At last, the anti-apartheid front; Trivial pursuit; Airways, my ways; The Hani affair


At last, the anti-apartheid front

Mandela's invitation to the PAC and DP to join the government has several little noted features. First; it would create a government in which all four anti-apartheid parties were represented - the oddity is that this unity should be created only now. Second, people continued to gossip about a possible Cabinet re-shuffle without realising that this was the re-shuffle - for several ANC ministers will have to go to make room for their PAC and DP counterparts. Third, the Rand and the bond markets took off on the first mention of possible DP participation, for this is regarded as an extremely investor-friendly sign.

This makes a very clear point: if Mandela wants to strengthen the Rand and secure lower interest rates he has only to increase the number of DP ministers. But, conversely, if the Rand and the markets rise 10% on the notion of DP entry, Mandela had best be extremely careful about courting a DP departure once they're in.

Trivial pursuit

The deposing of Stix Morewa as South Africa's national soccer boss is pregnant with significance for civil society in South Africa, for soccer is our true national sport. Sometimes NGO spokesmen talk as if civil society consists solely of NGOs but in fact far larger numbers of people are involved in sporting, religious and cultural bodies - and none more than in soccer.

The continuing plague of corruption and bossism in soccer suggests a worrying inability to achieve the satisfactory self-government of this sport - though to be fair this is hardly a purely South African phenomenon [and not dissimilar problems may lurk in the rugby world too}.

Sports minister, Steve Tshwete, deserves praise for resisting the notion of state control of soccer, an . idea roughly as hazardous as, say, the state management of the taxi Industry, Indeed, Tshwete might do well to ponder the words of the man who played in goal for Algeria in the qualifying rounds of the soccer World Cup and later wrote that 'all that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football'. Quite a statement when one considers that the goalie in question became an existentialist philosopher and won the Nobel Prize for Literature: Albert Camus.

Airways, my ways

President Robert Mugabe's habit of commandeering Air Zimbabwe jets, booting passengers off at will, is well known - in recent months as many as 15 AZ flights a month have been cancelled for this reason. Inevitably, AZ runs at a large loss and it is a matter of time before Zimbabwe's creditors force either the privatisation or closure of the airline. News that AZ has now handed over one of its jets full-time to the president is unlikely to solve the problem.

The cautionary tale here is that of Zambia Airways, where such habits ran riot under Kaunda so that the airline ran at a staggering loss, despite the fact that staff wages were slashed to the bone. When ZA went on strike in 1993 it emerged that its pilots were earning less than RSOO a month, despite the fact that ZA was attempting to compete with major international carriers on routes to London and New York. When President Frederick Chiluba took over in 1991, his transport minister, Andrew Kashita, insisted the airline would continue and appointed his election campaign manager, Peter Kaoma, as ZA's managing director.

'When he arrived he owned nothing,' a senior manager said of Kaoma. 'We had to buy him spectacles and send to London for a briefcase for him - things like that so that he could attend a conference in Namibia.'

Kaoma managed not to attend the actual conference proceedings but spent his $2 000 allowance on the first day and thereafter tried to make other ZA employees surrender their allowances to him. Soon

ZA was paying for his house, furniture, clothing and much else besides. But Kaoma was an embarrassment to ZA. 'He used to serve ministers personally when they were on a Zambia Airways flight/ one official admitted. 'When serving them he always knelt in the aisles. At one time a minister ordered a drink that was not available on the plane and when the plane stopped over in Rome Kaoma personally went out to look for the drink.'

By the time Kaoma finished 90% of seats on flights to New York were occupied by complimentary ticket-holders, with less than 10% paying passengers. But when Kaoma left office he was wealthy enough to retire in comfort to a home in America.

ZA went into liquidation not long after under the pressure of international creditors. If you fly from Lusaka nowadays, you go by a new private airline, Aero Express Zambia. One's nervousness at the somewhat aged state of the aircraft is often dissipated by the realisation that the airline's owner is sitting in the front seats. But standards have slipped: he makes no move to serve one, not even from a standing position.

The Hani affair

The Mail and Guardian revelation of military intelligence documents showing foreknowledge of the Hani assassination by a far wider circle than was first suspected, together with reports of the involvement of 'moderate ANC leaders' in the conspiracy, has ruffled many feathers.

The Hani family have said they believe 'prominent ANC members in government' were involved in the killing, while Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had earlier made similar allegations against 'moderate ANC leaders'. No one doubts who the finger is being pointed at, but scepticism is advisable: much of what Madikizela-Mandela has previously said has turned out to be extremely untrue, after all.

The case seems to rest on the notion that someone well-placed within the ANC was needed to pass exact details about Hani's movements -and those of his bodyguards - to his actual killers, Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Waluz. Fair enough, but there is nothing here to implicate ANC moderates, any more than there is Madikizela-Mandela herself.

What is clear is that the Hani killing was one of those rare assassinations which actually changed history. For Hani had, by the time of his death, built up a major regional base of support in the Eastern Cape to add to the support he enjoyed from MK, from the SACP he headed - and thus from COSATU, whose top leadership all belong to the party - from the country's youth to whom he had a unique charismatic appeal, and to the first place he had won in balloting for the ANC national executive. Altogether this would have made him quite unstoppable as Mandela's heir.

The plan, doubtless, was for a Hani takeover to see the formal fusion of ANC and SACP under the latter's effective control. One only has to ponder Hani's likely response to the abandonment of socialism, the demotion of the RDP and to GEAR to see how very different such a future would have been. Only with Hani's disappearance did more moderate elements have much chance of the succession - which is presumably why, on the old cui bono principle, fingers are being pointed [without supporting evidence] in that direction.

Reaction to the news by the SACP's Jeremy Cronin and by Cheryl Carolus was extremely odd. Given that the Hani murder robbed the Party of its best chance of power, and given his martyred status within the movement, one might have expected them to be eager to grasp the dramatic new information now emerging. Far from it. When Carolus called for a full inquiry what she meant was that she wanted to know 'who leaked the documents and what the motive was', as if they were the baddies rather than those who killed Hani. And even though more will obviously be learnt when the full text of the documents comes to light, when Military Intelligence itself tells us all it knew and when Derby-Lewis and Waluz testify, Ms Carolus was so-confident that she already knew the answers that she made a firm declaration that 'no senior member of the ANC had anything to do with Hani's death'.

The trouble is that the last time Ms Carolus made a similarly emphatic declaration, it was to the effect that the ANC had never, ever received any money from Sol Kerzner. The next day President Mandela made it clear that this was a complete untruth.