South Africa on its way to becoming another Zimbabwe……..country riddled with corruption

jacob-zuma3.jpg

Last week South Africa finally got around to sacking its high commissioner to Singapore, more than four months after a newspaper exposed her criminal past. Until that point officials had managed not to notice that the high commissioner was a drug trafficker who had served a two-year sentence in an American jail for smuggling cocaine while working as an air hostess.

It had not been the diplomat’s first smuggling arrest. Four years earlier she had gone on trial in South Africa for importing nine kilos of heroin in her suitcase; after the witnesses mysteriously declined to testify, her trial collapsed. Hazel Ngubeni had omitted to declare her conviction to the authorities, and months of security vetting had apparently been unable to uncover these basic facts.

Ngubeni is not the only diplomat to have benefited from lax standards. The high commissioner to Britain had, it turned out, failed his vetting. He had too many large unexplained cash sums deposited in his bank accounts. His bosses decided to overlook the evidence, keep the security findings secret and post him to London anyway. Where he remains today.

Neither of these stories caused more than a ripple in the news. They are competing with so many daily accounts of lies and corruption that they cannot make an impact. The ANC under President Zuma is running a country where official thieving, from the government and police chiefs downwards, is commonplace and rarely punished.

There is the newly appointed primary school headmistress who is in hiding after receiving death threats. Her predecessor, who had received the same threats scrawled on her blackboard, was found hacked to death. The heads are from one of the areas hit by a jobs-for-cash scandal, where teachers have been bullied into paying thousands of pounds to officials, unions and governing bodies in return for promotions and appointments. The assumption is that these teachers either didn’t pay at all or didn’t pay enough.
There is chaos in Johannesburg, where the opposition Democratic Alliance won control from the ANC last summer, for the first time in 22 years, on a promise to bring integrity and order to a council infamous for kickbacks and inefficiency. The mayor has been so overwhelmed by the scale of corruption that he has had to set up an independent forensic unit.

Hundreds of officials have been suspended on full pay, accused of cheating the city by selling properties for much less than they were worth, creating fake bills or taking bribes, and the mayor says wearily that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The council is pursuing the cases because the national prosecuting authority seems totally uninterested. The city needs billions spent on infrastructure, money it doesn’t have because so much has been diverted into private pockets.

This rotting of the state is exemplified by the man at the top. Zuma has spent millions of public money on his house. Much more importantly he and his cabal are embroiled in a close relationship with a powerful family, the Guptas, who have made many millions from state contracts, have been accused of money laundering and kickbacks, and have so much influence over the government that they have allegedly offered cabinet positions and huge bribes to ministers in return for doing as they are told. Zuma and the Guptas are known to be trying to sack the finance minister, a highly principled man who is fighting to stop the treasury being ransacked.

Such institutionalised corruption has led the ANC into its greatest crisis since the end of white minority rule in 1994. It had been complacently confident that it would always be the party of the people, but last year, in a shocking turnaround, almost half the electorate voted against it, cutting its vote from 62 per cent in 2014 to less than 54 per cent. The party now controls none of the four big urban areas, and if this slide continues it will lose the presidential election in 2019.

This prospect is splitting an organisation that always believed in public unity. Zuma’s brazen response to unpopularity has been not to reform but to double down on entrenching his faction. He knows that if anyone other than an ally succeeds him he will be prosecuted and may be jailed. He already has 783 fraud and corruption charges hanging over him, suspended by the courts. More would follow. All his efforts are now directed at eliminating rivals and getting his former wife selected as the next ANC leader and future president at the party convention at the end of this year.

A section of the party is at last fighting back, in sheer panic about its future, with some provincial leaders and cabinet members openly attacking the abuses. Zuma’s greatest threat is the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, a man who was once a charismatic union leader and became a rand billionaire in business. Ramaphosa, who claims to oppose corruption, now openly opposes Zuma, calling for the ANC to conduct “lifestyle audits” on its leaders to uncover those living on mysterious means.

