Monday, November 30, 2015

Telkom: the story of poor service going absolutely nowhere

Message for Telkom from family 184CWK18115 - you suck!

HOW would you react to Perky Pizzas when after you’d ordered, and paid for your meal, the person behind the counter told you that their oven wasn’t working?  How would you react if a mechanic from Al’s Garage said your brakes were faulty, but after two weeks made no effort to fix them – or to return your car?

I’m sure you’d be outraged, and that the bad service of Perky Pizzas and Al’s Garage would see them out of business in a matter of months. Unfortunately, this basic principle – customer care – doesn’t seem to apply to our parastatals. The stories are legend; whether it’s the days’ of Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the SABC or PRASA’s Spanish locomotives and everybody’s favourite, Eskom’s “wet coal”, there always seems to be some kind of question about their governance and, especially, delivery.

But the biggest raspberry right now goes to Telkom, our “beloved” telecommunications corporation that doesn’t appear to know its digital from its analogue – or to put it more bluntly, its arse from its elbow.

You can have the best of systems, but if you don’t offer your customers real service, you’re a flop – and in the real world – you deserve to go out of business. Not so with Telkom, who can go on from one customer blunder to the other with impunity. In my case, the line that serves my house phone and my ADSL has been out of action for nearly two weeks. In fact, my whole road has been down due to a cable that was cut, probably by one of the tik addicts that haunt our Cape Town neighbourhood.

Everybody knows that the cable has been cut. Yet all that Telkom has been able to offer after a litany of daily complaints is a bulk SMS stating that “Telkom is aware of a cable-related fault” and that it is “investigating all available options”.

WTF, is the Twitter expression for such a response. “Investigating!?” Does Telkom need a committee and a tender process just to fix a broken line? If Telkom’s system seems to burp at the mere prospect of a broken cable, one can only wonder at what else is going on. The interesting thing, though, is that while Telkom officials have been polite and willing to help – they seem to be as stymied by the Telkom system as their disgruntled clients. My complaint has been “escalated” all over the place – but to no avail.

In sheer frustration I tried Hellopeter, the consumer complaints platform, and actually got a response from Telkom stating that my complaint had been “restored”.  Well, it’s been five days now, and I’m beginning to think that “restored” is yet another piece of meaningless Telkom technobabble.  

I put up a post on Facebook, curious to see what kind of response I would get to my Telkom blues. It was overwhelmingly negative, and quite a shock to see what other Telkom clients had been going through.

Fahmy Basardien of Cape Town had been trying to terminate his Telkom contract for six months, with no luck. Najma Khan from Lenasia had applied for an ADSL line that was never installed, but she had been billed anyway. Another Facebook user said that although they had an uncapped data package, Telkom would switch them off at the end of the month claiming they’d gone over the limit. “We use hardly any data, so have Telkom sold us more bandwidth than they can supply?” asked the user.

Yusuf Karim of Durban North said my experience was “typical” in his part of the world. Roshan Moerat from Paarl said that she had been waiting three months for Telkom to fix her problem. Nur Gillian Hankey, stated that when she moved to Paarl,Telkom had been unable to switch her system on. She had eventually migrated to another server. Faadiyah Jordan Hendricks said that her mother had had no service since September, with no resolution.

I could go on - and on. There is a serious issue  here – our telecommunications agency is clearly not delivering what it promises, and is clearly incapable of dealing with any follow ups. In short, this tells us that Telkom is haemorrhaging with inefficiency and ineptitiude.

But this is no consolation to so many thousands of household users in South Africa who need the lines to do business, and frustratingly, can’t. And so, Telkom – yet another parastatal gravy train going nowhere – ends up costing us unhappy consumers millions of rands, said by one analyst to be about R500 million a year.


Telkom, after two weeks and their "investigation", have just informed us that the cable will be replaced on 15 January 2016. This will be two months after the initial event, which is totally incompetent, unprofessional and grossly unsympathetic to the needs of those who need the internet to make a living. No-one in the private sector would ever be allowed to get away with this nonsense because their businesses would be closed down. The matter will be taken further - to the Public Protector, if needs be. Watch this space for fault number 184CWK181115....


Monday, November 16, 2015

Tijani Shaikh graces Cape Town shores

Shaikh Mahy al-Cisse al-Tijani, grandson of one of Africa's finest scholars, Shaikh Ebrahim Niasse, visited Cape Town this past weekend. A man of knowledge, peace and prophetic dignity, Shaikh Mahy hails from Senegal, studied at Al-Azhar and is a leader of the Tijani Sufi order. 

The Tijani is the biggest Sufi movement in Africa and has millions of followers. It was founded in the 18th century by Shaikh Ahmad Tijani of Algeria. A direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), Shaikh Ahmad saw his ancestor in a "living dream" in the desert and was ordered to establish a spiritual order based on easy to follow prophetic principles.

