Joerie, joerie, botter en brood,
as ek jou kry, slaat ek jou dood

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Repos ailleurs 

In die eensame veld
staan 'n tentjie klein,
en daarnaas in die skeemring
skuif die ligtende trein;
ek sien in die tentjie,
deur die oop gordyn,
'n tafel met bordjies
en glasies fyn,
wat sag in die lig
van die kersie skyn,
en ek dag: 'Was ek net
in die tentjie klein,
ek sou tog so gelukkig syn.'

Naas die eensame tent
staan 'n meisie klein,
in stomme bewond'ring
van die ligtende trein;
sy sien my geniet
my glansende wyn
en kost'like maal
by elektriese skyn;
en ek raai die gedagte
van die meisie klein:
'Ag, was ek maar net
in die vrolike trein,
ek sou tog o so gelukkig syn'. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Bier aus Bavaria ist gut fur malaria."

How Quantum Suicide Works

man sits down before a gun, which is pointed at his head. This is no ordinary gun; i­t's rigged to a machine that measures the spin of a quantum particle. Each time the trigger is pulled, the spin of the quantum particle -- or quark -- is measured. Depending on the measurement, the gun will either fire, or it won't. If the quantum particle is measured as spinning in a clockwise motion, the gun will fire. If the quark is spinning counterclockwise, the gun won't go off. There'll only be a click.
Nervously, the man takes a breath and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks. He pulls the trigger again. Click. And again: click. The man will continue to pull the trigger again and again with the same result: The gun won't fire. Although it's functioning properly and loaded with bullets, no matter how many times he pulls the trigger, the gun will never fire. He'll continue this process for eternity, becoming immortal.
Go back in time to the beginning of the experiment. The man pulls the trigger for the very first time, and the quark is now measured as spinning clockwise. The gun fires. The man is dead.
But, wait. The man already pulled the trigger the first time -- and an infinite amount of times following that -- and we already know the gun didn't fire. How can the man be dead? The man is unaware, but he's both alive and dead. Each time he pulls the trigger, the universe is split in two. It will continue to split, again and again, each time the trigger is pulled [source: Tegmark].­
This thought experiment is called quantum suicide. It was first posed by then-Princeton University theorist Max Tegmark in 1997 (now on faculty at MIT). thought experiment is an experiment that takes place only in the mind. The quantum level is the smallest level of matter we've detected so far in the universe. Matter at this level is infinitesimal, and it's virtually impossible for scientists to research it in a practical manner using traditional methods of scientific inquiry.­

In­stead of using the scientific method -- investigating empirical evidence -- to study the quantum level, physicists must use thought experiments. Although these experiments are only carried out hypothetically, they're rooted in the data observed in quantum physics.
What scien­ce has observed at the quantum level has raised more questions than it has answered. The behavior of quantum particles is erratic, and our understanding of probability becomes questionable. For example, photons -- the smallest measure of light -- have been shown to exist in both particle and wave states. And the direction of particles is thought to travel in both directions at the same time, rather than in only one direction at different times. So when we examine the quantum world, we are outsiders to the knowledge it holds. As a result, our understanding of the universe as we know it is challenged.
This has led some to believe that our grasp of quantum physics is as basic as the understanding of ancient Egyptian astronomers centuries ago, who claimed that the sun was a god. A few scientists believe further investigation into quantum systems will reveal order and predictability within what we currently see as chaos. But is it possible that quantum systems can't be understood within the traditional models of science?
In this article, we'll look at what quantum suicide reveals about our universe, as well as other theories that either support or contradict it.
But first, why can't a physicist simply measure the particles he's attempting to study? In the next section, we'll learn about this fundamental flaw of quantum observation, as explained by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Werner Heisenberg
One of the biggest problems with quantum experiments is the seemingly unavoidable tendency of humans to influence the situati­on and velocity of small particles. This happens just by our observing the particles, and it has quantum physicists frustrated. To combat this, physicists have created enormous, elaborate machines like particle accelerators that remove any physical human influence from the process of accelerating a particle's energy of motion.
Still, the mixed results quantum physicists find when examining the same particle indicate that we just can't help but affect the behavior of quanta -- or quantum particles. Even the light physicists use to help them better see the objects they're observing can influence the behavior of quanta. Photons, for example -- the smallest measure of light, which have no mass or electrical charge -- can still bounce a particle around, changing its velocity and speed.
This is called Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, determined that our observations have an effect on the behavior of quanta. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle sounds difficult to understand -- even the name is kind of intimidating. But it's actually easy to comprehend, and once you do, you'll understand the fundamental principle of quantum mechanics.
Imagine that you're blind and over time you've developed a technique for determining how far away an object is by throwing a medicine ball at it. If you throw your medicine ball at a nearby stool, the ball will return quickly, and you'll know that it's close. If you throw the ball at something across the street from you, it'll take longer to return, and you'll know that the object is far away.
The problem i­s that when you throw a ball -- especially a heavy one like a medicine ball -- at something like a stool, the ball will knock the stool across the room and may even have enough momentum to bounce back. You can say where the stool was, but not where it is now. What's more, you could calculate the velocity of the stool after you hit it with the ball, but you have no idea what its velocity was before you hit it.
This is the problem revealed by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. To know the velocity of a quark we must measure it, and to measure it, we are forced to affect it. The same goes for observing an object's position. Uncertainty about an object's position and velocity makes it difficult for a physicist to determine much about the object.
Of course, physicists aren't exactly throwing medicine balls at quanta to measure them, but even the slightest interference can cause the incredibly small particles to behave differently.
This is why quantum physicists are forced to create thought experiments based on the observations from the real experiments conducted at the quantum level. These thought experiments are meant to prove or disprove interpretations -- explanations for the whole of quantum theory.
In the next section, we'll look at the basis for quantum suicide -- the Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

