William Saunderson-Meyer

Something stirs behind the dull eyes and zombie shuffle

Just occasionally one glimpses, behind the dull eyes and zombie-like shuffle of President Jacob Zuma’s disengaged administration, the values that sustained the African National Congress in the struggle years. It’s a briefly cheering reminder that all is not yet lost. This week Kgalema Motlanthe, in an uncommonly frank Business Day interview, skewered the movement to…

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From small mutinies big coups doth grow

After 20 years of thwarted hopes and expectations, South Africans are adroit at juggling the private truth and public lie. The ability to reconcile these two without guilt or a giveaway smirk has become a necessary social skill to guard one’s career or business prospects. This is very much a characteristic of nations drifting towards…

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University VCs experience the epiphany of the pointy stick

It has taken a relatively small band of petulant students to highlight the fragility of President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress government. A protest that should have been contained and defused instead has been allowed to smoulder and grow. The wannabe revolutionaries of the Economic Freedom Front and radical activist organisations have been quick to…

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Zuma’s creaky legislative edifice under siege from gravity

While a president, by definition, oversees and takes responsibility for the exercise of state power, how they do so differs widely. Former president Thabo Mbeki was something of a control freak. He not only personally shaped all policy, but he also authorised every major exercise of state power and any government initiative of importance. It…

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Birds of a political feather

Politicians with competing ideologies like to think of themselves as fundamentally different: socialist versus capitalist, libertarian as opposed to authoritarian, etc. Given, however, the universality of the human condition, they are actually often more alike in their personal foibles and personalities than they would care to acknowledge. Or have us to notice. For example, there…

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The siren songs of Petty Officer Malema

The Economic Freedom Fighters have unveiled another plank in their nuanced political policy platform. Added to such subtleties as the right to prevent Parliament from operating, and to seize without compensation land and industry for divvying up among their supporters, the EFF are now demanding the removal of the Afrikaans words in the national anthem….

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Corporate leaders destroyed by their own greed

It’s been a bad run for caring capitalism. An unvarnished display this week was the monstrous rapaciousness unleashed when captains of industry lack any sense of social responsibility or personal morality. First there was business boy wonder Martin Shkreli’s inadvertent self-immolation, metaphorically speaking. Then there was the slow motion crash of Volkswagen, the world’s second…

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Time to ease the trade union corset that confines SA

Despite the excitement generated among the British hard left by the election of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, trade union influence has over the past two decades been on the wane throughout most of the Western world. And as in most of the developing world, it has not fared at all well in…

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A high human cost to the ANC’s political pandering

One of the unwholesome characteristics of President Jacob Zuma’s administration is its brazen pandering to African National Congress special interest groups. The unions, of course, have always enjoyed a special relationship. They can trash city centres and with impunity heave rocks at their opponents, confident that their membership of the ANC’s tripartite alliance will shield…

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Durban 2022: A moment to savour

South Africans appear studiously underwhelmed by the award of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Durban. The public response has been at best a yawn, with the general tenor being snipingly negative, which is par for the course when much of our political discourse is conducted in 140-character Twitter put-downs. There was certainly little of the…

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