South African Politics

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 [...]

Business leaders will have to fill the governance vacuum

Overlooking Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden in Cape Town beside a cedar tree is the grave of its visionary founder, Harold Pearson. His epitaph, with a bow to Sir Christopher Wren, reads, “If ye seek his monument look around you.’’ Pearson, who died at just 46 in 1916, did not live to see how, more than [...]

Maladministration and infrastructural neglect at the core of Joburg fire tragedy

The weekly columns of the late newspaper editor, Ken Owen, were described by author Mark Gevisser as “bilious and brilliant”. As a frequent target of the lacerating views of Owen, I felt the lash of the former while acknowledging the latter as well. In Business Day on April 23 1990, Owen’s weekly bucket of national [...]

Yikes! The moonshot pact is run from a pizza shop basement

As a Brics scene-stealer, it was hard to beat the offstage and out-of-the-sky antics of Pretoria’s absent friend, Vladimir Putin. Apparently on Wednesday a plane crash in Russia killed Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, once known as “Putin’s chef”. His death exactly two months after his short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin proves anew the adage [...]

While US stays on top, the bucking horse of the rule of law throws SA off

Famed 19th-century British constitutional scholar AV Dicey is credited with popularising the concept “the rule of law”. Among its core tenets is that no person is above the law or beyond its reach. Subsequent scholarly warnings that the rule of law is an “unruly horse” have received some recent, alarming updates here and beyond these [...]

The multiparty coalition needs cool heads and a spirit of compromise

Last week’s opposition get-together at Emperor’s Palace (previously World Trade Centre) in Kempton Park provided fodder for both cheerleaders and cynics about prospects for a post-ANC future in South Africa. For the sceptics, there was plenty of evidence that this “sideshow”, to quote our esteemed president, will not move the voting dial much in 2024. [...]

Coalition politics: when to do a deal with the devil?

Novelist John le Carre offered the thought that “a desk is a dangerous place to view the world”. These past weeks, true to his dictum, I have been far from my South African desk and about in the world. Two days in Israel was to be thrust into the maelstrom of the largest civil discontent [...]

Who needs trade benefits when we have resentments?

Last month, at a Brics youth summit in Durban, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the ring-mistress of RET resentments, went global in her full-frontal assault on the West, the World Bank, World Trade Organisation, ‘’five South African banks” and “dominant Eurocentric narratives of the world”. We can leave aside the irony that South Africa has this 74-year [...]

It’s time the president took off his rose-tinted glasses and faced reality

Guardian journalist John Crace coined the killer phrase “aural valium” to describe the desperate-sounding, essentially misplaced, and meaningless, optimism of besieged British prime minister Rishi Sunak. Last Thursday, Sunak’s Conservative Party lost two heartland constituencies to resurgent Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates respectively, suggesting the Tories are on course to a sweeping defeat in next [...]

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 [...]

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