About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 October 2005

Drugs are nice

No I haven't gone off my mind - just the title of a book. On Wired this past week, there was a link to a personal essay by a certain Lisa Carver. The essay was on her experiences of being a teenage prostitute, and unlike many moralistic, "I have sinned but I am now good" pieces, she confesses to have actually enjoyed being a prostitute and treats the job as any other. If nothing else, the change in perspective is refreshing enough - and the essay is a very interesting read. As for the title of the post - the essay is an extract from her book titled "Drugs are nice". I am contemplating on buying it ... just seeing the reaction of some people will be worth it ...

25 October 2005

The Law of Unintended Consequences

UCT with collaboration with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) hosted a "panel discussion" on the future of SA featuring former president and Nobel prize winner FW De Klerk, and his former prisoner (terrorist), TV star, banker, mining magnate and premier of Gauteng, Tokyo Sexwale. It was really a very interesting event, and neither speakers towed party affiliations in speaking their minds on issues of transformation, BEE, Zuma/Mbeki debacle, delivery, education etc. They were also very engaging speakers; to the point and excellent examples on why they were great politicians.

The majority of the talk inevitably centred on BEE - both of them are supporters but both pointed out the flaws; from business implementations and from legislators. From president De Klerk (Tokyo says that since Mbeki refers to Madiba as president Mandela, FW should be referred to as president De Klerk) he brought out some fundamental problems of legislating BEE - when do you stop BEE "quotas" and what about the economic realities - is it realistic to actually depend on a supplier that is not as good but a BEE company for instance? On the other hand; Tokyo gave some very startling numbers (or numbers that I was certainly not aware of) - only 3% of the JSE is "black" owned for example after 11 years and that big business has not voluntarily done BEE deals when prompted; thus the need for legislation. He even used ABSA as an example (with a lot of references to ABSA's my bank is ABSA tag line); before being sold; 10% of ABSA was BEE owned representing 1.1 Million South Africans. Yet, 20% of ABSA was owned by one white family!

But, probably what made the biggest headlines was Tokyo's criticisms of poor service delivery and the Mbeki-Zuma spat. He was clearly disgusted with how the issue was being handled, both by the ANC and the supporters of Zuma. His criticisms of poor service delivery were equally scathing; both on how ANC has handled it in the past and how they are trying to handle it now. In his opinion, he would like competent people to be appointed to municipalities to manage the issue - raising issues with central government interference (Mango is going to have a fit) - but clearly corruption and maladministration is a potential boiling point.

And although there was little time spent on HIV/AIDS in particular; a question from the audience brought out two very interesting but highly relevant points from the speakers. Tokyo criticised the effect of sidelining the debate on causes with a very good analogy - if the house is burning; you do not debate the cause. And although SA actually has the largest ARV rollout programme in the world; it certainly is not working as well as it should. De Klerk commented on the issue of getting the message to the people - and not just only on HIV/AIDS. People need to know what the issues, problems and current plans on the solution are on the ground - for housing, for service delivery, for unemployment etc. He criticised politicians for not having the will to actually go and talk to the people about the issues.

And on that note; I will bow out ... but its the last point that made the biggest impact for me in a way. On my walk home, I went past some homeless guys sleeping on the pavement by Main Road in Mowbray. I wonder how many of these guys know of the issues with BEE and why they don't have jobs and need to sleep on the pavement next to prostitutes and who knows what.

24 October 2005

Feeling Guilty

On saturday I went to this stationery shop in Mowbray (next to KFC) to look for magazine folders. The shop had 5 in stock at R32 each. I decided to buy three and gave the cashier/owner R100 note. So he takes out the calculator, says that I owe R66 and then proceeds to give me R34 in change. I contemplated on alerting him to the error, but we had just had a discussion on the price of buying 10 such folders so he was very aware of the price of the folders. I felt a bit guilty esp. as I would have very much complained if the calculation was not in my favour - but then I know my arithmetic ...