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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective. Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

Month: June, 2012

Why Stormers rugby supporters are statistically the best


FEATURE: That headline got your attention, didn’t it? (Apologies to Tina Turner). Here follows a lighthearted story for a Friday. I have put together all the attendance figures for South Africa’s home matches in this year’s Super 15 rugby competition. From the title you will have already guessed which team boasts the support base that turns out in the largest numbers but, if you’d like all the facts and figures, the best and the worst, here they all are – read on; well, unless you’re a Sharks fan, in which case you should probably be at the stadium.

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On binary thinking


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Binary thinking – the idea that, in any situation, a person has only two choices – is pervasive. Moralisers reinforce the idea – their favourite two choices being ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Inevitably though, on closer inspection, there will exist far more than just two options and education and knowledge are key to being able to recognise this.

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7 of the worst: How the ANC rewards corruption


FEATURE: Jacob Zuma yesterday used his speech to the ANC’s 2012 policy conference to speak out against what he called ‘alien tendencies’ in the party – things like corruption and the abuse of power. Who did he think he was kidding? Zuma has himself rewarded those very things. By way of illustration, here is a list of seven ANC MPs, all found guilty in the Travelgate scandal, all re-elected, most rewarded with promotion (by Zuma) and including their salaries – so you can see just how much political loyalty costs.

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The best of Inside Politics


FEATURE: Inside Politics has now been up and running for five months. I thought I would use the opportunity to provide a helpful overview of some of the more popular articles that have been featured during that period. I have summerised them by type and included a rough word guide, so you know what you are getting. I hope you enjoy the summary. If its in-depth investigative reasearch you into, breaking news, opinion or liberal ideas, its all here. Have a read and, if you like it, recommend it to others.

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How Sadtu and the SACE have damaged accountability in SA education


FEATURE: The South African Council for Educators is the primary institution charged with upholding accountability in South African education. It does so by enforcing a Code of Professional Ethics for educators. Or, at least, that is what it is supposed to do. In truth, however, it has effectively fired just 97 educators in 12 years. At the heart of the problem is Sadtu, which dominates the SACE council and ethics committee. Its influence, together with the SACE’s wrongheaded approach, has rendered educator accountability in South African education a farce. Read on to see how.

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The relationship between hope and time


ARTICLE: You don’t often think about it this way but hope is actually all about how you understand time. If you have hope, with it you have perspective and the idea that the future might be better. In the other direction, if one has no hope, there is no prospect of a better future and so time and perspective are reduced to contemporary concerns. There is only the here and now and the need to overcome the challenge that currently exists right before your eyes.

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Fresh off Twitter: How the ANC in eThekwini abuse public money


FEATURE: Not more than an hour ago there was a huge argument between the DA and the ANC in the eThekwini council over a proposal to send an under 15 soccer team to South Korea: the ANC said two councillors should accompany them, then, when the DA opposed the idea, increased the number to five, unilaterally voted in support of their amendment and ignored a legal opinion in doing so. Here is an account of the story as it happened in council and told through the Tweets of three young DA councillors: Warwick Chapman, Mbali Ntuli and Nicole Graham.

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VIDEO: A Youth Wage Subsidy now!


VIDEO: Here is a great video from the DA Youth, explaining what a Youth Wage Subsidy is and the difference it would make to the lives of young, unemployed South Africans. I am not sure why it has not been more widely circulated but it is well worth a look at. Some good interviews with some people affected and shots of the DA rally in favour of the subsidy, which Cosatu reduced to a violent and bloody mess. Check it out.

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Phiyega’s gallery of gobbledegook


FEATURE: The new police commissioner, Mangwashi Phiyega, has a wonderful way with words. Never before has a senior member of civil service squeezed so many metaphors and idioms into so little content. Is she the police’s answer to Pieter de Villiers? In order to make sure they are all captured for posterity and I am starting a running archive of her best sayings. Here it is.

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On patriarchy


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Today, a look at the relationship between patriarchy and dignity. Why is it that a patriarch will so easily feel their dignity has been impugned? The answer has to do with the assumption that they bear no responsibility for upholding it in the first place.

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Cyril Ramaphosa on the need for an independent SABC, in 1992


SERIES: From the Archives aims to put forward the odd reminder that, more often than not, history is merely repeating itself. In all likelihood, somewhere, someone has already experienced and commented on those all-consuming issues that appear to have materialised only yesterday. Here follows a 1992 speech by Cyril Ramaphosa, about how important an independent SABC was and how the National Party had abused the public broadcaster to serve its own political ends. 20 years later and there is a case to be made South Africa has yet to actually experience an independent SABC.

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South Africa is not Russia


ARTICLE: Wilmot James has written an article on Blade Nzimande and the SACP for the City Press, which I have republished in full here. It is a pertinent follow-up to the article I wrote about Jeremy Cronin a week or so ago and asks important questions about some of the more dubious positions the SACP has adopted in the past. City Press notes that the SACP failed to meet the deadline to respond to Wilmot.

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The ANC and John Dugard: Feeding the hand it bites


FEATURE: This April past President Zuma awarded John Dugard the national order of the Baobab. It was a recognition well deserved; John Dugard’s contribution to South African jurisprudence is extraordinary. Likewise, however, it was a deeply hypocritical gesture. The ANC has for years spurned Dugard, blocking his appointment to many key positions, including the Constitutional Court. But that is the nature of nationalism: to fete the very things it despises. Here follows a Business Day article I wrote on this subject this week.

