News/Politics

The unravelling of President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma’s firing of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, after barely 18 months in the job, is one of those rare events that can leave even consummately slick political opponents spluttering for words. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane’s flummoxed immediate response on Twitter was to state the blindingly obvious: “What we need now is a…

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Axing Nene: Give us the reasons

One of my most powerful insights during the height of the #feesmustfall protests was that the media has its own agenda and bias. Nuance, the sympathetic depiction of all sides, fair coverage of silent constituencies: these are all niceties in the hurly-burly of a reporting frenzy. So with the axing of Nhlanhla Nene sending the…

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Any heroes in the ANC, please stand up?

Just when you thought it could not get any worse, it just did. Jacob Zuma clearly wants what he wants and he wants it now. And so, the prospect of JZ waking up to a R4 BILLION jet under his Christmas tree at his R250 MILLION Nkandla on the 25th has edged a little closer with the…

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‘You are killing your children’

November 13 was a cool summer’s night. Students and university workers gathered in the park over the road from the University of Johannesburg to partake in a peaceful vigil against police brutality and in continuation of the #FeesMustFall protest. They hoped it would not rain as the vigil was to last a few hours. A…

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Mandela delivered the transition we desperately needed

It’s not surprising that the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death generated reflection on the course we’re following as a nation. Some veered on the negative. But rather than denigrate those who express them, we should instead pay attention, listen and engage rationally with them. Doing so will anchor further freedom of speech, which is the…

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Enough, already, with the ‘you stole our land’ argument

Last week, archaeologists unearthed a seal impression bearing the inscription “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah” near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Hezekiah — Chiskiya HaMelech — is revered in Judaism as having been one of the most righteous of the Jewish monarchs. His father was considerably less righteous. Both, though, were Jewish kings…

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Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations

Colonialism is one of those things you’re not supposed to discuss in polite company — at least not north of the Mediterranean. Most people feel uncomfortable about it, and would rather pretend it didn’t happen. In fact, that appears to be the official position. In the mainstream narrative of international development peddled by institutions like…

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The fulcrum of SA’s democracy develops a wobble

It is the Supreme Court of Appeal overturning Oscar Pistorius’ manslaughter conviction, in favour of one for murder, that dominates the headlines. But this week’s Constitutional Court ruling around what appears to be a trifling municipal squabble has potentially far wider-reaching consequences. The real stress test of a democracy is whether the governing party allows…

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Transformation, decolonisation and other vague words

“Transformation” has become a vague word. Yet the demand for university transformation is growing ever more vocal. What to make of this demand, then, is a matter of importance. This is about the only thing on which Mashupye Herbert Maserumule and I agree. I believe the other things he has said to be misguided. I…

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Global poverty is worse than you think

A few weeks ago the World Bank changed the international poverty line from $1.25 to $1.90 (R27) a day. Normally, changes to the poverty line slide by without attracting much attention, but for some reason this time people got excited. At first glance, it looks as if the bank has finally admitted that the old…

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