MAIL & GUARDIAN: Opinion

Lessons from imperial history

Britain's 1879 invasion of the Zulu kingdom and the looming US war against Iraq have much in common. A closer examination of what happened in the South African past, of how the exercise of imperial violence shaped South Africa, does enable us to understand the present more clearly

For whom has the tide turned?

Policy-makers refuse to acknowledge that the majority live in economic depression. We have turned the tide, but neither the president, who told us this, nor the corporate economists, who enthusiastically agree, offer any positive projections on the economy's ability to create jobs

The appalling silence of Tim Lamb

To describe the behaviour of the World Cup cricket administrators as slimy would be to praise it. Consider only one act: Mr Tim Lamb's cynical decision to withhold from the English cricket team any knowledge of death threats made to them and their families.

The secrecy of science

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.

‘We do not want to be him’

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.

End this dark ritual

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.

Free the ANC from intolerance

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?

Neutralise this pungent smell

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.

What went wrong?

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.

Cheating the poor

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.

Is a dose of principle too much to ask for?

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.

We all suffer

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.

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