JB's blog

Exposed: How Sanral forged documents

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: JB

Source: Rand Daily Mail

AS if the South African National Roads Agency doesn’t have enough to worry about after last week’s tough hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal, it is now also being accused of forging court documents to promote its proposed Wild Coast toll road.

Sanral came under scrutiny in the appeal court last Wednesday when judges considered whether to uphold a high court decision putting under wraps all the road authority’s documents related to another controversial planned toll road, this time on key routes into Cape Town.

Told that Sanral wanted certain documents kept from the public because they could ‘cause alarm’ if made known, the appeal judges called this ‘paternalistic’ and asked whether it was not, rather, to protect the agency’s reputation. One judge commented that the application was ‘unique’ in that it was brought in a court of law, trying to deal with the court of public opinion.

Now Sanral’s reputation is under fire again: key affidavits filed by its CEO Nazir Alli intended to show that the proposed Wild Coast road had strong community support have been denounced as forgeries – one of them rejected as a fake by the very person who purportedly signed the document.

The documents complaining of forgery have now been filed with the high court, and according to lawyers for the community, the agency agreed to their being lodged as long as Sanral could subsequently file its response to the new claims. Sanral’s official reaction so far has been that they are investigating the matter, but no affidavits by the agency, dealing with the forgeries, have yet been lodged in court.

The forgery claims are part of an ongoing legal dispute in which Sanral’s CEO Nazir Alli has challenged the mandate of Cape Town lawyer Cormac Cullinan and his legal firm to represent the Wild Coast community affected by the proposed toll road. Both sides had already filed their final papers for the hearing in the mandate dispute, preparatory to the matter being heard in court. Then Cullinan spotted the alleged forgeries in the supporting affidavits forming a crucial part of Alli’s case.  

The forged documents deal with whether the community has terminated the mandate it gave Cullinan’s firm as alleged by Sanral, and the extent of support by the community for Sanral’s proposed new road.

In September last year a leading member of the community filed affidavits saying the mandate to Cullinan has not been withdrawn. Nomvelwana Mhlengana, assistant to headwoman Baleni and an elected council member of the Umgungundlovu Tribal Council and the Amadiba Traditional Authority, also says that she and her community are very strongly opposed to the planned toll road.

It was when Sanral filed its reply to these documents that Cullinan noticed one of Sanral’s supporting affidavits had purportedly been signed by this same Mhlengana, just two months after she had expressed a contrary view. In the new documents she allegedly said Cullinan does not represent the community and that she backs the new road.

Lawyers believed there was a difference between the authentic signature and the forgery in Sanral’s affidavit and they hired an expert to examine them. No final answer could be given however as the original ‘forged signature’ was contained in affidavits that had been removed from the court files. Despite exhaustive searches by lawyers and court staff, the original has not been found. That means the expert was only able to examine copies of the forgery.

There was another problem with Sanral’s documents: they were signed on 11 November 2014 but the police date stamp reflects the next day. This must mean that they were not signed in the presence of the person who stamped the documents as required by law. Nor were they signed by the person identified as the commissioner of oaths.

Mhlengana has denied knowing anything about Sanral’s affidavit bearing her signature: she didn’t sign it and she didn’t go to the Mzamba police station on either date reflected on the document.

Apart from this forged signature, several other affidavits attached to the replying papers of Sanral’s Alli also appear to be forgeries: Mhlengana says she has never heard of the three people who signed the affidavits in support of Sanral and the road, and she questions whether they even exist.

At a meeting of the local community attended by about 80 people, the names were discussed and no one had heard of the three. In particular they agreed the three were not part of the Sigidi community as stated in the affidavits.

Cullinan has asked Sanral to put up evidence before court showing that these three people exist, that they were part of the Sigidi community as alleged in the documents, and that they signed the affidavits.

Cullinan said in his affidavit there was good reason to believe that Sanral – or people working on its behalf – had ‘forged the affidavits to manufacture evidence to support Sanral’s allegations’ that his firm did not have a mandate from the local community to fight the planned road. These efforts followed failed attempts by Sanral to get the affected communities to withdraw the court challenge they are bringing against the road.

Cullinan added that Alli, in his founding affidavit, had made serious allegations of professional impropriety against Cullinan and his firm, questioning whether he was telling the truth about his mandate to represent the Wild Coast communities.

“We answered by providing overwhelming evidence of the widespread support among members of the … community” for the court challenge to the road decision and for the mandate to Cullinan’s firm. “In reply Sanral introduces four forged ‘affidavits’ in a blatant attempt to mislead the court.”

Among the affidavits submitted by Cullinan in support of the forgery allegations is one by Mhlengana who says she did not sign the affidavit filed by Alli and that she was “very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit” in her name which makes it seem she has committed perjury since it directly contracts her earlier affidavit two months ago, expressing opposition to the proposed road.


Xolobeni I&AP Registration (again)

  • Posted on: 23 March 2015
  • By: JB


In order to ensure that you are identified as an interested and/or affected party (I&AP) please submit your name, contact information, interest in the matter and comments to the EAP before 17:00 on 18 April 2015.

All communication must be directed to the EAP below.


PB Professional Services

PO Box 1058



Cell: 082 776 3422

Fax: 0866721916

Email: Xolobeni+6009@key360.co.za

Or directly from the website


17 March 2015 DMR Application Ref: EC10025MR

To: Owner and tenant



Transworld Energy and Minerals Resources (SA) (Pty) Limited (TEM) has applied for mining rights for the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project in the Xolobeni Region of the Eastern Cape. As part of an application for a Mining Right in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002), and the 2014 NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, TEM is seeking Environmental Authorisation, Waste Management License (WML), Air Emissions License (AEL) and Integrated Water Use License (IWULA). A Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment Process (S&EIA) is being undertaken. The applications for WML, AEL and IWULA will be submitted shortly.

Situated in the Eastern Cape Province; approximately 250 km south west of Durban and approximately 60 km south east of Mbizana and 30 km southwest of Port Edward, the proposed development will involve the mining and processing of various heavy minerals for export. In addition to the mine infrastructure, the proposed mine development will also require supporting infrastructure such as internal roads, power lines, and water abstraction and distribution infrastructure.

Pieter Badenhorst Professional Services has been appointed as the independent environmental practitioner (EAP) responsible for the applications for an Environmental Authorisation, WML, AEL and IWULA.

Your name was received from a previous public participation process. Please note that this does NOT qualify as registering as an I&AP for this application. If you would wish to register as an I&AP for this current project, please submit your name, postal address, email address as well as preferred method of communication and interest in the manner to the EAP. In the future, communications will only be distributed to the registered I&APs.

The Scoping Report for the EIA is available for public review and comment from 18 March 2015 to 18 April 2015. The document is available from the following website: pbpscon.co.za as well as from the following public places:

Public Place and venues

Port Edward Library

East London Library

Mthatha Public Library

Bizana Library

Naledi High School, Xolobeni Tribal Area

Xolobeni Pre-school, Amadiba Area (Also venue for meeting 8:00 to 11:00 on 8 April 2015)

Mgungundlovu sub-tribal authority (Amadiba area); (Also venue for meeting 13:00 to 16:00 on 8 April 2015).

Mthayise Junior Secondary School

Amadiba area: (Also venue for meeting 8:00 to 11:00 on 9 April 2015)

Amadiba Tribal Authority; (Also venue for meeting 13:00 to 16:00 on 9 April 2015)

Bizana Youth Centre (in Bizana Town; (Also venue for meeting 10:00 to 13:00 on 10 April 2015)


The following listed activities are included as part of the application:

Reg 983 Listing Notice 1:

9, 10, 11 , 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 45, 46, 48, 50, 56

Reg 984 Listing Notice 2:

6, 15, 16,17, 19, 21, 28

Reg 985 Listing Notice 3:

2, 4, 10, 12 18


All communication must be directed to the EAP below.


PB Professional Services

PO Box 1058



Cell: 082 776 3422

Fax: 0866721916

Email: Xolobeni+6009@key360.co.za

Or directly from the website


In order to ensure that you are identified as an interested and/or affected party (I&AP) please submit your name, contact information, interest in the matter and comments to the EAP before 17:00 on 18 April 2015. 

Sparks fly over N2 toll road project

  • Posted on: 21 March 2015
  • By: JB

March 19 2015 at 09:42am 
By Tony Carnie and Anél Lewis

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/motoring/industry-news/sparks-fly-over-n2-toll-road-project-1.1834207

IOL mot pic mar19 Wild Coast Toll Road 1INLSanral has been accused of faking support for the toll road it wants to carve across the Pondoland coast, including the Mtentu Gorge, shown here, which will require a huge bridge. Picture: John Yeld

Pretoria - The South African National Roads Agency has been accused of forging documents to mislead the Pretoria High Court and bolster support for the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road.