The Many-Worlds Theory

The quantum suicide thought experiment is based on and seeks to prove what has bec­ome an increasingly accepted interpretation of quantum physics, the Many-Worlds theory. This theory was first proposed in 1957 by a doctoral student at Princeton University named Hugh Everett III. The theory was scorned for decades until fellow Princetonian Max Tegman created the quantum suicide experiment, which lends support to the interpretation [source: The Guardian].
According to the Many-Worlds theory, for each possible outcome to an action, the world splits into a copy of itself. This is an instantaneous process Everett called decohesion. It's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but rather than choosing between either exploring the cave or making off with the treasure, the universe splits in two so that each action is taken.
One vital aspect of the Many-Worlds theory is that when the universe splits, the person is unaware of himself in the other version of the universe. This means that the boy who made off with the treasure and ends up living happily ever after is completely unaware of the version of himself who entered the cave and now faces great peril, and vice versa.
This is the same case with quantum suicide. When the man pulls the trigger, there are two possible outcomes: the gun either fires or it doesn't. In this case, the man either lives or he dies. Each time the trigger is pulled, the universe splits to accommodate each possible outcome. When the man dies, the universe is no longer able to split based on the pulling of the trigger. The possible outcome for death is reduced to one: continued death. But with life there are still two chances that remain: The man continues living or the man dies.
When the man pulls the trigger and the universe is split in two, however, the version of the man who lived will be unaware that in the other version of the split universe, he has died. Instead he will continue to live and will again have the chance to pull the trigger. And each time he does pull the trigger, the universe will again split, with the version of the man who lives continuing on, and being unaware of all of his deaths in parallel universes. In this sense, he will be able to exist indefinitely. This is called quantum immortality.
So why aren't all of the people who have ever attempted to kill themselves immortal? What's interesting about the Many-Worlds interpretation is that according to the theory, in some parallel universe, they are. This doesn't appear to be the case to us, because the splitting of the universe isn't dependent on our own life or death. We are bystanders or observers in the case of another person's suicide, and as observers we're subject to probability. When the gun finally went off in the universe -- or version -- we inhabit, we were stuck with that result. Even if we pick up the gun and continue shooting the man, the universe will remain in a single state. After all, once a person is dead, the number of possible outcomes for shooting a dead person is reduced to one.
But the Many-Worlds theory stands in contradiction to another quantum theory, the Copenhagen interpretation. In the next section, we'll look at this theory and see why it changes the rules of quantum suicide.

