- Ranjeni Munusamy
Debate about racism and xenophobia in this country is often reactive. Something terrible happens, someone accuses someone, we shout, we get angry, sometimes we tweet about it but then we return to the status quo. But the rules of engagement around race, racism, xenophobia and hate crimes might soon change should a criminal case go to trial, involving one of this country’s most popular Jo’burg celebrity couples, Vuzu TV stars comedian TollA$$Mo and his designer wife Mome. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Galvanised by the arrest of 130 community health workers in June, while peacefully protesting their dismissal, activists gathered on Sunday night and Monday morning in Bloemfontein, asserting their right to demonstrate and demanding that the ailing Free State health system be turned around. GREG NICOLSON speaks to the Treatment Action Campaign's General Secretary Anele Yawa for the low-down.
Despite being a middle-income country, South Africa has a long and shameful history of those in power ignoring the needs and the interests of the majority. Colonial and subsequent Apartheid laws reduced black people in South Africa to merely being cheap labour to service the needs of these economies. Poverty, inequality and hunger, while visible in the faces and cupped hands of people at traffic lights in middle-class neighborhoods, largely continue to be felt most in townships, informal settlements and rural areas which are often located far away from economic and suburban hubs. By ISOBEL FRYE.
Last week, the Democratic Alliance won a major victory in court: Zuma’s lawyers must release the so-called Spy Tapes, which they say will reveal that he should never have been exonerated of corruption charges five years ago. But there is a larger, more poignant metaphor in all this. RICHARD POPLAK explains.
There have been many times when President Jacob Zuma’s political career seemed to be teetering on the edge. Headlines warning of his imminent political demise came when he was named as Mr X in the Scorpions’ arms deal investigation, when he was fired as deputy president after the Schabir Shaik trial, when he was charged with fraud and corruption, when he was on trial for rape, and even for a while during the ANC policy conference in 2012 when his camp looked to be on the back foot. Zuma survived against all odds, rose to be president and secured second terms as ANC and state president. Now political obituaries are again being scripted. But Zuma will likely survive this round too. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela need not have addressed a media briefing on her current spat with the ANC. The public was not demanding answers from her; there were no substantial accusations about her conduct – only the ANC’s criticism that she undermined the parliamentary process by writing to President Jacob Zuma on Nkandla – and there was no real need for her to explain her powers and role. She did so anyway. The effect is that public opinion has swayed even more in her favour and the ANC will be even angrier and more combative. There is only one person who can defuse the situation now. But it is not in his interest to do so. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The Arms Deal was a uniquely damaging moment in our young democratic history. It was concluded after decades of uncontrolled spending on foreign and internal wars by the apartheid regime. From the signing of the contracts in 1999 up to R70 billion of public money continues to be spent on weapons of questionable utility. The country was not and is not facing any meaningful military threat. But rather the most pressing problems that faced us then as they do now are inequality, poverty and unemployment. By ANDREW FEINSTEIN, PAUL HOLDEN AND HENNIE VAN VUUREN.
The urge to collect extinct or near-extinct cycads is a particularly baffling one. What is it that drives the need to own something so ancient and rare that it has fuelled an epidemic of criminality, spurring harvesters to become more and more brazen? Twice this month thieves hit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town making off with 22 critically endangered species potentially worth millions. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Police were hammered at the Lwandle commission of inquiry on Thursday for failing to engage community leaders in an attempt to prevent the escalation of violence during evictions at the Lwandle informal settlement in June. Such a failure falls foul of the legal requirements for public order policing. By DANEEL KNOETZE for GROUND UP.
On Thursday the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down the ruling everyone was expecting. That the Democratic Alliance had the right to copies of the Zuma Spy Tapes, and that President Jacob Zuma was wrong to oppose them in the first place. While it’s a ruling that has huge political and legal implications for both Zuma and the DA, it also goes much further than that. Because what this has always been about is whether or not in the Republic of South Africa in the 21st Century, politics is stronger than the law. Since 2009 it’s appeared that politics has been the stronger. Now the law may be about to win the second round. And at the centre of the fight is, not surprisingly, the National Prosecuting Authority. And its deputy head, Advocate (we think) Nomgcobo Jiba. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
There are moments when those in our political classes seem to lose their marbles. When they just lose all sight of rationality, when the verbiage that comes out makes no sense: full of emotion, and quite frankly, a little scary. This is one of those times. Somehow just one act of defiance against a parliamentary rule, and one letter from the head of a Chapter 9 institution, has led to some of the strongest language heard in our country since 1994. It doesn’t have to be like this. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Dysfunctional and collapsing municipalities are the inevitable outcome of rampant politicisation of the process of service delivery. The most unfortunate thing is that it does not have to be that way. Take away the politics, and service delivery is actually not that difficult. If one needs a case study, the Hibiscus Coast local municipality on the KZN South Coast is a good place to start. By NIKI MOORE.
