Blog: 1st November 2015
Greetings: illustrious readers.
This has been a most amazing fortnight in the “Rainbow’ Territory of Mzansi. To begin with: in scenes not seen since ’76 a mass student ‘uprising’ occurred. One suspects it was triggered by some successes earlier this year; when they [the students] were aimed at a rather more complicated vision in what is called a “Transformation Agenda”. On that round rage was directed at inanimate statues of eradicating statues and other historical memorabilia, mostly targeted at a long dead Koloniste alien who played a huge part in eradicating the traditional lifestyle of those who were recently liberated. And it proved to be successful. The changing of the past is well underway. The strategy was however not fully understood nor particularly widely approved of.
The tourism industry for instance had some muttering about the loss of storytelling opportunities, which were ignored with the “Contempt they deserved” according to the loudly demanding change agents.
The “Fees must fall” campaign however resonated in a way few campaigns have recently. The idea that access to education should be freely available to all persons is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the struggle and access to the [apparently] “better” universities has become almost impossible for many who do qualify but have no access to funding. The national funding agency having long since, ‘lost all the money’.
It is difficult for radical proponents of leftward [best intentioned] political agendas to understand the linkages of capital expenditure: that make it problematic to create free products that are not produced by robotic machines. The idea is to get ‘Free/Quality’ education: a seriously misunderstood oxymoron.
The entire movement is especially ironic given the explosion in access to free information over the past two decades in the form of Search Engine availability. As I have pointed out in other blogs: today’s ‘learner’ sits in a classroom with INSTANT access through a pocket held machine to trillions of pages of random data… on any subject namable. No other generation in recorded history has ever this level of access on such a totally democratised scale.
In this regard the ruling party’s multi-pronged strategy to provide free WiFi access across the region I call Zone One, specifically the two major urban centres that between them house about a 6th of the national population, is slowly under way… as is a project to make all state school paperless within this century… or more hopefully, the first part of it.
In the meantime an allegedly dysfunctional Secondary Ed’ sector is resolutely annually dumping hundreds of thousands of High school graduates who in one way of another qualify for Tertiary Ed at either a Bachelor’s, Diploma or Certificated level: and in a burst of revolutionary fervour a decision was taken sometime to kill all those Public Educational sectors that served the Diploma and Certificated market need and combine them into Universities because everyone [having been liberated] should go to university…
So for instance this bloggist and his spouse routinely have their older ‘out of warranty’ vehicles repaired and even completely rebuilt by their informal mechanic who operates out of the slowly ruining remnants of an engineering workshop in a broadly deserted former technical college in the next neighbourhood to the one in which we live.
So now we have hundreds of thousands of university students doing a range of hugely more complex courses than they need to be employabe and virtually no people doing training for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are going begging in a huge rang of stereotypical occupations like electric wiring, motor electronics, food delivery, basic bookkeeping and accountancy Plumbing and: and: and.
And since in the normal nature of things most of this logic is lost on most of the young especially those from unsophisticated backgrounds there has simply been a rise in the level of general disappointment with the fruits of liberation and a demand for more.
Thus the movement to liberate the poor and disadvantaged from their marginalised role at the margins of the margins gained shock momentum this pre exam period, when the [so-called] ‘historically advantaged’ cluster of universities suddenly, seemingly erupted out of no where into a FEES REVOLT. And won. Well round one to activists.
As a bloggist I was puzzled that only one [so-called] ‘historically disadvantaged’ university seemed to be involved in the unrest: i.e. Fort Hare … [apparently] one of the country’s most famous universities in the field of supplying the Kontinent with political leaders.
Now it seems, from otherwise unverified phone-in’s to radio stations; and social media comment, in the general chatter that has accompanied the exlosion, that the State [through Police action] has been violently suppressing student unrest in many of those less urban accessible institutions in out of context rural locations beyond what I call “The Dome”. And, so it would seem, it has been almost a strategic requirement: that the [so-called] ‘middle-class’ range of institutions join in an increasingly loaded and all too routinely ignored state of reality.
The issue is should people pay for education at, especially, higher levels. Yes or No.
Broadly it is A qualified YES [i.e. Alternatively, No] i.e. some people should be free and [so-called] “rich people” should pay, and in fact pay more to support those that can’t pay. This means boring work for bureaucrats, evaluating whether you are poor enough to qualify for free fees. [Albeit this task could perhaps be delegated to robots at lower cost.] Of course if everyone was free then this requirement would not be needed.