The Implications of Quantum Physics

When compared to classical science and Newtonian physics, the theories pr­oposed to explain quantum physics seem insane. Erwin Schrödinger himself called his cat experiment "quite ridiculous" [source: Goldstein, Sheldon]. But from what science has been able to observe, the laws that govern the world we see every day don't hold true on the quantum level.
Quantum physics is a relatively new discipline, dating back only to 1900. The theories that have been posed on the subject are all just theories. What's more, there are competing theories that give different explanations for the peculiar happenings that take place on the quantum level. Which one will history show is the correct one? Perhaps the theory that proves to be the true explanation for quantum physics hasn't been posed yet. The person who poses it may not have even been born yet. But given the logic that this field of study has established, is it possible that all theories explaining quantum physics are all equally true at the same time -- even the ones that contradict each other?
Niels Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics is perhaps the most comforting theory put forth. By explaining that particles exist in all states at once -- in coherent superposition -- our understanding of the universe is put slightly askew, but still remains somewhat comprehensible. Bohr's theory is additionally comforting because it makes us humans the cause for an object to take a determined shape. Although scientists find a particle's ability to exist in more than one state frustrating, our observations affect the particle. At least it doesn't continue to exist in all states while we're looking at it.
Much less comforting is Everett's Many-Worlds interpretation. This theory takes out of our hands any power over the quantum universe. Instead, we are merely passengers of the splits that take place with each possible outcome. In essence, under the Many-Worlds theory, our idea of cause and effect goes out the window.
This makes the Many-Worlds interpretation somewhat disturbing. If it's true, then in some universe parallel to the one we currently inhabit, Adolf Hitler was successful in his campaign to conquer the world. But in the same token, in another universe, the United States never dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima andNagasaki.
The Many-Worlds theory also certainly contradicts the idea of Occam's razor, that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Even stranger is the implication by the Many-Worlds theory that time doesn't exist in a coherent, linear motion. Instead, it moves in jumps and starts, existing not as a line, but as branches. These branches are as numerous as the number of consequences to all of the actions that have ever been taken.
It's tough not to imagine what our understanding of the quantum world will prove to be. The theoretical field has already progressed tremendously since its inception more than a century ago. Although he had his own interpretation of the quantum world, Bohr may have accepted the later theory that Hugh Everett introduced concerning the Many Worlds. After all, it was Bohr who said, "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."

Friday, October 26, 2012


Massacre at Marikana

RW Johnson
19 August 2012

RW Johnson on the political context of, and reaction to, the killings

The leader of the breakaway Associated Mine and Construction Workers Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, was in tears as he related how he had pleaded with the thousands of striking miners who had been squatting on the Wonderkop hill for a week at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa's dry North West. "I pleaded with them - (I told them) the writing is on the wall, they are going to kill you." For there was no doubt that the police meant business.

Earlier in the week two policemen had been slashed to death, another hospitalized and seven other people killed. The police were in a grim mood, wore bulletproof vests and metal helmets, were armed to the teeth with automatic weapons and had brought a whole fleet of Nyala armoured cars with them. They had announced that Thursday was D-day, that whatever happened the protest would be forcibly ended that day. In the end about 200 of the men rushed down at the police who fired indiscriminately at them, killing 34, injuring 78. Another 259 were arrested.

The director of the South African Institute of Race Relations, John Kane-Burman immediately compared the event to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. There was, he said, "clear evidence that policemen shot randomly into the crowd. There is also clear evidence of their continuing to shoot after a number of bodies can be seen dropping and others turning to run." But this time the Left was in favour of the massacre.

Dominic Tweedie of the Communist University, Johannesburg, commented "This was no massacre, this was a battle. The police used their weapons in exactly the way they were supposed to. That's what they have them for. The people they shot didn't look like workers to me. We should be happy. The police were admirable." The Communist Party's North West section demanded the arrest of AMCWU's Muthunjwa and his deputy, James Kholelile.

"The troubles at the mine have their root in the ongoing disintegration of the National Union of Mineworkers", says Charles Van Onselen, a leading labour historian."The NUM is the biggest union and its leaders provide the labour federation, Cosatu, the Communist Party and the African National Congress with many of their leaders. So this is the entire spinal column of the ANC alliance which is fragmenting. The police have been quite routinely tolerant of violence - as during the xenophobic riots when over 60 were killed - but this time they drew a line in the sand because that is what the NUM and the ANC wanted. You'll note the complete absence of modern police methods of riot control."

The last time a NUM leader attempted to address the Marikana workers he was stoned and lost an eye. Thus this time the NUM leader was only willing to speak through a megaphone from the safety of a police armoured car. He spoke somewhat disparagingly of the workers, saying they were mainly uneducated and backward tribesmen from Lesotho and the Transkei because "township boys" were unwilling to do the dreadfully hard and dangerous work of rock-diggers miles beneath the ground.

"The fact that the locals don't want the mine jobs mean the mines depend on migrant workers", says Van Onselen. "That means mining hostels, which greatly reinforce the system of age cohorts and impi-like tribal behaviour. It's also very striking that they were demanding an increase of over 300% - a clearly millenarian demand. And there were a lot of sangomas (witchdoctors) up there on that hill for the last few days and you can see on film that many of the workers were wearing muti (magic charms) of one kind or another. Typically, the idea behind such muti is that it makes you invincible against your enemies."

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma cut short his visit to Mozambique to fly back to face the crisis. The clear similarity of Thursday's events to the notorious Sharpeville massacre is hugely embarrassing to the ANC. The furious attempts by the Left to suggest that the striking workers were themselves the villains of the piece will, moreover, merely strengthen the impression that this was a massacre carried out at the Left's behest.

