This is where Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is showing in Clarksdale, Mississippi. They seem to have been slightly short of letters.
South Africa's Washington ambassador, Ebrahim Rasool, very generously invited me to take his seat on this years' annual Congressional Pilgrimage to Mississippi and Alabama organised by the Faith and Politics Institute. As I write, we're airborne en route to Memphis. We'll be busing through the Mississippi Delta to Jackson and from there on Sunday to Selma. Alabama and the Edmund Pettus bridge where police set upon civil rights marchers with clubs, bullwhips, dogs and firehoses 49 years ago today. Congressman John Lewis, who had his skull fractured leading the march, is our leader and guide. The South African contingent comprises the Rosieda Shabodien, the ambassador's wife, Thandi Fadane, the ambassy's chief administrator, and Desmond Lethlogono Moreki from the political section. We're here to connect two anniversaries, the 50th of Freedom Summer and the 20th of South Africa 2.0. I'll be posting as we go.
I caught you on CNN the other night doing your talking head thing on the trial of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian who runs on carbon fiber blades in place of amputated lower legs, for the murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.
Your Wikipedia entry reminds us why Piers Morgan had you on his show. You are a media star. In 1967, you became Harvard's youngest ever full professor of law. You held the Felix Frankfurter professorship for 20 years until your retirement in 2013. You have successfully represented a stellar cast of celebrity defendants, including two, O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, charged like Pistorius with killing women they had once supposedly loved.
South Africa, you told Mr Morgan and his audience with what seemed invincible certainty, was a "failed country". Now I recognize the on-air rules of the game for professional talking heads include expressing yourselves in ways that might be considered unprofessional in a Harvard lecture hall. That said, your comment about South Africa would have been outlandish in any setting. In spite of his English tabloid roots, even Mr Morgan was taken aback.
There will indeed be a big and forceful push after the elections to begin implementing the National Development Plan (NDP).
Some left-leaning ministers in the economic cluster (you know who you are, gentlemen) will be dropped or moved, and departments may even disappear. Trevor Manuel will stay on in government and become a super-minister in the Presidency, implementing the NDP. Gordhan will also stay on (though I suspect he will demand that his promises to cut back on public sector expenses be backed up by firm presidential action) despite some speculation to the contrary.
The African National Congress (ANC) will hold its vote above 60% on May 7. Cyril Ramaphosa will be consigned to the party leadership forever (or as long as he can bear it), and Kgalema Motlanthe, as a reward for his hard work in mining, may even be retained as deputy head of state!
What seems certain is that the president, for now, is supremely confident of his own position. He will have real clout for the critical first two years of a new administration. Cosatu (Zwelinzima Vavi’s and Irvin Jim’s Cosatu) is history. It is now an ANC sweetheart and will be no trouble at all. The South African Communist Party (SACP) is a mere vassal. And what left-wing pressure there is from outside the ANC (Julius Malema’s EFF and a nascent socialist party forming around Vavi and Jim) is, frankly, poorly organised, has no money and will be not be serious trouble for four or five years, if at all.
South Africa's largest trade union, Numsa, is on the cusp of leaving the ANC big tent to try its luck as a free-standing party, the United Front and Movement for Socialism. This is good news, as I recently explained in a response to a column by the New York Times' Bill Keller. Now it will be up to voters, rather than cadres, to choose between competing visions -- modern mixed economy vs "total destruction of capitalism" -- of how to grow the economy and create jobs.
"We need a movement for socialism," general secretary Irvin Jim told reporters in Johannesburg.
He said work was underway to mobilise the working class in all its formations, for the radical implementation of the Freedom Charter, the ANC's document of goals and aspirations for the country, and against neoliberalism.
Jim said the leadership of the national liberation movement as a whole had failed to lead a consistent radical democratic process to resolve national, gender, and class questions post-1994 – the year of South Africa's first democratically elected government.
He said the leadership was predominantly drawn from the black and African capitalist class, which "kowtows" to the dictates of white monopoly capitalist and imperialist interests.
"It is half-hearted and extremely inconsistent in the pursuit of a radical democratic programme and has completely abandoned the Freedom Charter," he said...
"We at Numsa have no illusion that only a total destruction of capitalism and all it represents, can save the earth and give birth to a new civilisation."
Extract from my contribution on a panel at Harvard Business School's annual Africa conference. The panel was titled: "Tourism: the answer to Africa's employment challenges?"
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism's direct contribution to South Africa's GDP in 2012 was R102 billion or around $10 billion at current exchange rates, representing 3.2% of GDP. By comparison, the value of the gold South Africa produced in 2011 -- as estimated by the Chamber of Mines -- was equivalent to 2.45% of GDP
Tourism directly supported 619,500 jobs in 2012 according to the WTTC, accounting for 4.6% of all employment. By contrast, South Africa's mining sector employed 426,000 as of December last year, according to Statistics South Africa's latest quarterly labor report
Visitors spent just under $1 billion in South Africa in 2011, equivalent to 10.1% of the country's total exports.
