Jacob Zuma

SA enters a Kafkaesque era of opposition leadership in Parliament

The 1996 Constitution formalised the office and role of the leader of the opposition. Section 57(1)(d) of the Constitution obliges the National Assembly to recognise "the leader of the largest opposition party in the Assembly as the Leader of the Opposition". The first holder of the post was also the briefest occupant of the office: [...]

The ANC faces its own ‘Sophie’s choice’

Realpolitik - or the triumph of ruthless pragmatism in pursuit of national ends - is a word correctly associated with Germany's "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck, whose 19 years in office (1871-1890) forged the modern German state. Popularly, but apparently incorrectly, attributed to Bismarck is the aphorism: "Anyone who loves the law or sausages should never [...]

The most difficult part of the GNU starts right now

"Never make predictions, least of all about the future" is wise advice. Undeterred by such caution, three years ago, in 2021, in my book, Future Tense - Reflections on my Troubled Land, I suggested that, in 2024, 30 years after the founding democratic election here, the liberation party would likely run out of road and face defeat [...]

A crucial fork in the road for South Africa’s future

Never has the Chinese curse or cliché, "May you live in interesting times," been more fitting for South Africa in the aftermath of the momentous 29 May election. As we navigate genuinely uncharted waters, it could be said that the map to hand, our Constitution, will guide us safely to calmer waters. That is both [...]

Spot the difference: ANC’s populist pivot in 2024 election

Decades back, the Sunday newspapers boasted large comic supplements featuring everyone from Prince Valiant to Batman. One weekly cartoon was called "Spot the Difference". It sported a two-panel drawing each of which looked, at first blush, identical to the other. But in fact, the second panel contained some subtle differences from the first drawing. The job [...]

When legends overshadow truth: Beyond blaming Zuma

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writer, and historian, noted in 2018 in the New York Review of Books that "the encrustations of mythologising and hero worship have gone beyond the point that they can be easily corrected". This phenomenon was neatly summarised in a line at the end of the 1962 Hollywood blockbuster movie, The man who shot Liberty Valance: When the legend becomes fact, [...]

Whom you plan to vote for is a small question that has massive implications

Last week's death of social psychologist Daniel Kahneman, 90, was commemorated by economists across the world even though he never studied economics even as an undergraduate. But he did win the 2002 Nobel Prize for economic science. Puzzles, biases and paradoxes were core to Kahneman's insights. In fact, he, along with his lifetime collaborator Amos [...]

There are no straight lines in politics. Voters will get 3 versions of the ANC on 29 May

More than a decade back, I had a memorable dinner in Buenos Aires with a former White House speechwriter for President George W Bush. One of the guests present asked him what it was like to work for the 43rd President of the United States. Bush was famously regarded by voters as being both a [...]

Dial-a-quote Mbalula uncharacteristically silent on Alexei Navalny’s death

If you were doing a mental health check on the state of South African democracy today, schizophrenia could be an accurate diagnosis. On the one hand, never in its 30-year bumpy ride toward the pivotal 2024 election has the outcome been so unclear nor as contested. Evidence of the rude good democratic health here arrived [...]

Liberation movements tend to lose power after 30 years. Will SA join the club in 2024?

As South Africa enters 30 years under the rule of the liberation party, Tony Leon examines what success might look like in toppling a government as a liberation movement and finds SA wanting. Imagine you headed operations for a liberation army, seeking to overthrow an oppressive state and the cruel overlords who helmed it. What would you [...]

Go to Top