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Tag: Politics

While I might have been born and grew up in South Africa, my father was a Belgian immigrant, thanks to which, I have have Belgian citizenship. This is one of the main reasons I could so easily move to the Netherlands last year from South Africa.

Now though, it seems that, if I am reading the political landscape correctly, my Belgian passport might not be valid quite as long as its expiry date.

No, I am not intent on renouncing my nationality or anything of that sort, before you start thinking that that is what I have on my mind. My thoughts have turned to think about what would happen if Belgium were to collapse as a country.

First, as a bit of background to Belgium, the country is a manufactured state created in 1830 to act as a bit of a buffer between the Netherlands and France, and the population comprises of mainly the Dutch-speaking Flemish in the north of the country (Flanders), and the French-speaking Walloons in the south (Wallonia).

Brussels is within Flemish territory, but is officially bilingual, while the rest of the country is rigidly divided between the two languages. The Flemish do not tolerate much French in Flanders, and the Walloons don’t appreciate Dutch in Wallonia.

This is nothing new, and has been a problem as long as Belgium has existed.

What is a problem, however, is that the separatist movement in Belgium is growing steadily, while the antagonism between the French and Flemish is so severe, that the goverment formed after the 2009 elections collapsed in April 2010 after the prime minister resigned.

In June last year elections were held to establish a new government, resulting in no clear majority. This was over 6 months ago now, and the coalition talks have still not been able to put a new parliament together.

The party with the leading support in last years election was the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie), whose main goal is to push for the splitting up of Belgium.

The rising separatism and continuing inability of Belgium to form a stable government are sure signs to me that there is a distinct possibility that a split might actually happen, and not too far in the future either.

Now, if Belgium does split up, Flanders and Wallonia will either become autonomous states, or else be absorbed by the Netherlands and France respectively.

The second option is particularly attractive to me, since I am living in the Netherlands already, I would effectively become a full Dutch citizen then.

The real difficulty is, what would happen to Brussels, with its bilingual status? Will it be absorbed into Flanders, or become an automous state in its own right?

This is a situation that I am keen to watch very closely over the coming months and years.


As a programmer, I am no stranger to projects that have ended up being late and/or over budget. Every programmer can tell you the horror stories. But being R3 billion over budget even blows me away.

I am talking about the new Bus Rapid Transit system that Cape Town is building to help ease traffic congestion, and provide some infrastructure for the Soccer World Cup next year.

The original plan was to have four phases, to be completed by 2020, and costing about R10 billion in total. Phase one, which is due to be completed by mid next year, was forecast to cost R1.4 billion.

Construction has been going on for a while now, severely affecting my route home from work every day, and causing taxi drivers to protest about the extra competition.

Well, recently it turned out that someone had miscalculated the budget, and a scaled down version of phase one would cost R2.35 billion. That is almost double the money for a much smaller project than originally intended. I then heard today that the budget had grown to R4.2 billion!

How on earth does a project like this end up costing 3 times as much as the original estimate resulting in being R3 billion over budget?

And if you want to know how much the extra cost is going to cost an average Capetonian? There are according to Wikipedia, about 3.5 million people living in Cape Town, which means that the extra budget amounts to R850 per PERSON in Cape Town. I think that puts it a little bit more into perspective….

You can read more at News24.


A few days ago, I saw an article which said that the German soccer team were advised by their security firm that when they came to South Africa next year for the Soccer World Cup, they should wear bullet-proof vests when they venture out of their hotel rooms.

The reason for this is that South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and they just trying to be careful. It is overreacting a slight bit, but does give a very interesting view as to how South Africa is viewed on the world stage.

Crime exists everywhere in the world, but South Africa has one of the highest rates of crime. Now, how exactly do South Africans handle this war zone we live in? We just simply carry on with life.

Crime is the number one topic we South African love to complain about (justifiably so), yet life goes on. We may live behind electric fencing and burglar bars, but very few fear walking down the road. We know that there are risks, and we try to minimise them as much as possible – you could say that South Africans are a heck of a lot more street-wise than our overseas counterparts. We don’t show off flashy items such as cellphones or expensive jewelery in risky places, and are always aware of our surroundings.

But has it reached a point where we need bullet-proof vests? I think not. We may be street-wise but we certainly are not petrified of getting gunned down.

I will say I understand the German security firm’s stance, and I certainly think that South African crime is out of control, but I still feel safe enough to walk down the street leaving the body armour to the security guards who patrol our streets.


South Africa has always had strikes this time of year as employers and unions renegotiate employment contracts. However, I am not sure if it is just me, but it seems as if we have had a rather ludicrous strike season this year.

We have had our usual strikes – there was the mineworkers who seem to strike every year, the municipal strike, Metrorail (our train service), the bus strike, prison warden strike, and talk of a tax worker strike, Telkom, the post office is still on strike, the workers contructing our 2010 Soccer World cup projects wanted higher pay, and more that I can’t even remember.

There have been quite a few more unusual ones that has stood out in my mind.

First there was the doctors strike. It was an illegal strike, but doctors have just become fed up with being paid a pittance and expected to work in abysmal conditions. They were demanding up to 50% increases, while government was refusing to budge. Then when they striked, they fired close to 300 of them, only having to rehire them all, as South Africa has a huge shortage of medical staff, due to all our doctors leaving for better pay and conditions in other countries. Out of all the strikes, I actually supported this one.

There was the taxi strike. They were striking because government is implementing better public transport systems like the Bus Rapid Transport system, and they cannot handle a little bit of competition, so they choose to make everyone’s a life more miserable than they already do (you can only understand this when you have had to fight with taxis on the road who are a law unto themselves).

Then, there was an illegal protest by the national defence force. It got so bad that the police force were having running battles with the defence force in from of the Union buildings in Pretoria. I think it is just a little bit scary when a group of trained soldiers start running amok.

Now also the traditional healers are protesting. They are demanding recognition by medical aids and the medical council. Just a brief description of a traditional healer – they claim to have the ability to talk to your ancestors, divine the future, and heal you using ‘muti’, which are essentially herbal remedies, some of which work, and others I am a little doubtful of.

I wonder if the next group to strike will be the politicians saying that their expensive cars are not expensive enough, or Eskom to demand more money to cover their huge losses. Things can’t get any more crazy than they already are!