio Palocci (who also served under Lula) resigned under a corruption cloud, the defence minister left after he told everyone he voted for the opposition, the transport minister, Alfredo Nascimento, also gave in, as did the agriculture minister, Wagner Rossi. In fact, both Nascimento and Rossi claim there is no truth to the allegations against them, but have walked anyway. Cities minister, Mario Negromonte has the same, oddly familiar noises. This last weekend has been ugly for her too: Glesi Hoffmann, who replaced Palocci as cabinet chief, has been accused of claiming unemployment benefits when she left the board of a giant power company to run for a senate seat.

The media’s willingness to air alleged/suspected/reported dirty laundry of just about anyone in cabinet has meant that political scores are being settled in the media. Allegation after allegation has been scribed and will now be processed, and obsessed over, and more people will fall. More pressure is weighing on Rousseff’s shoulders as five of the six cabinet minsters have been from other parties in her coalition – only Palocci came from the Workers Party. Whether their departures are justified or not, it is putting pressure on her governing alliance. In fact, when Nascimento was replaced by Paulo Sergio Passos (both from the Party of the Republic) as head of the transport portfolio, and intra-alliance spat ensued as members weren’t consulted in a fashion they thought appropriate. They are no longer part of the coalition although the effect of them leaving is negligible; they are a minor player.

The relationship Rousseff needs to look after is the one with the Brazil Democratic Movement Party – her vice-president, Michel Temer is the leader of the party, the second largest in Brazil. (Incidentally one of last momth’s smuttier news stories is that Temer’s sister-in-law earned the right to appear on the cover of Playboy Brazil). So don’t be surprised if the new agriculture minister gets an easy time of it, along with other PMDB-run ministries: Mines and Energy, Social Security and the Secretariat of Strategic Affairs (which oversees things like nuclear, space programmes, national intelligence). But naturally, dirt on anyone that could begin to affect the ruling alliance would be wonderful for the centre-right opposition.

Rousseff, in response to this crisis which is threatening to derail her presidency has offered meek responses so far, claiming that the “PT (Workers party) and the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement) are the basis of the stability and trust of the government” while also maintaining she is not trying to force people out of cabinet. It’s not quite enough when senior politicians are falling like dominoes.  

Dilma Rousseff’s near future is going to be damn hard, and she would do well avoid making Brazil’s actual issues contest for attention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Herman Cain. What matters and what doesn't?

Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, has taken quite a lot of flak since he started his surge to the upper results of the polls in the last month. This is partly because he is the frontrunner and is therefore dangerous, but also because he is a moron. Let's go over some modern Cain details:

1) 999. Of all the things I am sick of hearing, it's 999. All the time, Cain's solution to any problem is 999. Unemployment? 999. National deficit? 999. Fix the economy? 99 sodding 9. This is Cain's proposal to have a 9% payment tax, 9% corporate tax and 9% sales tax countrywide. His argument is that this is a simple system that Americans can understand. Well, it's also a dumb system with no proof whatsoever that it will work, but it is SIMPLE therefore it is GOOD. Hear that, America? You're too stupid to work out what a 15% payroll tax is, so we'll make it 9%. Companies, fire all your finance people because we're wiping the tax system. Anyone who can multiply a number by nine and divide by 100 can be an accountant. Oh also, poor people, you'll be paying that same percentage of your income as those who earn bucketloads. And you'll be hit with a 9% sales tax too. People who are actual economists and can explain numbers, instead of just shouting the same one repeatedly, expect Cain's plan (and I use the word in the loosest of terms) to force lower income earners to put more of their income towards the national kitty due to the sales tax than they do right now. It also doesn't take state taxes into account.

