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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Herman Mashaba outlines what capitalism means to him

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouJohannesburg’s new mayor Herman Mashaba was recently interviewed by Leon Louw for Reason.

Louw is executive director of the Free Market Foundation. Mashaba is a former chairperson on the FMF, and 2004 won the FMF’s Free Market Award for his exceptional contribution to the cause of economic freedom.

In the introduction to the article, Mashaba is described as “an unlikely mayor for South Africa’s largest city”, and Louw describes him as “an outlier” even in the Democratic Alliance.

Louw begins by asking Mashaba how he became a capitalist at a time when the apartheid government’s proclaimed capitalism caused most black people to turn to parties that were critical of free markets.

Mashaba explains his idea of capitalism:

reason: How did you become a capitalist, then?

Mashaba: People must be careful by what they mean by capitalist. Capitalism for me is my right to feed myself and my family, to provide for myself and my family without any government intervention.

Government’s role is to ensure that people don’t kill me; when I have a dispute with you, to have courts I can take you to; and to provide infrastructure. That’s the role of government. But I don’t think I need any government to tell me that I must wake up to feed my family. If I decide that I don’t want to work, why should government force me to work? As long as I’m not going to be a liability to that government. If you decide you don’t want to work, then you cannot expect other people to assist you.

Obviously, some people for some reason need short-term intervention. I am for that. But if someone decides, “You know what, I don’t want to work”? I don’t think any government needs to force people to work. I don’t need government to tell me I must work for you and then determine how much you must pay me and how many hours I must work.

When they start coming out with those policies, it is when you start stifling development. I’ve seen trade unions in this country becoming powerful and controlling our people. I was no longer allowed to reward people who are hard-working because unions assume everyone is the same. Unions discourage people from being the best they can be. I must pay people exactly the same regardless of whether they work hard.

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Nomavenda Mathiane explains the genesis of her book, Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story

Eyes in the NightBookstorm has shared an excerpt from Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story by Nomavenda Mathiane.

In the book Mathiane tells the story of her grandmother, who lived through the gruelling events of the Battle of Isandlwana and through the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War as a young girl.

Her grandmother lived an extraordinary life, but her daughter – Mathiane’s mother – never spoke about it.

In this excerpt, Mathiane begins to explain why her mother kept silence, and how the idea for the book began to germinate in her mind.

 
 
Read the extract:

Prologue

Six months before my mother died, she gave me her mother’s reference book and asked me to get professionals to reconstruct the photograph in the book. She pleaded with me to take good care of it because it was the only photograph she had of her mother. I thought it odd that she should entrust me with the task because she usually assigned important duties to Mzilikazi, my older brother. I took the book from her and chucked it in one of the boxes where I keep important documents and soon forgot all about it.

My mother died in July 2003 in Qunwane, an old rural settlement in the district of Hlabisa in KwaZulu-Natal. Qunwane is a village, like many in that region, populated by people who are steeped in their traditional culture and ways; where generation after generation has been led by the Hlabisa clan and has lived in harmony for years; where a death in one family is mourned by the entire community. One of the traditions strictly observed by this community dictates that as soon as it is known that a member of the community has died, men, women and youngsters busy in their fields will stop work immediately. They will be seen on the road heading back home, carrying their hoes, picks and scythes. Nobody will work in the fields until the deceased has been buried. This practice is to honour the departed and show respect for the ground where the body is to be laid to rest.

The Sunday after Mother’s funeral, when neighbours and acquaintances had left our homestead, the only people who had stayed behind apart from us, her children, were close relatives. They were there to help us with the cleaning of her house and to sort out her personal belongings.

It was a warm winter’s day and we were lazing around eating the food left over from the funeral as well as conducting a post-mortem of the funeral proceedings. My brothers and sisters – there are nine of us, six girls and three boys – were sitting in my mother’s dining room talking about what the speakers at the funeral had said about her. Some of the stories were hilarious while others were downright embarrassing. One speaker told the mourners that Mother boasted about her children and the way they looked after her, that she would say she was not a chimpanzee sitting under a tree wailing. She would tell locals that she had so much money that if she laid the notes on the ground she could walk on them from her house to Nongoma, which is a stretch of about thirty kilometres. Another speaker agreed with the previous speaker, saying she had once casually asked Mother where her son Mzilikazi was teaching and her answer had been: ‘Oh, that one is tired of teaching black children. He is now teaching white kids at the university.’ I mean, how politically incorrect could one be? These were some of the stories with which people at her funeral service had regaled the mourners. Mother was a colourful person, full of love, song and jokes. She was ninety-seven when she died and her send-off was more of a celebration of her life than a funeral.

I was sitting next to my oldest sister Ahh this Sunday morning. Ahh is short for Albertinah. She is my mother’s first-born child. Of all my mother’s children, Sis Ahh is extremely laid back, soft spoken and one of the most gentle people I have ever known.

I turned to her and said: ‘There is something I’ve never understood about Sister J.’ (We called our mother Sister J, her name being Joana.) ‘Do you know why she rarely spoke about her mother? For someone who used to entertain us with stories of OkaBhudu (our paternal granny, her mother-in-law), there was very little she shared with us about her mom. Do you know why?’

I don’t know whether or not I expected an answer. I was partly talking to myself and I was also half listening to the conversation that was taking place around the table.

‘It’s because her mother’s story was filled with too much drama, regret, guilt and, finally, triumph. That is why she did not speak about her mom,’ answered Sis Ahh.

Getting a reply from Sis Ahh surprised me. Her answer came out glibly and matter-of-factly. I paid little attention to it. And yet somehow it lingered in my mind.

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‘Afro capitalist at the helm’ – The Economist profiles Herman Mashaba

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouJohannesburg’s new mayor Herman Mashaba was profiled in The Economist recently.

Mashaba is the founder of Black Like Me, the author of the books Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth, and former chairperson of the Free Market Foundation.

He tells The Economist that being mayor was the last job he ever wanted, but was won over by the Democratic Alliance, the party he joined in 2014 after becoming “frustrated with the ANC’s corruption under President Jacob Zuma”.