The beef between the ANC and EFF is getting absurd. The ANC say the EFF are fascist rebels. The EFF is not going to back down and Julius Malema has even mentioned the chance of a military wing. Some say it's opposition politics at its best, but there's so much fuel that when the fire lights, the two parties are going to burn. By GREG NICOLSON.
To deal with mounting unrest, tough measures are being ordered to “restore and maintain law and order”. “Appropriate steps” cannot be disclosed but they are strong and uncompromising. Not only the rule of law but also the fate of the nation is at stake in the growing unrest. “I am committed to maintaining law, order and stability in our society.” You might think these are the words of one of the security cluster ministers speaking at a media briefing at Parliament on Tuesday. Actually, this was the former Apartheid president PW Botha speaking in Parliament in March 1985. Remarkably similar, isn’t it? Terrifyingly so. Welcome to the reinvention of ‘Kragdadigheid’. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
In 2012, Susan Shabangu was Minister of Mineral Resources. Appearing at the Commission on Tuesday, the current Minister of Women was dismal. She was caught in her own contradictions, rarely made sense, and was hostile. Once again the state's actions to end the strike have been shown to be inadequate and an opportunity to avoid the massacre was missed. Shabangu, however, didn't roll on her co-accused and held firm that she didn't do anything illegal. By GREG NICOLSON.
Last week, Julius Malema’s EFF wanted President Zuma to #PayBackTheMoney for his Nkandla renovations, and all was chaos. This week, the ANC have responded by ensuring that the security cluster has an “overall kind of contingency plan” to deal with outbursts in the National Assembly. Will opposition members of Parliament be waterboarded every time they mention the president’s homestead? Will Mmusi Maimane be dumped from an Apache chopper into the Indian Ocean? What is certain is that the ANC has decided to answer questions in Parliament with heavy weaponry. Welcome to the beginning of the beginning of a police state. By RICHARD POPLAK.
Even by the standards of our rough, hurly-burly politics, the tit-for-tat statements from the Public Protector and the ANC on Monday were pretty brutal. At one point it even seemed that those in charge of their Twitter accounts were about to come to blows. Through the day there had been accusation, denial, counter-accusation - with a hefty dose of “you don’t respect the Constitution” from both sides. What is clear is that the battle brewing between Luthuli House and Advocate Thuli Madonsela has now broken into all-out warfare. The verbal push and shove is now moving into a full-scale bar fight. And, amazingly, Julius Malema hasn’t been involved in the slightest. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
There have been so many media statements issued and news conferences held around the Nkandla scandal that nobody can keep count any more. But over the past 24 hours, the office of the Public Protector and the ANC have been bunkered down, exchanging an astonishing amount of accusations and insults. ALEX ELISEEV believes it’s time they got a courtroom.
For now, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is on track to settle his tax debts, allowing him to continue badgering the ANC in Parliament. His comments on Monday, however, were about Parliament and how the ruling party has lost the plot after a bunch of MPs refused to stop singing and dancing last week. By GREG NICOLSON.
Since Thursday’s dramatic events in the National Assembly, when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) introduced “pay back the money” into the political lexicon, the ANC said repeatedly there should have been active intervention by the state to stop the disorder in the House. This means they wanted those demanding that Zuma “pay back the money” to be arrested. The ANC has also attacked the Public Protector for writing to President Jacob Zuma to explain to him that he cannot opt not to “pay back the money”. The ANC has gone into full assault mode to protect the president, and it seems logic and the Constitution will not stand in their way. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
For so long President Jacob Zuma has been the MacDaddy of our politics: unbeaten, unbowed, unrepentant. Now, after a process lasting over a year, we are suddenly at the sharp end of one of the biggest scandals of our adolescent democracy. It’s always seemed that it would be the Public Protector’s investigation into Nkandla that would lead to the most heat, and shed the most light on Zuma’s political personality. It would answer whether Zuma really meant it when he swore to “obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution”. Now we know that Madonsela, the one person who could make a finding on this question, believes he did not. And this is likely to divide our society into two sides: those who support Zuma, and those who do not. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Something is amiss with the DA’s youth. Earlier this year, Lindiwe Mazibuko left her position as a Democratic Alliance (DA) leader. Now, one of the party's other most promising young leaders has resigned from her top post. GREG NICOLSON looks at the DA, its ability to promote talented young politicians, and its apparent struggle to keep them there.