Christi van der Westhuizen

Buti Manamela’s moment of truth: Luthuli House rules

Buti Manamela, ANC MP and leader of the Young Communist League, caused a stir in Parliament this week when he stated bluntly that he acts on orders from Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters. He was speaking at the meeting where the ANC used its parliamentary majority to shut down the ad hoc committee tasked with…

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Parliament @20: Shrinking the accountability deficit

This year South Africans celebrate the 20-year anniversary of our democratic parliament. With national and provincial elections approaching, political parties are finalising the lists of candidates selected to represent South Africans. It is an opportune moment to reflect on the efficacy of public representation and how civil society can assist in enhancing it. Much has…

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Now for the 21st century round of South African sex panic

Twenty years into democracy and the battles to capture and define South African identities are at fever pitch. Race seems to have a new lease on life and, unexpectedly, so does sexuality. Some say that South Africa’s future is black, in the sense that state power will never be in the hands of a white-defined…

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The white angst of Red October

Singer and aspirant politician Steve Hofmeyr delivered a heart-wrenching ode to the splendours and disappointments of Afrikaner white masculinity at the Red October march in Pretoria. But to get an even better sense of the thinking behind the campaign, just look at the two sponsors of its website: Comfizone and the Pistols Saloon. It’s so…

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Neoliberalism: ‘Stop thinking because this is it’

“What is neoliberalism?” The young American student looks at me with faux innocence of the wide-eyed sort. She’s not sure what it is. “Can you explain?” Sniggers precede and succeed the question. With that little question-and-snigger, neoliberal hegemony re-iterates its reach across the Atlantic Ocean to South Africa, by way of that island that formerly…

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You have no right to own land if you’re black and rural

Powerful lobby groups regularly sound alarm bells when the torpid rate of land reform fleetingly raises the possibility of land expropriation and, with it, the spectre of the violation of white farmers’ property rights. In reality, it is black, rural, poor South Africans who are already being deprived of the right to own property, even…

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The Oscar Pistorius case: Time magazine is wrong, Lulu is right

Two mainstream media companies have turned the Oscar Pistorius case into an opportunity to ruminate on the perils of post-white rule. Time magazine and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) have both in their recent coverage used Pistorius’s defence to weigh in on the South African “culture of violence”. It is notable that these media companies…

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Forget Mangaung. Budget politics is where it’s at

Xolela Mangcu in his latest book Biko – A Biography writes about a “big-chief syndrome” that exists among the current ruling elite, in which followers are placed at the mercy of the “chief”. South Africans arguably suffer as much as politicians from big-chief syndrome, in that we imbue leaders with inordinate power. This has to…

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Marikana, the sign of a schizophrenic state

As assault charges are laid against the police in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre, the outrageous reality is that torture is still not criminalised in South Africa. A draft law called the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Bill is before parliament but far from adoption. The relevant parliamentary committee has postponed the…

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Don’t kiss me, I’m 16

The recent fiasco with the Sexual Offences Act should serve as an alert about continuing problems dating from before the act’s adoption in 2007 and that have still not received parliament’s attention. The Western Cape High Court in May upheld a finding that meant the courts could not pass sentences for 29 crimes for which…

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