Read the article:

Mr Mashaba, 57, calls himself the “Capitalist Crusader” (the title of a book he published last year). Among South African politicians he is a rare breed: a scrappy self-made millionaire, a libertarian and a capitalist in a country so left-leaning that even the finance minister is a former member of the communist party. Mr Mashaba, who hates red tape and statism, decries the “culture of dependency” that has developed under the African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled since the first democratic elections in 1994. He criticises the party’s racial affirmative-action policies and is against a proposed national minimum wage, calling it “an evil system” designed to prevent the poor from advancing. “The ANC’s corrupt patronage policies have killed entrepreneurship,” he says.

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‘It’s now time to get Johannesburg working again’ – Read Herman Mashaba’s first mayoral statement

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouThe Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Herman Mashaba was elected as executive mayor for the City of Johannesburg on Monday night.

Mashaba is a millionaire who founded the company Black Like Me, and the author of the books Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth. He also served as chairperson of the Free Market Foundation and is a strong believer in free enterprise and the noninvolvement of the state in the economy – views that put him at odds with the leftist EFF‚ which believes in the setting of a national minimum wage‚ among other things.

In December last year Mashaba announced that he was making himself available as Joburg’s mayoral candidate for the DA.

His first official statement as leader of the city was released on Tuesday‚ and follows below in full:

“I am honoured and deeply humbled to be elected as the new Executive Mayor of Johannesburg.

“The residents of our city called out for change that would once again get Johannesburg working again. It is a mandate we dare not fail to deliver on.

“It is important to note that no single party holds a majority in the Johannesburg City Council.

“The people have chosen a diverse group of parties to lead them. The new administration has partners and I thank them for their support. I especially thank the EFF for placing their trust in me to lead this city.

“Now is not the time for political squabbles. We face great challenges that no party can confront on its own. It is time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and get working.

“Because if Johannesburg works‚ South Africa works.

“But before we start I need to ask the people of Johannesburg for patience. The truth is that there are no short cuts.

“It is going to take time to correct the mismanagement and decay that has resulted in worsening service delivery.

“We need to start from basics and step by step build a city we can all be proud of.

“The DA has a positive vision and plan for this city.

“Our vision is centred around our promise to create jobs‚ deliver better services and eliminate corruption from this administration.

“No one can deny that the biggest challenge facing our city is the soaring unemployment confronting over 800 000 people.

“Job creation will be the number one priority of the new administration.

“We understand that the actual role of local government in job-creation‚ is to create an enabling environment for businesses to establish themselves‚ flourish‚ and thereby create permanent jobs.

“Small businesses will be my best friends. Small businesses create jobs and that is why small business development will be the focus of my term in office.

“I want Johannesburg to be a city that empowers young entrepreneurs so they are given every opportunity to succeed.

“A city that creates an environment where poor people are afforded the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and make a success of themselves‚ as I did all those years ago.

“The days of requiring a political party’s membership card to get an EPWP job are over.

“One of our top priorities is to professionalise the public service by hiring the very best people to run a city that attracts investment and creates jobs.

“We will conduct a skills audit of the City of Joburg’s employees to ensure that all are properly qualified for the roles they are in.

“Residents have been plagued by a civil service that has offered lackluster and frankly‚ disgraceful service. Civil servants need to understand that they are there to serve the people of Johannesburg and not the other way around.

“None of us can rest while hundreds of thousands of families in Johannesburg suffer in abject poverty and without even the most basic of services.

“This administration will prioritise the upgrading of informal settlements and townships such as Zandspruit and Alexandra. We will work tirelessly to provide decent services and help lift people out of poverty.

“As of last night‚ corruption has been declared public enemy number one in the City of Johannesburg.

“We will conduct a full forensic audit of the City’s finances and administrative structures. This will include all tenders currently awarded.

“There was over R5-billion in unauthorised‚ irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure over the last administration’s term in office. This will simply not be tolerated under the new administration and any case of wrongdoing will be exposed and punished.

“It is time for all of us to put our political differences aside and work together with a shared vision for the improvement of the lives of our city’s residents‚ especially the poorest residents of our city.

“The future of our city and country depend on it.

“Because if Johannesburg works‚ South Africa works.

“Together we will bring change to the City of Johannesburg.

“Together we will bring change that creates jobs‚ delivers better services and fights corruption.

“Together we will make this a city of golden opportunities.”

TMG Digital

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Herman Mashaba remains DA mayoral candidate despite EFF request for change

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouThe Democratic Alliance has declined a request by the Economic Freedom Fighters to change its mayoral candidate in Johannesburg‚ Herman Mashaba‚ in exchange for its vote in the metro.

The EFF said it would vote with the DA in all metros but that this was conditional in Johannesburg. The condition was for the DA to rethink placing Mashaba at the helm of the metro.

But the DA has declined – meaning it will not receive the EFF’s vote in Johannesburg. The EFF’s vote would have placed the DA in the majority in the metro.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said voters chose Mashaba as their candidate and the party could not undermine that. However‚ as Saturday is the deadline for coalition-making‚ there is still time for the ANC and the EFF to continue with negotiations.

Mashaba is a millionaire who founded the company Black Like Me, and the author of the books Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth. He also served as chairperson of the Free Market Foundation and is a strong believer in free enterprise and the noninvolvement of the state in the economy – views that put him at odds with the leftist EFF‚ which believes in the setting of a national minimum wage‚ among other things.

TMG Digital/BDlive

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‘If Johannesburg works, South Africa works’ – Herman Mashaba outlines the DA’s plans for Joburg

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouThe Democratic Alliance has shared an extract from the speech delivered by its mayoral candidate for Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, at the launch of its electoral campaign for Johannesburg.

Mashaba announced that he was making himself available as DA mayoral candidate in December last year.

In the speech, Mashaba outlines the DA’s plans should they win Joburg in the local government elections, including “schools to skills” programmes for teenagers, early learning daycare centres in every township, cutting red tape for small businesses, and “strengthening the muscle” of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.

