Sav­ing the West for last, JZ?

CityPress - - Voices - HOPEWELL RADEBE voices@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­fused to step down af­ter the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion asked him to do so, say­ing his res­ig­na­tion would al­low Western gov­ern­ments to cap­ture the party and be­tray the revo­lu­tion. He also said only he could stop the West from “cap­tur­ing” the ANC.

For an in­di­vid­ual who has such be­liefs about coun­tries of lib­eral democ­racy, the rule of law, hu­man rights and gen­der equal­ity, in­clud­ing the US and the ma­jor eco­nomic driv­ers of the EU coun­tries, you’d swear South Africa would by now no longer have bi­lat­eral agree­ments or share any re­la­tions with them.

De­spite the rhetoric meant to mislead the grass roots that the West is bad and Zuma is good, a lot has hap­pened that con­tra­dicts Zuma’s state­ments at the meet­ings he had with the com­mis­sion in De­cem­ber and April.

Since then, he met many lead­ers of the so-called West at the G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg early last month. He shook hands, shared a joke and had a thor­ough dis­cus­sion about the world’s eco­nomic woes, par­tic­u­larly those be­dev­illing South Africa’s growth prospects. Yet, to him, these same peo­ple are plot­ting his down­fall through regime change.

The G20, which brings to­gether the ma­jor ad­vanced economies that ac­count for roughly 85% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, aims to cre­ate sin­gle-pol­icy frame­works that all mem­bers can ad­here to in or­der to pro­mote global sta­bil­ity.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment that is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain, is that more than 1 000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel from the US par­tic­i­pated in a three-week joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise with our own SA Na­tional De­fence Force right on our shores at the SA Army Com­bat Train­ing Cen­tre in Lo­hatla, North­ern Cape. It was called the Shared Ac­cord (for­merly South­ern Ac­cord) 2017 and was meant to help pro­vide par­tic­i­pat­ing mil­i­tary forces with the skills re­quired to en­able readi­ness for the UN-led sup­port of peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions.

Re­ally? The com­man­der in chief of the South African mil­i­tary forces ap­proved the op­er­a­tion in which the US mil­i­tary was wel­comed to get “valu­able train­ing” from South African forces? What’s more sur­pris­ing was that the ex­er­cise fo­cused on ar­eas such as plan­ning for “peace-sup­port op­er­a­tions, com­bined com­mand and ex­pe­di­tionary op­er­a­tions”.

As Bri­gadier Gen­eral Wil­liam Pren­der­gast, deputy com­man­der of US Army Africa, ex­plained: “We could not have asked for a bet­ter train­ing en­vi­ron­ment ... that in­creases readi­ness for both or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

The ques­tion is: Who is fool­ing who be­tween Zuma and the ANC’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion? Put dif­fer­ently, was it the pres­i­dent’s in­ten­tion to de­ceive or fool his party mem­bers and pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes when he cried foul in sev­eral pub­lic meet­ings about the so-called regime change or­ches­trated by the West, while he wines and dines them on international plat­forms with­out so much as a squawk about “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” – the mas­sive firms that “con­trol” the bulk of the coun­try’s econ­omy, and regime change? Siy­oy­icela ivuthiwe! ast week, Stuttafords – the once iconic depart­ment store of South African re­tail – fi­nally closed its doors, at the age of 159. If you’re in re­tail, you’ll know that things are pretty dire, and we’re not alone. In Jan­uary, Macy’s depart­ment store in the US closed al­most 70 of its stores, shed­ding more than 10 000 jobs. Whether it’s in New York, Lon­don or Jo­han­nes­burg, re­tail­ers are con­sol­i­dat­ing, stream­lin­ing and re­trench­ing. It’s what many are call­ing the global re­tail Armageddon.

Most peo­ple blame a slug­gish global econ­omy and in South Africa, it’s not just slug­gish, we’re tech­ni­cally in a re­ces­sion. Dis­pos­able in­come has all but evap­o­rated, but it is just one el­e­ment of a per­fect storm that has been brew­ing for the re­tail sec­tor.

The trend of “tran­sient own­er­ship”, AKA the shar­ing econ­omy, is grow­ing. Dig­i­tal mo­bil­ity with plat­forms such as Uber are rad­i­cally chang­ing the way we view car own­er­ship, as is the no­tion of hir­ing ver­sus buy­ing – ev­ery­thing from spe­cial oc­ca­sion out­fits to tools and ap­pli­ances. This pro­pels the grow­ing mantra of “less stuff, more sto­ries” – a mind­set where ex­pe­ri­ences, rather than ma­te­rial goods, are be­com­ing more val­ued – hence the ef­fort by malls and re­tail­ers to lure cus­tomers in with “ex­pe­ri­en­tial mar­ket­ing” – an at­tempt to deepen the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.

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