William Saunderson-Meyer

All that Emperor Zuma wants is respect, mon. Respect!

South Africa is devolving into an imperial presidency. At its head stands Emperor Jacob Zuma, an incipient despot taking critical decisions on apparent whim. It emerged this week that six weeks after announcing a R1-trillion deal with Russia for nuclear power stations, struck mano a mano between the South African and Russian presidents, the most…

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Close the gate quietly behind you when you leave, Mr President

Watergate set the trend. Since then we have locally had Muldergate, Travelgate, Guptagate and now Nkandlagate. There are others, quickly forgotten as new political outrages displace the old more swiftly than one can keep track. The gate suffix is now so ubiquitous through journalistic overuse as to be meaningless. Especially given what separates the first…

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The strange case of the disappearing president

President Jacob Zuma is South Africa’s invisible man. The person elected to lead the nation is slowly fading away like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, until eventually, one assumes, only the grin will remain. Like many a politician before him who found the heat in the local kitchen too much to endure, Zuma has become a…

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Lost for words to describe Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma

It is something that is always at the back of the minds of leaders: the question of how they will be remembered by subsequent generations. In the deferential East, the Chinese will happily bob and scrape to such obvious fibs as The Great Helmsman to describe mass murderer Mao Zedong, while North Korea hails Kim…

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Protecting the dignity of politicians

One thinks of politicians as vain and thick-skinned. Arrogant and shameless. Duplicitous bullies. People to tolerate but rarely to love. Men and women with the backbones of amoebae but the survival instincts of cockroaches. It appears one is just so wrong, for it seems that they bleed emotionally like any of us. All the way…

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Scotland: A Petri dish for the virus of nationalism

More than 40 observers from a Canadian separatist movement arrived in Edinburgh this week for the final days of Scotland’s independence referendum. It was a small marker that whatever the outcome – potentially a name change from United Kingdom to Untied Kingdom – this was an event that is going to reverberate for a long while. …

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Time to pull thumb, Mr President

Some of President Jacob Zuma’s top people were all thumbs this week. First up was deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who also heads the party’s Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Military Veterans’ Association. Speaking at a Soweto memorial service, he accused the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of being an agent for the United States Central Intelligence Agency….

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Ebola lays bare the fragile nature of the ‘Africa rising’ narrative

The “Africa rising” narrative of the past couple of years is emotionally compelling for anyone living here. Not because such a rise would be deserved, but because it happens to be true. Investment in sub-Saharan Africa has been booming and the middle-class is burgeoning. Although not everywhere triumphant, democracy has taken vigorous root. On the…

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Time for the media to catch a wake-up over the EFF

It’s easy to forget that 94 out of every 100 voters in the May general election did not choose the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Were one dependent only on the South African media, one would easily come away with the impression of that statistical reality being reversed. For such is the media enchantment with the…

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ANC’s ideological arteriosclerosis throttles job growth

It’s one of the staples of South African journalism. It plays as comedy but it is actually closer to tragedy. The scenario is a congress of one of the trade unions or leftist political movements. The delegates, uniformly attired in radical chic T-shirts and caps, express solidarity with the exploited working class and declaim that…

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