This emerged late on Wednesday when Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona admitted the agency was “investigating the circumstances around fraud allegations relating to statements that Sanral submitted in court”.

To complicate matters, attorneys said the original of an allegedly forged signature appeared to have been “uplifted from the court file by unknown persons” and could not be examined by handwriting experts.

Several community groups from the Pondoland Wild Coast are seeking to set aside the government's 2010 decision to authorise construction of a toll road between Durban and East London.

Sanral had filed a number of affidavits from Wild Coast residents expressing support for the toll road - even though at least one of them, Nomvelwana Mhlengana, a council member of the Amadiba Traditional Authority and assistant to headwoman Cynthia Baleni, had been a vocal opponent of the toll plan.


In this affidavit - apparently signed on 11 November 2014 and stamped the following day at the Mzamba police station - Mhlengana purportedly gives her signed support for the proposed toll road and states that she did not authorise Cape Town environmental law firm Cullinan and Associates to bring a court application to overturn the toll road authorisation.

Three more affidavits, each with the same format and bearing the letterhead of the Mbizana Local Municipality, were purportedly signed by three other residents - but now Mhlengana says she never signed the affidavit of support and only became aware of its existence after Sanral presented it to the court.

“I deny all the allegations made in the affidavit and do not support the N2 Wild Coast project,” she said. “I am known as an outspoken opponent of the proposed toll road, and I am very angry that Sanral has filed a forged affidavit in my name that directly contradicts my previous affidavit.”

She also believes the other three affidavits of support, purportedly signed by Msulwa Ndovela, Mfihlewa Mdatya and Gotyelwa Mathumbu, were also forgeries. She said had never heard of these three people, who were said to be members of her community.

“Sanral representatives knew that members of the Sigidi community would not sign their affidavits,” she said, “so they prepared forged affidavits with the assistance of members of the SA Police Services.”


Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman Wayne Duvenage said: “Having studied copies of the various affidavits in the court record, it would appear that Sanral has fabricated evidence to back up its assertion that the Amadiba coastal community were supportive of the N2 Wild Coast toll road scheme.”

In an earlier affidavit from Alli, Sanral claimed that Cullinan and Associates director Cormac Cullinan did not have authority to act for those opposed to the toll road.

Cullinan said in a responding affidavit he had provided overwhelming evidence that communities supported the court challenge on the toll road and noted that Sanral had “virtually unlimited access to funds (from the public purse) whereas) the clients we represent have very limited financial resources”.

“This application by Sanral, supported as it is with forged affidavits, is a cynical attempt to deny these communities their constitutional rights.”


Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town is cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court of Appeal will uphold its appeal to make crucial information about the controversial Winelands toll project public.

Brett Herron, Cape Town mayoral committee member for transport, said in Bloemfontein on Wednesday legal counsel for the city and the 11 organisations standing as friends of the court, had made “compelling arguments” in favour of lifting the veil of secrecy that Sanral has imposed on its toll project for the N1 and the N2.

“Sanral wants to keep taxpayers in the dark about the cost of the tolling project,” he said, “by preventing the city from disclosing the information that is contained in its bid record.”

Herron said the information was of “great public importance” as it referred to toll fees and compared these with what Gauteng motorists were paying for their toll scheme.

The city's review application for Sanral's decision to declare the N1 and N2 as toll roads, and for the project to be scrapped, has been set down for 11 August in the Western Cape High Court.

The Mercury, Cape Argus


  • Posted on: 18 March 2015
  • By: JB

Source: http://ewn.co.za/2015/03/18/OPINION-Scandalicious-Sanral

Alex Eliseev. Picture: supplied.

Alex Eliseev looks at yet another scandal which has fallen at the doorsteps of Sanral.

Roads agency Sanral has been hit by another scandal, this time involving fraud allegations relating to a statement submitted in court by its head Nazir Alli. 

It’s a bizarre tale – a pile-up on the highway of logic – that, sadly, few South Africans will be surprised by.
While the headline act in the Sanral saga has been Gauteng’s multibillion rand e-tolling project, another legal battle has been brewing in the Eastern Cape. The controversial N2 Wild Coast toll route proposed by Sanral has seen a community try desperately to stop the construction of a highway between Durban and East London. 

This rather stereotypical David and Goliath fight over the rural communities affected and the potential damage to the environment has been going on for years, with few city slickers in Johannesburg or Cape Town paying much attention. 

But the latest round of court papers exchanged between Sanral and the attorneys representing some of the tribal authorities has ignited a rather unsavoury scandal.

A replying affidavit signed by Alli at the end of November 2014 sets out to prove that communities along the new highway route are behind the project and that the attorney who claims to represent some of the residents has no mandate to wage war on their behalf. 

The attorney is Cormac Cullinan who, naturally, disagrees and argues that he does in fact have the required mandate. 

The trouble, however, lies in the six supporting affidavits that Alli relies on in his statement. These deal with meetings held with communities (because every Sanral scandal is, really, about public consultation) and purport to show that there is widespread buy-in.  

One of these supporting affidavits is by a community leader named Nomvelwana Mhlengana, who seems to have been completely surprised to find her name being used as ammunition by Sanral. Why? Because she’s a rather well-known opponent of the Wild Coast highway who has even appeared in a calendar published to create awareness about the cause. 

Her affidavit, which is printed on a Mbizana Local Municipality letterhead, states things like: “I support the proposed N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway Project” and “I do not support the review application (the court action to stop the highway)”. The statement is signed on 11 November 2014 and, strangely, commissioned at a local police station the following day. 

In a subsequent affidavit, at the end of January 2015, Mhlengana sets the record straight. 

“I did not depose to the affidavit… I deny all the allegations made… I do not support the N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway Project.” 

She continues: “The signature purporting to be my signature is similar to my signature but is a forgery.”

Mhlengana says she is angry that “Sanral has filed a forged affidavit in my name which makes it look like I committed perjury… Since I did not go to the Mzamba Police Station on either 11 or 12 November I do not understand how anyone at the police station could have stamped an affidavit that bore my name.” 

Further concern is raised that at least three other supporting affidavits could be fakes and that some of the people they claim to be signed by don’t actually exist.

By the end of last month, Cullinan and his team had compiled all the relevant legal papers to bring the alleged forgery to the court’s attention. 

Cullinan says they were shocked to discover the affidavits. 

“The communities in questions are against the toll road and when Sanral tries to make a case that the opposite is true it can’t find evidence to that and hence appears to have resorted to forging affidavits,” he claims.

“This kind of behaviour undermines our system of justice in South Africa and shouldn’t be allowed… and it’s particularly disturbing when it’s a major public institution involved in this.” 

Sanral has confirmed that Alli is personally aware of the allegations relating to his affidavit and has asked their lawyers to get to the bottom of what happened.

“We are aware of the fraud allegations that have been made in court proceedings,” says spokesman Vusi Mona. 

“Sanral views all allegations of fraud in a very serious light. Our lawyers are in the process of investigating these allegations and preparing a response which will be filed in due course as part of these court proceedings.”

Social worker and member of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, John Clarke, has been involved in the Wild Coast battle and says he has now written to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters to flag what has happened. He says he hopes Sanral will do more than just investigate.

“Will they see what is plainly before them and immediately report the matter to the Hawks to ensure whoever is responsible is prosecuted? … Mr Alli needs to prepare himself for some extremely tough questioning from Minister Peters, as well as the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport, who have also been alerted to the matter.”   

While Sanral claims the new highway will empower the communities along the route (jobs, access to nearby areas, less travel time, etc) those opposed to it believe it will damage the environment, split up villages and may even pave the way to some unwelcome mining in the region. 

There is no date yet for when this case will be heard in court, but Cullinan believes it will be later this year. There is also no indication when Sanral will give its full reply as to how the supporting affidavits came to be and who is responsible for their existence. 

At the same time, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein is today expected to hear arguments in a case concerning Sanral’s proposed Winelands Route in the Western Cape. 

The dispute at this stage is around how much information about the tolled highway Sanral is making public. As was the case with Gauteng’s e-tolls, Sanral stands accused of trying to deny South Africans an opportunity to interrogate the project before it’s signed and sealed. 

As for what’s happening with the e-tolling network in and around Johannesburg, the province awaits word from Deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, which is expected soon. 

The fraud allegations to emerge in the Wild Coast project should shock not only the attorney involved and the woman whose signature seems to have been forged – but an entire nation. 

It should lead to a criminal investigation and prosecutions. 

Alli should be on the front lines of trying to get answers. You’ll want to watch closely how Sanral explains this one.    

