President Jacob Zuma’s big dreams for a nuclear programme have been set back after the Western Cape high court found the co-operation agreements with Russia to be unconstitutional and unlawful. Now he might have another problem with the courts after ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe exposed a falsehood in the president’s papers before the Constitutional Court. Is it a question of semantics and interpretation or was Zuma and/or his lawyers deliberately trying to mislead the highest court of the land? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The role of the activist within Rwanda is extremely fraught as it involves balancing the desire and need to express oneself in order to build a better future for the country, while entering increasingly dangerous territory for even attempting to do so. Diane Rwigara’s bravery is a call to other activists within Rwandan to begin to assert themselves peacefully on their government, reminding it that they want to be heard, reminding it that they too are part of its developmental project. By BRANDON FINN.
Two weeks ago, ANC-alliance partner, Cosatu announced that it had lost confidence in President Jacob Zuma and he should be recalled. They also decided against attending the president's 75th birthday celebrations in Kliptown, Soweto. Now if two of its affiliated unions have their way, Zuma will not be addressing the organisation's main May Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday and if he does, he is likely to find himself addressing a hostile crowd. By JILLIAN GREEN.
Nearly 2,000 pupils from schools in the Eastern Cape marched to the Provincial Education Department in Zwelitsha, King William’s Town on Freedom Day, April 27. The protest follows the launch earlier this week of a 100-page report by Equal Education titled Planning to Fail. By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik and GROUNDUP Staff.
Designer and graffiti artist Quasiem Gamiet has lived in Salt River for more than 20 years. Gamiet has been spray painting murals and other artwork across Cape Town for the past 10 years. Earlier this month, Gamiet took GroundUp on a guided tour of some of Salt River’s iconic graffiti spots and talks about it’s impact on the neighbourhood. By Ashraf Hendricks for GROUNDUP.
President Jacob Zuma is perturbed that so many people are competing for his job as ANC leader. “Where have you ever seen a situation where all of us want to become president?”, Zuma asked at an ANC event at Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend. He claimed this was due to foreign forces trying to take control of the ANC. There is a rather crowded field at present, though this is probably due to the multiple factions at play. It could also be a sign of healthy competition in the ANC. So who are the players and how do they line up? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
While Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday accused possibly-suspended Hawks head Mthandazo Ntlemeza of having gone “rogue” and “armed and dangerous”, the beleaguered Ntlemeza in turn accused the Minister of embarrassing, humiliating, degrading and subjecting him to contempt and public ridicule as well as causing a constitutional crisis. It's clearly game on in the next episode of the farce that is unraveling in the highest echelons of the country's law enforcement agencies and that is playing itself out in full view of the public like a tacky reality TV show. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The burglary at the SABC’s Parliament offices on Friday night is the latest in what appears to be a trend of theft, harassment and intimidation targeted at journalists, activists, dissenting politicians and whistle-blowers in South Africa. This is not new: groups like Right2Know have been raising concerns about this for some years. But the brazenness with which such activities are undertaken appears to be rising. By REBECCA DAVIS.
A sharp-eyed middleman spots a business opportunity at a technical college and calls his friend, an ANC politician, to set up a meeting with senior college officials. Three months later, having done no work to speak of, he walks away with a cool R3.4-million. An avaricious daydream? An amaBhungane investigation has shown that it really happened. By Tabelo Timse for AMABHUNGANE.
Whatever you may think of him, Fikile Mbalula, our new Minster of Police, gives good press conferences, each one presenting an opportunity to add new words or phrases to his ever-growing unique lexicon. On Wednesday Mbalula, announced himself the “new Sheriff in town”, and set out plans for his ministry for the coming year. Along the way he made the alarming revelation that head of the Hawks, Mthandazo Ntlemeza, had gone rogue and is hiding in safe houses in Gauteng plotting his revenge. Oh, he also accused roving gangs of Zimbabwean ex-combatants for much of the crime in the country. But between the bluster, bombast and comic book portrait of the country's criminal landscape, were some encouraging plans and a few raging red flags. By MARIANNE THAMM.