Shaikh Mahy's brother, the late Shaikh Hassan Cisse and a man of international influence, paid several visits to South Africa in the early 2000s and met with then president, Thabo Mbeki. Today the Tijanniyyah have zawiyas - places of spiritual learning - in townships, as well as other centres in South Africa. During his visit, Shaikh Mahy distributed food parcels and hygiene packs supplied by Gift of the Givers humanitarian organisation to the needy.

The Tijani order first came to South Africa after 1994 when migrants from West Africa, especially Senegal, arrived in the country. The Tijani order is well-received in South Africa as it carries none of the cultural accretion of the Indo-Pak, Malay or Arab communities.

Meeting Capetonians.

Sh Mahy is led into the hall.

Greeting local scholars.
Meeting people

Chatting with Gift of the Giver's Alauddin Sayed.
Members of Sh Mahy's entourage.

Sh Mahy meets Gawa Sayed of Gift of the Givers.

The Shaikh's table was always busy.

Meeting the children.

Making du'ah for a daughter.

Local Senegalese seek the Shaikh's prayers.

Being informed of Cape Town's upcoming Mass Mawlud.

Mr IT, Jamaludeen Khan.

Shaikh Muhammad Carloo of Madinah Institute.
Imam Hasan Walele of the Naqshbandiyyah.

Sayed Ridhwaan Mohammed Ziyaee.

Sh Mahy addresses the gathering.
Final farewell.

Shaikh Hasan Cisse 2002

In 2002 Shaikh Hasan Cisse paid his first visit to Cape Town and opened the Guguletu Zawiyya and appointed Dr Abu Bakr as its muqaddam, or head. Dr Abu Bakr, a Rwandan, left a prosperous medical practice to head the Zawiyya. The first South Africa born Tijani, also a muqaddam, is Anwar Bayat Cisse. Pictured below is the opening of the Zawiyya in 2002 when many curious onlookers, mesmerised by Shaikh Hasan's presence, became Muslim. The zawiyya has transformed the neighbourhood.

The first official gathering.

The late Shaikh Hasan Cisse.

The healing hands.

Many onlookers became Muslim.

Photos Copyright Shafiq Morton

Monday, November 9, 2015

The beauty in small things....

WE don't have a big garden. In fact, not even a garden at all. But living in the urban environs of Cape Town, we are able to grow lots of things in pots on our stoep - from aloes, to rosemary and lavender, to various kinds of cacti. Hibiscus, avinca, fragrant frangi-pani and some fynbos also do well in the pots. After soft spring rain, our humble pot-garden becomes a feast of colour and texture. There is beauty in the small things...and soon the bees, the butterflies and the small birds will come.




 Photos Copyright Shafiq Morton

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Telling the Palestinian lie

Photo Shafiq Morton
THE Syrian conflict might have displaced 12 million people. The Rohinghyas in Burma might be the worst persecuted minority on earth. The Rwandan genocide might have killed 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days, but by far, the most enduring human rights challenge in modern times is the Palestinian Nakba.

This is because 67 years ago two-thirds of the Palestinian population were systematically uprooted from over 400 villages, towns and cities. Interestingly, up to 50% of these people were forced to flee by Zionist militias before the 1948 conflict, said to be the conventional marker of the Nakba.

The short story is that in response to Russian anti-Semitism of the 19th century, European political activists sought for socio-political solutions. Some were premised on solving Russia and Europe’s so-called ‘Jewish problem’ by promoting a Jewish homeland.   

However, few know that Zionism was not originally a Jewish aspiration, and that it was not initially supported by the Jewish community. Its first recognised protagonists were two Englishmen, Lord Shaftesbury and Laurence Oliphant. In 1880 Oliphant – a romantically religious Scotsman born in Cape Town – penned The Land of Gilead, a treatise on settling Jews in Palestine.

It was Shaftesbury, the Evangelist, who created the Zionist mantra by proclaiming in July 1853 that there was [in Palestine] a country without a people, and that ‘God in his wisdom and mercy’ had directed him to a people without a country.

Whilst Oliphant’s book hatched the The Gilead Plan, it took a Viennese Anglican chaplain, William Hechter, to author The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine in 1894.

This was two years before another Viennese citizen, Theodore Herzl, would write his Der Judenstat, a book inspired by the Dreyfus affair in France (where a French officer was the victim of anti-Semitism). This all catalysed the first Zionist Congress in 1897. However, due to anger from Orthodox and Reform rabbis, Herzl would have to move its meeting place from Munich in Germany to Basle in Switzerland.

