Insightful look at SA politics
‘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