- Greg Nicolson
Ayanda Kota, of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM), was recently revealed as one of the signatories of Ronnie Kasrils’ “Vukani! No Vote” campaign. He is a seasoned activist and an outspoken critic of the state. UYANDA SIYOTULA for SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014 spoke to him about unemployment in South Africa and 20 years of democracy.
We always suspected it, but Thursday’s events seemed to confirm it. Bar some miraculous intervention, the special parliamentary committee convened to consider President Zuma’s response to the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla has very little chance of completing any meaningful work before their deadline runs out next week. They have just three sessions to wrap things up – and one is now gone, during which little more than the election of a chair was completed. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The citation published by Time magazine to recognise South Africa’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as one of the 100 most influential people in the world was written by the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Lamido Sanusi. It describes Madonsela as “an inspirational example of what African public officers need to be”. Sanusi said it required “extraordinary courage and patriotism to do what Thuli Madonsela has done”. Yet in South Africa, Madonsela has been subjected to scorn, attacks on her integrity and insults by many in the ruling coalition. The Time list is by no means the best and brightest citizens of the world – it has Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Williams on it – but the magazine rightfully states that Madonsela “has assured herself a place in the history of modern South Africa”. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Ivo Vegter recently noted that it’s his right to change voting strategies, as long as there’s a good reason (and a good column in it). The most recent change in his political allegiances came about as a result of the DA’s stance on the Cape’s homeless. This is the response by SUZETTE LITTLE, Mayoral Committee Member in Cape Town.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are the unknown factor in this year’s elections. The party is carrying itself like a heavyweight, ready for power. The latest Ipsos poll suggests getting 5% will be a win. Whatever the outcome, Gauteng premier candidate Dali Mpofu is ready, releasing his plan for the first 100 days on Thursday. By GREG NICOLSON.
“It is common to oppose a truth, but impossible to resist a story”, said spiritual writer Anthony de Mello. Twenty years ago democracy was about enabling people to cast their vote in freedom. Today it is about the counting of votes to feed the addictive intoxications of power. Is the best antidote spoiling of ballots in protest? Inspired by some words from the African master storyteller Ben Okri, the writer says story telling offers an alternative, better suited when too much power for too long has rendered the intoxication a chronic condition. By JOHN GI CLARKE.
Democratic Alliance candidate for Gauteng premier Mmusi Maimane led around 1,000 supporters through Johannesburg on Wednesday on a march to promote the DA’s proposals on jobs. Among other plans, the DA wants to give people title deeds to their homes and rent properties to businesses for R1 to promote growth. GREG NICOLSON was there for the pictures.
For anyone who is concerned about gender equality, it is significant that patriarchy is not raised by any political party in their election campaign. One understands the silence of the patriarchs who lead or hold prominent places in the ANC and its allies, but what of the organisations that purport to oppose the Zuma project? By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
In many countries religion crossed with politics leads to a toxic mess. Look at the wars over abortion in the US or Ireland, or culture wars everywhere. To make matters even more interesting, one man’s religion is often intertwined with that man’s culture. But in South Africa, religion has generally been a force for good in our politics. It’s impossible to forget the role the Catholic Church, and how the Anglican Church gave Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu the platform he needed to help fight Apartheid from within. It’s impossible to forget the role people like Bishop Huddleston played. There are signs, now, that religion, and particularly organised religion, is about to step back into the political arena. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
When Gertrude Stein returned to her hometown of Oakland and couldn’t find her childhood home, she famously, gnomically said that there was ‘no there there’. Stein was lamenting the growth and urbanisation of Oakland and the ‘painful nostalgia’ she felt. The Northern Cape is not Oakland; there’s quite a lot of there there and most of it isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The province is, however, poised for a fair bit of change and a clump of new investments in mining and energy. Is its political landscape facing a similar reconfiguration? By PAUL BERKOWITZ.
In February 2014, the South African job market lost 118,397 jobs. According to the Adcorp Employment Index, it was the largest monthly loss in almost three years. While unemployment is rife, citizens battle to understand why there are no jobs. RA’EESA PATHER reports for SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014 from Cape Town.
As we approach World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, it’s worth reflecting on how we are doing as a country in the press freedom stakes, relative to other countries but also with regard to whether we’ve improved or digressed within the past few years. All things considered, it does not look good. By JULIE REID.
While the Marikana hearings drift through the doldrums in Rustenberg, at Khayelitsha’s Lookout Hill another commission into police failings is cautiously gathering momentum. The O’Regan-Pikoli Commission of Inquiry is a timely and consolatory reminder of the judicial efficiency South Africa is capable of. By Richard Conyngham for GROUNDUP.
Check the question again. It’s not asking whether the party should lose the province, or how likely it is that it will fail to reach the 50%-of-the-vote threshold. It just wants to know what series of events would be needed for this to happen. Whether you think this is an imminent or fantastical outcome, whether the prospect fills you with hope or dread or dismissive contempt, none of these things are important for the analysis. By PAUL BERKOWITZ.
As the election day approaches, it is not the last-minute rush of activity by political parties which will take centre stage, but rather what the 12-person Parliamentary ad hoc committee does when they consider President Jacob Zuma’s response to the Public Protector’s report on the upgrade to his Nkandla residence. The problem, of course, is: what exactly is the president’s response to the report? The opposition wants Zuma to be subpoenaed before the committee; the ANC probably knows this will be political suicide days before the polls. While there will be fierce resistance to any further damage to the ANC, Nkandla will continue to haunt the party as Zuma’s first term peters out. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) strike in the platinum belt has now been going for three months. The union was locked in discussions with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin late on Tuesday night. These discussions will determine whether employees go back to work or the longest strike in the democratic era rolls on. Either way, it’s going to be costly. By GREG NICOLSON.
South Africans can attest to the grim consequences of regressive stances on issues of public health: The disastrous HIV/AIDS policies of Thabo Mbeki are said to have cost the lives of at least 400,000 South Africans. The real effect, however, may never be known. And while the policies of the Zuma administration have been more progressive, with the overhaul of the health department being one of Zuma’s most apparent achievements during his term in office, the everyday experience of public health care in South Africa remains a struggle. By KHADIJA PATEL for SOUTH AFRICA VOTES 2014.
As a nation, it would seem hard to deny that we have become quite obsessed with President Jacob Zuma. He dominates all the non-Oscar headlines we have. Nkandla is now a word with special power in our politics; sometimes it seems he’s portrayed as the devil-incarnate, the person single-handedly responsible for the decline of our country, and of the ANC. But the other night, I was asked: “How different would these elections be if Zuma weren’t head of the ANC?” It’s a question that makes you think about the image of the ANC, President Jacob Zuma, and the difference between temporary electioneering antics and the longer term issues. It also makes you wonder if perhaps we are too obsessed with Number One. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
It’s merely two weeks to election day and the air is soupy with polls and predictions and prognosticators. There are numbers everywhere, more than enough to cater for everyone’s bias and wish-list. How should you remain objective when analysts keep springing up like mushrooms after the summer rain? By PAUL BERKOWITZ.
Trevor Manuel, best known as the world’s longest ever serving Minister of Finance, and as the luminary who shaped South African economic policy post-1994, recently announced his retirement from politics. Slowly, subtly, he has started to knock the ANC, his political home for more than two decades. But is this the country that Trevor Manuel made, or the country he helped break? RICHARD POPLAK wants to know how the ANC’s very own unicorn—a clean politician—is shaping the election conversation.
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.