Alex Eliseev is an Eyewitness News reporter and the author of an upcoming book about a 13-year-old cold case titled Cold Case Confession. Follow him on Twitter at @alexeliseev




Sanral that is breaking the law

  • Posted on: 5 February 2015
  • By: JB


“WE ARE not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Executed by Nazi regime. 1945

Sanral board member Peter Derman argues that “Not to pay e-tolls is simply breaking the law”, and refers to various court judgements which Sanral claim as sufficient vindication of the lawfulness of e-tolling. 

No, it is Sanral’s failure to meaningfully consult that is not simply breaking the law, but has in consequence created a serious crisis of legitimacy. Worse still, the GFIP cost many billions more than it should have because of Sanral’s failure to prevent tender collusion and price fixing by construction cartels. That has left an odious debt and economic crime that present and future generations cannot by any standard of justice, be expected to carry. If not vigorously prosecuted that alone renders the boycott of e-tolls a laudable act of responsible citizenship.

Two stories, and another High Court judgement further illustrate why Peter Derman is skating on thin ice in claiming the constitutional and moral high ground for Sanral.

Story One

Pasika Nontshiza is a community land rights activist from the Eastern Cape. For more than a decade he has been working to ensure the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are at the forefront of development decisions that affect them and thus helps them to become ever more the protagonists of their own development.  More than a decade ago Sanral CEO Nazir Alli was on the campaign trail to sell the controversial N2 Wild Coast Toll Road, on behalf a consortium of construction companies who had supposedly lodged an unsolicited proposal to build a short cut for the N2. A “consultative meeting” had been scheduled at the Wild Coast Sun resort. Pasika fetched as many local residents from the scattered rural homesteads as he could fit into his bakkie to drive them to the meeting.

“The attitude Nazir Alli showed to people who had come to represent their views, as well as those of the late King Justice Mpondombini Sigcau was disgusting” Nontshiza recalls. “The villagers were a far cry and worlds apart from those who had invited Nazir Alli. The supporters of the tolling were well dressed in the latest designer clothes as they had acquired a new status of being a Wild Coast consortium whereas the owners of the land and people supposed to benefit from the road showed signs of fatigue, thirst and hunger but they were armed only with one thing: ‘prevent looting of our ancestral land’.”

When the villagers rose to question what benefit the toll road would bring to them, “feathers were ruffled” for it was quite clear that it would benefit an Australian mining company which was working below the radar to prospect for heavy minerals in the coastal dunes.  Without the road the minerals could never be mined and trucked our to global commodity markets.

“Journalist were also questioning why was the King of amaMpondo not invited, or at least to send a representative” says Nontshiza.

Nazir Alli labelled Pasika Nontshiza as a “white apologist who cared nothing for the poor”!

After the meeting Pasika then had to drive the residents’ home over bad gravel roads to their remote homesteads (without a white man within 20 miles). As they neared the Nyameni River at midnight his passengers urged him to switch off his headlights to avoid attracting attention of the thugs and bullies (well known for their intimidation and fear tactics) sponsored by the mining company whose homes were nearby. Pasika managed with little more than moonlight to light his way to get through the danger zone.

When Pasika shared that experience with me years later, it occurred to me that the crossing of the Nyameni River (the "dark river" in Xhosa) was the crossing of a symbolic threshold of the start of a growing protest against Sanral manipulative and unconstitutional methods. “Little did Nazir Alli knew, consciously or unconsciously that he was sowing the seeds of a revolution, to regain the most valuable asset on earth: The right to be heard.” 

The protest has now mushroomed to millions of people from Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape who are claiming their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, access to information, dignity and administrative justice. As Cormac Cullinan, the attorney now representing the Wild Coast villagers and the City of Cape Town over the Cape Winelands project says, “one of the fundamental methods which our Constitutional democracy uses to ensure that laws are perceived to be legitimate is by enshrining the requirements for just administrative action (and access to information) which includes providing an opportunity for the public to participate in decision-making processes by commenting on proposed measures.  This means that adequate public consultation is one of the building blocks on which legitimacy rests.”

Sanral is a public body that is required to act in the public interest and to play its part, “ to provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government “ (Constitution section 41(1))c)) and to  comply with the basic values and principles governing public administration (Constitution, section 195(1)) which include transparency and accountability.

“Sanrals’s persistent failure (in Gauteng, Cape Town and Wild Coast) to act transparently and provide information on likely tolls etc, has not enabled meaningful and effective public participation” Cullinan says. “Sanral’s stubborn refusal to modify its projects in response to public reaction has generated a crisis of legitimacy.”  

Judgment One

“Consultation must be more than mere opportunity that the executive gives to the consulted to make effective representations… the right to be consulted is valuable … giving those who have the right to be consulted an opportunity to be heard… at a formative stage of proposals before the mind of the executive becomes fixed [pages 22-23].”  

This excerpt is from a criminal judgement handed down in June 2006, by the Deputy Judge President of the South Gauteng High Court, Judge Phineas Mojapelo that found Sanral to have failed badly in its obligation to consult with local residents affected by the tolling concession awarded to the Trans Africa Consortium for the N4 Maputo Development Corridor Toll Road. Believing that his rights had been violated a local farmer Mr Nicolaas Smit had pleaded not guilty to criminal charges on sixteen counts for refusing to pay toll at the Nkomati Toll Plaza. He was found not guilty because the toll road in question had not been lawfully declared as such for want of a proper public consultation process that gave expression to the Bill of Rights.

Judge Mojapelo’s judgment offered some very cogent lessons for the learning.  He devoted nine of the 82 page judgment to provide legal content and definition to the term “consultation” and, based on the definition, another 35 pages to assessing and evaluating the evidence, before concluding that consultation had not in fact taken place as required by law. 

The judgment included a telling reference to Mr Alli’s conduct and attitude in a public meeting in Middelburg which ended acrimoniously. Mr Alli had been questioned whether decisions about the positioning of plaza’s had been finally determined and if not, whether opportunities to make representations existed. Judge Mojapelo notes “Mr Alli gave a somewhat long response which eventually came down to this:  “No, you cannot talk to us any further, the positions are cast in stone.”  A group of sixteen people walked out in disgust at his “intransigent attitude” and subsequently issued a media release condemning the “lack of transparency in dealing with this matter” saying that it was “totally meaningless to invite the public to a consultative meeting” if decisions had already been made [page 42 -44].

A helpful judgment is one which wisely and appropriately blends justice and mercy. Justice is served by good law and mercy by a carefully worded text that serves as a resource to help the loser learn from the experience, develop insight and come to an acceptance of the need to change their unlawful ways. Mr Alli showed no learning whatsoever from the experience.

The judgement came some months before Sanral commenced a “consultation process” leading to the declaration of the Gauteng freeways as toll roads.  Had Sanral learned the lessons offered by that judgment, they would not be in the very serious financial crisis over e-tolls that now prevails.     

Story 2

On Friday June 13 2014, Nonhle Mbuthuma, who was just out of high school when her elders were bouncing along in Pasika’s bakkie in the dark night after Nazir Alli’s shocking contempt for them and their King, found herself admitted to another “consultation meeting” about the N2 Wild Coast Toll road, also held at the Wild Coast Sun.  Nazir Alli appeared to making good his failure to consult with the Mpondo Royal Family ten years before.  Except he was consulting with the wrong "king". He and Vusi Mona were meeting with Zanuzuko Sigcau, a government-sponsored claimant to the Mpondo Kingship. Alli, with Royal honorifics and salutations, informed him and his followers that construction of the N2 Wild Coast shortcut was soon to commence, (even though two court cases have yet to be heard against it) and that Sanral would soon be arranging helicopter flights for "His Majesty" and his subject chiefs to see where Sanral planned to span the gorges.

This was not only disrespectful to the judicial review process, but in blatant contempt of the Constitutional Court judgment handed down in June 2013 that had set aside President Zuma's illegal certification of Zanuzuko as king of AmaMpondo. Mr Alli made promises that he had absolutely no legal authority to make. 

The Challenge

The Sanral board of directors have strict fiduciary duties to ensure scrupulous ethical conduct and prudent risk management.

In his presentation to the E-Toll Advisory Panel Peter Derman acknowledged that no social impact assessment had been done for the GFIP but said that based on his previous experience as a social scientist that, he “would hazard a guess” that the GFIP would benefit the poor in the long term. The Advisory Panel has now established that e-tolling is decidedly not pro-poor and in fact reinforces apartheid spatial inequalities. 

As a social scientist myself, who is also bound by professional code of practice as a social worker which obliges me to challenge social and economic injustice, I need more than guess work to convince me of the legality and legitimacy of e-tolling. Peter Derman fears an "uprising". What we really need is an ‘upwising’ within the Sanral board, the Ministry of Transport and the current National Executive.

