www.inside-politics.org

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

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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On unity


SERIES: It’s hard these days, particularly in an environment where collectivism and nationalism hold so much sway, to go for any length of time without hearing a call for ‘unity’. It sounds good enough, but few take time to think about what such a call actually entails. What would a society look like that was absolutely unified? Surely it would be absolutely uniform in turn? When viewed in that light, the idea of unity takes on a different effect.

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The cheap moralising of Eusebius McKaiser


FEATURE: Political analyst Eusebius McKaiser has written an article, based on a recent lecture he gave, in which he argues that ‘spineless’ liberals retreat because they are scared of black intimidation. The way he makes his point, however, is deeply disingenuous. Indeed, he manipulates his text (changing the original point he made in his talk) to do so. In the process, he makes no sense and ‘lo and behold’, as he would say, contradicts himself. Read on to see how.

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On change


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 change – something which is very often resisted on the basis that the unknown is the source of unease and, to venture into it, is to risk the comfort of the status quo. So change often shares a particular relationship with both bravery and loss.

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Journalism 101: 1st Check facts; 2nd Write opinion


FEATURE: Chris Gibbons has written for the Daily Maverick an article which revolves around a central premise that is completely wrong. Thus, the whole article is wrong; likewise, all the conclusions he draws from it are wrongheaded. It’s a good example of poor journalism, not merely because the facts are all over the place, but because it relies so heavily on clichéd ideas that, given a moments consideration, are revealed to be flawed. Here is my response.

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On statistics


SERIES: Because they are far more objective in nature, statistics have a certain kind of power. That is, they allow those not entirely familiar with a situation to comment on it with authority, even insightfully. Little wonder, then, nationalists don’t like statistics and try to control and manipulate them. Ultimately, however, its a losing battle. Here’s why.

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Appearance and reality: Liberal values in democratic South Africa


FEATURE: The Helen Suzman Foundation (www.hsf.org.za) has just produced edition 65 of its Journal, Focus. The edition is titled ‘On Liberty’ and devoted to exploring some of the challenges, both social and political, which have confronted South African liberalism. You can find a full copy of the edition here (PDF). Among of a range of pieces by the likes of Bobby Godsell, Charles Simkins, John Matisonn and Michael Cardo (I see Pallo Jordan even makes an appearance) is the piece I wrote, below, on liberal values and how they are often the subject of subtle negotiation, almost always to their detriment.

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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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On arrogance


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. A common accusation today is to accuse someone of being ‘arrogant’. In doing so, however, arrogance is often confused with boldness and, in truth, it is the powerful who, not wanting to be contradicted, evoke the idea of arrogance to defend themselves.

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Johannesburg and nationalism: 1890 vs 2012


FEATURE: There are many parallels between the ANC’s particular brand of African nationalism and the nationalism practiced by previous governments in South Africa’s past. It is a comparison not often made but one which holds many lessons. Consider Johannesburg in the late 1800s for example: under the control of a nationalist administration it faced and created numerous problems which we face today and a description of the city back then, which follows below, sounds eerily familiar.

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On cant


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 cant – when high ideals are evoked and language used merely to give the impression some grand plan is unfolding when, in truth, there exists a substantial gulf between what is said and what is actually done.

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How loyalty is used and abused


ARTICLE: Is there a difference between being loyal to a friend and being loyal to a country or cause? The principle is the same but the way in which loyalty is used by friends and governments differs greatly. Governments, particularly nationalist governments, demand loyalty; just as they demand evidence of it. What they fail to understand, however, is that all they are doing is encouraging obedience.

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The Ubuntu cuttlefish


FEATURE: In response to a recent article by Andrew Donaldson, titled ‘Let’s never mention Ubuntu again’, Barbara Nussbaum (former member of the Ubuntu Panel, which was part of the National Heritage Council of South Africa) has penned a long and ultimately meaningless response. In the article below I have responded to Nussbaum in turn and provided a general critique of Ubuntu – an idea I argue is ill-defined and, besides, redundant, in light of the Bill of Human Rights.

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36 Quotes from Jacob Zuma


FEATURE: I have been looking through the various wise things Jacob Zuma has said, in particular, before his election to the Presidency in 2009. And, seeing as I have them all to hand, I thought I would put together a list of some of his more infamous statements. I was struck by how often he came out in defence of President Mbeki’s HIV/Aids denialism, specifically as Deputy President. That said, in no particular order, here are 36 quotes from Jacob Zuma.

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On diversity


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. At the social cohesion summit, President Jacob Zuma told the audience, “we have to build one national identity out of multiple identities”. It was a thought typical of nationalistic thinking, which routinely fails to understand diversity and its importance.

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Zuma’s Zapiro investment strategy


FEATURE: Jacob Zuma’s defamation case against Zapiro – the cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (not David, ANCWL) – is due to be heard by the courts in October. In the meantime, Zapiro is enjoying some rather intense political attention after he suggested, in a more recent cartoon, Zuma is a ‘dick’. In the article below, Adv. Mark Oppenheimer looks at Zuma’s prospects for success with regards to Zapiro’s ‘raping’ of Lady Justice cartoon; and it appears the President faces an uphill legal battle if he is to win. Here’s why.

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Consultation requires an open mind


ARTICLE: We are often told that, in order to achieve a certain outcome, there will be a process of consultation. But is this word commonly understood to mean there is the possibility an initial position might change, or to mean that one’s initial position has merely been successfully communicated? There is a strong case to be made there exists some serious confusion about consultation’s purpose, sometimes with serious consequences.

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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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On clichés


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. Cliches are now so common their effect has been denuded of its value – instead of enliving debate, they dull it down. And, with their over-use, has come the uncritical perception they suggest wisdom and knowledge. A perception often abused by those whom evoke and hide behind their empty meaning.

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Why has Cape Town hosted Bafana Bafana just four times in 19 years?


FEATURE: Did you know Cape Town has hosted Bafana Bafana just four times in 19 years? That is a fairly remarkable fact. The city is hardly the sporting backwaters. In fact, almost every argument you can come up with against Cape Town hosting the national soccer team does not, on the evidence, appear to hold any weight. To see who has hosted the most games and why Cape Town deserves to see the national team more often, read on.

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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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An Open Letter: Why The Spear is staying up on Inside Politics


FEATURE: Over the past 48 hours a series of people and institutions once dedicated to freedom of expression and tolerance have surrendered their position on The Spear in the face of intimidation and bullying. In each case, an emotional justification has been offered. In many cases it has been accepted, for bullying is felt as intimidation not by the victim alone. I am not taking down The Spear from Inside Politics. What follows is an open letter and explanation as to why.

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Will the ANCWL back Jacob Zuma at Mangaung?


FEATURE: In 2007 and despite much public promising that it would seek to have a woman in the ANC presidency, the ANC woman’s league hypocritically capitulated and supported Jacob Zuma for president. So, what will it do this time round, at Mangaung? What follows is a retrospective, setting out what happened in 2007 and how, repeatedly, the ANCWL would come out on the wrong side of any debate that had at its heart the interests of women.

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