Nelson Mandela

Spectre of ANC-EFF coalition: Low probability, high anxiety

After the fog of war lifted from the industrial-scale slaughter which characterised the killing fields of the First World War, which ended in 1918, a psychoanalyst offered an acute observation. Sometimes, he suggested, the difference whether a soldier was awarded a medal for gallantry or was executed for cowardice, "depended in which direction the person [...]

Try as he may, Ramaphosa is no Kolisi … or Mandela

I should be grateful to President Cyril Ramaphosa for declaring my birthday on December 15 a public holiday. My day of birth, of course, never featured in his calculation and is unknown to him. But declaring December 15 a public holiday, six weeks after the epic World Cup victory the mighty Springboks reaped on Saturday [...]

Prince Buthelezi’s death has triggered some hypocrisy, amnesia and contradiction

The funeral on Saturday of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in Ulundi, in the heart of rural Zululand, showed that the decrepit and failing state can still muster its pomp and finery and 21 guns to lay to rest one of the most consequential figures in modern South African history. Buthelezi, traditional prime minister to the Zulu [...]

SA tourism is like a Mandela statue: grandeur with a crumbling base

Headline articles in two influential British newspapers encapsulated the contradictions in the SA story: its boundless promise in one and its disastrous profile in another. One of the most popular UK broadsheets (read serious) newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, published its latest travel awards based on the votes of its readers. SA came out tops as [...]

‘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 [...]

Polycrisis calls for opposition party unity

Three recent events compel attention and suggest the narrow path South Africa treads between possible salvation and collapse. We don’t have the luxury to follow advice from Yogi Berra, the famed US baseball catcher, who said: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Two of the events occurred on the same [...]

We’re back where ‘restraint and generosity’ are outlandish for a leader

Does effective, shapeshifting leadership require its exemplars to push against the bounds of current consensus and navigate “the road not taken”? I interrogated this theme in a lecture this week in Cape Town and came to the perhaps obvious but rather glum conclusion that yes, it does, and our country and the world has a [...]

After succeeding Meyer Kahn, Cyril Ramaphosa failed to take heed of his wisdom

Meyer Kahn, who died in Johannesburg last week, was described by a close friend and business colleague as “an ordinary man possessed of quite extraordinary abilities”. That handsome tribute to a business leader and former executive chair of SA Breweries, who with CEO Graham Mackay co-piloted SAB (later SABMiller and now merged into AB InBev) [...]

Presidential sounds of silence are fuelling the fire engulfing SA

Workers Day, May 1 2022, offered South Africans sharply contrasting images of President Cyril Ramaphosa and leader of the official opposition John Steenhuisen. Ramaphosa had a double indignity heaped on him at a rally at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, North West. The obvious injury to presidential pride was his forced removal from the keynote [...]

If we can’t have a GNU, let’s have a GOAT

Perhaps only a tragedian playwright of ancient Greece can do rhetorical justice to the leadership legacy of Nelson Mandela. Sophocles wrote: "One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been." Last Sunday, shell-shocked South Africans, some in the midst of the rubble and disaster of a five-day looting spree which [...]

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