I will not pay any fines for not paying my e-toll bill and I do not relish the thought of imprisonment. But until the Sanral board of directors acts decisively to regain public trust, vigorously proceed with prosecutions against the colluding construction industry to recover the over-charging, and shows due respect for Mpondo customary law and traditions, my Christian conscience and social work ethical code obliges me to refuse to pay my e-toll bills.

“Blaming the public for failing to comply with the law misses the more important point that this outbreak of lawlessness is a response to the prior failure by Sanral to act in accordance with the Constitution” advises my attorney Cormac Cullinan. “Whether or not tolling roads is a good policy, or whether the GFIP tolls are fair, or whether e-tolling is an effective collection method, the process which lead to the e-tolls being implemented is perceive to have been unfair and insufficiently sensitive to the impact on the public. In consequence the laws are being resisted. Refusing to comply with laws that are perceived to be unjust is an essential democratic safeguard.”

He concludes “Unless public institutions respect the spirit (and letter) of the Constitution and facilitate the emergence of a more participatory democracy they are likely to continue to face such resistance.”


Jacob and Van joke

  • Posted on: 29 January 2015
  • By: JB

Van Riebeeck and load shedding:

Yeah, I'm sure it's just my conspiracy theory paranoia - but there are well established precedents of the ANC destabilising areas intentionally without regard to the cost. So it might surprise me if JZ's comment wasn't a backhand reference to their beloved Western Cape. 

Here's what's interesting:

Extrapolating from this 2009 grid diagram:


Coal Powered = 37978MW

Nuclear = 1931MW
Hydro = 2000MW
Gas Turbines = 2409MW
Wind & renewable = 1000MW (estimated)



There is a supposed 1000MW to 4000MW production shortage with 25% of Eskom power capacity offline. (How does that even compute, when we have a capacity in excess of 45,000MW? I.e. 25% = 11,250MW shortage.)

The Western Cape produces > 4000MW through gas turbine, renewables, and nuclear (probably excluding the new wind turbines).

Yet Eskom seemingly cuts off Cape Town to supply Gauteng & Mpumalanga (where over 90% of electricity production comes from), but barring predominantly white suburbs like Craig*.* and farmers.
~http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2015/01/28/eskom-confirms-load-shedding-ended-at-2pm (comments)

 "Stage one allows for up to 1,000MW of the national load to be cut, stage two for up to 2,000MW, and stage three for up to 4,000MW." ~http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2015/01/27/power-cuts-pushed-to-stage-two

The rural Transkei region of the Eastern Cape has been recently electrified with a 400kV line according to this 2012 diagram, and direct experience:

Yet they don't reduce the load from here?

» 400kV is roughly 523MW (if a 765kV line delivering 1000MW = 765 * 1.307189543). More than half the Stage 1 reduction target.

And we should know, since we're right near the end of the line they ran from Bizana/Port Edward. And we haven't had a load shed (rolling blackout) yet.

Who's fooling who? Koeberg alone supplies the 2000MW 'Stage 2" shortfall. And the WC produces far more than the 4000MW shortfall.

EXCEPT despite roughly 30% lower diesel prices, "The diesel reserves have been depleted at Mossel Bay’s Gourikwa and Atlantis’s Ankerlig gas turbines, leading to their shutdown." ~http://www.iol.co.za/ios/news/eskom-blackouts-hurt-durban-1.1791703#.VMh2mnKUe00

A diesel shortage with the lowest prices in roughly 4 years? Now that's a no-brainer!

(Apologies to cars.co.za for the poorly edited graphic.)

To summarise:

Perhaps another way of putting it is 'whites off'.

In rural Transkei, right towards the end of the new 400kV line, and where the govt finished providing thousands of rural households with free basic electricity (FBE) shortly before elections, there hasn't been a 'blackout' yet.

Koeberg alone can provide enough electricity to supply the Stage 2 requirement of 2000MW, yet SA's tourism hub has had at least 5 rolling blackouts in the past 2 weeks to keep the more economically challenged areas alight.

And keeping Mossel Bay and Atlantis gas turbines offline because of a diesel shortage, with diesel the cheapest in 4 years, is beyond insane.

But it's not possible there is a political agenda of destabilisation, when one should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Hallo Tina.

UPDATE 30 January:
Last time oil was down at these prices in 2009, the price of diesel was around below R7.00.


Australia based MRC controls Tormin: Disregards Environmental Protection Regulations

  • Posted on: 24 November 2014
  • By: JB

Australia based MRC controls Tormin:  Disregards Environmental Protection Regulations

Quote: "For locals it was another instance of Tormin's disregard for the environmental protection conditions required by its licence."

Xolobeni and N2 toll road disaster will follow if their application is granted to strip mine the Wild Coast's titanium deposits at  Xolobeni.

Coastal residents fear mining impact

Ann Crotty | 22 November, 2014 20:12

What happens at Tormin is being watched closely not just by people in the area but also by a community thousands of kilometres away on the other side of South Africa. Australian-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC), the muscle behind Tormin, has plans to mine titanium from the sand at Xolobeni, a pristine area south of Port Edward on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.


The Department of Mineral Resources confirmed it had received a new application for a prospecting right at Xolobeni and said the application was under adjudication.

On the West Coast, Tormin has ambitions to expand mining for zircon, garnet, rutile and ilmenite - used in ceramics, paint, paper and plastic. But, if the allegations are correct, it could be that, without more effective monitoring, economic benefits will be overwhelmed by damage to the environment, including the roads.

In Vredendal, locals say they are not against mining but their concerns include damage being done to the roads by the trucks that ferry the zircon from Tormin's plant to Cape Town and garnet and ilmenite to Saldanha. "We have a huge problem with the trucks. The roads are not designed for this, but when we mention that, [Gary] Thompson [the Australian GM] says it's not his responsibility, it's the responsibility of the trucking company," said a resident after a public meeting to discuss a proposal to double the size of the plant.

Tormin is required by the National Nuclear Regulator to exercise considerable care when handling and transporting the low-level radioactive material produced from mining the sands. There are indications that these regulations are being contravened. The regulator and the Department of Environmental Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.

On the other side of the country, Nonhle Mbuthuma of the Amadiba Crisis Committee said disturbing reports from the West Coast confirm their determination to prevent MRC from mining the Xolobeni sands.

"Their plans would destroy a stretch of the South African coast that is uniquely beautiful. It could be harnessed to support a valuable ecotourism industry that would provide livelihoods for generations to come."

She explained that the mining activity would destroy surrounding farms and homesteads, and transporting the material to a harbour would cause huge damage.

Xolobeni is regarded as a valuable source of titanium, with production expected to reach 65000 tons a month if MRC is given the go-ahead.

"We fear there could be as many as 60 trucks a day travelling from the mine through an area that has no tarred roads and has lots of children going to and from school, and livestock roaming free. Mining will destroy this area and the lives of everyone in it," said Mbuthuma.

She suspects that the South African National Roads Agency Limited's determination to build the N2 highway so that it passes just a few kilometres from the Xolobeni site reflects a desire to accommodate the miners. At Vredendal, Tormin is providing employment to about 140 people. However, most management jobs are held by Australians and, in a move that has caused consternation among locals, a large number of staff have been brought in from the Eastern Cape.

The prominence of Australians in the top ranks reflects MRC's control of Tormin. That dominance has become more evident since South African Andrew Lashbrooke resigned as CEO of MRC's local operator, MSR, in September. Several other South African managers left after Lashbrooke. Most were replaced by Australians.

Lashbrooke's involvement was tied to the belief that his company, Blastrite, had rights to the garnet that was a by-product of zircon production and is used in sand-blasting. In exchange for these rights, Lashbrooke managed Tormin and undertook to assist MRC in securing the Xolobeni mining rights. To this end, Lashbrooke introduced MRC's executive chairman, Mark Caruso, to the Eastern Cape-based black economic empowerment company Blue Bantry/Xolco.

In July, MRC told its shareholders that it had entered into a three-year garnet offtake agreement with GMA Garnet Group of Australia. People with knowledge of Tormin say Blastrite did not have sufficient capacity to take up all the garnet produced by Tormin. This resulted in stockpiling of the low-grade radioactive material and in some instances in it being dumped back into the sea. For locals it was another instance of Tormin's disregard for the environmental protection conditions required by its licence.