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The DA’s 2006 bill to hold unions accountable


SERIES: The instantaneous and dramatic nature of current affairs lends itself to a kind of historical amnesia, one where the captivating nature of those things unfolding today, causes one to forget the bigger picture. From the Archives aims to put forward the odd reminder that, more often than not, history is merely repeating itself. In all likelihood, somewhere, someone has already experienced and commented on those all-consuming issues that appear to have materialised only yesterday. Today, the DA’s 2006 Private Members Bill designed to hold unions accountable for any damage caused during striking, an idea recently endorsed by the Constitutional Court.

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An analysis of the Press Ombudsman’s rulings: The best and worst


FEATURE: Which newspapers in South Africa have the most complaints made to the Press Ombudsman upheld against them? In order to answer this question, I analysed all of the last three years worth of rulings on the Ombudsman’s website and categorised them by paper. Want to see who fares best and who fares worst? It is a crude analysis but, I believe, it does offer some valuable insights. For all the answers, read on.

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On gossip


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Gossip and politics seem to be inseparable, so it is worth trying to understand gossip a bit better and the kind of role it plays for many in political life – and it’s not a pleasant one. Here, then, is why those who deal predominantly in gossip are not to be trusted.

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How the WC Office of the Premier scored best in PSC report


FEATURE: The Public Service Commission recently published a report assessing the performance of the nine Offices of the Premier. The only Office of the Premier not run by the ANC – in the Western Cape – came out on top. What follows is a summary of that report and a more detailed look at how the DA-run Western Cape Office of the Premier faired. There is some critical information in this article and some invaluable statistics. All in all, further proof that, where the DA governs, it delivers better services than the ANC, to more people.

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South Africa and the 1994 memory block


FEATURE: There is a strong case to be made that contemporary South African history – post 1994 – is subject to some kind of collective memory block. So horrific was apartheid, we have lost the ability properly to put current affairs in their full perspective. Inevitably any event is gauged, not against the principles that define freedom, but those gross violations suffered in the past. Remembering the past is vital but it should never blur our ability to recognise those contemporary threats to our civil liberties.

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The ANC and the history of Mao’s infamous quote


SERIES: My article yesterday, on Jeremy Cronin and his amoral hypocrisy, seems to have elicited some significant interest in this subject. It surely is a curious fact that socialism and those who advocate it enjoy next to no moral scrutiny for the blood-soaked history they represent. Indeed, they seemingly operate in an entirely ahistorial environment. So much so, they routinely evoke socialist rhetoric with no appreciation for what it represents. Mao’s ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ quote is a great example. Here follows an article from the archives, which looks at the way this quote is misused by the alliance. Cronin accused ‘pseudo liberals’ of ‘historical illetracy’, time to take a look in the mirror I say.

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The mischievous deviousness of Jeremy Cronin


FEATURE: Jeremy Cronin, along with a great many other people in the alliance, constantly suggest liberalism was the source of much wrong in South Africa’s past, and should therefore be dismissed. They are wrong on the facts. But that’s not the point. If it’s historical injustice the SACP wants to speak out against, it should take a look in the mirror – because socialism is responsible for mass murder on an unprecendeted scale. If anyone has some explaining to do, its the SACP. And someone should ask them to start.

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Some curious facts from a ballooning presidency


ARTICLE: It is often stated that the ANC is centralising power in the presidency. But what do the facts say? One way to find out is to look at its annual reports over time, which list the number of staff it employs. Sure enough, the evidence illustrates it is an ever-increasing bureaucracy. In fact, it has more than doubled in size over the last nine years. With that has come an increase in support staff, a great many of whom are dedicated to comfort rather than policy.

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Why difference is important


ARTICLE: Every single person on this planet is different in some way unique to them. Most people have one of two responses to that: either it is the source of insecurity or pride. For those who feel uncomfortable with difference, comfort is found in conformity. That is no bad thing, but when those same people take that fear to an extreme level and try to outlaw difference in others, in order that everyone might be the same, that is not only a sure path to authoritarianism but to misunderstand the very value and wonder of difference itself.

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On dignity


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Today, a look at the idea of dignity. It is often assumed, indeed, the idea is often promoted that, dignity is an entitlement. That is wrong. One is in entitled to the conditions necessary for one to be able to act in a dignified manner, but whether or not one uses the opportunity, well, that is entirely an issue of personal responsibility.

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The ANC’s intolerant attitude to tolerance


SERIES: The instantaneous and dramatic nature of current affairs lends itself to a kind of historical amnesia, one where the captivating nature of those things unfolding today, causes one to forget the bigger picture. From the Archives aims to put forward the odd reminder that, more often than not, history is merely repeating itself. In all likelihood, somewhere, someone has already experienced and commented on those all-consuming issues that appear to have materialised only yesterday. Today, a trip back to 2005 and an illustration of the ANC’s intolerant attitude to tolerance; one which its more recent response to The Spear suggests has only become stronger with time.

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Inside Politics: 100 posts and beyond, sign-up and follow


FEATURE: This is the 100th post to go up on Inside Politics and I thought I would take the opportunity to thank those people who have taken time out to read something on the blog and to suggest, for those of you interested in keeping track of what goes up, to follow Inside Politics on one of the three main news feeds it offers. So read on to find out how, and the kind of analysis you will be in store for if you do.

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FPB: Inside Politics declines to censor The Spear


FEATURE: The Film and Publications Board (FPB) has attempted to censor The Spear, by giving it a 16N rating, for nudity. It has stated that it will attempt to enforce this rating by approaching internet service providers. Inside Politics declines to censor the picture of The Spear on this blog. It shall stay up, as is. The full reasoning behind that decision follows in the article below.

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What is pornography?


FEATURE: The films and publications board has decided to classify Brett Murray’s The Spear as pornographic. The artwork has been given an age restriction of 16N, the aim of the classification is to prevent individuals under the age of sixteen from seeing the work. In order to come to grips with the board’s decision, it is vital for us understand what is meant by the term pornography.

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