Still Access is the issue and the system is unable to cope with the demand. In that regard the “system” has certainly been caught napping. The massive numbers of bachelor pass matriculants rising inexorably year after year and notwithstanding waffle over pass rates et al, means that there is hugely more demand for Tertiary Ed than anyone planned for. And if my local tech to which I referred earlier is any indicator [and I understand it to be] then we have lost considerable capacity at exactly the moment it became more urgent to have it.
I’m sure there’s a saying somewhere about being careful what you wish for because it could take you by surprise when you get it.
The great problem with the desire to make everything free though, eventually comes down to the late Mrs. Thatcher’s classic comment on the Achilles heel of all well-intentioned socialist fantasies: “Eventually you run out of other people’s money.” I don’t think we have quite reached that point yet notwithstanding alleged leakage on a scale not seen possibly since the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066.
Nonetheless the question of how the Uni’s bridge the gap is paramount.
Most Universities needed a 10.5% increase to maintain the existing system and there is a great official silence from the Ruling authority regarding how the gap will be breached. Less informed persons are enraged that the Uni’s want “Twice the inflation rate” and “how dare they?” “Rotten exploiters”, they punt. No one actually asks why 10.5%? …Was it a negotiating starting place, or what?
And I make no claim to know. I do suspect that differential inflation rates are playing a role, as is the fact that some of our trading partners are operating on [in some cases] historically unprecedented, negative interest rates, while we operate on interest rate gaps that could be as wide as 800% higher than theirs, not to mention that our economy is operating on SloMo; and therefore the tax revenue base is shrinking rapidly at its margins. [See my previous comments on Negative interest rates in Europe versus 8 plus % age money in Mzansi]
Also there seems to be a huge backlog of non-development catching up with the State authority structure that almost seems as absent as it was at the height of the HIV no anti retroviral era.
According to some Internet accounts there are as many [or maybe more than] 700 [so-called] S.O.E.’s [State Owned Enterprises] operating in some or other way in the economy. The more noticeable ones are all looping around in an abyss of rising costs versus stagnant income and underperformance, and many, such as the Post Office, the Electricity monopoly ESKOM, and the national Airline are being routinely bailed out of financial trouble. A key discussion point this week on social media concerned the fact that the Post office… a branch of government was unable to pay the wages of its staff this past month, and cannot guarantee full payment this month. Each one is looking for a bail-out. One suspects that if we had an entire duplicate One Trillion budget it would not fill all the holes that have leaked apart with reckless abandon while too many were partying on the spoils of victory.
Pointedly, key persons are hoping to distract attention from these crises of performance by arguing that the universities freedom to operate should be curtailed, and they should be subject to state control of their finances. This is an idea that has been usefully used elsewhere on the Kontinent to eradicate the possibility of producing too many ‘Clevers’, who will, as is presently occurring in Mzansi [according to some of the more Kontrarian Social media], bite the hand that rescued them from the misery of being ‘Kolonized’ by ‘Aliens’. Additionally as a bold distraction the “invading influence” [characterized by ‘Aliens’] is to be eradicated as part of policy. No one is too sure about what that means.
This point was made in no veiled manner by the current leader of the [so-called] EFF political grouping who usurped the limelight after the president pricked the demonstration’s power by agreeing to drop the fees increase idea. He launched a co-optive campaign dragging some forty thousand red shirted acolytes all around the city. He invaded the Reserve Bank and delivered a memo of demands; as he did at the Co operatively named Chamber of Mines headquarters. He then arrived at the base for the “Evil Capitalists” the JSE [local Stock market}
Here he stormed and railed at the building [in which, ironically most of the work is done with computers and algorhythms], presenting a stereotypical, albeit superbly barnstormed, standard, kolektion of wonderfully promissory demands… like: for instance: that all publically listed [JSE] Stock Exchange businesses should [almost] immediately give all their worker 51% of the stock… And huge salary increases to the lowest paid, and they must adopt entire kolleges to which vast sums must be given from their ‘ill gotten’ profits [Which it seems are inherently the illegitimately appropriated property of the workers.]. The actual owners deserve only to be permitted to donate their wealth to the People [who have been treated with appalling rudeness]. Plus they must adopt hordes of learners; and generally ignore their business and their other expenses while serving the needs of the poor.
And there were some confused persons Tweeting “that was the reason they paid tax to a government that was supposed to do those things”. Silly people. Some Tweets would demand more government control of everything; and a few called for less.