  • Posted on: 7 November 2014
  • By: JB
It's kind of weird that when I post the most arbitrary personal shit: like a sprain injury - I get hundreds of hits a day. (780 in 2 days, and counting.) When I post something I'm actually interested in, and try to draw a subtle correlation; like the noctilucent clouds that accompanied SpaceX 9 Falcon's launch (at the same time, more or less, as the X-Class solar flare and earth projected CME occurred) .... in just on 2 months that got 105 hits. (Weird, because the reported cause and correlation just make no sense.) No matter. I'm more than happy to get the weird, arb hits. And I've got something (a lot of things, actually) on my mind. I quit facebook recently. Like I quit the hivemind after 10 or so years. It's just a waste of time and effort arguing SA land tenure - or American foreign policy - with people that just won't change their minds. And facebook is a flowing stream, like twitter... and the arguments, for better or worse, are just water under the bridge. I make no claims to any intellect or great knowledge. I know what I know. And I'm prepared to debate - to great extent - on the issues as I see them. But just to lose that effort in a flowing stream is such a frustrating waste of time. Truth is, there are only 2 people I miss from facebook. One is a social lawyer who was heavily involved in the Xolobeni case. And other matters of social justice. And the other just a photographer/writer who is the most astute commentator on AFP, Syria, Ukraine, etc. Anyway. My life here is brief and beautiful. It's a privilege to live where I do. I lost my best friend (my wife) in March 2006. I went mad. You won't believe what it cost me, but I gained a new best friend in December that year. Chris. Short for Crystal.... Haha. My niece Paula named him. My mother acquired him, for some reason, after she was diagnosed with cancer in mid 2000. The oncologists were saying "18 months or so".... 'Frosty' - our family GP told me one day... "No more than 6 months." He was right. She passed away on the 19'th of December 2000. 2 years exactly to the day after Gran died. Funny thing (coincidence? I don't really believe in coincidences) .... they were born on the same day, too. 26'th November. Anyway. Chris, who's name for some reason became 'Fish' to me - became my constant companion and best friend. When he lost an eye, he became 'Fsh'. There are some pics of him on the site. More to follow if/when I get the inclination. We only had about 7 years together. And man, I miss him so much. Balls of fucking titanium! (But that's another story) Such integrity and honesty. And LIFE! He took me for walks every day. Never a lapdog, or pet. I miss him so much.

Sprain pain

  • Posted on: 4 November 2014
  • By: JB
The pain... is like a canker eating my leg from the foot up. It'll pass. I know it will in a month or 3. Or 4. 6 weeks now. And Christ Almighty it's completely debilitating. Some people can handle pain. I think I even have a high threshold. But continual, continuous, pain... even say, half a migraine's worth... And MONTHS of virtual stagnation. Is eating my soul. TOMORROW I start with upper body exercises. Situps, crunches, curls, .... whatever. This is not going to break the foundation I laid with such effort. And you get to know who your true friends are when you really need help. Me == 0

Kamnandi pics

  • Posted on: 18 August 2014
  • By: JB

3 Bedroom Cottage (AKA "Mike's Place")

1 shower, 2 x WC

Kamnandi Rondavel & Bungalow (AKA "The Whitehouse")

2 Bedrooms, 2 en-suite bathrooms (6 sleeper)


(4 sleeper en-suite bungalow with fridge & kettle)


Shabangu in mining furore over Xolobeni rights

  • Posted on: 12 August 2014
  • By: JB

Posted on 11 August 2014. Tags: 

Former Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu.

Former Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu.

Australian miner Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources will be granted a licence to mine at South Africa’s West Coast after first having its licence revoked at Xolobeni three years ago.

The company, which is part of ASX-listed Mineral Commodities (MRC), will be granted a licence to mine at the site ‘within days’, reports The Sunday Times.

Shabangu about-turn

In 2011, then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told MRC that its mining right at Xolobeni had been revoked, and the self-same Shabangu, now the Minister of Women in the Presidency, announced the decision to allow Transworld to mine at Xolobeni.

Shabangu delivered news of the mining rights granted at Xolobeni when she addressed about 50 ANC councillors in the Alfred Nzo district of the Eastern Cape last week.

She said a new licence would be issued within days and that the people who had previously opposed the planned mine now supported it.

Social transformation

MRC said that the Xolobeni project would be ‘catalyst for social transformation of one of South Africa’s poorest communities’.

An elder in the community, Bhalasheni Mthwa, is quoted by the Sunday Times as saying, the development was welcome, but not if it means that land was destroyed in the process.

In August 2012, a group from the Xolobeni community called the Amadiba Crisis Committee filed an objection to a prospecting rights application by Transworld, which is part of MRC.

World-class asset

MRC said on its website that the area had a capacity to be a ‘world-class ilmenite asset’.

Transworld’s mining right application in 2007 was for the Xolobeni block that comprises 30% of the total area.

The licence was to mine sands containing some 139 million tonnes of titanium-bearing minerals, including ilmenite, zircon, leucoxene, and rutile.

Ilmenite is mined for titanium dioxide, a white powder used as a base pigment for paint, paper and plastics.


No more windmills: Wind catchers use Venturi technique to generate power

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB


Feb 23, 2013  | Machine Design

Many inventors have questioned the logic of harnessing wind power by situating heavy gearboxes, generators, and rotor blades hundreds of feet in the air, as is the case for conventional horizontal wind turbines. One alternative design that does away with all these entities looks as though it is getting traction from both investors and a few potential customers.

SheerWind in Chaska, Minn., has fielded a wind power idea based on the Venturi effect. Basically it collects wind and compresses it in a funnel-like chamber before sending it to turn the blades of a generator. The generator sits on the ground rather than at the top of a tower. The brain child of Dr.  Daryoush Allaei, a mechanical engineer, the wind catcher is called the Invelox. A 90-foot-tall version of the device, says Allaei, could create the same amount of power as a 1.8-MW commercial wind tower. But it would be a third of the height, sit on a seventh of the land, and use turbine blades eight times smaller in diameter than what you'd find on a utility scale turbine. Allaei also claims the electricity would be at least 40% cheaper to produce.


Visible in these images of the Invelox are the input baffles (top) and generator (bottom).One benefit of Allaei's design is that it will work with breezes of only two miles per hour, compared to the 8 mph or more it takes to start a conventional turbine. The operating is similar to that of hydroelectric dams, Allaei points out, but with water  replaced by air. Another benefit is that the materials used to funnel and concentrate the air can be inexpensive. One of Allaei's ideas is to produce a collapsible aluminum-and-fabric version that could be air-dropped and assembled at military outposts or in disaster areas. Invelox wind catchers could also be built as part of commercial buildings, with ducts installed the same way as HVAC ducting is now, he says.


The city of Royalton, Minn., is said to be evaluating the Invelox design for possible installation there.


Operating principles of the Invelox.All in all, Allaei figures the design can generate power at a cost of 2.8 to 4.1¢/kWh, competitive even with natural gas. The company has spent the past year validating the design by such means as using conservation of mass, conservation of energy, and Bernoulli equations applicable to pipe carrying flow. They've also produced full scale computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models of the design that were used to investigate and develop design trade secrets to  design and produce demonstration units.



Allaei's wind catcher concept as he described it in one of his patents.The first small scale field unit, rated 300 mW was designed and constructed last year and validated the CFD models predictions. A larger scale field demo unit rated 1.5 kW to 5 kW also went live last year.


Major Milestone In Tidal Power Emerges With ‘Spirit Of The Sea’

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB
The patented DeltaStream device developed by Cardiff-based tidal stream technology company Tidal Energy Ltd will be installed in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire, following its unveiling.

The patented DeltaStream device developed by Cardiff-based tidal stream technology company Tidal Energy Ltd will be installed in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire, following its unveiling.


A full-scale, 156-ton tidal power generator meant to display the potential for harnessing tides as a source of renewable energy has been unveiled in Wales for a 12-month trial. If the trial goes well the company behind the generator, Tidal Energy, hopes to set up a nine more of these seven-story mechanisms and generate 10 megawatts of power, enough to supply electricity to around 10,000 homes in the area.

Named ‘Ysbryd y Mor’ meaning ‘Spirit of the Sea,’ this initial generator will provide 400 kilowatts of energy to the National Grid. Comprised of the company’s patented DeltaStreamtechnology, the generator utilizes a freestanding triangular base and cutting-edge hydraulics to allow for free-turning movement aimed at best capturing tidal currents and generating power. The device is anchored by weight and does not require costly and environmentally destructive seabed drilling. The company hopes to minimize maintenance costs as well with this design, which is meant to withstand some of the most turbulent ocean currents — those are the ones that provide the most power.

Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones said, “this is a landmark project for Wales, which will not only help us to meet our sustainable energy ambitions, but will also provide significant opportunities for local people and businesses.”

This is the first private marine energy project fully undertaken in Wales, and one of the world’s first grid-connected tidal energy sources. Martin Murphy, managing director of Tidal Energy, said the project achieves a number of firsts, “including those relating to the environmental consents, the grid connection and the installation process — where the turbine and foundation are installed together.”

Across the Atlantic in Maine, Halcyon Tidal Power is meeting with state officials, residents, and investors this week as part of its efforts to build a $125-million tidal energy project in Cobscook Bay that could power more than 13,000 homes according to Ted Verrill, the company’s president.

