- Jared Sacks
The most important phase of learning takes place in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and if that opportunity is missed, the damage can never be undone. Yet in South Africa, the lion’s share of our education budget is spent on tertiary education – the phase which delivers the least long-term benefits from the investment. Slowly, however, with the help of key players in government and nongovernmental organisations, early childhood development is starting to gain more attention. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Modern philanthropy is seeing the rise of activist philanthropy, with activism treated as part of a continuum of change involving various stakeholders. Activist philanthropy understands that we need to work together and that there can be no change unless we create a situation of equality and equity. By SHELAGH GASTROW.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has just led a delegation to China ostensibly to learn more about how the country’s state-owned broadcast media works. However, as the Democratic Alliance’s shadow communications minister Gavin Davis put it, going to China to learn about media is like going to the Sudan to learn about human rights. That China is ranked by Reporters Without Borders as 177th out of 180 countries in its worldwide index of press freedom appears to be of little concern to the minister. Meanwhile, the Independent Group, which has a 20% Chinese stake, has dispatched one of its deputy editors to China on a 10-month media scholarship. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Mac Maharaj may be out of formal politics, for the moment. But that doesn’t mean he’s out of politics. Over the weekend it emerged he’d told the Financial Times that he had advised President Jacob Zuma to prepare to pay back some of the money the government had spent on his home at Nkandla. It’s a matter of public record that Zuma did not accept that advice. But there was far more in that interview that appears to have been missed in all the (predictable) screaming and shouting over Nkandla. Maharaj holds forth on fundamental issues such as whether the African National Congress will split after Zuma, whether Cyril Ramaphosa would be a good president, and the relationship between the ANC, politics, and judges. As always with Maharaj, it makes for fascinating reading. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Where should “well meaning” South Africans or “progressives” who cherish liberty and have a sense that things “have gone horribly wrong” be devoting their energies today? Where are the key points of hardship where we should be advancing our positions and joining with one another in order to move towards remedying the problems of the present? By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Most two-year olds spend their days slobbering on chew toys or scrawling with crayons on crèche walls. Not Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). A fully formed entity almost from birth, the party has dominated political headlines for most of its brief existence. But this weekend, in Rustenburg’s Olympia Stadium, before tens of thousands of supporters, the Commander in Chief didn’t seem much in the mood for a good time. He wanted to cut the cake, and go to war. By RICHARD POPLAK.
How would having Members of Parliament and a big contingent of journalists trudging through your private space be better than paying back the money? Whoever thought it was a good idea to have the parliamentary ad hoc committee on Nkandla visit President Jacob Zuma’s rural home obviously did not think it through. In the ANC’s desperation to protect the president from scrutiny and having to pay back the state for non-security upgrades, they keep prolonging the saga and introducing new fiascos. This week they did what was hitherto unheard of: they allowed a variety of strangers to traipse around the home of a head of state, in his absence, to assess how he lives. It was a grim spectacle and a cringe fest. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Remember when all your friends had a great dot.org idea, all of which were one click away from transforming the world into a rainbow-tinged Utopia? Me neither. But then my circle doesn’t include an Oxford/Harvard/Kennedy School Brahman like Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz. The site focuses on change through online petitioning, and it is currently “helping” concerned South Africans battle the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) draconian proposed internet regulations. But middle-class South Africans don’t need help to not leave the house for a good cause. RICHARD POPLAK wonders if Avaaz hasn’t finally perfected the art of whining from behind electrified walls.
After years of challenging the leadership of Cosatu, leaders of metalworkers union Numsa have finally said it's time to start a new federation. Numsa and its allies appear ready to leave Cosatu and wait for direction from members. A new federation must, of course, first start with a summit. By GREG NICOLSON.