So strange is our political linguistics these days that when the Deputy President of the country states the obvious, that we need an inquiry into state capture, we all know that it really means he’s running for President. At the same time, when one of our President’s Ministers, Lindiwe Sisulu, travels to the Eastern Cape to receive the endorsement of an ANC branch, we know that something is very much in the works. Finally, it appears that the group of people who are going to contest the ANC’s December contest against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is becoming clear(ish). Still, they have a mountain to climb against the ex(?)-wife of the incumbent. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
As France undertakes its general elections, the world's eyes will be on Marine Le Pen as concern grows about the future of the European Union (EU). Lingering insecurity, especially in the wake of the most recent terror attack on police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, will have a marked effect on voter sentiments in one of the founding members-states of the Union. EU-critics will see this as the inevitable result of the EU’s failed integration policies. By MARIUS OOSTHUIZEN.
The onset of democratic elections in 1994, resulted in an immediate sense from the recognised need to end widespread political violence. Violence has continued as a feature of South African political life and is also a prominent feature of South African life more generally. The principle of non-violence or respect for peace has not been adequately instilled in the consciousness of South Africans and leaders do not emphasise it in their discourse. But democratic life cannot be securely grounded without adequate respect for this principle. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Sunday saw French citizens vote in the first stage of their presidential elections, with a second run-off stage for the two lead candidates Emmanuel Macron (of En Marche!) and Marine Le Pen (of the National Front) scheduled for 7 May. While it is premature to discuss the winner of the run-off election and its implications, the interesting conversation must begin now, beforehand, for it is one about opinions rather than outcomes – opinions that veer strongly towards politics’ favourite new buzzword: populism. By CARMEL RAWHANI.
It’s “fake democracy” when the judiciary is considered merely incidental to the state, but judges must do their bit to uphold judicial independence and not corrupt facts and truth. That was Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s blunt opening message to the fourth Congress of the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA) in Cape Town this week. It’s a complicated dynamic. “Our independence requires we be alive that there’s a possibility of it being corrupted by foreign interests, by warlords and modern-day dictators,” said the county’s top judge. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
One of the most powerful white men in South Africa is neither a politician nor a businessman. He is an evangelist called Angus Buchan, and at the weekend he proved capable of drawing a crowd of almost a million people to a prayer gathering outside Bloemfontein. Among those who joined Buchan in praying for a “Christian government” were the leaders of the Democratic Alliance and the African Christian Democratic Party. What does Buchan’s popularity tell us about the time we live in? By REBECCA DAVIS.
After a weekend in which two French politicians – Marine le Pen and Emmanuel Macron – sent the old right and left parties to the graveyard and now face each other in the final run-off in two weeks, J. BROOKS SPECTOR looks at the electoral landscape across Europe. What does it all mean? Is it time for one of those Gallic shrugs or that old saw, “hopeless but not serious”?
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula had no doubts on Monday: Mthandazo ‘Berning’ Ntlemeza is no longer head of the Hawks and had unlawfully entered the elite unit’s offices and taken a vehicle. Ntlemeza maintains he has the right to return to work and has threatened the minister with court action if he doesn’t stop ‘interfering’. By GREG NICOLSON.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally ripped off his muzzle, pitching state capture, “the demon of corruption” and patronage as the main targets of his campaign for leadership of the ANC. Addressing a Chris Hani memorial lecture in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, Ramaphosa repeated his criticism of President Jacob Zuma’s recent Cabinet reshuffle and came out in support of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. With Zuma and his preferred successor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma having had a free run of the field, the launch of Ramaphosa’s campaign opens the fight back campaign for control of the ANC. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The integrity of what we have achieved – of what countless of our comrades fought for, dedicated their lives, many losing their lives, others leaving their families behind – is even more galling when one begins to unpack the current conjecture of what is commonly called “state capture”; more specifically, the robbery of the South African state by private interests, and, in particular, one family. By MCEBISI JONAS.
This is a special edition of Amabookabooka – it’s from a previous podcast series we produced called Extraordinary Lives. This episode, recorded two years ago, was never released and we’re releasing it now to coincide with the 109th anniversary of the birth of Bram Fischer – the South African prime minister we should have had. By AMABOOKABOOKA.
When Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane was appointed acting National Commissioner of SAPS in October 2015 after the suspension of Riah Phiyega he was the rare career policeman to hold the key position. Many who have previously dealt with Phahlane in a professional capacity expressed admiration for the leadership and vision he brought to the troubled SAPS. However, revelations of death threats, an attempt to interfere with key witnesses, Phahlane’s unusual habit of paying personal building contractors from black bags full of cash as well as his penchant for a fleet of expensive cars, revealed in an IPID affidavit filed last week, paints a disturbing picture of a good man allegedly gone rancid. By MARIANNE THAMM.
