In­sight­ful look at SA politics

Talk of the Town - - News - SID PEN­NEY

‘If we don’t fix the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem we put our­selves at great risk.’

RENOWNED po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor, TV host, news­pa­per colum­nist and award-win­ning jour­nal­ist, Jus­tice Malala, was given a stand­ing ova­tion at the con­clu­sion of his bril­liant 75-minute pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion at the Rotary Dis­trict 9370 con­fer­ence in Gra­ham­stown at the week­end.

Malala gave an in-depth ad­dress of the South African po­lit­i­cal scene, en­thralling his 500-plus au­di­ence of Ro­tar­i­ans, spouses, lo­cal res­i­dents and in­vited school pupils. A se­nior Ro­tar­ian said it was not of­ten that a speaker at a Rotary con­fer­ence re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion.

Be­hind Malala on the stage in the Guy But­ler Au­di­to­rium of the 1820 Set­tlers Mon­u­ment on Satur­day morn­ing was a huge screen, and many of the pho­to­graphs and il­lus­tra­tions elicited var­ied re­sponse from au­di­ence mem­bers as Malala touched on cer­tain salient points – laugh­ter as Zapiro’s car­toons ap­peared, and gasps as sta­tis­tics and graphs were shown.

Barely a minute into his ad­dress, Malala men­tioned that on oc­ca­sion he had been ap­proached with a view to be­com­ing a Ro­tar­ian. This prompted dis­trict gover­nor Bruce Steele-Gray of Rotary Kenton-on-Sea and Geeta Manek, rep­re­sent­ing the In­ter­na­tional Rotary pres­i­dent, to rise from their seats on the stage and at­tach a Rotary pin to his lapel.

Speak­ing prior to Malala tak­ing to the stage, Manek, from Kenya, gave an in­sight­ful look into Rotary In­ter­na­tional’s work­ings and aims, urg­ing Ro­tar­i­ans to roll up their sleeves. “It is up to us to change our world,” she com­mented.

Upon re­ceiv­ing the Rotary pin, Malala said, when hear­ing of Rotary’s fundrais­ing and nu­mer­ous other projects: “I am hum­bled by the idea of be­ing so driven [in Rotary]”.

Malala spoke at length of most as­pects of politics in South Africa, of­ten giv­ing his own views of per­ti­nent is­sues. He opened his ad­dress by say­ing that “we all go through mo­ments of de­spair as far as politics is con­cerned”. He added: “Our politics will con­tinue to be full of ups and downs, and shocks”.

At about the same time, Malala was speak­ing, the ANC was pre­par­ing to hold its na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) meet­ing in Pre­to­ria. Malala spec­u­lated on the out­come of the meet­ing when he asked, “Will we have the same pres­i­dent by the end of the week­end?”

It emerged on Sun­day that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was fight­ing for po­lit­i­cal sur­vival af­ter an­other mo­tion of no con­fi­dence was tabled against him, and for him to step down.. It was Malala’s view that Zuma still had the sup­port and would sur­vive.

Malala then went into sta­tis­ti­cal mode when he spoke of Nkandla, the pres­i­den­tial home in Kwa-Zulu-Natal. The cost started off at R27-mil­lion, he said, then went to R50-mil­lion, then R200-mil­lion, and it now stands at R246-mil­lion.

“But no-one has been held to ac­count,” Malala lamented.

He had his au­di­ence riv­eted to his ev­ery word as he spoke in de­tail on protest ac­tion, the high un­em­ploy­ment rate, ed­u­ca­tion, the land is­sue, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s of­fice and the fu­ture of South Africa.

On the is­sue of ed­u­ca­tion, Malala said: “If we don’t fix the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem we put our­selves at great risk. We need to do some­thing about ed­u­ca­tion”.

To mur­murs from his au­di­ence, Malala said the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s of­fice “seems to have been cap­tured”.

More mur­murs em­anated when he said that 36% of the adult pop­u­la­tion was un­em­ployed. “Ev­ery day peo­ple are out on the streets un­em­ployed. Peo­ple don’t even be­lieve they will get jobs,” he added. Near­ing the con­clu­sion of his ad­dress, Malala said: “My view is that the ANC will lose the 2024 elec­tions, be­cause it can­not re­form it­self”.

TOP-NOTCH SPEAKER: Jus­tice Malala, renowned po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and news­pa­per colum­nist, de­liv­ers his key­note ad­dress en­ti­tled ‘Be­yond the Noise’ to the Rotary Dis­trict 9370 con­fer­ence in the 1820 Set­tlers Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Gra­ham­stown last week­end

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