Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mechanics of Justice: Form and Substance

One can only wonder what the South African public are thinking when issues such as the one around PigSpotter come about. Of more concern to me though is what the government itself is thinking.

Without repeating the content of Mistry's excellent article on Wonkie, the function of government in any country is to serve and protect its citizens. And it is necessarily this underlying intention that needs to drive the justice system. So in the case of PigSpotter, a twitter account that basically warns the public of speed traps, road blocks and other traffic disruptions, the question remains: does the public ultimately benefit? And certainly I believe they do. If the goal of the traffic authority is to ensure people drive prudently especially in high accident risk areas, then certainly PigSpotter is aiding the cause. In fact rather than reprimand him, the government should probably be hiring him to continue with the same job.

Unfortunately that is not the case and the authorities are trying to legally gun the rogue public reporter down. Is it that the traffic department is motivated primarily by the revenue generation opportunity that speeding fines represent? And is it possible that PigSpotter is seen as merely reducing this revenue stream? Quite possibly so.

Another argument is of course that the rule of law needs to be followed objectively and without discretion if corruption is to be kept at bay. Is it ok to warn the public about speed cameras and also crime check roadblocks? Clearly both of those are not the same. The latter certainly does defeat the ends of justice and the public should quite rightly be willing to bear the inconvenience of those delays.. particularly given their regular whinge about crime.

In the end, the point is that the substance of the law - not the form of it - should be the deciding factor in whether the action is just or not. So in the PigSpotter case, the authorities should catch PigSpotter because he is breaking the law. Upon judgement though, he should be found not guilty only for the disclosure of the speed trap locations and guilty for defeating the ends of justice with respect to disclosing roadblock locations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I miss Africa

The fact that I'm sitting out here in the freezing cold in the middle of nowhere apparently doing some good and charitable work is unfortunately little consolation to me right now. I miss Africa and I miss it dearly.

Not that there aren't creature comforts in Canada (yes, there are - even out here in rural North America). In fact you can barely even feel the cold given you don't often wander around aimlessly in the street at subzero temperatures. What I miss most of all is the people.

People here admittedly are warm and friendly despite the harsh climate. But there's a certain colloquilism missing, for lack of a better term. It's a different kind of warmth I have struggled to find outside the developing world. I miss feeling relaxed and able to speak my own language... any of them actually besides English - and actually have people understand me and the expressions I use.

Sigh - I guess I am entitled to whine and rant once in a while on my blog instead of just discussing issues that really matter. For once I can say though that I miss home - the diversity, the sense of humour, the stinky taxis and even the crime. Some real issues to deal with instead of the intellectual ones debated in the first world - i.e. whether we should be calling policemen policemen or police people... grrr..

I really do miss writing on the South Africa news too - have barely had the time to cover anything on Wonkie recently, let alone the executive coaching articles I promised I would mug up for friends after my last post on personal development. Still, it's just a few weeks more before I'm back to the motherland - I rarely say this about going home but I cannot wait this time! I miss Africa!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Personal Development South Africa

Over the last 15 years many young, black South Africans have sky rocketed to senior positions in corporate South Africa. This is not exclusively as a result of affirmative action policies and BEE principles in general as some might think. A lot of it is a result of hard work and increased opportunity to progress in the workforce.

One notable criticism that many seem to hold is that BEE is basically a tax on South African organisations. To some extent this is justified at present but it needn't and shouldn't be so. There are plenty of very competent black executives and many that show at the very least the political savvy required to progress.

What is lacking can be filtered down to two things:

1. Inadequate marketing of just what BEE executives are doing and how they are adding value. More aggresive advertising of the facts will surely help justify their positions. The issue is of course that they feel they don't need to - after all you're getting the money any way so what difference does it make? It does make a difference. Being branded a useless AA candidate contributes neither to the esteem of black youth nor to the effectiveness of BEE programs.

2. Lack of leadership training and coaching of black executives. In order to be effective in the 'new South Africa' this sort of training which is readily available in the first world is much needed. The training ranges from basic presentation skills all the way through to team coaching and development and executive coaching.

In my experience, the aspirations of black executives need to be sense-checked. This is not to say that 'white' ideals need to be adopted because they now have wealth. But sincere reflection on their own lifestyles, their values and priorites - and these range not only at a career level, but also family, friendships, education and sustainability for future generations. Life coaching South Africa is far from well-developed at present but there is certainly a niche need to be filled. Not only will it benefit South Africa as whole, it will also prove invaluable for those exeuctives in terms of their own personal development

Monday, May 3, 2010

UK elections - How now Brown cow?

A leap from life in sunny South Africa with the entire country betting on the upcoming 2010 World Cup to a competition of a different sort altogether. Thought I'd pen a few of my thoughts on the elections currently being held in the UK this week, particularly given the time I spent in long stint I spent working in Birmingham.

