Democratic Alliance

‘Moon pact’ talks a worthwhile gamble

Some years back I was invited to Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, to address a business conference. It took prodigious feats of imagination to remember that this glitzy casino had, in its previous life as the jerry-built and misnamed “World Trade Centre,” been the venue for the constitutional negotiations which birthed a democratic South Africa. Outside [...]

From Turkey to SA nationalism is key to retaining power

Imagine a country where, due to the president and his party’s actions and policies, the currency crashes to a record low of 20 to the dollar; where neglected infrastructure and building projects beset by corruption cause damage and death; and the president’s bromance with Vladimir Putin leads to a flight of funds by foreign investors [...]

‘Nonaligned’, ‘pick up the rand’, ‘president’: when words mean fokol

American dissident and writer James Baldwin once noted you can judge the state of a nation’s educational level by the quality of its political speech. By this metric, and on both measures, SA today scores off the charts. Hot on the heels of the global report (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) revealing that 81% [...]

WASP patriarchy leaps from pages of Oppenheimer biography

On July 25 2000, the night the Concorde crashed shortly after taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport  in Paris, I was a guest of Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer at their sumptuous beachside home outside Durban. The purpose of the dinner was to explain to one of the most significant economic players in SA’s history, [...]

There’s a mess all right, but unfortunately no Messiah

February’s explosive eNCA interview with former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter sucked all the oxygen from the ailing body politic. Understandably, since his assertions on high-level corruption and criminality were entirely plausible. His claims on the complicity of at least two cabinet ministers, and the connivance of a third who ignored it, in the malfeasance [...]

The nightmare keeping us awake during load-shedding: Malema in the Union Buildings

In April 1992 Britain’s most read newspaper, The Sun, hit its readers with a vivid front page on election day. Across a photograph of Labour leader and electoral favourite Neil Kinnock, placed in a light bulb, ran the headline: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.” [...]

How many ministers does it take to screw in the country’s light bulb?

In the closing credits of the 1988 comic movie masterpiece, John Cleese’s A Fish Called Wanda, the audience is advised of the imagined fate of the lead villains after the film ends. In the film, criminal demolitions expert Otto West, played by Kevin Kline, awarded best supporting actor Oscar for his performance, was described by one [...]

Things fall apart as weak Ramaphosa channels his inner Graaff

Douglas Gibson, veteran combatant of the internecine wars that felled the once mighty, now long vanished, United Party, offered a pithy put-down on the equivocating and irresolute leadership style of its long-serving chief, Sir De Villiers Graaff. “When in doubt, Div would appoint a committee,” he recalls. Cyril Ramaphosa claimed in his state of the nation [...]

Shades of Waterkloof: let’s talk about that Russian ship on Cape shores

Back in 1973, the New York Times master columnist and resident conservative flag bearer in a hyper-liberal establishment newspaper popularised the acronym “MEGO”. It derives from the first letters of the editor’s phrase, “My Eyes Glaze Over”. It was, he advised, an editorial put-down of a worthy but crushingly dull article. But he noted it [...]

With Ramaphosa’s zugzwang, it’s goodbye to the new dawn

Goodbye To All That was the title of the 1929 autobiography of war-traumatised Robert Graves, the acclaimed writer and poet, which he described as his “bitter leave-taking of England”. It is a useful obituary note for the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa. Technically, like Mark Twain’s reported death, this might seem greatly exaggerated. But only in the [...]

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