"Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.
The featured image above, taken in 1918, is a rare and unique one, it shows South African civilians stopping what they are doing in the middle of Cape Town and standing to attention for two minutes silence, signalled when the noon day gun was fired.
Not common today in Cape Town but a daily occurrence during war years.
So how did this unique practice become a worldwide standard for remembrance?
On the advice of the State Librarian one fine day in the 1970s, a truck transported thousands of books and magazines from Pretoria’s Central Police Station to a dark hall at the Iscor state steel company, just outside the South African capital. A large mechanical shovel scooped up and dropped them into a 20 metre high oven, causing it to spew flames and smoke. This was another truckload of material that had been banned for political reasons and was routinely burned in furnaces across South Africa from the 1950s to the 1970s.
South Africa has dropped off the investment radar of firms and business people. It is a dark reality that a few investment lions are not going to fix.
About seven years ago I was phoned by agents who arrange for their clients to talk to researchers in a country they are interested in investing. The money was good, and as I knew the South African economy quite well, the conference calls became quite an income for my business.
Moving to a city in search of work seems to pay off for many poor rural South Africans.
Data that track changes over time indicate that as many as 385 000 people were lifted from poverty between 2008 and 2014 after moving from rural to urban areas — their poverty levels were halved, together with a fall in unemployment. So government ambivalence about urbanisation should be replaced by a more positive and proactive approach.
The budget is about more than just income and expenditure. It should provide a vision for the economy, which deals with the current challenges but also offers an insight into the type of society we want to build. The key message in the 2018-19 budget is that South Africa’s public finances are in very bad shape, and we have to find more revenue. The budget proposes that we all need to tighten our belts and make sacrifices to get out of trouble and to get the economy on a sustainable growth path. It asks all citizens to pay more, and all income groups to share in the burden.
South Africa’s prospects under Cyril Ramaphosa
The African National Congress (ANC) narrowly avoided a damaging split at the recently concluded 54th national conference. South Africa is, however, firmly in a “muddling along” scenario. The result of the elections for the 86 elected members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) led by newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa reflects an organization that went into the conference sharply divided and it will take time for these divisions to subside.