- Mandy de Waal
Two of the University of Stellenbosch’s most notorious alumni were, of course, Hendrik Verwoerd and Daniel Francois Malan, the man who dreamt up the word “Apartheid”. But the institution has also delivered to this country several visionary democrats and this week, “free agent”, Jay Naidoo, paid tribute to one of them, delivering the annual Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert honorary lecture at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. He also provided some handy geographical tips to the government of the day. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Cosatu Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi will be campaigning for the ANC in the upcoming elections, despite his criticism of the government and his allegiances to the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa), Cosatu leaders said on Wednesday after a meeting with the South African Communist Party (SACP). Blade Nzimande took the opportunity to attack former Comrade Ronnie Kasrils and his Vote No campaign. By GREG NICOLSON.
South Africa’s citizens have won rare victory over the SABC, the country’s public broadcaster, to carry campaign ads highly critical of the country’s president. Is this the start of a new era in media freedom? J. BROOKS SPECTOR contemplates the question, bringing American experience in as comparison.
The 2014 elections are held on the 20th anniversary of the advent of democracy. Instead of celebration, the atmosphere is suffused with anger and mistrust. Many believe freedom is endangered or that some gains have been reversed or undermined. There is disquiet in relation to violent state actions against unarmed protesters, unbridled corruption and undermining of the Constitution. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
The defiance vote was always going to be the wild card in the 2014 elections. The question was how would it manifest itself. The post-Mangaung ANC and the performance of the Zuma administration have caused unprecedented turbulence and disenchantment within the ruling party. The Economic Freedom Fighters has become a channel for some of the anger against the ANC, but many respected, staunch members are at a loss about what to do with their vote. Now a handful of veterans, academics and activists have come up with a “Vote No” campaign as a stopgap measure until a better alternative comes along. Desperate times, desperate measures. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
These elections are about the ANC and whether the “broad church” can keep it together amid political scandals and dissatisfaction with the tangible outcomes of democracy. Anti-Apartheid stalwart Ronnie Kasrils clarified his position on Tuesday, launching a “Vote No” campaign. Like many others, he's hoping the ANC will see the light or a new left will emerge. By GREG NICOLSON.
Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani may be getting the VIP treatment in court, but on the ground, hundreds – if not thousands – of ordinary South Africans are fighting for their lives in a criminal justice system that is bent at best; or completely broken. No lengthy bail hearings or deep analysis of the evidence for them: they languish in jail, waiting for justice that never comes. By RUTH HOPKINS.
If it is true that a country gets the politicians it deserves, then ladies and gentlemen: Kenny Kunene! His Patriotic Alliance Party lurks on the IEC list as a merry reminder of our celebrity-obsessed, ca$h-addled culture. Yet Kunene, who is famous for being famous, just wants to help poor children, because no one else is. He kind of has a point, thinks RICHARD POPLAK.
A small group of long-time ANC and SACP bigwigs have called for voters to withhold their support from the ANC in the 7 May election as part of a desperate effort to reform and cleanse their party and return it to its true routes. This is an extraordinary moment in South Africa’s political world – but will it have any real effect? J. BROOKS SPECTOR contemplates this development.
The Tokwe-Mukorsi dam project was intended to be the solution for the irrigation and electricity issues surrounding the communities of Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. However, the heaviest rainfall experienced in the province in over 40 years resulted in heavy flooding, culminating in the partial collapse of the dam. Thousands of rural farmers and their families had to flee their homes, leaving their crops and livestock behind, and at the mercy of the rising waters. By IHSAAN HAFFEJEE.
The ANC might have set out to tell its good story, but it is becoming more and more difficult task. The cacophony of voices of disillusionment and the negative sentiment the ANC has encountered at some public events, like what happened to Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba at The Gathering last week, should have triggered an alarm in the party’s election war room. Instead ANC leaders are trying to play it down and wish it away. It is clear the ANC is also writing off certain constituencies as lost causes and thinks the best defence is to demonise the critics. But perhaps the only long-term sustainable way to navigate the crisis is to confront it and also slaughter some holy cows – especially those in a high security cattle kraal in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Scandals, tragedies and controversies during President Jacob Zuma's administration have given opposition parties much to campaign on. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken the baton and through Nkandla, Marikana and unemployment, blamed the ANC for the South Africa's ills. Not everyone, however, is happy with their advertising strategy. First, the ANC took the party to court telling voters that Zuma “stole”. The SABC has since decided to pull a DA advertisement it claims could incite violence. It appears that, just months after the negative Public Protector's report, the public broadcaster is exposing itself, more than Thuli Madonsela ever could. By GREG NICOLSON.
In South Africa, economic policy is, to put it mildly, contested terrain. With our history having created a skewed scenario of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, there is an uncomfortable element to these arguments. In short, to argue about economics is to argue about race and our past. Which is one of the reasons that every time there is a slight change in government, or an election, everyone both locally and abroad starts to fret and worry and prepare for economic policy Armageddon. Knowing full well that the structure of our economy is simply unfair and wrong, those who are the ‘haves’, and those who have invested money in this economic structure, worry deeply. But over the last five years the ANC itself appears to have actually, slowly, started to shift to the right. Under President Jacob Zuma. For real. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Oscar Pistorius’ time on the stand is bringing out the pop psychologist in many of us. Of course, we’re never likely to get anywhere close to the “real” Pistorius from watching him testify, or hearing the evidence led in his prosecution or defence. The former seek to portray him as an angry, narcissistic, responsibility-shirking gun fiend; the latter as a humble, religious, respectful young man. Neither version is likely to be wholly accurate. By REBECCA DAVIS.
On Thursday at The Gathering, four of South Africa’s top civil society figures discussed what exactly civil society should be doing in this country, and who’s trying to stop them. They painted a dispiriting picture, but there’s one thing everyone agreed on: we’re not turning into a dictatorship anytime soon. Whew. By SIMON ALLISON.
This week, the Judicial Service Commission has been carrying out interviews with shortlisted candidates to determine who will fill empty judge positions on the benches of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Electoral Court, the Free State and KZN High Courts, and the Labour Appeal Court. Only four out of 26 are female, and not one of the candidates shortlisted for the Supreme Court was a woman. While racial transformation is rightly held as one of the judiciary’s major challenges, it’s clear that progress on gender isn’t happening fast enough either. By REBECCA DAVIS