William Saunderson-Meyer

How Helen Zille turned the DA upside down and inside out

Politics nowhere is for sissies. But South African politics is particularly vicious — a cesspit of blind hatred and vitriol, possibly unsurpassed among the democracies. Today’s leaders of both the governing African National Congress and the opposition Democratic Alliance have been particularly targeted. That they stoically endure this abuse is a measure of the resilient…

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Warming the cockles of President Mugabe’s despotic heart

How seamlessly the South African discourse has shifted from a national conversation to spitting threats. And how ineffectual government has been in the face of property destruction and threats of public violence. A fortnight ago University of Cape Town (UCT) students were seducing a placatory commentariat with their #RhodesMustFall campaign. This week these same students,…

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Waiting for the crap attack on Zuma’s statue

When the statue of President Jacob Zuma is eventually erected at the Union Buildings, carefully sited to avoid falling into the large shadow cast by that of Nelson Mandela, there will be joy and ululation throughout the land. For despite his manifest failings and a large bill still outstanding for home renovations, he is our…

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Sissy Cecil tests the mettle of university administrators

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes, 19th century Cape prime minister, southern African mining magnate, and British imperialist, is to be removed from its commanding position over the rugby fields of the University of Cape Town.  In response to pressure from a small but effectively organised gang of students — who alternated the shock tactics…

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Farlam to Eskom: Finding the truth or hiding it

The commission of inquiry is one of the most useful tools in the politician’s toolbox.  In the Westminster system of government it developed as a mechanism for government to seek opinion, advice and information from outside the narrow confines of the civil service. It soon grew into a way to build public trust by addressing…

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ANC is lost in a fog of doublethink and doublespeak

Military theorists speak of the “fog of war”. It’s that swirling mist of uncertainty where not only the true intentions and capabilities of one’s adversaries are unclear, but so too the true measure of the resources one can deploy. The great Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz wrote that it took a particularly skilled intelligence to…

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Kits, cats, sacks and wives, how many were flying SAA?

Forget about the cryptic Nostradamus if you want to descry the shape of the future in the utterances of the past. Look rather at an unknown medieval English riddler who with uncanny foresight predicted the excesses almost 400 years later of the South African government. The riddle is about a man with four wives on…

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The ANC gets an ‘F’ for fibbing. Must try harder

It’s an oldie but goldie. How can one tell when a politician is lying? Answer: When their lips are moving. It’s distressing not only that President Jacob Zuma’s administration is inept and corrupt. What is almost worse is the insultingly poor quality of the explanations proffered when things go wrong. After 21 years of assiduous…

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Mbete, a disaster as National Assembly speaker

So, it is all okay then? National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has apologised for labelling her bête noire Julius Malema a ‘cockroach’. After all, to err is human, to forgive divine? No, it is not okay. If the farce that played out around President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) were to have…

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The chortling schoolboy fluffs his sonorous monologue

It was the best and worse of South African political discourse. It was the raw hope of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison exactly 25 years ago this week, reduced to a squabbling farce. It was the magisterial Chair of the National Chamber of Provinces versus the classroom monitor pettiness of the Speaker of the National…

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