Who will build Uhuru Highway?

The in-flight magazine on Kenyan Airways had the usual-usual. The spine of the magazine surprised: a Swahili proverb had been written on it. I cannot remember the exact wording, but it read something like: When two bulls fight, the people suffer. — Swahili proverb A subtle reminder that the political fighting in Kenya was having…

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Roberto Mangabeira Unger: Social theorist/politician

(I have been working on this for a while for my studies, but seeing as Minister Trevor Manuel is quoting Roberto Mangabeira Unger in the 2008/09 budget, I thought it appropriate to get this blog done, even though I still need to think about this much more.) And what we seek, then, as the final…

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Budget 2008/09: Can the Polokwane Strawman win the war against poverty?

The boisterous rotating arms that signalled a need for substitution, a 60:40 split in the voting for national office-bearers and the fact that leftist formations had backed the winning ticket all signalled that something has changed during the ANC Polokwane’s conference. Whatever has changed has spurred on many private-sector commentators and lobbyists to begin the…

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Bafana Bafana: The return of passion and commitment

“He can put his foot on the ball.” That is high praise for a playmaker in soccer. In fact, that type of player is what we mean by a South African style: the slow build-up, flair, the devastating pass into space and, of course, the dazzling dribble. I wonder if that style of play can…

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The Budget Game

Trevor Manuel once remarked that “to budget is to choose”. The Budget Game puts participants in the position of being a decision maker, and making choices with a defined set of possible programmes and a defined budget. The intention of the game is for participants to make choices and then motivate them. In addition, it…

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TL representation: Some digressions on bloggers, power and ideas in society

Thought Leader is doing collective introspection on its race and gender representation, and in some cases in denial about the problem. I hope that this blog adds a little to the debate. It’s a little bit theoretical at first, but it gets practical — with a couple of digressions on the way. Edward Said in…

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Gear: A bureaucratic story, and some tough questions and challenges

“Asiyifuni Gear [We do not want Gear].” This was a common slogan by unionists in response to the government’s Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy. It reflected opposition to Gear. Eleven years later, Gear is still hotly debated. Recently, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel offered a spirited defence of the consultation process leading up to Gear. Manuel,…

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A redistributive presidency: Some incomplete thoughts on political leadership

The After 8 Debate raised an important question for me: What are the qualities of leadership? The debate provided important perspectives, especially that leadership is both complex and contextual. What qualities should the president of South Africa have to implement a programme of redistribution? As I argued in an earlier article, that programme is needed…

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How come …

How come I did not know that Benoni means “son of my sorrow”? I was born in Benoni. Yet, I did not know the meaning of Benoni. It celebrated its centenary recently, and I learnt the meaning of Benoni. One hundred years later, and the hostels — built about 30 years ago — when entering…

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Left alternatives in South Africa *

I have been privately rebuking editors, professors and other parts of the intelligentsia for ignoring left alternatives in South Africa, or for not taking the time to find out what is going on. For instance, at a recent colloquium (that’s a seminar, meeting, to you and I), a very respected professor argued that the Basic…

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