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Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective.

Category: ANC

The Zumaphosa Monitor


Search as hard as you can, you won’t final a single critical word from President Cyril Ramaphosa about former President Jacob Zuma. That’s the Jacob Zuma, the man who brought South Africa to the brink. What you will find, however, is praise, and a lot of it. The Zumaphosa Monitor is designed to track everything Ramaphosa has said about Jacob Zuma in the hope that, one day, he might actually have a critical word to say directly about the former President. When he does, it will shut down.

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The ANC, religion and ‘the truth’


SPEECH: This past Tuesday I delivered an address on the ANC, religion and ‘the truth’. For those interested, a copy of that speech follows below. It argues that there is much to be understand about the ANC when it is viewed not as a political party but a religious movement and explores what happens when a party which once held a monopoly over ‘the truth’ suffers a crisis of legitimacy?

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Jacob Zuma: The man who walks in two worlds


JacobZumaSPEECH: This past Thursday I delivered an address on President Jacob Zuma to The Cape Town Press Club. For those interested, a copy of that speech follows below. It speaks to some of the themes identified in my book, “Clever Blacks, Jesus and Nkandla: The real Jacob Zuma in his own words”, and looks at the extent to which the fourth estate meaningfully interrogates Zuma’s various problematic religious and cultural convictions.

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The ANC’s dubious donors


ANCFlagARTICLE: I am going to try and keep Inside Politics going but my new commitments will make writing more sporadic and so, along with the odd post from the archives, so to speak, I shall probably keep things shorter. That said, the article below, originally published in 2007, is still relevant today: a good illustration of how the ANC historically placed its own financial condition ahead of any human rights considerations that might curtail from whom it solicited donations. That fact still holds true today, even if the donors are more often domestic than international. It sets out of some of the party’s more more dubious funders and what the papers said about each donation at the time.

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Dealing with apartheid’s legacy: The Lee/Manuel correspondence


TrevorManuelFEATURE: Much has been made of Trevor Manuel’s recent comments on apartheid and whether or not it constitutes a valid excuse for poor service delivery. One area relevant to the debate, on which Manuel has been very outspoken in the past but did not address in his speech, is quotas in sport. In 2005 he set out his views in an exchange of letters with DA MP Donald Lee. I have set them all out in this article. Thus, one question perhaps worth putting to Manuel today, is whether or not he still thinks they are necessary.

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Is Marius Fransman a flight risk?


ANCFlagFEATURE: Marius Fransman, ANC leader in the Western Cape, has recently been making much noise, largely on the back of a volunteer drive designed to take back the province from the Democratic Alliance in 2014. But a 2009 Wikileaks cable suggests Fransman is not necessarily the right man to be leading the charge, as he was apparently all but ready to abandon the party for COPE, ahead of the last election. So, one question worth putting to the man is: are you really committed to the ANC?

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The selective moral outrage of Trevor Manuel


TrevorManuelFEATURE: Trevor Manuel has made a point over the last two years of openly criticising the ANC and the ANC government on a range of different issues. Each time his outspoken ‘honesty’ has been met with much praise and acclaim. But it is selective moral outrage on Manuel’s part and, if he really is interested in setting himself apart from the ANC, then he has much explaining to do – starting with his years of complicit silence as Thabo Mbeki damaged the foundations of our democracy.

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Jacob Zuma’s top ten most disturbing cultural quotes


JacobZumaFEATURE: President Jacob Zuma, the highest custodian of the human rights principles and values set out in our constitution, spends a great deal of time undermining them, by advocating for a series of ‘African’ cultural beliefs that, almost without exception, are prejudiced in some way. If not prejudiced then so poorly articulated they cause an inevitable outrage and his political minders – the spokespeople in the ANC and the Presidency – are sent in to clean up after the damage he has caused. Below is a list of examples and, in each case, the kind of damage control that followed.