Mashaba is the founder of the Black Like Me hair care empire and the author of the memoir Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth.

Read his speech:

Today we take the future of Joburg into our hands.

We are in Alexandra today, a place which represents the potential of Johannesburg, to show our determination to bring change to Johannesburg.

Let’s build a fair Johannesburg that we can all be proud to call home. Let’s create jobs for the millions of unemployed.

Let’s empower the many young black people who don’t experience the dignity of work.

Johannesburg is a great city. It is a melting pot of cultures. It’s the heartbeat of our nation. But Johannesburg can be even greater.

There was a time after 1994 when Johannesburg made progress towards redress.

There was improved housing delivery and essential services. There was development. There was economic growth.

Freedom meant that our city became one Jozi, a city that everyone called home.

But today that progress has stalled. Service delivery is no longer meeting people’s needs. Unemployment is unacceptably high.

Those close to government are getting rich, while everyone else is getting poorer.

We have stopped moving forward.

The current of corruption and bad governance is pulling us backwards.

That’s why I am standing as the DA’s change candidate. To make Johannesburg stand tall again.

I’ve entered the race of my life because I love this City and because I’ve seen how opportunity changes lives. It is deeply personal.

I know that opportunity is the difference between hope and fear, life and death.

My story, like many of your stories, challenges those who seek to use race to divide us.

Like millions of black South Africans, I grew up in poverty during apartheid. I grew up in GaRamotse in Hammanskraal and I was raised by my sisters while our mother worked long hours as a domestic worker.

Mmusi Maimane and I went back there last Monday, and I saw how too little has changed.

The difficulty of life back then, in so many ways still exists today in places like Soweto, Alex, Orange Farm, Kaya Sand, and Zandspruit.

This is not yet a fair society.

And this is why I work for change in Johannesburg.

In my twenties, I set up a company called Black Like Me with a white partner. A man I could proudly call a friend.

I have always believed that black and white South Africans journeys are bound together.

We share unbreakable bonds of humanity and goodness. We share one destiny. We stand or fall together.

The dream of a non-racial South Africa gives life. Despite the storms that threaten to overwhelm us, the dream lives on. The dream will never die.

This dream motivates me every day.

I’ve not found hatred or bitterness on the campaign. I’ve found courage, warmth, and kindness in the midst of unspeakable difficulties.

I’ve been changed by what I’ve experienced.

I’ve seen poor and old grandmothers dig their own toilet pits.

I’ve been stung by the despair of young black men in townships without jobs or an education.

I’ve felt the hopelessness of young people, most of whom are black, trapped in long-term unemployment.

I’ve winced as young mothers queue to pump water for their families into buckets.

I’ve felt the frustration of small business entrepreneurs, many of whom are black, who have no support to prosper.

This stirs us to action.

This new DA city government will redress past injustices. Redress means to “make right” with our brothers and sisters, with a dynamic economy.

Ending the divide between “insiders” and “outsiders” will turn South Africa around.

Our vision is to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the City of Gold over the next five years. We will attract investment by being an open, transparent, clean, well-governed city that is open to business.

For if Johannesburg works, South Africa works.

We’ll get Johannesburg working by helping small businesses. We’ll cut the red tape that strangles entrepreneurs. We’ll cut up the old by-laws that obstruct business growth, in our first days in office. After 100 days they’ll be removed or amended.

We’ll audit City-owned land and buildings to set free the people’s assets. We’ll identify affordable commercial spaces for small businesses, artisans, and shops, and we’ll make them available at the most affordable annual rental possible.

We’ll connect people to training opportunities and internships. We’ll help them to find jobs in these new businesses.

I know how business works, with a 30-year track record of creating thousands of jobs. Job creation is in my public service DNA.

The DA will connect aspirant entrepreneurs to start-up loans.

We’ll carve up large tenders into small contracts. Many more small businesses can then bid for them successfully. And we’ll open up the tender system entirely, so everyone can see how they are awarded.

We’ll cut out all of the unnecessary consultants, to save millions for service delivery.

We’ll partner large, sector-focused companies with smaller businesses that want to grow. These will be business growth mentoring programmes through the City.

We cannot stop thinking about the future. The “Internet of Everything” will determine the future of successful cities.

We’ll develop a customised network by 2021 and we’ll centralise City data to improve service delivery, from repairing potholes to saving energy.

City and state trade missions to South Africa will bring investment to a new Jozi that is open, accessible, and transparent.

We will lead a revolution in the service levels of public servants and unveil a ‘Service with Pride’ vision on day one.

Courtesy and swiftly answered telephones will become the new norm. We’ll award exceptional performance for raising the City’s profile.

We’ll introduce an Executive Projects Dashboard for real-time monitoring of every project around the city. No project will just stop half-way and go unfinished.

The poorest residents of Joburg suffer the most from corruption. Corruption steals our public money, and it kills jobs.

When we take office, we will make corruption public enemy number one.

Criminals will be handed over to the police.

The DA will strengthen and bolster the Integrity and Internal Investigations Unit in the JMPD. Through the Mayor and open committee meetings, the unit will be directly accountable to the people. Criminal charges against corrupt officers will be pursued.

We also know that crime and drugs are wrecking people’s lives.

The DA-led City will strengthen the muscle of the JMPD.

Safety and security data will be centralised. This will improve local policing and identify drug lords and gangs.

The best technology will be used. Patterns will be spotted before crime is committed.

The police will be protected with body and vehicle dashboard cameras, and a fleet of ghost cars.

Our JMPD will be protectors of each and every one of us.

For if Johannesburg works, South Africa works.

The DA will introduce “schools to skills” programmes for teenagers to navigate one of life’s toughest journeys, which will prepare young people for the modern workplace through skills training right out of school.

The DA will work with the private sector to drive two new special projects. We’ll establish early learning day care centres in every township, where our children will receive love, nutritious meals, and a basic pre-school education.

We’ll identify city-owned properties for entrepreneurs who will transform them into top performing schools and technical colleges for our poorest residents.