Called a “tidal barrage,” the plant would use pressure from falling and rising tides rather than the currents that many other tidal energy installations target. Tidal barrages exist in Canada, France, and South Korea, but Halcyon is especially focused on minimizing environmental impacts and differentiating their device from what could almost be considered a dam. The setup would use pumps to replicate natural tides when necessary and turbines meant to allow for fish to pass through.

BY ARI PHILLIPS POSTED ON AUGUST 7, 2014 AT 9:13 AM http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/07/3468583/major-milestone-tidal-power-wales/

New Bladeless Wind Turbine Claimed to be Twice as Efficient as Conventional Designs

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB

© Saphon

When it comes to the future of wind power, one company thinks it looks a lot different than you would expect, and cheaper and more efficient to boot. Saphon, out of Tunisia, is interested in finding partners to mass-produce and market their unique wind energy device, based on their own Zero Blade technology.

"The Zero-Blade Technology is largely inspired from the sailboat and is likely to increase the efficiency of the current wind power conversion devices. The blades are replaced by a sail shaped body while both hub and gearbox are removed."

SLIDESHOW Wind Energy Today: A Look at Wind Energy Projects Around The World


According to the company, their zero-blade technology devices are capable of overcoming the Betz' limit, which states that no turbine can capture more than 59.3 percent of the kinetic energy of the wind. An average wind turbine captures only 30 to 40%, while the Saphon turbine is said to be 2.3 times more efficient. Additionally, the cost is expected to be 45% less than a conventional turbine, mostly due to the fact that there are no blades, no hub, and no gearbox on the units.

PHOTO: Impressive Beast! World's Longest Wind Turbine Rotor Blade Measures 246 Feet!

The Saphon Zero Blade technology is different in other ways as well, most significantly being storage of energy. Most of the kinetic energy can be stored (via a hydraulic accumulator) or converted to electricity with a hydraulic motor and generator.

"We've developed several prototypes. We are at our second generation prototype. We did the testing and this second one is twice as efficient as a three blade turbine and in terms of manufacturing is at least 50 percent cheaper." - Hassine Labaied

The company is now looking for manufacturing partners to bring the turbine to market, and once that happens, they expect to be shipping out units anywhere from 18 to 24 months afterward.

The eagle, the bear and the dragon

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB
Obama has shifted the US military's focus from the Middle East to Asia in an attempt to 'contain' China [GALLO/GETTY]

Let's celebrate the end of an eventful 2011 with a fable. 

Once upon a time in the young 21st century, the eagle, the bear and the dragon took their (furry) gloves off and engaged in a New Cold War. 

When the original Cold War ended - in theory - in late 1991, in a dacha in Belarus, with the bear almost in coma, the eagle assumed the bear's right to an independent foreign policy which was also cancelled.  

That was more than clear between 1999 and 2004 - when NATO, against all promises made to former top bear Gorbachev, expanded all the way to Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. 

So the bear started wondering; what if in the end they take away all my security space and I'm geopolitically starved?

In the young 21st century, the key tug of war between the eagle and the bear concerns missile defence. Not even the eagle itself knows whether this immensely expensive gimmick will work. And even if it does, it will probably be financed by a reluctant dragon, which holds over US $1.5tn in eagle debt.  

The bear has repeatedly argued the deployment of interceptor missiles and radars in that land of the blind leading the blind - Europe - is a threat. The eagle says no, don't worry - this is to protect us from those rogue Persians.  

Yet the bear is not convinced. So, in a global TV message with English subtitles, the bear announced it has already deployed to the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad a new early warning system to monitor missiles launched either from Europe or the North Atlantic. And the Iskander missile system may follow.

The bear is frustrated. It says it has repeatedly offered to co-operate with the eagle and its minions for the development of a joint system - to no avail. The bear insists the door remains open for a compromise. They will have to talk again - after the fractious 2012 presidential campaign in eagleland. Meanwhile, the dragon wearily watches. 

And the blind shall lead the blind 

Roughly two decades after what top bear Putin defined as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century", he has proposed a USSR light - as in the Eurasian Union, a political/economic body already subscribed by snow leopard Kazakhstan and Belarus, soon to be joined by Eurasian cubs Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. 

As for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, they are far too worried about how to balance pressure by both the eagle and the bear. And then there's the Ukraine; will it choose the bear or the blind leading the blind?   

The eagle wants something completely different; a New Silk Road under its control. The eagle seems to forget that the original Silk Road linked the dragon with the Roman Empire for centuries - with no interlopers outside of Eurasia. 

The eagle is also literally fuming about the fact that the top bear for the next six years (and perhaps 12) will be, once again, Putin. The bear, for its part, is trying to manage for its own benefit the dragon's inexorable push towards global preeminence. 

That's why the bear is betting on an economic space "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" - that is, intimate co-operation with that motley crew in crisis-hit blind leading the blind. The problem is the blind are, well, blind, and can't seem to get their act together.  

The eagle, meanwhile, has massively raised the stakes. It has launched what amounts for all practical purposes to a progressively weaponised encirclement of the dragon ("I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia-Pacific a top priority"). 

The eagle is making a series of moves that amounts to inciting nations bordering the South China Sea to antagonise the dragon. Moreover, it's repositioning an array of toys - nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, fighter jets - closer and closer to the dragon's territory. The name of the game, according to the eagle's Ministry of Deadly Weapons, is exactly "repositioning". 

What the dragon sees is a battered eagle trying to muscle its way out of an irreversible decline by trying to intimidate, isolate or at least sabotage the dragon's irreversible ascent back to where it has been for 18 of the past 20 centuries; enthroned as the king of the jungle.

That's a hard bet for the eagle. Virtually everyone that makes Asia tick holds complex, far-reaching connections with the dragon and the dragon diaspora.  

Players across Eurasia may not be much impressed with an eagle empire armed to its teeth anymore. They know that under the new laws of the jungle, the dragon simply can't - and won't - be reduced to the status of a supporting actor. 
The dragon won't stop expanding in Asia, Latin America, Africa and even in the unemployment-infested pastures of the crisis-hit blind leading the blind.

Moreover, only the dragon, if pushed too far, has the power to make the eagle's staggering deficit explode, degrade its credit rating to junk and wreak havoc in the world financial system.  

Some like it hot 

So after a decade-long pause - burn out by the eagle's nonsensical  "war on terror", which translated, in practice, as an all-out offensive in Muslim lands - realpolitik is back in business. Forget about a bunch of ragged jihadis; now it's up to the big boys to settle their differences.  

A decade is the time it took for the eagle to realise that the political/economic center of a new multipolar world will be Asia.

Yet, what the eagle's new strategic moves have accomplished is to turn the bear from a pliable client (during the 1990s and the early 2000s) to a virtual enemy. The "reset" is a myth. The bear knows there's no reset - and the dragon can only see a reset towards open confrontation. 

As the eagle gets more threatening, the bear will get closer and closer to the dragon. Both bear and dragon have too many strategic links across the planet to be intimidated by the eagle's massive Empire of Bases or its periodic coalitions of the (somewhat reluctant) willing. 

The dragon, for its part, knows Asia does not need the eagle's Hellfires, although it would certainly welcome good, solid eagle-made products. Problem is, the offer is not that great. 

If this is the best the once mighty eagle has to offer - from a war against Islam to weaponised cornering of both the bear and the dragon - that spells everything about an empire in search of a project. Moreover, Asia is smart enough to adopt a New Cold War that will undermine Asia itself. 

Even as the warning shots of the New Cold War are still being fired, the eagle already runs the risk of losing its Pakistani client. 

Then there's Persia. The eagle has been after the Persians ever since they got rid of the eagle's proconsul, the Shah, in 1979 (and this after the eagle and perfidious Albion had already smashed democracy to place the Shah - who made Saddam look like Gandhi - in power in 1953). The eagle wants all that oil and natural gas back. The bear and the dragon say - not this time, my bald feathery friend. 

And so we reach the end - though not the endgame. Predictably there's no moral to this fable. What sensible minds may expect is that even as we'll keep suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, this New Cold War hopefully won't become hot.

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is named Obama Does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


You wanna be Uncle Sam's bitch? Pay the price!

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB



You wanna be Uncle Sam's bitch? Pay the price!