The power struggle over the next year will determine South Africa’s future. If Zuma and his allies retain power and undermine the last institutional defences against corruption, the country will be on the road to becoming another Zimbabwe by 2019. If Ramaphosa can persuade the party to back him, he might just pull both state and party out of decline. The nation is in desperate need of it, with poverty and inequality entrenched, zero growth last year and unemployment at more than 26 per cent. Fight, the beloved country.

Article by Jenni Russell in The Times Newspaper

Posted in 21st century, Abuse of power, appalling behavior, Corruption, Criticism, Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s £200m aid pledge to famine-threatened Somalia and South Sudan – two of the most corrupt countries in the world

SouthSudan.jpg

The International Development secretary says “we must act now to help innocent people who are starving to death”.

South Sudan and Somalia are going to receive £100m each in UK aid, the Government has announced.

The Department for International Development (DFID) says both countries are facing a “real threat of famine” – with millions of people going hungry.

It is hoped the funding for food, water and emergency healthcare will help to save more than one million lives.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel has warned there is also a credible risk of famines in Yemen and North East Nigeria – with conflict and drought in some parts of Africa creating a “series of unprecedented humanitarian crises”.

Sam Kiley: Kindness isn’t always the solution to famines She said: “Our commitment to UK aid means that when people are at risk of dying from drought and disaster, we have the tools and expertise to avoid catastrophe. “While we step up our support for emergency food, water and life-saving care to those in need, our message to the world is clear: we must act now to help innocent people who are starving to death.”

According to DFID, more than six million people in Somalia have no reliable access to food – and 360,000 children are acutely malnourished. There are fears Somalia is going to face a famine as bad – or worse – than one in 2011 which killed an estimated 260,000 people.

DFID said the UK’s aid package for Somalia will provide emergency food and safe drinking water for up to a million people, as well as nutritional support for more than 600,000 starving children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. The department explained that famine has been declared in several parts of South Sudan, and more than half of the population is now in desperate need.

Almost five million people face the daily threat of going without enough food and water, and three million people have been forced to flee their homes because of violence and widespread rape.

Mike Noyes, who works for the poverty charity ActionAid, described the UK’s contribution to South Sudan and Somalia as “vital”. He added: “The need is huge and countless lives are at stake. Today, in parts of Africa, children are dying of hunger whilst their mothers watch in despair.

“The world cannot stand by and let this continue. The Government is right to be sounding the alarm.”

Comment

Transpareny International publishes an annual table of the most corrupt countries in the world and in 2016 they listed 176 countries, from least corrupt (number 1) to most corrupt (number 176). On the list of 176 countries Sudan came 170th, South Sudan 175th and Somalia 176th. And now British tax payers money to the tune of £200 million is to be pumped into two of these countries in aid. It begs the question why the “oil rich” countries of the Middle East are not rushing to the aid of fellow muslims, and why we in the west (who most muslim countries criticise and detest) are the ones putting our hands in our pockets again. These countries have learned nothing since Band Aid back in 1984, poured resources into the area to address the same issues of drought, famine and poverty.

Posted in Abuse of power, Corruption, Criticism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Universities are admitting students who have poor English skills and are unprepared for degree courses…..so tell us something new!

methode-times-prod-web-bin-8bcb6364-f490-11e6-a45f-cc1b99ad256c.jpg

Universities are admitting students who have poor English skills and are unprepared for degree courses, lecturers have said.

Academics complained that lower entry requirements had led to a generation of undergraduates who cannot read, write or speak proper English. A survey of more than 1,000 university staff found that almost half thought students were not ready for their undergraduate studies.

While teaching is a source of satisfaction for most lecturers, many spoke of growing frustration with administrative duties, according to the Times Higher Education survey.

About half of staff reported that students turned up for class without having done the required background reading. A large majority of staff said that students complained if their marks were lower than expected, while about a third believed that standards in higher education were slipping.

Overall, almost nine in ten academics, or 88 per cent, said that teaching was a source of satisfaction to them. Six per cent said that they were unhappy about having to educate students. Several expressed exasperation with growing class sizes and with students who are becoming less engaged and more demanding.

“Teaching is now painful rather than enjoyable,” said one senior lecturer who blamed “large classes [in which] I don’t get to know the students”.