One of the key concerns is the “continuous lowering of the ceiling” of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) demands vis-à-vis the Sudan government during peace talks. The rebel leadership has agreed to address this concern and others during a convention to be held in June. By NUBA REPORTS.
Fresh protests have broken out on the Wits University campus, this time over accommodation which students claim does not live up to billed promises of cleanliness, safety and connectivity. Now management of the university has been given 24 hours to respond or face further action. By BHEKI C SIMELANE.
A special costs order should be made against President Jacob Zuma for conflating his role as South Africa’s president and ANC president “in an abuse of process” in opposing a secret ballot in Parliament’s motion of no confidence. It’s another twist in the United Democratic Movement’s application to the Constitutional Court on the issue. “(Zuma) then starts to lecture the court about party discipline and gives chapter and verse of the ANC constitution and disciplinary code when his duty as President is to protect the Constitution of the Republic above else,” UDM leader Bantu Holomisa argues in support of such an order. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
The African National Congress (ANC) of today is a political organisation as well as the leading force in government in South Africa. The organisation, the government and the state as a whole are in the midst of multiple crises covering broad areas of economic, social and political life. Gone are the days when the ANC represented hope for a better life, cherished by many, many people. It is no longer trusted as the bearer of aspirations for freedom, dignity and a government that benefits all. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to be finally dipping his toe in the presidential campaign pool, suggesting – albeit gingerly – what the priorities of a post-Zuma government might be. “We will not compromise on our fight against corruption, patronage or rent-seeking. We will also not allow the institutions of our state to be captured by anyone – be they individuals, be they families who are intent on narrow self-enrichment.” Everyone knows which family he means – dislodging the Gupta’s grip on the state would be essential to undoing the damage of the Zuma administration. But to get to that point, Ramaphosa needs to get into the game. That means dispensing with coded language and diplomacy, and taking the fight to the ANC. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
It’s been 80 days since Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that at least 94 patients, who had been moved from Life Esidimeni, died in brutal conditions at NGOs. The Gauteng government says it’s taking care to move patients back to safe facilities, but family members are concerned. By GREG NICOLSON.
A slip of a young UCT student, with nothing but his bare hands – yet a trudging crowd of 30,000 behind him – taking on the armed might of apartheid. That was the awe-inspiring sight I had of Philip Kgosana making history nearly two generations ago. It speaks to us today in newly troubled, even perilous times. We must remember him, and the senior policeman he parleyed with, for decades. Their example is eloquent. By TONY HEARD.
Former ANC WC chair, Marius Fransman, has been doing a bit of a Hlaudi ever since his suspension for five years from the party on charges of misconduct in November last year. Fransman has refused to go quietly and has still been signing off statements as the ANC Chair in the region as well as attending various meetings in that capacity. On Thursday the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee laid the matter to rest, issuing a statement that Fransman is not a member of the ANC – over and out. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Over the course of the last few days, the fight has been taken squarely to South Africa’s banks. What exactly that “fight” is, however, remains to be seen. Cosatu has marched on Absa’s headquarters; the ANC Women’s League has put out a statement slamming a Rand Merchant Bank report, and the Black Empowerment Foundation has laid charges against the banks involved in the forex manipulation scandal. Then there’s the minor detail that the Black Empowerment Foundation announced its actions through the government’s communication unit, which is supposed to be reserved for state business. By REBECCA DAVIS.
In this most hurly-burly of the ANC’s years it is Zweli Mkhize, the Treasurer-General of the ANC, who is seen in some quarters as the man who could bridge the yawning divide between the populist party of President Jacob Zuma and the sober movement of deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. So it would be foolish to expect him to say anything dramatic at this stage of the game. But it’s the nuance of not saying anything that makes him so interesting. Especially over the course of an interview that took more than 50 minutes. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
In the recent past, the EFF, the SACP, Cosatu and civil society have often been at loggerheads. But at a discussion in Cape Town on Wednesday night, there was much common ground to be found. Over one central point, all parties bonded: the need to remove President Jacob Zuma – and mea culpas from those who helped put him in power. The idea that Cyril Ramaphosa in the top spot would mean a more stable future for South Africa came in for much scepticism, however. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Recent legal developments surrounding personal cost orders against rogue and mindless public officials that request or give the go-ahead for the frivolous institution or defence of litigation, is going to play an increasingly important role in South Africa’s raging war on impunity. By IVAN HERSELMAN.