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Mamphela Ramphele and the triumph of narcissism over strategy


MamphelaRampeleFEATURE: Mamphela Ramphele is due to make a significant announcement on Monday. All indications are she will announce, at least, the framework for a new political party; no doubt with her at the helm. If she does, it will represent the triumph of ego over sound political analysis and, as a result, the indulgence of narcissism above South Africa’s best interests. That, and a failure to learn from history. Here is why.

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The ANC’s top ten ‘treasonous’ people


ANCFlagFEATURE: As the ANC has turned its bullying gaze towards First National Bank, so one of its perennial slurs has once again been invoked – ‘treason’, and the suggestion that FNB was attempting to overthrow the government. It is a hysterical and wholly inaccurate accusation, designed to silence criticism and shut down debate – and FNB is not the first to be labelled ‘treasonous’ by the ANC. Here follows a list of ten such instances. In each case the charge is outlandish and wrong, and, in each case, it is used as a response to disagreement rather than any actual threat. Perhaps more importantly, together they describe a party out of touch both with reality and its own history.

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The ANC and FNB: Treason for some, freedom of speech for others


ANCChinaFEATURE: Here follow two 2009 election adverts. The first is from the Freedom Front Plus, the second from the African Christian Democratic Party. Both are harrowing and aim to induce much fear in the viewer about the state of South Africa, in an attempt to win their support. Compared to the FNB advert, they are extreme and make no attempt to allude to a problem in inspirational language. Rather they are cut-throat, highly provocative and damning of the government. One is forced to ask, given that there is so much unhappiness on the ANC’s part about the mild FNB ad, why neither of these two parties were ever labelled as ‘treasonous’?

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The Ten Commandments according to Jacob Zuma


FEATURE: Jacob Zuma has, over the last five years, spent much time advocating his and the ANC’s religious credentials: that his is a party endorsed by God, that it will rule till the end of days, that its enemies will suffer damnation, that he is like Jesus, even that an ANC membership card is a ticket into heaven. I have organised all his religious rhetoric into ten key ideas – everything Jacob Zuma has ever said about the ANC and religion. Not only does it serve as a helpful archive but jointly and separately his statements paint a picture of a profoundly undemocratic leader with scant regard for the constitution or the basic tenets of democracy [GRAPHIC included].

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The ANC Chief Whip: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire


FEATURE: Why did the ANC react so extremely to criticism of its Chief Whip last week? Remember, this is the same party that ignored far more serious criticisms in the past. Something about the public airing of this latest problem – that the ANC Chief Whip has attended just 11 of 19 key parliamentary meetings – really upset the ANC. One explanation, which seems plausible on the evidence, is that his dire performance provides the perfect opportunity to “redeploy” someone the powers that be do not believe has the right political loyalties come Mangaung.

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ERROR: ANC-run provinces do not compute


FEATURE: Some four months ago – more than 120 days past – I documented how the websites for 18 ANC-run provincial departments were broken. I recently revisted them all again, to see if anything had changed. Nothing had. In fact, 19 are now broken and, of them, 15 have been broken since April (possibly longer). As in April, the only exception was the DA-run Western Cape Government. Its websites not only worked perfectly but were the most user-friendly. That tells you much about the attitude of those governments to transparency and accountablity; for access to government information is your right. To see which didn’t work and why, read on. [GRAPHIC included]

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Petrol price increase “indefensible”: ANC


SERIES: A good quote can hold within it a thousand separate insights, just as surely as some poorly constructed thought can reveal someone as a fool. Quotable Quotes looks at what is said, what was said and, on occasion, how the two compare. A lot of people forget but the ANC was once in opposition – from 1990, when it was un-banned, to South Africa’s first democratic election, in April 1994. Perhaps not formally elected but, for that period of time and in the run-up to 94, it assumed the role. Here are a few quotes from the ANC back then. I wonder how the ANC has held up in government against the standard it set when it was in opposition?

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On moral outrage and bad journalism


FEATURE: In late 2010 the DA removed Sowetan journalist Anna Majavu from its mailing lists. In 2011, the mainstream press found out and the response, fuelled by the ANC, was so hysterical looking back it puts the outcry over The Spear in a whole different light. We seem to specialise in hysteria and moral outrage in South Africa. In the 2011 article below, I responded to all the vitriol and tried to put the decision in its proper perspective. I note with some irony that today the DA is still around, Anna Majavu, however, has abandoned South Africa for Australia.