We know that a home is more than just where we raise family, it is our economic security. We cannot get Johannesburg working until we fix the housing crisis.

We’ll do four major things to turnaround Johannesburg’s housing crisis:

We’ll fast-track ownership by giving thousands of people title deeds. The poor will come first.

We’ll do everything possible to stop housing list corruption. The process will be transparent and open. The list will be available for anyone to see.

We’ll incentivise entrepreneurs who build green-friendly homes.

We’ll provide basic services to informal settlements, with the best free allocations in South Africa, to the poorest residents.

The DA does this in other cities where we govern, and now we want to do this in Johannesburg.

Affordable and safe public transport goes hand in hand with housing. The poorest of our residents will have easy access to quality public transport.

No more will Soweto residents pay up to half of their money each month just to get transport into the City.

We will integrate the divergent bus services, and we will bring about a single ticket system so that our residents can travel seamlessly. And we’ll promote rapid transit, adaptive parking, bike-sharing, and walking paths.

We’ll work with the private sector to build sporting facilities. I want to see new soccer turfs in every community where young soccer talent is currently lost on dusty sand pitches.

We’ll have properly resourced and staffed clinics. We’ll employ caring nurses, and we’ll fill vacancies so that people don’t spend hours and days queuing for medical help.

For if Johannesburg works, South Africa works.

The time has come to put the government to work.

These are not pipe-dreams, but tried and tested promises, from where the DA governs already.

The best story to tell in South Africa, is how life gets better and better under the DA.

It’s the story of how unemployment is lowest, where the DA governs.

It’s the story of how services are delivered at the highest levels in South Africa, where the DA governs.

It’s the story of how we spend every cent of public money for the good of the people, where the DA governs.

The time has come to elect a DA government that brings this change to Johannesburg.

The time has come to elect a DA government that works for the people.

These are not empty words.

We stand on the shoulders of DA councillors who have already changed South Africa.

And let me say this: If I do not deliver on these promises after being elected, vote us out. It is that simple.

There is nothing broken in Johannesburg that cannot be fixed by Johannesburg. Johannesburg has all the right ingredients to be a great City.

The potential to greatness is in the residents of the City.

The current government talks big but acts small. But there is no glory in acting small.

Greatness does not happen by chance. It takes hard work, guts, and determination.

The DA government will create jobs and deliver quality services to every resident.

We will deliver a Fair Johannesburg, where Freedom is tangible, and where Opportunity abounds.

So far, this campaign journey has taken me from door to door, street to street, township to township.

The journey has taken me to meet people of character, of goodness, of decency.

The journey has brought me to this point. I am now asking every resident of Johannesburg to come on board and join me on this great journey: A journey to a prosperous and fair Johannesburg.

Your votes will elect a DA government that creates jobs and provides services.

That destiny rests in all of our hands.

For this is true: If Johannesburg works, South Africa works.

 
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Herman Mashaba: ‘The current government took advantage of the goodwill of our people’

 
Why would a successful South African entrepreneur, who could be enjoying his wealth and resting, decide to tackle politics?

Herman Mashaba, author of Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth, recently joined Gareth Cliff on Cliff Central to answer this question. During a brutally honest interview, the DA mayoral candidate for the City of Johannesburg addressed various pressing matters.

Black Like YouCapitalist Crusader“The current government took advantage of the goodwill of our people,” Mashaba says, explaining why he believes it is time for a change in power in South Africa.

He shares his remarkable life story, as written about in Black Like You, and stresses that his main concern and priority is equality, “for every South African to be given the opportunity to do things for themselves”.

Mashaba says that this was why he wrote Capitalist Crusader – to get people to embrace self-reliance. He believes that as mayor of Johannesburg he would be able to turn things around, not only for the people who live there but those who are witness to the city.

Mashaba gets a lot of criticism for his participation in politics, specifically because of his joining the Democratic Alliance. Listen to the podcast to hear how he feels about this:

 

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Herman Mashaba laments “sentimental allegiance” to the ANC – Excerpt from Capitalist Crusader

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Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouRead an excerpt from Herman Mashaba’s new book, Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth.

Mashaba is the founder of the Black Like Me empire and the author of the bestselling memoir Black Like You. He is also executive chairman of Lephatsi Investments (Pty) Ltd, Leswikeng Group of Companies and Phatsima Group of Companies and holds several other directorships.

Mashaba recently announced that he is making himself available as a mayoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance for the City of Joburg in 2016, saying: “For too long I have watched from the sidelines at how corrupt and self-serving ANC politicians have mismanaged Johannesburg.”

His offer was officially been taken up by the party on Saturday in an announcement by DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Mashaba beat Wits professor and DA councillor Rabelani Dagada to the candidacy.

Mashaba made some controversial comments at the press conference on the subject of Black Economic Empowerment. “If I have the powers to instruct Parliament to … remove all laws and policies that classifies me as a black South African, as a black human being … I can assure you I would do it tomorrow,” he told reporters.

Read the excerpt from Capitalist Crusader, in which Mashaba expresses concern about the allegations of corruption that exist at all levels of government, including cronyism, nepotism, and mismanagement and exploitation, specifically “on mines owned by Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) companies”.

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CHAPTER 2

THE POWER OF OUR VOTES

Strong national policies and good governance are essential for the development of a healthy democracy; without them South Africa faces collapse on all levels. Fortunately, the South African Constitution was formulated and developed by top legal and social minds to provide for the human dignity of all South Africans, and is a remarkable democratic legislative framework for good governance. The Constitution came into effect in 1997 and really gave me a strong sense of national and social security, since I believed that by adhering to its provisions, South Africa was on a path of genuine, sustainable reform that would uplift its entire people and advocate good governance.

When Thabo Mbeki became president in 1999 I had a positive outlook on the future of the country, and my faith in the nation’s leadership was cemented when Mbeki eloquently advocated and promoted what was commonly known as the African Renaissance initiative, whereby Africans strive to surmount African challenges to achieve economic, cultural, and scientific renewal; an initiative that I and many other people embraced. The rebirth of our continent under South Africa’s leadership was an exciting prospect.

In 2000 the German government invited me to address a conference in Berlin to promote the African Renaissance initiative, which I understood under Mbeki’s leadership to mean encouraging the continent to embrace the fundamental cornerstones of democracy, namely democratic principles, respect for the rule of law, and freedom of the press. Moeletsi Mbeki and Tokyo Sexwale were also among the speakers at the same conference.

However, my faith in Mbeki’s leadership and his understanding of an African Renaissance were soon somewhat compromised when he supported (by his quiet diplomacy) Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme, a venture that resulted in massive human rights violations when white farmers were stripped of their farms without compensation, and often violently so. I felt betrayed and disappointed, and further events triggered serious doubts in me about Mbeki’s political vision. In 2000 he appointed Jackie Selebi as the national police commissioner. In 2007 the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) issued a warrant for Selebi’s arrest on corruption charges. On the grounds of this investigation into Selebi, Mbeki placed him on extended leave in early 2008 and suspended Vusi Pikoli, head of the NPA. Mbeki’s handling of Selebi’s corruption and Pikoli’s suspension raised serious questions in my mind regarding Mbeki’s leadership and his lack of respect for the rule of law. How on earth could anyone justify maintaining the country’s Commissioner of Police with a cloud of criminal cases hanging over his head? These doubts were extended to the ANC when they recalled Thabo Mbeki as president of the country in 2008, only three months before the national election; I realised I could no longer vote for the party of Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu and all the other leaders who had helped to deliver the freedom we were enjoying. Later, upon reading Reverend Frank Chikane’s book Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki, I got a sense of how the ANC was prepared and determined to expel Mbeki, again with brazen disregard for the rule of law. The rule of law must be paramount in a society that wishes to be considered democratic.

When the Congress of the People (COPE) was established as a result of Mbeki’s expulsion, I was immediately suspicious of some members of its leadership, because it appeared that these individuals’ motives were driven by personal advancement rather than an intention to serve the people of South Africa. The main mandate a political party receives when it wins an election is to adhere to the will of its constituents. Voters are guided by the principles and the policies that a political party promotes, and if a party advocates promoting the economy, I expect to see their policies aligned to such advocacy. When a party fails to deliver on its election promises, and appears to have other agendas, it is time to reconsider supporting that party.

Was it just me who was disgruntled with government policy in the run-up to the 2014 election? I engaged in conversations with friends and family, trying to gauge their political opinions and sentiment. I was encouraged that lengthy and vociferous political debate was taking place in my hometown of Hammanskraal, since I believe that without engagement, critical thinking cannot develop and there can be no hope of solutions for the country’s problems. Even though I support everyone’s right to vote for the party he or she supports, I was depressed by some of the opinions I heard.

Many of my friends and family, from young to old, seemed to feel that the Economic Freedom Front or the Democratic Alliance were best qualified to tackle the country’s immediate local problems, such as employment or service delivery, because the ANC had failed to deliver basic human services, and protests seemed to have had no effect. Yet these same people felt that they could not abandon the ANC nationally, and upon further probing, I saw that their support for the ANC on a national level seemed to be motivated more by loyalty to the party that had delivered them from apartheid than by any belief that the ANC would actually deliver on promises. I drove home in a dark mood that night, dispirited by how sentimental allegiance might prevent the growth and development that South Africa so desperately needed. Just as I believe there is no place for emotion in the boardroom, I don’t believe emotion has a place in elections. When voting, we really have the responsibility of voting for the party that represents our perspectives and will provide good governance.

In the build-up to the watershed 1994 election, I had taken some time off from my business and involved myself in voter education. As a member of the previously disenfranchised, I found that putting my cross on the ballot paper represented more than just supporting a political party. Like the majority of black South Africans, I was also voting for the first time in my life and recognised it for the momentous occasion it was going to be. We were exercising a right that had long been denied to us. Those who voted for the ANC were finally able to say thank you, we believe in you to lead us into the new South Africa. Undoubtedly, for many voters that first vote was going to be emotionally charged. However, I was adamant that people should understand what their votes meant, and I wanted to ensure that everyone who wanted to vote knew the procedure involved. Prior to that first democratic election, education was vital, since, like me, the majority of South Africans had never imagined ourselves being granted the freedom to vote, and we had little to no knowledge of voting protocols. My company Black Like Me funded a voter education programme run by Dr David Molapo of the I Can Foundation. David and his team, including his wife Mmamiki and Abner Mariri, did a sterling job across the country educating the educators. Many other organisations embarked on voter education campaigns. Despite these combined efforts to encourage voting, only 56.38% of the population were finally registered to vote; but what was inspiring was that 86.87% of those registered voters did indeed vote.

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I need hardly describe the attendant euphoria. Every South African remembers. Images of long lines of eager and patient first-time voters swept through the media across every nation during the three days of voting in this historic election. The whole world was celebrating with us as 19 million people voted for candidates in 19 political parties and the ANC swept to victory. Our votes were a hard-won freedom, but now voting is our right, and it deserves to be treated with mature thought and consideration for the future of our whole nation. As the 2014 election approached, I tried very hard to gauge South Africans’ commitment to voting; after all, we can hardly criticise an administration if we do not participate in it at the most basic level, namely by voting.

In this voting statistics table it is evident that there are discrepancies between the South African population, the voting age population, the registered voters, and the number of people who actually cast their ballots. If we look at the 1994 election, the discrepancy between the recorded voting age population and registered voters is in the region of about a million.

If we analyse the results across the 20-year period, we can see that there has been a marked decline in the number of registered voters actually casting their votes (from a difference of 3 million in 1994 to a difference of 7 million in 2014 between registered voters and ballots cast). Indeed even more worrying, we see a significant decline in citizens registering to vote (25 million out of a population of 48 million). The decrease in registered voters is disturbing; our electoral responsibility has decreased from 86% to 72%, which means that almost 15% of electorally eligible people have renounced their civic responsibility. This will have severe repercussions on the administration of South Africa, since these voters are effectively leaving other people to decide their futures. While we can acknowledge that there are obvious valid reasons for not registering to vote – access to registration, illness, remoteness, lack of education, and fear of intimidation – a 15% abstention is high.

I wonder what this abstention is saying about the South African voting age population? Which segments of the population aren’t registering to vote? Why aren’t they registering to vote? Are they apathetic or frustrated? Have they given up or have they emigrated? Are they satisfied or dissatisfied with the way that South Africa is being governed? How do we even begin to assess this abstention? We need to engage with our fellow South Africans who don’t vote and we need to examine their reasons for staying away from the polls, because votes are the way of ensuring that all voices are heard. Generations of South Africans never enjoyed this political freedom, and many suffered and died for this privilege. Not bothering to vote is both an apathetic shrug of one’s political shoulders and an insult to those who fought to secure voting rights for all. It is also political myopia to refrain from voting, and it irresponsibly eliminates one’s voice and one’s say in the political future of our country. While a single vote might be a drop in the ocean, collectively votes have weight and can transform the direction a country takes.

The people and the policies that South Africans vote for determine the country’s future. People who are against the government and refrain from voting are voiceless; their silences are not votes. Failure to vote will result in an administration that considers itself mandated by its population because of its policies. All the people who want to have a say in those policies must become responsible voters and must actively demand that their wishes be heard by voting for a party that will ensure the country is administered according to our Constitution. Being proactive and casting our votes means that we don’t have the retroactive battle of challenging a government that strays; reactive and retroactive responses are ignored by government simply because when voters had the chance to challenge government or its policies, they were absent instead of seriously showing their commitment to how South Africa is administered. I think Pericles put it aptly: ‘Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.’

From the voting patterns shown in the preceding table, it would seem that voter education needs to be sustained and that it is as important now as it was in the run-up to our first democratic election. If South Africans hope to have any say in the country’s administration and future, then we need to ensure that people vote, and we all need to know why we are voting and what the party we are voting for actually stands for, and what that party has delivered and what it intends to deliver.

As I engaged in conversations with fellow South Africans in the run-up to the 2014 election, I was frustrated with the responses from people who had decided to vote for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the ANC. Why couldn’t they see that the EFF was no better than the ANC, and that their economic policies, in particular their rhetoric about land expropriation without compensation and nationalisation of mines and banks, will certainly hurt the country? Why would anyone voluntarily support the ANC when it was led by a man refusing to face censure for his alleged corruption? How is it possible that our president managed to slip through the tight strictures of our Constitution? I tried to make sense of it. Was the ANC-led government’s failure to respond to voters a reflection that the ANC was no longer in touch with what the citizens needed, and as a result some people felt that the EFF was the only party still in touch with their needs? On the other end of the political spectrum, why was the Democratic Alliance (DA) perceived as an elite white party that only had room for the ja-baas blacks? Did people consider the ANC government’s misappropriation of the country’s money to be acceptable because then the whites got less, or did ANC supporters view it as a time for blacks to feast? After 20 years, were we finally seeing what white people had been afraid of when the ANC came to power – that the white population would be sidelined in every sphere of society? Did marginalised black people want to see suffering for both whites and so-called kleva blacks (who look down on African ways and subscribe to middle-class individualism)? How had the country failed so spectacularly that these underlying racial issues were taking precedence in decision-making?

Surely when we vote we need to exhibit maturity and responsibility. But when I think about friends who basically have not worked since we left school 36 years ago, men and women who are only sporadically able to support their families, I can understand that they are hoping Julius Malema and the EFF will bring the plight and fight of the poor to the forefront of political agendas, that it is emotion and desperation that motivate their support of the EFF. Considering that it is the new political party on the block, the EFF did well. It managed to achieve an astounding 6% of the votes cast, more than a quarter of the votes secured by the official opposition, the DA (22%). And the EFF beat diehard parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (2%), the United Democratic Movement (1%) and the Pan Africanist Congress (0.21%). I can hardly blame EFF supporters who feel that the EFF is the only party talking to them, because as far as those unemployed and poor people living in dire circumstances are concerned, no other political party is saying anything to improve their situation. But this is all the EFF is doing too: talking. The party has not actually achieved anything except to incite disharmony and promote Mugabe-style land grabs. So what sector of the electorate is it to whom the EFF appeals – the genuine poor or the bone idle?

In the run-up to the 2014 election, and indeed since then, paging through the major newspapers reflects the signs of a government not coping, a government that has spiralled into dysfunction. A president being accused of allowing his alleged benefactors to land a plane at a national key point during wedding festivities, a president using R246 million of taxpayers’ money to fund the upgrade on his personal property and refusing to repay the money despite the public protector’s recommendation that he do so. Cabinet ministers giving jobs to pals and contracts to partners and family members, metropolitan cops trying to coerce motorists into buying e-tags on behalf of the South African National Roads Agency, parliamentarians and their wives accused of earning ghost salaries and drug-dealing, mismanagement and staff being exploited on mines owned by Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) companies. The allegations of corruption at every level and in every sector and the hardships suffered by the poor fill our newspapers. But amid all these depressing and infuriating news items, is there something positive that I am missing? Is the government’s scorecard as poor as I imagined it is, and is that why people have stopped going to the polls – because they believe that their vote has no power to challenge or change government – or has the government achieved significant accomplishments that have given its supporters hope? Have the ANC actually delivered on the promises they made in their election manifestos?

Apartheid and its draconian policies systematically froze out black people until the onslaught had dehumanised them. Are the ANC and its leadership flouting the Constitution and doing the same to anyone who challenges them – intimidating people and freezing them out? If South Africans don’t demand adherence to the Constitution, namely democratic principles and adherence to the rule of law, where does our future lie? On the country’s 20th anniversary of democracy it seems appropriate to perform a thorough investigation of the government’s policies and adherence to the Constitution.

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“Please Never Submit Again.” – Bestselling Author Gareth Crocker Shares His Experience of the Publishing World in Ka-Boom

 
Ka-BoomKa-Boom, the latest book by Gareth Crocker, is the perfect Christmas gift: fast-paced, punchy and funny.

In the book, Crocker describes his early years as a promising soccer player and poet, his first job – in the criminal underworld – the time he decided to run the Comrades, the time he decided to try out for the Olympics, and, ultimately, how he became the bestselling author of five books, having sold more than three million copies worldwide.

Two of Crocker’s novels, Finding Jack and Never Let Go, are being adapted for films in Hollywood.

In this excerpt from Ka-Boom, Crocker shares his experience of trying to find a publisher, during which time he amassed a chest full of rejection letters along the lines of: “Please never submit again.”

Gareth Crocker

Read the extract:

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‘The only horror here … is your writing.’

 
So here, in brief, is my view of the modern book-publishing world.

To begin with, let’s look at the money (he writes, with a straight face). The reality is that if you plan to live on something even vaguely more substantial than tree bark and urine, you pretty much have to land an international publishing deal. Even then 99 out of 100 authors still can’t make a decent living out of their books. Those who claim they can are, in fact, often retired, boosted by a plump inheritance, lying their pants off or supported by a kind and hard-working spouse. Either that or they rob banks in their spare time. Part of the problem is that the buying public’s attention span has dwindled alarmingly over the past decade. This is further exacerbated by the increasing competition for people’s leisure time which, itself, is shrinking. The other difficulty is that, unlike at the cinema, say, where a moviegoer has maybe a dozen films to choose from, a large bookstore presents a buyer with 78-quadrillion titles. I maintain that it is an absolute miracle for a stranger to emerge from a bookstore clutching your novel in his or her mitts. It’s a wonder of such proportions that it feels almost biblical. There are very few industries where one has to compete not only against a sea of current competitors but against an ocean of rivals from around the world … many of whom have been dead for decades. It’s like running a race against every professional athlete in the history of the sport. And let’s not even get into the current e-book ‘pirating’ culture that is bayoneting the already gravely wounded and malnourished writer (feel free to cue the violins at any point).

After that cheery start it’s important to note that the South African book market is about as big as a postage stamp on a rhinoceros’s arse. Which may tempt you to try and land an international publisher. However this, as you now know, is far easier said than done. Here are several … shall we euphemistically say ‘hurdles’ … that need to be overcome. For the sake of brevity, I shall list only a handful of the key ones:

    1. Large international publishers (based mainly in London and New York) receive *47.356-trillion zillion (*audited figure) book submissions a day.

 

    2. Large international publishers already have full lists of their own authors and, in many cases, don’t have the capacity or the desire to take on new writers.

 

    3. Large international publishers have to invest heavily in new writers, given that it takes many years to build a writer’s name and reputation. So they have to be absolutely blown away by an unpublished author just to consider him or her.

 

    4. Large international publishers often take a dim view of authors living in the colonies and, subconsciously or not, prejudge writing that does not come out of the more cosmopolitan cities.

 

    5. Large international publishers do not accept ‘unsolicited manuscripts’. Which means that any manuscripts you send them … will never be opened at all.

 
Ah, right. So that’s quite a challenge then. After all, it’s unlikely that one of these publishing behemoths will offer you a multibook publishing deal if they have not, in fact, read your work.

So how then does one get published in this mystical world of closed doors and near-impossible odds?

Well, unfortunately, you need to find a reputable agent to represent you.

Agents are the publishing world’s ‘filtering system’. Simply put, they sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s actually rather brilliant. Given that the vast majority of reputable agents operate purely on a commission basis, this means that they will only take on writers who they feel have an actual shot of being published. In other words, their livelihood depends on their ability to spot and nurture talent.

The publishers then sit back and wait for these agents to find the next Patterson, Grisham and Crocker (ahem).

Which means that you, as the lowly writer, have no choice but to delve into the often slimy back alleys of literary agents. That sounds rather gross and sordid, which is quite right (more on this subject, anon).

Of course, I didn’t know this when I submitted Malevolence to every publisher on the planet at great financial and emotional cost. When I found out that I needed an agent to get my foot in the door, I was forced to delve even deeper into my already hefty student loan to print out and dispatch more copies. (These days, of course, most agents are content to receive email submissions. Hmph.)

You can’t imagine how ruinously expensive it was. Especially if you were as young and poor as I happened to be. Paper is very heavy. Posting or couriering off a 500-page, double-spaced manuscript is a little like sending a chair halfway around the world. You get charged a small fortune for it.

In the months and years that followed, whole forests would be stripped and laid bare so that rejection slips could be printed and posted to me (at my own cost, no less, as agents insist that you include a fully paid-for self-addressed return envelope with your manuscript so that you can also bear the financial burden of being stabbed in the heart). In the beginning I kept a file of my failure. But then, when the file got too heavy and threatened to collapse my writing desk, I upgraded to a large chest. The sort that you would find in the land of Narnia. This was better because I could close the lid and try not to think about how awful I was. And then, one day, the chest lid would no longer close.

A smarter person would have given up at this point. But not me. Oh no. I was going to ride the wheels off this train. Fortunately, the rejection notes themselves were often quite kind and supportive which would lift my spirits to no end. Here are extracts from some of the more memorable ones (I actually have them framed in my writing studio):


    – ‘Please never submit again.’
     
    – ‘I can’t work out if this is a horror novel or a parody of one. Either way, it’s woeful.’
     
    – ‘I’ve never seen so many clichés assembled together in one story. Reading your manuscript was indeed a dark and stormy night.’
     
    – ‘The only horror here is your writing.’
     
    – ‘No. God no.’

 
And then you would pick up a writer’s magazine where some famous author would relate his or her story of how they first became published.

‘So I decided to write my first book in 2004. I was convinced nobody would like it and so I very nearly never submitted it. But thankfully I did and immediately found an agent. He loved the book so much he set up a publishing auction and I was offered $43-billion by a dozen international publishers that very week. I really am so blessed.’

Let’s see how blessed you are when I ram my laptop down your throat.

The reality, of course, is that very few writers have an overnight ‘rags to riches’ story. It almost never happens.

