MAIL & GUARDIAN: Opinion

ANC list blues

The African National Congress's list of candidates for the next general election looks depressingly familiar -- the same names call to mind the same faces, in many cases with eyes closed and dozing blissfully on the back benches of Parliament.

Equality courts at risk of becoming white elephants

On June 16 -- almost unnoticed -- the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Amendment Act of 2002 became law. The Act created equality courts, where ordinary people who believe they are victims of unfair discrimination can have their cases heard before a magistrate. These courts are at the risk of becoming white elephants.

The tragic fall of an icon

This week Maharaj again cut a tragic figure, but for a very different reason. There he was, on the witness stand at the Hefer commission, bumbling his way through what he must have known was nonsensical testimony. It was inevitable that under relentless cross-examination by the country's top lawyers, he would wilt.

A bumpy road for Bafana Bafana

The South African national coach's final preparations before the Nations Cup next year in Tunisia have been dealt a heavy blow. Bafana Bafana were handed their first ever defeat under Mashaba on Saturday against Egypt before succumbing to the hosts of the Nations Cup Tunisia on Wednesday.

Let there be banking

It is not often that one gets a chance to listen to a pressing social problem being succinctly outlined, and then receives almost immediate news of a creative but practical response. On Tuesday the FinMark Trust unveiled Finscope, a survey of 3 000 households on access to and behaviour towards financial services.

Shedding the Maggie look

Could we possibly be saying goodbye this week to the common caricature of Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel as Trevor Thatcher and do we have comrade Trevor back? Has the ruling party returned to the left-of-centre political stage it must occupy in a country like ours? In many senses, yes.

In spirit of the times

Artists are often called upon to donate their creativity to some worthy cause. Yesterday it was a benefit concert for those who failed to get a 4x4 out of the arms deal. Today it will be poetry evening for people living with spies. In the freebie charity stakes artists must be the most called upon professionals, writes Mike van Graan.

The time is nigh

The days are rushing past, and so are the minutes and seconds before Bafana Bafana national coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba is set to announce his final 22 players for the Nations Cup in Tunisia in January next year. But will he have enough time to make them gel to take on the Nigerians, Morocco and Benin?

The show is on the road

The race is on. The gloves are off. The challenge for control of the South African National Assembly has definitely kicked in, if reports in the press are to be believed. Everybody (or a few enlightened somebodies -- which is not much, considering we are a Third World and largely illiterate country) knows that there is going to be a serious national election in 2004.

Louis and Di: The missing letters

Signed World Cup rugby balls, the Judas in the Lays ad on television, Prince Philip falling asleep in a scone, the chins of Marlon Brando, the hair of Napoleon, and the smell of a damp Labrador some weeks dead. These are just some of the horrors that await in the secret letters of Princess Di and Louis Luyt...

Folly of vote boycott

The <i>Mail & Guardian</i> is committed to deepening and defending democracy in South Africa. This is perhaps why we fail to understand the eagerness of the leaders of the Landless People's Movement (LPM) to disenfranchise the millions of poor and landless they claim to represent. This week the LPM called on South Africans not to register for -- or vote in -- next year's general elections.

A licence to loot

Tom Devine is a decent American. A fighter for what he calls "free speech dissent" -- whistle-blowing to you and me -- he conceals the steel of a lifelong professional commitment to whistle-blowers beneath a gentle, soft-spoken exterior. It seems like he could not hurt a fly. But when he talks about Executive Order 13303 a quiet rage gathers about him.

Defending the rights of alleged criminals is the law

When the alleged Boeremag members return to the dock in the Pretoria High Court on Monday they will have with them an unseen and uncharged co-accused -- the right to be presumed innocent and to have a fair trial.

How Essop Pahad was suckered

I must admit feeling a touch nervous as I dare to question the analytical powerhouse that is Essop Pahad, minister of no defined portfolio in the Presidency. I hope, nonetheless, he will forgive me my audacity in telling him that in the matter of the bitchy little spat that, for the last few weeks, has been going on between him and the serried ranks of Pieter-Dirk Uys, he's been hopelessly wide of the mark.

Who is listening to whom?

Is the country's long-term educational and economic future about to be sacrificed for the short-term political interests of one bristling moustache? In a hectic week Minister of Education Kader Asmal announced the new names of tertiary institutions due to merge in January next year (and of more to merge a year after that).

Rein in the snipers

As tasteless and unseemly as the Hefer inquiries proceedings may be, it is welcome. It will allow us as a nation to remove the red herrings and diversions that powerful individuals have placed in the way of legitimate investigations into their affairs.

Southern Sudanese demand equal rights

Three themes continuously emerge during discussions with the articulate and determined people of southern Sudan. The first is that they are victims of a double apartheid: of race, because they are Africans not Arabs, and of religion, because they are infidels or "kafirs" to the Muslims.

A blow for the little guy

Some of our Justice System's most watershed and exciting decisions have ended up as mere legal jargon that Joe Average could not be bothered with, unless he found himself in a sticky situation. That is why this column will start off by celebrating decisions that the taxi passenger, the law professor and the quadriplegic should all be able to relate to, writes Fikile-Ntsikelelo.

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