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Trevor Manuel and the ghost between the lines


FEATURE: Trevor Manuel, like Thabo Mbeki before him, is no stranger to mispresentation in order to try and make his point. In 2009 he took issue with a number of critics who suggested that Springbok coach Pieter de Villiers was not up to the job, acussing them, effectively, of racism. On one such occassion he responded to Business Day editor Peter Bruce with an argument that not only warped what Bruce had actually said, but contradicted his previous position in doing so. In the article below I tried to set out why his argument was both flawed and devious.

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Mbeki as Jekyll and Hyde


FEATURE: The book, ‘The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ provides a helpful metaphor in better understanding the relationship between the two offices which defined Mbeki’s time at the apex of South African politics. In this 2008 article I looked at these two positions held by former President Thabo Mbeki – ANC president and South African president – and offered some insights as to how they merged, to the detriment of his own aspirations and South Africa’s democracy.

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South African Political Dictionary: Cadre employment and cadre deployment


SERIES: I have noticed over the past few weeks a number of political analysts and commentators using the phrase ‘cadre employment’ when, in fact, they mean ‘cadre deployment’. An intentional euphemism or not, it is perhaps worth properly defining and legitimating. It could explain much about the ANC’s attitude to tenders, for example. But, whether defined or not, it should be distinguished from ‘cadre deployment’ which is something else entirely. I try to explain the difference below.

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The new painting of Jacob Zuma, by Ayanda Mabulu


FEATURE: President Zuma has brought this on himself. It is unfortunate, because much of the debate about this new painting (currently on exhibition at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town) will not be about the quality of the art, but all those euphemisms the ANC evokes to suppress freedom of expression – dignity, respect, culture, etc. I feel duty bound to post the picture, then, for two reasons: one, to demonstrate some consistency on this issue and two, to take a stand for freedom of expression, in the same way I did over The Spear. Thus, what follows below is the new painting of President Jacob Zuma, by artist Ayanda Mabulu. Read this blog to see it and, if you do, and you are sensitive about such things, make the choice to be offended and test your own tolerance and constitutional commitment. Choice is the essence of freedom, here is yours.

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The Billion Rand President: Update – R8.1m added in ‘Ferry Flights’


FEATURE: As and when new information comes to light, I shall aim to update and maintain ‘The Zuma Balance Sheet’ – the total costs of those privileges afforded President Zuma by the Ministerial Handbook. A new set of information about ‘Ferry Flights’ – empty flights by the Presidential Jet Inkwazi – has just been revealed by the DA. I have added the costs to the total. For the upwardly revised totals, read on.

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The Billion Rand President: How much Jacob Zuma costs the taxpayer


FEATURE: Cars, jets, VIP protection, spousal support, almost every week a new figure emerges suggesting that those privileges afforded President Zuma (and other members of the executive) are costing the taxpayer much money; but how much exactly is hard to say. No one has ever tried to total it all. The Presidency has certainly done everything in its power to shield the information. I have given it my best shot in the article below. It was a very difficult exercise but, using the Ministerial Handbook as a guide and by being very conservative, I have generated a total figure. To see it all set out, how much President Zuma costs per year and per term, and whether or not you think it’s excessive, read on.

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The Billion Rand President: Facts and Figures


FEATURE: As set out in detail in a previous article, the privileges afforded President Jacob Zuma by the Ministerial Handbook – cars, flights, accommodation, security, etc – total at least R514 million over the course of a five year term, or R102 million annually. Over two terms he would cost the public in excess of at least R1 billion. What follows below are a set of facts and figures drawn from those totals, as well as some comparative illustrations of what the various totals are equivalent to.

