South African Politics

ANC candidates sing from the same ideological hymn sheet

To see how little distinguishes the lead candidates for the ANC presidency when it comes to policy and ideology, consider their stance on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill currently before parliament. In June 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa, apparently famed for his consensual approach to public policy, announced that NHI was “coming to you whether [...]

Youthful nations are infatuated with good old lies — why?

A flurry of elections — two just held and one next week — in three hugely significant geostrategic countries — tells us quite a bit about the universalism of current politics and some striking similarities between contests fought locally but felt globally. Brazil is the sprawling giant of South America, and despite its sub-par growth [...]

The empire strikes back, and it could very well be the UK’s saviour

I arrived in London on Tuesday, the day of a political revolution. Not that any observer would have noticed from the apparent autumnal normalcy of the bustling UK capital, abuzz with busy shoppers, snarled traffic and crisp weather. But it was a day of extraordinary change. Out went Liz Truss, the shortest serving and most [...]

What will kick off SA’s Arab spring?

In 2011 Xi Jinping was simply vice-president of China, before ascending to the top post as party general secretary (or supreme leader), to which he is set to be affirmed for a third term by his Communist Party at its 20th national congress. Back then he hosted a visit to his country by Joe Biden, [...]

Joburg was made a political ‘offer it couldn’t refuse’

“The Return of the Locusts” is an apt and lapidary title for the political melodrama which played out in the City Council chambers in Braamfontein, Johannesburg late last week. In short and dramatic order, following the ouster of the Speaker of the Council, a motion of no confidence was passed against the former mayor, Mpho [...]

Pandor’s comical UN speech quickly sinks into oblivion

Imagine you addressed a conference on SA’s economic prospects, and you omitted to mention the catastrophic daily electricity blackouts darkening the country and imperilling business and investment. Or, as a conveyancing attorney, you forgot to state the price of the property sale you were briefed to execute. In the first case you’d never be invited [...]

Ramaphosa’s meeting with US president a non-event, just like his reforms

One of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite aphorisms was, apparently, “I have to be seen to be believed”. Yesterday, after the pomp, circumstances and flummery of her state funeral at Westminster, and later, her final committal at Windsor, her grandson Prince William, the Prince of Wales, tweeted “5.1 billon people watched the queen’s funeral, 63% of [...]

Truss me on this one, Liz: new dawns get old fast

Newly elected (by the tiny universe of her own party members) British PM Liz Truss has surfed to power on a blue wave of Conservative support, though by a lesser margin than polls predicted, or any of her recent predecessors enjoyed. Still, a win is a win, and though she might soon founder on the [...]

De Klerk and the Gorbachev paradox

The comparisons between FW de Klerk, the last white president of SA and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, are striking beyond their roles as “midwives from tyranny to a new politics”. This is what British politician and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain writes in his obituary for De Klerk, who died aged 85 in [...]

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