Has the IMF turned irredeemably irrelevant?

Has the International Monetary Fund (IMF) become completely irrelevant? Is this world body, set up more than six decades ago to foster global economic stability and help countries facing financial crises, really reforming itself? And will it become more responsive to the aspirations of developing countries?

Lung cancer claims anti-smoking expert

Allen Carr, the Briton who helped millions of people to quit smoking, died on November 29 after losing his battle with lung cancer, his spokesperson said. The 72-year-old, a former 100-a-day smoker who stubbed out his last cigarette 23 years ago, died at his home near Malaga, southern Spain, with his family at his bedside, she added.

Broken windows and HIV: a different approach

<img src="" align=left>Governments should recognise that behaviour is influenced by its social context. In a disordered society where anything goes, individuals are more likely to make reckless decisions. But where there is order, and respect for others, fateful choices such as whether to use a condom are liable to swing in favour of protecting one's partner, and HIV transmission can be reduced.

Brand the beloved continent

The continent-watchers among you may have heard of Christoph Blocher, a historian who specialises in making the Swiss look hard at their World War II past and see roses. He doubles as the Swiss justice minister. Recently he said, "How one should deal with Africa, I do not know. Leaving it to itself is one possibility. Nobody knows how Africa can be industrialised. Perhaps they will manage on their own one day."

The lure of the land

Someone once told me that Aimé Césaire's <i>Return to My Native Land</i> (<i>Cahier d'un retour au pays natal in its original French</i>) only saw the light of day when a casual passer-by discovered the tattered leaves of an original manuscript under a pile of books in a second-hand shop, or, alternatively, among a bunch of news and other papers destined to wrap up someone's takeaway dinner in a fish and chip shop in a southern French port city sometime in the 1950s.

Agony Auntie

Dear Auntie Robert, I am sure you don't want to add yet more fuel to the veritable furnace of opinion about Mr Jacob Zuma's campaign to be the next president of South Africa. In the absence of -- in my opinion anyway -- any other credible presidential candidates among the ANC elite, I have to wonder whether Mr Zuma wouldn't ultimately be the best bet for us all.

Where the corruption lies

The misattribution of the phrase "a generally corrupt relationship" is neither a storm in a teacup nor a constitutional crisis. But it should not, under any circumstances, be used as a reason to build popular momentum for resistance against the possible laying of corruption charges against the African National Congress deputy president, Jacob Zuma.

PW: The hard truth

It is important to place on record the kind of man and leader PW Botha really was. He was not "the great demolisher of apartheid", as one news­paper commentator described him. Under mounting international pressure and internal dissent he did dismantle many discriminatory laws. But apartheid was never about segregation --it was about white minority power.

Small fry often the biggest catch

There is no doubt that the public sees corruption as one of the most serious problems facing our country, and one that directly affects service delivery. The focus is often on high-value actions by officials. Often little attention is paid to the many thousands of smaller acts of corruption, writes special investigating unit head Willie Hofmeyr.

The Auckland Decalogue

Some years ago -- 1969 I think -- in a revue called <i>Finger Trouble</i>, I had a sketch entitled <i>The Ten Commandments of the SABC</i>. I introduced the sketch by explaining how Dr Piet Meyer, then chairman of the SABC board, would go into the wilderness once a year. What amused me was that, in updating the sketch, how little I had to change its 1969 version.

Court E and Section 16

We at the <i>Mail & Guardian</i> are developing an unhealthy relationship with Court 6 E of the Johannesburg High Court. The court orderlies know us well. Too well. Last Saturday, we were interdicted for the third time in a year and a half.It is an irony that the interdict, brought by the South African Broadcasting Corporation to make us take down a copy of the commission report into blacklisting off our website, came just four days before press freedom day.

The new India, and other complacent myths

"India is a roaring capitalist success story." So said a recent issue of Foreign Affairs; and earlier this year many business executives and politicians in India celebrated as Lakshmi Mittal, the fifth-richest man in the world, finally succeeded in his hostile takeover of the Luxembourgian steel company Arcelor.

High on the hog

Any South African who uses national highways or main roads in our cities will sooner or later run into a government convoy. Depending on the rank of the politician being taxied, the convoy can stretch from two to eight cars. At the last count, President Thabo Mbeki had eight. Jacob Zuma may be out of government, but he has almost as many.

A march for all

Pride will mix with anger on Saturday as the gay and lesbian community stages its annual pink march through Jozi. The march has moved from one of protest at prejudice in the early Nineties to a celebration of freedom after the Constitution outlawed discrimination against sexual orientation.

An anniversary worth marking

The events of September 11 2001, when all those passenger planes thumped into civilian and military targets, taking thousands of civilians with them to their doom, turned out to be a long-awaited wake-up call about the state of the world. What has happened since -- the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- has brought it all into sharper focus.

Crocodiles 0, stingrays 1

I can't say that Australian "Wildlife Warrior" Steve Irwin's passing inspires even the most transient distress. Rather it is a sense of relief that yet another exploitative human parasite has left us. And a parasite Irwin was. With his blustering invasions of the natural world, he personified slum-grade television.

Jazz star Moses Khumalo ‘had energy and drive’

One of South Africa's foremost young jazz musicians, saxophonist Moses Khumalo (27), was found dead in his house in Honeydew, west of Johannesburg, on Monday September 4, West Rand police said. Khumalo's girlfriend, who last saw the musician on Friday, went to check on him and found his body hanging in the house, police said.

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