Steven Friedman

Numbers, numbers everywhere and not a truth in sight?

If you really want to confuse people about where the country is headed, say it with numbers. There is a certain magic about numbers and the spells they weave in many heads. Go to most conferences, for example. Even the most brilliant presentation in words may provoke only glassy stares — a PowerPoint slide with…

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Why Polokwane might matter after all

So why should we care who wins the ANC presidency? We shouldn’t, Ndumiso Ngcobo suggests in his latest post. And he is right to insist that the difference between the candidates is not nearly as great as their supporters and the analysts (sorry, “star gazers” and “palm readers”) make out. But, despite this, the succession…

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Wanted: A government that is not embarrassed by its people

It is nice to have a President who cares what the world thinks. It would be far nicer to have one who cares what the people of South Africa think. Thabo Mbeki’s desire to change the nickname of some national sports teams may seem like a frivolous diversion from our national challenges. In reality, it…

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The people our national debate does not see or hear

Do our public commentators know nothing about the lives of grassroots South Africans? Or do we simply not care? One of the more important plusses of our democracy is that we still have a loud and vigorous national debate. Despite worrying signs that politicians might want to reign in the media, we are often able…

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Why the private health industry is bad for your health

We have many things of which to be proud in this country. The way we treat sick people is not one of them. Recent reports have focused attention again on the awfulness that faces the poor and weak when they try to access public healthcare — child deaths at Frere Hospital and babies kept in…

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Why our government’s business is our business

There may be few greater contributions we can make to democracy in this country right now than to explain the difference between a democratic government and a business. Comparing government to a business has become popular among supporters of President Thabo Mbeki. They repeatedly dismiss criticism of both the firing of deputy health minister Nozizwe…

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Why is cricket still a white preserve?

If anyone asks you what you think of our national cricket team, reply with Gandhi’s famous words about Western civilisation: it would be a very good idea. Fifteen years after this country re-entered world cricket after apartheid, its cricketers took the field against New Zealand the other day with precisely two black players out of…

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Who will deliver us from delivery?

A colleague who lectures in politics at Rhodes University has banned his students from using the word “globalisation” in class. Someone should follow his excellent lead by preventing all commentators who want to be taken seriously from using the word “delivery”. The reason he insists that people who use the word “globalisation” are not to…

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