People who will vote in the next General Election in 2009 were 3 years old when all South Africans could vote in a democratic General Election on 27th April 1994 irrespective of race or creed. Eighteen year olds who voted for the first time then, will be 33 years old at the next General Election. It would be an interesting survey to find out what either age cohort thinks about the significance of a non-racial vote and of democratic participation in the politics of our country.The 27th April should be the most symbolically significant and strategically relevant public holiday on our annual calendar of public holidays. It was on that day in 1994 that legalized racial discrimination and oppression was voted out of our public life and policy. It should not only be a day of remembrance and rejoicing but of reflection and debate on the significance of adult suffrage and its role in democratic policy making. One feels a sense of dread that the survey mentioned might reveal a great deal of ignorance, even indifference about the significance of non-racial adult suffrage in the lives of the two age cohorts mentioned. Why?In the first place the vote exercised every five years has become a ritual of affirmation of predetermined candidates appointed by Party Bosses. It is gesture of complete voter disempowerment. The average voter knows only which party he or she voted for but not the actual public representatives which they can call to account.Secondly, the issue of accountability means that the voter can identify an individual or individuals coming from the area in which the voter lives and who, through being elected, is committed to interact with those voters and addressing their concerns. Attempts are now being made by the ANC for example, to allocate constituencies to MP’s and urging them to look after them. However, the constituencies have no statutory relevance and are not electorally contestable. Consequently the party can do with them as they see fit without fear of voter recriminationThirdly, participatory democracy means exactly that voters be actively encouraged to participate in the governance of their constituency, provinces and parliament. In the very real sense it should mean that “the people shall govern”. Instead you have elected representatives who create self serving bureaucracies in which they dish out positions and privileges to one another. There is nothing wrong with such officials, from the President down holding regular imbizos to hear first hand from constituencies what their grievances are. But such imbizos do not guarantee delivery or subsequent accountability.All of the above concerns mean that the current electoral system for national and provincial politics is hopelessly inadequate to promote serious democratic participation and accountability. The system is one of closed list Proportional Representation where the list is effectively drawn up by the party leaderships and presented to the voters as a fait accompli. This system was provisionally adopted by all parties to get us over the problems of a first non-racial democratic election. And it worked. It was uncomplicated and very easy to administer. But it was also agreed that the system was provisional and would be looked at a later stage. This was done by the appointment of an Electoral Commission which investigated various electoral alternatives and had interviews with all the parties in parliament as well as the input of international and local experts. The recurring complaint with the exception of the governing party and official opposition, was lack of accountability and participation on the part of the voter.The majority recommended that a system of multi – member constituency participation should be implemented, initially under a closed list proportional system but moving eventually to an open list. This system should apply to 300 candidates of the 400 in Parliament whereas the remaining 100 should cater for special interest lobbies such as women, the aged and disabled etc.The multiple member constituency system is often confused with a first past the post constituency system such as Great Britain has and the old racist Parliament in South Africa had. Nothing can be more different. The multiple member constituency system, for example, means South Africa is divided into approx 70 constituencies. From each, no less than three and not more than seven candidates can be elected, from the Constituency (NB). Initially the list can be closed i.e. candidates being appointed by the party but eventually it should be open in the sense that a voter can vote for candidate 1 from party A and candidate 3 from party C etc. Such a system will be immediately more accountable to get greater involvement from the voter.We do not have any indication that there is a serious move in this direction from Government. But perhaps if the 27th April, is a public holiday during which ordinary voters are invited to participate in discussions and seminars on the significance of non-racial democratic participation, given the history of our country, then more and more of us can shout together: “Hey? 27th April: Hurrah!” More likely however parties will give each other tight lipped smiles and say: “Happy, happy floor crossing comrades”. This further dis-empowering the voter.DR F V Z SLABBERT18thApril, 2007
CALGARY – TransCanada Corp. said Friday that work is well underway to clean up a sizable oil leak at its Keystone pipeline in South Dakota that occurred days before a vote on the fate of the company’s flagship pipeline proposal.The company said about 75 crew members, as well as government officials, are on site near Amherst, S.D., with a full complement of clean-up equipment to contain the 795,000-litre spill in a farmer’s field.