2) "When they ask me who's the president of Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I'm gonna say "You know, I don't know. Do you know? And then I'm gonna say, "how does that create one job?" - Cain.
Yep, this is Cain's attitude to foreign policy. Well, screw the name of the country (which the reporter actually used in the question which led to this answer. If you're a Cain fan reading this it's Uzbekistan). It's always nice when a man vying for the presidency of the world's most powerful nation couldn't give a wank what the name of your country is. While Cain fobs Uzbekistan off as not important enough to matter, he'd do well to, you know, acknowledge the presence of US bases there (and in neighbouring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan). Can you guess which country they border? Afghanistan. Can you guess where arms were delivered before Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan, by the way) was "liberated"? UZBEKISTAN. I think it's inconsequential that Cain doesn't know the president's name. Neither do I. And I'll bet you no one in the current US government other than Hillary Clinton knows either. Incidentally it's Islam Karimov. I get that jobs are probably the hottest electoral issue, but surely it can't come at the expense of every single other thing?

3) "It was a joke". This has twice been Cain's reponse to the media or a rival picking up on some ignoramous thing the candidate has said. It's his sole defence. In 2008 Cain wrote a column for Economic Freedom Coalition, in which he suggested Tiger Woods would be an excellent Republican presidential candidate come 2016 when Obama had finished two terms. This was when Tiger was still a darling of the world, before we found out he had a woman in every city and was about to destroy his marriage and reputation, so we can't really fault Cain for that. However, what we can fault Cain for is pretending it was all a joke. Which is complete crap. Read it yourself and point out the jokes. How dumb does the man think Americans are? (I suppose we covered that under 999). His other "joke" was this: "We’ll have a real fence. Twenty feet high, with barbed wire, electrified, with a sign on the other side saying, ‘it will kill you'". He followed it up with these comments, "What's insensitive is when they come to the United States, across our border and kill our citizens, and kill our border patrol people. That's insensitive, and I'm not worried about being insensitive to tell people to stop sneaking into America." In South Africa we have a word for this. It's called xenophobia. And that it not even remotely the same as actual immigration policy. Of course it would be unreasonable to allow people over the border willy-nilly, but to stoke xenephobic fires by implying that Mexicans come "across our border and kill our citizens" has a huge social impact. Nasty social impact. Oh, I forget. He was just joking.

While I would be supporting Mr Obama again in the next election, I hope intellectual Ron Paul hammers Cain tonight. It really shouldn't be that hard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Simon saved R1.2 million in 5 minutes

On Monday the National Youth Development Agency released a statement in response to a Sunday City Press report detailing the specifics of just what was spent on its World Festival of Youth and Students; a breakdown of the R106 million spent on the bash. And just so you’re aware, the funding for this nonsense came through the National Lotteries Board (R40 million) and the Presidency (R29 million).

I may not be an expert on balloons (which for which festival organisers paid R100,000), entertainment (R5.3 million) or confetti (R60,000 – for, erm, paper), but I did see that the NYDA spent R5.6 million chartering a plane to fly the 227 delegates from Havana direct to Johannesburg as no commercial airlines operate that route. And I do know travel.

The thought that all delegates should be flown direct annoys me, purely because it is, without a doubt, the most expensive way to fly in economy class. It is complete snobbery to assume that flying 1-stop is anything more than slightly inconvenient. To assume a divine right to be able to fly anywhere without stopping is rude to those of us who don’t have access to millions to just jump on an expensive route. Just think about how is reduces your options and therefore competition when flying direct: usually it limits you to two airlines; the one in the country from which you are flying and the one from the country to which you are travelling. Think of how many people fly the Arab airlines (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar) to the UK, or fly via Hong Kong or Singapore to get to Australia. These are cheaper alternatives to flying with SAA, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic or Qantas. So one-stop is a very acceptable manner in which to travel long-distance, and a lot of people do it. Mostly to save money.

Not so the National Youth Development Agency who, as I said, threw R5.6 million at a chartered aircraft. So I did a little digging. Five airlines, from what I can tell, have flights, or aircraft through alliances, which operate between Havana and Johannesburg. These are Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, TAAG, Air France and Air Canada.

As the World Festival was held from 13-21 December 2010, I did a search for a two-week stay in South Africa, departing Cuba for around that time in 2011, bearing in mind that this is peak holiday season in South Africa; the time of year when airlines charge the most for travel.

