While there is no evidence that any of South Africa's cherished freedoms are under threat, there are signs that we are not paying enough attention to developing the norms and systems that will protect its long-term health.
When the former director of a biological warfare facility, in a new incarnation, chooses to establish a sophisticated laboratory where dangerous biological agents are to be kept and analysed South Africans would be justified in expecting vigilance from the authorities.
In his report to the African National Congress's conference in December, President Thabo Mbeki implored members of his party to become the front-line "cadres" in the quest to "defeat the networks of corruption" threatening the reconstruction and development of South African society.
With the turning of every year we expect our lives to improve. As long as the economy continues to grow, we imagine, the world will become a more congenial place in which to live. There is no basis for this belief if we take into account such factors as pollution and the depletion of natural capital
The late Parks Mankahlana, who had an ear for the neat catchphrase, once described President Thabo Mbeki as "a revolutionary nationalist". The problem is that revolutionaries do not make good social democrats.
I have started smoking about seven times. The best one was the last. It always is. Practice makes perfect, so you have a more textured awareness of what is unfolding. There's the moment of fatal nostalgia, the decision, the dizzy embrace and, between 10 and 15 minutes later, the desire to repeat.
Every year around this time South Africans engage in the macabre ritual of monitoring the road-death body count, exchanging anecdotes about the hell run on the country's highways and relating the latest tales about the record fines being dished out by the traffic police.
During one of those interactions that have become a regular feature among members of the club of Southern African liberation movements, a delegation from Namibia's ruling Swapo posed a question that confounded some ANC leaders: how does the ANC go about grooming leadership and managing its succession process?
The most perturbing aspects of the reaction from those in authority to revelations that Deputy President Jacob Zuma is being investigated by the Scorpions unit have been the contrived silence and egg-dancing. Zuma has glibly declared his innocence and proclaimed his right to remain silent until he is called to stand before a court of law. The National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, under whose wing the Scorpions unit falls, conveniently says it does not comment on investigations into specific individuals and refuses to confirm what is already public knowledge --that it has put written questions to certain individuals about Zuma's conduct and movements.
The rumour mill has been working overtime during the past three weeks as Wits University employees, journalists and everyone else who can cadge some media space try to figure out what has been going on at the topmost levels of one of this country's academic showpieces.
When South Africa embarks on the campaign named Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence later this month there will be much hand-wringing and pious declarations from across the political and social spectrum.
In recent weeks public discourse has been dominated by news and debates about the strategies South Africa should use to fight poverty. Drivenby soaring food prices, reports of grinding poverty in our rural provinces and ideological battles within the ruling African National Congress alliance, this debate has rightly come to occupy South Africa's political centre stage.
The New National Party trumpeted its triumph over the Democratic Alliance as a victory for those committed to the improvement of poor people's quality of life. The African National Congress hailed the week's developments as a boon for the cause of non-racialism and the efficient delivery of social services.
This week's Commonwealth "troika" meeting in Abuja made one thing abundantly clear -- it is game up in Zimbabwe. Unconstitutional and often violent land seizures will continue to the end; while human rights and governance abuses will continue for as long as the ruling party needs them. President Robert Mugabe has calculated well: South Africa, the region and the continent -- and their representatives in the Commonwealth have dependably shielded him. South Africa insists it is powerless to act. It had an opportunity to do something in Abuja, and called pass.
This week yet more cases of grotesque gender violence hit the headlines -- the savage rapes of two girls aged three and six. The attack on one of the girls resulted in injuries that medical personnel described as among the worst they have ever seen.