If there is any institution that embodies the way that President Jacob Zuma has abused some of his powers to protect himself, it is the National Prosecuting Authority. From his first appointment of Menzi Simelane as its head to the dismissal (or resignation with costs, as the legal fraternity might like to call it) of its latest former head, Mxolisi Nxasana, it is difficult to make the case that he has acted ethically, or in the best interests of the country. But now he might be forced to finally do something about Nomgcobo Jiba. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
SARS unveiled its second high-tech cargo container scanner in Cape Town on Wednesday. The scanner, says SARS, will enable far more accurate and efficient scanning of goods coming into the country, and forms part of its ambitious Container Cargo Scanner Initiative initiative. But now that the project’s controversies, tender cancellations and other speed bumps are over, and the security features are falling into place where they are most needed, it’s time to ask: just what are we up against in terms of illicit trade? By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
A new report on the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa paints an abysmal picture of endemic corruption, extortion, deliberate delays and serial abuse at almost all stages of the process. A range of South Africans from security guards at the department of home affairs’ offices and police, to home affairs and border post officials, prey on the vulnerable and desperate. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence were grossly over-priced and shoddy, likely costing the taxpayer more as they're completed. That's the general view of members of Parliament who visited Nkandla on Wednesday. The ANC and opposition parties will clash on who should be held responsible – Zuma or those working on the project, but the case will likely end up in court soon. By GREG NICOLSON.
If the South African Communist Party (SACP) took a decision to collapse itself, would it make any difference whatsoever to the political space in the country? While it might deprive its general secretary Blade Nzimande of a platform from which to shriek damnation against the judiciary, the media, and other assorted enemies, would it alter the national dialogue or deprive any constituency of its voice? The SACP is trying very hard to convince itself and everyone else that it is an essential partner in the ruling alliance, and that there is still an important role for the party to play despite its acute contradictions and indefinite ideology. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on South Africa last week made it clear: with domestic and international constraints on the economy, the country needs to raise its tax base if it wants to achieve its development objectives. That's even if the government starts to spend its money better. Whether it's the rich or the poor, taxes, they say, need to rise. By GREG NICOLSON.
While the parliamentary ad hoc committee on Nkandla will trek out to the president's private home at Nxamalala for a site visit on Wednesday, and as Police Minister Nathi Nhleko quibbles about whether R205-million or R246-million was spent, the largesse actually oozes out way beyond the presidential precinct. President Jacob Zuma has also been good for business in the former colonial military garrison of Eshowe located 50km from his home as members of his security detail as well as family have swelled the coffers of local luxury B&Bs and hotels – at our expense naturally. By MARIANNE THAMM.
That we are living through what historians might call the Age of Scandal cannot be disputed. From Nkandla, to Guptagate, from Khulubuse to Schabir, many of them have one person in common. Number One. Things have now reached the point where President Jacob Zuma is seen as almost personally responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. This happens in many democracies, but what if... what if Jacob Zuma were not president? What would the situation look like? And would any of our fundamental problems really be solved? By STEPHEN GROOTES.
So much of our politics is loud and boisterous, and to use an advertising phrase, ‘above the line’, that we sometimes forget that within the African National Congress and the Alliance there are different factions trying to do things differently. When we do think of them, it's in terms of Cosatu or the SACP, or even an historic entity known as the ANC Youth League. In fact, the group within the Alliance that is now the most different from the rest is the ANC Gauteng. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Biographies, like jokes about tragedies, can oftentimes be written too soon. However, 20 years of constitutional democracy has provided the opportunity and the safe distance to excavate the life of a man who single-mindedly shaped the history of this country and whose ideas were to permeate South African politics for over 70 years. These would prove cataclysmic to the lives of millions of South Africans for years to come. A dispassionate new biography of DF Malan, the man who dreamed up Apartheid, not only offers insights into how we came to be where we are, but also echoes with eerie contemporary resonances. By MARIANNE THAM.
When the Democratic Alliance went to Nkandla in 2012 to lay charges against President Jacob Zuma, they were met by hostile ANC members. This week, not only will the party be welcomed into Zuma's house along with other parliamentarians, they may even live tweet the event. But as another committee looks set to exonerate the president, the opposition could be gearing for a court battle. By GREG NICOLSON.
The ten South Africans arrested in China are back home and the credits are rolling on what most will remember as a good old diplomatic drama with some tense moments and a Hollywood ending. But should we flick the channel so quickly? ALEX ELISEEV, who broke the story and reported on it for a week, doesn’t think so…
To unravel the weave of police lies and deceit in the aftermath of the Marikana Massacre, a loose end has to be found. That loose end was finally discovered, courtesy of a mysterious informer that the evidence leaders dubbed ‘Deep Throat’. GREG MARINOVICH reports on what is perhaps the most important indicator of premeditation ahead of the killing of 34 mineworkers by police, and the wounding of 78 others in 2012.