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Trevor Manuel takes on Jimmy Manyi


In South Africa, only very rarely will political leaders openly criticize each other for their shortcomings, stupid and controversial statements, and despicable actions. Whether you are charged with rape, unsafe sex with someone you know is HIV positive (whilst having a wife or two), misusing tax money, corruption, fraud, or bloody murder: for what ever reason, South Africa’s leaders tend not to openly lambast each other very often. That does not mean, they support each other – they just prefer to keep quiet.

Throw race in the mix and you have got a completely different scenario. Take Trevor Manuel’s open letter to Jimmy Manyi.

Trevor Manuel, former minister of finance and now one of the ministers in the president’s office, is known as a clever, quiet, calm and thoughtful man who seems to over think every idea before opening his mouth.

I remember him while he presented South Africa’s budget in 2009, his last one. At that particular time, South Africa had just been hit by the global economic crisis, which had resulted in the country’s first recession in 17 years. Times were tough, extremely tough and incredibly insecure. Left, right, and center people were losing, companies were closing their doors and folded, mining companies had to decimate their production and the overall economic situation looked gloomy. Trevor Manuel, who must have been terribly worried about the situation, however stood there in utter confidence and managed to inject some much-needed optimism into the Rainbow Nation.

This very man is also known for keeping quiet with regards to the actions of other public figures. Up until now. Out of the blue, Manuel let it rip like no public figure in South Africa has let it rip before. His target: Jimmy Manyi – a government spokesperson, the President Black Management Forum (BMF), and known for a racist statement with regards to South Africa’s coloured population a year or so back.

In March 2010, Manyi – director general of labour at the time – stated during an TV-interview  that coliured people “should spread in the rest of the country… so they must stop this over-concentration situation because they are in over-supply where they are.”

These statements practically went unnoticed but were dug up this month, shortly after the publication of a controversial column by Sunday World’s Kuli Roberts – herself black – about coloured women. The column (Jou Ma se Kinders), which was poorly written and riddled with senseless, sensitive and false stereotypes about coloured woman, was taken down shortly afterwards due to heavy criticism from all corners of society.

Shortly afterwards, the conversation’s focus switched to what Manyi had said about a year before.

Trevor Manuel hit back with full force by writing an open letter, that was published in various newspapers and websites. Some passages.

“I want to put it to you that these statements would make you a racist in the mould of HF Verwoerd. I want to put it to you that you have the same mind that operated under apartheid, never merely satisfied with inflicting the hurt of forced removals and the group areas act, would encamp language groups so that horrible aberrations, such as Soshanguve, were created to accommodate “non-Tswanas” in their own little encampments in greater Mabopane.”

“Mr Manyi, you may be black, or perhaps you aren’t, because you do not accept that label and would prefer to be “only a Xhosa”. Whatever the label you choose, I want to put it to you that your behaviour is of the worst-order racist.”

“I have never waged any battle from the premise of an epithet that apartheid sought to attach to me but I will do battle against the harm you seek to inflict. When I do so, it is not as a coloured but as a non-racist determined to ensure that our great movement and our constitution are not diluted through the actions of racists like you.”

“I now know who Nelson Mandela was talking about when he said from the dock that he had fought against white domination and that he had fought against black domination. Jimmy, he was talking about fighting against people like you.”

I can help but to wonder what the content of Manyi’s reply will be.

* Fore the full version of Trevor Manuel’s letter to Jimmy Manyi, click here.
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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Stuff that Happens in the News

 

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Life of a freelancer: When it rains, it pours!


The life of most freelance journalists, writers, and photographers (or any freelancer, really) is dominated by a couple of tricky issues. First and foremost there is the challenge of getting paid when you want to get paid, not when the client thinks it is time to come to the table.

While we humble freelance service providers are expected to meet deadlines at all time in order not to be shown the finger, many clients seem to be far more relaxed when it comes to their part of the deal – namely ‘paying out’. A Portuguese newspaper (Publico) took over ONE YEAR to pay me, despite the hundreds of emails I sent!  (Last year, I dedicated a blog post to Freelancers’ pet hates).

I have solved this bloody annoying issue without mercy: I simply refuse to work for greedy bastards who take weeks, months and sometimes years to make their promised money transfer. I have indeed culled some clients who clearly do not give a rat’s testicle about whether I am able to pay my rent, electricity bill and groceries. I fired them. Water under the bridge. Weakest link. Blah.

Then there is the issue of managing the number assignments. I am the type of person who starts stressing when there is nothing to do. As a result, I begin to pitch stories like there is no tomorrow. Yes, to ALL my clients. There is however one problem: my story pitches are usually very solid and as a result, my steady clients seldom reject them. I tend to forget that sometimes.

Two weeks ago, after filing all my stories for Business Live (One of my preferred clients, by the way) I found myself staring at the ceiling. Instead of relaxing and taking a breather – I had just done four 14-hour days of reporting on the 2011 Mining Indaba in Cape Town (which was quite hectic) – I allowed the  stress  to hit me with the impact of a jack hammer on steroids.

You have to understand that a freelancer’s main worry is whether we have enough cash at the end of the month to pay our rent, bills, glass of wine, petrol, and other necessities. In addition, we have been preprogrammed to harvest while we can. Why? When you run your own show, you never know when another good month or assignment comes around.

So two weeks ago I started pitching stories like a headless chicken – forgetting that 90% of my clients would probably say ‘yes’. And so they did. Over the past ten days I wrote:

* A 12-page UNICEF report on the situation Haiti

* A 1200-word story for Leadership Magazine on the necessity of stimulating entrepreneurship in South Africa to fight unemployment

* 700-word story for Radio Netherlands Worldwide on South Africa’s economy (linked to the 2011 Budget speech)

* A 800-word story on South Africa’s budget and a 900-word story on sustainable tourism in South Africa for Het Financieele Dagblad

* A 1700-word story on drinking and driving / road safety for Mobility Magazine.