The lecturer added: “My postgraduate classes are smaller, but the students are lethargic, and many of them don’t have strong English language skills. Students see me mainly to complain about marks.”

A professor at a university in London said that education had become bureaucratic and micromanagerial.

The survey sought the opinion of 1,150 higher education staff. About 85 per cent of respondents came from more than 130 institutions in the UK, but staff from various other regions also took part, including the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia.

Source:Timesonline

Posted in 21st century, Criticism, Education, Employability, Higher Education, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

UK undergraduates – fear for their futures

Interesting article from my friend Mike about the poor little “snowflakes” that seem to inhabit institutions of Higher Education………”bless!”

Mike the Psych's Blog

graduation_hat_tassel_flip_anim_500_wht_14455Fear for their first interaction at work, their first outing in the real world.

Of course they could enter closed orders, live and work inside a gated community, stay in their bedrooms in their parents homes forever –  or work in a university

Why am I so pessimistic? Because this generation of university students, sometimes referred to as snowflakes (and with good reason), is the most risk averse, inward looking, intolerant, over-sensitive, bunch of self-righteous wimps I’ve ever come across.

The evidence for this?

94% of university campuses have some kind of censorship, up from 80% in 2015

Among things that have been banned by students’ unions are:

  • Fancy Dress parties especially if you plan dressing up as the Village People, Tarts & Vicars,  chavs, gangsters, Pocohantas, camp men, Arabs or Mexicans. Presumably dressing up as a toff and burning £20 notes is OK in some quarters?
  • Posters showing…

View original post 331 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The NHS is in crisis and yet Britain loses £300m in foreign aid to fraud without noticing…………….

ForeignAid2.jpg

Hundreds of millions of pounds in overseas aid is lost to fraud every year undetected by the Department for International Development, an auditors’ report suggests.

Only 0.03 per cent of the £10 billion a year spent on aid is recorded as fraudulent by the department run by Priti Patel, even though it sends money to many of the world’s most corrupt countries. The implausibility of such low levels of fraud is spelt out by the National Audit Office in a report on waste in the aid budget.

Although the auditors do not attempt to quantify the scale of unreported fraud, they highlight that other agencies and departments admit to significantly higher levels of misused money. HMRC admits that 3 per cent of its budget is lost through fraud and the Department for Work and Pensions puts its fraud losses at 0.7 per cent. Both operate in Britain, considered one of the world’s least corrupt societies.

The NAO notes that “only small numbers of serious fraud cases” are reported by Dfid in countries such as Iraq, Zimbabwe and South Sudan despite their reputation for financial crookedness. “There is no clear correlation between perceptions of corruption and numbers of fraud cases reported” by Dfid, the auditors say.

Britain’s aid spending has risen by more than a quarter in four years thanks to David Cameron’s pledge to meet a United Nations target of devoting 0.7 per cent of national income to overseas development. Critics fear that the budget is out of control, with cash rushed out in an annual dash to meet spending requirements.

Most of the aid is delivered through international agencies such as the World Bank and UN. “Detection is particularly challenging where Dfid does not have direct control over all the funds it provides,” auditors warn. Coincidentally, the NAO points out that the UN has the same low level of reported fraud as Dfid at just 0.03 per cent.

The auditors point to studies by the centre for counter-fraud studies at Portsmouth University, which has estimated that the amount of expenditure lost to fraud and error across a number of organisations is likely to be between 3 per cent and 10 per cent of the total. Although the NAO does not quantify a 3 per cent fraud loss to the Dfid budget, which would be consistent with HMRC’s findings and the minimum figure in the academic survey, that would be equivalent to nearly £300 million.

Priti Patel said the Department for International Development had “overhauled its approach to fraud”

While Dfid actively seeks out fraud, the NAO discovered that the British Council, which has a £1 billion-a-year turnover and 11,000 employees operating in 114 countries, created a counter-fraud team only in 2015 and until recently it consisted of one person. The council, a charity promoting culture that receives £162 million a year in public funds, two thirds of it from the overseas aid budget, estimated that it lost £35,000 to fraud last year, the first year it collected data.