Anyway, after every agent and his dog had tossed me out, I finally had to concede that all was perhaps not perfect with Malevolence. And so, I wrote another horror de force – The Pumpkin Hour. No, it wasn’t a book for children. It was a very serious and very scary adult novel. And another 17 834 rejection slips came flapping into my mailbox, not unlike that scene with the envelopes and the owls in Harry Potter.

Then came another literary weapon of mass destruction, In the Eyes of a Child.

Surely this was the one? I had grown so much as a writer. I couldn’t imagine this gem not being accepted. Well, whether I could imagine it or not, the rejection slips kept flooding in.

At this point I was considering opening up a recycling plant. Lord knows I could pulp myself into some real money.

And then, at my lowest ebb, the PR company I was working for (my day job) was kind enough to send me to an international PR Convention in Chicago. If I’m honest I only went to about three presentations and spent the rest of my time at Andy’s Jazz Club sipping Apple Martinis with my mate, Mitch Ramsay. Afterwards, however, I had a few days to spare so I decided to do the touristy thing and head out to Washington.

Top of my list was a visit to the Vietnam Wall.

While I was standing there, my eyes skimming over the names of the 60 000 or so US soldiers who perished in the Vietnam War, a man pulled up beside me. He was dressed in full military regalia. He remained perfectly still for a while before reaching into his jacket and pulling out a dog harness which he placed against the wall.

And then he started to cry.

I waited a few minutes until he had regained a measure of composure before turning to him. ‘I’m so sorry to intrude,’ I began (clearly not sorry at all), ‘but I have to ask you … why’ve you placed a dog harness against the wall?’

The former soldier then told me the heartbreaking story of the Vietnam war dogs and how some 4000 canine soldiers were sent over to help American soldiers in the war (by locating enemy patrols, finding bombs, sniffing out booby traps and so on). His eyes moistened again as he explained that, at the end of the war and due to the cost of the withdrawal, the US government declared the dogs ‘Surplus Military Equipment’ and they were ordered to be left behind together with the old tents and prefab buildings.

‘Our dogs saved the lives of at least 10 000 US soldiers, and dog handlers like myself were forced to abandon them. I had a gun pointed at me on the day I was bundled into a helicopter for the long trip home. It’s been over 30 years and I’ve never stopped thinking of my dog, Shadow. He saved my life – and the lives of my platoon – on at least three occasions. If it weren’t for him, my name would be on this wall.’

And in that moment, I knew what my next novel would be about. No more cheesy horrors for me. I would write a book that would a shine a light on this horrific injustice. It would tell the story of one brave soldier who refuses to abandon his dog and what he does to try and save him. Fiction told against a nonfiction backdrop.

I started writing the book that night in my hotel room. A year and a half later, Leaving Jack was completed. And this time when Kerry emerged with the manuscript in her arms, she was crying.

‘It’s beautiful, Ga,’ she whispered. ‘Absolutely beautiful.’

And just like that I knew my days of being rejected were numbered. My long apprenticeship would soon be over.

Or so I dared to believe.

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Herman Mashaba Offers Himself as DA Mayoral Candidate: “The Removal of Nene Confirms a Lack of Leadership”

Black Like YouCapitalist CrusaderHerman Mashaba has announced that he is making himself available as a mayoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance for the City of Joburg in 2016.

Mashaba is the founder of the Black Like Me empire and the author of Black Like You and Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth. He is also executive chairman of Lephatsi Investments (Pty) Ltd, Leswikeng Group of Companies and Phatsima Group of Companies and holds several other directorships. In 2004, Mashaba won the FMF’s Free Market Award for his exceptional contribution to the cause of economic freedom.

“For too long,” Mashaba says, “I have watched from the sidelines at how corrupt and self-serving ANC politicians have mismanaged Johannesburg – Africa’s most vibrant economic powerhouse.”

He continues that he is committed to supporting the DA’s ambition of winning the City of Joburg in next year’s election, adding that the removal of Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene yesterday “confirms the lack of leadership with foresight and concern for the country”.

Read his statement:

HERMAN MASHABA OFFERS HIMSELF AS MAYORAL CANDIDATE FOR THE DA FOR JOHANNESBURG 2016

I have decided to announce that I am making myself available as a mayoral candidate for the Democratic Alliance for the City of Johannesburg in 2016.

For too long I have watched from the sidelines at how corrupt and self-serving ANC politicians have mismanaged Johannesburg – Africa’s most vibrant economic powerhouse.

I believe that it is time that hardworking and honest people make themselves available for public service. In this spirit, I am prepared to throw 100% of my efforts into the bid to be the DA’s Mayoral Candidate. It is my hope that the city will once again be the beacon of light for the whole of Africa, and a safe haven for its own citizens.

I am beyond concerned at the unemployment that exists in the city, and believe that the DA has the policies and processes to arrest the current hopelessness created by unemployment. Unemployment is unacceptably high in a city that is the economic hub of the continent.

Corruption simply has to be eradicated. The DA wants to ensure that the city’s considerable assets and income are not wasted, mismanaged, or squandered, but are instead harnessed to the benefit of those who live and want to work in the city.

Those areas that do not enjoy efficient service delivery have to be addressed with greater urgency and speed, and the only party capable of delivering services in the current landscape of dysfunctional facilities and infrastructure is the DA, as has been proven by their excellent performance in the Western Cape.

I am committed to supporting the DA in their endeavour to win the City of Johannesburg in the 2016 Election. All the people of Johannesburg deserve better, and only the DA can address the resident’s concerns of crime, poverty, joblessness, corruption and service delivery. The ANC have had 21 years to deliver. I believe it’s high time that the DA is given an opportunity to deliver for the citizens of Johannesburg.

The latest removal of Minister of Finance, Nhlahla Nene, clearly confirms the lack of leadership with foresight and concern for the country.

It is time for change.

Herman Mashaba 10 December 2015

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Herman Mashaba Offers Himself as Mayoral Candidate for the DA for Johannesburg 2016

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