Currently I am still working on a 1000-word story on Acid Mine Drainage and water management for Energy Forecast. That story needs to be finished today (another 500 words to go) because tomorrow I have to write a report on the Transformation Audit by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation for Business Live. This particular client also wants a story  on the Design Indaba.

Raining? RAINING? Pouring? It is more like a bloody monsoon!

I know I should not be complaining, and actually I am not. I love being a freelance writer and love being busy. I just wish I could manage the flow of work a bit better in order not to be grossly overworked like I am at this very moment. Yawn!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Tales of a Freelance Journo

 

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Charging journos to cover events = GREEDY!


For the first time since I published my first newspaper article somewhere in 2002 a conference organizer is demanding money from me to cover one of their events. Not just money, no no NO! We are talking US dollars, not South African Rands. And we are talking 1555 of them.

That is right: the South African Coal Exports Conference 2011, scheduled to take place in Cape Town in February, is seriously wanting to charge me about month’s income so that I can generate free publicity for a) the conference b) the conference delegates c) the conference sponsors.

Now that is what I call über greedy to the core!

In addition: news should be freely available so that we, journalists can inform you, the public, about what is going on. The news comes in various shapes and sizes, and conferences like these are usually a great source of news. With the media (in South Africa and elsewhere) feeling the pinch and still struggling with the aftermath of the crisis, there is no way they can pay for journalists to attend conferences.

Anyway.

I asked the woman, who replied to my media accreditation request, if I had indeed understood her correctly about the charges. “Yes, all press are paying”, she replied curtly. “I doubt that,” was my reply. “The press is usually not paying to cover events like these. Please let me know if you have a change of heart.”

As a friend and fellow freelancer commented: “I reckon they’ll find that no press pitch, and then wonder why not.”

Exactly. The problem however is that I am now missing out as one of my clients was very interested in various stories on the conference.

It does make me wonder … The most efficient way to keep nosy journalists at bay without telling them they are not welcome (which will see you end up in deep kaka) is to charge them a ridiculous fees.

Hm. Is this a new form of censorship? I certainly hope not.
 

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Kill-Murder-Death to all cockroaches


Thought of the day

I hate them. I despise them with a genuine, heartfelt passion (I am actually just shit scared of them, really). Even a mere thought of them makes me cringe and gag and sweat buckets. I can take spiders and snakes and rats and drug dealing and gun wielding gangsters. I don’t mind politicians either. Well, I mind them (some of them) but I am not scared of them. I am okay with geckos, I can handle toads and frogs and mice and most other creepy crawlies.

But present me with a cock*OnMyWordSaveMe!*roach and I turn into this shrieking, screaming, for air gagging panic chick supreme edition on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is truly something I cannot control, my cockroach phobia. I just can’t. I even have problems with dead cockroaches (but don’t tell anyone).

From the moment I notice that I am sharing my space with one of those ugly wiggly creatures with their antennas and legs and wings and more legs and more wings I simply lose my self control, composure, common sense and marbles. All of them, sometimes with painful consequences. Take last night. Thanks to one of those filthy, nasty monsters, my right hand is busted.

Tragedy struck when one of my cats came running in, chasing something I immediately recognized as one of the beast-I-detest-so-very-much. I, at said moment, was standing at the door which leads to balcony when cat & roach came running in.

In an attempt to get away from the Monster of all Monsters I turned around and ran away at high speed. I unfortunately forgot about the couch, went airborne, ninja chopped my way thought the empty void and landed on the coffee table (which is made of solid wood).

The events have left my right hand swollen and blue and rather painful – sprained but not broken (thanks god).

My Better Half found it intensely entertaining how I, while almost passing out because of the pain, ordered him to go to the lounge to “find and kill the sonofabitch, now!”.

It does not end here.

While we were lying in bed, me with my hand on ice, I heard something suspicious on the bamboo roller blinds above our heads. It was as if something with many legs and many antennas and many wings was crawling up there.

According to Boyfriend Dearest it was just the wind. “Stop worrying and go back to sleep,” I was told after he closed the windows. I am a Taurean, thus stubborn (I have to reluctantly admit), thus I did not trust the situation when the noise continued.

If he could please have a look, I asked.

To keep a long story short: the noise I heard had come from a *MASSIVE* cockroach the size of a small house. Better Half eventually, after a short chase through the bedroom which led him under the bed, found and killed the culprit. I in the meantime had sought refuge in the bathroom, far away from the Threat.

Where does this story go? Nowhere really. Well, apart from the fact that this story has probably travelled all the way to Better Half’s office and his favorite local pub and the ladies of his favourite lunch place and beyond 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2010 in The World of Mir

 

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Trapped in a mine vs winged coffins


Fear of the day

I am a tad on the claustrophobic side. Being trapped underground at 600 meter, like the 33 Chilean mineworkers were for the past two months until they were rescued on October 13, 2010, sounds like absolute hell to me. The thought of being in a confined space, knowing your are stuffed like a Thanksgiving Turkey if something goes wrong simply does not appeal to me.

Flying has a similar effect on my nerves. Look, I do not hate flying and no, I do not turn into a hyperventilating, prozac popping nervous wreck when I hop aboard of one of those winged mass coffins. But enjoying it? Not so much. I am a convinced atheist but when it comes to turbulence I all of a sudden find myself praying to all possible gods I can think of.

Usually the realisation that there is a very capable person behind the steering wheel – someone who has studied for decades – manages to calm me down. Nothing can happen with an über-human in charge.

And THAN, THAN you read this: “Plane makes emergency landing after pilot dies mid-air”.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Stuff that Happens in the News

 

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