Hennie van Vuuren

Voting for accountability

The memory of a politician is often as short as their election promises are long. An example is the speed with which the elected — and electorate — forgot an election undertaking by the ruling party in 2004 promising to strengthen the Scorpions as part of its proposed anti-corruption drive. Fast forward five years and…

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Time to reclaim our values?

Politicians and policy makers too often swing on a pendulum between unbridled ego and blinkered groupthink. Self-preservation at all cost, parading as “national interest”, is the key to understanding this dynamic. This was patently evident in the wake of the uproar over the decision last week to ban a Nobel Peace Laureate (the Dalai Lama)…

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SA: A nation in a good state?

On Friday, President Kgalema Motlanthe walked the red carpet to open the nation’s legislature. As he shuffled past dignitaries and diplomats, one could almost hear the jingle of keys in his pocket. The president is little more than a caretaker in a blue overall we are told. He is caught between Thabo Mbeki, who left…

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Motlanthe and the challenge of democratic governance

As South African President Kgalema Motlanthe commences work in his new office this week, the air will still be thick with the smell of briar pipes and the backroom political intrigue so favoured by his predecessor. While Thabo Mbeki may have left the Union Buildings, his 15-year tenure in the presidency has profoundly shaped South…

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In search of Mandela’s people

Madiba shines brilliantly at ninety. One sees it in the gush of smiles that follow mention of his name almost anywhere on the African continent. He remains in the words of the late Brenda Fassie “My Black President” – a title he earned before he was elected by the South African people – and one…

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Military solutions to political problems?

“You see”, said the Congolese security guard to me, “in my country the government would order in the army, they would shoot these people dead”. He paused and then earnestly added, “…but this (South Africa) is a democratic country”. What I had thought was an argument for wide-ranging military intervention to deal with the wave…

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Bahama, Bahama mama

While Charles Taylor was pondering his future in court in The Hague, I was sitting in the back seat of a 4×4, speeding along one of Monrovia’s main boulevards while dodging the Liberian capital’s potholes, squashed between three of my gracious hosts from the National Drug Enforcement Authority, with Boney M booming. As we passed…

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