Tourism's total contribution to the South African economy in 2011 was valued by the WTTC at R315 billion – $30 billion – or close to 10% of GDP. That figure includes tourist spend, government outlays on services linked to tourism, investment in hotels, aircraft, marketing, security and infrastructure, domestic purchases of goods and services by the hospitality industry, along with "induced" spending by households earning incomes from tourism.
Budget documents released this past week project that tourism will generate 225,000 new jobs between now and 2020, support the growth of 3200 new businesses and directly and indirectly contribute an additional R499 billion or $50 billion to GDP over the same period.
I would argue that these figures, as impressive as they are, underestimate the full value South Africa derives from tourism. Every dollar we invest in bringing visitors has the effect of brand-reinforcing adspend that shatters stereotypes and helps people truly appreciate what we have to offer -- and then share their experience via social media.
Visitors to South African cannot miss the staggering diversity of our people and landscape or of the choices of things to do and see or of the innovative ways we're working to preserve our natural heritage so that future generations can enjoy and continue to benefit from it. Nor can they miss the kindness, openness and solicitude for their well-being of the people they meet.
Steven Friedman is impressed that the ruling ANC resisted to the temptation to burden the budget with vote-getting goodies. Sees it as further evidence the party recognises it will not be able to deliver without the private sector on side.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s speech was designed to signal to local business that the government sees it as a key source of jobs and growth. Declaring that "the next phase of growth is about the dynamism and agility of the private sector and the synergies created with government" ( the government sees business as important and wants to work with it), Gordhan stressed a series of initiatives designed to make life easier for businesses. He promised improved infrastructure, streamlined regulation "to make it easier to do business" and a commitment to policy certainty and protection for property rights. It is hard to imagine what more a finance minister in a government supported by unions and millions of poor voters in a society where poverty and inequality are rife could have done to reassure businesses.
...thinks Anthony Butler. Zuma, he argues, is preparing to use the National Development Plan to deal with what's standing in the way of ecnomic growth.
Beyond core state reform, the NDP is more a symbol than a bible. It quietly advances a style of policy-making in which evidence and reason play a greater role. But it is mainly a cloak for renewed sectoral bargaining around "hard issues".
Incoming deputy state president Ramaphosa, and the new ministers for planning and monitoring in the Presidency, may well be tasked with knocking heads together and negotiating lasting settlements to hitherto intractable problems.
In the education sector, the idea of an "NDP-based rethink" is already being used to encourage a rapprochement between policy makers, teacher unions and officials. The "NDP approach" is also likely to be used to resolve conflicts arising from health system reform, in energy policy and the minerals sector. In all these cases, negotiation between antagonistic groups could result in an unexpected reconciliation of political, business and labour interests. Zuma’s second term may yet surprise us.
Shoprite's latest results are further evidence, reports Business Times' Adele Shevel. Angolans, those with money at any rate, seems to have a huge thirst for Red Bull and South African bubbly.
Two statistics from (CEO Whitey) Basson's presentation illustrate eloquently how investors underestimate the potential of Africa's shoppers at their peril.
First: just five Shoprite stores in Angola sold more cans of energy drink Red Bull than in all of Shoprite's 382 stories in South Africa.
The second equally alarming statistic is that those 19 Shoprite stores in Angola sold more bottles of the ubiquitous sparkling wine JC Le Roux than the entire South African business did.
It would be an exaggeration to say Shoprite's business at its 163 stores north of South Africa saved its bacon in the six months to December — but that remark would not be too inaccurate.
Sales north of the border climbed 28.1% (exclude the impact of the plunging rand, and it was still 14.9%), and the return on investment for those stores exceeded 45%.
Henry II, played by Peter O'Toole, gives Eleanor of Aquitaine, played by Pamela Brown, a piece of his mind in the film Becket.
Henry: And you have never given me anything but your carping mediocrity and your everlasting obsession with your puny little person and what you thought was due to it. That's why I forbid you to smile while Becket is being destroyed.
Eleanor: I gave you my youth, I gave you your children.
Henry: I don't like my children and as for your youth, that withered flower pressed between the pages of a hymnbook since you were twelve years old, with its watery blood and stale insipid scent, you could bid farewell to that without a tear. Your body was an empty desert which duty forced me to wander in alone, but you have never been a wife to me and Becket was my friend, red-blooded, generous and full of strength.
"It's pretty rough in South Africa," Kimbal Musk says. "It's a rough culture. Imagine rough — well, it's rougher than that. Kids gave Elon a very hard time, and it had a huge impact on his life." Huge, Tosca says, "because there was no recourse. In South Africa, if you're getting bullied, you still have to go to school. You just have to get up in the morning and go. He hated it so much." It turned out he had two recourses. The first was his family — and his ability to think of himself as a Musk, and therefore as a kind of transcendent citizen rather than as a South African. The second was the advent of the personal computer. "He was on computers as soon as they were available to us," Tosca says.If he succeeds in taking us on the great trek to Mars, some of the credit will go to schoolyard bullies in Pretoria.