The only conceivable way one could have used more money to get delegates from Havana to South Africa is to have used TAAG, the Angolan national airline. Fares to Luanda (the website wouldn’t connect me from Havana all the way to Johannesburg) were US$4149. At 227 tickets that’s R7,450,030.

However, Iberia, Spain’s national airline, services that route for a fare of US$2,399, meaning the entire fare for all delegates would have totalled R4,307,892, a saving of around R1.2 million. A full percentage point of the total expense of the festival. Around R4,500 of each ticket is tax, meaning that the average fare is around R16,000. And if one approached an airline asking for 227 tickets, there is a chance that fare could be negotiable. By chartering a plane this opportunity was lost.

So a few quick airline searches resulted in a saving of R1.2 million.

Now, who knows how much balloons cost?

Monday, August 22, 2011

India’s bad decision making isn’t only on the field.

India’s cock up of a Test series in England has proven many things, many nasty things, but without a doubt the most prevalent is that India are totally disorganised and have no answer to stem the hammering being dished out to them by England.

Praveen Kumar, India’s best bowler of the series, pulled out of the Test at the last minute because of a foot injury. Now although Kumar has been India’s best bowler, he has done so in a series which has been so completely one-sided I can see Khulubuse Zuma playing see-saw with Baby Jake when I close my eyes. Kumar is the best bowler of a team being schmangled – much like Heath Streak was for his entire career. In fact Kumar boasts the only average under 30 of any Indian bowler – 15 wickets this series at a respectable 29.53. Around three times more than the 21 wickets at 11.95 of Stuart Broad. Where the wheels really fall off, though, is when you examine the staggeringly average figures of the rest of India’s attack. The alleged spearhead of Ishant Sharma has a series average of 56 and a strike rate higher than most speed limits. Sreesanth’s bowling average is unsatisfactory for someone who plays this sport as a form of employment. And Amit Mishra? The poor oke was thrown in at the deep end in conditions which don’t suit him against a powerful batting line up which had thrashed India’s bowlers around the park with all the effort of drinking a cold rum on a hot day.

If Praveen Kumar has taught us anything, this series, what is it? Accuracy. Indeed. It’s not really a secret in cricket that pressure delivers results. Kumar gets the ball to nip both ways and has plugged away at a length, with results. His peers have sprayed the ball like they want to hurt every little part of the ground. If I was MS Dhoni’s poor back I’d come back to haunt India’s bowlers, as I would be dead by now. Kumar’s consistency is the only admirable feature of India’s performance in the field this tour, so one could understand the raised eyebrows at the selection of RP Singh over Munaf Patel. RP Singh hasn’t played competitively for India since 2008, and hasn’t played anything that wasn’t limited overs since January. Unsurprisingly, he bowled with the speed and accuracy of a camel in a hurricane. Munaf Patel would have been the logical choice to replace Kumar. The ball was swinging and moving about yesterday and his consistency could have made all the difference – much like Praveen Kumar has showed us. That being said, if RP Singh and Munaf are competing for a place, any faith placed in the depth of Indian fast bowling might be misplaced.

The persistence with Mishra is surprising in light of the success left-arm spinners have had against England, Kevin Pietersen in particular. This makes it a mystery to leave Pragyan Ohja warming the bench. While Ohja isn’t going to scythe his way through a batting order, he can stem run-flow, and that would be the first tactic in dealing with the gargantuan scores England have rattled up in the last few weeks (Alastair Cook scored more in the last Test than the entire Indian batting order has made in one innings so far). As Praveen Kumar showed us, steady has produced results in this series.

The commentators yesterday passed comment about whether Suresh Raina, whose form is about as convincing as an ANC Youth League economic dossier, should have been dropped for Virat Kohli, India’s stand-out player of recent times. Nonsense. Raina needs time at the crease to scrape some sort of form together while Kohli needs game time – as much as possible – to prepare him as one of India’s future stars. Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman don’t need to play in a dead rubber. The trio has 462 Tests and over a hundred collective years between them, for heaven’s sake. Kohli has three Tests and Raina has 14.

India’s selection has shown us they aren’t preparing for the future, and have no answer to England.

