South African Politics

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 [...]

State dysfunction got airborne with Ramaphosa’s DRC flight of fancy

Last weekend, the Sunday Times ran a front-page exposé by Erika Gibson on the saga of high-flying Cyril Ramaphosa. His office splurged R2.6m to hire a 320-passenger SAA Airbus A340 to transport 12 people, including the president, to a single meeting in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the report said. A day late [...]

SA’s US policy is foreign to say the least

Remarks this week by international relations minister Naledi Pandor represent a rhetorical Venn diagram between her intelligence and experience on the one hand, and her obligation to parrot the party line, encased by impractical commitments and ideological rigidities on the other. This awkward intersection was on full display during the visit to Pretoria on Monday [...]

The ANC’s policy phantasms won’t fly

On Monday , South Africans, wearied and depressed by endless electricity blackouts in the heart of winter, were offered by President Cyril Ramaphosa yet another solution — this time in the form of a “10-point power crisis plan”.  Most folk are caught between the hope that this time, against all odds and expectation, the plan [...]

OK, now for the 10-point credibility plan, Mr President

Just hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Monday evening announcement of a “10-point power crisis plan”, educationist and public commentator Jonathan Jansen commissioned an online survey. Jansen asked respondents how confident they were that in respect of the “bold announcements of the president to fix the energy crisis that this time words will become actions?” Of [...]

Waiting for Ramaphosa goes from Phala Phala party to a black Christmas

The death of acclaimed film critic Barry Ronge in early July was a jarring reminder to me of how he held our English 1 class at Wits University spellbound with his wit and articulacy 42 years ago. Ronge’s lecture topic back then was “the theatre of the absurd” — at the time very voguish with its [...]

Look who’s afraid of change while Conservatives keep it fresh

Writing this column from London amid an intense heatwave, the meltdown in the British Conservative Party offers no end of lessons for politicians and polities everywhere. Last Thursday Boris Johnson’s gravity-defying political survivalism was brought crashing down to earth as he was forcibly ejected — “by the herd”, as he dubbed his Tory colleagues — [...]

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