“TransCanada has taken this incident very seriously and is working with federal and state regulatory agencies,” the company said in an update.The company said it has observed no further environmental impacts and no threat to public safety, though the nearby Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation has expressed concern the spill might contaminate water supplies.Thursday’s spill comes four days before Nebraska is set to vote on whether TransCanada can go ahead with Keystone XL pipeline, which would take a more direct route than the existing Keystone pipeline by going through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with pipelines that feed Texas Gulf Coast refineries.Environmentalists were quick to point to the spill as reason to reject the Keystone XL project, but state officials said Friday the spill won’t affect their decision.A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Public Service Commission said commissioners will base their decision solely on evidence presented during public hearings and from official public comments.A Nebraska law approved in 2011 prevents the commissioners from factoring pipeline safety or the possibility of leaks into their decisions. Lawmakers argued at the time that pipeline safety was a federal responsibility that pre-empts state law. Opponents say oil interests lobbied for the restriction.The news might not sway the vote, but will bring greater focus to the issue, said James Coleman, an energy law expert at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.“It’s the worst possible timing, and it’s a reasonably big spill….I think most people expect the commissioners to approve it regardless, but nonetheless, it’s not helpful.”Among other concerns, opponents of Keystone XL say the pipeline would pass through the Sandhills, an ecologically fragile region in Nebraska of grass-covered sand dunes, and would cross the land of farmers and ranchers who don’t want it.“There’s some states where the big issue is climate change, but Nebraska, the issue has been those local land-use impacts, and so I’m sure the commissioners will have that in mind,” said Coleman.The spill near the border of Minnesota and the source of the Minnesota River has certainly raised concerns about Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Line 3 pipeline replacement project in the state, said Coleman.He said he wasn’t sure, however, whether this Keystone spill will have an impact on current review of the pipeline in the state that’s already approved elsewhere, but it certainly will add fodder to those campaigning against oil pipelines.“I think that this will continue to be a bigger and bigger political issue because, as climate campaigners haven’t had success in other areas, they feel like this is one area where they’ve been reasonably successful.”Protesters have already started setting up camps and planning direct action to stop Enbridge’s Line 3 construction, which is already underway in Canada.Pipeline opponents have also vowed to stop the Keystone XL pipeline if it is approved, having once declared victory on the project when Barack Obama rejected it in 2015, only for President Donald Trump to give the go-ahead earlier this year.Shares of TransCanada (TSX:TRP) were down 1.2 per cent in early afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, as the energy sector rose half a percentage point.-With files from AP
CARACAS, Venezuela – ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that it won a $2 billion arbitration award against Venezuela’s state oil company, compounding the financial woes of the socialist-run nation as it struggles to feed its population.The award represents the equivalent of more than 20 per cent of the cash-strapped government’s foreign currency reserves.The Houston-based company said in a statement that the ruling against PDVSA by an International Chamber of Commerce panel was final and binding.“ConocoPhillips will pursue enforcement and seek financial recovery of its award to the full extent of the law,” the company said in a statement.But collecting the judgment won’t be easy, as President Nicolas Maduro is holding on to the few dollars trickling into the country from plummeting oil production and amid sanctions by the Trump administration barring U.S investors from lending money to the government.There was no immediate comment from Venezuela’s government.The ruling arose from the expropriation of ConocoPhillips’ investments in two heavy crude oil projects in 2007 at a time then President Hugo Chavez increased the state’s take of record oil rents, forcing foreign oil companies to accept less generous terms. Many instead left the country and sued to hold up their original contracts.ConocoPhillips is pursuing separate legal action against Venezuela’s government under the auspices of the World Bank’s investment dispute mechanism. The World Bank tribunal has already ruled that Venezuela broke international law when it nationalized Conoco’s stakes in the two fields. Proceedings are underway to determine the amount of compensation.Venezuela still faces 22 arbitration cases at the World Bank, more than any other country in the world, with potential losses stretching into the billions.
HARTFORD, Conn. — The widow of an Army specialist killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Maryland last year and two other soldiers who were critically injured are suing Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut, alleging the tail rotor system was defective.The lawsuit was filed Monday in state court in Hartford by Spc. Jeremy Tomlin’s wife, Jessica; Capt. Terikazu Onoda and his wife; and Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Nicholas. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.The Sikorsky-manufactured Black Hawk crashed in Leonardtown, Maryland, during a training mission April 17, 2017.The lawsuit blames a major tail rotor malfunction. The three-member crew was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.A Sikorsky spokesman declined to comment. Connecticut-based Sikorsky is a division of Maryland-based Lockheed Martin.The Associated Press
DETROIT — Sales of new vehicles in the U.S. rose slightly in 2018, defying predictions and highlighting a strong economy.Automakers reported an increase of 0.3 per cent over a year ago to 17.27 million vehicles.The increase came despite rising interest rates, a volatile stock market, and rising car and truck prices that pushed some buyers out of the new-vehicle market.Industry analysts and automakers said strong economic fundamentals pushed up the sales and should keep them near historic highs in 2019.Tom Krisher, The Associated Press
