Pierre de Vos

Get involved in the Constitutional Court debate

I am running a “competition” over on my Blog to try and stimulate intelligent debate on the looming appointment of four members of our Constitutional Court. There I invite all readers to propose their “dream candidates” for our highest court. In several judgments — including the Doctors for Life case and the Matatiele case —…

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Constitutional lessons for the comrades I

Some ANC bigwigs are in dire need of serious lessons in understanding the finer points of our Constitution. God knows, they really need them. Lesson number one is about freedom of expression (article 16) and freedom of assembly (article 17), both rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights. So listen up, comrades. Please, I ask…

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Zille maybe not so Zilly?

Maybe I owe an apology to Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance? I harshly criticised her earlier this year for challenging the constitutionality of the Erasmus Commission of Enquiry set up by then Premier Ebrahim Rasool, arguing that she appeared shifty and less than honest. I was particularly scathing of her criticism of Judge…

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Presumed innocent, but is that enough?

Last year I spent a few hours in prison. Not as a guest of the state, I should add, but to accompany students on a study tour. Contrary to popular belief, a prison is not a great place to spend one’s life. It’s cramped and dark, the food is foul, one has no privacy and…

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The Dark Lord Sauron strikes again

It would be easy to dismiss ANC Youth League president Julius Malema as an irresponsible fool. That he surely is, but fools can be dangerous — just ask the relatives of Iraqis who were killed during or after the American invasion ordered by another irresponsible fool, George Bush — so we may do well to…

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On criticising judges and a mea culpa

I have, at times, been rather scathing of some judges on our High Courts — including Judge President John Hlophe and Judge Motata of the Transvaal Provincial Disvision of the High Court. Yet I have criticised Helen Zille for saying that Judge Nathan Erasmus is allowing himself to be used by the ANC to smear…

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Hypocrisy rules again

I do not really want to pick a fight with Helen Zille because I do not have the time. But as she has now also attacked me because I criticised her actions around the appointment of the Erasmus Commission, I guess I’ll have to jump in. When President Thabo Mbeki told religious leaders that they…

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Zille, Zillier, Zilliest

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has been very successful at cultivating the image of a no-nonsense, straight-shooting politician who sticks to her principles — no matter what. Her party has over the years also (rightly) lambasted the ANC for covering up the arms-deal corruption and for making statements aimed at undermining the independence and…

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The deep roots of Aids denialism

For those of us who form part of the chattering classes and have never set foot in a rural village — except perhaps to take tourist pictures — South Africa can be a very confusing and perplexing place. I have wondered for a long time, for example, why so few poor and black South Africans…

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On ‘kaffirs’, ‘queers’, ‘moffies’ and other hurtful terms

I am not a very squeamish or prude person and have been known to let out a swearword or 10. At the same time, I know that words are powerful things and can deeply hurt and offend others. I was therefore taken aback when I read that Irvin Khoza had told a black journalist at…

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