The lady from the Stock exchange, their CEO, came and stood resolutely on the back of a lorry parked outside the Stock Exchange offices with the two persons representing the EFF and those two persons were more abusive than has characterized any public discourse recently: upscale if you like albeit in a bizarrely polite manner.
The abuse was not personal of course [unless you wanted it to be]. It was generally aimed at Evil Capitalists exploiting the unemployed by not hiring them [I understand that seems odd]. Mixed in with those persons were their [alleged] associates ‘white racists’, not to be confused with “nice Whites” … at one stage one of the EFF duo suddenly began hurling inverted Limpopo abuse at some unseen [off camera] entity that was presenting a less than accommodating demeanor, identified on sight as it were as a [so-called] “racist white”: to be stamped on were his latent abusive manner not immediately transposed into being “Nice” [whatever that meaans.].
There were moments like that when one felt transported back to the fifties hearing the same arguments being returned from an earlier journey, but in a new disguise. Totally weird
The lady from the Stock exchange was the heroine of the day… she was every bit my Korinth Starr. Handled an inherently scary situation… there were some 40,000 seriously unhappy dudes surrounding the lorry… who could with a wrong word explode into deeply morally righteous inchoate rage.
She handled the circumstance, for which one assumes she didn’t have much preparation, with equanimity, composure and a certainty of response that politely thanked the crowd for taking the trouble to walk the many kilometers they had in what is a heat wave that is entering its second month… a time when tempers flare; and the thoughts they had shared were to be the subject of much thought and consideration.
The JSE would respond she said.
THEY said. “You have thirty days… then we target each company with further action.
She said, “Thank you.” and then left.
We await the Stock Exchange’s response.
So for a moment the easy part has been done.
The takeover of the Stock Market is on “Hold” for thirty day and the students pay what they paid this year next year.
The State unilaterally [well under duress] ‘borrowed’ some 3-4 billion of “other people’s money” [the Fees payable] and cancelled it out. The accounting error stands however.
We are left with the question? Is the system sustainable?
How long is a piece of string?
Do you ever wonder if you took a wrong turn somewhere and suddenly found you were in a world you hadn’t planned on being in… maybe you even found the place you were in confusing suddenly as if it had changed without you noticing and you were now somewhere else even though everywhere was still physically the same.
Recently I spent some time waiting for service at a local Home Affairs facility and pondered a story on which I’m working at the moment… it centers on an historical pair of linked events looking out from the Rashomon konstrukt of my first story [The Buffalo Hunters : Part 1 Azanian Quartet.] that now following the visit repeats on different variations on a reality that may or may not be here, there, or anywhere other than in your own place of residence: your mind.
Knowing I would be spending hours in a Kolektions queue, and that I had some space to focus exclusively on some random needs of the story, I grabbed a book at random from a pile of unexplored second hand books I had picked up at a ‘ten bucks a book’ sale a few weeks back. Once in place in the ‘line’ i invited the Multiverse to join me in an exploratory journey into the heart of my tale using the random work as a talisman [or is that talisperson?].
Reading my own destiny [for the story] via a random walk through words, pages and ideas plucked like so many snowflakes that melted instantly into the web of consciousness that represents the theme. It was a wonderfully productive one hundred and forty odd minutes.
I opened the book at random and was soon engrossed in a tale of amazing complexity explained by a master of things: And so I came to understand where the story had to go. By the time a reached the front of the line 145 minutes later I had an outline for what has now become the opening lines of the story: which is not called Marabaraba, because it is unpronounceable even if that is what it is.
“So, [to refer to a previous blog] in other words, we have Jozi past tense, Jozi intermediate Future tense [the time that will be called NOW], but within a decade or so of the ‘Apocalypse’ described in the Jonker Memorandum, which i will also publish sometime soon as a digital book. And then another part will be set in Jozi in a ‘time yet to come’ …maybe a century or so from NOW.”
Marabaraba: With a nod to the Dancers.
Movement, he said, lies in
The role of the
The ‘wave function’ coll
Whereupon we can visu
Alise a four [or
World that spl
Its in two [or
Worlds in one
You will go
This way and in
Thers, some routes less
While this vir
Blance of ten
Each one will be
Of any other
For both [or
Worlds are forever spl
It in to sep
Arate realities arrived at ran
Ultimately the really coolest thing about this fortnight of actively voiced rage and discontent was that NO ONE DIED
We are walking the path less travelled perhaps.
Best wishes to all readers.