The North West SACP claimed that "the chaos and anarchy we see is being used as the entry point for recruitment for AMCWU" and argued that the AMCWU leaders were "the planners and leaders of this anarchic and worker to worker violence", thus echoing almost word for word the rationalisations once used by Afrikaner Nationalists for the similar actions of the apartheid police.

The Solidarity trade union organizer Gideon Du Plessis, speaking from Marikana, told the Sunday Times "The ironic thing is that the NUM and the ANC would clearly like to see Lonmin sack all 3,000 of the strikers and recruit a whole new labour force because that would smash AMCWU at the mine. That would mean closing down one of the world's biggest platinum mines for quite a while, but it's probably what will happen."

President Zuma's statement that he was "saddened and dismayed" by the Marikana deaths (the police and government are very touchy at any use of the word "massacre") is echoed by most opinion-leaders here. There is a palpable sense of shock that South Africa has not escaped its history: after the abandonment of apartheid, the introduction of democracy, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to deal with the crimes of the bad old days, after all Mandela's grace and forgiveness, the country finds itself back in a situation where armed police mow down protesting Africans - on camera. 

The most striking thing about the reaction is the lack of it. The day after the shootings neither the ANC, the trade union federation Cosatu nor the Communist Party had any comment at all in their daily bulletins. The state broadcaster, the SABC, is equally reserved and even the private e-TV station is extremely guarded and careful. A number of NGOs have issued statements deploring the shootings and calling for an enquiry, as has the opposition Democratic Alliance. Press editorials are also extremely cautious.

The problem is simply that to denounce the police is to say in effect that the government are murderers, while to say that the police were justified is tantamount to saying that some of one's fellow countrymen deserved to get shot en masse. The Star (Johannesburg) publishes an opinion piece applauding the police - "A very powerful message has been sent out and it is about time a little discipline was restored into the mind-set of South Africans", which echoes some right-wing white opinion which feels that the apartheid police were perhaps unjustly criticised for their forceful implementation of law and order. For such thoughts become thinkable again now.

There is a strong popular sense that Zuma's South Africa is effectively leaderless. Zuma is widely viewed as a do-nothing President, anxious only to keep his balance among the ANC factions and more interested in his harem of wives and accumulating vast wealth for his family. When Trevor Manuel, the Planning Minister, introduced his Plan to Parliament last week he warned that if it was not forcefully implemented the country "could slide backwards", which many took to mean that he thought that was already happening. When an Opposition leader stood up and said "This is a fine Plan but who exactly is going to implement it?" there was simply a roar of laughter from the whole assembly.

Reuel Khoza, the black head of Nedbank, has criticised South Africa's "strange breed of leaders" who are, he says, completely incapable of managing a modern state. He has also warned that under Zuma the criminalization of the state is proceeding apace. The influential Afrikaans daily Die Burger suggests that the mine shootings are another example of how the Zuma government is merely blundering about and is "losing its grip".

The Afrikaner historian Hermann Giliomee says "The ANC has created its own culture of violence and impunity. It allows all manner of violent behaviour within its own ranks. The assassination of ANC leaders by their rivals within the party has become a commonplace. Almost never is anyone punished. So it's hardly surprising that other people feel free to take up arms. The whole country is not very far from anarchy."

The official commission of enquiry will face all these conundrums. It is in the highest degree unlikely that it will conclude that the Marikana miners were shot because the National Union of Mineworkers is desperate to prevent the further erosion of the labour movement on which the ANC depends.

It is also most unlikely to denounce the police. But even if the commission confines itself to technical issues about police tactics it will not be able to contain the immense shock wave caused by the shootings. Julius Malema, the expelled ANC youth leader, was quickly on the scene at Marikana yesterday and he will only be the first to begin translating this shock into a political dynamic which will, inevitably, be aimed at toppling Jacob Zuma.

RW Johnson

On massacres forgotten and remembered

Piet Swanepoel
23 October 2012

Piet Swanepoel says no doubt Marikana will eventually be blamed on the Afrikaners as well


Mr. R.W. Johnson's article on Marikana, Sharpeville and the Pondo uprisings was very interesting and deserves to be read by anyone trying to make sense of events in Africa.

Like Johnson I also trace my involvement or interest in African political developments to Durban. Unfortunately we were not contemporaries there - I arrived in Durban in 1948 and was transferred to South West Africa in January 1961, whereas it seems that his involvement only started in 1960.

We were in different camps as well. He was a budding Marxist and I was a Special Branch detective. Our backgrounds also differed completely. He was English, (albeit our local branch of the species), whereas I was (still am) an Afrikaner.

