- John Stupart
It was one of those weirdo weekends in South Africa, when the frequencies began to align and the odd, eerie piano music in the background started to sound like some grand gothic opera in which we’re the ghostly extras. All the war talk, all the chatter about ass-kicking and neck-chopping, all the school burnings and tire burnings and vehicle burnings, all the banning of the broadcasting of violence on the SABC—all of it culminated in a steady stream of election violence from both within the ANC and without. Meanwhile, the EFF released a rap song, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the country trying to help us get less fat. But we don’t need a diet plan. We need a plan plan. By RICHARD POPLAK.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) was central to President Jacob Zuma’s rise to power and the fortunes of its leaders rose significantly under his presidency. Now the SACP is at the forefront of the anti-Gupta campaign and is also challenging Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and his henchman Berning Ntlemeza. The long-running dalliance between Zuma and the SACP appears to be over. The party is now the lone voice against the “premier league” faction and is yanking up the pressure, suggesting that those involved in “state capture” engaged in underhand dealing with the rand, with a little help from a friend in a high place. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Before parliament broke for its 11-week “constituency break”, President Zuma’s cabinet promised to communicate its concerns about the recent chaos on the floor of the National Assembly. But parliament has now clocked off, and designated cabinet representative Cyril Ramaphosa has kept conspicuously silent. Besides, what could he possibly say to make things better? By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Amid a mood of nationwide gloom, the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) has released its latest report, a National Growth Strategy designed to turn the country’s economy around in record time. Is anyone going to listen? Should anyone listen? MARELISE VAN DER MERWE asked independent analyst Co-Pierre Georg, of the African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management, for a frank assessment.
As the oil price on Thursday clawed back up past the symbolic $50 a barrel for the first time since October 2015, news that Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Central Energy Fund CEO Sibusiso Gamede have flogged around 10 million barrels of South Africa's strategic fuel reserves at the bargain-basement price of around $28 a barrel, in a closed tender process and without informing Treasury, has set off alarm bells. The Democratic Alliance is referring the sale to the Auditor General and/or urging Treasury to press criminal charges. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The tenth issue of the South African Child Gauge is due for release later this year, and ahead of Youth Month, there’s some surprisingly good news: the last decade has seen substantial progress in the overall wellbeing of South African under-18s. The country’s children still have some tough hills to climb, but they’re moving – if slowly – in the right direction. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Anyone who thinks South African politics is for sissies has simply not been here. It has always been thus. The violence of the apartheid regime followed the violence of colonialism and the Boer War; 1994 was supposed to be the watershed, the last time we had to worry about political violence. But to listen to some people on the campaign trail, and more worryingly, to observe their actions, is to fret that we could be plunged back into the nightmare of people being attacked for wearing certain shirts, of no-go zones, of police Nyalas at every political meeting. It may be that no one is innocent here. But those who have created this climate must bear ultimate responsibility. And that means the ANC has a very special responsibility here. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Very many South Africans are cynical about politics and doubtful whether it will ever be pursued with integrity, with the purpose of serving the people of the country. If we intend debating “ethical leadership” we need to clarify what such conduct means, so that we know what we are looking for, and do not misrecognise what we see. This is a difficult topic because it is easy to become mired in abstruse philosophical questions that may appear to bear little relationship to the issues that trouble us. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
A video clip of President Jacob Zuma reading the ANC’s membership figures at last year’s national general council was a YouTube hit and even tickled Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Zuma’s penchant for fumbling big numbers is a source of endless hilarity but many people overlooked the message being relayed in the clip. The ANC is bleeding membership and will continue to do so as factional battles and disillusionment plague the party. Why is the ANC leadership allowing so many people, like the entire losing faction in KwaZulu-Natal, to be flushed out? It has to do with a little event called the ANC 54th national conference, next December. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Systemic official disrespect for women in South Africa is embodied in the manner in which North West police opted to inform Louisa Wynand, the 21-year-old woman who accused ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman of sexually assaulting her. The SAPS opted to communicate the outcome of the high-profile matter through a short WhatsApp message. When Fransman’s accuser asked for more information, police simply ignored her. Fransman, meanwhile, will return triumphant to the provincial legislature this week as the ANC boss in the region. He is bound to lead the party’s election campaign, which will be a gift to the DA and the EFF. By MARIANNE THAMM.
This week, Durban beaches were closed to the public when medical waste washed up across kilometres of shoreline. When hazardous matter ends up in the wrong places – when waste is displaced – we panic. Or do we? REBECCA HODES has been collecting rubbish in neighbourhoods around the Eastern Cape for the last three years. She describes what this rubbish reveals about sanitation and social justice in South Africa today.
The Judge President of the Western Cape Division of the High Court is the controversial Judge John Hlophe who still possibly faces a JSC misconduct hearing with regard to an alleged attempt at influencing two ConCourt judges in 2008 in criminal matters involving Jacob Zuma and the arms deal. It is Hlophe who must assign judges to hear matters in the region. Each time the Democratic Alliance vs the Deputy Director of National Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba (and others) appears on the roll in this division the same junior judge, Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo, is assigned the case. Coincidence? By MARIANNE THAMM.