Marianne Merten

A victim of its own success

The Western Cape province is a victim of its own success. Blessed with scenic beauty and an upwardly mobile economy (the growth rate last year was 5,3% compared to the national average of 4,5%), it is perceived as a ''rich province'' and is a drawcard for many. But infrastructure and services are being stretched.

Operation Ozinsky

Max Ozinsky, widely credited with being the strategic mastermind behind the Western Cape African National Congress, is weary of attracting attention. The provincial party's only white ANC office-bearer, he prefers the shield of collective leadership. The Mail & Guardian spoke to the man who has often been described as an intractable revolutionary.

Tension in the house

The Western Cape African National Congress is pushing for a greater say in the provincial government in a direct challenge to Premier Ebrahim Rasool. This could rekindle chronic party tensions. According to a resolution adopted at its general council, the party is to build ''closer links'' between party and government to ensure ''greater accountability''.

Field of dreams

Small-scale black farmers in the southern Cape are locked in battles over access to municipal commonage as councils fetch top prices for land amid the local golf and luxury-estate development boom. ''The municipality has no land for us, the poor of the poorest, but the municipality has land for the rich,'' says Lucas Lebenya, secretary of the Siyazama Emergent Farmers.

Evidence in Goldin murder points to more than theft

Uncertainty continues to shroud the motives of the killers of actor Brett Goldin and designer Richard Bloom -- but experts doubt that it was part of a straightforward robbery. They point to the ritualistic aspect of the killings -- both men were found lying face down, almost naked, with bullet wounds to the back of the head.

Cape Town turmoil: Province steps in

The Western Cape government is taking seriously a request by African National Congress councillors to have Cape Town placed under provincial government administration and is forcing Democratic Alliance mayor Helen Zille to account for the continuing political strife in the council.

Gang boss gets hero’s burial

He may have been the boss of a powerful street gang, but Gavin Atkins was buried like a community leader. Scores of residents stood in hymn-singing tribute outside the council flat where his family wept. ''Dis mooi [It’s beautiful],'' said more than one onlooker as the long white hearse cruised by

Buthelezi entrenches himself

Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi's decision to subject his leadership to scrutiny, at a hastily convened special conference on Saturday, amounts to little more than a tactical move to entrench his position until the 2009 election. Any challenge to his presidency has been widely dismissed.

I have to be Godzille

Cape Town mayor Helen Zille believes she can’t afford to be a shrinking violet. She has sought to stamp her authority on a precariously balanced council in which a Democratic Alliance forum with six small parties holds sway, but she will have to fast-track her plans for the city as the African National Congress hopes to oust her during next year’s floor-crossing.

Trouble in oily waters

South Africa’s ability to fight coastal oil spills has been compromised by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s failure to renew a marine pollution-fighting contract before its expiry. No private pollution-abatement vessels are currently under contract to the department.

Redefining law’s soul

Taswell Papier has become the first attorney from Africa to receive the global Lawyer of the Year award from Legal Business -- a United Kingdom-based, worldwide industry publication -- for his pro bono work and for getting leading local law firm Sonnenberg Hoffmann Galombik to set up South Africa's first township pro bono office. He speaks to the Mail & Guardian.

How the ANC blew it

The African National Congress’s rigid negotiation strategy cost it the city of Cape Town and seats on the mayoral committee. Newly elected Democratic Alliance executive mayor Helen Zille will not invite the party to her mayoral committee. ''We considered a formula to bring the ANC in, but their demands were just out of proportion.''

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