We seem to have known the same people, for example the Arensteins, but when I came to know Rowley and Jacqueline they were living in a block of flats where there would have been no room for visiting Pondo chiefs.

Their neighbours, I remember, were Errol and Dorothy Shanley, both also listed communists like the Arensteins. What I heard only recently was that Ronnie Kasrils, our former Minister of Intelligence, and Jacqueline Arenstein, were cousins.

We also knew the same places. Like Lakhani Chambers, where the ANC had a small little office, sometimes unoccupied for weeks, whereas the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) offices in the same building were spacious with a big staff under M.P.Naicker, a very committed communist.

Some time in the early fifties I had been one of a small party of detectives, led by a visiting American intelligence officer, who entered Lakhani Hall late one night and planted a then state of the art bug in the ceiling..

Unfortunately the bug was never very effective because of the long distance to our wire recorder at the Smith Street Police station.

This article is about the massacres Mr. Johnson did not deal with, but his references to Durban in the sixties make me remember so many names which white people never knew, but to us in the Special Branch were household names.

Names like Albert John Luthuli, Massabalala Bonny Yengwa, Pitness Humphry Simelane and Wilson Zamindlela Conco. This latter fellow was a pain in the neck to me. He was the treasurer of the ANC in Natal. His father, Harry Conco, was a successful bus owner who operated a fleet of busses which passed Highflats in Southern Natal every day when I was stationed there in 1947.

Why, I asked myself, was my father a poor unschooled Boer, whose son had to start life as a labourer on the Railways, and this smart Aleck's father a rich businessman who could send his kid to varsity to become a doctor?

But enough of that. This is about the massacres you never talk about. First of all you need to know what I call a massacre. I take my cue from Funk and Wagnells which defines a massacre as the indiscriminate killing in numbers of the unresisting or defenceless.

Johnson, as to be expected, does not deal with the most terrible massacre in the history of South Africa. English-speaking people do not share with Afrikaners, the grief and pain at the remembrance of the murders of Piet Retief and his party of some hundred Voortrekkers and their non-white grooms at King Dingane's kraal on February 6th, 1838.

They had been invited into the kraal by the King and requested to leave their firearms with their horses, so they were absolutely defenceless when the King gave the order to have them killed.

The killing of Retief and his men was only the lesser part of the brutal murders of that week. Immediately after they had clubbed their victims to death, Dingane's impis were dispatched to attack the old men, women and children and servants who were waiting for Retief and his party's return.

41 Boer men, 56 Boer women, 185 Boer children and 200 Coloured and African servants were killed in the vicinity of where the town of Weenen (Weeping) stands today.
What saddens an Afrikaner like me is how a modern liberal English writer deals with the massacre I've described here. Anthony Sampson, in his Mandela - the authorized Biography, appears never to have heard of them.

Instead he writes "16 December was Dingane's day, which commemorated the Afrikaners' massacre of Zulus in 1838". It It is unbelievable, but the Battle of Blood River has now become an Afrikaner massacre of Zulus!

Thousands of well-armed Zulu warriors attacked a laager in which some 300 Afrikaners were determined to defend themselves. Their primitive front-loader rifles enabled them to fight off the Zulus but that now becomes a massacre!

Another series of events which have been described by some people as massacres took place in Durban in January 1949. These events, like the Weenen massacres, are not frequently mentioned any more, but being one of the few remaining witnesses to the first act in that drama, I think people might be interested in what I remember of it.

As I said, it was January 1949. I had just progressed from being a detective probationer to a fully fledged detective constable. I was not yet 21 years old so I could not be issued with a firearm. (In those years detectives were issued with .38 pistols). I was on the Theft from Motor cars squad, a small unit and had just completed a motor cycle with side-car course and been issued a licence to drive a Harley Davidson.

We, child detectives, were tutored by older hands and Zulu colleagues. We knew absolutely nothing about politics or race relations or Marxism. We lived as we'd grown up. Zulu colleagues told you stories of what was going on in their communities and you told them what white people were saying.

The big story on the Zulu side was that some wealthy Indian young men were taking advantage of young Zulu girls, getting them pregnant, but refusing to marry them or pay maintenance for the children.

Only a small number of such misdeeds had apparently been committed, but it was a nice juicy type of story. None of us regarded it as anything serious, until one morning the Zulu detectives insisted on seeing the chief of the CID. There was going to be something terribly serious happening near the Bus Centre at the Indian market, they reported.

A group of men were preventing bus drivers from departing from the centre, leaving thousands of African passengers stranded in the centre. Many of them were dock workers who depended on busses to take them to the docks in Point Road. And agitators were busy among the passengers. The talk was that the time had come to rid the country of the Indians.