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Fresh off Twitter: Round 2 – the ANC again abuses power in eThekwini


FEATURE: Round 2 – more proof of how the ANC in eThekwini abuses power and undermines democracy, all of it fresh off Twitter where it has just happened. Read the summary and timelines of four DA councillors who describe how a Council meeting was hijacked, proper procedure ignored, oversight suppressed and the ANC’s agenda pushed through regardless. We don’t spend enough time focussing on what happens in local councils, if eThekwini is anything to go by, we have a lot to worry about.

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The ANC’s top 20 violent fights


FEATURE: Everyone knows the ANC is factionalised and infighting is rife but how bad is it? We hear scattered reports of violence and mayhem at ANC meetings but do we have the full picture? In an attempt to demonstrate just how serious the divisions are and to what extent the party is, literally, at war with itself, I present the ANC’s top 20 violent fights: a range of examples of how the party has turned in on itself over the past few years and the bloody consequences.

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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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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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Albie Sachs on South African art in 2000


SERIES: A good quote can hold within it a thousand separate insights, just as surely as some poorly constructed thought can reveal someone as a fool. Quotable Quotes looks at what is said, what was said and, on occasion, how the two compare. In this edition, a quote from 2000, from former ANC stalwart and Justice Albie Sachs about South African art and how it was independent of political hegemony and correctness; an appraisal that stands in stark contrast to the ANC’s recent response to ‘The Spear’.

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The Jacob Zuma painting and the idea of respect


ARTICLE: Much has already been made of the Jacob Zuma painting and the idea of respect. The argument goes like this: Jacob Zuma is the President, he should be respected. Therefore, the painting should be removed. That ‘argument’ is often used in South Africa. Routinely we fundamentally misunderstand what respect is. We think it is something that can be demanded, not earned. But the moment you accept that line of thinking, you are on a sure path to some or other anti-democratic state of affairs.

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The media’s stony silence on racism concerning the DA


FEATURE: Here is a question: Is Lindiwe Mazibuko a ‘house nigger’? That might seem like a grotesque enquiry but it is one that has been openly asked of her on Twitter. That together with a myriad other forms of racial abuse and hatred. But is it met with the same intensity of outrage that follows any perceived slight on the DA’s part? Not a chance. DA public representatives, and its black members in particular, are routinely labeled everything from ‘darkie’ to ‘kaffir’. My question is, what is the media going to do about it?

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Is the ANC its own harshest critic?


FEATURE: President Zuma’s election as ANC President ushered in a new era in ANC politics. Gone were the days of tight party discipline and the seemingly unified, focused communication that defined Mbeki’s reign. Now it openly and, on a regular basis, criticises itself – often in the harshest terms. Unfortunately, it has little to do with improvement and everything to do with political posturing and so, in the run-up to Mangaung, we can expect more of it, not less.

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TARGET MIDVAAL: Postscript: Is the ANC trying to absorb Midvaal into a metro?


POSTSCRIPT: In response to yesterday’s blog, which argued the SIU investigation into Midvaal is biased a reader sent me a story from a community newspaper in Gauteng. If true, it suggests that the ANC has lodged two proposals with the Demarcations Board, to have Midvaal absorbed into what would be an ANC-run metro. Is this the ANC’s latest attempt to circumvent the result of a democratic election?

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TARGET MIDVAAL: How the ANC is using the state to target its political opponent


FEATURE: Following the Public Protector’s investigation into the DA-run Midvaal municipality, which found no corruption, President Zuma signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigations Unit to investigate the exact same charges, except on a grander scale. Midvaal is by some distance the outstanding performer in Gauteng. Why has the President himself deemed it fit for the SIU to investigate Midvaal and not other ANC-run municipalities in Gauteng which, on the exact same criteria Midvaal is being investigated on, fail catastrophically to measure up? The evidence suggests a political agenda. Read on to see the extent of the bias.

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How cadre deployment has brought Buffalo City to its knees


FEATURE: Did you know Buffalo City has been without a chief financial officer for more than 1 000 days or that, in the last three years, it has had four executive mayors and six municipal managers? Little wonder its financial management has collapsed over the last five years, to the point where the province has threatened to strip it of its powers. The primary reason: cadre deployment and politicisation of a municipality that, just five years ago, received a financially unqualified report from the Auditor-General.

