politics

A road to a more democratic Azania

On 12 June 2020 the Constitutional Court of South Africa found that parts of the Electoral Act unconstitutional. The parts in question effectively prohibits an individual to stand as an independent for election in the National Assembly (NA) which is the lower-house of the country’s Parliament and centre of power. The South African constitution outlines that elections for the NA must be “based on the national common voters roll” and “results, in general, in proportional representation”. Effectively this means that at least part of the NA must be elected via proportional representation (PR).

This could pave the way for a Multi-member Proportional Representation system (MMP) to be implemented. Such a system effectively gives a voter a ballot with two columns and the right to vote once in both columns. One column is for a party and the other for an individual candidate. As with PR the party-list system is used to determine seats allocated by the party in proportion to the percentage of votes received. The second column elects a candidate for that constituency or district.

The court’s decision does not spell-out exactly what should happen to the Electoral Act. The fight will be to get as close to a 50/50 split between party-list and constituency in the amendment. That will be an MMP system implemented properly.


Assuming that such a system is adopted, I argue, all parties will become better and it will be a huge victory for South African democracy. 

It will help all parties including the ANC. The ANC (or any party in government) can make great policy, but implementation is often lacking. I believe this is because of the nature of a closed party-list system where there is a comfortable majority. MPs are beholden to their party more than to the voters. On the other hand first-past-the-post (FPP) destroys the possibility of minority opinion being heard and you could even end up with a minority government, like the way the NP got into power in 1948 with less than 40% of the popular vote among those who voted. With an MMP system balance is brought to a democracy. You can, for example, run as an independent caucusing with the governing party. The people in your district can then apply more pressure on you than the party bosses in cases where extremely unpopular choices are being made. This can increase the effectiveness of the governing party, if they don’t win an all-out majority on the party-list system. It can also increase their majority. You can have constituency candidates running as independents, declaring that they will caucus with the ANC. I personally know plenty of people who will vote for a constituency ANC candidate but not a party-list candidate. Especially among minority voters in areas where the ANC struggles to make in-roads.

Frankly, if the ANC wants to govern past 2035 without the need for a coalition partner, it will be in their interests to implement MMP properly. With PR as it is now the ANC’s support will dwindle bit-by-bit. On the Socialist side the EFF is making radical progress chipping away at the ANC’s support. There is undoubtedly a growing gap on the political scene for a proudly black, market-orientated party. A movement in that direction is already underfoot among some former DA politicians. Such a party could carve out enough PR support from the ANC. Frankly, the ANC can protect itself from this erosion by supporting a 50/50 MMP system.

The majority of constituency seats can be filled by either independents or party supported candidates. The machinery that the party has on the ground can make fighting such elections in the majority of areas around the country an easy victory. If there are local issues with the ANC, the local candidate can declare that it will fight within the party to fix those issues. On the other hand, independents who declare that they will caucus with the ANC can win the support of voters who would have voted for a minor parties simply because they view the ANC as a behemoth. 

I believe that the ANC itself can fix many of the internal issues, especially with the regard to slow delivery and corruption, if it supports a 50/50 MMP system. It will be interesting to see how things unfold. If they don’t implement 50/50 it will be a sign to me that the corrupt have too much power within the party to fix it. 

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Demystifying Managed Hosting

Hosting can be a difficult thing to wrap your head around. For instance if you google hosting you will get a barrage of hosting solutions listing all kinds of shiny toys that are apparently included. But do you know what really applies to your needs?

But what is actually on offer?


SELF-MANAGED SHARED HOSTING

This is most likely the first product that you will come across.

There will be a variety of options that almost all list “services” they include such as the number of databases, FTP accounts, mailboxes or email address etc. All of this is just glitter, when in reality, packages are only based on one criteria: The amount of space or memory that your website and “glitter” will use on their server. 

For example – if a service listed is “unlimited emails” but the space is 5gb then in actual fact you do not have unlimited emails, you are limited to the amount of space provided; if your website uses 4gb you actually only have 1gb of email, not unlimited.

Self-hosted shared hosting is made for small businesses or personal blogs where the client either has the technical skills and time to be a webmaster, has a webmaster on staff or will employ one on an hourly bases. The kinds of skills required will most likely be advertised as “system administrator” or “webmaster.”

Hosting providers might talk about “unlimited traffic” which will inevitably have an asterisk attached to it. This is because traffic is not measured and the client’s web app is on a shared server. If a server has an issue, one of their system administrators will identify clients that are hogging the resources, make the website unavailable and then notify the client that they will need to be moved to a cloud or other form of dedicated or managed hosting. If you read the fine print, it will clearly state that the product is for small enterprises only.

Menge Media does not offer self-managed shared hosting. We have no intention of ever offering such a service and our business is not geared for this.


MANAGED HOSTING:

Managed hosting is where certain aspects of the system administration involved in operating a dedicated server is managed by the hosting provider.

