Archives for posts with tag: Africa

During its long liberation struggle, South African organisations were known by initials like ANC, PAC, AZAPO, COSATU etc. It was a well-known alphabet of activism.

In today’s South Africa, nearly 20 years after the arrival of a multi-racial democracy, there are three letters that are not as well known but central to understanding the conflicts that continue to swirl here from the recent massacre of 34 striking miners by police to almost daily protests against poor service delivery and outrage against growing corruption: PUI.

PUI stands for Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality, all social phenomena that are growing and some say worse today than when Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.

To assess the feelings of South Africans, surveyors from the Gallup Poll organisation put this question to a carefully selected sample in February and March of this year: “Now I am going to read you a lot of issues the Government of South Africa could address in the next twelve months. Please tell me which is the most important.”  The questions dealt with corruption, education, healthcare and the economy.

Fifty one per cent of the respondents put “Create New Jobs” at the top of their list.

Notes Gallup: “Currently, 28 per cent of South Africans overall say it is a good time to find a job in their community, while 69 per cent say it is a bad time. Those job opportunities that do exist are disproportionately concentrated in the cities, so that South Africans living in urban areas are almost twice as likely as those living in small towns or rural areas to say it is a good time to find a job – 40 per cent vs. 22 per cent, respectively. Correspondingly, the richest 20 per cent of South Africans are about twice as likely as the remaining 80 per cent to perceive job opportunities as good in the city or area where they live.”

The issue of jobs is of course a global challenge with unemployed and underemployed workers clamouring for job creation in every country. But, in South Africa, where workers fought so hard against a racial system of apartheid, many now find themselves stuck in an economic one.

An Afrikaner intellectual, Solomon Johannes (Sampie) Terreblanche is emerging as the country’s leading and hardest-hitting analyst of growing and worsening inequality and poverty that impacts as many as 50 per cent of all black South Africans.

Unlike others who are just critical of the African National Congress government, he offers a structural and global analysis showing that the political transition that took place here in the early 90s was not accompanied by a social and economic transformation.

He explains how these inequalities have their roots in a long history of colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

His new book Lost in Transformation (KMM Review Publishing) goes in to how what he calls the Mining Energy Complex (MEC) subverted the demands for fundamental reform through secret deal making behind the scenes of the negotiations for a new order.

He then ties what happened locally to the growth of an international American-driven neo-liberal global economic agenda that limited local sovereignty and policy options.

Terreblanche is a serious researcher, not a conspiracy theorist, but followers of Noam Chomsky and many critics of the economic strategies of the World Bank and the IMF will find a great deal to learn from his incisive analysis.

“The PUI problem that was bequeathed to the ANC government by the apartheid regime in 1994 was already almost unsolvable,” he writes.

“The ANC has proclaimed repeatedly that addressing the PUI problem is its highest priority. But this is true only in the rhetorical sense of the word. The policy measures implemented by the government over the past 1 years have given strong preference to black elite formation and to promoting the interests of local and foreign corporations while it has shamelessly neglected the impoverished black majority.”

This is the deeper background to the conflicts now surfacing in this country which are far more economic than political. When you hear about more uprisings and confrontation, think PUI – and what must be done about it.

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Winners invariably believe that they are entitled to rewrite the past from the vantage point of history’s vindication, but official histories are always challenged by the ‘losers’.

With the approach of the 25th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, the controversy over who won this pivotal engagement in southern African history is being revisited. It is as if the battle has been rejoined as protagonists from both sides of the conflict press their claims as victors.

I was young then but I was against Apartheid and I supported, then and now all the peoples fighting against oppression. To me, Cuito Cuanavale was a great defeat of UNITA and the racist South Africa.

On 30 August 2012, 220 computer servers from CERN, Switzerland, will start a journey to be delivered to theKwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Ghana, Africa. This will provide a new computing center for KNUST and boost African physics onto the international stage, helping African students.(…)

This center is a dynamic organism. When parts break down or become old, they need to be replaced. The computing center has around 10,000 servers. These servers, like all technology, have a limited life cycle. After a few years, some servers become redundant. In this case, they are replaced and sent to storage in the CERN recuperation service. But they are still fit for lots of other interesting uses.

“If no one at CERN wants the equipment they are donated. This is where I’m involved. I’m responsible for the organization of transferring 220 servers over to KNUST in Ghana,” said Costa.

In total, 220 servers and 30 routers, which will help increase network performance, will be shipped. Costa said, “They will make up a new computing center dedicated to physics research. The 200 servers will serve the computing center and 20 servers will help run INVENIO there.” According to Costa, the increased computing power will improve research collaboration with KNUST.

“The servers will help develop scientific collaboration,” said John Ellis, a physics professor at King’s College London, who is also a guest professor in CERN’s theory division. For some years, researchers, such as John Ellis, have developed cooperative initiatives with KNUST, to train and inspire students, such as the African School of Physics, which took place this summer.

“The timing of the school provided a good opportunity to set a deadline for the server transfer agreement. KNUST students will now be able to participate in simulations of LHC data, initially purely theoretically. We also hope subsequently for participation by a team from KNUST in the ATLAS experimental collaboration,” Ellis said.

At the official handing-over ceremony at CERN Peter Yirenkyi, a lecturer at KNUST, and vice chancellor of KNUST William Ellis, and Isaac Dontwi of the National Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana, will meet and greet CERN’s director general, Rolf Heuer and IT department head Frédéric Hemmer.

But, this is not the first computing handshake CERN has made with African institutions. On 8 March 2012, 161 servers were donated to universities in Casablanca, Morocco to build a new Tier 2 grid node of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid.

And there’s still more computing capacity waiting for a second lease on life. Costa said, “Even after these servers are given to Ghana, there will still be over 1,000 servers left in storage. Some other institutes may like to contact us about them.”

Ageing satellite dishes, once the backbone of Africa’s telecommunications system, are being given a new lease of life as radio telescopes.

The thrifty project aims to boost the skills of the continent’s scientists as Africa prepares to host the US$2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), set to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope when it is completed in the mid-2020s. In May, the SKA project leaders decided that Africa, with South Africa at the helm, would split the array with Australia and New Zealand . The SKA will detect radiation from the early Universe, giving clues to how the first stars and galaxies formed.

This antenna in Kuntunse, Ghana, is in line for an upgrade.
MICHAEL GAYLARD

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West is embarking on protest action against Sun City, Sun International’s most prestigious resort in South Africa.

The protest action is prompted by the inhumane manner in which Sun City continues to treat its workers and guests who are black, in particular Indians and Africans.

Sun City has been collecting workers’ gratuities for the past fifteen years and has failed to transfer the money to the workers; it continues to accumulate interest in an account controlled by Sun City and workers do not have a say in that money.