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The ANC’s all-time top 10 most disturbing quotes


FEATURE: I have compiled into a list what I consider to be the ANC’s 10 most disturbing quotes of the last 18 years. Each one made a significant impact on current affairs and, significantly, revealed the ANC’s real thinking, so they are worth documenting and recalling. But I am open to suggestions. The point of this article is to generate a discussion. So read them and leave your comments. Did Zuma’s shower quote make the list? Malema on nationalisation? Mbeki on Aids? Read on and find out. Also, leave your thoughts on Twitter, I will use the hashtag #ANCQuotes

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How much government spends on entertainment


FEATURE: Every annual report has a line item called ‘Entertainment’ which, according to the Treasury, can include everything from lunches through to gifts and something called ‘Private Entertainment’. So, how much does government spend in this regard? R77 million in two years is the answer. To see who the biggest and smallest spenders are and, importantly, how national expenditure compares to the Western Cape and other provinces, read on. If anything, it is at least an entertaining read.

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Why ANC provincial departments have contempt for you


FEATURE: Annual Reports go directly to accountability and transparency. If they are produced by a government timeously and made easily available to the public and press, it says something about that government’s commitment to those two principles. What follows is an assessment of the extent to which annual reports are available on provincial department websites. In undertaking it, it became apparent that not only were the reports scarce, but that some 18 websites just didn’t work at all. To find out which ones, read on.

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Driving Ms Mbete: Part 2


FEATURE: Having set out the details of former Speaker Baleka Mbete’s fraudulent driver’s licence in Part 1 of this retrospective, today we look at how the press responded at the time. The various editorial comments are helpful not only because they gives a sense of the outrage but because they capture nicely the various ethical considerations at play, which are perhaps lost in a factual account of the incident and, certainly, were lost on the ANC at the time.

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Driving Ms Mbete: Part 1


FEATURE: It is now largely forgotten but in 1997 former Speaker in the National Assembly Baleka Mbete was embroiled in a serious corruption scandal. She was accused of obtaining fraudulently a learner’s and driver’s licence and, among 44 others, required to testify before a Commission of Enquiry into the matter. It is worth recalling the story because it illustrated much about the ANC’s attitude to accountability and executive office – an attitude that is now well entrenched. So, here is a retrospective: how Baleka Mbete got a fraudulent driver’s licence and what the ANC did about it.

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Mangaung: The ANC’s shame


FEATURE: The ANC has spent much time over the past six months waxing lyrical about the deep significance of Mangaung and the Free State to the party, as it celebrates its 100 anniversary. But an overview of the way in which local government has been managed by the party suggests a different attitude. Indeed, so fundamentally mismanaged is the Free State, if anything the ANC owes its people an apology. What follows is a general overview of the way in which the various local authorities in the Free State – and Mangaung in particular – have performed according to the reports of the Auditor-General. It makes for disturbing reading and, I would argue, leads one to the inevitable conclusion that, if the ANC owes anything to the Free State, it is an explanation.

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Mbeki’s 1994 TV debate nightmare


SERIES: In this edition of From the Archives: As the Republican Party process to determine a presidential candidate plays itself out in America, with a seemingly endless stream of televised debates, it is worth asking why we don’t enjoy a similar culture of public debate in South Africa. Why did Jacob Zuma and Helen Zille not debate each other on live television in the run-up to the 2009 election? The answer to that question is a complex one, and a lot, I suspect, to do with Zuma himself. But the ANC more generally has never really advocated for this kind of thing, certainly Mbeki fought it tooth and nail – and he was no Jacob Zuma. Why? One reason is the ANC’s obvious attitude to debate but, with regards to Mbeki, the answer might be a little more personal. Here follows a retrospective on the first and only time democratic South Africa presidential candidates debated on live TV – in the run-up to the 1994 election.