Four weeks ago, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was familiar, and yet unknown. A month into her re-entry into South African politics, a picture has formed. It’s not a good one. The former African Union chairperson is an extension of the Zuma looting project – she and her former husband share the same friends, the same rhetoric, and the same dark outlook: what remains of the ANC will swallow what remains of the South African state. By RICHARD POPLAK.
It was the president’s legal adviser, Micheal Hulley, who originally recommended Mxolisi Nxasana to head up the National Prosecuting Authority in 2013. It is perhaps a cruel irony then that Hulley might now face charges of attempting to defeat the ends of justice after Nxasana revealed in an explosive affidavit that Hulley had attempted to get him to lie under oath that President Zuma had not pressured him into vacating his office in 2015. By MARIANNE THAMM.
From a mysterious alleged attempted robbery involving someone visiting ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to a suspected gunman targeting the SACP’s Solly Mapaila, to death threats against DA leader Mmusi Maimane and a headless cat found in Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini’s garden, it appears that fear and paranoia are besetting South Africa’s political players. It is difficult to say how much of what is reported is due to heightened anxiety, public deception and genuine security threats, and whether ANC MPs considering voting against President Jacob Zuma in a motion of no confidence have reason to fear for their lives. What is clear is that everybody is suspicious of everybody else and absolutely nobody trusts the state. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
As a journalist watching all of the political developments playing out around President Jacob Zuma as closely as possible, I’m also interested in the questions that some might consider hypothetical. We keep asking if ANC MPs will actually vote against Zuma? We keep wondering aloud if the ANC’s National Executive Committee would actually go there? And then, what would happen in December when the ANC’s conference finally happens? IF it happens? But more and more, I’m being kept awake at night by one question in particular. If Zuma were to lose a vote, in Parliament, in the NEC, at an ANC conference, anywhere, would he actually step down? And if he wouldn’t, what then? By STEPHEN GROOTES.
More than a decade ago, five guys from behind Cape Town’s boerewors curtain exploded on to the music scene. To this day, they have few, if any, contemporaries. Despite the conservative Afrikaans culture having progressed since then, the band seems to be as relevant – and popular – as ever. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa are widely perceived as “frontrunners” to succeed Jacob Zuma as ANC president in December. Dlamini-Zuma has entered the South African public realm repeatedly in recent weeks accompanied by a controversial “blue light” brigade usually reserved for the president and similar dignitaries. Her comments have demonstrated intolerance and do not bode well for rebuilding the democratic project, so badly undermined by her former husband, Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa’s support within the ANC is uncertain. His ideas are also largely unstated, although if elected he is unlikely to succumb to corruption and be more likely to restore legal norms and regular governance, which have been so badly undermined under Zuma. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Some of the R2.808-billion SAPS protection and security services budget for the current financial year is being spent on former African Union (AU) chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. This is confirmed by police. But tracking down why specifically the Presidential Protection Service (PPS) is protecting her, rather than the VIP protection service, and details of the monies allocated to the presidential security detail, has proven to be a murky affair. What is perfectly clear is that we protect South Africa’s “important individuals” far better than South Africa’s borders. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
It is evidence of how odd are some aspects of our politics that the person everyone has been talking about as the possible next President has been, up until a couple of weeks ago, also one of the quietest people in our politics. For years, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been seen as the favourite for the position, and yet she has made very few public comments about our country, her own vision of the country’s future, or pretty much anything at all. And yet, since President Jacob Zuma shook the ANC’s fault-lines with his removal of Pravin Gordhan, she has suddenly started to pop up everywhere. And she is pushing factional politics, hard. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
In the current rhetoric of radical economic transformation, land has become a central populist rallying cry. President Jacob Zuma publicly contradicted his parliamentary caucus, reproaching them for not supporting last month’s EFF parliamentary motion on expropriation without compensation. Then the matter went to the ANC national executive committee (NEC), which decided on a special meeting on land to settle divergent views. But questions must be raised about the governing ANC’s track record on land restitution, redistribution and transformative land reform, wrought as it is by delays, inaction and contested political interests. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
What is the “normalisation” or “trivialisation” of rape? It’s being faced by bored unresponsive members of the police force when trying to report a rape. It’s getting reprimanded by health workers for encouraging the rape. It’s pleading with police to go out and make an arrest when one knows where the rapist is. It’s finding out that the dockets relating to the case have been “lost”. If one is lucky enough to get to a courtroom, it’s observing the accused (sometimes more than one) giggling in the dock, looking smug and waving at their friends. Finally, it is often an acquittal of the rapist, as proof of non-consensuality cannot be established. I don’t think trivialisation is a political cartoon applying a powerful visual analogy - a practice which has been used repeatedly for centuries. By STACEY STENT.