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has gotten approval from the Peace River Regional District Board to sign an agreement to provide fire protection services to the consortium responsible for building a major component of the Site C dam.According to a letter to the PR Board from Protective Services Director Jim Rogers, the City was approached earlier this year by the Aecon-Flatiron-Dragados-EBC partnership – which won the contract to build the generating station and spillways at Site C – to provide the consortium with fire protection and rescue services for a five-year term while the component of the dam is being built.He said that staff began preliminary discussions in March, and in late May began negotiations with AFDE about the range of services that would be provided, along with the pricing. The Fort St. John Fire Department is the only fire department north of Prince George that is listed as a rescue provider under the BC Construction Safety Alliance Technical High Angle Rope Rescue Program that can provide the Tower Crane & high angle rescue services that were being requested by AFDE.Rogers explained that the proposed agreement is similar to those that the City signed with ATCO and Tembec, under which the Fort St. John Fire Department currently provides fire protection services to the worker accommodation camp at Site C, and formerly provided services to Chetwynd Mechanical Pulp.In a closed meeting on June 25th, Fort St. John City Council approved a motion to have a letter sent to the PRRD Board asking the Board’s permission to enter into an agreement with AFDE, similar to what was previously done when the City entered into agreements with ATCO and Tembec.However, at the PRRD’s Board meeting on June 28th, Chair and Electoral Area ‘C’ Director Brad Sperling voiced opposition to the request, citing concerns about the agreement’s impact on the Mutual Aid Agreement between the City and the Regional District.During the discussion, Sperling stated that his opposition was based on a lack of notice from the City about the agreement, and that there was nothing in the letter from Fort St. John’s Acting City Manager David Joy that addressed the Mutual Aid Agreement.Despite a request from Director Byron Stewart, the PRRD Board declined to hear Fort St. John Fire Chief Fred Burrows – who was present at the meeting – come forward to explain the request. The Board then voted against granting permission to the City. At last Thursday’s meeting, the Board then discussed Rogers’ letter that further detailed the proposal, which would see the PRRD compensated for the Charlie Lake Fire Department attending to assist with a fire if the Fort St. John Fire Department were called out to a fire at the dam construction site.Footage from both Board meetings can be found at the two links below.http://prrd.bc.ca/board/agendas/2018/2018-20-247804065/AGENDA.htmlhttps://prrd.wistia.com/medias/6tjj92nieg
VICTORIA, B.C. – The Province of B.C. has released a review of hydraulic fracturing. The report, prepared by a three-member panel makes 97 recommendations the focus on environmental impacts and knowledge gaps about the industry.The report focused on four main areas, water quality, water quantity, induced seismicity, and fugitive emissions. The panel also reviewed how hydraulic fracturing impacts human health, impacts on environmental health, and cumulative effects of the process. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says they will take a phased approach to implement the scientific panel’s 97 recommendations. In May of 2019, the Province will release its short-term plan and in December the long-term plan.Read the full report below.The Province says they have already started to make changes to now the OGC regulates dams and water storage, new regulations for orphaned well sites and instructing the OGC to work more with Treaty 8 members.
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines may be sold or shut down, Malaysia’s leader said Tuesday, the latest bad news for a carrier that has been in crisis since suffering the loss of two planes. The 71-year-old airline has been on the ropes since 2014 when Flight MH370 disappeared and MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile over war-torn Ukraine. With the carrier teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah stepped in to take it over several years ago and major reforms were instituted, including cutting thousands of staff. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! But it has continued to fare poorly and its performance was blamed in large part for a set of poor financial results released by Khazanah last week. Responding to questions about the airline’s future, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters in parliament: “I think it is a very serious matter, to shut down the national airline. “We will nevertheless be studying and investigating as to whether we should shut it down or we should sell it off or we should refinance it.” Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Official news agency Bernama reported that Khazanah last week posted a pre-tax loss of 6.3 billion ringgit (USD 1.54 billion) for 2018, compared with a pre-tax profit of 2.9 billion ringgit the year before. Mahathir, 93 and in his second stint as premier, is seeking to reduce a mammoth national debt inherited from the previous, corruption-plagued regime. Malaysia Airlines said in a statement it had been “working closely” with Khazanah on the next phase of its turnaround plan since September. The disappearance of Flight MH370, which was carrying 239 people, remains one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries, and successive searches have failed to find the plane.
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri was chosen Seria A’s best coach for the 2016/17 season over Atalanta’s Gian Piero Gasperini and Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri. He shared his gratitude towards his players and had some choice words on Paulo Dybala.The fact that he was not called upon for the next Argentina friendlies has been a huge upset for everybody in Juve and mostly for Dybala himself, as he has been in an extraordinary shape lately and there is no obvious reason for the national coach to snub him.Fiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.“Not being called up by Argentina [for friendlies] should motivate him even more because he’s still got every opportunity of earning a place at the World Cup,” Allegri shared, according to ESPN.“He’s got to be focused on this end of the season and we have all got to be ambitious when we face the best, like Real, as we search for a seventh straight title, which would be an achievement that would be hard for any other club to match.”