Curiously, it was not Herzl who promoted the idea of Palestine as a Jewish homeland. As an avowed secularist he was happy with territory in Uganda, or even South America. Herzl had even suggested that European Jews convert to Catholicism. Max Nordau, another early Zionist, had even described the Torah as ‘repulsive’.

Herzl was only persuaded to support Palestine by the Zionist Congress when it became apparent that Zionism enjoyed more resonance if it was allied to religious symbolism – especially amongst Christian Zionists, who would then support the project. It is, therefore, an undisputed truth that ­– in scriptural terms – the notion of contemporary Jewish return came contradictorily after the fact.

Zionism was roundly condemned by the rabbis of Europe

As a political programme driven by secularist Jews at the behest of masonic Christian Zionists, Zionism was roundly condemned by the rabbis of Europe. Later, Jerusalem’s rabbinate would even declare Herzl an apostate. Not had he only refused to circumcise his son, Zionism contradicted the Three Talmudic Oaths.

In the oaths (a sombre Babylonian promise after the destruction of the Temple in 587 BCE) the sons of Isaac had sworn not to descend upon the Holy Land by force, not to rebel against host states and not to hasten the arrival of the Messiah through their sin.

Now shrouded in historical deceit, anaesthetised by hasbara and manipulated by Holocaust guilt as well as political ‘campaign funds’ in the US and Europe, Zionism has bullied and bribed the world into believing that Israel – a colonising nuclear power – must be the exception to international law.  

The most outrageous part of this bizarre equation is that it is deemed ‘anti-Semitic’ to criticise Israel politically – a de-facto a military state that has the chutzpah to interfere aggressively in the affairs of other Mid East states.

Whilst honouring the memory of the Holocaust, Israel is unable to see the irony of Gaza. Israel insists on being called a ‘Jewish’ state but has no constitution, nor direct rule by Jewish Sacred Decree except in a few matters of personal law. In other words, Israel is merely an ethnic state.

But that is not all; Israel has no defined borders, and since 1948 has been gobbling up Palestinian land. Just look at any map of the West Bank. Israel also indulges in illegal occupation – all documented by the UN, the World Court, human rights NGOs and even Jewish academics, most of whom have been either marginalised, or rendered toothless by the vetoes of the UN Security Council.

Shorn of apologetic language Israel is what it is – an apartheid state, where the systemic degradation of the human dignity of one portion of the population is an unashamed fact of life. Justice loving people instinctively know this; but not often understood is how secular Zionism has betrayed scriptural Judaism, and what role Christian Zionists have played.

Fanatical about the final ‘rapture’, an apocalyptic moment when Jesus descends to rule Zion, the Christian Zionist fails to mention that in his final dispensation Jews and Muslims are unbelievers. One of the ‘signs’ of the ‘rapture’ is the ingathering of all Jews in Palestine, so to this effect, Israel is supported without question.

In other words, Christian Zionism embraces a cynical expediency – if not a blatant hypocrisy – with regards to Israel. The implied bloodthirsty outcome for Muslims and Jews is never mentioned.   

Of course, this is not a diatribe against Christianity, God forbid, but rather a cry about its extremist edges, the curse of any faith today. As Frank Schaeffer of the Huffington Post argues: 

‘When it comes to the State of Israel, it's the Christian Zionists who have driven US foreign policy over a cliff. Christian Zionists continuously jeopardise our future by putting the promotion of hare-brained interpretations of biblical “prophecy” ahead of the well-being of both Israel and the US’.

In the US, the Christian Zionist lobby – estimated at 70 million by the late Jerry Falwell – is more weighty than the Jewish Zionist one, which is able to piggy-back on Christian Zionist numbers when it’s perceived that the president, or any public figure, has gone ‘too far’ on Israel.

It’s a highly effective policing mechanism for Zionism’s policies. Dissent is beaten back into the undergrowth of anti-Semitism, recriminations of self-hate and even accusations of supporting Islamic extremism.

This has had a disastrous effect on the Jewish community internationally, where dissenting voices – pushed to the fringes – are hardly ever heard in the mainstream media.  When they say they are criticising Israel because of their Jewish values, which is a deeply profound consideration, they are drowned out by the frantic drumming of the hasbara corps.

In fact, the greatest challenge that the Jewish Zionist faces today is that Israel in its current state of militarised chaos is inherently unsustainable – socially, economically and politically. For true peace and justice Israel’s inevitable destiny is a shared one, where Islam, Judaism and Christianity exist constitutionally side-by-side, without threat, and where all citizens enjoy genuine equal rights.

It leads to the question: Could the Jewish Zionist be an unwitting pawn of a fundamentalist, masonic outsider who – in the Semitic triumvirate of faiths – sees himself above the law of reason and the lord of all he surveys? Could it be for this reason that Israel itself can exist without the censure of international law, for to betray the servant would be to betray the master?