Dear friends,

I just took a short break from my life in "meatspace" to comment upon the great news of the day:  Russia is introducing a full 12 months embargo on the import of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway.  Russia is also introducing an airspace ban against European and US airlines that fly over our airspace to Eastern Asia, namely, the Asia-Pacific Region and is considering changing the so-called Russian airspace entry and exit points for European scheduled and charter flights. Furthermore, Russia is ready to revise the rules of using the trans-Siberian routes, and will also discontinue talks with the US air authorities on the use of the trans-Siberian routes.  Finally, starting this winter, we may revoke the additional rights issued by the Russian air authorities beyond the previous agreements.  This is such an interesting and major development that it requires a much more subtle analysis than just the crude calculation of how much this might cost the EU or US.  I will attempt no such calculation, but instead I would point out the following elements:

First, this is a typically Russian response.  There is a basic rule which every Russian kid learns in school, in street fights, in the military or elsewhere: never promise and never threaten - just act.  Unlike western politicians who spent months threatening sanctions, the all the Russians did was to say, rather vaguely, that they reserve the right to reply.  And then, BANG!, this wide and far-reaching embargo which, unlike the western sanctions, will have a major impact on the West, but even much more so on Russia (more about that in an instant).  This "no words & only action" tactic is designed to maximize deterrence of hostile acts: since the Russians do not clearly spell out what they could do in retaliation, God only knows what they could do next! :-)  On top of that, to maximize insecurity, the Russians only said that these were the measures agreed upon, but not when they would be introduced, partially or fully, and against whom.  They also strongly implied that other measure were under consideration in the pipeline.

Second, the sanctions are wonderfully targeted.  The Europeans have acted like spineless and brainless prostitutes in this entire business, they were opposed to sanctions from day 1, but they did not have the courage to tell that to Uncle Sam, so each time they ended up caving in.  Russia's message to the EU is simple: you wanna be Uncle Sam's bitch?  Pay the price!  This embargo will especially hurt southern Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Greece) whose agricultural production will greatly suffer from it   These countries also happen to be the weakest in the EU.  By hitting them, Russia is maximizing the inevitable friction inside the EU over sanctions against Russia.

Third, not only will EU carriers suffer from much higher costs and flight times on the very important Europe to Asia route, but the Asian carriers will not, giving the latter a double competitive advantage.  How is that for a way to reward one side while hurting the other?  The EU got one Russian airline in trouble over its flights to Crimea (Dobrolet) and for that the entire EU airlines community could end being at a huge disadvantage vis-à-vis its Asian counterparts.

Fourth, Russia used these sanctions to do something vital for the Russian economy.  Let me explain: after the collapse of the USSR the Russian agriculture was in disarray, and the Eltsin only made things worse.  Russian farmers simply could not compete against advanced western agro-industrial concerns which benefited from huge economies of scale, from expensive and high-tech chemical and biological research, which had a full chain of production (often through large holdings), and a top quality marketing capability.  The Russian agricultural sector badly, desperately, needed barriers and tariffs to be protected form the western capitalist giants and, instead, Russia voluntarily abided by the terms of the WTO and then eventually became member.  Now Russia is using this total embargo to provide a crucially needed time for the Russian agriculture to invest and take up a much bigger share on the Russian market.  Also, keep in mind that Russian products are GMO-free, and that they have much less preservatives, antibiotics, colors, taste enhancers, or pesticides.  And since they are local, they don't need to be brought in by using the kind of refrigeration/preservation techniques which typically make products taste like cardboard.  In other words, Russian agricultural products taste much better, but that is not enough to complete.  This embargo now gives them a powerful boost to invest, develop and conquer market shares.

Fifth, there are 100 countries which did not vote with the US on Crimea.  The Russians have already announced that these are the countries with which Russia will trade to get whatever products it cannot produce indigenously.  A nice reward for standing up to Uncle Sam.

Sixth, small but sweet: did you notice that EU sanctions were introduced for 3 months only, "to be reviewed" later?  By introducing a 12 months embargo Russia also sends a clear message: who do you think will benefit from this mess?

Seventh, it is plain wrong to calculate that EU country X was exporting for Y million dollars  to Russia and to then conclude that the Russian embargo will cost Y million dollars to EU country X.  Why is it wrong?  Because the non-sale of these product with create a surplus which will then adversely affect the demand or, if the production is decreased, this will affect production costs (economies of scale).  Conversely, for a hypothetical non-EU country Z a contract with Russia might mean enough cash to invest, modernize and become more competitive, not only in Russia, but on the world market, including the EU.

Eighth, the Baltic countries have played a particularly nasty role in the entire Ukrainian business and now some of their most profitable industries (such as fisheries), which were 90% dependent on Russia, will have to shut down.  These countries are already a mess, but now they will hurt even more.  Again, the message to them is simple: you wanna be Uncle Sam's bitch?  Pay the price!

Ninth, and this is really important, what is happening is a gradual decoupling of Russia from the western economies.  The West severed some of the financial, military and aerospace ties, Russia severed the monetary, agricultural and industrial ones.  Keep in mind that the US/EU market is a sinking one, affected by deep systemic problems and huge social issues.  In a way, the perfect comparison is the Titanic whose orchestra continued to play music while the sink was sinking.  Well, Russia is like a passenger who is told that the Titanic's authorities have decided to disembark him at the next port.  Well, gee, too bad, right?
'clock' by Josetxo Ezcurra
 Last, but most definitely not least, this trade-war, combined with the West's hysterical russophobia, is doing for Putin a better PR campaign than anything the Kremlin could have dreamed of.  All his PR people need to tell the Russian population is the truth: "we did everything right, we played it exactly by the book, we did everything we could to deescalate this crisis and all we asked for was to please not allow the genocide of our people in Novorussia - and what was the West's response to that? An insane hate campaign, sanctions against us and unconditional support for thegenocidal Nazis in Kiev".  Furthermore, as somebody who carefully follows the Russian media, I can tell you that what is taking place today feels a lot like, paraphrasing Clausewitz, the "a continuation of WWII, but by other means", in other words a struggle to the end between two regimes, two civilizations, which cannot coexist on the same planet and who are locked in struggle to death.  In these circumstances, expect the Russian people to support Putin even more.

In other words, in a typical Judo move, Putin has used the momentum of the the West's Russia-basing and Putin-bashing campaign to his advantage across the board: Russia will benefit from this economically and politically.  Far from being threatened by some kind of "nationalistic Maidan" this winter, Putin's regime is being strengthened by his handling of the crisis (his ratings are higher than ever before).

Yes, of course, the USA have shown they they have a very wide array of capabilities to hurt Russia, especially through a court system (in the US and EU) which is as subservient to the US deep state as the courts in the DPRK are to their own "Dear Leader" in Pyongyang.  And the total loss of the Ukrainian market (for both imports and exports) will also hurt Russia.  Temporarily.  But in the long wrong, this situation is immensely profitable for Russia.

In the meantime, the Maidan is burning againAndriy Parubiy has resigned, a the Ukies are shelling hospital and churches in Novorussia.  What else is knew?

As for Europe, it is shell-shocked and furious.  Frankly, my own Schadenfreude knows no bounds this morning.  Let these arrogant non-entities like Van Rompuy, Catherine Ashton, Angela Merkel or José Manuel Barroso deal with the shitstorm their stupidity and spinelessness have created.

In the USA, Jen Psaki seems to be under the impression that the Astrakhan region is on the Ukrainian border, while the Russian Defense Ministry plans to "open special accounts in social networks and video hosting resources so that the US State Department and the Pentagon will be able to receive unbiased information about Russian army’s actions".

Will all that be enough to suggest to the EU leaders that they have put their money on the wrong horse?

The Saker 

PS: have to leave again.  Will be back on Saturday afternoon.

Eastern Cape Leaders fight for wind farms

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB

Leaders fight for wind farms

August 3 2014 at 12:05pm 
By Ayanda Mdluli





Johannesburg - Former homeland areas in the Eastern Cape’s Transkei and Ciskei regions are gearing up, through the House of Traditional Leaders, to take on private farming enterprises for a share in the lucrative renewable energy market.

The House of Traditional Leaders in the Eastern Cape has argued that the lack of investment in the former homelands is attributed to government’s failure to effect a coherent land reform tenure policy that is in line with the national strategy, which will allow investment to flourish in impoverished communities.

In an interview with Business Report this week, Abel Zingisa Bokwe, the chief executive of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, expressed disappointment at the exclusion of the former homelands, despite various projects that made bids in the third bid window of the multibillion-rand Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme last year to establish wind farms in areas such as Transkei and Ciskei.

Projects that would bring wind farms to the homelands region lost out on the tender because the Department of Energy deemed these as not being commercially viable.

Bokwe said the department highlighted cases where an area had 10 homesteads, which would complicate the erection of the wind turbines, as not all of the families scattered around the plains would see eye to eye.

The Department of Energy has selected 22 successful wind farms across South Africa under the first three rounds of the REIPPP programme.

The Eastern Cape secured 12 of the 22 wind farms.

Bokwe dismissed the department’s claims, arguing that some companies had made presentations on how to deal with the issues of homesteads.

Explaining the situation, he said there was very little privately held property in the former homelands, which was a direct result of the communal land tenure put in place by the apartheid government in 1969 for all the rural areas of the homelands.