A Whitehall source said: “Everyone alleges there’s loads of fraud. Dfid is alive to the issue.”

Ms Patel said: “The UK operates in the most fragile countries because these are the places where the poorest are dying from starvation, drought and disease; these are the places where conflict and economic failure drive mass migration; and these are the countries where it is in the UK’s direct national interest to keep them stable and secure.

“In the last three years Dfid has overhauled its approach to fraud, meaning our robust systems are better at preventing and detecting fraud, and better at getting taxpayers’ money back.”

Source:Timesonline

Posted in Charity, Corruption, Criticism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A foggy day at West Bretton…….

Arrived at the Sculpture Park this morning about 9.40am (traffic in Huddersfield was horrendous) and too my usual route down by the side of the park then around the lake.

The early morning sun was trying to break through the clouds and fog but initially with not a great deal of success. Part of the landscape was shrouded in fog whilst other parts were relatively clear.

The lake had an eerie calm about it as bits of fog and mist hung over the water thus reducing visibility, but even on days like this the lake has a singular beauty about it.

What was also lovely to see was the mass return of the Herons for the breeding season. Many of the birds made numerous sweeps over the island usually carrying twigs and leaves to complete the rebuilding of their nests. Some of the Herons were down by the lakeside and I managed to get within about ten feet of one to take some photographs.

I was hoping that it would take off so that I could get some photographs of it in flight but the damn thing wouldn’t play ball and simply stood erect in the shallow water and reeds. I did try jumping up and down to try to disturb it but is just treated me with the utmost disdain.

Despite the temperature being -1c, it was a glorious morning for a walk followed by a good hot cappuccino and flapjack in the cafe………….ah, the joys of retirement!

Some photographs from today…………………

DSC_0013.jpg

DSC_0041.jpg

DSC_0089.jpg

DSC_0039.jpg

DSC_0088.jpg

DSC_0030.jpg

DSC_0076.jpg

DSC_0059.jpg

DSC_0048.jpg

DSC_0047.jpg

DSC_0145.jpg

DSC_0140.jpg

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2017

Posted in Birds, blue sky, Landscape, Nature / Flowers, Photography, Sculpture, Sculpture Park, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Excellent customer service…….well done J Sainsbury, RAC and Kwik Fit (all in Huddersfield)

Last night I noticed the warning light in my car indicating low tyre pressure, so this morning I drove to Sainsburys petrol station to fill up with air. Unfortunately, the section with the air pump was cordoned off so I went and parked outside the store and went to do some shopping.

JSainsburysplc_Header.jpg

On my return I found that the right back tyre on my car was completely flat, undaunted I searched for my mobile to ring the RAC. It was then I realised that I had left my mobile at home. Off I trudged to customer service in the store and explained my predicament to the lady serving. Without any hesitation she said “use our telephone to ring the RAC” which I duly did. She also took my car details and entered them on the system so if I was delayed for more than a couple of hours I would not get a fine for exceeding a two-hour stay in the car park.

RACLogo.png

The RAC said someone would be with me within an hour (very reasonable time frame I thought) but within twenty minutes the RAC van arrived and the very helpful gentleman removed my wheel and put the emergency wheel on to get me to the nearest “tyre garage.” He was extremely courteous, couldn’t do enough to help and after fifteen minutes the emergency wheel was on and the old wheel in the boot.

main-logo_600x120_blue.png

I set off to drive home and happened to see a Kwik Fit tyre depot on the left hand side of the road, so i swiftly turned in, parked the car and went to find the man in charge. A very helpful gentleman came and had a look at my flat tyre and said “it may be damaged and need replacing, but we will take it off and have a proper look.” A short while later he came to find me and said “we can repair the tyre as it is not damaged in any other place other than where the screw went into it.” (could have easily sold me a new tyre but didn’t and thus saved me about £100.00)

Twenty minutes later, my tyre was repaired, back on the car and they had also tested the tyre pressures of all the wheels. Now that is what I call excellent customer care.

So, to all three companies, a big thank you and in particular those individuals who demonstrated that excellent customer care is alive and well in Huddersfield.

Posted in Cars, Customer Service, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments