Christi van der Westhuizen

A parliament that doesn’t respect itself

Dr Mathole Motshekga, ANC chief whip, at the end of June wrote in ANC Today that, “parliament survives on the confidence and respect the public have in it, without (which) its dignity and integrity is eroded”. The context was Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota sticking to his guns that President Jacob Zuma had violated his oath…

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Gender Commission finally has commissioners but battles are not over yet

It is a no-brainer that a commission without commissioners ceases to operate. But, by the second half of May, the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) had only two commissioners left, with terms expiring before June 7. So it was déjà vu at the CGE: in 2006-2007, the CGE had no commissioners, for which the blame…

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Review of the judiciary: Transformation = co-operation

Almost exactly three years ago, Jacob Zuma addressed the last ANC rally before the election on April 22 2009, which returned the ANC as ruling party and made him president of the country. He spoke about everything from education to crime before he identified two institutions that required “transformation”: the judiciary and the media. Just…

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Mantashe, Mulder and other Africans

‘Race’* is an overused concept in South African discourses that frequently hides more than it reveals. Therefore, it remains imperative to scrutinise the particular historical context in which ‘race’ is wielded. When we discern how ‘race’ is applied to maintain or expand power, we can resist attempted reactivations of the apartheid template and disrupt ‘whiteness’…

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Suspicion-mongering to discredit critical civil society

Cynicism permeated the atmosphere at Parliament’s latest round of public hearings on the Protection of State Information Bill (POSIB), ringing alarm bells about increasing hostility emanating from parliamentarians towards civil society. While the interaction should be rigorous, as different views are tested, the mere hosting of public hearings should not in itself be contentious in…

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Traditional Courts Bill: Colonialism warmed up

The retabled Traditional Courts Bill, if adopted in its current form, will relegate at least 17 million South Africans to a separate and unequal judicial regime merely because they happen to live in the rural areas – a situation in many cases imposed on them by the apartheid regime. While cabinet’s planned “review” of Constitutional…

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Enemies, enemies, everywhere

“No rubbernecking,” I was told by an official when I crossed into Zimbabwe from Botswana in the late 1990s. I immediately understood that as a journalist I am allowed entry as long as I don’t “snoop around”. Zanu-PF’s resistance to being held accountable, also by “outsiders”, had already by that early stage infiltrated the lower…

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Why Zuma’s Rolled Out Big Mac

Despite being prone to regular attacks of the giggles, President-by-Omission Jacob Zuma is an astute guy. In fact, the giggles are all part of the show. The appointment of Mac Maharaj as his spokesperson shows he’s still on top of his game. The media speculate that this move is all about former presidential spokesperson Zizi…

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What some media don’t want you to think about

I recently resigned as monthly columnist at Media24’s daily newspapers after one of my columns was censored. The offence that led to the censorship? As a proponent of the position that the media’s allergic reaction to self-criticism is to its own detriment, I had dared to do exactly that: employ critical examination of the media….

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The ‘bonus’ of polygamy…a colonial perk (Part 2)

Has Jacob Zuma registered his multiple marriages? This question is vital as the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998 does not apply to “indigenous African” marriages that have not been registered. Its safeguards and benefits, therefore, would have no force in such cases. The choice whether to register a customary marriage in terms of…

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