“We are discouraged by the Department of Energy’s attitude that they would not support the development and empowerment of the communities in the former homelands,” Bokwe said.

The fourth bid submission window of the Department of Energy’s REIPPP programme is on August 18.

A key highlight raised by some industry insiders is based on the so-called “current persistent over-concentration of projects to a few select regions of the country”.

According to Bokwe, the socio-economic spin-offs from renewable energy projects only benefit a handful, leaving out the poor majority.

Information contained in a World Bank report on Renewable Energy in South Africa, highlights that the Department of Energy’s REIPPP programme was launched in August 2011, for the procurement of 6 725MW of energy from renewable sources.

These included onshore wind, concentrated solar power, solar photovoltaic, biomass, biogas, landfill gas and small hydro.

It claims that the department has made significant strides in procuring large-scale solar and wind projects to be constructed for connection to the national power grid all over the country.

Through its three previous competitive tender windows held in November 2011, March 2012 and August 2013, the Department of Energy has contracted several private renewable energy companies to supply electricity from renewable energy sources to Eskom over a 20-year period.

During each competitive tender window, independent power developers are invited to bid for renewable energy power projects, and the Department of Energy selects the best proposals based on two main selection criteria.

The first is the price of the electricity offered by the bidder, which carries an importance weighting of 70 percent in the department’s scoring of the developer’s proposal.

The second is the socio-economic development and empowerment contributions of the project, which carries an importance weighting of 30 percent of each developer’s overall score.

This process, which started in August 2011, has delivered a total of 64 individual renewable power projects that are currently under construction, or going to be constructed, across the entire country: 22 individual wind farm projects totalling 1 983MW of capacity, 38 solar farm projects totalling 1 899MW of capacity, as well as a few small-scale hydro and biogas projects.

According to the report, the estimated combined investment to build and operate these renewable power facilities (4 155MW or about the size of Eskom’s Medupi coal power station) amounts to an estimated total investment of R120 billion made by the private sector.

The facilities will provide much needed financial and service delivery relief to Eskom at multiple points across the national power grid.

Once a private developer establishes a location, they set up a trust for the community as part of the social responsibility required by the department. Through the trust the community get 2 percent of the annual turnover of the company.

Percy Ngidi, an independent environmental consultant at EcoCompliance, said wind farms and other renewable energy projects, such as solar farms, were a complicated subject.

“Imagine trying to build a solar farm in the North Pole? It is similar to wind farms, the whole thing is dependent on wind maps. If the property falls into areas with good wind, then the projects will usually get the go ahead. The same applies for solar farms,” he said.

In the Eastern Cape, the areas around Jeffery’s Bay and from the N2 towards Port Elizabeth consist of major wind turbines because the area is windy.

However, many homeland areas are behind mountainous terrain and there is usually limited wind.

For this reason developers tend to take property that is located against the wind map of South Africa because it makes more business sense, Ngidi said.

“If you are developing a wind project, one important aspect is accessibility to the site. The modes of transportation are usually massive and in most cases roads need to be altered,” he said.

Also, there are a number of intricacies involved, such as the establishment of wind monitoring data. Before a developer gets a permit the area needs to be monitored for at least 12 months. The developer needs to be in a situation where he can afford to collect data.

The problem with former homelands is that the land is owned by the chief on behalf of the people, and in most cases, communities are not informed about the workings of renewable energy projects.

The government needs to come on board and educate people in order to make these projects successful in their areas,” he said.

The upside of finding a way to develop wind farming projects in the former homelands is that people from those communities will get skills, become employable and work on other wind farming projects initiated by developers.

According to Ngidi, these individuals can also be hired by major companies, which creates an ongoing opportunity for the areas from which they come.

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Seven facts about the Restitution of Land Rights Act

  • Posted on: 8 August 2014
  • By: JB


07 AUG 2014 00:00 KWANELE SOSIBO

Land reform is in the spotlight again after an amendment to 1994’s Restitution of Land Rights Act. Here are seven facts to consider.

The government’s project to bestow autocratic power upon traditional leaders as a way to govern the former homeland areas has opened up more than a few political, cultural and economic cans of worms. (David Harrison)

Thanks to the amendment of 1994’s Restitution of Land Rights Act, and the continued slow pace of transfer to land beneficiaries, land reform has once again been thrust into the public eye.

The department of rural development and land reform’s unilateral approach to implementing policy, and its apparent kneejerk response to political pressure, is having a significant impact on farming communities and those awaiting the transfer of land.

The government’s project to bestow autocratic power upon traditional leaders as a way to govern the former homeland areas has opened up more than a few political, cultural and economic cans of worms.  Here are seven facts to consider:

1. There’s a new expiry date
The most significant amendment to the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 relates to the cut-off time for lodging land claims. The initial cut-off time of December 31 1998 has been changed to June 30 2019.

Another amendment states that the Act will “ensure that priority is given to claims lodged not later than December 31 1998 and which were not finalised at the date of the commencement of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2014”. 

2. Nobody cares about the expiry date
Although the amendment of the Act does not deal with claims relating to land held before 1913, a slew of claims initiated by royal houses and traditional leaders is claiming land that was supposedly dispossessed before the cut-off date.

In February this year President Jacob Zuma encouraged those present at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders to “find good lawyers” in order to facilitate their claims to the communities. Commentators say that the president has in effect encouraged chiefs to take custody of every land claim made within their jurisdiction.

3. Beneficiaries must work the land or lose it
The government appears to have been prompted to rethink the entire issue of land reform by the sheer number of communities voicing their anger about how commercially viable land acquired through restitution has been conditionally transferred or not transferred at all. 

A recent paper by Ruth Hall, an associate professor at the University of the Western Cape-based Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, argues that since 2011 the proactive land acquisition strategy has become the only route through which the state is redistributing land. 

“Eligibility is broad and unclear, yet new insistence on ‘production discipline’ suggests that those with the resources to continue commercial farming operations will be prioritised, and that the state will evict its beneficiary tenants unable to do so,” she writes.

4. Traditional land reform traditionally gets shot down
Two significant laws relating to land ownership in former Bantustan areas have been shot down already. One is the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004, which in effect transferred ownership of all the land in the former Bantustans to traditional communities headed by traditional councils. This law was struck down in the Constitutional Court in 2010. 

The other is the Traditional Courts Bill which, according to land rights researcher Aninka Claassens, “reinforced the construct of unilateral chiefly power within those tribal boundaries that coincide with the boundaries of the Bantustan, enabling chiefs to order forced labour and the power to take away customary entitlement such as land rights”. Lacking sufficient support, this Bill stalled in Parliament.

5. Reforms meant to counter the EFF are illogical
Earlier this year, the department of rural development and land reform announced plans to redistribute 50% of commercial farmland to farmworkers as a way of redressing past injustices. The announcement – seen by some as a political game to fend off the Economic Freedom Fighters, and its call for expropriation of land without compensation – proved to be illogical.

Land and agriculture researcher Stephen Greenberg wrote, “According to the proposal, all workers with between 10 and 25 years of ‘disciplined service’ on the land will be entitled to a 10% share equity based on market value of the land; those with 25-49 years service to get 25% share equity; and those with 50 years or more get 50% share equity. For example, if a farm has five workers with over 50 years’ service, will they each receive 50%? The only alternative is that they share the 50% allocated to this category. Thus, the more workers there are on a farm, the smaller their share. This is an arbitrary and unjust method of distributing resources.”

6. The Ciskei is the new frontier
While all eyes are on the spectacular land claims being made by kings and other traditional leaders, land commentators are saying the Eastern Cape should prove to be an interesting focus as the impact of the 19th century frontier wars is brought to the fore. 

Historian and former Nhlapo Commission commissioner Jeff Peires says lower-level traditional leaders in the former Ciskei are going to claim quite a few white commercial farms, because the Ciskei is where the frontier wars were fought. “From East London to the Free State, all those farms are on commercial land. And the frontier wars went up to the 1880s, affecting East London to Queenstown and beyond.”

7. Traditional leaders keep the economy lubricated
In a recent talk at a Wiser seminar on land rights, rural economy and mining researcher Gavin Capps argued that the shift in the government’s interest from urban to rural areas was related to the frenetic growth of the mining industry. 

“The consolidation of the South African state after 1910 – and the whole series of legislation that laid down the spatial and social and racial divisions of South Africa – was inherited [by the new democratic government] in 1994. The Land Acts of 1913 and 1936, the Nation Authorities Act of 1927 – the consolidation of these tenure laws is linked in part to the construction of the migrant labour system. Chiefs played important roles in the functioning of the system. This is part of their legacy despite the changes experienced in 1994,” said Capps.

“Where before the homeland areas were the places for the production and reproduction of migrant labour and the dumping ground for the reserve of labour, now these areas are becoming the prime source of the economy.”