Robert Brand

In defence of Julius’s right to free speech

I believe in freedom of expression. Our Constitution protects the right to freedom of expression. That is why I cannot welcome the Equality Court’s ruling that Malema was guilty of hate speech when he commented on the young woman who had accused President Jacob Zuma of rape. Please understand that I am not defending Malema….

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Nyanda as communications minister? Is this some kind of joke?

Some journalists believe that President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration speech signalled a thaw in his relationship with the media. But actions speak louder than words: look who he appointed as his communications minister. Of all the surprising cabinet appointments — and there are many — that of former defence force chief Siphiwe Nyanda as minister of…

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Retailers, please explain: Why do food prices defy gravity?

I am getting just a little bit irritated by food retailers who shed crocodile tears over the difficulties of their cash-strapped customers, while raking in ever-increasing profits. Take, for example, Spar, which reported first-half financial results this week. Doing business in these challenging times, CEO Wayne Hook said, is a “struggle”. With double-digit food inflation…

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Do we need the biggest Cabinet in the world?

Can someone explain to me why South Africa needs 31 Cabinet ministers? According to The Times, Jacob Zuma is planning to enlarge the Cabinet from 28 to 31, plus 19 deputy ministers. That would make South Africa’s Cabinet, as far as I could ascertain, the largest in the world. The UK has 22 cabinet ministers;…

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Those who want newspapers to die are missing the point

The Rocky Mountain News, Cincinnati Post and New York Sun are gone. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last edition on Tuesday. The San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer and Minneapolis Star-Tribune are in their death throes. Even the mighty New York Times had to go hat in hand to a shady Mexican billionaire recently to keep…

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Niehaus provides the entertainment but what’s the real story?

I can’t help feeling sorry for Carl Niehaus. Not that anything can excuse the man’s behaviour, but you have to understand where he’s coming from. Niehaus spent his early adulthood in jail for his anti-apartheid convictions while the rest of us were getting started in life, accumulating wealth, property and building our careers. When he…

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What goes up, never comes down

Why do we keep paying more for food at supermarkets even as the petrol price and producer prices fall? Business Day’s explanation in an editorial this week is far from convincing. It starts off praising Woolworths for cutting the price of 245 “selected food lines” (what is the difference between food lines and food?) —…

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The ANC’s newspaper for people who don’t read newspapers

The easiest way to make a small fortune from newspapers, a wise man once said, is to start with a large fortune. The ANC would do well to keep this advice in mind as it considers a proposal to acquire its own newspaper. Despite the sensational headline in The Times, the so-called “detailed plans” to…

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Damned lies, journalism and private healthcare

What is it about journalists and numbers? Mathematical incompetence among journalists is, as the American media scholar Steve Maier once put it, ‘legendary”. Actually, Maier was wrong. Far from being legendary, the numerical cluelessness of journalists has been empirically established in a number of studies, including one of my own, soon to be published in…

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Save us from the Save David Bullard brigade

By Robert Brand and Anne Taylor We’ve had to put up with David Bullard for years, so it was with delight that we heard he’d been fired. But it seems there are those who are rallying to his defence, citing Machiavellian corporate and political machinations as the real reason for his axing. It’s all bullshit,…

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