There are just 3 more days on campaign trail left and things are heating up for the parties. It's been quite unlike the US elections in 2008 notably by less intense use of social media. Still, by UK standards certainly more people know about Twitter and Facebook pages for political parties than ever before. I'm finding the BBC editor blogs is a great place to keep track of the latest facts and figures - Rory Cellan-Jones in particular has some great running sentiment analysis in his section.

The polls have been quite inconclusive so far and it appears none of the parties have assume anything is a given at this point. No doubt the next couple of days will be filled with mad campaigning.

David Cameron of the Tories are still to produce their policies on gender equality. His popularity in the polls is disturbingly high though - I still find it surprising that the British still haven't produced much of an orator since Churchill. Judging by Cameron's popularity they must really not value that. After Clinton and Obama, that is really disappointing. I imagine many voters in the UK believe that besides Labour there is no other choice than the Conservatives.

Parties like the Lib Dems (Nick Clegg) have performed better in the polls in this election than before but the concern is that they will fail to break the Labour or Tory mentality of the British public.

So how now Brown cow? Labour still has to outline their legislative priorities but I believe Gordon Brown's quote to labour supporters over the weekend just says it all:

"When we hear the pain of suffering, we're prepared to act. The language that we understand is the cry of a child or someone in need."

Their policies have certainly made the British public weep (although debatable what any of the others could have done to avert the financial crisis in the UK!) So now they have to listen - but will they be given a chance to by the furious citizens. Even cab drivers are discussing the extent of the UK budget deficit and how it compares to Greece. Economic policy has taken a step out of boardroom discussions and is affecting the general public - and they are very concerned about the way out of their current mess.

It is exactly this type of concern that causes havoc in elections. I believe an upset is what the UK needs. Someone with new and fresh ideas to stimulate the country and its minds. And no, I'm not talking about the BNP, especially after I read this Nick Griffin cartoon by Pratish! Makes me feel right I really am right back in the old South Africa with some of points in the BNP manifesto.

If I were a betting man, my money would be definitely be on a hung parliament around this time next week - it's definitely not what the UK needs right now but it's looking somewhat inevitable. At least it would be safer than wasting cash on Silver Sands casino or some other dodgy online casino South Africa! Anyway, I'm sure there's some bookie making a ton working out the odds from this UK election - it's going to be VERY close!

Actually, regardless of what happens I am quite curious to see what the outcome will be - BBC is said to be beaming the results onto Big Ben once they are released (although how they're going to do that on a bell, I have to wonder! ;)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Positive vibes South Africa

With all the negative sentiment in the press these day about South Africa (mostly in South Africa, mind you) it's great to see a campaign initiative such as the one being run by the Core Group (distributors of Apple products in SA) - The campaign is called A to Z of ZA and aims at promoting what people love about South Africa.

Basically you can submit a number of different types of digital media through facebook and other platforms as entries - the best of which stand a chance of winning an iPod nano or Macbook. For more details check out A to Z of ZA's website - takes irritatingly long to load up but worth the wait!

With the FIFA 2010 world cup around the corner in SA, the buzz is certainly in the air at the moment. Hopefully SA can contain some of the negative publicity surrounding the service delivery strikes, Eugene's murder and of course the infamous Julius Malema.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rocking March

So I've basically neglected a lot of my music since I started working abroad - there's just been no time to focus on anything else to be honest. I barely have enough time to makes cartoons any more, let alone whip out the bass guitar and strum some tunes.

In any case, I've been approached by some colleagues that a putting together a makeshift band in London (Canada, not the UK!) - they need a bass guitarist and invited me to join. Really looking forward to it actually - hopefully I haven't lost too much of my touch since I left South Africa!

Otherwise things are going well - just been too absorbed with my development work to have time for the extracurricular. Heading to New York most likely in June so you guys out there better have my pad ready!

It's Sharpeville day back in SA so have taken a day off here in Canada as well - I lost a close cousin on the day so probably closer to it than most.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome 2010 - South Africa's year!

Bonjour! A Happy New Year to you all - it's been a while since I've updated my blog - mostly because I've been travelling and working abroad in the UK over the last 6 months or so. I'm certainly glad to have left the cold and dreary weather to experience the peak of the South African summer - and it's a hot one at that too!

The sentiment in South Africa about 2010 is certainly very upbeat - not least because of the anticipation of the upcoming FIFA world cup that is going to be held here in some 156 days time (no I did not just work that out - countdown clocks are just about everywhere you can imagine now in Johannesburg and the rest of South Africa!) Having had the job of seeing a sterling performance of South Africa against Brazil last year in the Confed Cup I can say that I am really looking forward to the 2010 matches.

On the work front, I've just completed a stint with a United Nations agency in UK and Brussels which was quite rewarding. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with my more journalistic aspirations through the Richmark online newspaper together with Pratish Mistry as well as cartooning on the Wonkie cartoon blog. The blog certainly seems to have taken off tremendously over the last one year with over 6000 daily readers now and still growing steadily!