Brent Meersman

The ANC’s “second transition”: promise, threat or propaganda?

1 The chain-reaction set off by the release of the ANC policy discussion documents last week, the foundation course for the party’s “second transition”, was to be expected. Headlines and tweets speak of “mining grabs”, “resource nationalism”, a “full scale attack” on the constitution, and the “path to a failed state”. Some say it is…

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The unions: For whom do they speak?

When it comes to the Tripartite Alliance, Oscar Wilde’s observation that the proper basis for a marriage is a mutual misunderstanding seems rather apt. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has himself used the matrimonial metaphor. When Zuma invites the unions to join the national executive council (as he did this past week), he is extending…

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An apartheid beneficiary’s guide to the budget

Who is an apartheid beneficiary? Anyone who was classified “white” under apartheid benefited from the system. Do we include their children almost two decades after apartheid was officially abolished? The answer must be yes. It is the moral stance. (German youth were faced with a similar dilemma. It took time. The first generation after World…

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Courting disaster: Is there a con in Constitution?

No head of state, whether they’re a monarch, an elected president or the ruler of a party in office, can be happy seeing their decisions made null and void or the laws they pass overturned by some other authority. In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “With all due deference to…

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How spooky is President Zuma?

Boss, the old apartheid Bureau of State Security, is back, says Laurie Nathan, director of the Centre for Mediation in Africa. A process of ‘Stasi-fication’ is underway, claims DA MP David Maynier. What they are referring to is the proposed Intelligence General Laws Amendment Bill, the latest assault by the executive through the legislature on…

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Occupy Tshwane: behold the bourgeois revolution

You might think an ‘Occupy Movement’ would find fertile ground in a land as brutally unequal as South Africa, not to mention an economy virtually hostage to monopoly capital. Yet Occupy is primarily driven by an educated, salaried middle class, which has now found itself rapidly sinking into either economic ruin or, horror of horrors,…

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Julius Malema: Why he will be missed

Juju bashing isn’t as much fun as it used to be. If you type Malema into Google, the second suggestion the browser makes is “Malema jokes”. The latest one is that his girlfriend has twins and Malema is wondering which of them is his. I’m not entirely comfortable with such jokes; I know some people…

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The problem is not black and white

It was 1994 and a Canadian comic at a South African festival thought that given our apartheid history, he’d be edgy by poking fun at race. He got mere titters and derisory silences from the audience. He didn’t realise: we got race. We South Africans had been through race, come back and turned it inside…

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Those who hate Mandela

I have never thought harder about whether or not to publish a piece. I do not want to write this piece, but feel compelled because I cannot sit quietly by as Nelson Mandela is rubbished by people who would divide and rule us. We should not jump to their bait, but be aware of the…

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Closing down democratic space is what is really counter-revolutionary

Private and unpublished correspondence by the South African poet Roy Campbell recently came into my possession. In a letter to Francis C. Slater, written in Rome sometime between September 1938 and February 1939, Campbell writes that “journalists are the greatest Social Poison the world has yet seen”. He goes on: “It is a treat to…

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