There was not much the CID chief and the District Commandant could do. They verified the fact that all the busses arriving at the Bus Centre near the Indian market were prevented from departing and that thousands of people were consequently massing up in the Centre. For some reason which I never really understood they decided that all the detectives at the Smith Street Police station were to be deployed in the Indian business quarter to observe what was happening. We were loaded into a few Black Marias.

If I remember correctly, I was dropped in Leopold Street, which led off from the Bus Centre to Grey Street, the heart of the Indian business centre. I stood on the pavement feeling very lonely.

We were all instructed to take up positions about 50 yards apart. The street had become eerily quiet. All the Indian shopkeepers and their families had retreated to their flats above their shops which were all locked, but in those days, unprotected by burglar fencing.

From the Bus Centre, which was approximately 300 yards from where I was standing, roars could be heard and suddenly what I thought were a million people filled the street in a mad rush in my direction.

They screamed and ululated and I knew the end of the world had come. Most of them had wooden "kieries" and these they used to smash every shop window in their way. At this stage they were not looting the contents of the shop windows. They were content to destroy the windows and did not attempt to enter further into the shops.

They were clearly in a hurry to destroy the shop window of every one of the hundreds of Indian shops in the area. And in the next hour or two they did that. Not a singleshot was fired at them. It would have been suicidal to interfere with them.

The weird thing was that they never even threatened me or any of my colleagues as I later established. Many of them stopped next to me for a few seconds and advised me to arrange that the ships in the harbour were to be instructed to receive all the Indians in Natal to take them back to their Motherland!

In the days which followed the mood changed and the rioting became very serious. Many innocent Indian people were killed and their shops looted.

Policemen were flown in from the Rand to try and restore order and eventually even Marines from the Navy with machine guns were deployed. Curfews were enforced and people ignoring them were shot.

It was a sad time. For me the saddest part came afterwards. It was an article I read years later in an American magazine. The real cause of these tragedies, it claimed, were the policies of the Afrikaners who had taken over the country the year before! In Durban, at that time, there was not a single Afrikaner councilor.

I have no doubt that eventually Marikana will be blamed on us also.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


What does a 25% probability for a failed state really mean?

2012-10-24 13:15Clem Sunter
Since writing the column two weeks ago raising the probability of South Africa becoming a Failed State to 25%, many people have asked me what it means and what they should do about it.

Should I make sure my passport is up to date? Should I be going on an LSD (look, see, decide) trip to Australia? Should I be approaching a head hunter for job options in Europe? Should I legitimately be sending more money offshore to mitigate the declining rand? 

Should I be stocking food?

Connecting the dots

These are all valid questions which have been posed to me. Chantell Ilbury and I have always said that part of thinking like a fox is to connect the dots. You cannot just play scenarios – that’s daydreaming. You have to consider your options for each scenario and then decide what you are going to do about it depending on the probability and impact of the scenario. You can either do something now or prepare a contingency plan just in case. Either way, the whole point of the process is to improve the speed and quality of your response in chasing the opportunities and countering the threats offered by the scenarios.

So, let’s get back to the significance of a 25% probability. Pictorially, it covers an “L” or 90 degrees of a circular disc. If you spin the disc, there is a 25% probability that the needle will end up on that 90 degree segment. What is more is that if you spin it again whatever the previous result, the probability is still 25%. Like spinning a coin where you get ten heads in a row, the chances are still 50:50 that the next one will be a head. The difference between these examples and real life is that real life only happens once and therefore probabilities are far more subjective.

Recently, I had a discussion with a group from MIT in the US who tried to convince me that you can mathematically link the raising of the flags on our scenarios to their probabilities. I am not so sure because of the one time aspect of life; and so much of what happens is due to the animal spirits or irrational nature of mankind.

The bottom line is that the 25% probability on a Failed State is instinctive and should be treated as such. In other words, there is nothing scientific about it and if you have a different figure in  mind, you are quite entitled to base your actions on your figure not ours. Suffice it to say, in our mind, the Failed State scenario is no longer a wild card possibility lurking in the shadows: it is now a genuine threat, the consequences of which have to be thought through.

Impact of the scenario on you

This brings us to the second aspect that has to be considered which is the impact of the scenario on you as a business, you as a family or you as a person. If I said to you that the plane you had booked a flight on had a 25% probability of crashing, you almost certainly would not take it unless you were in a war zone and wanted to escape. The reason is a high likelihood of death in the event that the scenario materialises. Equally, if I gave you a 25% probability of being eaten by a shark when swimming off a particular beach, it would be very foolhardy of you to go in the water. One of the reasons you would not take the risk in either case is that the alternative options are usually easy to exercise: use another airline and go to another beach or swimming pool.

