Saving the West for last, JZ?
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.