Quite frankly, I’d be building a shrine to Gary Kirsten.

Monday, May 30, 2011

"The walk to the kitchen" by Twitter

Disclaimer: this is a complete pisstake and should be read as nonsense, jokery and tomfoolery

@simonwillo: Our house is so small you can lean down the passage from the lounge and touch the kitchen. It's like we live in a Lilliputian doll house. [see? I even take the piss out of me in this.]

@6000: RT @simonwillo: Our house would be great if Tony Leon lived in it and joined The Cape Party <-- edited that for you.

@liliradloff: Fuck this house is so fucking small. Where the fuck is the kitchen?

@khayadlanga: Lord Kitchener knows where the kitchen is. Morning ladies. #ChicksDigKhaya

@USEmbPretoria: We like this. And there is kitchen violence taking place in Burundi (AFP)--> RT @simonwillo [...] Lilliputian doll house.

@Sentletse: I'll bet you Mbeki had a real African kitchen. And cooked better.

@mgigaba: Bet you he didn't. RT @Sentletse: I'll bet you Mbeki had a real African kitchen. And cooked better.

@MvelaseP: Jocelyn from #AI is so thin. I wonder if she has a kitchen.

@victordlamini: One cannot separate a kitchen and a lounge without a passage.

@JoziGoddess: The distance from the lounge to the kitchen is a middle-class concern. #badblack

@DailyMaverick The house is too small: BY SIMON WILLIAMSON (@simonwillo)

@kevinmccallum: That house needs a PK.

@Hetairos_: If you want a bigger house then vote Tory.

@IvoVegter: Why have a kitchen? If you ordered takeaways you would facilitate business growth. #140charactesisnotenough

@joburgadvocacy: What you want is a *direct* path from the kitchen to the lounge.

@SAPresidency: We're building South Africa strong, starting in @simonwillo's kitchen.

@The_New_Age RT @SAPresidency: We're building South Africa strong, starting in @simonwillo's kitchen.

@mishsolomon: If you will not disclose your plans, @hartleyr, how am I supposed to see how small your house it?

@2oceansvibe: The lounge (decorated by IKEA) leads to the kitchen (stocked by DEFY) through the passage (tiled by CTM).

@TimesLive: Bono says @simonwillo's kitchen is too small.

Can you think of any more?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

An interesting... disingenous statement

Here is a quote from SA Today, Helen Zille's weekly newsletter. (Cannot find the text online but will post link when I can - it usually goes onto politicsweb)

A colleague in the National Assembly, Donald Lee, reminded me of an exchange with Manuel on the issue of quotas back in 2005. Manuel wrote:

“You argue that [quotas are] racism and the equivalent of apartheid. I think that you are so wrong.”

So, six years ago Manuel endorsed racial head-counting as a legitimate practice, now he says it is akin to apartheid.

This is disingenuous. The picture Helen Zille is trying to paint here is that Manuel is a racist and that it is merely convenient that he is pushing the "coloured agenda" in the Western Cape near election time and this quote is supposed to prove that he had some major race-profiling "agenda" when he said this. Whether this is true is not what I am arguing here.

The exchange with Donald Lee that Zille mentioned above was actually about SPORT (You can read the full exchange here) and "quotas" therein. One of the examples Lee uses in his criticism is "And yet today – in a new South Africa – we find ourselves facing the exact same situation, players like Kevin Pieterson [sic], along with many others, feel that they too cannot reach their full potential and have moved elsewhere".

I digress, but yep, Donald Lee reckoned that the "quotas" in sport meant no opportunities for white people. Yep - only seven of the current South African team are white folks.

Taking a quote outrageously out of context, which was made in response to Lee incorrectly saying that white South Africans have no chances in sport (citing parallels with Basil D'Oliveria nogal) is not fair.

Now understand something, I am not telling you whether or not this racist legislation was signed or not signed by Manyi or Manuel or whoever - or who is being hypocritical or incorrect or whether Manuel is indeed just saying that for the electoral benefit of coloureds in the WC or whatever. But, in line with what I have written previously, I think that communication from the DA is (becoming) acidic and horrible. To take something Manuel said 6 years ago about a different matter - yes, "quotas" in sport and spreading coloured and Indian people around the country are two very different matters - is unfair.