The impact of a Failed State scenario is far more difficult to imagine since so many varieties of a failed state exist, ranging from oppressive dictatorships through perpetual anarchy to civil war and at the extreme end genocide. No expert in the field here has adequately described the different forms that a failed state in South Africa could take. We certainly can’t, particularly as regards timing and rate of descent. 

The only thing we can state with confidence is that the rest of the world will collectively turn its back on us, apart from a few outcasts who will welcome us to the club of pariah nations.

Two categories of options

Hence, the evaluation of the overall risk of this worst case scenario i.e. probability times impact is a highly personal thing. And so too is the selection of options available which depends on individual circumstances such as age, level of wealth and education, business experience and skills, as well as the number of children and other family commitments you have in South Africa. In the case of a business, the opportunity to expand the geographical footprint outside South Africa will be linked to its range of products and services, health of its balance sheet and potential partners elsewhere.

However, options can be divided broadly into two categories: adapting your own strategies and tactics as regards your own future in light of the changing odds of the scenario; or rolling up your sleeves and taking action – however big or small it may be – to reduce the odds of the scenario itself. In other words, you become an active citizen in ensuring that South Africa does not fail.

Far be it from Chantell and myself to give you specific advice on which option you should take. What our 25% probability means is that you should give the matter some serious thought if you have not done so already. Then decide on appropriate action or have a contingency plan. That is what a fox would do – logically not fearfully, with a sense of purpose not despair.

The death of South Africa 
— By Allister Sparks

Read this and weep... 

Some interesting facts about Welkom, of which most South Africans are possibly not aware .

Strange that the situation does not seem to be reflected in mining reports and the stock market in SA - or is it ? Last Sunday's papers covered the Oppenheimer’s sale of all their family's de Beers shares for $5.2 billion to Anglo American. Nicky Oppenheimer, current chairman, says it was a tough decision.
The death of South Africa’s mines is the death of South Africa...

There are many microcosms of decay that one can use as examples of the decay of the macrocosm of South Africa. In many respects the booming of South Africa’s mining industry and its current decay under the ANC’s Black Economic Empowerment system is a microcosm of the booming of the Republic of South Africa under Apartheid and its decay under the ANC Marxist terrorist regime.

During the first half of the 20th century, gold was discovered on several farms south of the Free State town of Odendaalsrus. After the Second World War, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and his Anglo American Corporation, the progenitor of Anglo Gold, bought up all the prospecting rights in the area and decided to mine the richest gold find in the history of South Africa.

Prices of property in Odendaalsrus skyrocketed, so Sir Ernest Oppenheimer decided that he would build his own town for his miners, instead of paying the exorbitant prices in Odendaalsrus.

He drove 20km south and climbed a hill called Koppie-alleen (Lone Hill ) and looked down on the plains, where his mines would be and decided to build a town from scratch, called Welkom (Welcome), named after the farm where the gold was first discovered.

The people of Odendaalsrus were upset and took him to court, objecting to the new town. Ernest Oppenheimer’s lawyer was Abram (Bram) Fischer, an Afrikaner Communist and Anti-Apartheid activist who would later defend Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial.

Fischer was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and travelled to the Soviet Union in 1932. He was also later awarded the Lenin Peace Prize, (1966) the Soviet equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize was normally awarded to prominent Communists who were not Soviet citizens.

Fischer, incidentally, was married to Molly Krige, the niece of liberal Boer General Jan Smuts (later to become Prime Minister of SA). She was also a staunch Communist. Nevertheless, in 1947, the Orange Free State Provincial Council issued Oppenheimer with the birth certificate of the town of Welkom.

In his mind, Oppenheimer envisioned a beautiful garden city with broad streets. He commissioned the design of Welkom to leading town planner William Backhouse and landscape gardener Joane Prim. For Backhouse, the design of a town from scratch, was a dream come true. Space was not a problem on the Free State plains, so he designed the streets broad, with no traffic lights, only roundabouts, to keep the traffic flowing and no high-rise buildings in the new town. In the centre of town, he wanted a 'Roman Forum' with a square, where town folk could gather. It was surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped road of 75 metres wide, known affectionately by the town people as the 'Hoefie' short for the Afrikaans word 'hoefyster' meaning horseshoe.

Sports clubs, golf clubs, Olympic swimming pools, cinemas, theatres, hospitals, parks, schools, a technical college and an airport were built, all with the riches of the gold below the fertile soil. The town attracted people from all over South Africa. Money was flowing, salaries were high. By the 1970s Anglo Gold was operating six massive mines, with 22 deep level shafts, in which 122,000 people worked. The mines of Welkom were producing 35% of the gold in South Africa, which in turn was producing 75% of the world's gold. 
Everyone was buying and driving a new car at least every year. They would say that when the ashtray was full, it was time to buy a new car. The 'hoefie' gave rise to the hot-rod culture of Welkom, where young men would drive around at night showing off their new Ford Cortinas with eagles painted on the engine bonnets and flames on the sides, fur on the dashboard and plastic oranges on the radio antennae! This culture also gave rise to the building of a Grand Prix racing track at Welkom. Times were good for blue-collar whites.