This service is usually only offered as part of renting a whole dedicated server – It comes in different flavours such as cloud, VPS and dedicated stand-alone servers. The key here is that either the hardware, software or both are managed by the hosting provider.

Menge Media offers a variety of Managed Server Hosting solutions and we can craft one to the needs of the individual client. Whether you need dedicated servers for your online store, enterprise mail servers or cloud storage, we can tailor a competitive and hassle-free solution for you. We also have pre-packaged solutions as a starting point.

However, for smaller clients a dedicated server is not justifiable. The price is too high to rent an entire server, yet they need a solution that includes the benefits associated with managed hosting. For this reason we offer a best of both worlds solution called Website Managed Hosting


WEBSITE MANAGED HOSTING

Website Managed Hosting is a hassle free hosting solution. This means that we take away the need for you to have a system administrator or webmaster on staff to deal with security updates, backups and the general health of your website and the server it is hosted on.

It would be an error to compare Website Managed Hosting to self-hosted shared hosting. This is a grossly inadequate comparison. However, if you do, take the following into consideration:

Make concession in your analysis for an hour or two every month of system administration which will have to be included in a fair comparison (our rates are here or look for alternatives here). But even such a comparison will be inadequate.

Our Website Managed Hosting does not throw your website onto a server with hundreds of other clients fighting for resources. Our clients enjoy the kind of dedicated RAM access which large hosting companies only make available as an entry product to cloud or other dedicated server hosting solutions.

Our servers have multicore CPUs – even an entry level cloud server from Afrihost gives less access to CPU cores than our clients enjoy. The number of CPU cores is the most important factor for web apps to cope with high volumes of traffic.

So basically, to summarise and make it easier – for a fair comparison you will need to look at:

  • An entry level dedicated server, dependent on the RAM and CPU cores you require. On Afrihost this might be Bronze or Silver which you can find by clicking here.
  • Setup costs (A system administrator for a full day, possibly more)
  • Running cost (A system administrator for an hour or two every month to keep things running smoothly)
  • The interaction and organising of the above, which can be incredibly time consuming. 

You may ask yourself why it is so difficult to find exact comparisons online. Why can’t I find a similar product to Menge Media’s Managed Website Hosting solution? The reason for this is that this level of service is usually included within a bigger offering. It might form part of SEO management, a full advertising retainer or as mentioned above, a dedicated server. Frankly our own analysis found that it is best to only offer this to clients who commit to such services. The resources involved, both on physical hardware and our time spent delivering the service does not justify offering the service as a stand-alone. 

For this reason our Website Managed Hosting now has specific stringent criteria. It is a service intended specifically as a bonus for clients who use our other services.

Please take a look at our packaged services under the services menu and make sure to read the fine print. 


We found a few comparable packages elsewhere here, here and here. If the same product or service is offered we can possibly match or beat their price. 

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Opinion Piece – The horn of Africa and South East Asia

Yesterday I read about a report on the international elicit Rhino Horn trade. The report is the result of an incredibly important investigation undertook by Los Angles based NGO Elephant Action League. 

Every time something about Rhino pouching comes up I see a number of ignorant comments following it. Almost always without a real solution, just outrage. To the usual dribble, here is my response:

Prohibition increases the price of any product. Chinese/Vietnamese Traditional Medicine has been prescribing Rhino horn as a treatment for MIGRAINES for centuries [That’s right, practitioners of traditional Chinese/Vietnamese medicine will tell you that the aphrodisiac indication is nothing more than a racist myth. The horn is not located in the groin area and thus goes completely against the principles of the practice]. 

Even though clinical trials have shown its effectiveness as no more than placebo, the treatment does continue. If you think thats stupid or ignorant, consider that homeopathy has many, many more studies over decades showing it’s also no more effective than placebo. 

You might say: “But this treatment, even if it worked, is causing the destruction of an entire species!” To that I say, consider the anti-vac movement. Here you have parents who are so scared of having to adjust their parenting to “cope” with a child who has ADHD that they are willing to gamble with the life of their babies. Not just that, they are putting the species as a whole at risk. Unvaccinated children are putting human herd immunity at risk. When the percentage of children who aren’t vaccinated reaches a certain point, we have outbreaks of those diseases. Diseases which have been thought to be eradicated decades ago.

Right, so now that we have established that it would be fundamentally hypocritical to condemn societies with users of rhino horn, how do we address this issue?

How do we end the poaching of Rhinos? 

We tackle prohibition. Rhino horn can be harvested without killing a rhino. Yes, it does mean they need to be placed under anaesthesia, but it’s already being done as a preventative method. The horn takes between a year and eighteen months to grow back. Perfect interval for medical checkup anyway.

Then “dispense” the horn at licensed treatment centres located on rhino reserves and proceeds going to conservation.