It is the equivalent of Zille saying six years ago that she hired someone to help paint her house and that proves she is anti-workers rights and it is why she stands by the DA's stance on labour broking.

Not cool, DA.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An interesting... DA e-aggression

(Image pinched from The Daily Maverick)

This morning my inbox spat out a press release from the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko. I usually read DA communication at arms’ length, scared that it’s usual super-aggressive tone will snap at my eyes. Instead, Ms. Mazibuko’s lengthy campaign document was easy to read, and didn’t make me feel like I was being shat on.

I’m certainly not saying that there is a right or wrong way to do it, merely what I prefer dealing with. For example, here are some quotes from Helen Zille’s weekly newsletter:

7 Feb: Being an “all-weather friend” to authoritarian rulers is clearly more important to the ANC than promoting economic growth.

10 Jan: The ANC will ensure that SADC continues to protect former "freedom fighters" who have morphed into despots.

10 Jan: Perhaps the biggest flaw of all is Zuma’s continued delusion that the state can play a leading role in planning, managing and leading sustainable economic growth and job creation.

These are just three examples. And I am not debating whether Mrs. Zille is right or wrong in the points she is making. What I do think is that the way she writes is not conducive to changing people’s minds. If someone shouts at you or speaks to you like you are stupid, you are unlikely to listen to the points they are making. Mrs. Zille’s tone is very aggressive.

Gareth van Onselen is the DA’s executive director of communication (head of communications for the DA?) and this is a comment he left on The Daily Maverick recently in response to a column by Sipho Hlongwane:

Hlongwane, who strikes me as distinctly mediocre, suggests it was a good thing that Mbeki avoided accounting for his various Aids madnesses; that he did well to give Coetzee a good 'tuning'. It's the analysis of someone who doesn't know the facts and thus, suggests Mbeki was doing the right thing by avoiding being held to account. But perhaps that is exactly what Hlongwane thinks - transparency is a bad idea and anyone who avoids it, 'deserves a generous helping of grog'. Certainly I don't remember him speaking out against Mbeki at the time. How idiotic.

Once again, I am not here to debate what he says. But I do notice his tone. And it isn’t pleasant. He was possibly commenting in his personal capacity, but to expect viewers to think this has noting to do with the DA when he’s debating in a public arena is silly.

This is what made Lindiwe Mazibuko’s press release so different. Read it. She writes beautifully and explains the DA’s municipal records – persuading people rather than telling them they are stupid for voting for anyone else. (While you may never find that written down in DA communication, tone-wise it does allude to it.) Am I seeing something that isn’t there? Possibly. But communication specialists should make me avoid doing so, surely?

While both Mrs Zille and Ms Mazibuko both present arguments, I find Ms Mazibuko’s far easier to engage with. She points out where the ANC has fallen down and in comparison shows where and how the DA has done better. Take this, for example – a snippet from the release:

In its 2006 manifesto, the ANC said:

"By 2010, when South Africa hosts the Soccer World Cup, all households will have access to clean running water and decent sanitation."

Now the ANC says the target is no longer 2010, but 2014, and the Cooperative Governance report shows why. In Tshwane, for instance, one in five residents still do not even have access to the most basic level of sanitation.

In Cape Town, on the other hand, 94% of residents have access to basic sanitation.

Personally, I think that if the DA are to make massive inroads into government like they aim to, it will be due to communication like Ms. Mazibuko’s that gets them there. People care about what she has written about and she doesn’t alienate people who aren’t DA-voters. She has shown what he DA has done well without hysterical angry-white-people-tone. She has shown DA solutions and advancements, a stark differentiation to the yapping opposition political fox terrier which the DA is often accused of. She hasn’t used terms like”deluded”, “crony”, “blind” or “idiotic”. She’s presented facts in a very personable way.

And it's is far harder to argue with facts than it is to resent and ignore a crap tone.