There is something Al Capone-esque (remember, mere tax evasion charges brought the Chicago gangster to justice) about the latest turn of events in the Mxolisi Nxasana saga. Imagine a little lie in a long affidavit about a seemingly insignificant detail of the circumstances leading to the conclusion of a settlement agreement precipitating the end of the political career of a president. Richard Nixon must be squirming in his grave. By PAUL HOFFMAN.
As the ANC’s internal battles intensify, another constituent structure has spoken out about the crisis, calling for the party’s mid-year policy conference to be “canned”. Veterans of the ANC’s now disbanded armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), are stepping up efforts to convene a national consultative conference to open critical engagement to “arrest the further downward spiral of the ANC”. There is also increasing concern from the former MK commanders and combatants about the activities of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and their use of “tropical camouflage uniforms” in their names. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s decision to sell the Tafelberg site in Sea Point is a scandal from which she should not be allowed to recover. The lies she proffered to justify the sale are bad enough. But, her contempt for the experiences of black and coloured people demanding an end to segregation in Cape Town exposes a deeper concern: the narrow vested interests which capture our public land and the absence of participatory democracy under her tenure as a leader in our city and province. By RECLAIM THE CITY.
In an affidavit filed in a Corruption Watch and Freedom Under Law application in a civil case to review a R17-million payout to former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, alleges that President Jacob Zuma committed perjury and lied when he stated under oath that Nxasana willingly left the office and had not been forced to do so. Corruption Watch and FUL are seeking to have Nxasana’s departure and the payout declared unlawful. Nxasana has publicly expressed his desire to return to the crucial post as well as to pay back the R17-million he received in a golden handshake. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The Zuma presidency has come full circle. He was carried on a wave of mass popularity to the presidency and so it seems that mass power will bring him to his knees. On Wednesday, 10 of South Africa’s opposition parties led a crowd of over 80,000 people to the South Lawn of the Union Buildings, where they demanded that Zuma’s lumbering and destructive presidency be brought to an end. Because South African politics now parodies an epic thespian production, this all happened on the president’s birthday, which was marked at an elaborate celebration hosted by Zuma’s faction in the ANC. This is a time when history and politics are being redefined. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The ANC has since the 1950s operated on the basis of collective leadership and collective decision-making. This was sometimes necessitated in order to maintain organisational cohesion when it was under threat, as in the period of illegality. In the post-1994 period, collective decision-making has sometimes been used to stifle debate, as it is now in the aftermath of the disagreement of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Zweli Mkhize with the Cabinet reshuffle, unilaterally decided on by President Jacob Zuma. The ANC no longer welcomes open debate for it is now held together by patronage and corruption rather than common values. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
The dominant debates about land in South Africa often focus on the transfer of land from a few white hands to the black majority. The discussion seldom unpacks who constitutes the “black majority” as this is not a homogeneous group. In instances where the debate touches on land use, again the focus is often limited to agricultural production and whether or not small-scale farmers are productive. This narrow framework clearly has to be broadened and we need to ask deeper and more strategic questions than the ones we have been asking. That includes asking “land for who and for what purpose”?
The author featured in today’s episode of AmaBookaBooka is Christa Kuljian, whose new book Darwin’s Hunch joins 26 other excellent South African works of non-fiction on the longlist for the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Christa tells AmaBookaBooka about her journey to writing – from mid-career shift to Ruth First Lecture in 2010 to publishing Sanctuary in 2013 and now Darwin’s Hunch. By JONATHAN ANCER.
The motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is off, and will only be considered when MPs return to Parliament after the recess in early May. National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, who is also ANC national chairperson, on Wednesday informed opposition parties of this decision following their request for a postponement. This came as the Constitutional Court indicated on Tuesday that it would hear arguments on the United Democratic Movement (UDM) application for a secret ballot in that no confidence debate brought under Section 102 of the Constitution. By MARIANNE MERTEN.