Effectively we can satisfy the top end of the market. As with alcohol after the end of prohibition in the USA and drugs in Portugal in the naughties (2000s), once you remove prohibition, the price drops heavily. I don’t think we will eradicate demand completely, but I believe it will lower prices to a level where poaching becomes unprofitable.

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Green-washed journalism

“Who gives a %$^& about the environment?” you could imagine a popular British motoring-show presenter exclaim this to some ill comic effect. Ironically, the presenter I may be referring to could be living on a farm in rural England. Very much caring about the environment. He simply puts it back of mind as he accelerates his high performance vehicle around a bend in a quint little farm road, hugged by hedgerows.

If he did not give a toss, would he not be living in a highly industrialised city, breathing in the “beautifully enriched” air? 

“Carbon is good for the atmosphere!” you may hear a flippant Australian journalist exclaim. Ironically, I agree, if the entire planet’s dry-ground was covered by thick forests, yes, then it would be.

I was recently sitting in a restaurant, minding my own business. In the section I was, a group of three senior, well-to-do, men were sitting having their lunch, wine and sudo-intellectual conversation. You know the accent, the accent that is unpolluted by American TV or East-Rand “Chic.” The one that puts the BBC to shame… more english than the Queen. I could not stop myself from eavesdropping. 

I tried to block out the conversation as much as I possible could. Until I heard that quote that seriously irks me: “This Icelandic Volcano, a few years ago? One volcano like this pushes more carbon into the atmosphere than all of mankind has in its entire history…”

Yes, it upset me. I restrained myself. Well, I tried. I calmly raised from my seat and walked over to the table of elderly distinguished gentlemen. 

“Excuse me.”

They ignore me, whether to block out this ‘pleb’ or because they have grown collectively hard of hearing, I could not tell.

“Excuse me, terribly sorry to disturb your conversation” I said, reclaiming my learnt accent from my stint living in Berkshire, England. Still, the response I needed was not forthcoming. 

I tapped the gentlemen closest to me on the shoulder, and repeated my words.

Now I had their attention, however judgemental their collective glare may have been. I had an audience, and once I have one, I will make my point.

I continued to educate the elders referring to the effect’s of global dimming. My arguments found fertile ground, and soon they were educated on the difference between industrial atmospheric pollution and natural phenomena and how it effect the hydrological cycle (rainfall, dude.) 

I must confess, my teaching was a little warped: On researching this article, I found that human activity pumps “roughly 135 times as much climate-warming carbon dioxide as volcanoes each year” I could have made my statement with that little factoid, but my argument was clear and they followed my reasoning. 

I believe that at least one of those three men will be one of the first owners of an electric vehicle when they finally decide to grace our shores. Another may reconsider removing his catalytic converter from his sports-car. In the meantime, let us not be effected by the arrogance of witty climate-change-denier journalists. Let us, the people, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the arm-chair politicians, the directors of corporations, but most of all, us, the consumers make an informed decision and drive the world towards a better future. A future, where a motoring journalist can accelerate his Tesla Roadster on a beautiful country road, without negatively effecting the environment, or misinforming the public. 

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Who killed the Joole?

It was recently announced that The Joole project was cancelled due to a lack of funding.

If funding is such an issue it sparks the question: “Why are there not a any South Africans like Elon Musk?” Wait a moment, you might interject, was Elon Musk, not born and breed in South Africa?” Well, this may be true, but this man, whom I might say is a close contender to be my greatest living, (unassisted) breathing hero, does not completely identify with South Africa. He moved to north America when he was barely an adult and made his billions from PayPal in California. The only give away is the strange combination of flat South African accent and blend of North-American twang that makes him sound strangely Australian. He has been and still is the champion of the Electric Car. He took his money he made from PayPal and invested vast amounts into producing a viable Electric Car. The Tesla is the car that makes people realise the potential, the viability and the sheer sexiness of Electric. I would go as far as saying that Tesla is pushing the entire auto-industry to reconsider their reliance on the internal combustion engine. With much reluctance. This reluctance is probably due to the internal combustion engine lending itself to a very important principle needed in business: “Sustainable.” 

The internal combustion engine lends itself to designed obsolescence. A business technique used in almost all industries to assure that their market is always there. If you make cars you will need to have your customers coming back, otherwise it just won’t be viable to produce ion the masses that they do. The internal combustion engine’s vibration and heat ads to the ageing effect of the car. 

It is only now that the industry is waking up to the fact that the life span of a battery, and the sheer proportion of the cost price of the car that will insure returning customers, albeit a lot later. Rav4 EV’s from the mid 90’s still do okay with little damage to their bodies compared to the ageing that their brother Rav4 went through. But any battery ages, and in time your range on a charge becomes less and less. But this is only after 10 to 15 years.

So, the Joole project got shelved due to a lack of funding. If only we had a South African internet billionaire…