The End of Hope: SA Civil Society's Race to the Bottom

Picture credit: Narrator Online

Alexander O'Riordan - South African civil society has happily drunk the cool aid in tacitly agreeing to cut salaries and de-professionalise their own organisations. While donors don't blink at financing international NGOs to recruit highly qualified fundraisers, researchers and project designers, local civil society has allowed them to drive salaries and operational costs forever lower turning our organisations into largely bankrupt, mute and cheap service delivery organisations. Call it the Walmart approach, but funding from donors pretty much embodies the principle of keeping the supplier on the verge of bankruptcy to ensure uncritical compliance.


Nene's Medium Term Budget Fails to Get Balance Right between Fiscal and Social Responsibility

Picture credit: South Africa Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen - South Africa's new finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, has delivered his inaugural Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. How does it measure up? Measuring the budget's performance should not just be about fiscal responsibility; it should also be about social change. Unlike his counterparts in other developing countries who have managed to decrease economic inequality through innovation budgeting, Nene has demonstrated no flair by unimaginatively prioritising fiscal prudence over social change. It is true that South Africa's budgeting and financial systems are routinely ranked amongst the best in the world. But what is the point of having a world-class budgeting system if it is unable to support social change?

Black Actors and Filmmakers Face Enormous Obstacles in South Africa

Picture credit: The cast of Generations. Image courtesy of Anna Majavu - The mass dismissal of the cast of the soap opera, Generations, by Mfundi Vundla after they went on strike for residual payments is something that used to happen in Hollywood in the 1920's - almost 100 years ago. Vundla's refusal to pay residuals is almost one century out of touch with modern thinking. That he was willing to fire the actors who went on strike and take the show off the air, with the SABC's blessing, is hugely problematic. Meanwhile regulations established by our government to support black filmmakers are having the paradoxical effect of placing filmmaking out of the reach of the average black producer.

'If Israel Is Losing People Like Me...'

Picture credit: British MPs supporting the recognition of the State of Palestine pose with a Palestinian flag courtesy Press TV Jamie Stern-Weiner - On October 13, British MPs voted 274 to 12 to recognise the State of Palestine. What are the implications? First, the Labour leadership officially endorsed recognition, as did a large majority of Labour MPs. Second, while Liberal Democrat ministers abstained, the party supports recognising Palestinian statehood, as did nearly every Liberal Democrat MP who voted. Taken together, and despite the high rate of Tory abstention, the vote demonstrated strong support for recognition of Palestine that crossed party lines. Throughout the parliamentary debate, anger at Israel's relentless settlement of the West Bank, cruelty in Gaza and rejection of the international consensus two-state solution was palpable.

South Africa's Military-Arms Cesspit

Picture credit: Chief of Defence Solly Shoke and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula courtesy GovernmentZA/flickr Dale T. McKinley - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is drowning in a sea of mismanagement, corruption, political manipulation and strategic myopia. While this state of affairs will probably not result in an imminent 'attack' on the Union Buildings, as was the case in 2009 when angry rank-and-file soldiers protested over conditions of service, the ongoing fallout is much worse. Despite a mountain of evidence stemming from the 1990's arms deal detailing gross mismanagement and corruption involving SANDF and Department of Defence officials, hardly any of those responsible have been held to even the most minimal of disciplinary standards.

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How about Handing over Hard Cash to the Poor with No Strings Attached?

Video Watch - Technology allows us to give cash directly to the poorest people on the planet. Should we do it? In this thought-provoking TED talk, veteran aid worker Joy Sun talks about unconditional cash transfers highlighting an innovative project that makes once off cash donations to poor individuals with no strings attached. Watch this talk to learn what difference a thousand dollar direct cash transfer can make to the life of a poor person who is able to spend the money as he or she pleases. The results have been surprising and debunk the notion that the poor are unable to make autonomous judgments about what's good for them.

Nuclear Deal with Iran 95% Complete

Picture credit: Just Foreign Policy Video Watch - As the November 24 deadline approaches for the end of the Iran and P5+1 negotiations, analysts are speculating about the state of negotiations and what it would mean if a deal is signed. The circumstances and tone of the negotiations have changed since Iran is currently being viewed as a potentially valuable partner in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS). Negotiations have reached a level where there is the possibility of the U.S. lifting sanctions against Iran and allowing it to develop nuclear capacity for domestic energy purposes. Larry Wilkerson, member of the Republican Party and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Collin Powell, says he is optimistic that negotiations with Iran are 95% complete.

Feminism Gone Awry: How to Be a Female Pop Star in Five Easy Steps

Picture credit: Raz Birkshaw/Wikimedia Commons Video Watch - Women pop stars are dominating the charts these days. This is a major victory for feminism, right? Alas, it seems that some women are reaching the top of the charts by less than feminist tactics. Commenting for The Guardian, Harriet Gibsone has made an amazing, sharp-humored video on how you too can be a female pop star. Her tips include hiring a man to help you write a song, preferably about your body, because that's what you fans will want. And instead of merely celebrating normal-sized bodies for women by just having one, "address your lack of thinness with lyrics about 'skinny bitches'".

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