Even in the nearby black township of Thabong and the coloured township of Bronville, the living standards were very high.

But then the ANC took over in 1994, mostly with the help of the Oppenheimers and J.P. Morgan, who founded Anglo American Corporation in 1917. Hardly had the ANC communists taken over, than they wanted not only a slice of the pie from the mining industry, but the whole pie.

Black Economic Empowerment was introduced and mines had to give away half of their assets to black ANC members. For Anglo American Corporation, the writing was on the wall and before they could lose everything, they merged with Minorco in 1999 and moved their assets to London. In the last 10-15 years, more than 100,000 jobs have been lost in Welkom. The skip-wheels of the mines are not turning anymore and the noise of the mines, as well as the hot-rods, have fallen silent. The ziggurat-like walls of the slimes-dams next to the R73 road are the last remnants of a once-thriving mining industry. Today, the mines are in the hands of BEE companies and being plundered for scrap metal. The municipality of Matjabeng (nee Welkom) is run by the ANC. In June 2011 it came into prominence as one of the worst examples of ANC corruption and misrule. How a small town blew R2bn. on dodgy deals...
Most of the whites have left Welkom. Blacks make up 90% of the population and whites 8%. To say that the town is a shadow of its former self, is an understatement. The decay is obvious everywhere and it is fast becoming a ghost town. 1500 staff houses at the mines are standing empty. Even churches in town have closed their doors. The remaining whites in the area, mostly farmers, are struggling under stock theft and brutal farm attacks, tortures and murders .
Elsewhere it is not going any better. The Aurora mine at Grootvlei, which is owned by the Zuma and Mandela families and at one stage employed 5000 workers, now have less than 200. Aurora is now a ghost town. On the 8th of May 2011, in a Carte Blanche TV show, it was revealed that Cosatu (Council of SA Trade Unions) calls the owners of Aurora (Zuma and Mandela family members) -- Super Exploiters!!
If there is an abyss of desperation, these men abandoned at the mineworker hostels are in it. At Grootvlei, near Springs, the water and electricity has been cut, the toilets are a sanitary shock. On good days, they may have hot food. Two hours drive to the west, is the Orkney mine in Klerksdorp. There is an inescapable feeling of sadness here. Cooking pots are empty here too. Ntsani Mohapi has been on the mine since the mid '70s; he should be in line for a pension, but that is all gone now. "There are people who are crying, there are people who are dying, because we deal with people who are lying". 
As things stand hundreds of miners are still in limbo; millions of Rands are outstanding in salaries. Wives have left husbands, children have dropped out of school, people have been blacklisted. They can't even claim Unemployment Insurance Funds.

The allegations against Aurora's directors are damning: since they took over the Pamodzi mines in 2009, which were fully operational at the time, they have been accused of not paying salaries, making endless broken promises, misappropriating UIF and pension fund money and stripping assets of mines they haven't paid for. (Source: Carte Blanche TV programme).

The BBC has extensively reported on how the Zuma (Jacob Zuma's nephew) and Mandela (Nelson Mandela's grandson) families exploit their workers and treat them worse than dogs. While the Zuma and Mandela family members grow rich and fat, they do not pay their starving workers, which effectively makes them slave owners. Is this the 'Freedom' Mandela and Zuma spoke about and fought for? They were not Freedom Fighters... They were not fighting for the Freedom of the people, rather for the enslavement of the people under a communist yoke.

The Grootvlei mine now stands in ruins. What could not be stolen and sold for scrap, is cut up and sold to the Chinese state-owned mining company, Shandong Gold. The  foreman at Aurora can only stand and watch as the looting of the mine continues. This is the same ANC who wants to nationalize the mines, the banks and the farms. Can you even imagine the utter enslavement of blacks, the dilapidation and ruin of South Africa that will follow? 

As the rivers of gold, and other critical minerals, that once flowed from South Africa dry up, one after the other, due to BEE and nationalisation, the world and especially the Oppenheimers will look back to the good old days, when the whites were in charge of South Africa and they were making their fortunes. The day will still come that they will realize that they might have betted on the wrong horse.
Oh Cry the Beloved Country... Siyalila siyalila inkomo yethu ifile....

Ra le bona la moepa moholo monyolosa thaba.....