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

Tag: Accountability

On vision


TheThingAboutSERIES: Very often the link is rightfully made between leadership and vision. Much has been written about leadership, far less about vision. What is a vision? Why is it important and what is its effect? More importantly, what can one tell about a leader by the way in which they relate their vision to an audience, the extent to which it is inspiring or dreary? Today’s column tries to answer those questions.

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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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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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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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On consequences


SERIES: The Thing About is a weekly Business Day column designed to discuss democratic ideas, ideals, values and principles from a liberal perspective. When corruption takes place, much focus is given to seeking an explanation, much less to ensuring the appropriate consequences follow. Why is this? The answer lies in ones understanding of accountability. In order for the idea to work properly, it must be defined by both things – explanation and consequence. Indeed, each ensures the other has the proper effect, in order to ensure transparency and clean governance. In the short article below I explore why consequences are so important and what happens when they are overlooked in favour of explanation.

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Accountability necesitates explanation and consequence


ARTICLE: The idea of acountability seems to be poorly understood from first principles: there is a perception that it involves little more than explanation. In other words, many assume that simply by explaining what when wrong, one has accounted for it. In fact, it must be accompanied by consequence and the possibility that wrongdoing be met by the requisite action. In the piece below I look at this relationship. For anyone interested in further thoughts on the idea, see this video interview with Lindiwe Mazibuko, about accountability and its nature.

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Inside Ideas: Lindiwe Mazibuko on accountability


VIDEO SERIES: Too often we use ideas without thinking about their actual component part, how they relate to other ideas and, importantly, whether or not other people undersatnd them the same way. Inside Ideas is a video series designed to explore key political concepts and what they mean. We start with a conversation with DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko MP about the idea of accountability, what it means and why it is important.

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‘Proper accountability’


SERIES: Weasel Words: “Words of convenient ambiguity, or a statement from which the meaning has been sucked or retracted,” [Brewer’s Concise Dictionary of Phrase and Fable]. A great deal of what is said – particularly those contentious statements made in response to sensitive issues – obscure meaning with vagueness and ambiguity. And Weasel words – empty clichés and jargon – often the mechanisms by which this is achieved. Weasel Word Watch is series dedicated to highlighting this kind of misdirection, with a view to cutting through the obfuscation.

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