Opinion

Beijing’s mood-souring tech clampdown shows power of totalitarian state

There are many reasons to mourn the absence from the public space, and in some of our lives, of Jonathan Ball, the outsize SA publisher who died prematurely of cancer at 69 in early April. Ball was a consummate and brave book publisher, a combination of coruscating wit and curmudgeonly opinions, and a paid-up member [...]

By |2021-08-11T08:22:33+00:00August 11th, 2021|Opinion|0 Comments

SA should insist the UK changes its ludicrous Covid travel curbs

The Venn diagram, where public health imperatives and political needs intersect, is opaque, if not a mess. It is the meeting point between poor policies and arbitrary decisions. South Africans found plenty to justly criticise about government overreach in the 16 months since the country was first placed under lockdown on March 26 2020. The [...]

By |2021-08-04T07:13:56+00:00August 4th, 2021|Boris Johnson, Corona Virus, Cyril Ramaphosa, Opinion|0 Comments

Stop trying to hide your failings with euphemisms, weasels

This week’s standoff in Nkandla will tell us a lot about who we are as a country. It will speak volumes on where we stand on the rule of law and equal treatment of all citizens, and how even-handed the state and its agencies will be in applying the adage that no-one is above the [...]

It’s a steal: billionaires right on the money

'Insert the topic of billionaires in a book title and you have a seller'', is the view of Jeremy Boraine, publishing director at Jonathan Ball Publishers. Indeed. Of the top five bestselling titles in SA right now, three of them deal with that tiny subset of local billionaires, the Afrikaans super-rich. The Stellenbosch Mafia by Pieter [...]

By |2021-06-27T08:11:27+00:00June 27th, 2021|African National Congress (ANC), Opinion|0 Comments

If SA is to live, its leaders must stop feasting on dead ideas

There are several reasons why Venezuelan polymath Moises Naim claims the attention of posterity. He served as the minister of trade and industry in his homeland when that country was the richest in South America. Afterward, he edited prestigious journal Foreign Affairs and along the way was an executive director of the World Bank. In [...]

As another Freedom Day passes, where are the genuine SA statesmen?

Historian CV Wedgwood wrote: “History is written backward but lived forward. Those who know the end of the story can never know what it was like at the time.” Very few, even if not present in the infamous Gupta compound in Saxonwold, won’t know the result of the extraordinary testimony at the Zondo commission, offered [...]

Our land of dreams has no help for pain

It is probably incautious in these incendiary times to remind readers of an acclaimed poet from the mid-Victorian era. Danger acknowledged, Matthew Arnold's elegiac composition, on the loss of faith and certainty, seems unusually modern and fits right in with the clamorous background noise that characterises SA in 2021. Although Arnold had in mind the [...]

This is what I really meant when I called Maimane an ‘experiment’

The death last week of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose extraordinary long and consequential life was heralded across the world, has occasioned many reminiscences from thousands of encounters with His Royal Highness. For while Prince Philip always walked two steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, he was usually several paces in front of [...]

Israel a handy alibi for SA’s poor foreign policy

In 1977, when apartheid was at its zenith and Johannesburg still had a booming city centre, I helped organise a conference at a five-star establishment, the President Hotel, where, as a first-year university student, I was hugely impressed by the passion and profundity of our keynote speaker, the 46-year-old firebrand secretary-general of the South African [...]

By |2021-03-28T06:36:06+00:00March 28th, 2021|African National Congress (ANC), Opinion|0 Comments

The simple fact is that the ANC has been in power too long

A famous historian archly observed that “the wheel of history is often turned by the god of irony”. We have no shortage of examples of this fundamental truth. Joel Netshitenzhe, regarded as the reigning intellect of the governing party here, popularised the adage, “the sins of incumbency”. In June 2012, when Jacob Zuma was in [...]

By |2021-03-17T05:47:28+00:00March 17th, 2021|African National Congress (ANC), Opinion|0 Comments
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