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Bitou at the brink


FEATURE: The story of Bitou municipality (Plettenberg Bay) and how the ANC’s closed crony model of local governance corrupted democracy and development in the area. Described by the DA’s David Christianson, the story sets out how the ANC administration, through the mismanagement and misuse of resources, brought the municipality to its knees, and the extent of the problem with DA inherited when it came to power in Bitou in last year’s local government elections. It is a powerful illustration of the kind of damage poor governance can do and, much like the story of Gauteng’s Nokeng Tsa Taemane municipality which Helen Zille set out during the election and DA Mayor Gesie van Deventer’s description of what the DA found when it took over Drakenstein demonstrates that much of the ANC’s poor governance is only fully revealed when it is removed from power.

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South Africa and the Sorites Paradox


FEATURE: The Sorites Paradox posits that, in removing individual grains of sand from a heap, one can never tell the exact point when it stops being a heap and becomes something else. It is also called the ‘little-by-little’ argument and speaks to one of humankind’s great weaknesses: our inability to spot gradual but fundamental change over time. What happens when you apply the paradox to the ANC? Is it the same party it was in 1994? Has it changed fundamentally? If so, when did it happen?

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Refugees: The ANC’s xenophobic bigotry revealed


FEATURE: Moral outrage often says more about those outraged than the issue at hand. The hysteria surrounding Helen Zille’s use of the word refugee – particularly from the ANC – makes the case: the meaning of the word is beyond dispute, the prejudice which has fuelled the way it has been perceived, however, has hardly been touched on. And a closer inspection of the ANC’s actual response on the matter suggests it has a lot of answer for – a new target for South Africa’s media to focus its moralising on. Whether or not it does so, however, is different question, the answer to which is revealing.

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Was Shiceka fired for promoting the DA?


FEATURE: As part of the speculation preceding President Zuma’s decision to fire former co-operative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka it was reported the ANC was unhappy with the way his department kept highlighting in its reports how well DA governments were performing. Since he has been fired, the national department has produced none of the comparative statistical information it did in the run-up to the 2011 election. So, was the way the minister’s department promoted the DA a contributing factor to his removal from office? And, more to the point, will the ANC government ever make that kind of comparative data available again?

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How political correctness makes for bad analysis


FEATURE: There is a tendency in South African political analysis to explain away problematic behaviour or positioning by being optimistic about it. That is, to suggest it is not a problem and that it needed be cause for serious concern because everything is going to be alright. That, however, leads to poor analysis. In the piece below I look at a piece by Eusebius McKaiser that illustrates this kind of thinking and how it lends itself to misunderstanding the politics of the ANC.

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On the ANC, refugees and offence


FEATURE: Helen Zille’s tweet about Eastern Cape refugees has caused much outcry, least of all from the ANC, which, as per usual, has used the opportunity not to talk about the problem at hand but the word itself. Ironically, given the ANC’s sudden worry about “negative feelings”, a look at its own track record reveals a party that routinely throws around deeply offensive ideas all the time. In the piece below I set some of them out and make the case: if the ANC is worried about offence, a good place to start would be by taking a look in the mirror.

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The other election


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. This time, a retrospective on the other important election involving Jacob Zuma: at the ANC’s 1997 general conference Zuma was elected Deputy President and his formal relationship with Thabo Mbeki was first established. How he got elected, and what he had to say about Mbeki, makes for interesting reading.

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The Imaginarium of Marius Fransman


FEATURE: ANC Western Cape Provincial Chairperson Marius Fransman has written an article that, well, it’s quite something. I was going to say hilarious, and I did laugh heartedly at much of it but then, on reflection, decided that ‘hilarious’ did not do adequate justice to some of the remarkable gobbledygook contained within it. Mixed metaphors, mangled grammar, poor language, bad spelling – it reads like the wildly-impassioned speech a maniacal super villain spits forth, mad with an over-the-top power lust, just before he inevitably duffs his whole grand plan and is captured, all red in the face and puffing, like someone who has been locked in a sauna for a day and a half. Anyway, you should read it first, before reading this. You can find it here. Oh, and also make a note of it. This is going to be one of those humdingers you are going to want to recall from the archives come 2014.

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