Defining The Enemy

What happens when we define ‘the enemy’ in terms that would justify shooting them down like mad dogs in the street? I have often felt that the terms of our political debate are too extreme – from all sides of the political spectrum. The idea or assertion that the government, the state and the rulingContinue reading “Defining The Enemy”

Is this the way the cookie crumbles?

This way: The business of government becomes the business of enriching the governors … rather than the business of governing and thereby serving the electorate’s overarching interests? The extremely rich rewards to be gained from holding political office cause the party list process – especially in the ANC – to become one of mayhem andContinue reading “Is this the way the cookie crumbles?”

Chris Hani – and my part in South Africa’s downfall

For a brief time in the late 1980’s I had occasion to spend some time with Chris Hani, then Chief of Staff of the ANC’s uMkhonto we Sizwe and Secretary General of the South African Communist Party. I was working for the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (IDASA) and a meeting between the ANC’sContinue reading “Chris Hani – and my part in South Africa’s downfall”

The forces for and against a South African revolt

Some of the things we think we know about revolts and revolutions – but that do not always apply: Where there are adequate elective processes dissatisfied people believe they can influence outcomes through voting and therefore are unlikely to make the sacrifices required of a revolution. Revolts are generally lead and organised by the middleContinue reading “The forces for and against a South African revolt”

Raw fish served on a bed of … human sweat?

I love that scene in the Bucket List where the poor but proud Morgan Freeman character quietly points out to the rich and arrogant Jack Nicholson that the coffee he brews in a silver pot and savours from Dresden china is made from beans shat out by a lemur in South America – well that’sContinue reading “Raw fish served on a bed of … human sweat?”

Who is Cronin’s enemy?

Jeremy Cronin’s criticism of Cosatu’s  recent hosting of a “Civil Society Conference” is impossible to understand without understanding his – and the SACP’s – assumptions about the world and South Africa in November 2010. Cronin’s premise is that “an enemy” is attempting to make the public debate about the future of South Africa focus onContinue reading “Who is Cronin’s enemy?”

Pictures of a possible future

I occasionally publish slides that I have used for clients as part of my attempt to examine political and investment risks to them. Below are 3 from a presentation I delivered soon after the ANC NGC. See if you can identify all the people concerned – a sort of politics general knowledge test ( youContinue reading “Pictures of a possible future”

Suddenly it’s all sweetness and light?

It’s been a difficult week, and I started the following post on Monday soon after hearing the general tone of the press and analysts response to the cabinet reshuffle. I wanted to publish while the accolades for Jacob Zuma were still glowing and, unfortunately for both the President and me, the corrective doubts and scepticismContinue reading “Suddenly it’s all sweetness and light?”

Is the ANC really beyond redemption?

It is difficult not to imagine the tearing of some deep and important ligament in our body politic in the tone and content of this debate that starts in The Times, ostensibly between Pallo Jordan and Justice Malala and ostensibly about media freedom. The battle is joined – and complicated – by the ANC inContinue reading “Is the ANC really beyond redemption?”

Stalking Horses at the NGC

I have been sickly and trying to pay the bills. All my ‘paid for’ commentary on the NGC is done and I can finally get back to home ground where I feel more comfortable to make some wild accusations – and I will, finally, be more explicit in this post about who I think theContinue reading “Stalking Horses at the NGC”

If I had to cook up an explanation ….

(I posted this in the boarding queue at Cape Town International on my way to Johannesburg and that means there were a few typographical errors, some of which I have now corrected. Where the sense has changed – as in the final paragraph – I indicate the changes I have made.) If my life dependedContinue reading “If I had to cook up an explanation ….”

Sink or swim

Here is the summary of South Africa’s performance in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010 – 2011. The highlights are mine and the seriousness of the problems is obvious.. While we quite rightly bemoan health, education and labour market failures it is interesting to note we were top ranked – in the whole world! – inContinue reading “Sink or swim”

Are we there yet?

The ArcelorMittal /Imperial Crown Trading deal (in all its complexity) is deeply threatening to the future of investment in South Africa. If I ran a display indicating threat levels to the South African democracy the readings would be higher now than at any time since the successful establishment of majority rule in 1994. Such aContinue reading “Are we there yet?”

Selebi plays Zuma, Agliotti plays Shaik

I can’t help but think of the Selebi corruption trial and conviction as a proxy for the big one that never happened. There’s a story about Glenn Agliotti wandering around Shell House in the early 90’s, undoubtedly looking to meet and great the returning leaders of the ANC. Somewhere in those chaotic corridors where incompetenceContinue reading “Selebi plays Zuma, Agliotti plays Shaik”

Parastatals: fleshpot flashpoint

How to explain the decision to start a review of the parastatals by a presidential committee just as Public Enterprises minister Barbara Hogan was busy with that job? When anything in our country seems confusing it is always useful to abide by the famous injunction from Watergate’s ‘Deep Throat‘: follow the money. The raison d’ĂȘtreContinue reading “Parastatals: fleshpot flashpoint”