Alexander Matthews

The Spear: SA will not overcome fear by giving into it

Brett Murray’s defaced The Spear stands as a monument to intolerance. After thousands of ANC supporters marched to the Goodman Gallery where it had once been on display, the gallery has agreed it will not be displayed publicly again. While representations of the painting now enjoy the ubiquity of the web, what price have we…

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The ANC’s bullying will fail to quash freedom

There has been much gnashing of teeth at the decision made by the editor of City Press, Ferial Haffajee, to remove a photo of Bretty Murray’s The Spear from the newspaper’s website. When it comes to the media, the ANC has brought all its indignant rage down on one publication – it has been useful…

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Polishing turds won’t save our papers

Circulation of English language broadsheets in South Africa is largely in decline. We all know that. But the response hasn’t been to invest in better content. Instead, staff numbers have been slashed, news from elsewhere gets regurgitated and a fixation with other media — websites, multimedia and, of course, Twitter — has developed. Most of…

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Cowardly big business is failing our democracy

Democracy is an ecosystem. Its survival is dependent on many things: a sound legislative framework, an independent judiciary, a vibrant parliament and a responsive government. Beyond this, it also needs a vigilant, proactive civil society, engaged voters and a free media: three elements that ensure government is held accountable for its actions, transparent about what…

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Cape Town council: A culture of complacency?

Last week human-rights activist Rhoda Kadalie raised a stink about the abysmal state of the toilets in Cape Town’s City Hall. A contractor was hired in April to renovate them. When she requested a progress report last month senior council officials ignored her so she visited the loos herself. She wrote in Business Day last…

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The Swazis who dare to demand democracy

You know a monarchy is feeling the heat when errant subjects face a beating with spikes. Last month, the prime minister of Swaziland, Barnabas Dlamini, threatened to use “sipakatane” — the beating of the feet with of metal or wooden spikes — to cow pro-democracy activists into submission. His comments came after a protest march…

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To leave or not to leave

Have you ever thought about leaving South Africa? Do you feel like spitting on someone who would even consider it? Or have you already left? At one point or another, I’ve been all three. So perhaps that’s why I’ve found that Should I Stay or Should I Go, a collection of writing about leaving South…

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Why this pale male is shutting up (for now anyway)

Six weeks ago I touched down in London: a born-and-bred Cape Town boy about to start a new job in another country. While the online smorgasbord of Politicsweb, the Mail & Guardian and Business Day still form a daily news staple, an inevitable sense of detachment from the roiling intrigue of South African politics has…

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Is Tsvangirai an anti-gay bigot?

On Friday, the BBC reported that Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s prime minister and head of the opposition MDC, had declared support for Robert Mugabe’s refusal to protect gay rights in Zimbabwe’s new constitution. If his comments are accurate, they represent yet another step backwards in the long walk towards tolerance and respect for human rights in…

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If killing the boers is OK, how about blacks, women and gays?

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu has defended Julius Malema’s lusty renditions of the infamous “kill the boers, they are rapists” song, arguing (according to this Sapa article) that the “the lyrics of the song had been quoted out of context”. “This song was sung for many years even before Malema was born. Julius doesn’t even know…

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