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

Tag: Thabo Mbeki

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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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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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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Burning books: The African way


imagesFEATURE: Much has rightly been made of the destruction of key texts and manuscripts held at Timbuktu; much less of the spate of library burning in South Africa over the last four years. Why is that? I have compiled an archive of libraries burnt in South Africa during this period and, in the piece below, argue that while we are quick to express passion about ‘African’ cultural ideals, we have little to say about book burning in our country and what it says about our actual cultural attitude to knowledge and education.

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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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Cricket SA: The long shadow of Thabo Mbeki


ExcellenceFEATURE: Cricket South Africa has recently announced it will appointing a new national selector not on merit, but on their race: they must be black. Not only are quotas anathema to professional sport in general and excellence in particular but, for the most part, South African sport seems to have moved beyond demographic representivity; at least, that is what the Minister says. But CSA seems trapped in the past and, with that, held hostage by the antiquated thinking of Thabo Mbeki.

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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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 straw man fallacy


SERIES: South African public discourse is awash with bad logic and poor reasoning. So much so that much of it is not even identified, let alone criticised. Illogical Logic is a series designed to look at the different kinds of crooked thinking out there, to identify and understand each in turn and, hopefully, to help promote better argument. In this edition we look at the Straw Man.

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